Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

maligayang pasko!

It is so nice to not have to be cold for Christmas, because I hate the cold. But just to clarify things, this past week I was able to Skype Toni, I am sure you have seen the pictures because I am just that special [Toni: I posted on FB, but will add here as well]. I was a little bit overwhelmed.. First I was using Skype, Second I had no idea what to expect and last but not least, my English was not the best during the Skype session. Mostly because I don't usually speak it anymore, unless I am talking to other american missionaries.

So lets see, Christmas... As I have said multiple times.. i think.. Christmas is celebrated in the Philippines for 6 months.. I mean literally 6 months. When I first got here it was already Christmas. So its been very nice to have to remember Christmas for 6 months, it makes all the missionaries homesick.

Lets see what else, My companion and me are doing better... well we at least figured out how to stand each other until transfers, although we still do not get along during the morning, or afternoon, and even at night. He is like one of the missionaries who are  like the police and always monitors what I am doing, He actually is watching me type this right now, luckily he does not understand too much English otherwise we would have another fight. :) lets see what else, hmm..

Well I happy to have been able to Skype this week. I wish I could have Skyped with everyone though. Maybe next time I will figure out how to do that. Or maybe not depending on mission rules and so forth. Enjoy Your New Years! 2014! I turn 20 this year!!! WOOO HOOO!!!







Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Week In the Philippines

Well, Hello.
Lots of fun this week. Places to go and people to see. But lets see, anything exciting... Well, just that me and my companion have been able to successively go though a whole week without too much getting mad at each other. So lets see, I celebrated Christmas this past Wednesday in Baguio city. Me and my group/friends from the MTC got to see each other. Two of them are companions right now. So it is kinda weird.  I believe in two weeks I will have exactly 1 1/2 years lets. People told me the days were long, not true. It goes way too quickly.

The days are going good. Some missionaries, I am not mentioning names, have the tendency that when its morning study time and the people who live near these missionaries happen to be blasting rap and reggae music really loudly. Instead of blocking it out they tend to open to front door to hear better:) I deny that it was me, or any of the other missionaries in my apartment.

Short Letter...

For some reason this holiday has been alright... except for a difficult companion. Well enjoy.. I am enjoying life here. lots to do.. never too much down time.

Love,
Elder Rivera

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Maligaya Pasko!

Heyyo!

Well what is new this weeks? Not much, me and my companion are doing... better. Kinda. Although it is really hard still. But for the most part we have settled our differences. Mostly. So lets see, this week has been difficult for many reasons, we are opening the area meaning there is no teaching pool, or no one we have to teach. And trying to find people in our area is hard because of how far away it is. This area just got   split so that sister missionaries could work here, but unfortunately we had to give them the best area's within the area. So now we only have the smallest section that is so far that no one there will want to go to church. But we have had some luck so far.  We have been able to teach A few people which is cool.

So the last two days, Saturday, and Sunday I have been able to attend a branch conference where our mission president was there for both days. And it was nice because he was able to testify of the goodness of member missionaries. And then last night we were able to watch the Christmas broadcast from SLC. let's see... what else. Sorry for no pictures again. Due to my camera just getting here, and me not liking my companion I have found no need to turn it on.

Hmm, but I am doing fine right now. I get to hang out with my other white friends from the MTC on Wednesday this week. It has been a long time since I have seen them. A lot has changed in me and in them. President told us that we would be watching a regular movie, not a missionary movie. SO I am excited. I think next time I have an interview I am going to ask if I can listen to Tagalog rap... because I totally do not understand it :) And also will ask if I can swim... both of those I do not think he will say yes too... but a man must try since it has been also 6 months.

Love, Elder Rivera

Friday, December 13, 2013

Week 19 . . . . I think

So I was officially moved again. Some more interesting things happened in my area, but I will save those stories until I get home:) So my new area is really close to the Mission Home, My new area is in Bauang.

This is my third area, and my third transfer. I am going to become a famous elder soon. I have the same number of areas as some of the zone leaders and most of the Sister Missionaries.

My new companion, Elder Mila... It has been three days, and I already know it will be a difficult 6 weeks... we do not agree on a lot of things... especially how to be appropriate with families that we teach. So I hope that he is only my companion for 6 weeks... I HOPE. We have already gotten in fights.. kinda. Filipinos do not really fight.. they just kinda become quite and refuse to talk to people. So this is going to be a fun fun transfer.

Lets see, some interesting facts. My last area, I was the first white missionary since 1980. So I am very special... and now President Balledoes has promised that I would be the last white person assigned there.

My new area, there are white people here.. it is weird. They are from the United States and speak no Tagalog or Ilakano. I have no idea how they survive here. They both have lived here for at least 30 years.. kinda strange I know.

My branch that I now am in used to be a stake... there are membership record for over 1000 people.. only 100 people come to church.

No pictures this week. I forgot my camera in my last apartment. But I will have it by next week. My area is difficult, and I am finding it hard to contrantrate especially when I dislike my companion and how he teaches... He served in my last area also.. he left right before I came in... he was companions with my last companion also... he is also the reason why missionary work in my area went down and people stopped going to church. He is very offensive when he teaches. But I will fix that.. or figure out how to make that a positive thing.

