Monday, June 24, 2013

Hanging in Mambini for at least 6 more weeks with Elder Edem!

Dear Family and Friends,
The sign of a working Elder!
Hello!!!! How's everyone's week going so far. Well, I"m not transferred. Six more weeks here at least. Could be longer. Depends on Pres. Lopez's revelation I assume. It's okay though. I love Mabini and I love the people here. Even though it's super hard, let's just say, I knew a mission wouldn't be easy one bit. So this is a good experience and it makes me really count my blessings that I've seen in my life. I've really learned a lot and realized that I've got tons of blessings in my life. Even when I don't think I do, I just look on the bright side and that's what keep me pushing on! Elder Edem and I are still companions. He didn't get transferred either. I'm still senior companion. Our district didn't transfer either. Actually I think we didn't really get anyone new in the zone except for 2 this transfer. So it was a pretty chill transfer you could say. Which is nice because everyone in the zone likes to play basketball every Monday and I don't want to change that. So that's just another blessing for not being transferred! 
Goat riding!
On Monday one of the Escalante missionaries was done with his mission. 2 years were up and they had to go to Bacolod on Monday afternoon for like marriage and job training with President. I'm just kidding, but I have no clue what they do in that meeting and I'm sure it's not about missionary work since their missions are over. So his Companion Elder Tallano was assigned to be with us so that he wasn't alone. He would get his new companion on Wednesday in Bacolod. So on Monday we played basketball in Toboso. Let's just say my shot was on. We play to 15 points and I had 4 three's in row to make the score 12-2. It was a fast game. I don't know why my shot was on, it's usually off, but it was way good. It was super fun to play. I love basketball still. We're playing today too here in Escalante though with the zone again. Last week we only played 2 games though, the Toboso Elder's said they had a family home evening. So after 2 games they said, okay we're done and I was so mad. I said are you serious? We came 25 kms by bus, spent 25 pesos to come play ball and you only play two games. Toboso is like 45 minutes away. I was so mad. Anyway, so now we're making them come to Esacalante to play today. But I"m not sure if they'll actually play, they might just come to p day and email. We worked in Escalante with Elder Tallano since his area. We just went to a member's house for dinner and then shared a scripture. They have some way nice families in their branch.
New friend--a baby cow!
Tuesday we did combined district meeting because of Elder Tallano's companion being gone and we're in a different district we asked our ZLs what we should do, so we did a 3 companionship combined district meeting. Finally a good district meeting with a lot of good input. We got to good ideas with what we should do with The Janna Family and then with Sister Caren our recent Convert who now is a huge problem. But I'll tell you about that later. Then we went back to our house and then we cooked lunch and sat for a little and planed our day. We're still with Elder Tallano so we planned to work in Mabini and little bit and then we'd go to Escalante to with  him in his area. So we went to Mabini and taught Sister Garcia, the one who's been going to church for the past couple weeks and she came this Sunday too. So if she comes to church next Sunday, she's rescued and no longer a less active. After teaching her we went up this big hill to a place called Upper Mabini and tried to find some less actives there, but they weren't home so instead I talked to a different women. Then it turns out she's a former investigator. It seems like EVERYONE is a former investigator in Mabini. So we talked to her and asked if we could return and she said yes, but she wasn't home when we came back yesterday. So again... we'll just keep going back. Then we went to work in Escalante with Elder Tallano. We went to an investigators house and he wasn't there so we call that getting punted, which happens... multiple times every single day. After that we went to a nearby members house and they made us mango shakes, it was so good! I love Mango!!!
The Church is True!
Wednesday we took Elder Tallano to a place just a little north of here called Sagay where then he traveled to Bacolod with other missionaries and then came back with his new companion later. It was good. Came back, then did our studies. Then we went to work. We went to the Janna Family and taught them about Jospeh Smith, gave them the Book of Mormon, assigned Moroni 10:3-5 and then committed them to pray about our message and about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. They said they would. Then we taught the Ayo family who's less active about search for the kingdom of God first before anything else. It was a way good lesson! However, still didn't come to church... great. They want help, but don't do anything to get the blessings. Sort of a little bit backwards to me, but people to have their agency. Then we got punted a couple times because people weren't home, then we finally we to teach the Garcia family. The son, "Badong" is his nickname, but he has come to church 4 weeks in row now, so he's rescued. So that's cool. We taught them about 3 Ne 13: 20-21 about treasure and what our treasures are in life. 
Coolest goat I've seen!
Thursday we went to Paitain to teach Bro Despojo. He's still having a little bit of family problems I think with his wife and things. Not really sure what's going on and it's nothing that we can do and we're not allowed to do anything. If they need help they need to talk to the Branch President. Not us. haha. So we taught him about the Restoration again and the Book of Mormon. It was a good lesson. Since it's focused a lot on the family it was way cool. So it was good for him I think. Then we went down the mountain and we taught Bro Desuyo, who's wife is a member. Anyway, we taught about Agency and the Creation of the earth and we're here to make right choices and follow Jesus Christ. He seems to understand, but we asked him, "Brother, what is your reason for life here?" Like the purpose of life thing... His answer was to pray. So, I think he only said that because we're the missionaries. So that was a little annoying, but we'll work on the one. We then continued on the way down the mountain and got punted at every single stop along the way. Either too busy, not home, or had people over and they didn't want to talk, or were eating dinner. 
Lots of Sugar Cane!
Friday we did our weekly planning session and that was good. We planned some good finding activities which are needed this week because if we want any baptisms this transfer we're going to need to find them this week so they can be baptized by the end of the transfer. So we did a way long planning session and were planning a lot of things. I guess I'll tell you how they go this week. We only had 1 teaching. Sister Jorolan and her mother. Her mom is visiting so we took the time and taught them about The Restoration. Her mom is Born Again, which I'm not too familiar with them, so it was interesting. We just talked about church and then we taught the Restoration. She came to church last Sunday with Sister Jorolan. So we just talked about her experience at church. She said it was good! However, she's returning to her place on the other side of the island this week so we're not going to be able to teach her. Then by the time we were there, then walked about to the Ayo's and none of them were home. The Janna Family wasn't home. It was a little dark. We walked back to the highway, which takes like forever. We then went to our dinner appointment at President Delaguits house, which was super good. Pork Chops and RICE! I love Rice! Then we taught them about 2 Nephi 9:51 about spending money wisely. It was a good lesson I think. They already knew the scripture, but it was nice to teach them about it and then talk about it.
Baby Chicks!
Saturday we decided to teach only 5 minutes lessons to everyone we wanted to visit. We wanted to teach a lot of people and invite them to church. We started with Sister Gonzales. Taught of Joseph Smith and then thought he was our Heavenly Father... we think she has a brain problem. It takes awhile for something to settle in. Then we taught Sister Dumdum about going to church and doing all the we can and about faith in our trials. It was a great lesson, however, she still didn't come to church on Sunday. Then we taught the Garcia family about the Word of Wisdom because we know the sons have problems with that. So we figured it'd be a good thing to teach. Then we had a lunch appointment at the Trujillo's which was good. Chicken and some other stuff. Then Spaghetti. So that was great. Then rode up the mountain to Bro Despojo and taught him about the pre earth life and how we're just a huge big family. He was really happy to see us and expressed a lot of sorrow for him and his family. On Sunday him and his whole family didn't come to church. We don't know why, but we'll find out probably on Wednesday.  Then we went to the Desuyo family, but they weren't there... dang. Then we taught the Bawaan family. They were at church on Sunday! It was great. It was a super busy day and I wish all days could be like that day. Lot's of teachings and it was just a nice day. 
Then comes Sunday. No investigators at church and no recent converts. WOW! I'm so bumbed out. So this week we're just going to teach as many people as we talk to, get more investigators in our teaching pool, that's our big struggle. Then we worked and taught Sister Garcia, who will be rescued next week. Then a little 11 year old girl who's a member, but doesn't come to church anymore because now she lives with Grandma and she's not a member, but we're going to try and teach the Grandma, which is going to tough. She's a religion that is local here called Dios Amahan, which means God the Father. They believe some crazy stuff. So that's going to be interesting. Then we taught a girl named Madonna. I've told you about her before, but she's just a less active who wants to do a laundry on Sunday because she does other things on Saturday
The weeks been good. Here's the deal with Sister Caren. She now doesn't answer our texts and will not meet with us anymore. Her aunt I guess got to her and now we think her testimony is way down. She told us not to come to her house anymore. She's only been baptized two months... pretty crazy stuff, so there's not much we can do. 
This week has been okay I guess. This upcoming week will be better. We're going to really just focus on talking to everyone we see that's just sitting or doesn't look to busy or just walks by us. We need more new people to teach. It's the thing we're lacking the most. The Lord is wanting me to learn something and I guess I'll figure it out. I know I can find it in the scriptures and in Preach My Gospel. My study has been way good this week though actually. I've been really buckling down and reading ALL the scripture suggestions in Preach My Gospel and I've really learned a lot and been able to apply it. 
E.Q Pres, Bro Trujillo and John Mark Trujillo his son (2nd Coun in BP)
I love you all at home. Please keep me in your prayers as I know you already do. Thanks for all the support. I do know and have a testimony that this church is the True Church of God here on the earth today. Read your scriptures! They'll guide you in all things. Have a good week!

