Sunday, June 29, 2014

We're Never Riding Alone

Kumusta!? Alam niyo ba na kayo ang pinakamagandang pamilia sa buong mundo? Namimiss ko kayo araw araw. How are you?! It's been a great week here in the Philippines (every week is great). I'm glad to hear that all is well for you guys. 75 miles? I'm impressed mom and dad. I've got some pretty amazing parents. I'm excited to be able to ride in the Best Dam Bike ride next year. Speaking of which, Bob, can you do me a huge favor and put together some sort of work out plan for me? These are my resources: Jump rope, perfect pushup, exercise bands, yoga mat and a rock solid body. That would be awesome if you could send me something. I miss organized exercise. Well I guess I’ll go ahead and dive into this past week. It's been pretty epic. 

I'll start with one of my favorite men (no homo). King Magalig. Seriously, he's the man. We taught him a couple times this last week and he is just loving the gospel. One of those lessons was the word of wisdom. He's been a smoker for numerous years. At one point he was smoking a pack a day. We had a great lesson and by the end of the lesson he was excitedly telling us how he truly wants to stop. We created a plan and he's well on his way.  He even reported in our last lesson that he's been teaching all of his coworkers about the Word of Wisdom. He's so prepared. King told us this last week that his house feels different whenever we're there. Gumagaan daw ang pakiramdam niya.  It makes him happier and changes his attitude throughout the rest of the day. He works at a Mexican Restaurant that Elder Diamse and I are hittin up later today. Partly to say hi to King and partly because I love Mexican food more than words can describe. It'll be an adventure. 

Went on exchanges this past week with a new missionary in our zone. It was way fun. Reminded me of my first area and the great/frustrating experiences that come with being a new missionary. It's amazing how much you grow and learn over the years. Quite crazy. 

We had our first flood of the year!! The raining season is upon us! As we were walking to an appointment, all of the sudden the windows of heaven were opened and "the rain came tumbling down. The rain came down and the floods came up." We took cover in a member’s house while the streets around us began to become rapid moving rivers. The gross thing about the floods is they occur when the sewers reach their maximum capacity.  As a result, the water from the sewers brings other undesirable substances. The water is literally black. Not only that, but it also causes the cockroaches to flee to the surface. Gross. It was an adventure. The first of many. 

Had a cool experience the other day. In our nightly planning, we were inspired to plan a visit to one of our members we don't visit too often. The next day when we visited him, he expressed to us that he was praying that we would visit him and was even thinking about calling to ask us to come share with him.  He was going through some hard times and we were really able to help him out. Really goes to show that Heavenly Father is conscious of all of his children and leads us to those that need our help. When I say "us" I’m not only talking about his missionaries. Every single one of us has been given the opportunity to care for our brothers and sisters around us and should strive to recognize any prompting to offer a helping hand. Random thoughts about members, friends, family members, or neighbors are actually not random at all. They are divine promptings leading us to those in need. Follow them. If you question whether they are from the spirit, just act to find out. If they cause you to do something good, don't hesitate. One of my favorite quotes from conference: "Tomorrow you might not remember the nice things you said today, but the receiver might cherish them for a lifetime." Don't pass up the opportunity.

Elder Diamse went on a referral chase that resulted in a man that is prepared for the gospel. It all started with an OYM. He wasn't interested. He told us to visit his friend. We did. His friend wasn't interested. His friend then told us to visit a man down the street. We did. He was prepared. He's a young father and is looking for direction in his life. We'll be giving it to him. 

We have an investigator who is just a great lady. Her name is Elsi.  We love her and she loves us. She told us that every time that she sees us she gets super excited. She told us that she sometimes sees us as she's looking out her window. She always says a little prayer that we'll come back and visit her. I just love her. When we knock on the gate, she comes out with the biggest smile on her face and sometimes skips to the door. Gotta love not only being a missionary, but also a friend. 

That about wraps up this week. I sure love being a missionary. There are moments where it's extremely difficult to continue. However, the enabling power of the atonement always takes over and you find motivation where you thought there was none. The times when it gets the hardest are the times it's the most worth it. One may might say it's like a 75-mile bike ride. Sometimes we're faced with a steep hill and we feel like we can't push any further. Right after we've put in our very last effort, we feel a hand on our back that gives us the extra strength to continue climbing till we reach the top. We then realize that we're never riding alone. I love you guys.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

"To their eternal credit, I will be forever grateful for them."