Love you all. Enjoy

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hey Everyone

Christmas Greetings, here in the Philippines it has been Christmas for the last few months but only now is it really good, fireworks every day, drunk people at night! Man it feels like America. Joke. 

What else, so from that really great experience with the NPA that I talked about last week,  my Mission President called us and told me that I would be getting transferred this week. So I will have a new area and a new companion by next Monday:) 

How is it in America, the pictures that I am sending will show you what I do on my Prep Day, today we had a zone activity and we kinda just partied [Toni: in a Mormon missionary kind of way and he didn't send any pictures]. It was really nice, made me feel real homesick though. But then again I have almost been on my mission 6 months [Toni: by my calculations it has only been 4 months]

So what have I learned so far, well some of the languages... both ilakano and tagalog.. umm that having a great companionship is one of the best things ever. I really should learn to wake up earlier. And it would suck to be on an american mission for me. Candon has the best zone leaders... one is super ready to go home, he has 6 weeks left. And Utah Elders are the most strict of anyone on a mission. Sometimes this is good, although most of the time it just makes people in the Philippines hate Missionaries. What do I mean by this, each mission has a unique culture around it. In American missions all the missionaries are expected to be extremely obedient and hard working. Here, we are the same, but to Filipino standards. It is not less obedient... it is just we have a lot less people checking up on us, the expectations are different and the culture is different. So this last batch of new missionaries that are from Utah have really been a pain. They try to tell other missionaries how we should act and stuff, they all think their filipino companions are super disobedient and they refuse to really embrace the culture. Because of this of course the work in their areas have really taken a dive. You can not be an Missionary from America and expect everything to be the same as in american missions. And I have heard them wish things were different. So this experience has made me really glad that I have embraced the culture. 

THANKS FOR THE PACKAGE, IT WAS A BLESSING FOR A HUNGRY MISSIONARY WHO HAD NO MONEY BECAUSE OUR BILLS BECAME EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE.   

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hello from the Philippines!

Well this week has been interesting. Due to the fact that are baptism rate for the entire mission for the past 3 months has been really bad. We have had a few workshops about how to prepare and extend a baptism date. Unfortunately we are unable(me and my companion) to reach our mission goal of 2 baptism a month this transfer. But so is life, we tried but are goals were crushed when we realized that no investigators were at church. Luckily though we might be able to have three or four baptisms next transfer. Speaking of which, so by the end of this week I will find out if I will be training or if Elder Baello will be training. We have been told that President was starting to make younger missionaries become trainers and also District Leaders, although I think that I am not yet ready for that...

So good news, for christmas I am aloud 2 45min calls  in the month of December to immediate family. So Im not sure when you are available, but message me and we can figure that out hopefully by next week. Im not sure how I am going to use both calls, but I can use them anytime. So just tell me what fits your schedule best.  

Lets see, so what happened to me this week that was interesting, before I tell you these stories please remember that I am perfectly safe, If my mission president gets any angry calls about how I am not safe.. I will tell no more stories ever.. joke.. kinda. 

First Story, kinda short.. 

So me and my companion were eating at a hotdog stand, yes we have them here, and they are really cheap also. But as we finished eating a truck full of about 25 Philippino guys jump out of it. It was packed with people everywhere, but it was alright because that actually is normal in the Philippines.  The not so normal thing was when we realized they had guns.. usually people do not just carry around guns here, although I have seen it.. but not usually a lot of guys. I noticed the guns and mentioned them to my companion, he basically told me to get out of there as quick as possible.. he was not sure but he thought they were NPA's or basically rebals fighting the government here, and they, the NPA's, tended to like to kidnap white people. So we got out of there very very quickly... We went to the Bishops house who jokinly told me I was going to die...  I did not appreciate the joke that much.. but he told us not to worry, there were no NPA's this close to town. Farther up in the mountains yes, but not where I normally am. So I am alive still.... 

Second Story, not scary at all... although I almost beat up a guy... 

Long story.  This story is actually about what happened at church. But actually this person actually was not a member and never goes to church. So right after church all the members and us were waiting for the ward meal to start.. and I noticed this guy walking angrily after some young children in our ward. And he was only in a towel.. and he kept trying to hit them very hard with a stick. So anyway, the kids run into the chapel where there parents are and the mostly naked guy runs into the church after them. By this time all of us men were protecting the children... but the guy decided to try to pick a fight with the members.. he was really angry. anyway, he kept trying to hit me, and an old guy in the ward and basically was yelling "I'm going to kill you" in about 4 languages. I understood 3 of them. But apparently he thought we had been throwing rocks at his house. which is next to our house. He made me very very very mad. And the only thing that kept me from punching him in the face was the fact that I was a missionary.. although Im pretty sure I would not get sent home for that.. but I did not want to find out. 

Well there are my stories. Enjoy them, dont think I'm going to die, I am safe.

Love Elder Rivera

Monday, November 18, 2013

Well,
Hello from the middle of nowhere Philippines. Joke.. kinda...
So this week has been really uneventful. My investigators and Less-Active families that I teach, all of them, were harvesting rice fields this week so my lesson count went crazy down. And my companion for two days had high blood pressure so he could not really do much because he was way too woozy to do anything. So mostly I just studied and slept as much as possible.

