Sunday, February 23, 2014

We Find Miracles When We Look For Miracles

So this week.  Where to start.  We had Zone Conference, which was absolutely great.  I know I say this all the time, but President Stucki is the man.  The conference was focused around faith and it's importance in the work.  Such a spiritual experience. We actually didn't get any work in that day because we then had ward meeting the rest of the day.

We were supposed to have a baptism this last Saturday. His name is Tito and is the nephew of one of our super active members.  We have been teaching him for the past couple months and he's just a great kid.  He has a great support system in his uncle (he lives with his Uncle from Friday to Sunday).  Both of his parents have passed away so he lives with his grandparents, who are also his legal guardians (non members). (They had given us permission to baptize Tito weeks earlier.)  We were super excited about his baptism.  We had already made programs and the whole service was set up and ready. We stopped by his house on Friday night to teach one last lesson and just see how he was doing.  We were met by his Grandma who told us that she doesn't want Tito to be baptized anymore. We talked with her for about an hour about the importance of baptism and how it would change his life, but she wasn't really interested. So we had to cancel the baptism.  However, I know without a doubt, that when the time comes, Tito will be baptized and he will be a great member of the church.  We'll just continue to visit him and continue to love him and his family.

We had a great week in terms of finding this past week.  We found 10 great new investigators that we're super excited about. We taught some great lessons.  Elder Hawkins and I are transforming the way we teach and it's really starting to pay off.  It's amazing what the Lord can do when you put your trust in him.

One last experience. Elder Hawkins and I were looking for a referral the other day.  We were given the apartment building and floor, but not the number.  So we made our way to the 5th floor and began our search.  No one knew who this family was.  We were obviously in the wrong place.  However, we made our way down to the end of the hall and found a door ajar. We knocked and a big man (big in the Philippines isn't that big) approached.  We inquired about the name, but responded by saying that he did not know them.  Elder Hawkins and I felt prompted to continue talking with this man.  So we did.  We had a great conversation and he invited us in his house. We shared a great lesson with him, his wife, and his 3 kids.  It was wonderful.  They were very excited and invited us back this week.  It's amazing how the lord accomplishes his work.  We can find miracles whenever we are looking for them. 

I would just like to end with a quick scripture verse.  This is one of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon.

11 And it came to pass that the people of Limhi began to drive the Lamanites before them; yet they were not half so numerous as the Lamanites. But they fought for their lives, and for their wives, and for their children; therefore they exerted themselves and like dragons did they fight.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Be Perfect Now

Well this week started with an epic zone meeting on Tuesday.  We were over at the church at 10 in the morning preparing everything for our meeting that started at 1. At about 12, we had almost everything ready when we received a call from the big dawg himself, President Stucki.  He informed us that he would be attending our zone meeting. Upon hearing those words, my anxiety doubled in intensity.  Zone meeting alone is pretty stressful.  When you have President there, its taken to a whole new level.  It turned out really well though.  We had some great discussions on the importance of diligence and using time wisely.  We concluded with a segment on the difference between "utilizing" the Book of Mormon and "using" the Book of Mormon.  After all, it is the most powerful tool in conversion when coupled with the spirit. The theme of our meeting was the scripture 3rd Nephi 12:48:

48 Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

I truly love this scripture.  The Lord has commanded us to be perfect. Of course, right now, we are not perfect. However, everyday we can be a little bit more perfect than we were the day before. There are numerous aspects of our life that take enormous amounts of time to become perfect in. Being a perfect teacher, perfectly humble, or perfectly patient take lifetimes to achieve.  However, there are also aspects of our life that we can be perfect in now. Often times, the only thing that's holding us back from this perfection is our mindset. We can be perfect in studying the scriptures every day, attending church every week, or home teaching every month. In order to be perfect in these things, we just have to do it. Be perfect now.

We also had a great opportunity to attend a 6-hour leadership training on Thursday.  This has quite the story.  The training started at 9 in the morning.  In order to get a few things done and get there on time, we were out of our house at 7. We made our way around town to coordinate some exchanges with the companions of the district leaders who would also be attending the meeting. At about 7:45 we began to wave down taxis to take us the rest of the way to the chapel for the meeting. The chapel was probably 10 miles away, so in the states would take about 15 minutes to get there. We thought we would be there in no time. Time slowly began to pass as we were waiting on the side of the road trying to wave down a taxi.  Every taxi that past was full or just wouldn't stop for the Mormons. It ended up taking us 45 minutes to grab a taxi.  We still had hope we could make it on time... until we hit Manila traffic.  (Manila traffic is different than any other traffic you could ever imagine). We were at a stand still. We were still a bit away from the chapel and it was already 8:45.  So... we jumped out of the taxi and ran the rest of the way.  This scene probably could have been in a movie. There were skyscrapers on both sides, hordes of people and these 2 Americans were dodging these people as they ran in their white shirts and ties. Quite a scene.  We arrived at the chapel at 8:58, sweaty and red in the face.  What an adventure. 