Elder Ellis

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Dear Family and Friends,
How is everyone doing this fantastic week? I hope all is well. First off, I'd like to give a shout out to my mom for her birthday!!!!!! And then also to my dad for Happy Father's day. They do celebrate fathers day here, but it's completely not a huge deal like in America. But they did announce it in church yesterday, but nothing more than that. It's not like a thing at all. Just happy fathers day. Mao na ra. What did everyone do this week? Are you guys like having too much fun without me? I sure hope not!! The Philippines 
is still rocking and amazing as usual. This week we will call a successful week. We didn't reach our goals or had a baptism, but it's the small stuff that matters and I'll explain later in my email. We have an upcoming zone conference on the 27th so there might be pictures on President Lopez's facebook. Also, this week is transfer week, so things could change. Never know what could happen. I could transfer, train, stay, Elder Edem could transfer, life of a missionary; things always changing and you never know what's going to happen. At any given time you could get a phone call and an emergency transfer. It's rather fun. I just grasp the unexpected and love it. Missionary life is awesome. My birthday is next transfer! Then I one year the next transfer. How crazy is that? One year? haha. So let's start the week:

Monday was P day. We had no money. I think I had like 200 pesos for the week and we ride a bus everyday. Long story, but our current bill was way high, it's okay though now. I have money. I didn't have to use any personal money, i just really budgeted that 200 pesos. I've been eating a lot of canned tuna actually. It's pretty fresh and way good with rice, so now too bad. We didn't play basketball, it was way too hot and we were pretty tired from working all week, so we just stayed home and rested and cleaned the house. It was a good p day i guess. I like hearing from my family and my friends. 

