Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Work Must Go On

What a week full of great working experiences and memorable missionary adventures. ssssskkkkiiiiiiirrrrrr.  Or a week full of staring at the ceiling above my bed haha but never fear, I am nearly back to complete health and ready to approach next week with the boldness of a lion. 

So let's see, what about this week has been worth writing. Sunday. Sunday was a good day. The Amit Family was confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  So cool. There was only three of us participating and we initially thought that the branch president would be giving all of the blessings, however, after he finished the first confirmation he moved and told Elder Atoigue to perform the next one.  Then, following this confirmation, Elder Atoigue told me that it was my turn.  Yikes.  I had no clue what to do so I kinda just went for it haha it went great.  My very first confirmation as a missionary.  Nbd.  For some reason they do all these ordinances in English so that was lucky. Later on in the meeting Elder Atoigue and I also had to give talks in church.  They went well.  I really like Elder Holland's talk in last conference so I based my talk around showing our faith and believing. My Tagalog is still very simple but the talk went well.  Whenever I’m worried about sounding fluid or eloquent I remember that words aren't necessary to feel the spirit. It was a great Sunday. 

Here's a quick update on the Alatiit family.  Last week we were discussing church attendance and trying to convince nanay to continue to come to church.  However, she told us that there is no way that she can continue due to her religious background. She was telling us that it is completely against her culture to read, listen to or take part in any way with other religious groups. She expressed her desire and her belief.  She told us that she knew that the things that we were teaching her were in fact true. She believes the book of Mormon to be true and has loved learning from us.  However, she said that she can't continue to go to church, nor can she read the book of Mormon on her own.  She will not be able to be baptized.  It was really difficult for elder Atoigue and I to hear such news.  We want her family to accept the gospel so bad but we have to respect her culture and her religion.  We know there was a reason that we found this family.  We don't exactly know why but we know that our visits have made a difference.  Who knows, maybe one day she will be able to accept the gospel, but right now is not the right time. It's possible that the next opportunity they'll have to receive the gospel is in the spirit world.  My hope is that when they do hear the message of the gospel again, they will remember the few lessons that we were able to teach.  It will be familiar to them and the feelings that they experienced will come flooding back and they will know with a surety of its truthfulness.  Yep there it is.  Kinda sad.  But such is life. 

I'm going to end this email with a great cultural experience i had the other day. The same day elder Allouigan and I went on exchanges, Elder Allouigan also made a very interesting dish for lunch.  Chicken Stomach.  hahaha Yep, we ate chicken stomach. Not gonna lie, it was actually way good. A little tough, but good.  Be prepared, I’m gonna cook it for you when I get back. I'm not gonna tell you either, that way you can't chicken out. (Chicken out hahaha that's ironic)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"I'm Still A Momma's Boy"

I've been sick in bed all week long. I've got quite a fever, coupled with body aches, chills, zero appetite and a headache.  I've really needed my mom this week.  I've discovered that I might be nineteen years old and live on the other side of the world, but I’m still a momma's boy.

The Amit Family's Baptism.  Amazing.  It was such a cool experience.  They are such a great family.  They are going to be great members of the church.  It was really cool because Elder Atoigue baptized Nanay and Tatay and I baptized the two daughters. Fun Fact: Tatay Amit is the first man to be baptized in our area in over 2 years. So crazy.  

Went on Exchanges with Elder Allouigan this week.  The cool thing about it was that we worked in my area so I had to lead the area.  Yep, everything was up to me. Plus I had to lead off the lessons and teach quite a bit.  It was the scariest, most interesting experience of my life.  Luckily Elder Allouigan speaks Tagalog so he was able to fill in the things I wasn't able to say.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"A Mighty Change of Heart"

