Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26th--Typhoon but all is well!

Sa Akong Pamilya ug mga Amigo,

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A little piece of home...Utah Jazz style!


Hello everyone. How is y'all week so far? It's only Monday so I hope that things are going great. My week was busy. Very busy. I'm not sick at all now, I wasn't sick last Monday, it seems like someone still thought that I was sick... cough cough Mom! President Lopez texts me asking if I was sick because my Mom was worried about me. So, to make it very clear. I'm not sick. :) So the news for this week is that Hayden and Donna are now confirmed members of the true church and Freddy Mahinay passed his baptismal interview yesterday and will be baptized this Saturday at 3pm! His whole family is very excited and so are we. Also, since the Typhoon has been hitting the northern Philippines we've been getting some nice wind and it's been great weather, not too hot. Also with us being right by the ocean it's nice, nice breeze, nice trees, and I love the smell of the ocean. Mom, I think you asked about flooding, yeah it floods here when it rains, but it's all good. Our house is fine. As far as Typhoons, the last Typhoon I was in was last Christmas, there hasn't been really anymore to hit our part of the Philippines since.
 
Monday
Elder Hagen was released from the Hospital and all is now well. It's a long story how I got him out, it took Elder Gibbons and I to get the nurse to let us put only a down payment until we could get the mission and the church to send us the rest of the bill. It was a total nightmare, but it was all fine and good. The bill is paid and he's doing a lot better now. I have no clue if his mom knows or not, but you're fine to put up my email from last week mom, and yeah, everything is fine with him now. After that we went to play basketball and when we got to the court there were tons of people playing, but there was half court that was still opened. However, then they wanted to play full court. Elder Gibbons and I were going to play a 2 on 2 game with them for the half court, but... we thought that might not be a good idea. We didn't want anything to get heated or anything. It's something that I would've done if I wasn't a missionary, but now that I am... somethings just have to change. So we only played for maybe like 30 minutes until we got punted off the court pretty much. So we just went home and I did some laundry. That was pretty much P-Day...

Tuesday
So this was the first time that I taught at district meeting. That's one of the responsibilities as a district leader. To teach the meeting and conduct it. I taught about the Book of Mormon and how we should use it rather than the Bible. The only reason I say that is because the Book of Mormon is the foundation of the church, well the keystone actually, but the foundation of the testimony. If we can get our investigators to really focus on the Book of Mormon and get them to read and understand it, then we can get them to do other things and then that will turn into a true desire that they have to learn and to grow in the gospel. It was a good lesson. Even though I teach 3 other Elders. 2 being Zone Leaders, 1 of them being sick a little bit still since he just got released from the hospital, I'm pretty sure I could have talked about anything and it would've gone just fine. However, I did learn a lot of things and in the Scriptures. Such as why Nephi wrote the plates in the first place, not just by commandment, but because he wanted to let everyone know that God is real and He knew it. It was for the convincing of man that Jesus is the Christ our Savior and Redeemer. Jonnalyn the recent convert of a couple months is doing great in the gospel and is still progressing. We're just following up on reading every other day and her personal study. They have questions because they read it in English so that they can understand and practice English and also because the English Book of Mormon is a little nicer. They use the hard back triples. So, sometimes they just have language questions and what this and that means. So it was pretty good. Then we taught Freddy Mahinay. We followed up on his Coffee and he's stopped for good. He now drinks Hot Chocolate. So we're happy. We read with him in 1 Nephi just so that we can help him read. Sometimes the problem they don't really know how to read. It's just like words and they don't really get the meanings behind things, so that why we're there to help them explain. Raymond is still rough. The LA that he lives with is really the problem actually. Raymond wants to come to church, but we can't get him to because he doesn't want to come if his friend, the LA doesn't come. So, it's a great situation, but we're working on it. We then visited the Hospital because one of our branch members was in it, man, the public hospital is MESSED! The private hospital was so much nicer with Elder Hagen. haha. But we just went and checked up on her and made she was okay. She's still alive and now she's out of the hospital. She had her platelet level drop to 2000, which is bad.
Wednesday
We had a long day planned and everything and there was just not a ton of people home. We'd visit and just nobody was home, nobody really wanted to talk to us so we just went back to Jonnalyn and followed up on her reading and answered questions. Then we taught Raymond again. We've started on the Plan of Salvation which is super hard to teach especially to people here, so we've got to go way slow and really explain everything good and clear and keep good on the follow up questions. His LA friend was there, but she kind of forgot some of the answers. She hasn't been at church in 12 years, so my goal before I transfer is so get her at Church. She will go to church before I leave here. We also taught Freddy again and read with him from the Book of Mormon and followed up on if he remember what tithing and the law of chastity was. He knew what they were and so that was good. We were just making sure because we were going to do the Baptismal Interview Questions our next visit. So we were seeing if there was anything we needed to teach before we reviewed the questions with him.
Thursday
Well I have bad news. Our investigator Sussana is now moving back to Aklan. It's on Panay, which is the IloIlo mission so we're going to refer here there to that mission and see what they can do. It's sad, because she was going to progress, but now it's time for her to leave. It's maybe a good thing, because if the missionaries find her there, her husband is also there and will be able to listen to the missionaries as well, so you never know. God works in mysterious ways! We taught Raymond again, but the LA wasn't there this time. She was shopping or something. But we just retaught the Plan of Salvation: Where are we from? and made sure that God and Jesus are different, that we lived with them before we came here and yeah, that's pretty much the basics. We met two new investigators. Donna Dahildahil has 2 younger siblings that live with her most of the time and she asked if they can be baptized. Oh course. Dina is 8 and Darwin is 10 so we will be teaching them now. It's nice because their sister can help them and so we're excited. Their mom lives in the Bukid, or the mountain, so they live with Donna in the city so that they can still go to school and get an education. Lanny is another recent convert that we teach about once or twice a week too. He's the husband of Hayden Dahildahil's Sister. So... Brother in law. Lanny has a problem seeing so reading with him is a big thing that we try to do. He works sooo much to provide for his family and so we're really just there to try and support him. He's still active and everything. He's actually a way funny guy!
Friday
Well... we were working and then we got a text from San Carlos 2. They weren't working all week just so that Elder Hagen could recover. He was still having problems, just like with energy and stuff obviously. So they asked if we could exchange. Elder Hagan and I stayed at their house and Elder Garcia and Elder Sobreviega worked in San Carlos 2 area. But that was pretty much my day... Elder Hagen and I just talked and swapped mission stories.
Saturday
Well, we ran out of food and so because the next day is Sunday we just grabbed some groceries real quick and went back and made some lunch. Then we started our day. It was way windy and nice actually. We went and taught Rojean. She's an LA member, the one that lives right on the beach. She didn't come to church, but I really chastised her actually. I asked if Jesus came to her door and knocked, would she open it. Then she said as long as he gave me a second chance. I then told her, that was our purpose. We're here to give you that second chance to prepare you for that day when he comes. She seems to get it, but some people you just need to put that fear of God into their eyes and she's the one who can handle it without getting like offended. We also taught Freddy again and did the Baptismal Interview Questions. He didn't have any problems with any of the questions and so we were good to go and move him right onto the baptismal interview on Sunday. We then had a dinner appointment at the Aventura family. It was Junnah's birthday and more like a mission celebration. That's the first time I've been to a birthday party with an opening and closing prayer. So it was interesting. We only stayed a little bit and ate dinner and cake and then left.

