Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31st: New Sisters + Splitting the Area = New work to be done

Dear Beloved Family and Friends,

This week we've just been having a blast! We got the Sisters into our branch now and I'm super happy that the Sisters with us are actually way cool Sisters. Sister Turtal, do you remember her? We were assigned in Escalante Branch together! She's way cool, from Mindanao, native Cebuano speaker. He companion is Sister Uata, a Tongan, from California! So they're super cool and nice to be with, I'm just glad it's them and not other people. I mean, if that's at least proper to say.
So this week I don't have much to report on and here's why; so the Sister's got here on Friday and on Friday night we split the area! We went to the branch Pres. house and with him, he pretty much divided the area. I'm not going to speak ill of my BP, but we definitely got shafted. The Sister's area has 95% of the members so that they could work on rescuing less actives because Priesthood holders listen better to women/ sisters than they do men. So we don't even have any area near the church anymore. We got the poorest of the people area near this little beach area, all "squatters" we call them, then there's all the other rice field workers and stuff. Some of the area is actually really good. It's just super far and nobody wants to come to church if they're that far from it. I think the Ayungan branch is actually closer to them, so it would make more sense if they just went to that church... I'm a little confused, but I guess I didn't make the rules or boundaries for the church. We had an amazing 15 solid investigators that we were teaching, not all progressing obviously, but at least we were making progress. We now have 3. The same 3 that only come to church once a month and whenever we commit to baptism, we have to move their dates further away...
I can tell you about all our investigators now in my email since there's only 3 and we weren't really focusing on this part of the area anyway:
Amor (34) and Jeremy(8)--- They are way good investigators. Always read the Book of Mormon and have no problem praying after or before lessons. They know the church is true and everything. Just come Sunday, they have not a ton of money to go to church, so it's a bit frustrating... but all is well. 
Joana Comporaso (9)---She's the part member and we're really trying to work with her parents to get them all to come back to Church. When I got here the Mom had already come 2 weeks straight and was determined to return, but then... after that, nothing now!
Yesterday at church, no investigators, no less actives, and we now only have 1 recent convert that lives in our area, but hey! SHE'S ACTIVE! So she was actually at church, so I was happy about that! ;) 
I'm glad that we have an area that we've never been to before I guess because it gives us the opportunity to just talk to anyone that we really want to! Super cool! ') I'm stoked, but I"m nervous at the same time, but I'm happy that we get that opportunity to share with others. Maybe the area was cut bad so that we could focus on other people that we don't focus on most of the time time. Maybe this will turn into something good even though it's a terrible thing! We're honestly just trying out best, that's what I told President last night. We had to send in our actual baptisms for March and our Goal for April, just like we do every single month... and again... for the 3rd month in a row, San Enrique is at a zero... but we goal-ed for 3 for April, and I'm determined to hit it. Then he asked why we didn't reach our goal for last month and I texted and said, President, I wish I even had an excuse to tell you, but I don't. We're working our hardest and that's all I can say. He seemed satisfied and told us to just keep finding! I'm not satisfied though! Little upset, but I know that all will be well in the end of this trial. I'm not going to say that I love trials, but grabe ba they're hard, but I've learned the type of person that I really am even when trials come about. 
I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I've really started to like listening to Bruce R. McConkie, his voice just cracks me up for one, and for two, he's so just straight up to the point and in your face. His talk about our Relationship with the Lord is amazing and the Holy Ghost is the most important thing to strive to keep with you. It was really interesting to put into perspective! I'm trying really hard not to lose my head here in the area, but I'm really just working hard with my companion and we're trying to make the best of everything that we've got. 
Something cool I learned in church yesterday though from one of the high councilmen, it's a quote, but I just remembered that I knew the quote, "Ordinary people, talk about people, Un-Ordinary people talk about ideas, doctrine, and philosophy" I was thinking how true that it and how much that would change your life it we all just stopped talking about other people and stuff and started talking about ideas and how to change things and make life better. I honestly was like, this guy is awesome. He's one of the only leaders here that I met that I actually like wanted to talk to and be with because he was so bright in the gospel. He taught our branch, since it's 5th Sunday right, combined? the whole reason why home teaching is important and HOW it's actually done. The whole process, companions, what to teach, why, how, all of it. Super awesome lesson! I told him to come back and teach again next week, because our Branch Pres. was actually absent because he was sick! AHHH!!! but I don't think he'll do it again, but at least I learned something. That's like one of the first times I've learned something actually in church here! Like really learned something good and useful! LOVE IT!
So how is everyone doing back home? Is everyone aware that I only email you 26 more times? haha... My companion lovingly counted how many weeks I have left! Little turkey! Y'all better be getting excited for Mothers day skype!!! WHOOO!!!! Mom, I'll ask Pres. Lopez about changing the day so I can call you all, so no worries. I think I'll ask next week, that seems like a good time! I hope that all is well going back home and that the girls are doing well in school. I'll be home for their senior year! EXCITING! Bring on the sports games haha. I'm excited to see them play and Syd to gym, that's so cool!
I love you guys and hope all are doing well! Keep up the good work!
Keep reading the Book of Mormon and Praying! ;)

