Monday, January 28, 2013

Week 10--Miracles from God

Dear Family and Blog Readers,

How's it going everybody? Just another busy week in the Philippines for this Elder here. I would like to make a correction. Last week I mentioned that it wasn't that hot and that I was used to the weather or whatever. I found out that it's winter here. So yes, it's going to get hotter. So, that should be fun I guess. Not very excited, but yeah, I'll enjoy what I have right now. The wind is usually a steady blow and a lot of the time just an overcast. So it's really nice now and not too hot. I like winter here. I miss the cold though actually, and of course, the snow. I sounds like the boys basketball team is having a rough time. Sorry for that, I wish I could come back and play, haha, but there are bigger things at stake (like other people's salvation), than playing basketball right now. Even though I miss it and I still haven't played since I've been here, there's a lot bigger work that's needed to be done here on the island.
Bacolod Philippines Mission Goals
Our Investigator Ryan is doing really well. Elder Doverte and I were trying to prepare him for baptism for this Saturday, Feb. 2. However, we still need to teach a little bit more. So we've moved his baptism to next Saturday, Feb 9. So we're really excited for that day. We've already gone over the baptismal interview questions with him and he's ready. He's going to be a great member of the church. He's asked his uncle to baptize him, so we're really happy on his decision.
It's good to hear about people's decisions to serve and it sounds like there's going to be a lot of good missionaries going out. Brock leaves this week is that right? He's going to do great in Fiji. I actually met a couple people from Fiji at the MTC when I was there that were going to serve in missions here in the Philippines. They were way nice people! So cool. So I hope that he has a great time. So good luck to him. Go save some souls buddy. I'll miss golfing with him, but hey, it's only 2 years right? Also Ryan goes next week? Wow, that's fast. I can't believe that. Ryan buddy, I love you. Good luck. Your mission is going to be fantastic. It's amazing to hear about close friends doing great and serving the Lord. I wouldn't ever change the decision that I've made to be where I am right now. Yes, it's hard. Yes, there is a lot of down times and that's just when I read about Alma and the son's of Mosiah. When they were ready to turn back, the Lord told them that he would comfort them and they were comforted. The Lord knows everything and knows what we need and when we need it. I know that for a fact. I've been receiving so much help in everything right when I need it.
This week I also got a package from Grandma and Grandpa. Thanks so much. The food is amazing! Thanks for the Oreo's and of course, the Werther's! I think that's how you spell it. They're so good. So thanks so much! The box was BEAT so bad. Looks like it went through a hurricane, but everything in it was fine :) I even made the soup for lunch that day. It was so good. So thanks so much. I hope that Grandpa had a great Birthday. Did you get my letter? I sent it maybe 4 weeks ago, so I hope it got there by his birthday. I tried.
Ashlyn and Sam sound like they are having a fun time with school and things like that. Sam's a good driver? Weird... didn't expect that. HAHA! Just kidding! So y'all want to hear about my week?:

P day, gani. So just the regular things. However, we had a Family Home evening set up and everything and then we received a text and they cancelled, so then we were left with nowhere to go. We went and tried to visit a couple people, but nobody was home. It was such a sad night, so that was no fun at all. We just went home at like 8 because we had nowhere to go and nobody to talk to on the street because everyone goes to sleep, so that wasn't a really good day.

Tuesday was not a very good day either. Elder Doverte wasn't feeling that good so while he rested after our studies I just read "Our Search for Happiness." I actually just finished it, like 2 days ago. It took me about 4 days. It's a good book. It really opened my eyes a little bit and gave me a little extra boost in my own testimony. The things that Elder Ballard testifies in that book are great. And now I've moved on to the big monster. Jesus The Christ. I'm on like page 25 and wow, it's a rough read. So many things to try and understand, but the notes that he makes at the end of each chapter really helped. I learned this morning that the Jaradites actually landed in California. I never knew that. I always thought it was somewhere in South America. But in the notes at the end of the chapter 2, i think, tell us that it was California. Cool huh? Okay, so after Elder Doverte started feeling better we went to South Bacayan and taught some less actives out there. It was fun actually. We taught one family about the Atonement and how it covers literally everything. Physical, mental, and spiritual pains. Anything that you can possible think of. The reason that Christ did that was that so he knows how to help us. He felt the pain that we felt and know he knows how to help his people. (See Alma 7:12&13). So that was a good lesson. The family is having a really rough time right now and so I hope that the scripture that I shared helped them somehow. The sister that we were teaching kept asking questions and so I think we ended up talking for about 2 hours. So long. However, as long as she was edified and so were we, then I think it's okay. Then we had a family home evening at the Demandar's house. That was so much fun. We played some really great games that I can't wait to play with y'all back in America. It has fire in it! You get to pass fire around. Cool huh? We'll play in a while. I gave the lesson at the FHE. It was so fun. After everything was over the daughter Grace had a question about the spirit world, and so we ended up teaching the Plan of Salvation right after Family Home Evening. So yeah, that was a fun night. Then we ate some food and drank some drinks. I love tang. They have a mango flavored tang here that's soooo good!