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Rojean's home
Sunday
Church was really good. We had our recent converts attending Sunday School, the gospel essentials class. Sacrament was good and we've got tons of new calling and thing. We have a new branch mission leader, Jeff Marata. He's a recent RM of like 4 weeks. So we're stoked. Donna and Hayden were confirmed in church and that was great! Then, Freddy passed his interview! So we're happy missionaries! We also taught Raymond and pretty much just laid everything out on the table. Like look, this is what you need to do, this is what's going to take, are you willing to do it. So we're still working on him :( they didn't come to church. Ugh... We taught Hayden and Donna about family prayer. That's going to start being our focus on recent converts is getting them to do things as a family right off the bat. FHE, Family Scripture study, and family prayer every morning and night. With Lanny too. So that's pretty much our focus with them right now, is just being a gospel focused centered family because we know that it will bring them blessings.
Sorry my week was a little boring. Not much to really report on, I'm pretty sure there are few people who even read this anyway, haha. But everything is good here so far. Working hard and am doing what is asked of me, I think that's the important part. I'm really learning lots of things and growing in the gospel. It's nice to see the changes. I just look back and think... why did I do that? It's rather funny actually sometimes. Just look at all the dumb things that I use to do or use to think how everyone was crazy and I was all that. But, yeah, it's been a humbling experience for sure. I love you all and I miss you so much. Almost hitting the one year mark, going to be awesome! Not like anything is going to change though... haha. This transfer is flying by! I can't believe it. That's why I like new area and new change and things because things just fly so fast! Hope all is well with y'all back home. Send my love to all.
Amping Kanunay,
Elder Ellis

August 18th--Case of the Dengue Fever

Dear Friends and Family,
 
This week has definitely been one of the busiest weeks my entire mission. Just to start off the week, I was sick. I had a fever of 102. At the same time we were trying to make arrangements to go to Bacolod, so that we could get Hayden and Donna married. After that, we got news they needed to be baptized the same day. Then, Elder Garcia got sick. Now I'm fine. Then Elder Hegan got Dengue, he's in the hospital now, but he's still okay, all should be well. So I've been playing momma and getting medicine and things because here in these hospitals they don't give you medicine, you have to go buy it first then give it to the nurses who will then give it to the patient. Don't get me started, totally backwards, but yeah. Mom, please do not put this email on the blog yet because we're trying not to let Elder Hegan's mother know yet. He's going to tell her or President will tell her, so don't mention anything on facebook or my blog. Just in case his mom finds out. President doesn't want his momma to worry. But yeah, I'll just start into my week and maybe everything will make more sense.
 
Monday:
We had out P-day. We actually played basketball which we do every p day which is why I love my new zone. Everyone wants to play and so it's really good and it makes me happy. I swear the rim was only 9.5 feet though because my shot was way off. I don't know why. So it wasn't that fun, but yeah, I still love basketball. Then we had a really good family home evening with the Tiva family. They are way cool and it was Sister Tiva's birthday so we had some food and it was a nice evening. Sister Tiva's daughter is Freddy's wife. So we had an investigator are the Family Home evening. Freddy is way chill around us now. With the week because crazy though, we only taught him twice this week. He's supposed to be done drinking coffee, but we haven't had a chance to talk to him yet, that's going to be our plan to go over there tonight and make sure that he's good to go. He should be baptized on the 31st, so in like 2 weeks almost. We then were trying to follow up with President Ballon, the person who can marry Donna and Hayden. He wouldn't text us back, so we then text President Lopez, because everyone listens to President Lopez. So after working out some sly tricks up Elder Ellis' sleeve. It turns out that President Ballon needed us to email all the marriage documents to him the next day. So... I'll tell you about that.