The highlight of the week occurred on Saturday when the Amit family passed their baptismal interviews!  It was a great moment. Their baptism will be held this Saturday and I am so stoked! Here's a little background about the Amit family: The Amit family consists of Rey, Rebecca (parents) and 4 children, two of which no longer live with them. Tatay (father) was once an alcoholic and had a few other problems with the word of wisdom.  The missionaries had visited their house multiple times but the Amit family never showed any interest. However, before i got to the area, they agreed to listen to the discussions again. The missionaries began teaching and for some reason the Amit family experienced "a mighty change of heart." They began applying the teachings to their lives.  Tatay gave up alcohol and straightened his life out. After months of teaching, they decided to be baptized. It seriously amazes me how awesome the gospel is.  Nothing can compare to the peace and comfort the Holy Ghost brings. This family is so amazing.  The word on the street is that Tatay shed a tear during his interview as well. The gospel, atonement and the Holy Ghost can break down any barriers and help with any problems. Gotta love being a missionary.  I'm so glad i get to walk this path with them.  Elder Atoigue and I will be performing the baptisms and you'll never guess who they asked to sing. Yep, add one more tally to the number of musical numbers i've performed!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Just One More Cultural Experience...

Here’s a pretty cool story.  So we were walking around doing our thing as missionaries and we ran into Nanay Alatiit (an investigator).  We talked for a while and then she gave us this little note that one of her relatives told her to give to us.  As we walked away, we opened the note.  It was a hand written invitation (in English) to her relative’s wedding!  Oh and she’s Muslim. Yeah, we went to a Muslim Wedding! (Did i mention that we had only met this girl one time?) It was a great cultural experience! A few interesting facts about the Muslim religion and their marriage parties (we couldn’t go till after the ceremony):

1. The bride and the groom remain seated the whole time on a stage. They're not allowed to touch each other at all.  No holding hands, nothing.
2.  Every hour, the bride and the groom change clothes. These parties go on for hours as well so they go through a ton of clothes (Sounds like a nightmare to me).
3.  No dancing.  Muslims are not allowed to dance for fun.  However, on their wedding, they participate in a dance called a Roncy (no clue how to spell that). (Not sure if I’d be more excited about being married or having the opportunity to dance for the first time)
4.  They feed the guest like kings.  They start with a snack, followed by the main course, and finish with another snack. No pork though! Yeah that part was great.

So yeah, Muslim weddings, way cool!!! Not too many people can say they've been to one of those!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hulog kayo ng langit para sa amin (You guys fell from heaven for us)

I'm going to start off with one of the greatest experiences I’ve had on the mission thus far. Yeah, you should be excited.  So remember the family I talked about that we "found with faith?" (Refer to “Finding with Faith” post on May 19, 2013). Well they're pretty much the greatest investigators in the world.  A little background information about the Alatiit family: They have 7 kids from ages 1-16.  Nanay (the mother) was raised muslim but has since gone inactive.  Tatay (The Father) was raised Catholic but has picked up some Muslim beliefs. He is no longer active in either of these churches because he believes something is missing and he doesn't fully agree with either of those churches. Tatay has done quite a bit of searching for himself.  He has theorized many ideas that he knows to be true through his own studies.  Well that's where we come in.  So far we've taught him about the restoration, the book of Mormon and the plan of salvation.  He believes everything that we teach. He responds to our questions with answers that would take most members years to comprehend.  This family has been prepared to hear the message of the gospel.  Following our last lesson, Elder Atoigue and I both bore testimony of the things we taught.  The spirit was nearly tangible. Afterwards, Tatay made a few comments that every missionary would die to hear. First, he said: "I believe that the book of Mormon is true, it leads people to Christ and not to hell." (The exact English translations aren’t exactly equivalent but the meaning remains the same).  Second, he said "I know that Jesus is my savior." (At this point, Elder Atoigue and i were both smiling ear to ear and filled with an unexplainable excitement) And finally he said this, "Hulog kayo ng langit para sa amin," which directly translates to you guys fell from heaven for us.  WE FELL FROM HEAVEN FOR THEM.  That is what missionaries live for.  Most of the time we have to act purely on faith, believing that we are making a difference.  Very rarely do investigators tell you about the difference you’re making in their lives. Small sentences like that give you the drive to continue to work even though you can barely speak the language, it's 100 degrees outside, 110 degrees inside and knowing that you're next 200 meals will be rice. I love this family and am so excited for them.  Unfortunately, Tatay had to leave to a nearby city for a month, so our progression has slowed down a little bit.  However, we are still teaching Nanay and the kids, they even came to church yesterday.  Elder Atoigue and I might run out of people to teach if we continue at this rate.  I'll keep you guys posted!