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

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Week 91 (April 10, 2016 Gabaldon, Philippines)

Dear Mom,

I watched Conference!!! It was awesome and beautiful and incredible and I love it!! I had super miced emotions when Elder Holland went up to give his talk. On the one hand, I was super stoked and excited to hear his message, but on the other, I was super sad because I knew that after he was done, I'd have to wait 6 more months, and I didn't know how I was going to do that. But he gave his talk on that exact topic!!!
I've also downloaded both of President Uchtdorf's talks on to my flashdrive, just because the speakers in the Sacrament Hall went out for BOTH. I was a little more than frustrated :) Of the talks I did get to listen to, Elder Christofferson's was probs one of my favorites. I goes beautifully with Elder Holland's talk from last October about Mothers.




So ya, Conference is pretty much my favorite*period*

I also got some of those magical bonus fries that you find at the bottom of your McDonald's bag during conference, but the spiritual version. I got to conduct some interviews for the Dingalan Elders, and it was the best! I interviewed 5 people, and 3 were uber prepared with bomb diddly testimonies. One of the others was 8, so I didn't expect too much from her, haha :) She did really good though, and passed. The other was this 17 year old girl who I couldn't even get to look at me, let alone talk to me. It was super awkward, and we were in there for prolly like, 10 minutes, accomplishing nothing. Apparantly, she's just ridonk shy, and I felt kind of bad that I wasn't able to feel comfortable enough to proceed with the interview. She didn't pass, needless to say :/

Anyhoo, this week wasn't super productive in terms of proselyting, because of all the meetings and stuff, and Satan really isn't giving up on our investigators, but neither are we. It can be a little rough at times getting them to keep commitments, especially when you know they have the desire, but lack the resources. Amparo and Mateo are still pushing strong, but I don't think April 23 is going to work out for them. Definitely in May though. We'll MAKE it happen (respecting their agency and mission rules of course :) )

That's my time for today, and I'll try to possible maybe send pictures maybe, but know that I super love and appreciate all of you!!!!!

Love you Mom!!

Elder Syphus

Monday, April 4, 2016

Week 90 (April 4, 2016 Gabaldon, Philippines)

Dear Mom,

First off, what's Kambree drinking in those pictures? It looks really good, haha. And I'm glad you all enjoyed conference! We're super excited for it here, but at the same time it's always hard because I've never been assigned in an area with a Stake Center, so Investigators always have a lot of trouble getting their way to the church building. Considering Amparo and Mateo's difficult financial situation, I don't know if they'll be able to attend :( They weren't able to go to church yesterday either. I don't remember if I already explained, but Tatay Mateo has the Sunday shift of their little neighborhood watch thing. He switched his shift with a coworker a few weeks ago, and always fulfilled his end of the bargain, but his kapalit (which sort of means switch mate) never showed up. This happened two weeks in a row, and they eventually found out that his kapalit would just spend the whole day drinking, but Tatay Mateo was still the one who got roasted by their boss, so he's back to working on Sundays :( Satan is super determined, and keeps throwing up little hedges in our path. Others only take a few minutes to get over, but the others can be a real pain. Not all is bad though. Despite their financial situation, Amparo continues to be faithful with tithing, and has quite a bit set aside. She was going to pay it yesterday, but wasn't able to attend because she was helping Mateo at work. We've got to talk to our Branch President and Branch Mission Leader and see what they will do to help solve these concerns. We got to talk with President Clark a few days ago, and he gave us some really good advice. We were talking to him about all the concerns these people were struggling with, and he asks "Who's going about to solve all these concerns?" We said that we were, and that the branch was helping a little as well. He replied that the branch was supposed to be fixing everything, with us helping a little, should they need it. So we've given the branch a lot more responsibilities these last few days, haha :P

In other quick news, we had a really good this week. We hit our 210 Testifying Contacts Goal again for the 3 week in a row :D It does get sort of exhausting some time, but the people who actually do listen make it all worth it. Also, we were able to teach a total of 40 lessons this week! Compared to a lot of other companionships or areas in the mission, that's not too many, but it was definitely a lot of hard work for the two Gabaldon Elders. We got a few good new investigators, and even got 4 of them to attend church. I'm super stoked to see all this progression, and even more excited to get the Branch involved in getting any kinks ironed out. Missionary work is lot easier when you're not trying to fulfill everyone's callings for them :P

Anyhoo, that's the extent of the week that I have time to write about. I'll keep you updated with everything happening :)

Love you Mom!!!

Elder Syphus

PS I actually think I will stay at DSU for a few semesters until I at least get my Associate's, then I'll consider transferring up to BYU.