Monday, May 20, 2013

Baptism of Brother Despojo

Dear Family,

Well, this week has been hard with lots of trials and lots of hardships. From climbing mountains and getting punted, to climbing more mountains to getting more punted on the other side of the area. Having zero lessons in 2 of the days this week. Let's just say it's hot here... I"m glad "summer" is almost over. There has been no rain this week so it hasn't cooled off at all. All that's happened is clouds come, then thunder, then lightning, then NO RAIN! So I'm rather upset about that, but it's okay. Only a trial.
So I will let you all know the good news right at the start. Bro Despojo was baptized and confirmed yesterday, Sunday. After sacrament he was interviewed for the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of a Priest in Priesthood meeting. So that's pretty cool. I baptized him, so that was my first baptism here that I've done. I'll send a picture. It was an amazing experience. After the baptism he bore his testimony and said that he can't wait for the day that he and his family can go to the temple and be sealed. I'm rather excited for that day when they can too.
Brother Despojo & his family with Elder Ellis & Edem
I want to tell you a funny story about him: So one time this week we went to go visit him and we rode a motorcycle up to his house... on top of the mountain. Then the driver wanted to charge us 60 pesos and I started dying laughing. I asked if he though I was stupid, just because I"m American and he doesn't think I know anything. I said, no Brother, it's only 30. Then Elder Edem, didn't really know so he game him 40. Then we told Brother Despojo what happened and he marches out of his house and going to look for the driver of the motorcycle. He can't find him and starts asking around for where he is. He was going to get us some money back I guess. Just so funny! He's such an awesome guy. I wouldn't mess with him. He's super protective and won't let anything bad happen to his family. I know he has a bit of a rough past, so it's way nice to see him at church and to really feel the spirit and to see him open up to us and to other members.
So this week there's not much to say actually. We've tried to do something different. Elder Edem and I were reading in the Preach My Gospel manual during our companionship study and it says that the best thing and the best ally is the ward and the members of the ward. We asked ourselves, how is our relationship with the Branch President and the members. We've decided that we need to work on that and to get the trust and the relationship of the members before the work will really progress. Last Sunday we printed out what's called the CMIS list. It's a list of all the members in the branch with their address attached to it. So we've been trying to figure out who lives where and who is still here in Mabini and who moved to Manila and all this stuff. Who is active and who is less active. So it's been a really interesting week trying to find people and their address. Rather fun, but very tiring.
Hopefully I'll have some more things to say next week. This week was all about the baptism which was super successful and fun and I was so happy. It was about finding members and trying to gain a relationship with them.
That pretty much wraps up my week. I don't have much more to say. We're working hard and doing so many new things and trying to find new people to teach. Elder Edem is amazing. And awesome companion and a great missionary. He's super smart and way bonsai at the scriptures and bringing the spirit into lessons. I love my companion.
Papaya Tree
I know that the church is true. I know that there are many trials in life and many things happen, but we never know the reason. God does though. That's the only thing that matters. All this week I've asked myself, "where is the blessing?" Now it''s sort of a companionship joke, but it's super funny. Blessings are everywhere, we just have to look for them. I love you all! Keep up the good work back home!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day 2013

We were blessed that Elder Ellis was able to find an open Internet cafe on Mother's Day, which is Monday in the Philippines and a holiday because of elections.  They had to be off the streets by 4 p.m., so that gave us a little time to catch up! 
Elder Ellis is great and looks great!  Missing him tons, but he will celebrate 8 months in the field next Sunday.  He is blessed with a new companion, Elder Edem, who is from Cebu.  Elder Ellis is grateful to be a Senior companion, but also grateful that he can now practice his Cebuano even more. 
He did not write a letter this week, because we spent all of our time Skyping!  Thank heaven for technology.  Mother's Day was the best ever!
The Ondoy Family
Elder Despojo (getting baptized on Saturday 5/18/13)
Elders Edem (from Cebu) and Ellis
Sugar Cane fields on fire.
 Splitting wood by hand
 Helping to cut the wood for dinner at a member's home (background)
Learning to shimmy up coconut trees!
Mission package arrived!  It was well received.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mission President Training & a Baptism!