Hey Hey Hey.  Have I mentioned that I miss you guys like crazy? I loved reading your emails today. I just love hearing about the exciting events that are taking place back in the Promised Land. It truly amazes me how much things are changing. I'm going to be so out of the loop when my sister is living elsewhere and my brother is a junior in high school.  I'll return home with my rice belly and not know what to do with my life. Gotta love the future. Super exciting. It was a jam-packed week.  The cooking situation here is quite exciting. I think Heavenly Father had canned and freezer foods created for his missionaries, because that's what we eat everyday for lunch haha. Luckily, we have awesome members who feed us dinner nearly every night so we're surviving.

I'll start with an experience I had at the temple this last week. Don't you just love the temple? I sure do.  I could go everyday and just ponder for hours. Last Tuesday I was doing just that. I decided to take a second and ponder about numerous things that would be taking place in the future (after my mission).  I opened up the scriptures to see if I could find out the Lord's will for me. These are the verses I came across:

"Therefore, take ye no thought for the morrow...For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things.
Therefore, let the morrow take thought for the things of itself."

Chastised. Ouch. Not the time to be thinking about the future. Focus on the work and everything will work out. Heavenly Father has a plan.

I gotta tell you about my boy King. He's the man. Seriously, he's so prepared. We visited him a couple times this past week and he is just embracing the gospel. He told us of an amazing experience he had while pondering upon the messages he had shared. It was Tuesday, June 17 at 1am in the morning. As he sat on a bench outside his house thought and prayed about what he needed to do. All of the sudden, a newspaper fly out of no where and landed on his foot. He grabbed the newspaper and examined the cover. He saw the date. Tuesday, June 17. The day’s newspapers are usually delivered for another 3-4 hours and yet, there it was, in his hand. It was only a single paper and he began to read. He came across the horoscopes and decided to read his. This is a rough translation of what it said, "What you are doing right now will testify to you of truth. It will bring peace and happiness to your life." Holy Crap. Can an answer to a prayer be clearer than that? He was amazed at the answer he received. I was amazed at the answer he received. It was just amazing. He's taken that answer and is applying it.  He's reading the Book of Mormon, praying and coming to church. This is a great example of what one has to do in order to receive answers to prayers. If we hope to receive such an answer, we have to be completely set upon doing whatever that Lord asks us to do. We have to give up our own desires and our own wants and completely trust that the Lord will give us exactly what we need. If we don't have the conviction to act before, the answer will never come. The power of prayer. Read about it in the Bible Dictionary. We truly underestimate the power of prayer. 

Had a leadership training this week. It was amazing. It was the final training we will be receiving from President Stucki. Super sad, but super uplifting. It was a whole day thing.  Each of the zone leaders gave a segment about an aspect of Missionary Work. We talked about the Book of Mormon. It went well.  Elder Diamse and I also sang a musical number with our two district leaders. It went well. We sang an acapella version of I Need Thee Every Hour. I sure love singing. I saw elder Atoigue and all my buddies there. I love those guys. Elder Atoigue told me a story about one of the members in my previous area. Do you remember Hector? After years of inactivity, he came back to church while I was there. Remember? He's the man. A couple days before the training Elder Atoigue asked him, "Hector, what finally made you come back to church after all those years?" This was his response: "It's all because of two missionaries. I had been visited by countless missionaries in the past and had never wanted to come back. Then two missionaries came by (Elder Carlson and I). There was something different about those two. When they visited me, it made me want to come back to church. To their eternal credit, I will be forever grateful for them." Probably the best compliment I have ever received on my mission. I just love Hector and love that he's happy in the church. The joys of missionary work. 

We sang in the ward choir this week! It was awesome. We sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic." It was great. Not quite as good as the Cabar choir, but I guess it was alright. They recruited us when they realized they only had 2 men. Don't worry, we added some testosterone to the choir.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Where's Waldo?

