Sunday, July 26, 2015


Hello, hello, hello! This week flew by as usual! Despite the challenges with everything here, this lifestyle is becoming a part of me. I am finally getting accustomed to lifestyle of a missionary. Take brownouts, for example. Brownouts are pretty commonplace now, so every few days the power goes out and it's like nothing happened. We continue whatever we were previously doing, but just with flashlights and without fans. One of A cat got into my bread again on Tuesday, so that was a real bummer (but honestly it was pretty hilarious considering it happened not even a week earlier). On Wednesday we took a two hour bus ride to Naga for a Trainers' training workshop. Let me tell you. That was probably one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. I had three boxes and a backpack on my lap for this two hour trip. It was awful. But on the bright side, two days ago, I was also engulfed in a HUGE group of 4-8 year-old kids, maybe 12 or 13 of them, who had the strongest urge to give us high fives and hug us. That happens frequently actually. Kids in the Philippines are SO nice, it kills me. The kids here are super funny. Earlier this week, we were sitting on the water front of the this dock. We heard a crowd of young voices approaching us. So my companion and I turned around to see about 15 young boys running to the lake. Not a minute later, they all jumped in and had a grand old time. Worry-free and full of joy. Oh what I would do to be a kid again.

This week I truly learned the importance of the role of families. Here in the Philippines, no matter who it is you're talking to, you call them by some family title, such as Tatay, Nanay, Ate, Kuya or in English, Dad, Mom, Older Sister, Older Brother. It's remarkable. Everyone here is family, even if they aren't truly related through blood. Embedded in this culture is family. My family is awesome. I can't express how thankful I am for them. Families were crucial in my upbringing, literally. I truly wouldn't be here if they were not here. They are your support system in times of need, struggle, and hope. I can honestly say that I took my family for granted at some points in my life, but never have I ever been more grateful for them until I started my mission. There are times here when I think to myself "Man. I am SO glad my parents taught me how to do this." Family is everything. Really. They are there for you when you fall and never fail to love you with every bit of their being. 

So that's all for this week everyone. I hope your week was fantastic! I love you all and I'll catch you next week! 

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Another Week Gone in the Blink of an Eye

So this week was just like any other week I guess. I seriously cannot believe how fast time goes by here. I feel like I was just writing you all yesterday, yet here I am again. This week has been challenging. Most of our appointments canceled, which kinda felt like a drag because all of their houses are so far from each other. I still have no reason to complain though. It is such a privilege to be serving every day. 

One experience this week that stood out to me was in the middle of the week. My companion and I were walking to an appointment and I was just feeling down. It was hot, we had been punted from most of our appointments, and ultimately the day felt like it just wasn't going to end. I was sure that I was going to melt in my own sweat and misery. But then Elder Marquez spoke to me. He always says this. "Kaya mo iyan," Translation- You can do it. So as simple as that phrase was, it wasn't what really impressed upon me. What really changed my attitude and lifted my spirits was the fact that he supported me in my time of need. 

What else, what else... Yeah nothing new really. Two small and I guess kinda funny things that happened this week:

1. I bought a loaf of bread. I went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night to a cat snooping around our apartment. Woke up the next morning to my bread being absolutely torn apart. Conclusion: A cat ate my bread.
2. I showered by candlelight during a brownout. That was hilarious. Who would've thought, huh?

Just trudging along and enjoying myself right now. I love doing this stuff, man. I can't wait to see what's in store. I love you all and am so grateful for all your emails! It truly means the world to me. Until next time.

-Elder Bondoc

Didn't have any pictures this week so enjoy this picture of a cow we saw a couple of days ago. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Hilarity of a Language, the Diligence of a People, and the Beauty of the Sky

Hello Hello Hello!

This week has been an absolute blast. It just flew by. Hmmm... Where do I start? Let me start with a Tagalog tongue twister.

"Pitongput pitong puting platong pinagpatong-patong."

or in English

"77 white plates stacked on top of each other."

