Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September 23, 2015 (letter from Henry's mission president)

22 September 2015
Brother and Sister Mark Van Slooten
23019 Oxnard Street
Brother and Sister Van Slooten:
I am happy to inform you that Elder Henry Thomas Van Slooten has been called to serve as the new Mission Secretary in the Philippines Quezon City Mission. 
The Mission Secretary requires a missionary of exceptional integrity as he handles many confidential matters.  It also requires exactness in keeping Church records.  We are thankful that your son possesses both these important qualities. 
Sister Revillo and I feel it is our blessing and opportunity to work with your son. Thank you for raising such a fine young man.  We appreciate the love and encouragement you give him.
Carlos G. Revillo, Jr.
Mission President
Elder Van Slooten
Philippines Quezon City Mission
Mission Secretary
Telephone: (02) 913-3863
Cell: +639235422454  (I'm not gonna lie, this is tempting)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

September 19, 2015 (still need to get used to Saturday pdays. Date night Fridays may ba a thing of the past)

September 18, 2015

This week has been insane! I can't believe how busy we are in the office! Well we aren't necessarily busy in the office.. we have to drive all around the mission to run random errands that our mission president gives us.. for example last Monday my companion and I had to go with two workers to get a house ready for the incoming couple missionaries - the Hansens. We left at about 7 am from the mission home with two random guys from Baclaran that Sister Revillo hired to help us with the house. They didn't speak English at all except for two words.. every time I would make a good move in traffic or something, they would laugh and say, "ooh sexy move" hahaha! They were super funny and they were good workers too. We had to move in a bed, install an aircon (Filipinos say aircon to mean air) unit, install the stove and move in a washing machine, and move some furniture around. It was super cool because it felt like I was doing another random job with dad. That was a lot of work and we kept on having to go back and forth between the mission office and their home in Antipolo, Rizal which was pretty far. It was a really pretty drive though and I got to drive through some really provincey areas. It felt like back in 2010 when we were driving through really mountainous areas like Sagada or Banaue rice terraces. We've basically been doing a lot of  preparation for the incoming couple. I was put in charge of planning out their first few days so I decided to take them to the insanely busy LTO (Land Travel Office) to get their drivers license. We luckily were able to get their license on the first trip so we didn't have to go back and forth 5 times on separate days like some couple missionaries have had to do in the past. As we were waiting in one line Elder Hansen went up to me and asked, "Is this an abnormally long wait or something"? hahaha I told him, "This is an abnormally short wait". He was a bit shocked but he actually served a mission in the Philippines 42 years ago, back when it was still called the Philippines mission. The entire country was one mission and it was for sure way different than it is now. I'm sure there was no LTO 42 years ago.

In other news.. I had  very special visitors this week in church! haha Grandma and Grandpa Nieves, and Tita Rory came to visit me at church! Grandpa was SOOO happy to see me! They all were but he especially. I could tell they didn't really understand what I was doing here on a mission as they kept suggesting we go out to lunch. Nevertheless they were so stoked! Grandpa kept hugging me from the side around my waist and resting his head on my chest (I don't remember being that much taller than them). He was yelling, "apo ko yan"! (This is my grandson!!) haha Grandma can no longer walk too well so she was in a wheel chair. She kept holding onto my arm and trying to stand. It was pretty sweet haha! She kept asking for a kiss on the cheek and stuff. It was slightly embarrassing as this was all happening right outside the chapel about 10 minutes before sacrament was to start. It was so good to see them. President Revillo told me that he will allow me to visit them in Paranaque towards the end of my mission. I'm super glad he said that too because I would have never in a million years suggested that I leave the mission just to see my grandparents. He was the one who came up with that idea and brought it up to me so I guess I will just go along with the flow! haha this week was great. We're so busy and it's just such a different life in the office. You get placed in the weirdest situations and you get the coolest experiences. 

