Well, I have so much to tell you this week. Missionary life has changed very drastically in the past week and I hope I’ll be able to write an email that can do this week justice. But before that, I need to tell you the story of Jamie and Shala. So here it goes.
Elder Diamse, some ward missionaries and I were looking far and wide for a man we had met a few days earlier on the side of the road. We were not having any luck. We checked numerous houses and asked countless people. As we were checking a house, Jio (the ward missionary) decided to ask a man that was about to get on his motorcycle if he knew the man we were looking for. This was his response to Jio: "Are you a Mormon?" Jio responded, "yes". The man then replied, "me too, I have someone that I want you guys to teach." That was the first time we saw Jamie. He then took us down a little alley way and brought us into his house where he explained that he's been inactive for a couple years, but finally wants to come back. He then introduced us to his wife, who is not a member, and told us that he wants us to teach her. She then exclaimed that she really wanted to learn more about her husband’s belief and why he was so set on returning to his church that he had mentioned numerous times to her. The rest is history. They're going to be baptized. No doubt.
I am officially a licensed driver in the Philippines! Holy crap, some of the scariest moments of my life have occurred in the past couple days driving on Manila roads. However, I’m finally getting used to it and getting comfortable with the whole "there's no traffic laws" thing. Just a glimpse into what it's like to drive in the Philippines: there are no stop signs or yield signs. The one that is bigger has the right-of-way. People don't really pay attention to the street lines. It's not uncommon to see five lines of cars on a three lane road. It's also not uncommon to see people perform left turns or u-turns from the far right line (crossing three lanes of traffic). There are no cops on the road so everyone can do pretty much whatever they want. I believe that most people participate in the game "Who can cut more people off today?" The drivers don't really anticipate turns that they will be making down the road. When they find themselves in the wrong lane a couple yards from their desired destination, they are not afraid to make everyone wait as they maneuver their car perpendicular to oncoming traffic to make the turn. So pretty much, every time you get in a car, you're in for an adventure. Welcome to the Philippines.
So this upcoming week is transfer week so we have been crazy busy trying to get everything ready for all the changes that will be happening this Wednesday. We have one of the biggest batches of new missionaries we have ever had coming in this week (28 new missionaries). It's been crazy. There's been a few times where President Ostler has called us up and stated, "I need your assistance. Come to the mission home." So that's what we did. We don't have a lot of time to work in our area, but I sure have seen the miracles that the Lord provides if you work hard. I'll talk more about those miracles later.
We have spent the last week in a threesome. I've been with Elder Stephens (he's going home tomorrow) and Elder Limocon (my new companion) and we have had a great time. We've been working hard and laughing hard. You have to enjoy the journey. A wise general authority once said, "If you're missing the joy, you're missing it all." That's the way to do missionary work. You work as hard as you possibly can and have a good time doing it.
So here's some of those miracles I mentioned earlier. In this area we are over two wards. One of the wards is Makati 3rd, the most organized ward I have ever seen here. The other is the international ward. Yep, all of the services are in English and half of the people are American. It's pretty amazing. I feel like I’m back in the states. We attend 5 hours of church every week. It's great. A little more background before I mention the miracles. When I was talking with President Ostler, he told me to expect miracles and miracle baptisms. We don't have a ton of time to proselyte in our area, but somehow the work still moves forward. This last week, that phrase came to life. We entered the chapel to find a new family. As we talked with this family we learned that the father was baptized 2 months ago in New York while visiting his brother. Now that they are back in the Philippines he wants his wife and 2 kids to be taught and baptized. So he brought the whole family to church. It was amazing. Everything is just falling in to place right now. These wards are just amazing. Everyone is so kind and they just love the missionaries. I'm so excited to work in these wards for the next couple months.