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Family Home Evening
 
 
Tuesday
We did our morning studies and then went to Hayden and Donna's and got all their marriage documents. Then we went to this place where we can scan the documents. I can't just do it in an office or anything. There's like this public place where we can do things like this... Yeah, it's cool here in the Philippines. So we had them put them on a USB. Then we went to the computer shop and uploaded the files. Then we emailed them to President Lopez who would them email them to President Ballon. So... now we wait. Remember we're trying to get them married on Thursday and so far we're still unsure of everything.
After doing all that we decided to teach some people. We taught Jonnalyn, the recent convert. She had a question about her reading in the Book of Mormon about the Brass Plates. So we then taught about what's in the Brass Plates and it's right in the Book of Mormon. It'll tell you everything you need to know. So it was nice because they now understand that part. It's nice when you know what you're reading about because then it can make more personal sense to you. After teaching her we went and got some lunch, then we went to another appointment. Susana. This is our Tagalog speaker. I'm really picking up some Tagalog and it's coming along well. Talk about the gift of tongues. When there's an Illango speaker I can switch to it. Cebuano switch... and yeah, Tagalog I only try, but I'm still working on it. haha. Susana is doing well, with all the craziness this week we were only able to meet with her one time. But we taught about the real way to pray. She was goes to the prayer circle at the catholic little thing every night and they all do hail mary prayer. I asked her how she prays for things that she needs if she only does that one prayer. She confused herself because obviously... it's not the correct way to pray. So we then taught her the real way to pray and then invited her to district conference. She didn't come though. We committed her to pray about our message and about Joseph Smith and read from the Book of Mormon. Her sister and the family are all members, so they can help. However, I think the dad and her get in arguments because of the different religions. So... yeah, we've been asking the sister to help us out because she's nicer and sealed to her husband and he's an RM. And from IloIlo and an Illango so she's cool. haha! Right after that lesson we receive a text from the San Carlos 2 missionaries. Elder Hegan and Elder Sobreviega. However, Elder Gibbons was on exchanges so he's the one that texted me. ANyway, he said the Elder Hegan has Dengue, the mosquito disease. And needed some things from the store. So we went and got them for him. Then we went to their house and we talked to Elder Gibbons for a little bit and then after that yeah... that was the whole day after all that was done.
 
Wednesday
We woke up and I text President Lopez to follow up on our marriage email thingy. Keep in mind, we're trying to go to Bacolod TOMORROW. And we have no positive yes that we can go yet from President Ballon. President Lopez then told me that Bacolod was out of power for 12 hours last night and Pres. Ballon didn't get a chance to look at the email but would get back to us later... GRRR!!!! You know me, I hate to not have a plan... so by this point I'm freaking out a little bit. And I already have a headache and I'm sick. And pretty sure I had a fever. We kept teaching anyway. Kier, the boy that we've been teaching, isn't really progressing. I don't really want to keep him as a focus, but Elder Garica thinks he has potential so if we are in the area, we'll teach him. We then taught Raymond, another Tagalog speaker. We taught him about church and just how it can bless him. We retaught lesson 1, the Restoration and about Joseph Smith. It was a good lesson and he seems to understand. But... still didn't come to church on Sunday. Then we taught Freddy, who is doing really good. He's only drank coffee one time this week and so he's doing well. We'll follow today and see if it's done. After teaching him I started feeling sick again. So I just said Elder I need to take some medicine at the house. Anyway, I did and then what happened??? I checked my temperature. I have a 102 temp. So.. I just laid down for a little bit. I'm still waiting for the text from President Lopez saying that we can come to Bacolod tomorrow for the wedding!!!!! So I'm freaking out, totally stressed and the day just sucks! So I just slept for a little bit. I was awoken by a text from President Lopez!!!! "Elder Ellis, tell me what day you want and I'll make it happen" AYOS!!!! Thank you President Lopez, so then I told him, if possible can we do it tomorrow. He text me back and said he'd make arrangements. So then we went to Donna and Hayden's... now remember I've still got my fever and I feel terrible, but I walked to their house for the 2 Kms because I love them! So then we told them that we're going tomorrow. They're like freaking out! WHAT! We haven't told my father yet, said Donna! OHHHHH!!!!! I'm flipping because if Daddy doesn't know, then grabe ba, it's not happening. Anyway, long story short...
Thursday
We woke up early and made sure that they were going to go tell Daddy. So they did and we then went and got some breakfast. My sickness was gone thankfully. I was hoping for a miracle. The Anderson couple was then coming to San Carlos with the mission van and we were all going to go to Bacolod. The Bride, the groom, us, then 2 members from the ward and the some family members. We go to Bacolod and go to the 5th Ward Chapel and there they were married. I'll send you some pictures. After that President Ballon then asked me, "So Elder, they're going to be baptized today?" I said, "No, just on Saturday like normal baptisms." He then proceeded to tell me that they need to be baptized tonight because the date on the marriage certificate needs to match the date on the baptism. I said, why does that matter and he just said, it needed to be done. So... then I think... okay. So he's only got a permit to marry members of the church!!!! That's why they need to be baptized today! So... we text the whole branch! We let them know that we have a baptism that night. The branch is amazing and the Branch President was awesome and responded well! I love President Pojas! He's amazing as a Branch President. So we filled up the font and then prepared a program for the baptism and wow. It was successful! The baptism was great and everyone had a great time and very spiritual. I'll send you pictures. Just think... We through a wedding and a baptism together in the matter of like 1 day. Talk about stress, but holy cow, it rocked! President was thrilled.
 
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Bus Ride to Bacolod
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Hayden and Donna Dahildahil
 
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Friday
We had our Zone Training with President Lopez! It was super good and we are now authoized to use FACEBOOK!!! Elder Garcia and I have a facebook account actually. Okay, here are the rules, there will be pictures and things on the facebook. I'm allowed to use it 1 hour a day. You can look at it if you find it. However, NO MESSAGES. NO COMMENTS. NO LIKES. NO POSTING. It's an open account, so you can look, but we will not add you as friends if you request. Our name is San Carlos BranchOne. It's used to finding investigators and to help the branch do missionary work. It's a good idea and so yeah, that's kinda the new thing that we're allowed to do now for an hour a day. In the early afternoon usually because that's when we teach less people because they are all sleeping anyway. So it's cool. Also about visiting members and teaching them and President spoke in District Conference about that too, about having the members having us over and teaching them the missionary lessons. Or just reading the Book of Mormon with them. My interview with President was good. He actually knows Mom's name. Sister Lopez knows mom's FULL name! Because of facebook I'm assuming... how often does mom look at that? haha.The interview he just asked me how I'm doing and how we're doing with the work. He was happy with us because I guess we're baptizing. So yeah, it was good. Then... Elder Garcia got sick. HAHA. So... back to the house. Elder Garcia can barely breathe! However, after resting a little bit, we went to the seminary and taught them about missionary work and asked for referrals and did some other cool stuff with them.