On Tuesday we had our district meeting and it's really kind of not that good anymore. There's only 4 elders in our district, so the input isn't coming from a lot of elders it's just 2 of them. So sometimes, it's just like, yeah, district meeting... just something that we have to do. When I was in Victorias, it was way good. We had 8 elders giving input and it was amazing and we got tons of help. Here, we have 4 district in our zone, of 4 elders in each district. So it's just different i guess. Then we went home and did our studies. Then of course, it rains. It's rained all week! So much rain, but it's been nice because it's not that hot, just super humid. Which, rain is a blessing. I love blessings. However, when it rains the church attendance gets lower because the mountains are filled with mud and people don't wanna walk in it. Anyway, so we were at our apartment and it starts pouring so we didn't leave until it settled down a little bit. We went to visit Bro. Despojo at his house. Only he was there. His wife as at their relatives house up the mountain in Moncada. So he was the only one at his house, which is totally fine. So we taught him and he opened up a lot of concerns about his family and started really just opening up to us all these things that he wants to change and stuff. It was great to see him really open up to us. I love him so much. He's amazing. I will miss him when I transfer. But we taught him about reading the Book of Mormon and how that will bring him peace and will guide him and his family in the things that they need to be doing. The we taught Bro Desuyo, who didn't come to church last week, nor this week either. So we're really working on him. But we taught him the 1st part of the Plan of Salvation. I'm really bad at teaching that one, just in Cebuano, so we've been working on it all week. I taught it yesterday, the whole thing, in Cebuano and it was a great lesson. I'll talk about that later. My Cebuano is really coming along now. So I'm not having any troubles like I use too. His wife is coming to church though, I don't understand why she doesn't just bring him. Oh well, just different type of culture here and we'll hopefully see some progress soon. We tried to teach the Canete family, but they're very indifferent towards us and they've been visited by the missionaries for about 20 years, but President says we can't drop anyone, so we keep going over there, but they don't really care about us, so it's a bit rough. The father's is a religion called Dios Amahan, which means God the Father. They don't think that Jesus Christ should've bought all our sins. They think if you sin, you should pay for it, not someone else. Kind of like a secret combination church and they believe some weird stuff. 

Coconut!!!! YUM YUM!!! This is the Jorolan family. Sister Jorolan is an investigator and Queenie is a recent convert of 1 year
On Wednesday we went to the Janna family and taught them about the Life of Jesus Christ on earth, the atonement, and then the apostasy. It was a really good lesson, then they committed to come to church on Sunday. But, they didn't come to church on Sunday. They seem super ready for the gospel and they listen. The father even stopped doing what he was doing to let us in and listen to us. It was great. But, I'm not sure what more what to do. The we taught Sister Mercedita Ayo. She's a less active member, her husband is way less active, but that doesn't matter, we're working on them. We taught them 3rd Nephi 13: 31-34, which I would suggest everyone read and apply. I"m going to do it in my life. I'm had a huge faith grower this week and it's been a great week for me. Then we taught Sister Jorlan about the after life, where we go after we die and the kingdoms. It's fun explaining hell, because most people believe there's an actual place, hell. However, we know that spirit prison is hell and then anything after that, that is not in the presence of our Heavenly Father, well, that's hell. If you can't return to God, you're in hell, no matter the name of the place! So anything not Celestial Kingdom, that's hell to me! So that was a great lesson. She then gave us some coconut. Just eat the meat and drink the juice. So good. I love the mountain areas. So much more fun things and adventurous life than the city. Then we taught a less active family, the Garcia family. One of the kids has come to church for 3 weeks in a row, so if he comes to church next week, he's no longer considered less active. The mom also came to church this week! So that's way cool! So a least of visiting and teaching is doing something to change them in a way. We're going to try our best. 

Thursday we studied and then we had to go buy some rice and eggs, we forgot to on Monday. So we just bought some really quick and then came home put it in the house and then went to work. We taught the Lumantad family, which they are less active. They were baptized a while ago but they live pretty far, not like super far though. I'm not really sure what they need and why they don't come to church. So it's a little frustrating sometimes, working with less actives. But we try our best and that's what the Lord wants right? So that's what we do. Then we taught the Gonzales family, still not married, didn't come to church this week, at this point they are not progressing, but again, we can't drop them, so we keep returning and teaching them hoping that sometime they will get married and actually care about it. They just don't seem to really care sometimes and it's really sad. We taught them about Jesus Christ and what his role is in our life and why he's important. A lot of people realize that Jesus is important, but they don't know why he's important. They know he was crucified, but they don't know about the garden. So it's really nice to teach them more and help them realize why He is important. At the lesson a woman walks up and just kinda stands at the doorway and then we ask her name and all these things. Turns out... she's a member! We've always walked by her house, said hi, but never really stopped to say hello. Turns out she was baptized in Toboso! So we're going to see if she's active or not. Toboso has no record of her and our branch doesn't either, so we're a little confused, but that's the Philippines. Records and everything are so messed up here. After that we walked up the hill to teach the Garcia family again about Tithing and how it can bless your life. Grabe gid and Tithing. There's way cool testimonies here about Tithing. Everyone is so poor, but you can tell who pays their tithing and who doesn't. it's really cool and frustrating all at the same time. Then we taught Sister Dumdum about Mosiah2:22. Then we taught about, "Are the commandment of God, hard or easy to follow?" I never really thought about it. Then we read in 1 Ne. 3:7, which you all know. God provides us a way no matter what so that we can follow them. So that's the answer to the question. They're easy! It's the realization of what do we really want in life. 

