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

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