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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!