Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Well, hello all! I am indeed alive! It has been a long while since I have been able to give you any epistles so I'll be very thorough and in depth with this one!

Manila International Airport from plane

I have no idea how the differences in time zones affect travel, but I was exhausted when I finally got to my apartment in the Philippines. It went a little bit like this: We left the MTC at 4:30am in the morning and flew out of Salt Lake at around 8am. We flew from Salt Lake to San Fran then across the pacific to a 2 hour layover in Tokyo then another flight to Manila. All said and done between hitting the Philippines and leaving the MTC the total travel time was about 23 hours. We bussed to the Manila airport hotel and got there at 11:30, but were told to be out in the lobby at 5:00. A travel agency then shuttled us down to a bus station where we loaded onto a charter bus and drove through Manila to a city in the north named San Fernando. That trip took about seven hours. In San Fernando we met with President Balledos and the AP's, and bunked in the mission apartment there for the night. The next day we met our companions and sectioned into zones (transfer day) and then piled into a hired jeepney for another six or so hours into the Baguio mountains, where me and my companion finally found our apartment. So, lots and lots and lots of traveling!!!!! I'm glad to finally be in my area!

Jeepneys are the most popular form of transportation in the Philippines.

Okay, now for the good stuff- I love President Balledos! He's so humble and just a great guy. I'm glad he's my mission president. My companion is an American named Elder Wilson who's actually from Vegas, in Henderson! He and I are having a great time. He did a lot of cowboy type stuff like ranching before he came out. I am actually serving for probably the next six months in Baguio city itself! I'm told I'm reeeally lucky.

And now for the reeeally good stuff... THE PHILIPPINES! I love this country. It's a wonderfully bizarre mix of completely foreign and totally familiar! In Baguio city itself, especially, there's a LOT of English. It's soo weird. I'm trying to learn Tagalog, so I'll speak to people in it, but they almost always respond in English! Just let that sink in for a moment... the Americans are speaking Tagalog but the Filipinos are speaking English! Just a list of funny things about the Philippines-

1. Jeepneys. I knew about jeepneys before I came here, but I didn't realize that they are EVERYWHERE. It's the main form of transportation. 

2. Animals are everywhere. They just roam around and I'm not sure if anyone in particular owns them or if everyone just owns them. There's goats, chickens, cows, cats, and lotsssssss of dogs. There is a dog in Baguio for every two people, I'm not kidding. (In the boonies it seems like there's two goats for every person) sometimes the dogs get aggressive, but all you have to do is pick up a rock and they run away.

3. There is, indeed, very little toilet paper.

4. A lot of people convert their houses into vendors shops and just sell a little bit of everything.

5. Little kids LOVE calling me 'joe'.

6. Baguio is VERY mountainous. 

7. The saints here are sooo astig! (awesome)

8. There are essentially no traffic laws and it is the funnest thing ever. I have seen one traffic light in Baguio, NO stop signs, and it's just as (if not more) densely populated  as Las Vegas. Every drive is an adventure.

9. No bikes for missionaries in Baguio. Between how steep it is, how many jeepney's/taxis there are and the lack of traffic rules, we would die.

10. We have like no food... I'm so glad it's p-day. We've been living on rice, eggplant, and oatmeal, haha.

11. Lastly....its actually COLD! Never like snowing or anything, but I actually get a little chilly sometimes!

I am sooo very happy to be in this area, haha!

And now for the mission stuff! We have a golden investigator! He's soooo freaking smart, and he's really driven to learning about this gospel for himself. Most of the time we teach random families. A lot of people speak ilicano here, so I get to learn a second language too! Yay!

I love you all! Deepen your conversion! I have to write a letter to President Balledos, so I've got to go! Love you! Bye!

Elder Mikesell III

P.S. Keep sending letters! I'll try to write back! It's harder in the field, especially because the post office is far away, but they would make my day!

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