Friday we had a really good weekly planning session and we talked about how we can find more investigators and how we can better grow this area. It needs help so much and so we just talked and wrote down ideas that we can do and things that need to improve. We're going to try and have multiple family home evenings with members and strengthen them. So it should be a good plan, now we've just got to carry it out. We'll see about transfers though. We only taught Sister Jorolan on Friday. We went to the Janna Family, The 3 Ayo families, and Darwin, and nobody was home at any of those. So we only were able to teach Sister Jorolan. Then we had our dinner appointment at President Delaguit's house. Which is always good on Friday nights! Then we shared with his family 3Ne 13 as well. It was really cool and was useful on Sunday for President.

On Saturday we had all the Branch Presidency, the Relief Society women, and the Elders Quorum President all go visit less active members. We had 3 different groups, plus us two Elders. So 4. Out of us 4 groups we visited 13 different families. What an amazing experience. We all the came back to the church and wrote all the names of the people visited on the board and how we can, as a branch help them. You wanna know what happened on Sunday? Well... just wait. At the church we had lunch and drinks and it was way cool. We taught all the leaders about things in missionary work, taught right out of Preach My Gospel and it was just a fantastic day! The couples also came and checked our apartment and that's when I got Courtney's package! Thanks! It's nice to get mail... it's honestly like gold. Not joking. We also got some referrals and part members that we need to go teach from the branch, because they know where all these people live and we don't! So it's good to have them go visit and then we go do the follow up. It was a great experience for us as missionaries to put it together and it was great to see the turn out of the branch leaders. They say they want to do it maybe 2 times a month now, so we're really stoked about it. 
Court's 4th of July package arrived!
Here's the best part, Sunday. On Sunday, remember how they visited 13 different families. Well... 10 of them were at church of Sunday. We told the branch, look at what you've just done. You visited them 1 time only! ONE! And look at the turn out. Imagine if we could do this 2 times a month. How much do you think the branch would then grow! Such a good Sunday for us and we were totally pumped up! Then we taught the Foresema Family about the Plan of Salvation. This is the lesson I taught and it was totally amazing. Even though they don't come to church, we're going to get them to come and to really feel the spirit. It was a great lesson. Then we taught Sister Garcia, a different one. She's not the family Garcia. She's come to church 2 weeks in a row now. She's a less active that's almost returned if she comes for 2 more weeks!  Then we went and talked to President Delaguit about the work of the branch and looked what happened and to just get some feedback from him and what he thinks was good and went well and how we can improve. He's a great guy!

So yeah, this week was way good! Some good things are happening in the area. I'm really happy! Like I said though, transfer week. Anything can happen. I've really had so faith increases this week that make me realize a lot of things that I need to do once I get home. Mom told me in her email about attending church every single Sunday is a great way to make sure that we stay active. There's a reason we go to church on the first day of the weak. To prepare ourselves for the rest of the week! I do know that this work is important and I'm glad to be here. I don't regret it one bit at all. I love being a missionary. Yes, it's the hardest thing I've done in my entire life. Digging ditches with the worst hand tools for miles in Peru was easier than what I"m doing here. But this is amazing. President Lopez told me to stay positive and keep pushing forward, so I will do just that. Thank you for all the support from back home. I love y'all so much. And of course, I miss you. The church really is true. Hope you have a good week!

Love from the Philippines,

Elder Ellis


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Feast Upon the Words of Christ

Dear Friends and Family,

Feast Upon the Words of Christ!

Hello. I hope that everyone is having a good week so far. It's only Monday I know. So I guess I should say that I hope that everyone had a good last week. I also hope that y'alls weekend was great. This week was filled with tons of adventures, rain, and you name it, it happened. Well, for the most part. I've learned to cook some pretty good stuff this week, mac and cheese from Grandpa, Potato soup, and tootsie rolls have been hitting the spot.