This past Friday the zone leaders called me and my companion and asked us to do a workshop for zone studies on Monday(today). So we accepted even though it was both of our first ever workshop with helping train missionaries. So today we gave it, and luckily it went very well.

I have officially started learning Ilakano. I started how almost everyone starts. . . by first learning things I should not ever say to people. So I now insults in 4 languages.  English, Vesiyas, Illakano, and Tagalog. The reason that I have started learning Illakano is because every sunday I have no idea what is being said because it is all in Illakano. So due to the fact that the Single Adults in my ward are always saying stuff to me and then laughing I decided that it would be good to start learning.

The pictures are of me and my companion in San Esteban. It's a brand new open area that they are going to put missionaries as soon as we are able to find them an apartment. We got the assignment to find the apartment because... well.. we were the closest people to this area. The Candon Zone, the zone I am, currently covers an area of about 3 hours driving. So yeah.. my zone is crazy big.

So news updates? I only see what has been happening from the storm. Btw.. Because of the storm one Philippine Mission is closing for awhile, it's the area my companion is from. All the missionaries there are safe, but are going to be relocated to different missions. Ohh yea, my companions house got destroyed during the storm. Luckily he has three more so it is alright. My companion is a rich pinoy :p Well I have to go now, enjoy America. With all the high prices. A day in the philippines is always interesting. In fact, they have a saying that roughly translates to "its always funner in the Philippines" I said roughly because the saying also uses deep Tagalog words so the is a lot more meaning behind it then that.

Love,
Elder Rivera



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Buhay pa! - still alive!

Hello my fellow Americans.

I am perfectly safe and happy, except the  "A" button on this keyboard is not working very well. But lets see, first off. I repeat I am Perfectly Safe and Happy! The only thing I felt from the super typhoon is  a little bit of rain.  I feel really bad for the other areas in the Philippines that were effected, they are going to have a hard time rebuilding, but then again they are always rebuilding the areas in the Philippines, that's because for some reason the Philippines gets all sorts of Freak Storms and earthquakes.

My weeks go by quickly now. I only have around 20 months left of my mission, which is crazy! I am going to be saying that a lot every few months. The work here does go by really quickly. I usually have around 4-10 lessons planned a day, depending if I have meeting or not. But sometimes people are not home, or do not want us to give a lesson. I takes awhile to get to some of my areas and so it's not fun when I walk to a villages 4 miles away and expect 5 lessons but only get 1 because all the people are gone. And when there is a death in my area, it seems like no one is home because for 9 days they mourn the dead here.

I'm sorry, this is going to be one of those short letters again. I have a lot to write my mission president this week because we went of exchanges [Toni: when they are with a missionary that is not their companion] and we are supposed to write our experience in detail to him :p So sorry for a short letter! Live Long and Prosper
Love,

Elder Alex Rivera.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Its been a long week

Actually this week has been semi-alright. Due to several holidays this week, along with elections going on it has been kinda scary to be white here in Santiago. I have been relativity safe though so that is good. So for 5 days this week we have been going home before it gets dark here in my new area. So what is my new area like? well, difficult is a good word to use. The Ward here actually is really good to me and the missionaries. We get fed very often and they love working with us. The only bad things are really my Mansion Apartment that has no running water. So I have several new experiences this week, one was taking a Philippine Bath/Shower. That really is actually not that  bad, basically it is having a bucket of water, going outside is just shorts and taking a cup bath. It feels really good when since it is always hot here Santiago. What else, hmm. Well I just sent some letters in the mail, so I hope those that I sent them to will receive them... Hmm. I have to walk almost 5 miles to get to a small village where we have a lot of families and people we teach every day. It is all good though, unless it is raining. I have a great relationship with the native people here, they flock around me and it is always easy to find new people to teach, the only real problem right now is the language, or I should say, both languages that I have to learn lol. So lets see, we get water by having it pumped into large buckets and then we bring the buckets close to our house. My house/apartment is two stories, very big and fun. But very hot and we have a pet cow that just disappeared yesterday. Lots of other pets too, like spiders, cats, chickens, and lizards. So yea, here in the Philippines is all good. I actually listen to some weird music though, today I heard a Bruno Mars song, mixed with Gangam Style, and Joy to the World, and two other Christmas songs. It was very, very strange.

With love, from the Philippines



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hello From Candon!

10/28/13

Hello everyone! 

So I got Transferred... To the low lands. My new area is in Santiago, right above Candon (look on a map). So that means I also got a new Companion. It is kinda funny, His name is Elder Baello, and he is from Manila Area. Sorry, no pictures today, maybe next week. My companion is actually only one transfer ahead of me( 6 weeks) and it is his first area. But the interesting is because we are each others 2nd companion we are follow up training each other. Which is never supposed to happen haha. So this week, umm... Very sad. On Wednesday I was told I was leaving Baguio on that Friday. And I am the only White Person from my group of missionaries from the MTC that is not in Baguio anymore:) So kinda a good thing. 

