Wednesday, June 22, 2016

He's Home! (June 22, 2016)

My heart is very tender right now, not knowing whether to be excited for Elder Syphus' return or to cry as I reflect on what he is going through. All I know is that I am SO VERY PROUD of him and his obedient, hard working, missionary service. He has loved the Philippine people, their land and their culture. It took him awhile to get used to it all, but now he doesn't want to leave it all behind. Hopefully someday soon he can return. Last night Kendyl wanted to watch "The Other Side of Heaven". I definitely didn't do my already fragile emotional state any better. At the end of the movie as Elder Groberg is saying good-bye to the Tongan Saints and to the island that he had served on for 2 1/2 years, my thoughts turned to Joel, going through the same thing and I cried. So, after leaving the Philippines at 6pm last night, he is almost ready to arrive in Portland, Oregon and then on to Salt Lake City. He will be at the St. George airport at 5:52pm and I'm a bundle of nerves. It will be a wonderful weekend though as we will finally have all of our family with us after 3 1/2 years.

Feeling so blessed!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Week 100 (Camiling, Philippines June 12, 2016 )

Don't take any of those in the literal sense :P
We just kind of had a bumpy week, hence the title :) It wasn't all bad, but just super stressful. The most stressful factor of this part of my mission isn't really with responsibilities or with the actual missionary work, but with my companion :/ He's too ingrained in the whole idea of "perks of being a zone leader" which means he doesn't think ANY of the rules apply to him. I don't want to go to deep with it, but that's what I'm working with right now. We're still buddies, but it's just a big struggle having that integrity to push for obedience, and the skill to do it without shattering your companionship.

We did have two successful baptisms however, and THEY are super solid in the gospel. If you remember, Marselle and Giselle Bautista were baptized a few weeks ago. Well, Marlon (the dad) was baptized yesterday :D We also baptized Jessica Simon, the cousin of a super member missionary, Renell. The Bautista family is solid, but we still worry about Jessica. She's got great support right now, but her cousin is planning on interning overseas in America, and she doesn't know if she'll go to church when he's gone. (she's 10)

The people here are awesome. I was kind of bummed that I got transferred and would only be given 6 weeks in a new area, but it's truly been some of the best 6 weeks of my mission, despite those "hiccups, hurdles, and hemorrhoids." I've made a lot of great friends and I'm really sad to have to leave them all, but know that it won't be forever (looks kinda flirtatious.... not supposed to be).

I'm sorry if this letter is kinda of panzee, but I can't really keep my thoughts straight or anything cause I'm uber freakin out right now. Kratelet's email was bomb diggity though, so make sure you tell her that I love her like a million red M&Ms.

Love you SO Much Mom!! See you in 10!!

ELDER Syphus

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 99 (Camiling, Philippines June 6, 2016)

Dag'gum!! That's crazy to hear about Kendyl. I hope she'll be alright. She shoulda just gone ape on that rope and swung the crap out of it. That's what I would've done. Ya, prolly :D

I was a little surprised as well to hear about Family Camp, but it's fine. It'll be fun to just hang around with the family a bit wherever we are. I'm glad we still get most everybody home (I didn't really understand the whole work and school and other stuff thing. I think it means that some people are or might be or not there. I think)

So, sort of really rushed right now. Lot sof stuff to prepare for and get done with TOO LITTLE TIME!! Gaahh!! I can't believe next week's email will be my last :( Anyway, we had a really rough week in terms of work, but an awesome two day MLC meeting at the Mission Home with President Clark with a bunch of other missionaries. First time I've been back since my first day in the mission. PLus free breakfast lunch and dinner :P Anyway, we went over a bunch of stuff about improving the flow of the mission and the work and continuing to prepare people for the gospel at a steady rate, not random, unpredictable blotches or spurts. And a new dress code. Sisters get to wear slacks now. (look it up on Any, that was all on Monday and Tuesday, and then we shared all the stuff we learned with the missionaries in the zone on Wednesday. It was fun :) We had two of our investigators interviewed for baptism, and they will both be baptized on the 11 of June. Marlon Bautista and Jessica Simon. Marlon is 38 and is the coolest. His wife and son were baptized a few weeks ago, and now he's finishing the family. Jessica is only 9, and her cousin is a member. She isn't super converted yet, but what 9 year old is? She likes church, and has good support, so I think she'll turn out pretty well din.