HAPPY FATHERS DAY TATAY!! Sorry it's a day late. It's that time of month again (I'm referring to temple day. Don't get any other ideas). Therefore, Tuesday is our P-Day.  I'm just so dang lucky to have the best father I could ever ask for. I hope you had a wonderful day. I'll be home for the next one :) This week has been crazy great. We had a lot of amazing experiences.  I'm glad to hear the family is doing well. It's just so crazy to read about the drastic changes that are going on in your lives.  I don't even know if I’ll recognize you when I return. I'll pray for the gift of discernment before I leave.

Alright. This week was great. I got to tell you about this great guy we found this past week. We were looking through the area book at former investigators and came across a man by the name of King Magaling (Translation-King Talented, quite the name). We felt like we needed to visit this man.  We went to the house indicated on the records to find that he moved. Well dang. They directed us to the location that they believed to be his current residence. We made our way that direction and started to ask everyone if they knew this man.  No one did. We made our way down a small alleyway leading to a small, humble home. The home of King Magaling. A man saw us coming and quickly beckoned us to enter.  He found us seats and excitedly sat with us.  He explained that he was in fact King Magaling. King began telling us of his experience with missionaries in the past. He remembered their names, their message, and the feelings he felt. For some reason, the missionaries never returned. King then began to tell us the story about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon (while holding his own copy he had been given the year before). He told us of his family, his wife and two young kids. We then began to share the wonderful message of the restoration with this man. It might be more appropriate to say that he shared the message of the restoration with us. The spirit was strong as this man listened intently to how the message could bless his family.  The rest is history. He told us to come back. We did. Another great lesson. He's going to be baptized and his family is going to be eternal. Gotta love former investigators. 

Had zone meeting this past week!! It was great. Elder Diamse and I killed it. We have the best zone ever.  One of the highlights of the meeting was our focus we put on finding men (if you find the men, the family comes with). We used the well-known phrase of "Where's Waldo?" and exhorted all our missionaries to find Waldo everyday. I also gave a segment about going out of your comfort zone. I related our comfort zone to dough, something that must be continually rolled out or it will slowly shrink back to its normal size. It's not enough to go out of your comfort zone once. It must be a decision to change and make the new stretch apart of who you are. I sure love zone meeting. 

We had some amazing experiences finding this week. 7 of them have agreed to be baptized. Tender Mercies of the Lord. 

So it's finally rainy season! The temperatures have dropped a degree and the rain has come. With the rain and the change of weather comes sickness. Not fun.  Elder Diamse got sick earlier this week and lost his voice. I'm starting to pick it up and also losing my voice. I sound like a moron. 

Nearly fell out of a jeepney this week hahaha while it was parked. That was embarrassing.  As I was getting off the strap of my bag wrapped around my leg and I made a super graceful flop out of the back of the jeepney. I luckily landed on my feet. My body was fine, my pride was not. What was probably going through everyone else's head, "hahahahaha stupid American." That's ok, I can take it.  Maybe it made someone's day or made someone smile that hasn't in a while. 

We had stake conference! There was a live broadcast from Salt Lake City. It was great. Uplifting. 

We found a 18-year-old kid this week. His name is Joel.   He really wants to find the truth.  We gave it to him. He prayed about it. He knows it's true. He came to church. Gonna be baptized.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Searching for the Truth"

It's just a wonderful morning here in the Philippines.  It's still hot.  I have so much that I need to tell you about this week.  It's been a pretty crazy week.  Alright. Elder Diamse is the man.  He's half Filipino, half American but grew up in Utah. He loves sports, music, singing, joking around and just having a good time. We're pretty much best friends. Like I mentioned last week, I know him pretty well. I've gotten to know him pretty well over the past 6 months at MLCs and other such functions. All I gotta say is that we are going to have a fun time over the next transfer or two. 