So good things, my area and the members in my area are very supportive. I am far away from other missionaries other than my companion and one more set of Elders. So this just shows how much President Trusts us. He would not send someone who is not focused on missionary work here:) 

Bad things... a lot. No shower, no running water, a freaky crazy guy who watches my house, which is behind the local church. and a few other things that I can not mention because it would scare too many people. Namely spiders:) Lot and Lots of Spiders:) Ohh so this week is Halloween here, I will explain next week why I mention that... not good thing. 

Sorry this week I am really pressed for time in my emails, Im trying to respond to someone with a rather long email. BTW the music here in really good. Due to the fact that everywhere there is music playing, on Jeepnys, trykes, and buses, and as we walk around, people are always blasting music from their houses. I actually get to listen to music a lot of the time. And it is usually songs that I know. I know, I know, unfair that I get to listen to music as a missionary. But I am not being disobedience because I do not choose to listen to it, it just is everywhere.

well love eveery one. 
Elder Rivera

P.S. thanks for the Happy Birthdays

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thanks for the Happy Birthdays!!

So today is my birthday, it is also my prep day...

So for this past week some interesting things have happened. So due to one of my investigators deciding that she wanted to be baptized sooner this past Saturday, and it was already Thursday, and on Friday we went on exchanges... basically I had about 2 hours to plan a baptism and call and text people to be there. ohh and the bishop is out of town. So.. I had a hectic week. Plus on Wednesday we had to drive down to the mission home, a 3 hour bus ride either way, to be told we were no longer needed... so fun, hectic, weird week. So if I can, i will include a picture of that. And remember when I said that Baguio does not flood ever, well... I was wrong, we had a signal 3 typhoon this past week and it flooded. So if I can there will be another picture of that. Nothing really interesting has happened, other than that. I have another baptism hopefully this Saturday, hopefully... if he can quit smoking. And I had some really cool discussions in Tagalog with some people. I am still unable to speak much, but I can understand a lot of what people say now... which is cool.

So what else,

Two elders recently got sent or decided to go home(not because of anything bad) , both in my zone, so things have gotten a little hectic with companionship in my area. People keep getting transferred out of the area and stuff... and its transfer week this week so I might be getting a new companion.
Kinda excited, kinda not because I really like my current companion Elder Ramos. He is really cool and really good at teaching me Tagalog. We get along very well also, although communication is not really there sometimes... language barrier.

Well, that’s all I have time to write, I have to write a few more letters, sige po.

Ingat po kayo,
Elder Rivera



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hello, another Typhoon.. and didn't eat dog

Hello!

Had another Typhoon only level 3 so it was all good. Umm, so I will start by explaining the pictures. The one of the birthday is not for mine, but for a sister in our district[Toni: same picture he sent last week and Elder Rivera's birthday is October 21.  Send him a happy bday email or card, even if it will be late]. We take birthdays very, very seriously here. By the way, it takes 3 weeks for me to get a letter. Just letting you know. And lets see, the other picture is of a sign here in the Philippines that confused me very very much because at first I only read the bottom two lines. And still.. Segregation... I had to think about the meaning behind the word rather than the historical context. Which is why it confused me.

The language goes great. At this point I can kinda understand what people are saying, if its during a lesson. But sometimes It really confuses me. As far as speaking, I can say somethings. But yea. Its going alright.

The other day, I was watching the news of the typhoon, and saw people surfing on the waves! Crazy. Which reminds me, can someone please tell me what is going on in the world, if anything interesting or important happens. I would hate to get back home and learn that we started living on the moon, and Michael Jackson was really alive, and Justin Beiber got a new haircut.

I loved conference. It was amazing. First time I watched all of conference. My favorite talks were Elder Uchtdorf talk on Saturday morning session, and also Elder Hollands talk about depression on Saturday Night. All and all it was a great conference.








Tuesday, October 8, 2013

October 7th 2013

So this week, Had a good time doing almost absolutely nothing.
Let me explain, the highlight of this week was that we Baptized 2 people,

Sister Krystel Caire Sanchez Gapuz
She is 17, a college student. And she has a strong testimony. Her dad was a Returned Missionary who decided to leave her and her mom after a few years of them being married. So it was good to see her returning to church as stuff.

Brother Esteven Navalta Horton
10 years old, very very funny. His family is mostly Mormon, his dad is an endowed member so that's good.

So back to what we did this week. My companion, Elder Ramos has been very sick the last 6 days. He was barely able to move for a few days because of his belly was having trouble and he had chills. So so far for him it has been very unpleasant. We barely made it to the baptism service... But on another not.

[section removed]

So on an other note, remember when I mentioned that everything was cheap here in the Philippines. Well... I just found out where the Black Market is.. And I started shopping there... Someone wanted to sell me Beats by Dre for only 300 peso(5 dollars) and I could buy guitars and keyboards for about 20 american. But its kinda a sketch area of downtown Baguio.. but really really cheap. Everything they sell there is most likely stolen.. or taken... or found some illegal way. But its all good. I can get some really nice stuff for real cheap.