Yesterday we had more meetings with President Clark and the District Presidencies. I'm not really sure how that went :/ I sort of feel like my companion is in the mindset of "Well, he'll only be here for a few weeks, and then I'll have to train someone else all over again, so why bother?" It's rough, but we do have a better relationship now, just not really as missionary companions. Not much time to change it either :/

Anyhoo, all is good though, and today was a huge stress reliever. We had a bomb zone activity going on a hike and then having lunch on the river. Pics at the end.

Love you Mom!! I'll write again in a week, and I'll see you in two!!!

Elder Syphus


Elder Maestrado!! He's visiting his past areas and this just happened to be one of them!!! Plus, he's engaged! :D

This was earlier. Cheapest mode of transportation = back of District Presidency Counselor's truck :P

The lunch spot :)

This is how Sisters take buddy photos #realfriends

This is how Elders take buddy photos #batch #stalkerfrombehind

Half of our Zone is sister missionaries which is a large portion. Here they chill while the Elders go climb rocks.

View from the top of the rocks.


Group #1

Group #2 #segragated #Justkidding #wereallfriends

Truckin home

Monday, May 30, 2016

Week 98 (Camiling, Philippines May 30, 2016)

Mah Momma!!

No worries, Elder Smith is awesome :) It was just a little bit of getting used to one another. It just sort of took a little longer because we're both more on the quiet side. We're cool now though.

Not a lot of time to write today: we got LOTS of reports, haha. Kind of stressful but sort of fun? all at the same time :P I don't understand it either.

Sounds like you all had a great weekend :P I'm actually surprised you and Dad were down for it ;) but I'm glad you were. I joined in on a few of Krem's skype sessions with Jake, and I've got no complaints. He seems like a cool guy. Do you think he could teach me how to be swole? ;)

We actually do have lots of time to work and stuff. Mondays are pretty hectic, and we have a few extra meetings throughout the week, but we also get a lot of time with investigators. We actually had two baptisms on Saturday :) A mother and son, and the Dad should be in two weeks. Building families is the coolest :) John Marselle Bautista and his mom, Giselle Bautista. Left the camera at home, but I'll send pictures next week.

I got to conduct another interview for Baptism this week! As you should probably know, that's my ALL-TIME favorite part of having a mission assignment. Interviews. This interview was a girl named Girlie (original, right?). Her testimony is so powerful and she wants so bad to be baptized and to be clean and worthy and ready for it, and knows how important it it... which is why I didn't pass her. It was probably one of the hardest things I've done out here, and she was near tears, but she has some things she still needs to work out. I just know (and I told her it too) that she would be short changing herself and this experience should she be baptized now, without being properly prepared. She agreed, thanked me, and then offered a super sincere and touching prayer before leaving. She'll be awesome, but needs a few weeks.

In other awesomeness, we had exchanges with the Assistants, Elder Thacker and Elder Amparado. Elder Amparado was my old Zone Leader when we were in Cabanatuan, and he also leaves the mission with me. He's super obsessed with Kambree :P Elder Thacker is from Highland, and went to highschool with Jake Armatage, Mailea Dalley's soon-to-be husband. A lot of people say we look alike (I actually sort of see it too). I got to work with Elder Thacker, and I can't say I'm disappointed. He climbed the ranks here in the mission really fast, and for good reason. People always say "Work Smarter, not Harder" but he goes the next step and improves his efforts in both. He's super diligent, but doesn't waste time trying to go "door-knocking" at 8:45 at night. I learned a lot from him, and hope to maybe hook up after he gets home in August. He'll be enrolling in BYU's engineering program, so who knows? ;)

Anyhoo, love you so much Mom!!

Elder Syphus

Monday, May 23, 2016

Week 97 (Camiling, Philippines May 23, 2016)

Mom :D

Ya, it was kind of a bummer that I got transferred out, but I'm glad I was given this opportunity. It's definitely tough, but Elder Smith is a champ and helping me out. I feel like I kind of slow him down, sometimes though, which is super humbling, considering that I kept praying for a companion that already knew what he was doing and could just get out there and do it :P That definitely describes Elder Smith. He got pretty upset at me earlier this week, and I still don't know why, but we're good now. He's a really good missionary, but everyone has their weaknesses of course. He's definitely got his fair share of strengths to make up for it though. He single-handedly put together a fireside last night, that I didn't really have any idea about :P I just hope I can show him that he can trust me with some of his workload... actually, I just hope I can be trusted with it! Elder Smith was saying that when you become a Zone Leader, you're no longer a missionary in the typical sense. You're a leader now, playing with the big boys, coordinating with the Missionary President, Stake Presidents, multiple wards, etc. I haven't even gotten a taste of it!! Super nervous/anxious/excited all at the same time, haha. So yup, definitely not a natural. Ha. Ha. Hooooo............ ;)

As for camping, I'm super down!! I think that would be a ton of fun.

