Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dengue Fever

It's been quite a week.  Probably the most stressful week of my life. We've had a ton going on over here in the Manila 2nd ward.  

So I'll begin with my new companion. My new companion's name is Elder Villoso. He's an awesome missionary and pretty much knows everything about missionary work so training is way easy.  He's extremely nice and has a huge heart.  He cares about everyone and loves to talk. I think we'll get along well and have a great couple transfers together.

This week has been really crazy because I've pretty much been trying to operate two areas.  Since our area was just split, we have two new sisters in the other side of our area.  So I've been trying to help them around and get them all settled in.  I gave them a tour of their area but the streets here are impossible to remember so it didn't do too much.  It took me a whole transfer to figure out all of the alleyways and roads. It would be really tough trying to jump into an area without knowing anyone or knowing where to go.  

Here's a great story for ya.  On Saturday, we were in a lesson and I looked down and noticed that I had red spots all over my arms.  I just kind of shrugged it off and we continued about our day.  Later that night I examined the dots more closely and discovered that they covered my entire body.  Yeah it was like I had chicken pocks or something.  A couple hours later, after arriving at home I started to get really cold and developed a fever.  Then came the body aches.  I called Sister Stucki who informed me that I probably have Dengue.  Yep.  Isn't that awesome? So I've spent half the day yesterday and pretty much all of today in bed.  Not fun.  But I'm starting to feel a lot better so I should be past it before too long. 
We had a really great day yesterday at church.  As a ward, we had 9 investigators at church.  It was fantastic.  Two of those were a husband and wife that we just started teaching this week.  They are golden.  They are so ready to hear the gospel.  They have two kids and are just a great family. We taught them right after church and it went fantastic.  There were tears and the spirit was so strong. Their baptism will be on Nov 2. Gotta love missionary work.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just Come to Church... I Promise You'll Love it!

I'll start out with some crazy news I got this week. We were at a member’s house having dinner when we got a call from President Stucki.  Elder Tofi answered the phone and went to the other room.  When he came back he informed me that he would be shotgun training in a new area.  Then he handed me the phone and told me that President wanted to talk with me.  I answered the phone and was informed that I had been called to be a Trainer as well.  Yep, I'm having my first anak (child) (that's what everyone calls it here)! I'm gonna be a father! Luckily, I get to remain in my same area. I'm way stoked.  It should be a fun experience.  A little more responsibilities added to the responsibilities of being the District Leader, life's getting pretty crazy here in the Philippines. I still don't know who he is and actually won't find out until I see him this coming Wednesday. Get ready for some great experiences in the upcoming transfer!

Unfortunately, Elder Tofi will be transferring.  I'm pretty sad that we can't be companions any more.  We've been having a great time here in the Manila 2 ward and have had some great success. I wish we could be companions for a little bit longer.  We work well together. 

So this last Sunday was a little frustrating.  The rule here in the Philippines is that investigators have to go to church four times in a row before they can be baptized. This week was kind of a do or die week.  We had a ton of investigators that had to come to church this week in order to maintain there baptismal dates. Let's just say, we didn't have the best turn out.  7 investigators lost their baptismal dates. One of them we visited the day before and actually gave her a few pesos so she could pay for fare.  She took our money... didn't come to church.  Way frustrating.  To add to that, we had a less active that we've been teaching that had been to church 3 weeks in a row and only needed one more to be reactivated.  She didn't come either. Oh man, missionary work can be frustrating.  It drives me crazy when people tell you that they'll do something and then don't do it. Sometimes I hate that people have free agency. Just come to church!! I promise you'll love it!! 

Sorry, this week hasn't been too eventful.  I wish I had some more great things to tell you about, but it's just been another week. I'm gonna wrap this email up with one quick spiritual thought.  One thing that I really have loved studying about is personal revelation.  It is through personal revelation that we come to know the truths of the gospel.  One of the best things that we can do as members of the church is learn how to receive and recognize personal revelation.  One thing that I really love about being on a mission is having a set time to do personal study.  It's quiet, spiritual and fantastic.  One thing I've learned is the importance of pondering. Moroni invites all to read the Book of Mormon, PONDER it in your heart and then ask god for confirmation.  Before my mission I never really understood the importance of pondering.  I always had to have something occupying my time.  However, it's when we ponder that our minds are enlightened.  If you want to receive revelation, ponder a question in your mind, draw conclusions, and then ask for conformation from our Heavenly Father. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Best Way to Avoid Home Sickness is to Work

Another week down.  Seriously, time is flying.  I've been in the field for over six months and I can barely believe it. Missionary life is crazy, we work all day and barely have any time to think, which is honestly a blessing. It states in Preach My Gospel that the best way to avoid home sickness is to work.  It's true.  Work, work, work. 

This week was great.  Elder Tofi and I are having a great time. The great thing about our companionship is that we can work and laugh at the same time.  

Shanne's baptism was awesome. She's the cutest little girl ever. They invited us over to their house later that night and we had an FHE.  FHE's are one of my favorite things here. They are so much fun.  Every FHE consists of a lesson and games. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it's worth restating; the people LOVE FHE games. It's hilarious. We have a great time. That's where the lipstick on our faces come in.  There's always a consequence for losing and often the consequence includes lipstick.  That's why we always have lipstick on our face.  They always pick on the kids that can barely speak Tagalog hahaha 

Being a district leader is going great.  I finally received training so I finally know what's going on and what I have to do.  One of the great things about being a district leader is interacting with the investigators of the other missionaries in my district.  As a district leader, I call everyone in my district 3 times a week and see how the works going, talk about investigators, their concerns and other stuff that varies week to week.  It's great. A little stressful at times, especially at the beginning of the transfer, but I'm finally getting used to it. 