Also the yard looks so different! I'm so excited to try the sand vball court! It looks really nice and I wish I could be there to help but even more I wish I could send those two workers from Baclaran to help you out, dad! haha it looks like you guys are doing really well. I pray for you guys every night! I love you guys!

Elder Ramirez and I were on our way to Morong to pick up a refrigerator for the Hansen couple. We decided to stop and stretch and take pictures at this cool place on the side of the road. Notice my very Philippino (Filipino) haircut. You sit in a chair and no matter what you tell them, they do the same thing they do to every guy that gets their hair cut. They shave the sides and leave the top super long haha

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015

September 4, 2015 (HBD Elder Van Slooten)
                                    (riding in a jeepney and falling asleep)
Things are going well! I'm not too stressed and I've been working well here! also I'm in a threesome haha! the one on the left is Elder Brewer (hes' the one that's training me to be the secretary lol) He's from around Sacramento and is suuuper smart and suuuper good at his job as secretary.. part of the reason I'm so nervous,  he used to program iphones and androids before his mish... idk what that  means but basically he's really smart. He's also 25 and I'm only 18... oh wait 19 haha!) and the one on the right is Elder Ramirez. He's the apartment specialist for the mish! He's from New Zealand but he was born in the Philippines and moved to NZ when he was 11-ish so he's fluent still.

Basically what I do is a  lot of typing and stuff.  My job is to process all incoming and pauwi (outgoing) missionaries, process their info into the computer, correspond with their families, bishops, stake presidents, etc. and  arrange for all of their flights (if I mess up people either won't come into or leave the mission... haha ) I have access to pretty much everything in the mission. It's pretty crazy but I'm adjusting okay.

It sounds like you guys are doing really well! I got your package btw!!! It was so cool!! The belt was really big so I had to poke a new hole in it so it would fit me but I really like the ties. I immediately wore them when I got them haha!

 I love you guys!!

September 11, 2015

My week was pretty solid, super hard.. but solid!  Everyday is so stressful haha! Like the other day I got an email that a new couple was coming into the mission and President Revillo said "Elder Van just make a draft of their schedule for the first week. Arrange for travel to pick them up at the airport and set appointments with the Philippines Area Office and Buruea of Immigration for fingerprinting and visa processing. We'll discuss your draft tomorrow." and I was like uhhh I literally have no idea what any of that is haha! Just kidding, I know what to do but it's super hard because i have to train myself! The office secreatary before me is already home! haha I trust myself though. I'm learning so much and I truly don't believe I could be doing this without Heavenly Father's help. Sometimes I'll be doing a random task and I'll think, "How in the world do I do this again"? and I'll just randomly happen to find out exactly where to go and what to do.  I'm sooo thankful for the Holy Ghost haha! I would be dead by now without him. Driving in the Philippines is.. very..scary.. haha!  Its pretty hard but a fun challenge. I think its making me a more aggressive driver which could be bad for the real roads but good for Tijuana border crossing. (never use your blinker if you want to change lanes when its bumper to bumper. don't even turn your wheels until you're ready to turn. then you pounce at the perfect moment - catch them off guard - and squeeze in in front of them. random EDSA driving tip haha)

My new companion is Elder Ramirez and he's a Filipino from New Zealand. Not gonna lie, at first he kind of bugged me. We got along fine but he was just a different kind of guy. I'm adjusting to him so well and I kept praying that I would be able to understand him and be patient with him. Man my prayer was answered! We're so close now and we get along perfectly. He feels like another friend from back home. I'm super glad I was able to adjust to him
this is just a random picture of me and my old kabahays (companion/housemates)but I wanted to send it because I got your package and the shoes are perfect!! I seriously love those shoes so much ahaha! and I got your other package with beans and tortillas. I am very excited about that. The belt was super cool! It was just really big so I had to poke a new hole in it. I think I'm losing weight? The other day I saw a lady from my first ward and she said, "ay elder! ang laki ng pinayat mo!" (Oh Elder, you're losing weight")haha I can't tell though.
I hope you guys are doing well! I pray for you guys every night! I love you!!!