Quick update: Bautista Family (Investigators) are doing good, and 2 of them were interviewed and passed yesterday for baptism. The father still has a few weeks to prove that he's off alcohol. He's strong though. He'll make it :D
We had a district firesdie last night (thanks to Elder Smith) and I got to see Joseph Torres again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He was one of the people I taught in Pindangan and got SOOOOO close to being baptized before I left, but he's a member now and is the Young Men's President!! He hits a year in either July or Augest, and then will go to be endowed. Kate Prado was also baptized, and is now the Young Women's President. I'm hoping to get some pictures with them and some other members in Pindangan before I leave.

Love you all!! Busy Busy, but it's all crazy fun :D
Less than a month...

Elder Syphus

Monday, May 16, 2016

Week 96 (Camiling, Philippines May 16, 2016)

Hey Mom :)

So, I guess you already know. President Clark called me Wednesday morning before Transfer announcements and extended the assignment which I of course accepted. I'm serving with Elder Smith now, and I'm back in Camiling Zone! Which means that I may or may not get the chance to go back to Pindangan and see the members again. I've already gotten to see a few in the Bayan, and they were all happy reunions :)

The new assignment is actually really exciting, haha. And yes, there's a lot more work to do. On my second day in the area, Elder Smith and I had to give a 90 minute workshop to a bunch of Stake Leaders about Member Missionary Coordination efforts, with President Clark doing the same thing next door. It was actually a well spent 90 minutes, and we got a lot of good input from them. We're hoping to see things pick up out here. We've got another meeting with the Leaders and President Clark again in a few weeks, but I don't think we'll be giving any workshops at this one, haha. Just discussing the work in the Stake/District with everybody. We've also got to arrange a Musical number for a conference by Sunday, and then have a Training with President Clark a few days after that. Sort of super stoked #mnb :P

The area is sort of struggling right now, but Elder Strebe and I learned a lot from each other, and I feel more prepared to get the area moving in the short time I've got left. Of course, Elder Smith is going to be a HUGE help (he already has been), and so I'm really excited for these next 6 weeks. Love you Mom!!

Elder Syphus


I trust Mr Burr. He knows what he's doing, at least, more than I do :P We can do what he says, but I really want that Japanese class :D


Elder Smith and I. It poured our first evening here, and neither of us had umbrellas. It was awesome. We walked into peoples homes drenched and dripping and they were all like "wat evs."

ELDER MAESTRADO WAS IN THIS AREA BEFORE!!!! I opened up our area book, and saw the map, and then the handwriting. I was like "I KNOW WHO WROTE THIS!!" :D :D

Elder Strebe and I with Amparo and Mateo. Don't worry. They're super fun and happy. They just don't understand the whole "say cheese" thing :P

Leonardo Facon

For Erik. These are our weekly pizzas, but we've got another place here in Camiling, and It's pretty bomb.

Elder Strebe in the beginning stages of his "lamon". It gets kind of messy ;)

For Erik as well. This is the current Dupinga River from the bridge
Love you!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week 95 (May 8, 2016 Gabaldon, Philippines)

We loved skyping with Joel last night and he is enjoying his mission so much. In fact, when he talked about coming home he said he felt bad that he wasn't even excited and then he started to cry. Of course, we all teared up with him knowing of his tender feelings for his mission. It's going to be hard for him but he was advised from Pres. Haynie to come home and go to his bishop and start working in the temple so this has him at least looking forward to still serving his Heavenly Father in some way. We are so proud of him and the joy that he has felt in serving the Philippine people. As much as we are excited to see him soon, we also have heavy hearts right along with him. All will be well though!!! Love to all of you!​

Quick Email:

I have 6 weeks left, and I will NOT let it go to waste. I am super excited to work miracles with the help of the Lord, and finish with a bang. For Katelyn, and Mom, and Shaun, and anyone else I talked about it to: this really has been the BEST 2 YEARS, that everyone talks about. I really struggle finding it at first, but I've found it now, and it's blessed my life like crazy. Thank you so much for all of your love and support and advice, and HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all of you mothers!!