Trying to find Investigators
Last Monday, Elder Edem and I dominated everyone while playing basketball. We played with our whole zone here in Escalante. It was super fun. There's 4 American Elders now here in the zone. One is 6'3. He's tall, but we still worked him. haha. FADE AWAY. Thanks dad so much for showing me "your move" and always doing it on me, because now I know how to overcome tall people. Then we went back home and cleaned the house because every single dish was dirty, welcome to missionary life. And... yeah, Monday's are pretty chill and busy at the same time. We like to play basketball because it let's off a lot of the stress that occurs in Missionary work. I was supposed to wash my clothes, but I forgot what we did instead. So I didn't get a chance to wash. So that would mean that one night during the week, I would have to wash them... 
Contemplating farming for a living!
On Tuesday we had no district meeting because we were having a zone meeting on Wednesday. So we decided to get a good start on the day. We ate lunch and then went to Moncada. That wayyyyy far place where the family of Sister Despojo is from. So we went there, this time rode a motorcycle, which is a 30 peso ride each! So expensive, but that's the sacrifice to bring people the gospel right? A cheeseburger one night, or a lesson in the sugar cane fielded mountain. We'll take the lesson in the mountain any day over a cheeseburger. haha. After that lesson we get to enjoy the sacrifice by walking down the mountain! So after walking for an hour we arrived at a recent converts house. Sister Desuyo. She was baptized last October and her husband isn't a member. He actually ended up in the hospital a few weeks ago, but we've started teaching him and seeing if he'll be ready for baptism. He didn't come to church on Sunday though... so we're going to try and get him to come to church next time. Then we went to a less active. Sister Madonna. Her and her brother are members, but the rest of the family isn't. She is 16 and her brother is 18. I'm not sure who baptized them or why the rest of the family didn't get baptized with them. The brother is Active and was ordained a Priest last Sunday. So we taught him and his sister a lesson about the importance of prayer. Madonna didn't attend church this Sunday. On Tuesday I also made the mistake to thing it would be good to touch some new born baby dogs. Out of nowhere the MOTHER comes running after me and tried to bite my leg off. After I kicked it in the face it ran away. Then I ran cause it was coming back for more! Not a fun experience there... Don't touch new baby dogs. 

Coconut Trees!  Loves coconuts now!
Wednesday we had our Zone Training Meeting by the Zone Leaders to deliver new things that President wants us to know. The meeting ended at 12 and we still had to do our studies, so the day was pretty much shot. However, we went to Sta. Ana, where there's a lot of people to teach. We taught Sister Ayo, who's a less active, about 2 Ne 31, and enduring to the end and our promise that we made at baptism! She seems to really listen. She still didn't come to church on Sunday. We actually went to teach Sister Caren too, she didn't want to talk with us. She just stayed inside the house. It was really weird, she lives super far so we were a little upset that she didn't come outside, because it takes a lot of time to walk to her house and when she doesn't want to meet, just a little hurt. Then we taught Sister Jorolan, the one who can't be baptized yet because of marriage things that we've got to work out and all these rules about the Philippines. But we just continue to teach her. She actually DID come to church on Sunday. So we were happy!

On Thursday we only had one lesson. A less active name Sister Garcia. We went to a placed called Labi Labi to find some less actives that live there and they weren't home so we went there for about 2 hours searching and asking people where they were. Anyway, not home! Sister Garcia, this is the first time that I've actually taught her. The cool thing is she's way cool and actually we found out that she's endowed. Bad thing... she doesn't wear garments anymore. So we're not really sure what's going on there. Not really our job or business, so we're leaving that one to the branch. We're just going to continue to teach her and nourish her by the good word of Christ.We then went to try and track down some less actives on top of a big hill called Upper Mabini. However, they weren't home. I don't know who baptized all the kids without their parents, but that's what we've found a lot. There's so many kids and young people that are baptized, but the rest of the family isn't. It's super hard because then there is no support system you know? So it's something that I'm trying not to do. Teach the whole family. Not just the children. 

Lunay Mountain
Friday we probably had the most productive weekly planning session of my entire mission. We really tried to buckle down and focus and see what we can do to help this place. We've come up with some ideas and then met with the Branch President and we've got a one day mission coming up this weekend for the Branch. Hopefully that will get the missionary energy a little bit more in the Branch. On Friday nobody was home. Caren wouldn't come and talk to us again. Then the Ayo's were working and not home. Sister Jorolan was working, so nobody was home. We taught absolutely nobody. We talked to a woman working in the sugar cane though and she said we can stop by and teach their family. They are actually former investigators, so we'll see where that goes. Normally we eat dinner at Pres. Delaguit's house, our Branch Pres., but his cousin died, so he was needed in San Carlos, so we didn't eat at his house that night. That was pretty much my Friday, walking. then it rained. Then we were waiting for the bus and it didn't stop. The bus only comes once an hour, so we had to wait till the next bus! I was very upset.

Saturday was a great day actually and you want to know why? Because once we got to the top of the mountain, it poured rain! POURED! Everything was wet, but we didn't care, we still worked and walked in it. No umbrella baby! We taught Darwin, a less active who still won't come to church. No matter what we do, no matter what we teach, never ever ever ever will come to church! Then we taught Sister Ayo again about Enduring to the End to make sure that she would come to church on Sunday. And... didn't come to church on Sunday. Caren actually met with us finally, but didn't say anything about why she wouldn't meet with us the other couple days. Then said she was moving to Bacolod to work there. She's only 16, so I'm not really sure. It rained so much. Everything was wet and our white shirts were totally not good, our pants, totally all muddy from sliding in the mud. So we decided to go home and change before going to Pres. Delaguit's house for our dinner appointment. Then we shared with him in Jacob 1:19 about magnifying callings. It was really well. 
After the rain storm!  Shoes are nothing but mud.
Loving green mangoes!