 
Saturday
I studied, but Elder Garcia was still sick. Then we received a text... "Elder's return the key back to the clerk ASAP-President Lopez" haha Oops. We're not supposed to have the key to the church... so yeah, we borrowed it for the baptism and then for the zone training because I was the one who had to open the church on Friday morning. So we returned the key, grabbed some lunch and then returned home so Elder Garcia could rest. Until we were interrupted by another text, "Elders, can you come to the hospital. Elder Hegan is in the ER" Oh boy... so then to the hospital. We had to run and get meds and then go to their house and get stuff for them and then we checked him into a room and everything. So yeah. It was all that day at the hospital and running around trying to get meds and stuff for him. Since His companion can't leave... the hospital here is so backwards. You have to buy the meds here, pay at a different place, then give to someone else... so weird. And... yeah, I'm not going to get into politics on this one... But this is what America wants? Please... No. Please.
 
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Sunday
Elder Garcia stayed with Elder Hegan at the hospital so the Elder Sobreviega could keep track of investigators and things at District Conference. So Elder Sobreviega and I went to it together. It was good. Elder Nobleza of the area 70 was there and presided. He was way funny. All Illango, so it was good that I went and not Elder Garcia, because he doesn't speak Illango. After church was back to the hospital. President Lopez swung by and brought us burger's that were really good! They were real beef so we were so thankful. At least I was... But the rest of the Sunday was spent at the hospital running errands again, with medicine and everything.




 District Conference
 
So yeah. This week was very unproductive for missionary except for the fact that we had 2 baptisms this week! But it's been a good week though because I feel like finally I've done something good. I do know that God answers prayers and that the Church is true. It's just the braking point that we need to keep pushing and pushing and pushing. When we feel like giving up, that's when we've gotta give it that last ditch effort and push that last little bit. It's like hiking a mountain. When we're close to the top, that's when we get the most tired. I'm not going to lie. I'm wasted tired. I could honestly sleep to 3 days straight. But the work is what keeps me going and it's amazing! I know for myself that enduring our trials is soooo important. I've seen it for myself. First hand. I love it! I love this work. I love y'all back home. Thanks for all the support!

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Blake suffered through another ingrown, except this time he was the podiatrist to remove it!
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Elder Ellis

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 11th--An Excellent Week in San Carlos

Dear Friends and Family,
The past 3 months of my mission I think I was trying to focus on too many things at one time. I think I was focusing on the problems with the branch, the problems with members and personal problems and things on how I can become a better missionary. With that being said and with the new transfer, I've really been focusing on the good things rather than all the bad things, or at least the non positive ones. This week has actually been very fantastic! I left my SD Card reader at the house, so I'm really sorry, I'll have to send pictures next week. I received my birthday package from Courtney this week! Thanks so much! It had tons of good candy and yummy treats and the "duck" tape has been very useful.  This week has had tons of events happen, mostly for the good part! So, things are starting to go my way for a change!

Monday
We played basketball as a zone at this place called Center Mall. There were tons of people watching us. We didn't play at the church because the rims are taken off because people jump the fence and play at the church, so the church just takes them off until we want to play. However, it's just too much of a hassle, so we just play at a park. There were 4 Americans and then our Filipino companions. We played Americans vs. Pinoy's... and yeah, I'm going to assume you can guess who won. Elder Gibbons is a baller. He's assigned in Canlaon, he's from Arizona and pretty cool. He's also a district leader. Elder Hensen, who played lacrosse with Joe for Orem, he's in Calatrava, and also district leader there, at least I'm pretty sure. Also Elder Gibbons got his wallet stolen. Everything is gone... It was stolen at Gaisano, the mall, so after trying to look for it, we never did find it. Nobody knew and so... yeah. That's the end of his wallet.
Tuesday we had no district meeting because there's a zone meeting on Wednesday. However, we worked our tails off. We taught a total of 7 lessons, right in a row. We've been finding some new investigators and helping the others progress. So I'm going to talk a lot about some people that you don't know, but I'll do my best to help you. We taught Jonnalyn. She's a recent convert of a few months. She was actually a part member. Her family was less active and through teaching her family, the missionaries were able to teach her and baptize her and now she's a very active member and has a lot of friends in the church. She attends college and seminary when she doesn't have afternoon class. She's 18 and very nice. She's almost been retaught all the new member lessons, but we're still working with her to invite her friends and things to church. So far we've got 2 new investigators from teaching her so it's been good. Kier is a boy, 12 years old. I'm not sure how Elder Garcia got to know him. He has relatives that are members, but we've been teaching him slowly. Just like one principle at a time. Prophets, then Jesus Christ, then the Apostasy, things like that. We told him we were going to come pick him up for church on Sunday. Raymond is an investigator that Elder Garcia found before I arrived here. He's living at a members house for a little bit. The member family is less active, so as we teach the less active, we also teach him and we've been working with him. So far so good, we've been teaching slowly. He actually is from Manila and only speaks Tagalog, so I'm a useless person in that lessons. Luckily Elder Garcia speaks it. I can actually understand some of it. There's a lot of the same root words and so if I listen closely and then break down the words, I can usually figure out what's being said. However, it's still a super hard language. Miguel is a less active that they've been working on before. He was almost returned, but then didn't come the 4th Sunday and hasn't come for 2 Sundays in a row, so now the count needs to start over. However, we met his Sister that just arrived here from Manila. She also only speaks Tagalog, but she asked us an inspired question, "Elders, why are there so many churches here?" Wow, what a great question and that is why we're here, is to explain that exact question. So it was a great lesson. Again... she only speaks Tagalog as well, but I still can speak Cebuano and she understands it, but she'll reply in Tagalog, so it takes me a little bit to compute what she said, but it's still okay. As long as the spirit is there, that's the key! Rojean is a less active that we've been working with as well. Her house is literally right on the beach. Like... on the sand. She's a way random thinker and last time we taught her she asked me if I really believed in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. So... I then assigned her Alma 5 in the Book of Mormon which is a list of questions that Alma gives us, that we can check to see if we're ready to meet God. Or in other words, if we're ready for the Second Coming. Freddy Mahinay is doing great. I've really gotten to talk to him a lot because he loves basketball. He also played soccer in high school. This is our coffee drinker, but we've been working with him really good and now he's only drinking it like 2 times a week. We've just working with him and getting him to really read the scriptures and to be able to feel the scriptures. He's a really great guy. We also taught the Quiro family. It's said like Hero... but they're a less active family. Sister is pregnant and so it's hard for her to go to church. Brother won't go to church, so she doesn't want to go along because they have another child. So, it's a rough situation, but it's just a matter of faith. They're not that far from the church, but they could take a little bicycle thing with a side car called a pedicab. Yeah... Tuesday was a full day.