We had a good week this week. Fair share of trials and road blocks, but I guess those never really go away. Like I said, we didn't have any investigators go to church which was rough, but we're hopefully going to get all of them there next time. Amparo and Mateo struggle betwixt themselves, but we got things running pretty smoothly, so it should all be good. If the Lord's a miracle worker (and He is), our district could have 7 more baptisms this month of May, but that of course also has to fall in line with everyone's agency. It saves 'em and breaks 'em.

Quick update about Amparo:she's the coolest. She can't read a lot of the time because of her eyesight, but whenever she's able to borrow glasses, she does incredible. She said that she borrowed a pair from her neighbor after we taught her a lesson, and started reading from a verse we read to her. (I actually don't remember the verse) Anyway, we ask her about what she learned, and she goes crazy in depth about Alma and Amulek's story in Ammonihah, with all these details, and so we gave her Jacob 5 to read and ponder over, and when we followed up with her there, she started talking about the surface story of the chapter, but then moved into what it meant with all the symbolism and everything!! Scattered israel, nephites and lamanites, gathering of isareal. E'rythang. She's the coolest.

Anyhoo, love you so much!! See you in 6! I'll make it worth it!!!

Elder Syphus

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Week 94 (May 1, 2016 Gabaldon, Philippines)

Happy Birthday to all of my Siblings!! ALL OF THEM. There, that takes care of that for the next year ;)

Dear Mom,

This week has been kind of rough, but awesome at the same time. Everybody is starting to get sick, and so the work in the District has been down. I'm pushing through a cold right now, but feel fine except for a clogged nose. There was an emergency transfer in the District, and so Elder Flores is now in Cabanatuan, with Elder Pulu from Tonga taking his place here in Bongabon. I've never worked too closely with an Islander before, so I'm actually super excited. He seems super nice, and hardworking, which Islanders typically are, but maybe a little bit too fun-loving if you know what I mean, haha. I really am excited though. Haven't met him in person yet, but have had a few good talks with him on the phone, so we're pretty much bffs already. #mnb

So, about progress with investigators! Amparo and Mateo weren't able to make it to church this week because there was no one to spot him for the hour he needed, so that was kind of a bummer, but both Jemmalyn Paminutan and Leonardo Facon were able to attend, which is awesome, because Jemmalyn has only been once, a long time ago, and this is Leonardo's first time. We followed up with them afterwards, and Leonardo says he really enjoyed it and is excited for next week. Jemmalyn really likes it too, but struggles with her son who isn't quite used to Primary yet. He'll stay and play with the other kids there for about 20 minutes before having to come find his Mom. The Gospel Essentials class has pretty much become a 2nd Primary, anyway, haha. The kids are fun, if not a little bit rambunctious. It's okay though. I've learned patience :P

This week, we also had Zone interviews!! It was crazy awesome, because it wasn't your typical gathering in the stake center as a Zone with President and Sister Clark, but instead, they went house to house throughout the mission, interviewing us in our homes. It was sort of crazy stressful just trying to get everything clean before Sister Clark showed up (I really want to go off into a tangent right here, but I'll control myself), but we passed, no problem. It's a good thing the lights were off though, because I forgot to erase my pencil drawing off the wall next to my bed, haha. It's okay. I'll erase it later ;) The actual interview, was totes my favorite part of course, and here's why: 1-on-1 Q&A with President Clark. Normally I don't really take advantage of this opportunity, but there were a few questions I really wanted answered, and he was more than willing to appease me. There was only one question I was dying to ask him, and his answer was the best. I simply asked him about his favorite part of being a Mission President. He old me that it was in seeing Missionaries mature. From seeing them move from being this dorky little kid right out of high school (not necessarily talking about myself, so don't be too quick to assume) to becoming an effective minister of the Gospel. He says that ya, baptisms are nice, but his experience would be a lot less bearable and enjoyable even if it were a bunch of programmed robots getting done twice as much work as we are, rather than us stumbling along,tripping into success every now and then as we go, haha :P President Clark is the coolest.

But he sure does have sucky timing. He dropped off some mail before he left that I really didn't want to receive. Too make a long story short, it's been confirmed! I'll be seeing you all next month!

