Sunday, January 25, 2015

Life Is Good

We had a cool experience this last week. One cool thing about being in the only international ward in the Philippines is when someone cool comes into town that's a member, they visit our ward. Yesterday, a man walked up to us an introduced himself. He told us he'd be here for the next 5 weeks because a part of the traveling cast for Beauty and the Beast! Can you believe that? It's not a little production either. This show has been advertised for months. There's a huge billboard not far from where we live. This guy's name is Adam. He's also one of the main characters. It's been over a decade since I’ve seen that movie so I don't really have any idea about the story, but he plays Gaston. We're pretty good buddies now. He actually showed up to the Tagalong ward so he just hung around with us the whole time. It was pretty cool. He's also a returned missionary. 
A little bit later, we had another visitor. His name is brother Goodson and he's a legend here in the Philippines. He was one of the first 4 missionaries that came over to the Philippines from Hong Kong. He opened this place up. He was then called back to the Philippines numerous years later as the mission president. Pretty cool. 
Oh, and I haven't mentioned that one of our members is a famous super model here in the Philippines. Hollywood has nothing on Makati 4th ward. 

This week has been pretty crazy. We had mission interviews where President Osler meets with every missionary individually for about 20 minutes or more. We are there at the same time conducting different trainings. This week, we taught about the importance of learning Tagalong (for the foreigners) and English (for the natives and non-English speakers). We taught that class about 3 times a day and also taught a leadership training in addition to the language class. It's amazing, some missionaries here are trying to learn English and Tagalong. It truly is amazing. I could barely handle learning one language, let alone two. We have a couple missionaries from the Middle East who speak very little English and they amaze me every time I see them. They always have the biggest smiles on their faces. 

We had a bowling activity earlier with all the Elders in our district. It was awesome. Bowling is honestly one of my favorite things. I'm starting to rethink the BYU application. I might just be a full time bowler. I'd love your support on this one. I really do love the Elders here though. One of them is actually from Layton Utah! His name is Elder Bell and he went to Northridge. I'd never heard of him until I met him here. We've lived about 5 minutes away from each other our entire lives and don't meet until we're on the other side of the world. Life is so silly sometimes. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Never Delay A Prompting!

The highlight of the week was on Saturday when Elder Thurber and I went on exchanges. You'll never guess where I worked, yep, Boni 4! It was one of the best days of my life. Honestly, it was such a great experience seeing all the members again. I'm going to give you a breakdown of all the major events that happened so you can fully comprehend how amazing the day was. Upon my arrival at about 8:20 at night, Elder Francisco (the missionary I worked with) took us straight to Jenna ‘s house. When we got there, we saw MJ through the window and her face lit up. She ran further in the house and then a few minutes later she comes running out the door with Jenna. I was so happy to see them. They are honestly the cutest family ever. Unfortunately, Edmar is still abroad so I wasn't able to see him. We only stayed for a couple minutes and chatted for a second. She invited us back the next day for lunch. We started the day off at the bakeshop where Junjun works. I love that kid. He's doing great; workin hard making the best bread in the Philippines. We then met up with Junard (one of my best friends here in the Philippines) and declared repentance to the people of Bonifacio. A while later, we made our way to the house of Jamie and Ciara (do you remember them?) and had a wonderful lesson. They are doing so great. If it had been the first time I met them, I would never have guessed the Ciara has only been a member for a couple months. We talked about the temple and they expressed to us how excited they are to get sealed as a family. We exchanged information so you know we'll be skyping after the mission. After our visit with them, we made our way back to Jenna's for lunch. We met up with Jio (one of my other best friends here) along the way and he's still Jio. A little later we were able to visit Princess with Jenna and Jio and had another great lesson with them. When we walked into their house, all the great memories came flooding back into my head about the good times Elder Diamse and I had sharing the gospel with her and her family. As we were walking back to the apartment at the end of the day, Jenna told me that I need to come back to the Philippines next year when their family gets sealed in the temple. It's little statements like that that make me love missionary work even more. It doesn't get better than this (at this point in my life). As I sat thinking about all the people I’ve taught and grown to love, I was filled with an overwhelming joy. It's going to be very difficult to leave this country and these amazing people. Luckily, that's still far into the future. You build relationships on your mission that are very strong and will be cherished for an eternity. I'm starting to get a glimpse into what was meant by the scripture "how great shall be your joy with [them] in the kingdom of my Father." Thinking about those amazing people that I have been blessed to get to know and share the gospel with brings me great joy. I can only imagine what it we will be like when we meet again in the "Kingdom of [the] father." 