Dear Family,

Hello. Here's a wonderful announcement. I will be able to skype next week. On Monday. I will skype at 10:15am here in the Philippines. Not sure what time that is there, but I'm sure you will figure it out. I'm looking very forward to our being able to see each other face to face as I have missed my family so much since Christmas time and I'm excited to see y'all again. This week was a different week. I forgot to tell you last week, but last Sunday we received a text from President Lopez asking me to go on exchanges with Elder Pingol in Old Escalante Branch from Tuesday until Friday at our Zone Training meeting. I was rather confused as to why 4 days, since exchanges are normally only 1 day, but I went. It was rather fun and exciting. Old Escalante is way cool and is a peninsula so the ocean is ALL AROUND it. Elder Pingol is a great missionary. This email might be a little weird, just because if I start telling you things about Old Escalante it won't really make sense. The people are way nice, but I'll try and let you in on some things.
Working with the Members
P day. We played basketball for 3 hours in the hot hot sun. I was exhausted, but it was so fun because I haven't played in such a long time. I was pretty decent actually for not having played. It's been nice losing weight too because now I can move faster than I could before and so it was a lot more enjoyable! My 3 is way off though. The lines here are like college 3 point, so my shot is a little short. Also we played ping pong. Every church has a ping pong table and so I was able to beat some Filipino's at that, since I'm a little good. Joke, joke, but really it was way fun. I miss just being able to go into the basement and play whenever I wanted. As long as Ashlyn would play with me. Or Sam. And Sydney would sometimes hit the ball back. haha. Just playing Sydney. Then we went home and had hot water because it's been heating up all day under ground, so I was able to take a "hot" shower. Or after like 3 minutes it went to warm... then cold. But it was nice to finish off with cold because well, it's hot here.
Tuna Melt
We didn't have any district meeting because of the Zone Training that took place on Friday. So we did our morning regular studies and then Elder Pingol and his companion Elder Macapugas came over to our apartment and then we exchanged. So then I went with Elder Pingol to Old Escalante. We just rode a tricycle for like 20 minutes and we were there. The house has no water, there's not many lights, there is one by the desks and one in the bedroom. The bathroom had no lights. Well, they were just broke or something. Not really sure. So yeah, it was an interesting little adventure! We got there, i hung up my white shirts so they didn't get super wrinkled and my ties, and then we went straight to work. Or should I say, straight to getting punted. All the people didn't receive us or just said come back later. Sister, we're 3 kms from our house, we're not coming back later! Crazy people. However at the end of the night we were able to teach 2 less actives. So it was a complete skunked day. Kinda like fishing... at least we caught something.
This was even worse. We walked to the ocean port that goes to Cebu, yes I can see Cebu from this place. We walked like 3km to the port and taught a recent convert. They literally live on the water. I can go out their back "door" and step into the ocean my first step, well, during high tide. Then after that, we taught nobody else. We visited people, visited people and tried to teach, but everyone was "too busy" or they had a "laktan" which means like a place to go. Usually they don't have either of the two. They're just chilling at their balay and don't want to do anything. It's called "Pahuway" or in Cebuano "Pahulay". We finished the night by eating pig BBQ at a members house and it was so good. With rice and this like sauce that's really hard to describe but it's so good! I've got to find out how to make it.
Cebu is in the background
We had 3 members of the Old Escalante Branch work with us today. One was an RM. One has a mission call. And the other is deaf and can't speak and so he can't really go. However, he prayed during one lesson and it wasn't sign language. He spoke, but it wasn't really speaking, it was just like sounds. But it was still cool. It's always fun to work with members. They really just make missionary work so much more fun and it's someone else to talk to other than the one person that you are with for 24 hrs a day, minus the 5 min. in the shower in the morning. We taught 3 less active members and then 1 investigator, who was a 9 year old girl. So that was fun. Teaching Law of Chastity to a 9 year old gets kind of fun.

We had our Zone Training with President Lopez. I don't know what the pictures look like because well, I don't have a facebook! But you asked about what the hot dogs were made out of... it's actually dog. Just kidding, it's pig! Just like America! And we had burgers and it was good. They were pretty decent actually. His training was on how we can get a baptism every single week, which is pretty crazy, but I think we can actually do it. He said that he and his wife could do it, but then said, who would be the mission president. So I want to do it! I want a baptism every week and I know that's it's achievable through obedience and hard work. Then we exchanged back. On Friday's we have a dinner appointment at our Branch President's house. This week it was chicken. SO good! I love chicken here! With rice and this special sauce, it's like honestly the best thing in the world. I'll make you some when I get home. And you'll have to eat it with your hands only. No fork! No Spoon. Only Kamot (hands).

Teaching about the Godhead
Hotdogs & Hamburgers!

So we were super excited for our baptism. We went to work straight ahead to get in some teachings before the baptism which was at 4. We taught Bro. Despojo who will be baptized on the 18th now. We let him decide. He was at church on Sunday too. So that lesson was really well. We taught tithing, WOW, and LOC all in one lesson. He understood it all and accepted that. We're super excited for him. Then we go to the church, well walked there from like 2 km up a mountain, that's where Bro. Despojo lives, so we had some walking to do. We get a text from the Branch President and it says, "Elders, we have no water" hahaha. No water, no baptism. So we were freaking out, then just decided to do it tomorrow... being Sunday. In the morning before church.

BAPTISM! Abel was baptized at 8 am on Sunday morning. Then at 9 in Sacrament Meeting confirmed a member of the church and received the Holy Ghost. What a blessing. I'll send you some picture after this email.

So there's my week! I hope my email are still interesting to all of you and I hope that you are having a great week! I love you all and I miss you so much. Looking very forward to skype next Monday. I can also send a weekly email in addition to skype too. So that's a nice thing that President is letting us do this week. I know that the church is true. I finished the Book of Mormon this morning again and I know that it's a true book. Read it and find out for yourself. Talk to y'all next week!