Wednesday is the day that we had to go to Bacolod for the specialized training. Was there pictures from it? We were trying to fine an Air Con bus to Bacolod, but couldn't find one. So we had to ride a regular bus. Such a long ride, well sort of. We're actually pretty close to Bacolod, but the bus always stops to pick up more people, and the road here are about 100X worse than the roads in Utah. Weird huh? I never thought I'd say that, but these roads are SO BAD! So be thankful for where you live. So the training was fun. It's always good to learn things from President Lopez. He's always making me want to be a better missionary. It was all about how they can make training better, how our training and things are going, so it's pretty good so far. Training is just a lot of learning and a lot of studying. We get an extra hour of companion study while we train, so that's nice. It's so that you can learn more at the start and really get a boost on you knowledge and teaching skills. We then went to work in Canetown and got punted from everyone. Either they were busy, there was no male so we couldn't enter their house, or they just weren't home. I was a little upset and very tired from traveling to Bacolod and back home.

I had exchanges with Elder Bermudez. Do you remember him? I went with him last time to Manapla. Well this time, he came to my area to see how I did as a missionary. He barely did any of the talking, just really seeing what I did. Let's just say this was one of the most fun days I've ever had on my mission. All these weird little miracles happened that were just, wow! So we went to South Bacayan and taught the usual family that we always teach there. Anyway, usually when we teach it's only mom and the daughter. But this time the whole family was there. Wow. So we took this opportunity. It was fantastic. Then after that, we went to the Pagaput family and he husband wasn't home. We're not allowed to enter so we didn't, so we just had a prayer outside and then we went on our way. The we went to Sister Pelloquerro's house. Her sister told me that she wasn't home and so then I just thought to myself, hey, let's teach you. So I asked her if we could share a message with her. She was hesitant at first,but then finally said yes. So I was really happy about that. Then, we went to Canetown. Last week I think I told you the story about the man that invited us on his porch and we taught him and it turned out he'd been taught in the past. Anyway, so Elder Bermudez and I were "knocking" at his door. We actually just yell, "Tug Balay" meaning, like, people are here come outside and let us in, or, where's the owner of the house kind of thing. So we were doing that, the this voice comes from behind me, a female voice. "Mormon's Kamo?" meaning, are you Mormon's? We were like, Yes were are. She's maybe 14 or 15 years old. Anyway I asked who she was and she told me May Mary. I then asked what her last name was. She told me. I was like, Oh My Gosh! Do you remember how last week Elder Doverte and I walked for 3 hours to try and find some less actives and we couldn't find any of them. THIS WAS THEIR DAUGHTER! She found me! She then told me that they had moved to Canetown. I was like, you've got to be kidding. This is a miracle from God. So now I know where they live and holy cow, just what a spiritual moment. If we wouldn't have met the man that used to be taught, we wouldn't have ever returned, and I would have never met May Mary. Just wow, what a day. And it gets better. After that we went to Bo Palma, which is just next to Canetown. Do you remember Reneme? We used to teach her then we kinda of stopped because there's never a boy at the house, usually just her and a lot of kids. It's the place that I held the bird. The Liza family. Anyway, so Elder Bermudez and I went to visit her and she said, "Where have you been?" I told that we were really busy and sorry for not coming back. But we've come to say hi and see how you're dong. Then right after that she told me that she promised to go to church on Sunday. I was like, um... Okay. I didn't even commit you to that, yet, but okay. If you promise okay! Awesome. Sunday. She was a church even before we were. How amazing!

Friday we went to North Bacayan and taught some less actives there. Then tried to find another family that's around that area. We weren't able to find them. People around the area said that they were all at work or something. So bummer. Then we went taught the less actives dad and mom. They live about maybe 1/4 mile away. They don't believe Joseph Smith say God. They say yes, Jesus, but not God. However, Dad is active. Mom is not. Both are members. We asked if they think that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. They said yes. However, we don't think that Joseph Smith saw God. Their evidence is John 1:18. Which is actually really bad evidence. Just a little lack of faith. We tried to teach about faith and wow, there was just no spirit. Once Joseph Smith was brought up it was all a fight. No man can see God, this that, oh what a fun lesson. So that's the highlight of my Friday.

We went out to the Mirasol family to see how they were doing. They're doing good. Mom and the son came to church on Sunday and so that was good. The son's actually our Ward Mission leader. He's active. The rest of the family is less active though. So it was good to visit them. They're the one's with the pigs. Then we went to Pelloquerro family. We taught Sister Ribon, the Recent convert of 2 years from Hong Kong, and then her nephew. His name is Meynard and his friend. They both came to church on Sunday. How awesome. I also got the package from Grandma and Grandpa on Saturday so it was a good day.
Sister Ribon's house where she served him Tang and a snack!  Happy Elder!
Such a great Sunday. We had 5 less actives at church, the best we've ever had. 12 recent converts, the best we've ever had. And 6 investigators at church, the best we've ever had. So yes, this week was fantastic. We taught Ryan after Church and he's ready to go into the water on the 9th. So we're excited for that. Then we had to go to Elder Garner's area because Elder Doverte had to do a baptismal interview. There was no buses that had room because of a big festival in Cadiz. So we ended up taking a tricycle! All the way! so far! It was so expensive, but we actually rode it with Joy and some of her friends, so we ended up not paying for it. haha. So yeah, if you know what a tricycle looks like, a 45 minute ride wow. That was so much fun. Then it was Sister Ynayan's birthday so they wanted to us to come over for dinner. So we went over and said hello and ate some Baboy! (Pig) Super good. And this mango gram cracker thing, that was so good. Then talked about the gospel! It was a great Sunday.
Victorias district