The rest of the week was great. The work is progressing at lightning speeds. We met with Wilma, Lynn and Samuel yesterday and it was pretty much the best lesson ever. Yesterday, Samuel told us a really good experience he had last Sunday that tells us how amazing these three members are. Samuel was trying to decide whether he should attend church or not. He only had enough money to make the trip to the chapel. He decided that he would skip out that week and attend the following week. As the morning continued, he felt more and more inclined to go to church. He finally make the choice to get dressed and go to church. He recounted that he though in his mind, "the Lord will provide." Samuel ended up having an amazing experience at church. After church ended, he didn't have a way home. We called him over to join in a lesson with Wilma, Lynn, Elder Thurber and I. Great lesson. Afterwards, Wilma and Lynn came to the rescue and were the answers to Samuel's prayers. Even though it was out of their way, they took Samuel all the way back to his house. Samuel concluded his story by saying, "I should have known better than to think twice about going to church. The Lord always provides." After he said that, I looked over at Wilma who had tears running down her cheeks. She then told us her side of the story. After our lesson, she felt prompted to ask Samuel if he wanted to ride with them. She initially planned on having the taxi take them all to her house and then that would be the end. As they were approaching their destination, Wilma heard a still, small voice whisper in her ear, "take care of Samuel." They arrived at Wilma's house and they started to get out. Then, the voice whispered again, "take care of Samuel." She told Samuel to stay in the taxi and paid the driver to take him the rest of the way to his house without knowing that he didn't have any other means of getting home. The Lord truly does provide. This amazing story reminded me of a statement by President Monson that goes something like this, "there are few things greater than learning that you were the answer to someone's prayer." Whenever I feel prompted to do something, I always remember that statement and think, "Maybe i'm supposed to answer someone’s prayer by doing this act." Never delay a prompting, you might just be an instrument in the Lord's hands in answering a prayer. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Lord Truly Answers Prayers

Another week has flown by here in the Philippines. It's amazing how fast weeks go by. We had a crazy week with transfers, new companion, New Years and all that other fun stuff. I have a ton to tell you today.

I got an email from Bishop this week. He informed me that I'll be speaking in sacrament on the 15 of February. That's a wake up call. I'm super stoked for my topic. I'll need to try and put the last 2 years of faith building experiences into a short talk. Wish me luck. 

I'm happy to report that transfer week went great. We sent off an amazing group of missionaries this week to move on with the next parts of their lives. I'm sure going to miss seeing them around. It was especially sad to see Elder Diamse and Elder Hawkins leave. I'm expecting wedding announcements from them in the next couple weeks. They're going to move fast. Hopefully I’ll be able to hook up with them before too long after I get home. Maybe we'll meet at the Y! 

Enough about these past companions. Time to tell you about my new companion. Like I mentioned last week, his name is Elder Thurber and he's pretty much the man. We are just killin it here in Makati. We get along really well. He's from Virginia, but studied at BYU before he came out. He's a little overwhelmed at the moment with all the new responsibilities that have recently fell onto his shoulders but he's a great missionary and will do great. 

Had a couple amazing experiences this week. On new years eve we were call by President Osler to conduct an emergency transfer (when someone is transferred to a new area on a day other than transfer day). We were called to be the Taxi service. The missionary we were transporting lives in my old area, Boni 4. Upon arriving at the apartment we made our way down the hall and stood outside the apartment of the missionaries. All of the sudden a dog runs out of the next door over and skips our way. Right after the dog comes out also comes the owner of the dog. My face lit up when I realized it was Polo, one of my best friends from Boni 4. He recently moved to a new apartment right next to the missionaries. That's not even the best part though. He also lives with Elsi! The women I taught and baptized while assigned in their ward. He invited me inside his house and as I walked in, Elsi came out of the door and upon seeing me let out a squeal of joy and jumped on her tippy toes. She ran over and nearly tackled me. It was one of the most extreme handshakes ever. I was so stinkin happy to see her. She later told me that she had said a prayer earlier that morning and asked to see me that day. It was a humbling experience. The Lord truly answers prayers. 

Speaking of miracles. we have a baptism this Saturday!!! Her name is Sheila. She is 14 years old and is so awesome. She's extremely smart and is always happy. She's one of those people you just love to be around. She'll make a wonderful member of the church. Sheila lives right next to one of the strong members of our ward who has helped her out a ton. They are always willing to bring her to church and other activities. We are currently teaching Sheila’s mom and hope she will find the desire to baptize soon as well. It'll definitely happen with time!