The training was amazing though.  We did an activity at lunch where we all went out and just passed out Books of Mormon.  Elder Hawkins and I sat next to this guy eating lunch outside of a small convenient store. We began talking to him and discovered that he was from Mindoro (the same place Brady is serving at right now) and is only in Manila for work.  We shared a powerful message about the Book of Mormon.  This guy was hooked.  He gladly accepted the Book of Mormon and then told us to write a message on the inside of the Book of Mormon so he could read it to his wife when he headed back home. He asked us a ton of questions and it was just wonderful. Gotta love the Book of Mormon.

Yesterday was a wonderful day.  The work this last week had been a little tough and Elder Hawkins and I were just beat.  While we were awaiting the start of church, we saw one of the part member, less active families that we are teaching walking toward the church for the first time in over a decade. Unfortunately, Brother wasn't able to make it, but Sister came walking in with her 6 children all under the age of 12, 2 of which are 4 month old twins.  I was so excited to see them.  They are the cutest family ever. They were immediately enveloped by members who excitedly greeted them and welcomed them to church. My heart was full as I witnessed that sight. 3 of her children who are over the age of 8 haven't been baptized yet so we're super excited to have their family baptized and active in the church. I gotta send you a picture of this family, they are so dang adorable.

I just want to end with a thought that has been on my mind the past couple days. I'll begin with a scripture:
6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

We often underestimate the power of faith in our own lives. I've come to the conclusion that a failure to keep a commandment usually boils down to two reasons. 1. We don't understand it's importance. 2. Our faith is not sufficiently strong.  There is a reason that faith is the first principle of the gospel; everything depends upon our faith. In a world of trials and temptation, our faith is bumped, bruised and broken.  Our faith becomes weaker as we begin to yield to these temptations or fall victim to a trial we don't think we can overcome. However, when we endure challenges and overcome barriers that are placed in our way, our faith grows. It will become stronger and stronger until our faith becomes knowledge (like the brother of Jared). The Lord has given us guidance in how to strengthen our faith.  Prayer and scripture study are two very simple acts and yet, are often underestimated.  In the bible dictionary, it states that prayer brings forth some of the most plentiful blessings.  Moroni promises us later in verse 12 that as we show our faith, we are then open to see and experience miracles. I know that this is true.  Miracles are real and they begin with our faith.  Constantly strive to strengthen your faith. That way, when you are faced with a trial, you will have no problem bearing it. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Full Purpose of Heart

It's crazy to me how fast this last year has gone.  I feel like everything is going to be so different when I get home. Chandler's going to be 6'7" ending his Jr. year and Lindsay is going to be engaged (a vision I had the other day.  This way I can approve before the deal is sealed and have nieces and nephews as fast as possible.  The best of both worlds).  I'm not saying that I want to be home right now, but I’m definitely excited to chill with my family again.

Well this week has been a pretty good week.  I don't think anything too crazy happened because right now my mind is blank.  I'll tell you about some cool experiences we had teaching.  We were finally able to teach one of our investigators by the name of Rolly.  It's been like two weeks since we taught him.  I can't remember if I mentioned him in the past so here's a quick update.  This man is a genius.  He reads the bible in Hebrew and knows pretty much everything about it.  He let us into his house and he showed us his collection of books.  Most people have a shelf or two, this man had a library.  He had numerous editions of the bible in numerous different languages.  He had countless books on the Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, everything. Unfortunately for him, he was missing the most correct book on the earth.  The book that can bring men closer to God then any other book. The Book of Mormon.  Don't worry, we fixed that.  We taught him about the Book of Mormon, how it testifies of the truthfulness of the bible, how it fills in all that was lost during the Apostasy and brings forth the everlasting gospel. The lesson was great. He has committed to read the Book of Mormon, ponder about it, and pray to know of its truthfulness. We all know what happens when people do that.  Hearts are changed and souls are brought into the fold. 

We were stopped by a drunk guy the other day that wanted to talk about God.  He told us not to speak Tagalog to him.  He insisted on speaking English, but we could not understand a thing he was saying.  We tried to nicely excuse ourselves, but he would not allow us to leave.  We were finally saved by a nice man who invited us into his house in order to get away from this man.  While we were there, we taught him the gospel. He had tons of questions so we taught him about the restoration. It was quite the experience. He invited us to come back and further expound.  We're pretty stoked.  

We had MLC on Thursday.  It was great.  Upon arriving, I noticed 3 of my favorite people in the world. Elder Washburn, Elder Haynie and Sister Grant, my entire district from the MTC that came to Manila.  It's always great to converse with my batch (all the missionaries that you came into the mission with). Elder Washburn told me that this would be the last time we see each other before we hit our year mark.  That was a kicker. I guess you could call this month "hump month". MLC was, once again, great.  Such a spiritual experience.  We have some great ideas for Zone Meeting tomorrow. I'll let you know how that goes next week. 