I've had a really good week. I hope that everything is going well with y'all back home. I know that his Church is true. This work is so tiring, but at the same time so rewarding especially when you see people progress. It's so hot, so fun, so sweaty, so spiritual, so tiring, and all the above. Sad, happy, up, down, everything! I'm doing good! :) I'm happy here on my Island. It's good. The area is growing. We're trying to find a new house right now because currently our house isn't in our area and the bills are starting to get expensive (water and current) So we're looking for a new one right now.
Manila Philippines temple taken by Bro. Brian Edwards
I love y'all. Keep being good and choosing the right. Read your scriptures and say your prayers. Those are two things that are the most important.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Don't be Discouraged! Heavenly Father is in Charge!

Dear Family,
Hello! I hope that your week was great. I honestly can't believe I'm emailing yet again. Weeks are flying by. Well, kind of. It depends on the day. I just can't believe it's Monday again. Which is good because I needed to wash my polo's (white shirts). I think they're staying white. I don't think they've turned the yellow color yet, but all is well with me. I've been sick for awhile, no it's not a parasite, just like a cold. But, it's gotten better. I still cough a bit, but all is well. Nothing bad is going on here. Everything is fine and dandy! How are y'all doing in America? Nice to hear that Ashlyn and Sam and dating now. That's a bit weird, but I hope that the boys are treating them with respect. The pictures of you Rome trip looked great. I'm so happy for you. Sounds like y'all had a great time. I've just been working hard and sweating a lot. It's actually been really weird, this week hasn't been that hot. I don't know if I'm just getting used to it, or what. The wind has been really good this week, just a nice breeze. Elder Doverte said that's how it is in January. So all is well here in the Philippines. There's been a tropical depression somewhere in the Ocean so we've been getting some of the effects. (thus the wind). It's been really cloudy all week though. It hasn't rained that much. The rainy season is during the summer time, so that's going to be fun. There was supposed to be a typhoon I think this week, but nothing ever happened with it. It only rained a little. We still work in typhoons, so it's not really a big deal. I miss the Utah and Logan cold. I've heard it's been really cold. Also this week I got a letter from Angie! Tell her thanks. I've already written her reply and I'll send it after I email. I also got dear elders from Courtney and a package. With an AWESOME new tie! And of course, the American Candy is always fantastic. So thank you so much! All the letters were from around Christmas time, so yeah, it takes a long time to get things here. Sorry everyone! But I'm honestly loving my mission and having the time of my life. Yes, it's the hardest things I've ever done. Very tiring, and very hard, also just spiritually draining. You've always got to be acting like a missionary because there are so many people watching you. Everyone knows that I'm not a very serious person and so it's been really hard for me, but I've been working on it. On Wednesday I get to go to the mission home for special training. It's just my batch that came in November so it should be fun. I'm excited. It's only 3 hours, so no we're not spending the night. So let's get started with what went on this week shall we?

Monday is P-day. So on Monday we study and then wash our clothes, then we email. So Monday's are really good! We eat and then buy some food that get us ready for the week. It's fun. P-Days are very much needed. Usually on Monday's we try and have a Family Home Evening with someone, recent convert, or less active, or members, doesn't really matter. Last Monday we didn't have any appointments for a Family Home Evening so I was sad. So we just taught some less actives. So that's good. This week our numbers were very good and I was very happy with our work. It's been the best week in the Philippines so far.

Tuesday we worked our tails off, just like any other day. However, numbers wise it just looks like we worked a lot more today. We worked in Canetown and South Bacayan. It's actually interesting I want to share two stories with you. 1. So we were walking and trying to find new investigators because we need some in our teaching pool. So we were walking around Canetown which has a little bit of richer people there. We see this woman standing on her front porch and then we just say hello. We're on the other side of her gate. She comes running down and then says, "I'm sorry, my mother is sick I can't let you in" Exactly like that. IN ENGLISH! My companion and I were like, what she say? We're not used to this! So then we were just like, okay that's fine. Is it okay if we can just come back? She says sure you bet. So we left her the restoration pamphlet and then told her we'd come back. Then story number 2. We went through our Area Book and looked at the former investigators to see if maybe they were ready for the gospel now. Well, I found one from Sister Elwood (Scott now). My MTC teacher. So we went and found them in Canetown. Their names are Angel, Rex, and Patrica. Their mom is a member, however, we never knew it because her records aren't with our ward. We found her records in Cadiz City and we're getting them transferred here. They're family is huge. There are more than just the 3 that we've taught. They're 6 that we're currently teaching now. I'll tell you more about them on the Saturday part. This lesson went really well though. They all seemed really interested and we're excited for them. I hope that everything works out. They're a way awesome family and full of excitement. On Tuesday we got 7 new investigators. In one day. That's pretty cool! Although, none of them came to church yesterday, which was a little sad, It's a least people that we can teach!
Wednesday we went looking for some previous investigators as well. It's always fun looking for them because it's an opportunity to talk to other people. Just walk up and say, hi, do you know where this person lives? Then they say yes, right there. Then you explain why you're trying to find them, and then you teach them and talk to them about the gospel. Then get a return appointment. So far it's been really effective and we've gotten a lot of new investigators because of it. So that's fun. It's way cool to see the Lord help me with the Language because I just start talking and then words come out of my mouth. Sometimes, I think that it's totally wrong, but people are surprised that I can at least understand what they say. I'm understanding about 90% of everything that is being said. I can respond maybe 50% of the time. So I'm working on it. Hard. All is well though. I just keep praying and studying and trekking along. Wednesday we got 4 new investigators. So we're excited for that. Return appointments to them, and so we're happy. Last week we had no new investigators, but this week we have a total of 16.