Had to wash our clothes again!
Sunday was a good day too. Kinda. It's sad when people don't come to church. Sister Jorolan was the only one at church that was an investigator. Sister Garcia was there too. So that was good. Then we went and taught 3 less actives. 1 gave us a bunch of Mango's. They're the green kind, before they're ripe. They're way sour, but I've really started to like them. You can just eat them while walking and they're small because they're not grown all the way yet. So that was nice, they made us hit them down though. All you do is get a giant bamboo stick and twist... yeah it's hard to describe over email. I'll show you someday. Just know we got a whole plastic bag of fresh young mango! 

Preach the Gospel to all the World!
So that was pretty much my week. It's been good and a lot of things are still to be done in Mabini Branch. I do know that the Lord answers prayers. It may take a long time, a lot of effort, and continual prayer, but eventually, He will answer them. In his own time and in His own way. I love being a missionary. It's super hard and super insane all the time. I feel like I"m just trying to survive here sometimes, just like cooking the most random meals ever. Mac and Cheese, with Rice and Tuna. Don't think I'd ever have though I'd eat tuna and rice with mac and cheese on top. I'm crazy I know. I love being here though. Never stops being hard, but that's the fun of it right. This is my hardest transfer so far and only going to get harder. I'm just glad that I have a great companion by my side. Elder Edem is great. I hope all is well back home and I love you! Keep being good and reading the Book of Mormon. That's where I always find my comfort and peace whenever I'm down is in the Book of Mormon. I love y'all! Talk to y'all again next week! Let's kick off a new one! Happy Monday!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Growth week after a terrible Sickness!

Dear Family and Friends,

Fighting goats with my knees
Hello! Well I guess Connor comes home this week. That's pretty crazy and exciting all at the same time. I can't believe that he's already done. That was way fast. I remember the day that he left. So nuts. He served well. Congrats on being a returned missionary my friend. This week has actually been really good. It's had it's ups and downs as normal, but that's just normal mission life isn't it? What kind of mission would it be if it was easy the whole time? It wouldn't be a mission. This week I start thinking about the life of Jesus Christ, His mission that he did while He was here on the earth preaching His gospel, I have no reason to complain ever. He's the true hero and the one who completed the best and most amazing work possible. I'm glad that I can preach and teach about Him. I was going through my study journal and things that I had written down a few months ago and realized that I've been pretty bad at applying them, so I'm really trying to become better and really applying the gospel into my missionary life. This morning in my personal study I was reading in Jacob 5 about the olive tree. It talks about planting a tree in a terrible part of the vineyard. Sometimes, I feel, that's where I am. I'm in the part of the vineyard where all these bad things have happened and it's not a good place to be. However, if you keep reading, the tree grows and brings forth good fruit. Look why, because the worked, digged, and pruned the tree. So now I"m going to take that and apply it here to the Mabini Branch. Work, Dig, and Prune the branch and make it grow into a nice part of Zion. Elder Edem and I have both committed to doing this work together and we know that it's possible. We've just really got to work hard. So do you want to hear about my week? Well, here it goes:
On Monday it was P-day. I was still way sick, but I had enough strength to email and yeah, that was pretty much it. I wanted to get a haircut, but when I went, the guys were going to go get lunch. We didn't have that much time and I wasn't feeling that great. So now I"m going to have to get my haircut today. The other Elders invited us to play basketball and I couldn't and I was so sad because I really want to play. Even if it is an oven here, I still love to play. But, I restrained and didn't play because I wanted to start feeling better. I stayed home and rested. :( However, we're playing today! So I'm super excited. On Monday night at my closing prayer, I was just begging Heavenly Father to please let this sickness pass from me so that I can work and be an effective servant of His. I went to bed with a high fever and a huge headache, not the best feeling. I was just hoping that when I woke up that I felt better.

