After a LONG flight from LAX to Hong Kong and then to Manila, Philippines, Ryan arrived safely in Cauayan, Philippines. He is loving his journey and the people there already! Elder Betancourt is in an area called Naguilian. It is a small agricultural area just north of the City of Cauayan. If you are interested in seeing where his area is located, you can go to Google earth and zoom into the Cauayan City, and then go up the yellow highway to find Naguilian! In an e-mail received on 11/05/2012, he wrote about his living quarters. They have NO toilet seats and it is RARE to have toilet paper. They also have NO running water. They shower with buckets of water and hand wash their clothes in buckets. BUT that doesn't seem to bother Elder Betancourt. He says he is getting use to it all and he is ABSOLUTELY in love with the area.
Here are some of the things he wrote to me in his e-mail about his experience thus far:
The Philippines is amazing! I love it! It's super humid and ridiculously hot, but the people are absolutely incredible! I love them so much! ...My companion Elder Reyes is amazing! He sincerely loves everyone! He is Filipino! ....Our branch out of about 60 only has two worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders! So that is one of our focuses as well as helping the brethren to realize the need for the Priesthood in their home, and how it can bless their families! It has been incredible working with them!
These people have absolutely nothing, Devynn. ...A man we are teaching lives in a metal shack. It is so sad, but they are still so happy and by far the most loving people I've met...other than you and both of our families, of course, haha!
The food here is amazing! RICE AT EVERY MEAL! They use spoons more than they use forks. I have been asked about a million times if I eat rice or if I just eat bread, haha (since I'm American). Little kids always say "whats up" to me, "Yo", "DUDE", AND "DOG". It's funny! Oh speaking of dog, I've eaten it like three times.....joklang! (just kidding) haha. My companion said it's nasty, and so I have no intention of eating, nor did I ever! No belut yet! ...Jollibee (kind of Bking) and McDonald's (more formally known here as MACDO) serve Burgers, Spaghetti, Fried Chicken, and RICE! I swear it's everywhere! haha. Everything is so cheap here!
...It has just been a really cool experience so far! Fasting on fast Sundays is soooo hard in the field! Especially when you don't eat until 8 pm at night because after church we have to visit people, and they don't have the money to feed us! But it is all worth it! The blessings we have seen already are amazing! One day we will come here, Devynn! ...When you arrive in the field you will just fall in love with the people! Its impossible not too!!...
I love you so much! Stay Strong and Keep a smile on your pretty face!
When are call was lost, he snapped a picture of himself! Once he told me that he took a picture, I did the same thing. We had the same facial expression! hahaHis view of Hong Kong from the Airport windows
Welcome to the Philippines! This is Manila. The capital of the Philippines
Elder Betancourt proud to be a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!
The fields around where Elder Betancourt lives!
His companion, Elder Reyes and Elder Betancourt's apartment!
He wrote, "My favorite people hang right above my desk!"
Rice patties near their apartment!