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


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