On Tuesday morning when I woke up the fever had passed from me, but I still had a huge headache. We had to go to district meeting with the Stop Aguinaldo Elders. I was just praying that I could walk. All my energy was drained from my body. We made it to district meeting okay and got some good ideas on how we can help the branch here grow. It's going to take a lot of help from the members, so we're really asking for their help on this one. After district meeting we needed to go to Escalante and get some lunch because we have to food at the house. Typical missionary life, tell me about it. So we came to Escalante and bought a chicken. I haven't eaten anything solid since last week when I was sick. All I ate was an apple and 4 eggs for about 5 days. Needless to say I lost a lot of weight. After lunch I really just didn't feel good, but I wanted to work so bad. So all I did was pray and lay down for about an hour hoping when I woke up that I could walk. My prayer was answered. We went to work and we were able to teach the Gonzales couple. The couple is still not married and they are not really trying to get married either. It's pretty sad. It's like they are way lazy to try and get married. I wish they showed a better desire to get married. However, we taught them about the importance of the family and why they should be married first before they are baptized. They always ask, Elders when can we get baptized, they know why they can't, but they still don't do anything about it. It's pretty sad. Then after that lesson we went to the Garcia family. They've been less active for while and just won't come to church. They don't live that far from the church, just walking distance. They're a HUGE family too. 9 kids I think if I remember right. So we're really trying to work with them and bring them back to the church.
On Wednesday we did our studies, ate, then went straight to work. That's my favorite thing to do is just to work. I know I'm not that smart or skilled at being a missionary, but when I go out, walk, talk to people, and do the missionary work like a missionary should, I feel good about myself. We went to Sister Caren and taught her about the importance of money. In 2 Ne 9:51, we read about using money for things that have a good purpose. Things that are important and things that are going to satisfy us. Not things that are in Cebuano called, "Waay Pulos". Meaning worthless or something that has no value to it. It was a really good lesson. Then we went and taught a less active sister. Sister Ayo about the Book of Mormon and why we need to read the Book of Mormon and how it can help us. He daughter in law was present at the lesson and she's not a member, so we're going to try and continue to teach her. Then we went to Sister Queenie and her mom. Her mom is an investigator and can't be baptized yet because she hasn't lived with her current husband for 5 years. She had a previous husband and there is no divorce here in the Philippines, so she can't get remarried. The rule on that, is that the person who wants to be baptized needs to live with the new husband for 5 years. It's like a brand new rule. Sorry if that doesn't make sense. It's really hard to explain. Then it started to rain and so we got wet, or course. It's so much more fun in the Philippines.
On Thursday we had planned to go see Bro Despojo. We went to where he lives and the neighbors told us that he was in Moncada. A place that is soooo far. We've only been there one other time and it takes about an hour to walk there. It's on the other side of the mountain where Bro Despojo lives. It's his wife's families place. Since we weren't able to see him last week because I was sick, we really wanted to go and see him. So we walked all the way there. We arrived and taught him and his wife's family's friends who aren't members. They are really nice and understand that doctrine, but they live literally, SO FAR from the church. So we're hoping that something can work out and they will be able to come to church sometime. They were the only people that we were able to teach. It's so far away by the time that we walk there and then back down to Mabini, it's night time. So yeah, it's a pretty crazy far walk. Normally we ride a motorcycle up the mountain and then just walk down. There's also something interesting that I learned about the Philippines, it can thunder while it's sunny. Kinda cool huh?
On Friday we had our weekly planning session. During out companionship inventory I asked Elder Edem how I can be a better missionary. We discussed somethings and I realized that there were some needed adjustments that I needed to make and change in regards to me being a missionary. It was a really good moment and I'm so thankful for Elder Edem being the type of missionary that is willing to help me to become better. He's a great companion. Then we went to work. We went to Sister Caren's house, but on the way there stopped by and saw a family that I new was a former investigator. We stopped by and taught them about families and the gospel and the restoration. It was a good lesson. They're the Janna family. They have 5 kids, only 2 were present at the lesson, mom, and dad. The mom is super smart and knows all the right answers. They live pretty far from the church though and they didn't come to church on Sunday. I was really sad, but I'm usually sad most Sunday's when people don't come to church. It really rained on Friday and so that was a super fun day. I like when it rains. It's super nice and it cools way down. In my personal study I read in 2 Ne 32:7. It talks about being sad because people don't search for the knowledge and understanding of the truth. Even when it is given to them on a silver platter in plainness. This is exactly how I feel sometimes about the missionary work here. We teach all the people the truth and it's so simple and so plain, that it almost seems to good to be true! I don't know what more to do sometimes. So I really liked that scripture.

On Saturday the Chin couple texted and told me that the mail was coming at 2pm. So we had to wait till they came over and brought us the mail. I just studied Cebuano for 3 hours and read my scriptures and listened to 4 conference talks about missionary work. It was a good afternoon. I got a package from Grandma and Grandpa! Thank you soooooo much! I love you guys! And I got a letter from Court. Then they gave me all the mail from the whole entire zone. I wonder if they know that I"m not the zone leader... After that we went and taught a less active sister who lives pretty far from the church, but they use to be way active so we know it's possible again. She still didn't come to church on Sunday though... dang! Then we went to the Gonzales family again to invite them to come to church and to teach them. Sister again asked when she can be baptized and then we told her, Sister, how are your plans for marriage. Still nothing. So, yeah, it's a pretty rough situation. Then we went to the Garcia family to make sure that they were reminded that we have church the next day. We taught them... and then they still didn't come to church on Sunday. So yeah, we're super sad that none of them were at church. Pretty rough Sunday, just like usual.
Sunday we went to church. There was one less active there and no investigators. How sad. How sad that people don't want to come to church and come closer to Jesus Christ. I was just really feeling bad for people. After church we had a Branch Council meeting. We pretty much just stood up and begged the branch for their help into our missionary efforts. We asked them to help us with the work and if they'd visit members. Also help with fellow-shipping. It's going to be a lot of work like I said earlier, but we're still happy missionaries doing our job. After the branch council we just worked straight after in our long sleeve shirts. We didn't want to waste money going back home to change. So we taught a couple other less actives and we found a new investigator too. Her grand-daughter is a member and she lives with her. It's pretty cool. She has arthritis, so we're hoping there is a way that she can come to church.
Well, it's been a great week and I"m started to get another one going this week. I hope that y'all are good and doing great and you still remember that you have a missionary out here on the island who's trying his best. Thank you so much for all the thoughts and prayers that you send my way. They are the most appreciated thing in the world. Thank you so much. I love y'all back home. I just want to let you know that the Book of Mormon is the best thing in the world. It's so amazing and I love reading it. I always feel so much better after reading it and I really feel the spirit. Even if you only read a little bit a day, just make sure that you are reading something. Use modern technology, load it on you phone or ipad or whatever y'all have these days. Read it in your spare time or when you're waiting for something. I love you family. So much. Keep up y'all's fun life back home. I miss you so much. Here's to another week!