Thursday was fun. We were in Canetown and stumbled upon this man. We just said hello as we were walking by and then we decided to go talk to him. We started telling him our purpose and that we were missionaries. Then we taught him about the restoration. Then he started talking about Joseph Smith and we're like, what? Then he told us to wait while he went and grabbed his Bible. Well, it was a Book of Mormon. We said, wait, are you a member? He said no, he used to investigate the church. His Book of Mormon had the missionaries who used to teach him and the date was 2006. So it's been a while. He even fed us and gave us food! So we asked if we could come back. He said for sure. We don't know why he stopped coming to church. He's about 55 years old, and had a stroke. So we're going to see what we can do with him. It was a way spiritually experience though. I was way happy!
I wanted to kill myself. We went out to the Mirasol family and taught them. Then we decided to go find some less actives (not active at all) out in the Sugar Cane fields. Needless to say, we walked for 3 straight hours. Didn't find a single one! I was so mad. So mad. My feet really hurt, and no success. Friday was not a fun day. However, we did find another less active that we did not know was there. We taught him and he said that the last missionaries that came over were total jerks. So we were thankful for his compliment. He said that we could come back and were welcome and that he won't come to church, but we're more than welcome to come and teach him. So it interesting.
On Saturday Ward 1's young men and young women put on a mini MTC. They wanted us to come teach at it. So it was actually way fun. I think they understood me. My topic was understand and recognizing the spirit. So it was fun. After that we went to Canetown. We've been trying to find some good members in that area to strengthen it. We didn't have much success, but we did meet with Rex and Patricia again. We gave them baptismal dates! WEEEE! However, they didn't come to church. GRRRR. So we're going to see what we can do. We had a dinner appointment at Ward 1 bishops house. It was way good. I love some of the food here. Then... there's some fish, I'm trying to adjust.
Church. Love church. I also hate church. It's the day that we see everyone exercise their faith and go to church. We also see some of them not exercise their faith and not come to church. However, Ryan came to church. I think I told you about him. He's going to be baptized on Feb 2. So we're really excited! He's a way awesome guy. He's 23 and a school teacher. Way awesome. We had some really great teachings! We had 5 teachings, which is way good for a Sunday for us.
So this week was really good. I'm really happy with our work and the progress that we've made in the area. Dad wrote me and told me not to worry that I haven't been having success. So I'm going to try and not get discouraged. I do get really down when our investigators don't come to church, but that just means more teaching opportunities and more learning right? Right. Always got to keep the positive attitude or this is going to be a long 2 years.

I love you all. I know that this church is true. I wouldn't be willing to do this if I didn't know it is true. I'm seeing God's miracles working in my life and with these people. I'm so grateful for being called here. I love it here. The Philippines is the place to be! It's awesome. I don't mind the hot and the sun, it's just a big help to try and get inside people's houses so that we can teach and not be so hot. Even though there's no air-con, shade is better than the sun. I think I'm getting a little tan too. Be good and choose the right!
Cleaned the apartment.  Elder Ellis saw this little guy run under sink.  Elder Pineda readied the shoe, while Elder Ellis slowly lifted the compartment.  YUK!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Starting to Click!

Dear Family,

Hello again from the Philippines. I can't believe that it has already been a week since I've emailed you last. This week has been so so busy. We're working super hard. If you remember our Investigator Ryan, I think I told you about him, he's a super good investigator. He keeps his commitments and is really excited about the gospel. Very smart person. He's actually a teacher. Since he lives so far, we teach him at the church after church, so we've moved his baptismal date to Feb. 2. So we're excited for that date. If you remember the first two investigators I talked about that used to have a baptismal date, well we've sort of dropped them. The husband decided to baptize their daughter in the Catholic church. This is after we had been teaching them for 5 weeks, but they were just not keeping commitments and things. Maybe just not the right time. They've been taught before by missionaries. The brother is actually our Ward Mission Leader. He's 19 and preparing for a mission right now. It's a hard situation to explain.

