Monday, April 27, 2015

Week 41 (April 27, 2015 Camiling, Philippines)

Hey Mom :)
So this was Transfer week and now I'm in a new area. I'm in Camiling Zone in the Pindangan Branch. Guimba is right in the very center of the Mission, and now I'm on the very end. I'm hoping my next area will be on the other end :P
Anyway, the area is pretty cool, but not in terms of temperature. It sort of reminds me of Pine Valley, just SUPER hot, and a lot more floods (I actually don't know if there are a lot more floods. Does Pine Valley flood when it rains or after snow melt?) We live across the street from the chapel, and right in between the the Branch President on one side and the Branch Mission Leader on the other. It's pretty cool :P Our Branch President is actually our Land Lord, and I'm pretty sure he's been housing the missionaries for a couple years. The size of our apartment is bigger than my first and a lot cooler, but the quality is pretty low. Our basement at home is nicer than our apartment here, but at the same time, I almost want to say I like this one better than the others. I don't know if much cleaning has been done since 2014, but I'm changing that little by little :)
Yesterday after church, Branch President Mabalot invited us to his house for Lunch. Apparently that's a weekly thing. They invite about a quarter of the Branch over (only about 80 active members) every week for lunch, and just have a great time. Everyone here is really friendly and sort of just happy go lucky (the Tagalog word for happy go lucky also means mentally unstable.... :) ), and I think they find it a little unsettling that I'm so quiet. They're all laughing and joking and I just sit in the corner enjoying the show :) I think they think I'm depressed. But who cares what they think; they eat rice for breakfast.... crazies.... (Just kidding, I love Filipinos. I'd prolly eat rice for breakfast too if I knew how to cook ulam.... or viands? I guess that's the English word... prolly)
The work is a lot different here than in my other areas. We literally have 0 progressing investigators, and the area averages around 20 lessons a week, rather than the expected 40 or 45. So yeah, the work is tough, but it'll be exciting to see what my companion and I can do to get things moving. Speaking of whom...

My new companion is Elder Ronquillo. Another Filipino :) He's from Manila, which is absurdly close. He could hop on a bus and be home in about 2 hours. He's also pretty new, and gets homesick sometimes. It feels really weird to be on the opposite end of things. He tells me about his problems and what he's going through, which I'm thankful for. For me, it means he trusts me. The problem is though, I don't really know how to help. It's not like he's depressed or anything. I think it's harder for him when it's just us two, because he's sort of like the members: really fun, friendly and "happy-go-lucky"... ;) So when we're with the members, he has a great time joking and having fun, but when it's just us, even though I try to do what I can to lighten the mood, he seems sort of down. He's a really good Elder, though, and I'm excited to work with him.

And now for scripture :) I actually only found this one just a little earlier during personal study. It's from Jacob 2

20 And now, my brethren, I have spoken unto you concerning pride; and those of you which have afflicted your neighbor, and persecuted him because ye were proud in your hearts, of the things which God hath given you, what say ye of it?

21 Do ye not suppose that such things are abominable unto him who created all flesh? And the one being is as precious in his sight as the other. And all flesh is of the dust; and for the selfsame end hath he created them, that they should keep his commandments and glorify him forever.

This makes me think of the story told in General Conference (or maybe from one of Dad's letters... same thing) about the the missionaries. The one was riding his bike and turned to see his companion a ways back not riding but walking his bike out of laziness. The first cries out to God in frustration, but the reply comes back as something like "Compared to me, you two aren't so different."
I think that sometimes we (especially I) get so caught up in our pride and the weaknesses of others that we fail to see understand we're not all that different. Jacob says "the one being is as precious in his sight as the other", though I think the opposite holds true as well. We're all as weak and unable as the next- maybe just in different ways. Truly, "all flesh is dust". I don't think any of us can rightly claim to be better than another, because we're not. That's something I hope to become a lot better in through out my mission.

Anyhoo, love you Mom!!

Elder Syphus


Member in my previous area with his "baby"..... Weirdy (the dog)

The Salvador family. The walls and the floor is new, so we took pictures :) It use to just be cinder blocks on the walls and dirt and rocks on the ground.

New area views.

This is the mission next to us in Urdaneta

And a Water Buffalo. Go National Animal! Yeah!...

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO KATIE, SHAUN, KENDYL, and KATELYN!!! :D :D Love you all so much!! Eat lots of delicious foods for me!!

And about Mothers Day Skyping (I think that's what is going to happen. President Clark still hasn't mentioned anything.) It'll be about 10:30 AM my time, which means maybe 8:30 PM over there? I'll see if I can do it any earlier, and I'll let you know. Love you!!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Senior Companion!