Loving the Philippines with Elder Edem

Dear Family and Friends,

Elder Edem & Ellis
Hello. Happy Monday from the Philippines. How is everyone doing at home? Is the weather getting nicer at home? The weather is the same here. Always hot and sunny. It rained one time this week, which is a nice story so I'll tell you about that in the upcoming part of my email.
This is called Owl'ing
Our Bus Stop
On Monday I took the pants that y'all sent me and I took them to the tailor. I got them fixed and now they both fit just fine. It's nice to have some black pants. I look pretty good in them. haha. The we went to Toboso to play basketball with Elder Mallama, Elder Marble, Elder Jipus, and Elder Lofthouse. Let's just say it was super super fun. I love playing basketball here so much. Even though it was like 1000 degrees. We went back to our house and showered and cooled down.

On Tuesday we had our district meeting in the morning like we do every Tuesday. We have a new Elder in our district because he's a new missionary. So it's fun to have him because he's always like, what's going on, what's going on. Just like I was when I was a new missionary. After district meeting we went home and did our studies. Then ate some lunch. After that we went to work. We went to Caren's house and taught her about the Sabbath Day. She knew everything about it, but it's just something that we need to keep teaching. We teach recent converts up until a year after they are baptized. Then we went to a Less Active, Sister Ayo. She was baptized 2 years ago, but now is less active. She came to church last week though, but was absent this week. After that lesson we walked to the next mountain over and taught Brother Darwin. Darwin hasn't been to church since November. We've taught him so many times, but there is still no change. He lives at the top of a really big mountain, but there's people that live on other big mountains and they go to church. I just think it's a problem with being lazy. Yes mom, I even think he's lazy. I know I use to be so lazy too and I'm sorry. Okay, the next lesson was another recent convert, Queenie. This is Darwin's sister. She's actually hitting her year mark today. We also taught her mother, who isn't a member yet, also mother of Darwin. The mom has been an investigator for 2 years, but her husband won't let her be baptized, but they have a son now on a mission. So it's an interesting situation. We going to try and baptize the mom this transfer though!
Sister Ayo's bamboo bench outside her house
We did what we called the 15 names day. The list of 15 names is a list of 15 less actives that the branch wants us to teach and to return back to church. So we set a goal to visit all 15 of them. However, we only got to 5. Between trying to actually find them and then once we find them, talk to them and teach them. The first one is Brother Warlito. After going through the area book we've found that he's actually been less active for like 5 years now... We've taught him before, but this time his 2 daughters were there that are also members, less active, but they've moved to Manila. So we were able to teach all of them. Then we taught the Garcia family. Sister Garcia actually went to church last week, which was really exciting. However this week, she didn't show. They even promised they'd come to church. So we'll keep teaching and nourishing them by the good word of God. Then we taught Sister Dumdum. Sister is a less active, but her kids are active. Nobody knows why she stopped coming to church. She still prays and reads the scriptures, but the 3rd important thing, going to church, she doesn't do. Her kids don't know why, we even asked. We've taught her a couple times before, but this week we wanted to find out what her concern is so that we can figure out what we can do. After talking to her and teaching her we found out what it was. She takes care of her daughters child. We found out that she wants her daughter to come home from Manila and be a MOM of the child and they can all go to church together and things. It was a great story. You wanna know the best news? She came to church on Sunday! Then we went and ate dinner at the Ondoy's house. Then it started to rain... I don't have an umbrella anymore. Long story. So I'm trying to get a new one. But we started walking down to the highway and the bus flies by right as we're walking to it. So... we missed the bus. It only comes once an hour. That bus was the 9pm bus. Someone told us it was the last trip too. OH MAN! Long story short it was raining, I was so wet and so cold. Then finally there was a bus at 10pm. Turns out 10 is the last trip. After getting home there is no power, the wind I guess did something. After I said my night time prayer, I felt sick immediately. That's when I knew something wasn't good.

On Thursday morning I had a fever. The fever finally went away this morning. Everyday the fever fades slightly at about 8pm, but my the morning it's back full blast. I was told be the mission nurse that it's a virus. It's still not completely gone, but she said it should be gone by Wednesday for good. So let's hope. I haven't been able to leave to work because well, they won't let me because I"m sick. So it's been miserable since Wednesday night. Sunday I did go to church, then we went home right after. None of our investigators were at church. It was a sad Sunday. Only 2 less actives.

The Philippines is still treating me well. Still very hot, humid, and no clouds during the day. It seems the only time that it rains is at night. I miss y'all so much back home. Especially since I'm sick right now. Everything is okay though right? Trial are what make us grow, so I've been told. Seems lots come my way the past couple weeks, but I know that I can get through them. Thanks for all the prayers and thoughts that pass my way. They are much needed. I love y'all back home. Keep up the good work. Hope y'all have a great week!