So last Monday Elder Pineda went to Bacolod for Zone Leader training so Elder Doverte and I had all Monday just the two of us. So we had a family home evening at the Ynayan's family. It was so fun. We played this way fun game with marshmallows and flour, I don't even know how I would explain it, but it was still way fun. The lesson was way good and really spiritual. So it was a way good family home evening. There's a reason why our church wants us to do FHE on Monday nights :)

Tuesday we waited for Elder Pineda to get back from Bacolod, so we went and ate lunch. Then tried to go visit a less active member who lives nearest to our house so we could get back in time if we needed too. Anyway, they either didn't want to answer the door/gate or something, so that was nice of them. So we just left after standing in the rain for 5 minutes. It rained so much on Tuesday. Not just rained, just like... unloaded. Like Heaven, everyone was crying, all the people. So much water. Within 2 minutes there was a river in the street. I'm not even joking. Then Elder Pineda got home and we went and worked more. Then he wasn't feeling good. At this time it was like 5pm and we had no teachings because people wouldn't listen... go figure. However we did get two teachings that night. One to a recent convert and his family, and the other to a less active member. The LA is in ward 1 area, so I've never met them before that night. So it was good to meet them.

Wednesday. So after Zone Leader training the Zone has a meeting the following Wednesday and of course, the ZL's teach us about what they learned. The ZL meeting was in Cadiz, about an hour bus ride north of Victorias. So we went to Cadiz. The meeting was 4 hours long, so long, but still there was a lot of things that we learned and how to be better missionaries. Also some changes in rules and things, but nothing that really changed significantly. Then after the meeting we ate at Jollibee! It's just like a fast food, McDonalds type, but it was good. It was nice to eat a cheeseburger, a good one, and a meal without rice. I've eaten rice everyday for 2 months straight. They are shocked when I tell them I've never eaten this much rice. Rice can cure cancer! Did you know that? Also Gatorade. Rice and Gatorade are the two main things. We had a teaching that night at the Alvito family. They're recently married and baptized, actually on the same day, so it was fun to teach them. They're young and way understanding. They invited us to have lunch with them on Friday. They live on a farm and have lots of coconuts and fresh fruits and things, so we went there for lunch on Friday. I'll tell you about that in the "Friday" section.

Thursday was good. We actually worked a lot. We taught a less active about the pre-mortal life, then linked it to our life on earth and what we need to be doing to prepare ourselves to go back to our Heavenly Father's presence, especially with scripture reading. I don't even know how to stress that enough. Scripture study is so important, especially for new members of the church and for people like you and me also. They're just so important. I wish I would've figured that our a lot earlier in my life than when I was 19 and 7,000 miles away. I honestly LOVE the scriptures. We've been teaching another less active family, the Delante's, and trying to get them to come back to church. The wife and the son came during Christmas time, but since then nothing. So we're doing our best to strengthen them and try and address their needs. Being a missionary is fun. I'm not going to say it's like a game, but Preach My Gospel and the new way missionary work is, it relies so much upon the spirit.  Lessons can go anyway that you need it to go, because it depends strictly on the spirit. It's super fun to actually feel the spirit in your life more and be apart of you. I've never felt it this much in my life, nor really have learned more in my life also. I love being here and I love being a missionary.

Friday we worked so much. I think it's the day that I've worked the most since I've been here, okay hours outside working (I'm always working). Hopefully you follow that. We had the lunch appointment. Fish, coconut water, some weird veggies that were actually good, and then just some other little side things. Then we taught them about the Law of Tithing and how it can bless their lives. I've never really thought about it till now, but the Law to Tithing is awesome! What amazing blessings we receive from paying our tithing and always giving back to the Lord for the blessings that he's given us. Then in the end, he just gives us more. So how great is that! Then we spent all day in ward 1 area with Elder PIneda. We taught 3 other less active members. It's been really good because my language has gotten so much better. I actually taught the whole restoration the other night! The whole thing! In the language. So cool! Then we had a dinner appointment and taught another lesson on scripture reading and how important it is.

Saturday was fun. A little rough. Only because we got punted a lot. So we had a lunch appointment, then a teaching appointment right after that. We go to the house that we were supposed to teach an investigator that we haven't taught before, just contacted, and as we were at her house we got a text from her saying that she was at work. Grr... so then we went to the Quiamco's house and visited and taught a lesson on wisdom and the scriptures and there was a man there who had a question on wisdom and the difference between wisdom and knowledge. Good thing he understood English because I had no clue how to answer it in the language. And my companions had no clue what the answer was. I didn't either. I simply just said that wisdom is applied knowledge. You can have all the knowledge that you want, but if you're lazy, then you have zero wisdom at all, right? So that's pretty much what I said. So then he's like, oh, okay, makes sense. That was a fun experience.
We also had to go to Cadiz again this week for the Philippines Area Broadcast. There, the Area Presidency spoke to all the members that are in a leadership position, and also missionaries, about how to better the work here in the Philippines. It was great!  They want us to make a goal that each member has their own set of scriptures, so I'm not the only one who thinks scripture reading is important I guess. haha. But it was way good!
Sunday, our sacrament attendance was 109! That's the highest it's been since I've been here. How cool? Also President and Sister Lopez visited our ward. It was good to see them also. They're a great couple. I love them. He's a great mission president. We had our investigator Ryan at church, so after church we taught him about the restoration and he said that he would pray about our message and about Joseph Smith. We're really excited about that. Also, President Lopez interviewed me yesterday after church just because he was there I guess and had time, so that went well. I'm still here! :) haha. Just kidding. The interview was great. He asked how my family was doing, so I hope y'all are doing good because I told him y'all were all fine. So I'm glad you're doing great! :)

 Elders Ellis, Dovete, new elder, & Pineda
Borrowed from President Lopez's Facebook page

This morning so far we've cleaned the house and killed a mouse. I saw it climb under our sink under the draw.  I told Elder Pineda to ready his shoe. I slowly opened the door and BAM! Elder Pineda nailed it. I have a picture. I'll show you in 20 months :) haha.
All in all I'm enjoying it here. I'm loving it more and more each day and each week. This week has gone by so fast because we're just working to death! So I'm honestly just loving my mission so far. Even though no baptisms yet, I'm still loving it. As long as I'm fulfilling my purpose, I'm a happy elder. I love y'all and miss y'all back home. Keep being good and choosing the right! Don't worry to much about me. I"m being good and doing the right things.