Lots of love,
Elder Rivera



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hey 9/30/13

Hey everyone, this week has been fun. Before I explain I need to finish explaining why in my last email I said Merry Christmas... So in the Philippines Christmas is celebrated about 3 months in advance. They take it very seriously. 

So this week...

Not really much has happened. I got a new house mate, hes not a pet but I have held him and played with him. He is very nice and doesnt bite at all. Actually I played with him for about 15 min in my hand before he got a little temperamental and had to find something to eat so i let him go. Wow, thats exciting that Preston got him mission call, I didnt even know he had put in his papers!!! That is good for him. 

The other picture is the view I wake up to each morning when It is nice and sunny outside which has been only the last two days. My schedule is kinda tight so I have only A little bit of time to write anyone. So because of this, and because it takes a long time to write and send this email to everyone I am going to add a link with the blog that my aunt set up for me if you do not already have it. That is where you can get a weekly update from me. I will of course still try to respond to as many emails as possible if you still want to write me. http://elderalexrivera.blogspot.com/

My actual address... is... you can send packages or mail to this address. But remember that It takes awhile for me to respond. So mail should come by email if possible. 


Elder Alex Rivera
Philippines Baguio Mission 
LDS Chapel National Highway
Brgy. Lingat, San Fernando City
La Union
Philippines

In order to ease some peoples minds about the water situation here. I have pure water in my apartment now.. we didn't for the last week because of the water filter not working. Umm I stopped carrying my water bottle with me because it is not needed in the city... I can always but a water bottle for about 15 peso so if that freaked you out I am sorry. But it is kinda weird to carry that water bottle when it is unnecessary and plus it takes forever to get water out of it. There is not much I can not get here if I want to buy it. I just bought Dominos pizza a little while ago.. so good. The philippines is amazing. I have two baptisms this week and two more later this month.




Monday, September 23, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS and a happy TYPHOON


September 22, 2013

Well, hello everyone. How goes it? 

So this week... well I finally moved out of a Hotel and moved into an actual apartment, it is really nice and has warm water also. The other american Elders are jealous because of the warm water. Umm, we were stuck indoors this past saturday because of all the rain and wind. Its been interesting having to walk up stairs and mountains in the storm. But the work must continue so only this past saturday were we told to stay indoors. Luckily we only have minimal flooding here in Baguio city, so thats all good. Lets see, I tried Balut a few days ago, I am the first white Elder to do so so far. (Balut, a fertalized duck egg) it actually was kinda good. But it makes your blood pressure spike crazily. Its kinda nice here, beautiful except for the weather. Lets see... my stomuch is not very happily with me right now. I never used the filtered water bottle that they gave us in the MTC, and I always buy food from sketch vendors. But is all good, I will get used to it. At least I hope, the work must continue right! haha, well saturday becuase of all the time I had to ponder life I acctually got a little bit homesick.. of couse my mission president would send me to the one area of the mission where I can not see the ocean:p but its all good. I love my area and the food here is amazing. 

I will admit that storms are not fun, and the rain is something that also sucks, but the people are so humble and nice. I get to see people with machine guns all the time, if you know a little bit about the phillippines there is a muslim presence here that they try to grab americans and stuff like that. So the security is tight here. I saw some girls walking around with guns, my companion told me that they were drug runners.. so yeah. I live in an interesting country. 

On that note, GUESS WHAT.. everything is so cheap here. Like super cheap. I can get a pair of vans for about 10 dollors american, or 400 pesos... and the food is also so cheap. Ill send so pictures next week about stuff Ive been eating. Clothes are so cheap also, I can get a custom made suit for around 75 dollars american, im thinking about right before leaving just buying a ton of clothes and and stuff like that because I will not need most of the stuff I brought here. 

well, Ill see you when I see you, 
Love, 
Elder Rivera

Sunday, September 15, 2013

First Week in the Philippines!!! I HAVE TOILETTE PAPER and WARM SHOWERS


Kumusta everyone! 

Wow, It has been such a long time since I last contacted everyone. Lets see, After 2 days of traveling. Im not joking, literally 48 hours of trains, planes, and buses I have finally arrived here in Baguio. (btw, dearelder still works. Just put it under the Baguio Mission tab thing) 
Umm, let see. I flew into manilla when it was morning. Got through security very quickly for a foreigner, because of my cool visa. I got out of the airport and immediatly met a random philippino told me he was supposed to take us to the bus stop. We believed him and got into the car with him and we drove around in manilla for a little while until we got to the bus stop. Manila is such a crazy place, they have like no driving laws or something. So i got to the bus stop and had to wait for the next bus that was going to San Fernando. I got on the bus and 8 long hours later I arrived at my mission home and met my Mission President. Pres. Balledos is such a cool guy, he is a small pinoy and has a great sense around him. We has to wait for two days in the san fernando heat, which was crazy, over 100 degrees with full humidity. I didnt even need a blanket to sleep it was that warm. I have never sweated as much in my life as then. I have yet to get dry still. On friday I enter my mission area. I have been assigned to the Pacdal C, Baguio City area along with my trainer Elder Ramos. He is a small pinoy who speaks broken english and so we have a blast trying to communicate with each other. Right now we are staying in a small appartment in a hotel with the zone leaders while we wait for our appartment to get ready. So we have to ride in several jeepnys in order to get to our area and teach people. We have 4 baptisms already sceduled in ocotber and three of them I get to baptise. the only one I am not going to baptise is a 20 year old philippina who I have been the first to teach here. Her name is Rhose sta ana, and she has been to church already with us. Ohh, we walked into church on sunday with another new investigator. The area is beutifly here in Baguio City, it is always cold and raining. And i mean COLD and RAINING, it is around 65 degrees here and never stops raining, its way better than the humidity of everywhere else in the philippines. The only problem is having to walk everywhere up and down the mountains in the rain to get places. It is sooooo crazy, I have eaten so much good food. They feed us so well here. ASK ME QUESTIONS please, I have no idea what else to write about!? 