Anyhoo, that was the week. It was a good one....ish :P

Love you Mom!! We can use Google Hangouts again and it'll be Sunday evening for you guys at approximately 8 pm. Talk to you then!

Elder Syphus

This is a couple of pictures and an excerpt from Sis. Clarks (MP's wife) blog....
"We combined all of the Third Chair pictures onto one large tarpaulin poster and display it in our office. We love this "quilt" of pictures that reminds us to live our lives in such a way that we can always have the Holy Ghost with us in lessons.
We are in awe at the goodness of our dear, dear Angeles Missionaries. Thank you for the most memorable round of interviews!"

Monday, April 25, 2016

Week 93 (April 25, 2016 Gabaldon, Philippines)

 Dear Mom

I haven't received the letter yet, but I think I'll be getting it within the week. I'll let you know :)

We had an awesome week this week, just like last week, and just like next week J We had a young man leave for his mission, a young woman finish her mission, a super bomb.diggity lesson with an investigator and continue to prepare some of the two coolest people ever for baptism. Just a week in the life J

So ya, Mission farewell. Noel Brudo is one of the elders in the ward, and has been one of the biggest helps in Missionary Work since I came into the area. He had a farewell party the night before he left, and so we went and got to talk to a lot of his non-member family and friends. Nothing is for certain yet, but there’s a lot of potential. In my second area, an elder named RJ Valdez left to serve a mission, and then his mom got super interested in the church that could convince her son to voluntarily give up two years of his life to serve the Lord without pay. She was baptized four weeks later. Her name is Josie Valdez, and I think I wrote about her, but I got transferred before the baptism. It was crazy how fast she progressed though. I remember in one of our first lessons with her (might’ve been the first), she asked us what all the “bawals” were (the bad stuff in the Word of Wisdom). That’s typically a pretty iffy question for the first lesson, because they don’t have the basis of the Restoration or revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith, but when she sensed that we were a little hesitant to answer, she reassured us saying “My son said I have to give up smoking and drinking at least four weeks before getting baptized. I just wanted to know if there were any others so I can be baptized as soon as possible.” Ya. She was super the coolest, and prolly holds a calling in the Relief Society Presidency in the Branch. I’m hoping something like that will sprout out of Noel’s mission service.

Mission Homecoming: There’s a less active that we’re teaching whose daughter just got off her mission on Thursday. We went to go share a message with her dad, Gil, and saw her there. I knew he had a daughter serving a mission, but I had no idea when she was coming home, so it was kind of a shock. She’s hilarious though. She’s like a combination of Kylie and Katelyn, and then some; sort of spastic and crazy, but super spiritual and into the Gospel (Kylie and Katelyn are both like that… I think most of us in the family are like that :P). She’s already given us a few referrals and invited us over for dinner, and keeps trying to find a way to teach with us, which is hard because we can’t work with sisters unless we have another adult male present. She can’t replace Noel, but she’s still pretty cool. She gives us food. (Speaking of which, we got dinner appointments up the wazoo this week, which doesn’t happen that often. Thooper-duper ek-thigh-ted :D)

Lesson.diggity: We taught one of our long-term but not super-progressing investigators, the other night, Jemmalyn Pamintuan. She’s always happy to listen, and is pretty good at understanding what we teach, but the appointment before the one I’m about to write about, she mentioned that she was happy to continue listening to us, but was catholic, so she can’t attend church with us. We came back and retaught her the restoration, focusing again on the Apostasy and Restoration. Her cousin runs a key duplicating booth in the palengke, and she knows a bit about it as well, so we used keys in our analogy, as many do :P We compared the Gospel and the Church, focusing on Baptism by the proper authority, as a key. This specific key wasn’t made to open a car or a house or a pantry, but the gates to Heaven (ya, I know; pretty valuable key, right?). When Christ and his apostles were killed, however, this key was lost, and men started making their own keys, hoping that they would work just as well as the original. They didn’t of course, locking mankind out of Eternal Salvation. But, as a Loving Father in Heaven, God despaired at the sight of His children locked out of their Eternal Home, and once more restored the keys to Earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith, giving His children the opportunity of salvation anew if they would only accept it. And they lived happy ever after. The end J But ya, she understood it a LOT better that way, and was practically glowing by the end of the lesson. The Spirit was SO strong, and it was pretty much the best lesson ever taught by anyone ever, except for prolly Jesus Christ. BUT (always a but L) E’ryone gots their agency, and so even though she committed to go to Church, she didn’t end up coming :/ We still haven’t been able to get a hold of her and find out why, but we’ll be teaching her again later, and working to get her back on track J