This week I've learned so much about the Tagalog language. I try every day to practice it with everyone we interact with. I've learned that as beautiful as learning a languages can, it can also be quite funny. Let me explain. There is a Tagalog word: "kwan" which is really just a word you use if you forget the actual word for something. For example If you wanted to say "His house is close to the restaurant" but forgot the word for restaurant you would say "Ang bahay niya ay malapit sa may kwan." I think this is absolutely hilarious, but maybe it's just me. I hear this every day and cannot help but crack up because people use it so often. So it's the little things like these that make learning the language less frustrating and more fun. Although my language skills might worse than that of an eight year-old here, I find joy in actually being able to ask an eight year-old for help with my Tagalog. It's such a humbling experience. 

So about the people. Yesterday the entire area of Bato experienced a blackout ,or what they call it in the Philippines, a brownout. Hilarious, I know. Anyway, we were in the middle of a lesson yesterday when one of these brownouts hit. It was about 7 pm so the sun had set. The only light that we were dependent on was a single LED lightbulb. So the power went out and all of the sudden everything went pitch black. Despite that, I pulled out my flashlight and we continued our lesson as if nothing had happened. After we finished the lesson, we left the home. To my surprise, I found that the people in this provincial city were working as if nothing had happened. They kept doing their regular tasks with flashlights and candles. The people of the Philippines, despite losing something as precious as electricity, found a way around an obstacle to press forward and not give up. That was incredible to see. 

One positive about not having any light in a provincial area is being able to see the stars. The stars here at night are absolutely beautiful. After teaching and finishing our nightly planning session, we went on top of the rough and just laid on our backs, looking at the vast number of glimmering lights in the sky. Holy smokes. That's all. Words cannot describe how beautiful it is to see stars from horizon to horizon covering the nighttime sky. I love it here. I truly do. There's something enchanting about the Lord's work. Every week, I learn to appreciate it so much more. Best wishes and I'll talk to you all again next week. 

-Elder Bondoc

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Welcome to Bato

It's that time again!

I'm finally in my FIRST area in the Naga mission. The name of the city where I'm serving is called Bato, or "Rock" in Tagalog. Over the first couple of days I've managed to experience so much of the Philippines. My Tagalog is still progressing. We are now living a completely new lifestyle here. No plumbing. No air conditioning. All we have are fans and thin sheets. I also really REALLY hate mosquitoes. If the devil were an insect, he would definitely be a mosquito. With regards to our daily schedule, we trudge through rice fields every day to get to investigators' homes. There are cows on the sides of the roads EVERYWHERE here. It's green. OH IT IS SO GREEN. This is truly an experience that I'm never going to be able to take back. Last night we walked about half a kilometer through a rice field. It was pitch black and all we had were two flash lights. We could hear the boisterous voices of hundreds,even thousands, of frogs croaking in the night. It was muddy, wet, and absolutely awesome.  We also walk up and down a railroad, along which many people live. Some would think that it's redundant and boring, but to me it's an opportunity for me to think, practice my Tagalog, and grow as a person. My new companion's name is Elder Marquez. He's been in the field for 20 months now. He's a great trainer. Without him, I don't know how I could get through these first couple of days. 

Something that I've learned in the past few days is how to deal with failure. Here in Bato, a majority of the people we have scheduled to teach are not home or are busy. "Matigas ang puso" they say, meaning "Their hearts are hard" which is fitting for a town called "Rock".  No one wants to talk with us some days and during others, we don't have a single appointment. So imagine this. We walk and walk and walk for about 5 hours without ANY appointments in hot and humid weather. It sure stinks, but every step is worth it. I'm happy. I'm doing my part here in the Philippines and I'm fulfilling my calling as a missionary. We still get appointments and we still get to serve. So despite any shortcomings, we still get the chance to teach and serve. And I truly do love having that chance. I can already tell that my time here is going to FLY by. Wishing you all the best in everything that you do. Love you all!

-Elder Bondoc

PS:The attached picture is a picture of this kid I met at a birthday party. He looks and acts EXACTLY like me when I was his age. Mom. Dad. This'll freak you out. 

PSS:Sorry for the grammatical errors. Sobrang pangit ang grammar ko. (My English grammar is so ugly.)
The bathroom

the neighborhood

trudging rice paddies

mini me