So the past few weeks our area has been going through some struggles. We have been workin hard, but success just hasn't really been happening. At the end of last week and the beginning of this week, we had to drop numerous investigators and it left us with very little to work with.  So this past week, we have been talking to everybody and their dog.  It's not too easy to talk to everyone when you're in the Philippines because there's millions and millions of people packed into a square mile. If you truly tried to talk to everyone, you could spend your entire day on one street.  So when you're in the Philippines, you really have to find with the spirit.  One principle that you have to learn is that in order to receive more promptings from the spirit you have to prove to the Lord that you'll actually following the ones that he's granting you know. That's what we've been doing. It's brought great success. We've found numerous families that are ready to receive the gospel. I'll tell you about one real fast. So the other day we moved into our new apartment. Upon moving in, we saw our neighbor outside so we started talking with him.  Turns out, he doesn't speak Tagalog.  He's a Filipino that was born in the states and only speaks English (Great thing that both elder Diamse and I speak English pretty well). He's here for work with his wife and brand new baby that was born 19 days ago (their baby is dang cute). His name is Myles and is a really cool guy. Not only is he a cool guy, but he's also been "searching for the truth." Luckily for him, we have the truth. He's been to countless religions, read through the whole bible, cover to cover twice and has talked with members of numerous sects. We set up an appointment with him for later that day.  Later, we taught him and his wife about the message of the restoration (in English. Oh my gosh I love English). It was amazing.  It was powerful.  He had so many questions and we had all the answers. Myles embraced the Book of Mormon and is stoked to read. They have committed to be baptized on July 19th.  The Lord truly places us where he wants us to be.  It's then our job to execute the will of the Lord in the situation that he has placed us in. Fear and being shy are often two hindrances that we all face, hindrances that can be overcome. Never let such feelings keep you from following the promptings of the spirit. 

We had an awesome member bring a friend to church yesterday.  The member's name is Polo and is one of my best buds in the ward.  He brought his neighbor, Elsie. She loved church.  We taught her last night.  She testified to us about the different feeling she felt in our church. She wants to be baptized and she will be next month. Bring your friends to church. It will change your life and the life of the one that you brought.

So pretty much we have the best recent converts in the world.  Three of them (JunJun, Shela, and Geo) are young single adults and love working with us. We've all become great buds.  On Friday, they told us to meet them at a bakery near our house after we finished weekly planning.  Upon arriving at the bakery we were met by these three recent converts who were sitting at a table with McDonalds for us. (Let me also point out that McDonalds is like the nicest place to eat around here. It's not cheap. Plus they are YSAs who don't make a ton of money). They told us that they just wanted to thank us for everything.  How nice is that? We then received a text from Shela later telling us how the lessons that we've been teaching her are "not only changing her life, but making her capable of changing her own life." Those are the times where you just wish you could be a full time missionary forever.  I love this work.

Couple other highlights.

Our apartment is sick. We play basketball every morning.

One of the families we're teaching has finally made the goal to be sealed in the temple. They talked to the bishop about it and are on their way.

Neither I nor Elder Diamse know how to cook. We're in trouble.

Zone meeting is tomorrow.

Well that's about it for this week.  I hope you guys have a wonderful week. I love y'all so much!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Let the Gospel Show in Your Face"

OOOOOHHHHH MMMMMYYYY GGGGGOOOOOSSSSSHHHH!!! My sister is ENGAGED!!! If you could only see me right now! CONGRATULATIONS!!! I don't even know what to say right now. I am so stinkin happy for you Linds!! And of course, I'm super happy for my future brother in law! (That was weird to say). I sure wish I could be there right now. I would run up to you all and give you the biggest hug in the history of the world. After I gave Lindsay a hug, Jonathan would extend his hand to shake mine and I would exclaim, "Brothers don't shake hands, brothers gotta hug!!" And then we'd go cow tipping.  AAAAAHHHHHH I am so dang excited. I've gotta say Jonathan, I’m quite impressed with the proposal. If you asked me to marry you in that way I too would say yes. Seriously, I just want to dance around the streets and sing at the top of my lungs, "It's a beautiful night, I’m looking for something dumb to do. Hey baby, I think I want to marry you!" I can hear the church bells ringing already.  The picture you sent me was beautiful Linds.  You are looking gorgeous. Jonathan, you're lookin ok haha joke lang, you're looking gorgeous as well. You just look so happy!! You just look so perfect! I can just see the future unfolding before my eyes.  You're gonna make me some great lookin nieces and nephews. (Was that awkward? I don't feel that emotion anymore). Well I could probably go on for days, but I have to commence my report for the week because my week was also quite eventful. AWW you're engaged!! This whole country is going to know about that before the end of the week. 