Wednesday
We had our zone training meeting. Here we learned things that President wants us to do and how we can obtain our vision better. The meeting was super long, 3 hours, but still good. Then at the end we set zone goals. For every key indicator, there is a specific number that we've set for the zone to reach every week. More like a quota. So like our Member Present to Investigators, is 12 every week. So every area should achieve that. Our Investigator with a date is 4 and our Investigator at Sacrament is 4 as well. This week my companion and I either achieved the goal or we were one number off... so it's going to take just a little bit more effort. It's hard, but fun all at the same time. We taught an investigator Jennalie. She's a maid for a member here and she's a cool person, but a little bit like... forgetful I guess you could say. More like her whole mind isn't really there...? So, that's pretty much like normal people here, so it's not really that much different. But she's still pretty cool. We taught her just the first part of the Restoration about prophets and families. We also taught a less active family, the Caparida family. Brother has been trying to build a new house so he's not been coming to church. Last week he was super sick, but he said that he would come to church this week, but still didn't come. so I'm not sure. They're not married, and they're both members. So they started the relationship obviously after they were baptized, or there were baptized before the new 5 year cohabitation rule came out... They're main concern is that they can't go to the temple because they're not married, so they don't really want to go to church because that's preparation for the temple, so they've just started giving up I guess. I'm not even sure there's anything that we can do for them.

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Thursday
Since I'm now a district leader, twice a transfer I have the privilege to go on splits with the zone leaders. So, I worked in Branch 2 area with Elder Hegan. He's from New Hampshire. This was the first time my whole mission that I've worked with an American missionary. So it was pretty cool. Normally I speak Cebuano all day long, so it was nice to speak English all day long and have no problems. It's pointless to tell you about all the people we taught because they're not in our branch. I did learn lots of things though. Like always following up on reading and praying, especially as a family. Normally I always follow up reading and praying, but I never ask if they did it with their family or just individual. So that's something that I'm going to start working on. I did learn a lot of new Cebuano words though since Elder Hegan is super good at Cebuano. He actually just knows a ton of words! Like, the deep words for things, so it's cool. I just keep everything simple because people understand it a lot better, but I did learn some new words. Our apartment is the best apartment in the zone, theirs is the 2nd best probably. I don't know why I'm telling you that, it's just nice to come home to a nice place and you can sleep a study a lot better.
Friday
So I know I didn't mention this, but I've been sick like all week long. My throat is killing me and I've had a headache for like 5 days. However, this morning it calmed down, so it's all good now. Friday after our Weekly Planning Session though I just laid down for a little bit. I couldn't even think or move it hurt. I just prayed and laid down for like 2 hours and waited it out and took some medicine. When it calmed down a little I just said you know, this is just a trial so I told Elder Garcia, man, let's go work. So we worked. We went to the Caparida family again. We taught them about our covenant that we made at baptism and that they need to endure to the end and to continue on the path. They both agreed, but still didn't go to church. So, not sure what's up. We also taught another less active. Sister Edem. There's no relation to Elder Edem and her, I already asked. But she didn't remember who Joseph Smith was, so we decided to go the very first part of everything in the Lesson 1 before moving on to anything else. We also taught Joshua, a recent convert. He was baptized at 9, because of teaching less active, the missionaries taught him and then he was baptized. He doesn't read his scriptures that much, but what 9 year old reads scriptures. So, it was an interesting lesson. We also taught Donna and Haiden. They've recently got their marriage license to get married. SO... if you saw a baptismal record in my picture, yes, they should be baptized this Saturday if we can pull of the marriage. This weekend is district conference, we have a zone meeting with President, and it's going to be an insane busy week. The person that can marry them is from Bacolod and so we're trying to get his schedule worked out with ours and yeah, I'll tell you about that later on. On Friday night I receive a text. "Elder Ellis, you are needed at the Galo Chapel in Bacolod tomorrow at 11am for Fingerprinting for you visa. You will travel with Elder Robertson." So... wow, I get to go to Bacolod now.
Saturday
I wake up early and meet Elder Robertson and we go to Bacolod. They need all the Americans fingerprints from my batch and the 2 batches before me. I'm not sure why, but we just went. Travels 4 hours for 10 minutes. However, I did get to see Elder Garner. This was the first time I've seen him in 6 months. He says, "What the heck happened to you man?" He says that I look so much smaller! haha. It was pretty cool and great to see him again. I also saw a lot of my other batch mates, Elder Marble and some other Americans that I know from here. Anyway, since we were in Bacolod I took the opportunity to eat at McDonald's. This was the first time in 3 months I think I've had a burger. So it was definitely worth it. Also, there's a brand new 7-Eleven right next to the McDonald's so... SLURPEE!!!!!!!!!! I bought the biggest one that they had. It's been almost a year since I've had one of those things... It almost brought me to tear to be honest. Elder Robertson and I then traveled right back to San Carlos and switched back companions. Then Elder Garcia and I went and taught Freddy. He then told us he hadn't been drinking coffee for 4 days! We were like ASTIG! That's actually Illango, but whatever. It means awesome. He's doing great
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San Carlos chapel--Branch 1
Sunday
I got to the church and all of a sudden there was a rumor going around that President Lopez was going to come to San Carlos today. I was like, what! Usually he warns or something. Anyway, no worries, it was a great Sunday. We had 4 investigators at Sacrament. Hayden and Donna Dahildahil passed their baptismal interview. So here's what's going down with that: President Ballon from Bacolod is the one who can marry them. He's not available to come here to San Carlos this week. So what's going to happen is we're going to have to go to Bacolod sometime this week with Hayden and Donna with the couple missionaries. They'll bring the mission van and come pick us up and them, and then some of their family hopefully. We just found out about all this last night and we're still not positive on details. So I'm sorry. The baptism could happen this week or not. However, if we go to Bacolod during the week with them, and they get married. Then the baptism will be this Saturday. Elder Nobleza from the area 70 will there and President Lopez because District Conference is also on Saturday. So it'd be way cool! I mean, since President would be there and an Area 70 would be there too. But I guess I'll let you know next week.
 