Week 4 in Mambini Branch

Dear Family,

Hello everyone. It's been a good and an enjoyable week. I'm sorry to hear that you fed the missionaries and they were total boneheads. That's totally not cool. Here when we eat dinner we always share with the family and it's always super fun and we sometimes even play games, most of the times with the children. Children are usually the funnest part because they know that I don't really speak the language that well, but I do understand a lot of things they say, so they think they can sneak some jokes on me and it doesn't work. They're totally amazing though. I just remember the awesome missionaries that we had in Virginia and how they'd play with us. They were way awesome. This week was pretty interesting. Yesterday we had the baptismal interview for Abel (said like Avele). He will be baptized on Saturday at noon :) Super stoked. This Friday we will be having our mission president training here in Escalante at 9am. So look for pictures on President's facebook.

On Monday we wanted to play basketball during P day and so we went to the church, but there was no ball. We looked for a ball forever and still, no ball. We texted people, no ball. We found a frisbee though, so we threw that around for an hour. We played with Elder Johnson and his comp. Elder's from Orem, his comp is from... well, Philippines. Then we went to go change and then go to work. We change, pray, leave the house, go to the terminal to catch a bus to go to our area since we don't live in our area, and... no bus. For an hour. No jeepney at night. So there was no way that we could work. I was super bummed out, but I guess all is well. I did some personal study instead and that was great. I've read I think 200 pages in the Book of Mormon this week. I've really learned a lot.

Tuesday we worked some much. We taught Darwin a less active. His brother actually just left for a mission this week. We taught him about obedience and that lesson was amazing! I cried... haha. What a baby. I was just telling him that he needs to come back to church because he's missing out on a ton of blessings. Then Elder Daplin shared about spirit prison... and Darwin's like... I don't want to go there. However, he still didn't come to church. So I don't know what to do anymore with him. Then we go to the other side of our area to teach Brother Despojo, the one that will be baptized either next week the 11 or the 18 we're still deciding, probably 18. Anyway, he wasn't home. He was in Bacolod. So that was a 15 peso motorcycle ride wasted. Also I fell off the motorcycle. The driver stalled going uphill, then he got scared and rather than just turning the wheel he rolled it back and then hit the brake. Then, off I go, Elder was able to stay on and the driver was fine. I was the only one off. Nothing happened, just some scraps and my left of hurts a bit, but I"m fine. haha. Cool story huh? Then we were teaching someone else later on and a bird pooped on my head! NOT MY DAY! However, we were walking down a street and I see this woman reading a book just under a street light thing. So I looked at the book and it was in English. And so I was like.... hm, let's see if she speaks English. So I said, Sister, do you speak English. She said, yes. She's a college student in Bacolod that comes home on the weekends. So I was like, cool. So I was able to teach her in English the Restoration. It was way good. We actually gave her a Book of Mormon. It's actually summer right now, so she doesn't go back to school for a bit, so I don't know what's going on. She's been busy the rest of the week though, so we haven't taught her after that one lesson.

On Wednesday I had exchanges in Toboso. It's a way cool place, like right on the beach. They room that we sleep in had an AIR CON! So i was able to sleep with it. It's super expensive, but the elder that I exchanged with is going home so he's got some money saved up, so he's paying a lot of the air con bill. So it was totally nice. I was also able to teach another investigator in Toboso in English too! Look at us go! Teaching in English is so nice, I can really just focus on the people and not what I'm saying. That's the hardest part. Thinking 1000000 things at one time. But I deal with it. haha. I was with Elder Mellama. He's way cool, from the southern Philippines where they speak Cebuano anyway, just like Elder Daplin, so he's really fluent.

Thursday was a poor day. I think I ate something bad and I wasn't feeling that good. Don't worry, all is well now! But just at the time, I was like... ugh! But I just prayed and received strength and then went right to work and had some great teachings. We contacted 2 less actives for the first time... they're catholic now they said, but they are baptized sooooo, nope! Mormons! We had some other lessons and they were good. Mostly to less actives. Less actives are so hard to teach because some are really stubborn and they say, yeah I'll read, yeah I'll come to church. Then... nothing!

Friday was a pretty good day. Weekly planning as usual which takes forever, but it's nice to do it and it makes things feel like they go fast. Every time we weekly plan it's like, wow I"m doing this again! So it's nice. Then Elder Daplin had a sakit, or something like he didn't feel well in his head or something. I'm not really sure, he always gets headaches and it's rather annoying, but I'm trying to deal with it. So I just study more while he lays down for a bit. So our work was really poor on Friday... Only a few lessons.

On Saturday it was national day of service. So we cleaned the whole day. At a elementary school. It was way fun and great day to serve and wear shorts outside! I love wearing shorts! haha. so hot, but so fun.

Sunday Abel passed his interview like I said and then we had a meeting Esacalante, well the zone leaders did, so I just tagged along. But yeah, the meeting i guess was for missionary work.

Sorry my letter isn't that great this week. The missionary couples are waiting at our apartment to give us a new water filter. I love you all and I can't wait to hear from you next week. Love y'all!