This is the letter we received from Pres. Clark (Joel's Mission President)
So proud of him :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 40 (April 20, 2015 Guimba, Philippines)

Hey Mom :)

(The comma key isn't working on my keyboard so that's why there's a bunch of run on sentences and such)

I actually was able to write a bit in my Journal this week so hopefully my email will actually have some content for once.
On Monday night we went to one of the farther parts of our Area to end a Funeral Service. Last Friday a little 5 year old boy was playing near an irrigation ditch with his little sister and fell in. No one else was around and the little boy drowned. The little boy's dad is a member but is inactive but the Branch President requested that we go and support them. When we showed up the dad asked Elder Llona and I to share a message so I shared about my experience with Great Grandma's death and my testimony about the Plan of Salvation.

On Tuesday President Lina asked us again to support the family and attend the burial service. We were told by the family that it would start at 8:30 AM so we showed up at 8; two hours before anyone else did. At about 10 they showed up and we were able to find out where the Burial plot was so we could dedicate it. I don't know if it was valid because the Missionary Handbook says it is supposed to be performed under the authority of him who is conduction the service. We were the only active members there except for our chauffeur who is the 1st Counselor in a whole different branch.

Nothing much happened on Wednesday. Usually we would've had our District Meeting but Elder Gemelo had a District Leader's Conference so the District Meeting was delayed until the next day.

Thursday was our District Meeting and we were privileged with the appearance of our Zone Leaders: Elder Hedman and Elder Magallanes. They had to interview an investigator of our DL for baptism so they just decided to come early and attend our District Meeting. After the interview Elder Hedman and I went out to eat while Elder Llona and Elder Magallanes went to the apartment to rest. When Elder Hedman and I walked into the apartment Elder Llona was lying on my bed and I saw him slip my journal back under my pillow where I leave it. He didn't notice that I saw him and I don't know if he was actually reading it so I don't want to confront him about it. It probably wouldn't do anything anyway.

On Saturday I had to take a quarterly language test. It's 13 topic prompts and all I have to do is speak Tagalog into a microphone and respond to the prompts. After I did the first 10 prompts I started talking to Elder Llona and raised the mic on my Headset. When I returned to the test I forgot to put my mic down and didn't realize it until halfway through Prompt 13. While still being recorded I just lowered my mic and said "My Microphone was raised...." And then I blanked and let the last 60 seconds of 3 minutes run dry. Epic Fail :)

In terms of progress in the work... things are super slow. The majority of the people we're teaching are female and we're not allowed to teach them with out another adult male with us. Because the branch is too busy playing basketball and volleyball all the time we have no one to work with us except for Sundays. However we do have a few really good investigators. One of our SA members (RJ Valdez) is the only member in his family and left for his mission last Friday. After 7 years his Mom now wants to be taught by the missionaries. When we were teaching her about families we asked what goals she had for hers. Her reply was "I want to be sealed to them in the Temple." This was during our first lesson by the way and we hadn't taught a single thing yet. We also began to teach about Prophets and introduced the topic by asking if she new of any. Some people will say "Yeah like Peter James and John." Others will mention Isaiah or Noah and Moses. But when we asked Sister Valdez she said "Like Nephi and Lehi and Mormon and Moroni right? Or do you mean like Joseph Smith and Thomas S Monson?"
Yeah I'm super excited for her :)


The Scripture I want to share this week comes from the Isaiah chapters of Second Nephi.

From 2 Nephi 18

11 For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:

12 Say ye not, A confederacy, to all to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.

So I don't know exactly what these verses mean and I'll probably relate them wrong based on the context of the whole chapter but I still learned something from what I did understand.
These verses make me think of Elder Lynn G Robbins talk "Which Way Do You Face?" I personally feel like the Lord is instructing Isaiah to avoid falling into the ways of the people of world and to not be afraid of standing up to them. I like how Isaiah writes "the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand... ." The image I think of is a father bending on one knee looking his boy in the eye and grabbing hold of his shoulder firmly but lovingly to give guidance and counsel essential to his son's well being and safety. Sort of specific but that's what I see. The Lord loves us but is firm in his commandments and direction to be sure follow him in order to achieve that Eternal Salvation he promises.

I don't really know how to end my thoughts. Sorry.

Love you Mom! Thanks for your letters and support. I'll write you again next week.

Elder Syphus

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 39 (April 13, 2015 Guimba, Philippines)

Hey Mom!
Love and miss you too.