Sister & President Lopez, Elders Ellis & Garcia
Baptism & wedding planning
 
We also had a meeting with President Pojas for an hour. It was a great meeting and we established what his goal is for us as missionaries and what we as missionaries want to see the branch do. This branch is a lot more organized, so it's a lot better. They say that have a lot of problems, but I'm looking at it and going... if only you knew where I came from. Our attendance this week at Sacrament... 188!!!!!! WOW!!!!! For a branch. Elder Garica says that's the highest he's seen it here in San Carlos 1. So it was an amazing Sunday. We also had a dinner appointment last night at the Aventura family, they made us burgers... out of Pig meat. It actually wasn't that bad though. haha. Good! Different, but still good. Since I'm use to cow meat in my burgers.
Today we've got a family home evening planed at the Tiva Family. This is the family of Brother Freddy's wife. So he will be there. It's Sister Tiva's birthday so there will be food and games and it's going to be great! There's tons of wind and clouds outside, so we're not sure if we'll play basketball today because of the rain. But again, we're not positive.
This week's been great. I hope all the weeks are this good. The member relationship with us has been building pretty good and very nice. They've really started to like us and to help us with missionary work. We had 2 RM's work with Elder Garcia while I was in Bacolod so the branch is starting to get involved. We're getting a new Branch Mission Leader, we're sure it's one of the new RM's too. So it's going to be a great time to kick off a lot of work here in San Carlos. We've been working super hard to bring our vision into this area with a weekly baptism. If Freddy quits drinking coffee, we'll set him a baptismal date for next Saturday so we should have one next Saturday too. San Carlos has been really great so far and I've been really happy. Thanks for all the support from back home. I love you all! Take care!
Amping Kanunay!
Love,
Elder Ellis

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 4th--San Carlos City, District Leader

Dear Friends and My Family,

Hello everyone. I guess you already know that I've been transferred to San Carlos City. I'm serving in Branch 1. There's 2 branches. I've been made the District leader of the San Carlos district. Which only consists of the 2 branches missionaries. The 2nd Branch missionaries are actually the Zone Leaders. So I have 2 zone leaders and my companion in my district. I pretty much am only in charge of District Meeting. In a normal district I'd be in charge of passing down information to the rest of my district, but since my district is the zone leaders, I only need to pass down information to my companion. So, it's going to be interesting I guess.
 
My new companion is Elder Garcia. He just finished with his training. He's only been in the area for one transfer and his trainer was not good and didn't teach him a lot of things the way they should have been taught. His trainer didn't want to speak Cebuano, only Tagalog, so now we're working on the language more. I'm glad that I'm still speaking Cebuano though. I don't want to go back to Illango for awhile. He's a native Tagalog speaker and from somewhere in the Manila area. So far he's pretty quiet and doesn't say to much and last night I think he was crying while sleeping I heard him... so, not really sure what's going on. Maybe I'm working him too hard? Not really sure. Just doing my job. So I'm considered his follow up trainer, meaning that I make sure that his trainer taught him the things that he needed to know and so far... his trainer sucked. So, it's going to be an interesting transfer.
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Elder Garcia & I on my birthday
 
 
When I got to the apartment the first thing I looked at was the area book to see how many investigators there were. I was surprised to see there were about 30 progressing investigators. Then I looked at the individually and noticed that most have never been to church and most haven't been taught in about 2 months. I asked Elder Garcia, "Elder, how are these considered progressing investigators?" He said, I don't know, my last companion did the area book. Then I look at their last week Key Indicators, which are our weekly goals and things. Last week they had 7 investigators with a baptismal date and I asked Elder Garcia, so when are they being baptized? He told me he doesn't know who has a date because he didn't think anyone did have a date. So I'm a little frustrated right now because either he didn't pay attention enough or his trainer was a dufus. So... like I said, this is going to be an interesting first couple weeks. As far as catching up my companion on the real things that we need to be doing, finding more investigators and catching up on the area, my work is definitely cut out for me as of now. Last night I only slept for 5 hours. I was up at 3am and I couldn't fall back asleep so I studied till 6:30... by then I was tired, but of well. That's life right. But I'm still alive I guess you could say. The biggest problem is the previous missionaries never were close with any of the branch leaders. Elder Garica's never been to the branch presidents house, so that's something I'm changing immediately  We're visiting him tonight and we're going to visit him multiple times a week. He needs to be like our best friend if we're going to have an success.
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New apartment
 
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Look at all that tile!  Heaven!
 

 

 
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The things that I've found out about him are the he's only been a member for like 2 years I think. He's 28 years old, but he looks like 20. He's way nice though. He also is a shrimper! So, maybe I can score some shrimp from him. I think my companion may be a little upset with me because I'm changing some of the things that are happening as of now, so I guess we're going to just see what happens. Transferring from Mabini is okay with me, but I do miss Elder Edem. We did become like really really good friends at the end. He's been my favorite companion so far and I'm glad that I got to spend a long time with him. He made the hard times in Mabini at least enjoyable at the same time and endured them with me. 

My week so far has been super busy trying to catch up. As soon as I arrived in the new apartment I hung up my white shirts and then we actually went straight to work. I met a recent convert who's very nice and she has a strong testimony. She lives in a one room apartment that she rents that's a renovated old baptist church. It's a rough situation and I haven't figured everything out, but she's a nice person. There are tons of restaurants and places to eat here. It's nothing like my first 2 areas. This place is probably going to be my favorite. Anything I need is here in the mall called Gaisano. It's big and it's got everything. All the groceries we need, all the department goods and needs, and there's a Jollibee, which is like the Filipino McDonalds. There is McDonalds, but only in Bacolod. There's Jollibee's in most major cities. There was one in Cadiz, but of course, not in Escalante. 