Lots of Love, 

Elder Alex Rivera

p.s. They have showers and toilette paper here, although I have yet to use the toilette paper and have embraced the philippino way of wiping... never shake with the left hand :) 

One of the pics is me with my companion, the other is the mission home, which is on the beach.





Sunday, September 8, 2013

Final Week MTC


Finally! I am almost to the Philippines, in the next two days my flight leaves so the next time you receive an email it will be from wherever my first area is, along with my new companion's info! I can not wait until I get there. 

Lets see, this week has been long and quick at the same time. My teaching lessons have stopped and nothing really interesting has happened except one thing which I will talk about shortly. Yesterday(Friday) was the most boring day I have ever had at the MTC, we had an eight hour in-field orientation that honestly was the most general info I have ever heard. It was for all Elders and Sisters who were leaving, including English speaking, so it was not area specific which was in my opinion pointless, because each area is radically different. And plus we could not ever speak in Tagalog because the other people couldn't understand us, so for a whole day we felt different that we were hearing English almost the whole day. I would have thought that I would have liked that, but then again it is cool being able to speak in Tagalog with people.

This past sunday we had the coolest people every give all the missionaries a devotional, they were the MTC presidents of the Philippines. Which was awesome, we got the see pictures and hear stories about the places we were all heading. All the other several thousand missionaries were bored except us going to the Philippines. It was a big boost for our moral when he was talking how the Philippines was the best missions to go to. 

So the most interesting thing that has happened this week has been that my companion, Elder Manning, decided that right before we get to the Philippines he was going to go to the doctor to get his ingrown toe fixed. Smart move right? Well it was pretty normal, we got a ride off the MTC campus which was so nice! My first day away from the MTC in over 5 weeks. So we were both incredibly excited that we were leaving, even if it was only for a short while. Anything that is a change to our schedule excites us nowadays, kinda sad I know. Back to the story, so we arrive at the doctors office, I have to go into the room with him so I get to see the whole thing. The doctor comes in, Gets a giant needle out, sticks it into different places around his toe in order to numb it, and all is good. The doctor leaves and I get out a language book so that I can study and not waste too much time. Right when I got the book out, my companions head drops slightly so I look up. My companion then proceeds to go into a seizure, now this of course frightens me, so I slightly raise my voice and call for the doctor who comes in at a calm pace. The doctor just seems to be amused, which is weird, and just waits for my companion to wake up out of the seizure. Apparently my companion does not like shots. 

I am sorry that nothing else exciting has happened this week. It was really a boring week other than what I have already said. I miss everyone. And I will give you all my new address as soon as I get it. 
Mahal po ko ng lahat mga tao! 
"I love every one" 

- love, Elder Rivera

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Week 5- I think . . .

Kumusta!
 
Great news this week! I got my travel plans, I will admit that I was so giddy with excitement. It is crazy to think that within the next two weeks I will be in the Philippines. On the 9th I catch a red eye flight from SLC to LAX, from there I fly to Hong Kong and then on to manila. Non of my layovers are longer than two hours which is good. On an interesting note, I also am scheduled to fly from Manila to Detroit Metro, MI if my Visa does not make it through that is the flight that I will take... I have to reenter the united states on a direct flight. :( does not sound fun at all... 

It is a small world here in the MTC. On Tuesday I met a girl from Denmark, who knew the Perkins. She was excited when I asked here if she knew them, her eyes light up when I told her that Michael was the one who baptized me. The whole time I was taking to her my Companion Elder Manning was awk standing near me with a confused question. I guess it is not normal in the MTC for Missionaries to randomly start a conversation with a female... 

On another note, Im sorry if my letters are kinda everywhere. I seem to have a lot on my mind here. 
Umm this past Sunday I go changed to only one companion, which is a lot easier to teach with only one other person. 

On Tuesday Elder Neil L. Anderson came and visited. He spoke on Love and Sacrifice. Which was awesome. That night it rained crazy hard in Provo, lighting and thunder were so loud that they had to delay the apostles departure out of fear for his and all of our safety. So we ended up singing lots and lots of songs while he shook peoples hands in the audience. 

My lessons have exponentially gotten better from what they were last week. We got an investigator to commit to being baptised which was cool, even if it was a fake one. Her name was nennet and she was extreamly difficult to teach. 