This week was good, and General Conference was incredible. However, do you know why Elder Richard G Scott didn't speak? And what about President Monson?? He only spoke in Priesthood Session. A bunch of Missionaries are saying that Presidents Packer and Monson are going to be gone before the next conference :( I just don't even want to think about it.

Anyway, I think one of my favorite talks was Elder Holland's. I couldn't even take notes, because I was so afraid to miss anything. He has an incredible ability of practically forcing the Spirit into our hearts.
Another was Elder Wilford W Andersen's talk about The Music of the Gospel. I love Music, which is why I think that talk really spoke to me. Honestly? I think I've been dancing most of the steps since the beginning, and maybe every now then, I would hear a chord,maybe even a sentence, but I don't know if I ever really heard the Music until I came out on my mission. My mission has done incredible things to me, and I hope it continues to do so. Sometimes though, I feel we want to change the station, dance a different dance to a whole different song. Even now when the Music of the Gospel is so strong in my life, I still catch myself wondering what else is on the radio. I think that's a good introduction to my Scripture this week...

From 2 Nephi 4
16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

I think this is actually a scripture Sister Dalley shared a while back, but I found it really relevant in my life when I read over it during my personal studies. It almost depresses me because of how weak and imperfect I am, that no matter how hard I try, I always seem to fall short. I want to do those things the Lord expects of me, but I tend to always be the one holding myself back.
It's because of these weaknesses and imperfections that I find myself becoming so much more grateful for Christ's Atonement. For both it's Redeeming and Enabling power. There truly is nothing we can do, no way we can take by ourselves that will lead us to Salvation and Perfection. I love how the promise of the Father is that as we do those things we can do in this life, and continue to repent for the things we fail to do, the Atonement of Christ will grant unto us that eternal perfection. So even though we may live this life sorrowing or grieving because of our iniquities, we can take faith, knowing in whom we have trusted. That we have trusted in God as our Father, Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost as our Eternal Guide unto righteousness. It is in the name of those three we have all been baptized, and by the works and love of those three that we may all be saved.

Thanks for the love and the letters Mom :) I got to try some Butterfly Mussels today. They were actually really good. I don't know if that's what they're really called, but the osyter thing looks like a butterfly when you open up the shell :)

Also, have you heard anything about Kiarra? I've sent her a couple of emails, but haven't heard from her for a couple months.No big deal. Just wondering.

Anyway, here are the pictures :)

There's a child in this tree. He's looking for eggs. At the top to the left. Yellow shorts, white shirt.

Kid's like, 4.

:) This is Danna (the little one), she's autistic, but super fun :)

She kept asking for pictures :D

She's SUPER flexible.

Rice Fields

That's what happens when you don't know how to wash clothes. :P

Probably my best signature ever. I'm terrible at signing my name :P

Yay for dirty laundry... I just payed our Laundry nanay to do it this week :P

Love you so much!!!

Elder Syphus

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 38 (April 6, 2015 Guimba, Philippines)

This is an email we received from Joel's mission president.....
Families of Philippines Angeles Missionaries:

The typhoon that wasn't. Today is Preparation Day in the Angeles Mission and we rejoice at the safety and well-being of our missionaries and members. Tropical typhoon MAYSAK (CHEDENG) made its way to and through the Philippines over the weekend. The storm was closely monitored by the Philippines Area Office with regular bulletins to Mission Presidents over the past week. The storm was once a super typhoon over the Pacific but as it approached Luzon it drastically dissipated and finally sputtered across the islands. Early forecasts called for a direct hit in the Angeles Mission. In the end, Chedeng landed a glancing blow to a very small portion of the mission. Ironically, we didn't even get badly needed rain for the farmers in our area.

We believe that divine intervention protected the missionaries of our mission and the good people of Central Luzon. Thank you for your faith and prayers in our behalf. Great vigilance paid off and we were ready for what was thought to be a severe storm. We were safe and we are not sorry for the precautions that we took. We followed the counsel and example of our Area Presidency and count ourselves blessed for obedience. The storm has passed; all missionaries are accounted for.

We are gladly back to work.