Tagalog is going well.  I get a little bit better every day.  Still frustrating at times because I can't say everything I want the way I want to.  I have to utilize the words and the grammar structures that I know.  A missionary told me that Tagalog is a language of short cuts. You can get around with a basic understanding and people will understand you, it just takes longer and sounds less fluid.  As you get older in the mission, you learn easier and better ways to say things. Gotta love learning another language.  Fun and frustrating at the same time. 

So we had a great experience at church yesterday. We began teaching a few girls a couple weeks ago but progression has been slow.  Their father was once a member of the church but was excommunicated and their mother is catholic. Not the most ideal circumstances.  We asked the father if he wanted to join in on our lessons, but he refused each invitation.  Yesterday, we experienced a miracle; the whole family attended church.  The father, the mother and their four children.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  It was amazing.  After the meeting we were talking with the family and the father's heart had completely changed. He invited us over later that night to teach his family.  It was so cool.  The lesson was awesome.  I'm so excited for this family.  They are an amazing family and I really look forward to seeing their progression. 

That leads perfectly into my next paragraph.  President Stucki is splitting our area. The split is not in our favor.  Out of our 18 progressing investigators, only 3 will remain in our area. I'm so sad.  I've grown to love these people in our area and have loved teaching them.  Unfortunately, I won't have the opportunity to see it all the way through to their baptism.  As a missionary, sometimes you plant, sometimes you reap. It's difficult to find an investigator, nourish them, teach them, see them progress... and then get transferred. Thank goodness I'm the district leader and can keep up with their progression and am allowed to go to their baptisms.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Totoo Ang Simbahan Na Ito

Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat. What a great week it has been.  It all started with our trip to the temple on Tuesday.  Such a great experience.  The Manila Temple is beautiful.  It's a lot smaller than I expected, but amazing non-the-less. I love going through the temple so much.  Not only do you help someone gain eternal salvation, but you also learn a ton and have a great spiritual experience. It was also really nice to have a little rest from the regular weekly routine of missionary work.  A change in scenery is always nice. 

The Baptism of Nicole was on Saturday.  So awesome. He's a great kid. He has a really strong testimony.  This baptism was especially cool because Nicole's brother, Keen, was able to baptize him. Keen is preparing to go on a mission and should be finishing up his mission papers in the next few weeks. There's no better way to prepare than by actually doing missionary work. The joys of seeing someone enter into the waters of baptism never diminishes. I loved Nicole's baptism just as much as I loved Sister Gaira's or the Amit family's. I love missionary work.

This Saturday will be a great day.  Another one of our Investigators is being baptized. Her name is Shane. She's only 9 years old and is so dang cute. She lives with her grandparents who just recently reactivated in the church.  Her grandparents are the nicest people ever.  I love going to their house to teach Shane.  She's so excited to be baptized. Honestly, that is the best part of being on a mission.  Being able to interact with all these people who are changing their lives to come closer to Christ. They are a great example to me.  I can learn something from every person that we come in contact with. As missionaries, we may be seeking to change other people’s lives, but in reality, they're changing ours. 

I want to quickly share an experience that we had yesterday at church. Elder Tofi and I were sitting in the Gospel Principles class when the ward clerk knocks on the door and tells us that we're needed outside. So we leave the class and walk out the door to find this man waiting for us. The clerk introduces us.  His name is Ronnie and he is not a member of the church, but he wants to be baptized. He's been jumping from church to church his whole life and has always felt like something was missing. Holy cow, this guy is ready for the gospel.  He told us that he came across our church website and fell in love with our doctrine and the church as a whole. What more could you ask for as a missionary.  He's going to be baptized on October 12th.  This church is true. We have the fullness of the Gospel. It's that simple. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Where People Milk Dogs

So my first district meeting.  It did not go exactly according to plan. I had made arrangements with the bishop of one of the wards in our zone to meet us at the church in order to open the gates for us because he's the only one with a key.  He texted us as we were leaving our house telling us that he couldn't make it.  Yeah I was a little frustrated.  So we sent the elders in our ward to go get the key. Unfortunately, it's about an hour ride there and back. We waited at the church for about 45 minutes waiting for the key.  The senior couple finally told us that we could just go to their apartment that was about a 15-minute ride away. So we all made our way over there.  We were finally able to start our district meeting.  We were an hour late.  It's all good though.  The lesson went well.  Not exactly how I imagined my first district meeting to go.  
Don't worry, we had another district meeting yesterday and it went so much better.

We had zone conference this week. It was great. And long.  It started at 9 o’clock in the morning and ended around 330.  I learned a ton though.  President Stucki is an amazing guy.  He is a great leader, teacher and president of this mission.  He really respects his calling as a mission president and truly does everything in his power to move the work forward.  You can tell that he is inspired of God and really cares about each of the missionaries he presides over. It was great to listen to and learn from him. 

Elder Tofi and I had a great experience last Monday teaching a referral of one of our members. Her name is Lydia. She is probably 70 or so and so nice. We taught her and her daughter, Debbie, about the restoration.  The lesson went so well.  After the lesson, she told us that when we open our mouths, we speak with power.  There are few phrases that are more valuable to a missionary.  Especially when you're teaching in a foreign language. It was such a cool experience.  I really hope that Lydia progresses.  She's a great person and would be a great member of the church. 

So I saw something pretty awesome the other day.  Elder Tofi and I were just walkin to an appointment and in the distance I saw a women sitting next to a dog. I didn't think anything of it.  As we approached, I realized she wasn't just sitting next to the dog.  She was milking the dog. Milking a dog. In the middle of the street.  It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen.  Gotta love life as a missionary in a foreign country where people milk dogs.