My favorite saying this week is 'Gwapo pa" which means Still Handsome... so when anyone askes me how I am doing that is my response. Im excited to be leaving the MTC! Ill be able to email again next saturday so there will be only one more email from the MTC. 

Mahal ko lahat 

-Elder Rivera

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Week 4

Well, I have been here way too long, It has gotten to the point where I can have a pretty long discussion with someone about Gospel topics.. Tagalog is a very simple language luckily. It only has one structure and all the rules are only shortcuts that you can do to say things faster. My teachers have basically only speaking Tagalog in class right now. And since I spend 6 hours in class a day, not to mention the study time I am learning the language very very quickly. My new "Investigators" are improving a lot. It brings me great joy that they are able to understand me. Next weeks email will be a lot better than today. Mostly because I get my flight plans for travel to the Philippines next Friday. In the next 2 weeks I will be flying to the Philippines. Also beginning next week we will Skype someone in the Philippines and talk to them about just random conversational stuff. Hmm, my zone gets new District Leaders and Zone leaders tomorrow, which is cool because there are only 6 companionship that could be the new Zone leaders and mine is one of them pero I do not think the I am going to become the new ones. I mostly think  it is going to be this companionship that is not in my district. I was able to go to the temple last Saturday which was amazing, the new video was amazing to be able to watch. Sunday was boring, except for the devotional that night. The speaker was Via ...... something last name.... I do not have my notes on me and It takes me awhile to go back to my residence hall. But this Via person was an amazing speaker. He played on BYU football team like 30+ years ago. After his mission he played pro NFL and was the first Tongan to play in the NFL. He is mormon and so awsome, he played for the Greenbay Packers, the Eagles, and some other team I can not think about. He has some great insights on missionary work. Tuesdays devotional was a member of the 70 presidency. He was a good speaker and I enjoyed the fact that he served in the area presidency of the Philippines quite a long time ago. Well, I do not know what else to talk about, nothing really exciting happens here. All of the guys spend nights pranking each other, which is alright because it is never harmful. Thanks for all the letters and packages, It always makes me smile to know that outside the MTC there is an actual world that has things happening. If you have any questions about my life in the MTC or anything feel free to ask. I have enough time to respond and I enjoy doing that. 
With much love,
Elder Rivera

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Week 3 MTC

Well I have been really busy this week, hopefully all my letters to everyone have gotten to them safely. Lets see, where to begin this exciting week. Well let me start where I left off last week. 
btw.. Thanks for the letters and packages for those who sent them:) they were very nice to get

Sunday
- Nothing really exciting, we had someone from the MTC admin speak at the devotional

Monday
- Hmm, started teaching a new investigator which was cool

Tuesday
- Some very exciting stuff happened on this day. For the devotional I decided to sing in the missionary choir, the choir director is suck [I think he ment such] a funny cool guy. I wish i remembered his name but I can't and I didn't write it down. This day actually began with a Fast for my district. We decided we wanted to Fast in order to be prepared for learning the language at a faster pace. So I helped sing in the devotional on Tuesday, Elder Richard G. Scott of the quorum of the 12 apostles was the speaker. He spoke mostly about prayer and how we can better communicate with the Lord with praying sincerely. Twice he decided to give all the missionaries who were in the Marriott center who were also speaking a foreign language a apostolic blessing for the ability to have the gift of tongues. Which was awesome. This amazing thing happened twice, once in the beginning and then again at the end of him speaking. One of the more touching moments was when he talked about his deceased wife and how he knows that she was allowed to come down from heaven to visit him as he talked to all 3000 missionaries in the building. I think it was such a special meeting and its nice to know that all over the world people were watching the devotional. It was the first ever to be broadcast to every MTC worldwide. Which was awesome. That basically concluded our night and was a very quick, and direct answer to our fast. 

Wednesday
- today we started a English fast, we only spoke Tagalog throughout the day, since we know really only lesson words it was a very quite day
I saw Elder Batey which was cool! he seems excited to be here. [missionary from Morgan Hill who entered the MTC this week]

Just taught lessons and me and my companions decided to have a sleepover in another companions residence... that was prolly a form of disobedience but you know what, it allowed for us to get closer. The elders we stayed with were from the same district as us. So it was all good.

Saturday
- Well today is Prep Day, so we get a lot of extra time to take naps. Around 2 we are going to go to the provo temple. 

I miss everyone! Write me, my life is so simple right now that anything you are doing excites me in many ways.... joke lang. 

Mahal Kita,

Elder Rivera

[Note from Toni: I added a couple of notes in italics and I also added links to explain some of the things Alex makes reference to for those not of our faith.  You are welcome to email me with any questions any time, toni.rivera64@gmail.com, or add a comment to the blog and I will get an answer for you. I did get pictures and will post them as soon as I get a chance.]