 Missionary Work can be exhausting!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Missionary Life living with the District and Zone Leader

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello again from the Philippines. I hope my email finds y'all safe and happy. I hope everyone has had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year. What did everyone do? So this week has been very crazy, hectic, hot, humid, all of the above. This mission is hard haha. I'm not going to lie. It's the hardest thing I've ever done, but with the Lord all things are possible. So I'm still going hard and strong. This week was transfer week. I didn't get transferred, neither did Elder Doverte so we are still companions. However, we live with the Zone Leaders, Elder Lozada and Elder Pineda. (Both Filipinos). Well, Elder Lozada got transferred, however Elder Pineda didn't. So we were waiting to hear about his new companion. He never got one. He then received a phone call from the AP saying that he is now with Elder Doverte and I. So now I'm in a 3-some. Elder Doverte, Elder Pineda and myself, Elder Ellis. Elder Pineda is from Pampanga. No idea where that is. He's still the Zone Leader too. So I'm companions with the Zone Leader, so I get some privileges, not really, just kidding. We asked what happens to the zone leader area, they said now we're responsible for both areas. So now there is 3 missionaries, for 2 wards, one big city. It's not that big, but there are some very far areas. So we're trying to make plans to maximize our efforts and use time wisely seeing how now we have limited time in both wards. So things are going to be a little bit interesting this transfer, but wait things get better...

P-Day, did the usual things. Emailed y'all went and ate. Then we were at our house just chilling because it was raining and it was super hot to really do anything. It was also New Years, EVERYTHING was closed. Everything. New Years was bigger than Christmas. Then we received a text from the Couple missionaries, The Chin's. They're from North Salt Lake, Utah. Go figure. They're our mission nurses/doctors. Elder Chin is a pharmacist, and I forgot what Sister Chin is. Anyway, they're both doctors. They're also in charge of our mail, apartment checks (which we failed by the way, but they just gave us a warning. It's clean now), and for our area book updates. Anyway, they texted us and said, we have mail for you. I was like, I live with 3 Pinoy's there's no way mail is for them, just because they rarely get mail and it comes a different way than American mail. So I was like YES YES! haha. I love mail, if you can't tell. Hadn't gotten some in 2 weeks. So it was good. I got the package of notes from the Young Men and Young Women, that was so great to read. Send my thanks so much. There's also a return letter that I am sending today. There was also a letter from Courtney. So that was great to read. Grandma and Grandpa, I have not gotten your package yet, but I do receive all your emails. I just can't respond to them because I can only respond to family. I have written you hand letters though. Anyway can email me, I just have to respond via hand letter back. So it was good to get mail. Then we went to the Perez family for dinner and shared a scripture. That was fun. Then to the Villiases for another dinner, then to the Inayan's for another Dinner. so much food on New Years and Christmas. I didn't eat all the next day. Which is good because everything was closed anyway.

Tuesday we worked all day. But nobody was home or they were either busy. We were actually teaching a lesson, there was one member. Sister Ribon. She's been living in Hong Kong for the past 2 years. She met the missionaries there and was baptized. So now she has returned to live her again. None of her family is members so she wanted us to come over and say hello, and teach a lesson if time/spirit was right. So we went. Everyone was there. By everyone I mean her 6 siblings, nanay (mom), and then a bunch of children. Altogether I think about 12 people. I was like, yes, if we can baptize these people, wow, what a great blessing they'd be to the church. A whole family. So we started to teach. Ever so slowly, one by one, people started to leave. By the end of 15 minutes there were 2 people; Sister Ribon, and her sister who was sick and couldn't move. How funny!!! Oh, and she's also from Manila, not even from here and is going back to Manila, so that doesn't really help. However, you can never tell the future. Only the Lord can. So even if we just planted a seed, that's okay too. But she was super sick so we gave her a priesthood blessing. We hope that she better now. Then that night we went to the Pagaput Family for Family Home Evening. Super fun. They have a great family. They're also sealed in the temple. And just had a baby boy who is now Born in the Covenant, they call it here. It's a huge deal to be born in Covenant if your parents are sealed. I never really realized that blessing till I got here. The temple is so far for these people. A whole island away, but they show their faith and save and go to the temple to get sealed. What a blessing.

