Sunday, March 16, 2014

Without the Bitter, the Sweet Wouldn't Be as Sweet

Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (Good morning to you all).

Another beautiful morning in the Philippines. You would never believe this, but it's actually getting hotter here.  We're approaching the "summer" season (even though it's always summer here) and are headed into the warmest months of the year.  Yay. I'm so excited to sweat.

The beginning of the week was great.  Elder Hawkins and I spent our last few days together in a state of bliss and joy. We went to the gym and running. Doesn't get better than that.  I'm sad to report Dad that the abs don't function like the washboard they used to.  I'm slowly moving into the padded-ironing-board-cover stage.  It's quite sad.  Oh rice, why are you so abundant in the Philippines? Anyway, Elder Hawkins and I made some cool shirts for about 2 dollars, made cookie dough and played some epic Uno.  We spent Monday night and Tuesday visiting all of our favorite families in the ward.  It was sad to say goodbye.  Especially, to the Borejon family.  The cutest part member family that the world has ever produced.  Their baptism is on the 29th and I’m hoping to get permission from President Stucki to attend. They expressed to me that they want me to be the one to baptize them so I sure hope I can go.

So my new area.... I am already in love it. And my companion... he's the man.  His name is Elder Manares.  He's the funniest, hard working Filipino missionary ever. He rarely speaks English and when he does, he just quotes movies hahaha.  I love the guy.  He's been in the mission for a while and heads home in October. We're going to have a great time together.  I'm excited for the opportunity to improve my language ability.  He also loves basketball.  We've played basketball 3 times so far.  We play with some of our neighbors.  It's a good time.

So our area is kind of tiny.  It's composed of probably 10 streets or so. However, the people are great.  It’s a step up from the ghetto that was my last area. No one calls me Joe and no one makes fun of us. It's great.  I did however have some little kids following me around pinching and slapping my butt.  That was weird.  We have some great mga tinuturuan (people we're teaching).  I gotta tell you about our awesome investigator Jun Jun.  He's 20 years old and just loves the gospel.  He works at a bakery and is just a happy guy.  We took him to a baptism on Saturday and he just ate it up.  He told us that he wishes it was him being baptized. (greatest comment ever).  He will be baptized on the 29th.

My first Sunday was just great.  I love the ward.  I started getting to know the members the first day I got here and they are the nicest people ever.  They love missionaries and they love missionary work. I had the opportunity to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting and I felt like I was back in the states.  The building we meet in is quite amazing.  It's three stories and 6 wards meet in it every Sunday.  The chapel looks almost identical to ours back home except downsized.  It has the exact same color scheme and everything. The only difference was there weren’t any white people.  I'm slowly upgraded area-to-area.  Cabar was a tiny shack hut, Manila was a small tropical building and Bonifacio (the name of our ward) is a huge, architectural feature.  I wonder what my next area has in store.  This ward just has a different feeling.  Everyone at church is happy and jolly. The spirit is strong and I’m just stoked to be here.  I was also asked to speak next week.  I will be the concluding speaker hahaha concluding speakers here usually end up speaking for like 20 minutes.  That will be an adventure.  The concluding speaker yesterday spoke for quite a while on the importance of marriage and how teenagers shouldn’t hold hands even if they're in a relationship.  That's quite an opinion.

I got your package! It was perfect timing.  I got it on Wednesday (transfer day) so it was a nice comfort.  Plus, we didn't have any food at our house so I’ve been living off of snacks.  Yum.  The shoes and shirts are great.  I'm lookin pretty dang fly.  I've actually had some random people approach me and tell me that only true representatives of Jesus Christ can look that good hahah however, it did come at a price.  These shoes gave me some gnarly blisters on my heels.  They're just about gone now though so we're all good. Thanks so much for the package.  I loved the pictures.  I've gone through them upwards of 20 times already.  You guys are lookin great. 

So I found out where Mayday Parade got the title, "Without the bitter, the sweet wouldn't be as sweet." It turns out they got if from D&C 29:39
 39 And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet.
That about does it for the week. It was a wonderful week and I feel extremely blessed to be a part of the work in this area.  I would just like to end with a scripture from one of the best Book of Mormon missionaries, Ammon.
12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things.
Ammon was the instrument that brought thousands of Lamanite souls into the fold of God. He worked miracles and forever changed the course of an entire nation. He was a man of mighty faith. However, he wasn't always the Ammon that chopped of arms to save the kings flocks or converted kingdoms.  He was also one of the sons of Mosiah that sought to destroy the church of God in his youth. He repented, he overcame his weaknesses, and grew into the man that the Lord wanted him to be. We can also become as Ammon is, even if we are now who Ammon used to be. We are so lucky to have the knowledge that we are all children of our Heavenly Father and he loves us unconditionally. He is there for us always and will help us become who he wants us to be.  In his strength, we can do all things.

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