We've been teaching a lot of less actives though, we had 5 of them come to church yesterday. So the rescue still continues on. There's a less active family that Elder Garica didn't know there concern until I said something and then it came out. Turns out their not married and they say there's no point in going to church because they can't go to the temple. The wife had a previous husband and since it's the Philippines she can't get a divorce to marry her current husband. So, it's an interesting situation. There's another family that is less active, but the daughter is not yet baptized, but she has a live in partner that lives there. Currently they are getting their marriage licence on the 8th and then they'll be married and baptized sometime soon. That is depending on if they get the licence on the 8th, so we're working with them still. 

We've got a way cool investigator named Freddy. He's actually like an active member. His wife is a member and his wife's family are all members. The only reason he hasn't been baptized yet is because he's got a coffee addiction. And nobody believes that you can be addicted to coffee... yeah, this dude totally is! We've set a date for him to drop all his coffee addiction on the 17 of August. So we're going to do all we can to help him. I thought last night as I was watching a missionary training video of giving him a Priesthood blessing so that he can have the strength to quit and to abstain from his addiction. He was at church this Sunday, but only at Sacrament. Sacrament is last in the agenda,so a lot of people have found out that they can just go to sacrament. Sort of like the same situation in Victorias where there was nobody in Sunday School, but in Sacrament there was about 90. 

Sorry my email is sort of random, I'm still new and not really sure what's going on quite yet. Next week will be better don't worry. I've got the area down for the most part though. I know where everything is, which is usually the hardest thing for people, but with my muscle memory, I just memorize where landmarks and things are so the area isn't much of a problem. It's remembering all the names of these people! And who is less active and who is an investigator. So next week my email will be better. 

My birthday was actually pretty good. We taught a lot of people and then the best part was receiving a text! Elders, come over to our house for dinner! AYOS! This was a family that I had met the previous day, so I'm glad I made a good first impression that they wanted to feed me on my birthday. I didn't plan on telling anyone it was my birthday, but their daughter who is waiting for her mission call asked, Elder Ellis when is your birthday. I couldn't lie, so I said tomorrow. haha. So it was nice to have a meal. 
 
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Happy Birthday, Elder Ellis!
 
 
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The Aventura Family
 
There were 2 recently returned missionaries that came home this week from our branch so the branch is going a little crazy right now with a transfer, me being a new elder, and 2 of their own coming home from their missions. They're both actually really cool guys and funny too. We've ate with one on my birthday and the other I met at church on Saturday. I've been really trying to make a good impression on everyone so far right at the start. That's the most important part, especially if you're new to an area. It's like a new start. Like a new mission. All new people and all new things. They don't know anything about you and you don't know anything about them so it's way fun at the start because you can change who you want to be. You can do things better from the start with building relationships with the members. 

Okay so a cool experience that I had this week. We were planning on eating a like 2 on Thursday. We had been at a teaching appointment and then it was over and then it was like 1:50, but something told me, just don't eat yet. So I was like Elder, let's eat in a little bit, I'm not quite hungry yet. I said, where can we go real quick that close by. He said, we can go here. So we go to the relief society pres. She didn't live close by, we walked like 1KM to get to her house. Anyway, we got there and she oh Elders you got my text! I looked at the phone and said, Sister, we never got your text... what did your text say. Anyway, turns out she's sick and she wanted a blessing, her and her husband were both sick. Cool huh? So that was a nice spirit booster this week! 

We only had one investigator at church this week; Freddy. It rained and there were a lot of people that said it was too muddy to go to church. I wanted to laugh SOOO HARD! I've come from the mountain to the city and they're telling me it's too muddy. There are actual roads all the way to the church. If you want to walk you can and be fine. Mostly though, you'd only need to ride a tricycle and you'd arrive at the church A OK! and not even wet and you wouldn't be muddy one single bit. 

Okay, Sorry it's super random. Next week I promise will make more sense so I hope that you're not upset with me! It's nice to be in my new area and I'm so far loving it. Elder Gibbons and I are planning on playing basketball today. He's from Mesa, Arizona and is another DL here in our Zone. He's the batch before me so I met him at the MTC. He and Garner were close. And today we're going to the mall to get our shopping done. I walked inside of it and I was amazing, I needed something, I think laundry soap because I left mine in Mabini. It's amazing. I love the city so far.
Found on San Carlos beach

 
I do know the church is true. It's been an amazing journey so far and I"m loving all of it. Even the times when I'm down, I realize that I've learned a lot. My time in Mabini I learned a lot, not just about missionary work, but about running the church. How it runs and how we can better it and if you're in a leadership position you need to definitely fulfill your calling! Thanks for all the birthday wishes that my family gave me and Courtney :) Y'all are the best! I can't wait to see y'all again. 

Amping Kanunay!

Love,
Elder Ellis
From San Carlos City, Negros Occ., Philippines!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

July 28th--Transfer week

Sa Pamiliya ug mga amigo nako,

Kamusta kamo diha karon? Tani okay pa kamo. Naa pa ako dinhi sa Mabini. Sa kini nga semana mao ang transfer week. Siguro magtransfer ko. Mayjo sure jud ko nga, magtransfer ko, pero, ayos lang. Kay, basi ang mga iban nga Area's kinahanglan nila ako didto sa ila. Ang mga tawo nga andum sila para sa ebanhelyo ni JesusKristo. Cga, sa kini nga semana, budlay kaayo. Waay mga tawo sa simbahan sa domino. 54 lang. Sang ligad, 96. Meyjo suko ko sa mga tawo dinhi, pero, representative pa ako ni JesusKristo, so bawal na. 

