Monday, August 29, 2016

First Week in Tacloban

"First week in Tacloban. First off, this city is nuts. the traffic laws are as follows

1. don't crash

2. do anything else

The fast food places sell spaghetti. yes, spaghetti.

 I meet my new companion. his name is Elder Dela Cruz, he is Filipino, and has been out for over a year. he is my trainer and Tatay, which is "dad". he is the greatest. he has taken it to heart to be the best trainer he can be, and because of him, I can wash clothes, properly cook rice, ride a tricycle (motorcycle with homemade sidecar), and I can speak a surprising amount of Waray. 

We have been having lessons every day. we have families we are teaching almost daily. first off, the kids here are hilarious. I am a giant here. I tower over everyone, and often have to duck so I don't hit my head on door frames, and the kids know it. the shy ones will stare at me like I'm a messiah. the brave ones will try to talk to me. some of the things they say are "Hey Joe!", which is what they call any white person. "Taas Ikaw sa", which is just that I am tall, or my favorite "uphere", meaning they want a high five. they follow us everywhere. I look like a mama duck with a trail of kids following me around. the families here are so sweet and generous, and they are obviously prepared for the gospel. when we teach these families, it is hard not to feel the spirit.

I got to play ball as well. the second my companion and I walked on the court, there was some excitement. they quickly formed a team, and played against us. well, first off, I tower over everyone. secondly, Elder Dela Cruz is amazing at basketball. we did well.

I love this place. it's hectic and busy, as well as poor, but everyone is very friendly and humble. it is an honor to serve here and I know that heavenly father sent me here because I could handle it. I don't have many photos now, but next week, I will have more.

I miss all of you, but I am still working hard and loving it. this is all for this week. love you all, and I will have more for you next week.

-Elder Kuehne"

Thursday, August 25, 2016

And finally - TACLOBAN!!

On 8/24/2016 Blake wrote:

"Greetings from Tacloban!

I have been here for about 4 hours and I love it already. It isn't as hot here as manila, there is less traffic, and people are very friendly. President Maurer and Sister Maurer (pronounced Mora, like hill cumorah) are the greatest people I have ever met. I don't have long today, just as email to say that I am here safe and sound. tomorrow, I meet my trainer, and the work begins. My new p-day is monday, so that is how that is it is now. Love you, and I will talk with you more monday.

    --Elder Kuehne"
So good to see he made it!  I am most grateful to hear that his mission President and wife are "the greatest people I have ever met" - as they will be his temporary parents and it sounds like Blake is in good hands!!  From here on out, this blog will be updated every Monday!  We look forward to hearing of B's many adventures!  If you receive any letters that you would like to share - please forward them to me and we will post them here for us all to enjoy!!   WE LOVE YOU BLAKE!!

Manila MTC

On 8/19/2016 Blake wrote:

"Kumusta! I am here in the Philippines MTC, and this is probably the greatest place to be. We had our first flight delayed due to a flaming plane on the tarmac, so that was neat-o. not sure how that happened, but we passed it on our way to the main runway. other then that, Everything went really well. I still have all my luggage, so that's nice. The Manila MTC is amazing! The food is fantastic, (though I have only had one meal so far), and everyone here speaks one of the filipino languages, so I am expecting some good progression in Cebuano. I will be here until Wednesday, when everyone in the Tacloban area will fly out there and begin the work in that area. Tomorrow, I have the opportunity to join a missionary in the Manila Metro area for an afternoon of proselyting. I'm not totally sure how well that is going to go, but I know the lord is here and is willing to help me on my first real missionary work. I will be sending some photos I took. I didn't take too many, because the handbook says NOT to look like a tourist, but I did take some nice ones. I love you, and will probably send you an email soon in my area. Love you very much!

     -Elder Kuehne"
The note to dad explained the area:
"I'm in the Manila MTC, and it is so crazy! first off, the humidity is like a wall. you really feel it, and I started sweating instantly. It does feel nice, but still, that will take some time. Manila itself is like New york, if new york had Little Homes made out of wood and tin roofs dotted all over. Some homes are pretty normal, but others are definately poor and trying to make it work with whatever they can find. Some people have their jeepney, their newest iphone, and return home to a hut in the middle of a Shantytown. I am never complaining about Utah Drivers ever again. No lanes mixed with aggressive driving make for some really sketchy trips. no accidents, but when we are literally an eyelash away from scraping a wall or another car, it makes Utah seem a little better. The people are also the nicest people ever. Cars passing by would see who we are and wave with a huge grin on their faces. It is so cool here. I can get used to this. love you dad"
Its so good to hear a little about the area, as well as how he is doing spiritually!  Hopefully he sends pictures soon so we can have a visual idea of the area as well!

Hong Kong

On 8/18/2016 Blake wrote:

"Hello from Hong Kong International!

just wanted to send you an email saying I made it to Hong Kong safely. That was a looooooonnnnngggg flight.

 I tried the new card at an ATM here and it worked, so I think the card is officially ready to go.

All is well. Love you all.

   --Elder Kuehne"
A man of few words - fortunately for him, all I need to hear is I made it safely!!

Leaving the MTC

On 8/16/2016 Blake wrote:


Last email in the USA. It's really crazy to think about, but here I am. This has been a good week. We had the opportunity to hear from Elder Anderson last week, and I was in awe by his words. He said to us that now, the missionaries have the same title as him, which I never thought about. He also said that we have been called of the lord, just like he has, to be apostles. (only we have a little "a" at the start)

I've spent the whole day packing and going to the temple. When I was in the temple today doing initiatory work, I felt the spirit so strongly, stronger then I have in any temple before. It was a great blessing to go today, and I loved it. 

I reread the book of mormon twice while in the mtc, and both times, I have felt the spirit testify to me that this is the truth. I know it is, and I can't wait to share that message with the Filipinos!

I plan on calling once I get to Salt Lake. I may also call from LAX, not sure, and If I have permission and the ability to, I will call from Hong Kong international airport. My calling card I bought today has 5 hours on it, and I'm nearly 100% sure it works outside the U.S, so lets hope. 

Tell the family Hi for me, and that I love them very much. 

        -Elder Kuehne"

It was great to hear from Blake!  He was able to call from the Salt Lake Airport as well as LAX.  He was in great spirits and so excited to get to the Philippines!  He loved the MTC and was able to see a few friends while there.