This week was a pretty trying week, but was filled with tender mercies. I'll start with our wonderful Thanksgiving in the Philippines. It was actually a great day. We had our Mission tour with Elder Echo Hawk. It was amazing. He's a pretty amazing guy. It was a very spiritual experience, so much that I actually felt quite physically exhausted afterword. Being in the presence of a General Authority is amazing. Elder Echo Hawk told of us about quite a few experiences that he's had since being a General Authority and I have to say, he's one lucky guy. He was on the committee that was formed to execute all the little things involved in lowering the age of eligibility for missionary work. He found out about the announcement 3 weeks before conference. He was in the presence of Elder Christofferson while he was assigning missionaries to their specific missions. He also told us about a weekend he spent with Elder Anderson at a stake conference. Elder Anderson was instructing Elder Echo Hawk in the importance of "treasuring up in your mind" the doctrines of the Gospel and proved his point in quite an interesting way. Elder Echo Hawk had prepared three talks for the stake conferences that they would be attending. He didn't end up using any of them. About 4 minutes before Elder Echo Hawk was assigned to speak, Elder Anderson handed him a little post it note that had a scripture passage and read, "this is the scripture I want you to talk about for the next 25 minutes." Isn't that crazy!! So that's what he did. Elder Echo Hawk stood up and pretty much just winged it... for 25 minutes. Elder Anderson followed the same process in the following days. I was imagining what I would do in that situation and I came to the conclusion that I would be up a crick. That is why I'm not a general authority. It reinforced to me that I need to do a little more "treasuring up." We can all probably do a little bit better in that area. We might not have to wing a 25 minute talk in conference, but we never know when we are going to be called on to answer a doctrinal question or bear testimony to our friends. We have to be ready at all times and in all places.
Oh my goodness. Thanksgiving dinner was amazing. We actually didn't have to eat rice. We decided that we would treat ourselves that night. So we took our personal funds and headed to one of the nicest restaurants here in Manila. McDonalds. We loaded up on burgers, fries, and apple pies. Nothing like grandma's house, but I guess it wasn't too bad.
Saturday was just great. Angel was baptized. She's such a great girl. She's going to thrive in the church. She has such a strong testimony and was so excited for her baptism. She was so excited that she actually showed up on time to her baptism (that never happens). The service went great. Elder Villoso and I performed a special musical number. We sang her favorite hymn, I Need Thee Every Hour. We crushed it. Someone came up to us after the baptism and asked us if we could sing at her Birthday Party hahaha I'm worried that we're going to be discovered during sacrament or something and be asked to join a record label. Oh well, such is life.
Here's a little cultural note for you guys about how things work in regards to family members that pass away. In the states, we would have a nice viewing and a funeral. Not here. What they do is they decorate their living room and place the coffin of the deceased in their living room. The coffin stays there for A WEEK!! During this week, you have to follow a few rules. 1. The whole family cannot be asleep at the same time. There always has to be someone awake while the coffin is in the living room. If the whole family falls asleep, the deceased person will wake up and kill everyone. Yep. So what they do to avoid this is gamble and drink for a week straight. Huh. 2. You cannot sweep the floor of your house. Not sure why, you just can't. 3. You cannot shower in your house. You have to go to someone else's house to shower. Quite an interesting culture. I expect you guys to observe these rules when I pass away. Take note.
We had to change the baptismal dates of a couple of our investigators. As of right now, Marissa, Carmelino and Mark will all be baptized on December 21st. They are doing fantastic. They come to church every week, they read the Book of Mormon everyday and keep all of the commitments we leave. I'll keep you updated on their progression in the upcoming weeks. I'm so dang excited for these people.
Tagalog has been a little frustrating this week. Sometimes I really wish I could teach the gospel in English. There's nothing quite like using your native tongue where you know exactly what everyone is saying and can say every thing that you want, exactly how you want to say it. It's a little frustrating because the natives will not help you with the language. They refuse to tell you when you say something wrong. I think they believe that doing so will hurt your feelings when in reality it will just make me better!! I'm trying to make Elder Villoso understand that but he's not quite catching on.