So... Sam scratched my car? On the passenger side. Thanks. 
Elder Edem & Elder Ellis
If you can't understand what I said above I'm sorry. I just wanted you so see the language that I'm speaking for a little bit. I'm still not that great, but it's coming along pretty well. This week is transfer week and I'm pretty sure that I'm going to transfer. I received a text from President Lopez asking if Elder Edem was leading the are 100 percent. I then asked, is he supposed to because I"m the senior, so I'm supposed to lead. Then he said, train him to lead the area. Then I asked, so does that mean he's transferring as joke and President's reply was, Elder, wrong question. Meaning, Elder Edem's not transferring. I'm transferring. So that's what I"m thinking so far. So next week I'll probably be in a different place. Maybe still here in Escalante zone, that's what seems to kind of happen. Let's hope not though... A new place would be nice. I'm praying San Carlos zone. It's still Cebuano, but it's more of a city. I'm liking the Cebuano now that it's better than my Illongo. I'm afraid to go back to an Illongo area. This week was not good really. We've been experience rain storms all week, the whole area is flooded in the mountains. It's hard to get to certain places, like up to Paitain because the motorcycles can't make it up the mountain when it rains a ton. So we've had a rough week with contacting people. Also this week we had a President Training here just for our zone. It was good.

Monday nobody wanted to play basketball. I was a bit upset. Nobody replied to our text we sent out to tell people to come and play. So all we did was shopping and then we went home and then a rain storm came. Nobody wanted to play ping pong either. So yeah, it wasn't that fun of P-day at all. I only bought a little bit of groceries, because I still had some left over from last week. So nothing to write home about for Monday.

Seminary

Tuesday we had our Zone Training with President. Did you see any picture by chance? Are there any on his Facebook? He taught us that we need to set up a 15 min appointment with a certain family at the same time every week so that we're constantly teaching. We'd teach them a simple message, strengthen their faith and then they'd start to trust us and we'd build a relationship with them. However, here in Mabini, we do enough walking that we go from one appointment to another. We never have nothing to do, so that's going to be super hard to apply here in our area. However, we'll try to do our best and apply the guidance of President Lopez. We have a new investigator, not really that new, but she's been in some of the lessons with the Diana Family, but we've been teaching her now with Mary Ann. They are friends. Her name is Leah. We taught her about how the Gospel blesses families. And who God and Jesus Christ actually are. For everyone being Catholic, they all suck at knowing who these people actually are. They believe in Jesus, but they can't tell you one thing about him. And they all call him "Papa Jesus". So... yeah. It's interesting. So now we've really got to focus on, "no Jesus isn't your dad, he's actually your brother. If Jesus was your dad... then who is God to you? Nothing." So all their rationalization doesn't make sense one bit. We also taught Shena. We taught her the first part of the Plan of Salvation. It's one of the hardest things to teach honestly. But we think she got it for the most part. It's not the in baptismal interview questions, so it's not something we need to target largely before baptism. However, we should still teach it so after baptism they're not totally like, what the heck is this thing? Shena is doing great actually. She let's us teach her every other night and she's really nice and accepting. We still teach with her friend Guia. However, this week Sunday was registration to vote, so she had to go register for that... and wasn't able to go to church, which is okay. 
 
Guia, Elder Ellis, & Shena
Wednesday we taught all less actives. We didn't do this on purpose, it was only accident. All the part members that there are, the non member wasn't at the home, so we ended up just teaching less actives all day. The Lumantad Family we taught the Plan of Salvation and they had no clue what it was... hm... And they've been members for 5 years. So that was good that we reviewed it! We taught Ernesto Ondoy, the leader of illegal gambling here in Mabini, also a member, about 2 Ne 9:51, which is about spending your money wisely. The Despojo's weren't home, nor at church, I"m sad to say, but I really hope they don't go less active... :( The Desuyo's were home, however, Brother, the non member wasn't. So we actually taught them the same money lesson. The Mom and the Son and the Dad all drink coffee every night. We told them to pull out a piece of paper, and a pen. They did. The mom did at least, Dad wasn't there. We asked the mom, "How many coffee sachet's do you buy a day." She said 3. Then add the cream that 3 too. Okay, so then how much is that each. 3 pesos. Okay. So now we're at 18 pesos a day, just on coffee and creamer. We asked how many days a week... EVERYDAY! Okay, no do the math. Then, how many years Sister, she said for 16 years. AYOS! So we pretty much did all the math, I don't remember the exact numbers. Anyway, the number we ended up with was 144,000 pesos, just on coffee. So... yeah. Maybe they'll start changing their ways if they're smart, but we'll see. They're super poor, so I don't understand their logic sometimes when they say, but Elder, it's good. Yeah but you're complaining you have no money to buy Rice, but you're buying Coffee every single day. You could buy 3 kilo's a week if you didn't buy coffee... so I"m not feeling any mercy towards your family. We also taught the Bawaan's about the Restoration. The father returned last week, but the Mom missed last week so she didn't return. Neither of them were at church this week, maybe because of the rain. We also taught Sister Dumdum and her family about the Plan of Salvation, the last part about where we go after we die. It was a good lesson because we can talk about it in more depth because they know these things. It was cool. 
Lumantad family
Desuyo family
Trujillo Family
Thursday we were super punted all day however still we taught Sister Jorolan about the Word of Wisdom. She doesn't have any problems with it and committed to live it. We just wish she'd get married. IF that happened, we'd baptize her the next day. Honestly. We then taught Leah again, this time about the Prophets. She didn't really understand. I think she's more interested in dude good looking young men talking, one being American speaking Cebuano, than actually about the material. So we're gonna try and fix that. Maybe it's a good thing that I might transfer. We also had an appointment with Shena where we taught her the kingdoms of glory. That's the hardest thing to explain because the Catholic's believe in Purgatory... which we as members of the true church know it doesn't exist. So that's always a concern that comes up with teaching new people. It was still good though and she's still progressing well. 

Friday did our weekly planning session and I helped Elder Edem plan to take over the area. So he's nervous, but he'll do fine. That's if i transfer. But we were only about to teach one less active, the Bawaan Family. We also watched their Filipino eagle which is way cool. We taught them about the Book of Mormon. The mom can't read that well, she can't see that well. But the dad can, so we told him to read to his wife. The we attended Seminary, which we're going to start doing every Friday to try and get the young going in their missionary work. It's working so far and we've planned a church tour for this coming Friday so that they can bring their friends. Then we had our dinner appointment at President Dalaguit's. We show up and there's like 30 people in his house. Anyway, turns out it's his birthday so all his family is there. It was way cool and we talked with some people and we got a potential investigator out of it. She was also a former investigator, it's the niece of President.