Monday, March 15, 2010

Fw: Grabe!

Sent: Sunday, March 14, 2010 9:05 PM
Subject: Grabe!

I have been thrown in the deep end of the pool.
Last Thursday we got our area and companion assignments. I've been assigned to the Bonifacio Fourth Ward in the Makati City Zone ("Makati" means "Itchy", oddly enough...), and my new companion is Elder Curammeng.
He doesn't speak English.
It's mahirap talaga (really difficult).  My main problem so far is understanding.  I can say quite a bit in Tagalog; I can teach the lessons effectively and clearly enough, especially the first three, and I know quite a bit of conversational language.  But whenever anyone asks a question, makes a comment, or says pretty much anything, really, it goes right over my head.  They all talk so fast, it's unbelievable that anyone else can make any sense of it, because I can't.
Parang (Example):
"Laksjdlfjlsakjdljfljjdfkbbggrbll. Qrobl di ba?"
And then they expect an answer.  And all I can say is,
"...Ano ba? (What?)"
Even when they say something in English, it's hard to understand them, because it's thick with accent (sometimes I can almost make things out better when they speak Tagalog than when they try it in English).  It's frustrating.  They're fun people, and I want to actually be able to talk with them, not just to them, but I can't, because I can't make out anything they're saying.
It's not all bad.  Like I said, the Filipinos are fun people, they're all really kind and hospitable, even though most of them live in humble circumstances.  Somehow, they manage to keep smiling through everything.  They're strong;  I don't know if I would be able to do that.
I'm oddly popular here.. O.o After sitting in a classroom eight hours a day for nine weeks in the MTC, my pasty-white skin stands out like a beacon.  Nearly every time I pass by a group of children, it's always, "Hey, Joe! Hey, Joe! (All Americans are named Joe) Hey, Americano! Americano! What's your name? Hey!" and usually I have to stop to give them all high-fives. "Up here!"  It's odd; I'm not used to being so popular...
The members and our investigators are pretty cool.  I don't remember a lot of their names, because when they tell me, I often can't make it out, but they're pretty cool.  Bishop Acosta reminds me quite a bit of Bishop Guinto.  Well, a lot of people do, actually.  Being Filipino and all. O.o
Anyway, besides the culture shock and the horrific language barrier, things are going great. :D Hope everything's well back in Oly-land.  I'm buying postcards today to send to everyone.  You'll get them... eventually...
--Elder David Jones

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