Terrible day. I wasn't feeling good. Elder Doverte wasn't feeling good. I always have a headache and I never know why. Even right now. I'm drinking plenty of water and I take Ibuprofen, I just never know the problem. It might just be the air or something here. The air here is pretty bad because of the Sugar Cane mill that we have. Victorias Sugar Company... Don't know if anyone's ever heard of that. So we only had one teaching on Wednesday because we both felt sick, however it was Sister Demandar. The one that recently just got sealed in the Cebu Temple. After that lesson Elder Doverte says to me, during that teaching I just wanted to cry. The missionaries who baptized her are so lucky. She's been faithful and now sealed in the temple. What a blessing. There's a huge problem here with baptizing people and then they go inactive. Thus this is a rescue mission. We keep track of how many less active families we teach, also recent converts. It's really different I have a feeling that a lot of missions, more work. WAY More FUN! right? Right! So congrats to the missionaries who baptized her. She's always been faithful and wow, how blessed she is to our ward. Her and Brother Demandar bore their testimonies in Sacrament yesterday. It was so nice. Brother Demandar started crying, the spirit was definitely there. Then we went to a dinner appointment from the Zone Leaders ward (ward 1- while Elder Lozada was still here), on our way home he received the transfer phone call. He wouldn't tell us anything till we got to the house. So when we got to the house, he told us that he (Elder Lozada) was transferring and now he's a trainer and that Elder Pineda would be with us till his new companion arrived. Well, as you know now, he's not getting a new one and now we're a 3-some.

Elder Lozada left in the morning and we said our goodbyes, then we had to decide how to work. We didn't know we were a permanent companionship this transfer yet, so we just decided to split the day into two and just teach our investigators. We taught a few of Ward 1 people, I don't really know anything about them yet, because well, I just found all this our like 3 days ago so I haven't built any relationships with them yet.

On Friday we were still wondering if we were a companionship for this transfer because Elder PIneda didn't get a new companion. So we called the AP and that's when he informed us that we were a 3-some and now were going to cover both areas. So I was like, alright, more hard work. So stoked!!! haha. I really am. So we moved his desk upstairs to our study room and now we talk and figure out our plan on how we want to work the area. We decided that Mon-Wed-Fri we work in Ward 2 area (my previous area), and on the Thurs-Tues-Sat we work in Ward 1 area (my new pick up area) and Sunday would be split between the wards. So this is going to be very exciting now.

This day we just decided to visit everyone who needed to come to church on Sunday and make sure that they were coming to church. So it was a busy day. We left and went to our way far area and just taught and walked, then taught and walked some more. So much fun! Then, we were walking to South Bacayan, which is an area in Cane Town to visit the Pagaput's and the Montano's. As we were walking, I had a piece of Ash fly in my eye. It wouldn't come out. I couldn't see and my eye was swelling fast. I couldn't get it out. Elder Pineda took my rag and I lifted up my eyelid and it was stuck under my eyelid. We got it all out and I have no damages. All is well. I just couldn't see for about 10 minutes after that. The ash is from the Sugar Cane factory, thus the town is called "CaneTown"

Church was great. We had an investigator at Church. Ryan. He's 23 and a school teacher. He lives so far away that he's super hard to teach because if we go there, there's no way to get back. So we teach him at the church. He accepted an invitation to be baptized. So we're looking forward to that one too. Also, we picked up a ward 1 investigators too. 1 should be baptized soon like next week. So I'll let you know how that goes. Then Elder Doverte received a text, "You are now the new District Leader" GREAT! So now I have a companion who is the district leader and the other is the zone leader and I'm training. This is so much fun! We went about an hour away to do a baptismal interview for Elder's in Fabrica, so far!

Well that's my week! Super fun. So much excitement. I love y'all back home. Don't forget about me haha. Can't wait to hear from you again.

Read your scriptures and say your prayers! Those are the 2 most important things. And remember, every member a missionary. Keep being active and preach the gospel no matter where you are or who you are. Love y'all.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas in the Mission Field

Dear Family,

CONGRATS TO MY BRO RYAN GRIFFITH!!!!!!! Finally got that mission call buddy! February is gonna rock! So stoked for you man.
Well let's just say Christmas was actually fun! On Monday we had 3 dinner appointments, Rice, Fish, Baboy (Pig), just so much food. These people honestly PARTY for Christmas. It's so different. Since there's so many Catholics and things, people go crazy for Christmas. It was tons of fun. I've learned some Tagalog Christmas songs! :) So that was cool. They also just listen to regular stuff here on Christmas too. Some Journey, Chris Brown, you know, the normal American music. So that made me miss home a little. On Tuesday we skyped and that was honestly so much fun. It was great to see you. I know you're probably wondering if I got homesick after skyping with you. I didn't really, I do miss you though, but not to the point where I was depressed or anything. I just knew y'all were going to the Cabin and I thought about all the good times that we had at the Cabin in the past. I know that soon we'll have it again and that Christmas will rock!

Merry Christmas!