Elder Ellis

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24th--Lots of Teaching + Small Typhoon = Few People at Church

Dear Friends and Family,

How's it going back in the grand US of A! The Philippines is still killing it and super fun! Couldn't ask for better. We've had an amazing week, despite the turn out on Sunday, our week was amazing! I've obtained a new personal record for most lessons taught in a week with my companion, so we're just killing it right now! Unfortunately mother nature blessed us with a typhoon the past 2 days, not strong, but strong enough for it to flood some peoples houses and things and we only had 28 people show up to church. So that was quite the bummer, really the rain wasn't that bad, but the turn out for church was only people from like far areas, the really strong members, anyone who lives with in even a mile of the church, didn't come, because outside that radius, they were there. So palagpat! It's whatever I guess. We're doing all we can, and I'm rather satisfied with myself that we're doing that. So as long as we continue, my heart is at peace and I feel great with what we're doing here in the area. 

Our 3 investigators that we supposed to be interviewed yesterday for baptism didn't come to church because of the rain. So, we're not going to have any baptisms this month and I'm super nervous to text President that now because his reply will not be good, but it's all good. Like I said, we're trying the best we can. So we're think in 2 weeks once they come to church maybe 2 more times, we'll feel it ready for the them to be baptized. I just hate flaky people. I just want strong people that are determined to go to church or I mean do anything in life for that matter without being flaky. If you're going to do something, do it with all your heart and mean what you say, don't say something and then do other things, it just makes me so upset. I've talked about it before, so I won't go on and on about it again, but that's just how I feel. 

The Estares Family, the part member family we found last week is super awesome. The dad was drunk yesterday though, but told us that a little alcohol is good for the body, i said, "Brother, did you drink just a little" He said, "No..." So I said, okay you can't justify drinking by saying a little is good and your blasted out of your mind right now. What a funny guy. The grandma is a drunkard too... she's super funny though and always says funny stuff to us and we just laugh. I just can't keep a straight face when I'm in a lesson and Grandma is outside shouting at us, "MORMON ADDED TO THE BIBLE!"  Just super funny! The son of the family is 11, I think, he's not yet baptized, but we gave him a date forApril 26, assuming they all start coming to church again. I think they will, it'll just take some time. They said that they were going to yesterday, but with the rain, they just didn't make it. It's tradition here that you'll die if your head gets wet from the rain. So next week we're expecting them to be at church!

Sister Saulan is super cool. She's the one that her husband is a member, they just moved here from Manila. We taught them about baptism and Sister was all over like, when can I be baptized and stuff, super awesome! She's super excited to go to church and things. She said she was going to go today even though she had no money, she was going to walk, then the rain started, and she doesn't have an umbrella, so she just stayed home, super sad! She's still way cool. We gave her a date last night for April 26th as well! So next month could be a way awesome month for baptisms. The past year there's been 4 in this area... We're going to hopefully have over 4 next month! ;) So we're excited!

So as far as less actives go, we teach tons! However, our branch doesn't really visit them a whole lot, so it's super pointless all our hard work and teaching, but we're trying. They were going to visit them all yesterday, but RAIN! NO RAIN! So they didn't go anymore and it got moved to next week. We teach over 20 less actives families a week and not a ton of them are progressing. They'll come to sometimes or whatnot, but in order to come back to "Activity" you need to go 4 times in a row... which is super hard. So we're trying out best.
Okay, so I have like a favorite investigator, if I'm allowed to say that. I talked about him last week, Tatay (father) Sanchez! Well... Brother Sanchez is what we need to call him, but the respect thing and stuff here in the Philippines is that we should call him Tay, or Tatay. It's a super respect kind of thing, but the mission says to call them brother, but sometimes, Tatay still comes out. Anyway, he's super great! He was the one that was smoking like 2 packs of cigs a day! Now he's at like 5-6 only a day! How cool is that. I've never seen someone go that fast! He's cruising along and trying his best. He gave up drinking all together. I told him, I love you Tay, he was like, Thanks Elder. haha. He's a super cool guy! I'm super stoked for him to come to church next week! This week he didn't come because of the rain. His daughter is a recent convert, so next week for sure they should be coming!