Elder Hawkins and I are doing great.  I love that kid.  We are doing some great stuff here in the Manila 1st ward. 

Saw my favorite family at church yesterday.  The Caras family. I have a great story for you guys.  So I told you in the past that they have a son named Yvan.  However, I never told you that he is actually 9 years old, ready for baptism.  We wanted him to be baptized with Carmelino, but they insisted on having Carmelino baptized first because they didn't feel like Yvan was ready yet.  They wanted Carmelino to be baptized first in order to set a good example for Yvan. Saturday, Yvan was baptized. You'll never guess who baptize him.  Yep, his father.  Such an awesome experience. I wanted to cry. I know I mention this like every email, but I love that family so much.  I talked with them yesterday about going to the temple. Their plan is to be able to go the temple early next year and be sealed.  Gotta love it.  I sure hope I have the opportunity to attend the temple with them.  Nothing would be more worthwhile then witnessing a family become eternal. 

That's about it for this week. I would like to end with a scripture that I have really grown to love here in the field.  

Mosiah 7:33 But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.

I love the term "full purpose of heart." The gospel is not something we can go at half-heartedly. We have to turn to the Lord and do everything that he asks of us on a consistent basis. We must trust in him and know that he will do what is best for us.  Sometimes we feel like the Lord doesn't answer a prayer when we don't receive what we want, but in reality he is just placing us where we will learn the most, and become the best that we can be. The Lord's will is perfect, his love is perfect, and his plan for us is perfect. Trust in him. It's the best thing that we can do. 

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Trust in the Lord and know that his plan is perfect.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Punched in the Nose by the Holy Ghost

Well I have a ton to talk about and not a lot of time to do it in.  I'll try and bust as much out as I can.  It all started last Monday with the departure of Elder Carlson.  I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend I’ve known my whole life.  However, the knowledge that we're going to be tight after the mish made the goodbyes a lot easier.  We only cried in each other’s arms for a few minutes. I sure am gonna miss that guy.  I spent the next few days working in another area with Elder Manongas and Elder Noynay.  It was good stuff.  Finally Wednesday rolled around and met my new companion.  Elder Hawkins.  He's the man.  He's got some crazy red hair and was a runner at BYU Hawaii before the mission.  (Finally a companion that likes running) He's been in the mission for one transfer longer than I have and is a great missionary. I love the guy.  He's from Idaho. I've already learned a ton from him.  This is his first transfer as a zone leader so I have the responsibility of teaching him how to be a zone leader even though I still don't really know what I’m doing.  So pretty much we're just winging it. Follow the spirit I guess. Life of a Zone Leader gets pretty crazy some times, but I love it.  

This week was full of ups and downs.  We have met a ton of great people this past week and are super stoked to teach them in the future.  We had a cool experience last night.  We were walking home at about 8:50 pm and I felt impressed to go walk by one of our investigators house to see how he was doing.  We had stopped by earlier that day, but were told that he was out of town and wouldn't be back till the next day.  We went anyway.  We "tao po"ed and out came my boy Dwight. We found him a couple days ago helping some of the new elders find their new house.  He had quite a few questions about religion and of course, the Mormon missionaries always have the answers.  We just started a casual conversation outside his house.  All of the sudden, my nose started to bleed. (First nose bleed I’ve had in about a year. Quite odd).  He told me to come inside his house and clean up.  So we did.  While we were in the house, I met his father, mother, sister and daughter.  We had a great conversation and got a return appointment for tomorrow. Upon leaving, Elder Hawkins and I both looked at each other and confirmed the feelings of the other: that family is going to be baptized.  All because of a random bloody nose, we found an awesome family.  I guess you could say I was punched in the face by the spirit.  God sure does work in mysterious ways.  

My birthday was quite an interesting day.  It started off a little bit terrible.  We left our house to go pick up some of our investigators for church.  Two of them weren't home, and one said they had to work.  We went to a final house.  The mother of our investigator exited the house. She saw us, sighed and then began yelling, telling us never to come back.  That was awesome.  Then, we arrived at church to find that some of our other investigators that had committed to come didn't show.  It was a frustrating morning.  However, two less actives made my day.  My boy Hector was at church for the 4th time, which marks his reactivation.  He's the man.  He's going to be a great member of the church.  He's going to change a lot of people's lives.  I can feel it. Not only that, but he also invited his driver to church and referred him to us. That's what I’m talking about.  This brings me to my other less active best friend, Lan. He's the funniest guy ever. He invited us over to his house later that night.  We showed up to find burritos and a birthday cake on the table. I had told them that Mexican food was my favorite food and so they cooked me burritos.  Isn't that the greatest thing you have ever heard? Most people in the Philippines don't even know what burritos are.  It was such a great night.  I love that family so much.  They are so mabait and mahal ko sila talaga. Lan will be reactivated this Sunday!! 

We had the wonderful opportunity to go to the temple earlier today. That was awesome.  No place like the temple.