So, even though Jemmalyn didn’t go to church, Amparo and Mateo did, which was nothing short of a miracle. We visited them Saturday evening, and Amparo said she was coming down with the Flu, and that Mateo had work the next day and wasn’t able to get it off, and so they wouldn’t be able to attend church. We felt all had been done that could be done, but promised to pray for them that a door would be opened, and we prayed HARD. Imagine the joy when at 8:50 Sundaymorning, we see Amparo and Mateo walking up the stairs to the church as healthy and shiftless as ever :D The flu was gone when she woke up, and Mateo convinced his boss to even just give him an hour so they could at least attend Sacrament Meeting, which was given most graciously. It was awesome to see them and I’m super stoked for their marriage coming up in the coming weeks. They should be baptized within the next two weeks, but for sure by the end of May. Gonna be the best :D

And that was the week. Love you so much Mom!!

Quick spiritual thought.

Our Branch President was reading excerpts of Conference talks during Sacrament meeting yesterday, and read the one from President Uchtdorf’s which reads “In a thousand years was her beauty built, in one night was it utterly destroyed.” I remembered it in the context of the story, but also understood it as something a little different. Testimonies and conversion don’t come in a night. You have to work on them bit by bit, little by little. Not even Christ was exempt from the quest of personal conversion, but instead “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52) during those first 30 years of his life. However, no matter the depth or the strength of one’s testimony, it only takes that one stupid mistake to send it out in ashes. King David is a prime example, of which I always find myself wanting to cry. He started off so great and powerful, called by God’s prophet to reign over the land, successfully reunited the 10 tribes, but threw it all away for a woman on a roof and the disposal of her husband. “A journey of a thousand miles beings with a single step, so watch your step.”

Love you Mom!!!!

Elder Syphus

Companionship Art Project. He broke it. I fixed it. We got 1st :D

No electricty. Ironing the shirt the old fashioned way. Sort of :P

8-bit papaya thing :)

(Email to a friend)
I’m training right now. My trainees name is Elder Strebe and he’s from Eagar Arizona. He’s only my 4th American and Companion, and the other three don’t really even count :P My first was Elder Murdock, but he was only my MTC companion. Next, I got Elder Ortega, back in my 3rd area, and he’s technically a Filipino, born and raised, but just immigrated to America after his Mom got a job at John Hopkin’s. They’re currently living in Baltimore. My 3rd foreigner companion was Elder Chand from Vegas, but he’s technically not even part of this mission. He was called to labor in the India New Delhi Mission, and did so successfully for a year until his Visa ran out, and then had to wait in the Philippines for a renewal. He’s now back in India until he finished His two years in September. His ancestry actually traces back to India, which is cool seeing he gets to serve in his Mother land. Now, I've got Elder Strebe. He’s a fun guy :P I’m really grateful for the opportunity to train, and I personally think I've probably learned more from him than him from me, which is incredible, because I get to experience His growth first hand (which is prolly my favorite part of training), but at the same time, I've been paired with newer missionaries my entire mission except for my training, and then with Elder Chand. I've been hoping for the opportunity to serve with another really experienced Elder just so the two of us can get out to work and do miracles (which can be done just as well with Elder Strebe, don’t get me wrong), but I don’t know if I’ll ever get it. I’ve got one transfer left, and I don’t think President Clark is going to move me just for that last 6 weeks. The prospect of going home already makes my stomach churn, and my heart drop. I love it here in the Phillys, and don’t want to leave it behind yet. I think I may have already told you that though, haha. Mission life is the best life, and I’m insanely glad I made the decision to serve.