President Scott Clark


Dear mine Mom


I sort of forgot it was Easter. Not really "forgot" forgot, but just normal forgot. But I sang Happy Birthday to Erik on his Birthday :)

Easter Traditions in the Philippines are awesome. It's like a whole Easter Week. The week before, they build all these little houses on street corners, and then decorate them with pictures of Jesus and stuff. And then starting Monday of their "Holy Week", they go inside the houses and sing songs into microphones from their little prayer books for the whole neighborhood to hear. Most of the words are just "nai nai nai nai nai nai nai nai nai nai nai nai." So whenever we passed one, I would start singing Numa numa yay numa numa numa yay. Anyway, their little prayer song chants end on Wednesday, and then on Thrusday, in remembrance of the Crucifixion, they tie shards of glass and rocks to little ropes they have, and whip themselves in the back as they walk down the street. We're not allowed to walk by them, because if we do, we're going to get a bunch of blood splatters on our shirts. Not everyone does it though. The other people just nail each other to crosses and then they hang on the side of the street for maybe an hour or so, and then they get down. On Friday and Saturday, everyone takes the day off work and sleeps and recovers from Thursday, and then on Sunday they get back up and party, which means alcohol and gambling. So ya, I guess you could sort of relate it to Easter Egg hunts..... maybe.... if you tried REALLY hard..... maybe.......
More Fun in the Philippines :D

Concerning General Conference, we have Priesthood Session very first on Saturday Morning, and then a one hour break, and then the Morning session, another one hour break, and the the Afternoon Session. On Sunday, they show the Sunday sessions with an hour break in between.

And about the food, I'm still living on rice. Although I'm starting to like it more now. And eating more like a Filipino. Being civilized can be so hard sometimes :P Example, for lunch today, we had smoked fish and rice, but my spoon wouldn't cut through the skin, So I just dropped my utensils, and used my hands and teeth. SO much easier :P Even with the rice,sometimes I prefer just using my hands, depending on the ulam (viand in English? as if that helps at all.... a bunch of weirdies). And speaking about eating whole fish... :) That was lunch. Tinapa. First, you eat the tail fins, then the body, including bones, and then the head. I'm still not the best at eating the head. Kind of itchy as it's going down, but it's still super delicious :)

And in other news..... hmm..... other news...... ... ......
Oh! So, I've decided that $25 out of $175 from monthly support just to have my clothes washed is too expensive, so I've resorted to doing it myself :) For some reason, I feel as though Shaun will get the most joy out of that little bit of information, and even more so with the pictures (unfortunately, I left my camera at the apartment :( ). I now know how to hand wash my clothes :) I even have my own washboard :D Super sore on the back though. Ugh.

Anyway, I think that's about it for me. Work was sort of slow because of the Holy Week, so not a lot to update in that area.

Love you so much!!! Thanks for your love and support!

Love Elder Syphus

PS. After reading the Liahona for April, I've decided I still want to be part of our Family Home Evening, even if I'm just the scripture every week. For this week:

From 1 Nephi 17

7 And it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had been in the land of Bountiful for the space of many days, the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: Arise, and get thee into the mountain. And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord.

8 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters.

When I first read these verses, I found it a little strange that the Lord would speak unto Nephi, only to tell him to "Arise, and get thee into the mountain", especially because after Nephi obeyed and "went up into the mountain" the only thing the Lord did was speak to him some more. At first, my thoughts were <Why didn't the Lord just tell Nephi then and there?>
After these thoughts, I remembered a verse from Nephi's preaching of Isaiah in 2 Nephi 12:

2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.

In this verse, Isaiah is talking about the Temple of the Lord, so it makes me think that the Lord was asking Nephi to go somewhere the Lord had designated had holy and sacred; a place where an honest seeker could find direction and truth, such as our Latter-Day Temples. As I reread the verses from 1 Nephi, I noticed something else I had missed the first time. Nephi doesn't just go up into the mountain and then the Lord all of a sudden (Brecken) just starts speaking to him. After he got there, it says he "cried unto the Lord" first, and then "it came to pass that the Lord spake unto [him]."
What impressed me even more was something in the next chapter, Chapter 18:

3 And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.

Nephi didn't stop after that first visit. He went again and again to the Temple to receive further guidance and revelation from the Lord. I like to think it wasn't so simple as stepping outside his tent and then walking into the cave next door to pray. I like to think that Nephi actually took the time and the effort to climb an actual mountain, pray, ponder, and await the guidance of the Lord before coming back down, and then doing it again, time after time.

The Temple is an incredible gift to us from the Lord. Let's not treat it like the Skateboard Grandma White gave me when I was 7 that I never once really used. Let us go again and again to pray and receive guidance from the Lord. To accept his will in our lives, and show him our willingness to be dedicated seekers of truth and direction. We're so incredibly blessed out there in Utah to be surrounded by so many Temples where we can go and worship and strengthen our relationship with the Lord. My invitation to us all is that we make better use of the Lord's Holy Home for his Eternal Work.

Elder Syphus :)