This pig was dinner!  They put the pig head right on the table.
Tuesday night we had dinner at the Bishop's house. I started to not feel good right as we left our house, just a headache and stuff. Not really sure what happened. So we ate there, then went to another dinner appointment at the High Councilors house and that was good. A whole Pig head sat on the table. So, we ate it. Christmas was pretty good. It was also Elder Doverte's first Christmas too. We loved our Christmas gifts so much. I wish I could tell you how much mail means to missionaries. I'm 7,000 miles away from my home and it's just nice to get mail. Haven't gotten anything since Zone Conference except your Christmas Package though. So we'll see when we get mail next.
New Christmas ties
Tuesday night (Christmas Day night) it started to rain very bad. The wind picked up. Luckily my whole house is made of concrete. So it was nice to sleep with the rain, although it's still a little hot, but the wind cooled it down a bit. Wednesday: All morning it just rained. TYPHOON! This is my 2nd one that I've been through on the island so far. It rained so bad all morning. When it's like that we don't work, but we did our study as usual and things and hoped for better weather and that everything would be okay. About 2pm it calmed down, still raining, but not as windy. So we went and bought an Umbrella, that was a good investment. Then sent off some mail that we didn't get to send on Christmas Eve because the post office was closed. Then went to work in the Typhoon. Let's just say I was so wet, but I've never had so much fun. We only had 2 teachings, but that's because the rest of the people wouldn't listen or were "busy" or something. We just go check on some families to make sure everything was okay from the Typhoon. I think the name is Quinqin? Or something like that. We never get news about it, we just ask members, hey is this a typhoon? What's the name? No news or anything or notice from anyone. Sort of adventurous.
Elder Garner & Ellis on P-day

Time for a haircut, Elder!

Splits with the Zone Leader in Manalpa

Victorias City Building
Thursday we had a Ward Christmas Party. We're not allowed to attend because that doesn't really help us fulfill our purpose as missionaries. President Lopez said we not allowed to attend. So we went to all the Less Actives and Recent Converts and told them about the party and that they should go. Then all of a sudden, the sickness from Christmas day came back. I was using the CR (the Comfort Room aka. The Bathroom) about every 10 min. Not fun at all. I was so sick. Don't know what happened. I couldn't feel any of my body. So we went home early because I was so sick. I wasn't throwing up or anything, but I sure did feel like I needed to. I prayed the by Friday morning I would be okay. And I was. So no worries. I didn't eat anything all Thursday because I felt so sick, so I woke up Friday morning starving. Lost some weight too. The members were great, we just went to the church to check with the Bishop to see how the Christmas party was going and the members could tell I was sick and they were really happy to help. One of the members here works for USANA, so she gave me some special pills for my digestion. So, those seemed to help me a lot. So yeah, I just went home and slept off the sickness so that I could work the next day. Friday, woke up, not sick at all. I felt great. I went down stairs and took to medicine just in case, then shined my shoes because they were all muddy from the Typhoon and then shined Elder Doverte's shoes, the ironed our shirts, the showered, it was fun. Studied did the regular stuff, the went to work. Nothing really happened, just sort of a normal day. It did rain some just because it rains all the time here. Saturday we worked hard and walked a lot, normal things. I'm sorry this week hasn't been that good. I was sick and we've worked a lot haha. Just the typical missionary schedule.
So, how things back in America? Some people here watch the NBA, but not that much. They have their own Filipino league. Still not that popular though. How's Ashlyn's basketball season going? I saw the new floor on the Maeser Gym, it looks beautiful. My face should be in the middle though, just a thought? We worked hard for that, I'm glad it's on that floor finally. Sam, is she playing indoor now or what's going on with that? How's recruiting going, or is there any yet? Still have to wait till Junior year? Is Syd doing Gymnastics still? How's that coming? I still haven't played any basketball here. I've been wanting to so bad, but my companion doesn't really play, so I've probably gotten bad. Playing everyday at the MTC was super fun though while it lasted, I miss basketball. My every morning workout is going well, losing weight, I'm gonna look good when I get home, I promise! I can't go back to looking how I used to look, y'all know what I'm talking about. Some of the ward members see pictures of me from facebook of what I looked like back in High School and they're like, wow you're skinny. I said, yeah, I used to be. Don't worry, I'll get it back. I also got an Email from Dan and Connie, it was really good to hear from them actually! Tell them hello and thanks so much for keeping me in their prayers.

It's weird, but I can feel y'all praying for me back home. It helps me throughout the day and through the hard times here. There are lots of hard times, but I know that I can endure them. I've looked back on my life and there's some weird things that I've seen that have prepared me to be here. Being away from home for college was a big help, the homesickness isn't that bad honestly. I miss y'all a ton, but it's not like a lasting feeling that I have. I know I've only been gone for just a little over 3 months now,but still. Thanks for all the prayers from back home. I know I have friends praying for me too and thanks so much. Pray for the missionaries always. I've seen first hand. This is the hardest thing in the world to do. Very demanding and very tiresome. Somehow we manage. I love this work though.

I know that the Church is true. Mom keeps sending me things about the Book of Mormon and they're so great. The Book of Mormon is fantastic. I love the Book of Mormon. I've learned so much from it and I'm on my third time of reading it again and I'm still learning so much from it. Like Joseph Smith said, It's the most correct book on the earth. So, we should read it. I've also really like the parts in 2 Nephi and in Mormon were it talks about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and talks about Joseph Smith. Just amazing. A true book from God. Nephi likened the scriptures to his people and we need to do the same to ourselves to. Liken the scriptures. I love this work. I love the Philippines. I know I'm supposed to be here to help in the work right now in this time. The members are great. I hope all is well back home. I love you all. Keep praying :)