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Week 2 - Still at the MTC... 8/10/2013
(Please excuse the poor spelling, tagalog is influencing my lack of english skills)
Lets see, I think I will talk a little bit more about my companions, ill send pictures as soon as possible, but yeah. My companions are pretty neat guys. Both are from Utah, Elder Manning is from North Ogden and Elder Eagar is from Provo. As a companionship we get along very well. One of the great things about them is that they are around the same age, E. Eagar is two weeks older and E. Manning is two weeks younger. So that is a blessing, we can still have those immature moments. The only problems we have had have really been frustrations with learning tagalog, but other than that we have been able to not get mad each other. The schedule here is a pain in my opinion, we roughly follow the same schedule. We arise at 6:30, Breakfast at 7:30, after breakfast we have 3 hours of classroom instuction by Guro(Teacher) Ward, followed by an hour of personal study time, Then lunch, after lunch we begin an hour language study follewed by 3 more hours of classroom instruction, followed by dinner and the gym time and then an hour of TALL(Technology Assisted Language Learning) which is the most boring thing of all. By 9 we have scheduling/distric meeting until we retire for be at 9:30. During Classroom instruction we have opportunities to teach "investagators" who are really just voulenteers. But starting this monday we actually have to teach our teacher once or twice a day lessons in tagalog without notes. So things are starting to get a bit stressful. So stressful they actually gave us a lesson of Stress. Which just annoyed me more because they asked me how I relieved stress before me mission and I commented on I used to Swim, Listen to Music, and Sleep which I either cant do because of mission rules or because there is no time for breaks. I annoyed my teacher just slightly when I commented on that. Umm... what else. This week we had two great devotionals, Last Sunday we had Jenny Oaks Bakar preform the violine and talk to us which was really cool, and then on tuesday we had Jay E. Jenson speak to us, he is an Emiritus(Retired) Gerneral Authorit who has been in the quorums of the 70 and such. hmm.. What else... There really isnt anything really else that happens here... Lessons, Feeling the power of God, Not being able to do stuff that I used to do.
One of the best things that has helped has been mail, which has been so entertaining to check everyday and almost always have something new to read and respond to.(hint hint) so if you have time I would like to recieve mail still while I can, not sure about the situation in the Philippines so right now is the best time. My address is
Elder Alexander Jeffery Rivera
SEP09 PHI-BAG
2007 N 900 E Unit 52
Provo UT 84062
(go to dearelder.com to send me mail the day of so I do not have to wait half a week to get letters, or just send letters. Doesnt matter to me that much)
Lets see I Still have ahwile before my hour of internet is gone so... let me think... I have two teachers. (Brother) Guro Ward and (Sister) Guro Cope, both are amazing. P-day has become the best day which I knew would happen. We usually wake up early, like 5:00am in order to do laundry, so we can just go back to sleep and then we have nothing to do all day but "Study" and meals. One of the weird things is they have caffine free Mountain Dew, which is honestly the most confusing thing. Ohh and the Barqs rootbeer they have is in the normal can but does not have caffine in it. They apparently get it without caffine in Utah, who would have known. It is kinda funny, on the first day I was soo excited to see at least one soda had caffine, until my joy was shattured by my companions... my caffine withdrawl had been interesting to deal with.
If you wouldnt mind, whoever feels like it, see if you can send my address to anyone who wants or needs it.. I have very limited time to email people... and I would like to email more people and get more mail. There is a sister in my distric who everyday had more packages and mail than everyone else in the distriked combined:/ Time has started to fly by quicker, after the first sunday, which happend to be fast sunday:p.
I thank you all for your letters, and for those who havent send me stuff please do, I am stuck on a campus where news from the outside world is limited to letters and emails.... SO send me stuff.
PLEASE SEND ME PICTURES OF YOU, I HAVE VERY LITTLE TO REMEMBER PEOPLE BY. NOT BY EMAIL, I CANT PRINT STUFF OFF. MY WALL IN MY RESIDENCE HALL IS EMPTY EXCEPT FOR A PICTURE OF THE OAKLAND TEMPLE. 
I will send pictures as soon as possible.. it is hard to find a computer that accepts cameras because of all the filters and secutity they put on these computers... I have found a couple that do but they are alwasy in use and I have little time to do stuff. Life has started to become mundane but still continues to be stressful. The weather is also wierd here, it rained everyday for the past three days... i swear that its already fall here. I miss CA weather..
With much love,
Your missionary,
Elder Rivera

Ohh btw, If someone wants to be nice to my companions and send them letters also, i am sure that they would appreciate that. there letter address are the same as mine exept with there names at the top instead of mine. Elder Joel E. Manning Elder Tyler Eagar

Sunday, August 4, 2013

First letter from the MTC

There is a way of sending me mail that i will recieve the same day, it is quicker than email because I only log on once a week on saturdays.
It is called DearElder.com or something like that.
It will ask you my info, this is also my regular mail emailing address. DearElder is a quicker way of writting me if you would like to do so without
actually writting anything and it gets delivered same day directly to me. SEND ME STUFF PLEASE. salamat ohh, and tell everyone else this also, I want
to know whats going on with everyone, it gets very dull in the MTC when no one writes you. So foward, facebook, tweet this address or the DearElder stuff ASAP.
and I Will write back with an actuall letter. If you would like also include your living adress so that i can have something to send you. again, it gets dull here not having much to
look foward to other than lessons, and study time.
 
Elder Alexander Jeffrey Rivera
SEP 09 PHI-BAG
2007 N 900 E Unit 52
Provo UT 84602