Where to even start. I gotta start with Thursday.  (I can't even focus my thoughts right now. I'm just so dang happy). We had MLC and it was great.  I just love MLC. It was President Stucki's last MLC.  Sad. But it was great nonetheless. We talked about a lot of missionary stuff.  I saw all my best buddies. Guess what!? I'm not sure if you remember Maricel, my investigator from Manila 1, but she got baptized this last week!! YAY! Another completed family. I love families. Elder Hawkins told me the funniest story ever. I have to tell it to you.  So Elder Hawkins and Elder Atoigue went to Maricel's house one day and she looked a little frustrated.  At the same time, she was massaging her fist. They inquired as to what was wrong. She said, "Nothing." Then her mom came in and exclaimed that Maricel had punched her husband! Taken off guard, Elder Hawkins asked why and she explained, "Dino (her husband who used to be less active) promised me a few months ago that we would never miss church.  The past couple weeks he has made up excuses not to go to church.  I got frustrated so I punched him." hahahahaha that story made my life. That a girl.  Show you're husband who's boss. It's amazing that when we started teaching her, she did not want to go to church at all. Now, she's enforcing the law of God with her fist. Gotta love the converting power of the gospel. 

Friday was quite the amazing day.  We had the opportunity to hear from Elder Christensen of the presidency of the 70.  It was amazing.  Honestly, I can't even describe how awesome it was. When he walked in, my heart skipped a beat (probably like Lindsay’s did when SHE GOT ENGAGED).  His countenance was bright and the countenance of his wife was even more so. Elder Christensen shared an amazing message.  He had planned this huge thing that he was going to share, but when he stood up to talk he told us,” I feel prompted to share something else with you today." He then went off and illustrated 2 key points of the gospel.  The atonement and the restoration. He talked for about 30 minutes and it was just amazing. If you want to be a general authority you have to treasure up the words or life continually.  It reminded my of a statement President Stucki made: "Until you can teach something, you haven't internalized it." The general authorities have truly internalized the gospel. They are true examples of what it means to be a witness of Jesus Christ at all times, in all things, and in all places.  I hope I can live up to my covenants the way that they do.  As I sit here pondering what I want to share, one statement comes to mind.  Elder Christensen told us, "Let the gospel show in your face." As members of the true church, we should always let the gospel show in our faces. Everyone that comes into contact with us should want to know Jesus Christ because they know us (my paraphrasing of a quote).  They should feel the Savior's love through us.  That is our duty and responsibility as members of this church. 

We got some crazy news the other day.  Elder Manares is training and therefore transferring. I will be staying here in the wonderful Bonifacio 4th ward.  I will be getting a new companion on Wednesday.  His name is Elder Diamse.  I'm way stoked because I already know Elder Diamse really well.  He's American and I know we'll get along great.  I'm super stoked. We're about to tear up this area harder then Elder Manares and I did. It's gonna be tough saying goodbye to Elder Manares though.  We've become pretty good friends. We've had some great times and great success together. 

I've got some sad news. I was informed this last week that Marissa Reyes (the women I baptized in Manila 2nd) passed away this last week. I guess she's been sick and in and out of the hospital for a while and it finally overtook her.  I wasn't told too much about it. They weren't sure what sickness or any details really.  Super sad. That was tough news to hear. I sure love that woman.  The great thing is she passed away an active member of the church. I sure am glad I have such a great knowledge about the plan of salvation. It's great to know that I’ll see her again. Because of the Gospel, death doesn't have to be sad.  In fact, we can rejoice in the fact that she is resting from all her cares.

Let's see... what else is worth telling you.

We took pictures at the mall last Monday with all of our ward missionaries and leaders haha that was great.  

I sweat more sitting here than I used to sweat during soccer games. 

It's really hot.  

It rained for the first time in months the other day!! Raining season is nigh.

My sister is engaged!

One of the less active families that we're working with (the Aneuver family) is finally coming back to church!! They've been two times in a row!

We're moving apartments this week.  Our new apartment has a basketball hoop on the roof.  What up. 

2 of our recent converts have told us that they want to serve missions.  Junjun is one of them. 

I think that's about it for this week. I love you guys and miss you like crazy!! Keep doing what you're doing. 

PS. my sister's engaged.