We’re teaching a lot of really great people right now, and seeing their testimony grow makes mine swell a little J They’ve all got their own trials, though, as do we, and some are proving to be a bit harder to solve than expected, but we won’t give up. Giving up wasn't ever a part of the plan, nor will it ever be. Just think want would’ve happened if Christ gave up during those crucial moments in the Garden of Gethsemane, or hanging on the cross. What would’ve happened if Nephi gave up trying to get the brass plates, admitting that yes, it was in fact a hard thing asked of them. Where would we be if Joseph Smith gave up? Finally being overcome by persecution and abuse, giving in to the temptations of the devil, and forsaking his role as Prophet of the Restoration? Giving up isn't an option. We’ll keep working and pushing and coordinating and encouraging and doing everything we can to bring the message of salvation to those ready to receive it. Missionary work is the best :D

That’s it for updates J

Monday, April 18, 2016

Week 92 (April 18, 2016 Gabaldon, Philippines)

Dearest Mother of Mine,

We haven't had much happen this week either. It's onion season, and so just breathing seems to burn your eyes and nostrils. All the field workers eyes are bloodshot, so they kind of look high. They're never home either, so we haven't had a lot of people to teach lately. We have a lot of free onions though Yum :)

We're still teaching Amparo and Mateo, and slowly but surely getting them prepped for Baptism. Mateo is back to Sundayshifts with his guard duty, so it'll be harder than we expected, but no good thing ever came without a price, and it's a price we're willing to pay. Lots of hardwork and member coordination, but it'll all pay off in the end. I just hope I'm here :/ I just wanna taste of my own dang potatoes!! (mini rant )

We did find a new investigator family this week, and they're sort of the coolest people ever. It's sort of an extended family thing, so I don't have all of the last names down yet, but we're teaching Che, Jack and Jenny. Jack and Jenny are in the 30s, but Che is only 12. She was the one we originally found though, and then asked if we could meet her parents. She took us to their home, and we met a whole bunch of people, but I don't think any of them are her parents. We met her aunts and uncles and cousins and stuff. Still don't know the parents. We taught them the Restoration. and they were super into it. The Spirit was so strong, and it just flowed! We spoke a lot in terms of onions, because that's what they really know, but it worked, haha! We compared the Gospel and Christ's church to an onion field, full of big healthy onions ready for the harvest, but then introduced the Apostasy and how it's sort of like this disease that the onion's get called "spag" (short for spaghetti: the onion leaves get all limp and twisty like noodles. super contagious). The truths or onions started to go bad, and would affect other doctrines, spreading the disease. Truth seekers tried to remove the spag onions, but even after that, the field was no longer full. There were still a bunch of correct doctrines, or healthy onions, but a lot of it was missing. But then God fixed it, because He can do that :) It was sort of the coolest analogy ever, and I'll prolly use it when I teach my friends and future kids about the Restoration. Onions and spaghetti seem to be universal, so it works! :D They were super stoked to learn about the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith and everything and so we put them on for June 11th. I know it's not that easy though. Because they're farmers, the field is SUPER important to them, and it'll be hard getting them to stay away for a day to go to church and remember the Sabbath. That's where Members come in handy :) We, as two white American Missionaries who've never planted an onion in our lives, don't know what it's like to have an entire field in your care, and our investigators know that. However, the Members DO know, because a lot of them have the same kind of work, and they seem to keep the Sabbath alright. Hopefully, we can get a few strong testimonies and encouragement from them. Well, more than a few, of course, but you get it :)

I have another spiritual thought/scripture this week. Sorry I haven't been doing it anymore lately. I'll try to repent :)

This comes from the Old Testament!

1 Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation.

2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.

3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Look Up. Prayer has become a HUGE part of my life, these past two years, and I don't plan on changing that anytime soon (or ever for that matter). It's those last two words that really hit me though. Before I left, a group of friends and I really wanted to go Star Gazing, so we threw down a blanket on the front lawn and just chilled. A few weeks later, one of the coolest people in the world, and most definitely one of my best friends, Corrina Carter, gave me a bookmark she made for me with a starry background and the words "Look Up" in the middle. I probably just thought it was a reference to our star gazing adventure, but she knew what she wanted me learn from it. (Sorry Corrina, I'm a little slow :P). So ya. Always remember to "look up."
Also, to take it one step further (just thought of this), it's ALL about where we're looking. Remember my scriptural thought from a long time ago about the tents? Lot's tent faced Sodom, and that's where he ended up (Genesis 13,14). The people of King Benjamin faced their tents towards the Temple, and became the "Children of God" (Mosiah 2, 5). When people spend their time walking around looking down at their feet and the super fascinating dirt and concrete, it's usually not because they're preparing to go into geology. On the other hand, looking up at the birds and the trees and the clouds and the stars, we see the beauty of the world, and of life, and the hope of a brighter future. See the difference? If not, look up :)

Love you Mom!! Forgot to bring my camera, but I'll try next week Love you!!

Elder Syphus