Okay, this week we're getting Sister Missionaries in the area. I'm gonna try and do the best to split the area in our favor... hah. There's a certain part in the area where all our investigators are and if that goes to the Sisters, we're totally not in good position for the future. But, we'll do what we can. ha. I've nervous to see who they put here in the area, we need some tough sisters. This place could be a little sketchy at night. But, I just got a phone call 2 min ago saying they want to move their stuff in to the house today. So, looks like I've got more things to do on my P-day now... great! ;) 

I hope all is well back home and things are going with school for the girls and stuff. Syd, ya look great with braces! hahaha ;) That's awesome. I remember having braces! We're going to go and play basketball today with the zone like always! ;) STOKED! The work is progressing, slowly, but still progressing! 
I love you guys! Thanks for all the prayers!

Elder Ellis

Monday, March 17, 2014

3.17.14 Happy St. Patrick's Day from San Enrique

Hello Everyone!

Sorry my email was so long last week, I just finally figured out everything I wanted to say and I had the time to write it, they probably won't be that long though. This week was really good, one of the best I've had in a while actually. Probably because Bacolod was so much fun. I love hanging out in Bacolod with all my mission buddies, we just have the best time and we talk to tons of people and share the gospel at every chance. When they hear Americans speak the language they flip because there are tons of Americans that come here and marry Filipina's and they don't know how to speak, but we do, so it's awesome!

Elder Farner (6'5") & I before meeting Big John

Okay, so randoms story for the week:
I was waiting in line at the ATM here in La Carlota to withdraw money from our support and then there's this huge white guy with this Filipino woman. This guys got missing teeth, and just looked totally different than Americans. I was with Elder Farner and he's like, no way that guy's American. I was like no way. Anyway, we ended up talking to him and he says,"How long y'all been here." I flipped out, I was like, you're a southerner????? haha. We exchanged introductions and his name is BIG JOHN! Such a southern name! He's from Tennessee and cuts cheese for a living. He's visiting his wife, who lives in Elder Pulsipher's area. Just super funny! Just a typical southern guy, totally backwoods redneck and I was just so happy to talk to Big John. 

Filipino basketball hoop

I guess you saw some pictures of our zone conference. It was good although, President didn't train much. It was all from the Zone Leaders, the Sister Training Leaders, and the Assistants that trained. President taught us about fishing with a net and catching fish and stuff... mean baptisms, I guess. The day before conference, on Tuesday we played ball in the morning, super fun! But you already knew that, then we went to Bacolod. I hate going to Bacolod because I always spend so much money. We ate at pizza hut and that was just the bomb! We had a group of 6 of us that were just hanging around and it was just so much fun. We went to Chinatown and bought NBA jersey's and new basketball shoes. All the Americans. Do I have some new D. Rose basketball shoes, made in China, not real, they look and feel somewhat real though. Super awesome and now we're going to play in them today. I bought a Monte Ellis jersey, so I have my last name on the back. haha. Super great, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy a fake jersey for so cheap that looks so real with my name on the back! So that was great. We stayed at the zone leaders apartment for Bacolod Central Zone, it was okay. I was just chillin with Elder Farner and Elder Schow all night. We talked for a super long time and it was great!
Zone Conference was some really good training. Elder Pulsipher gave a great training on being leaders and companionship's and stuff. He said Caine and Able were a companionship. Super funny and President was laughing so hard because one killed the other so he says, "Don't kill your comp." It was just funny I guess. And then there was a training all on learning Ilanggo and stuff and I was like, Cebuano's better! haha. Everyone got a kick out of it, but it's okay. I'm good at Ilanggo now too, so it's not a problem anymore. It's all come back! I still love Cebuano more, but my tone is a bit off since the tone is different in the different languages. 
President, I found a very LARGE net!

This week we worked in a new area that we've never gone to before and it's brought amazing success to our investigator pool and less active pool as well. It's not super far away, it's just in the back of a different part of our area that's out of the way a little bit. Anyway, we contacted a man, he was just sitting on a wall and I just felt like I needed to go talk to him, turns out, he's a member! Baptized here, moved to Manila, remained active there, then when he came back he didn't come back to church because he didn't know anybody I guess. However, his wife, yes they are married, isn't a member so we've been teaching her now and she's doing great! Their next door neighbor... turns out to be members as well and their youngest daughter isn't a member so we've been working with them to get her to be baptized too! Then we contacted another Less Active family that lives across the street from them and they had 2 kids that haven't been baptized yet! So it was way cool! We were blessed so much! 

Cute Filipino girl!

So I know I told you that they might be putting Sister in my area and we're gonna split it with them, just like we did in San Carlos... so the rumor was true. Monday night they right and told me to find them a house. So I didn't think much of it I thought I had time, Tues and Wed we were in Bacolod and Thurs we just wanted to work and get our numbers higher because we spend a day in Bacolod so we lost a day of work. Then Friday morning the couples show up at our house saying okay, let's go look at what you've found! I was like... we haven't found anything yet! We've only had 1 day! They said, Elder, this is top priority! I was like, well thanks for the memo! Anyway, I was commanded to find an apartment THAT DAY! So we walked around for 4 hours in the hottest day of the month I think trying to find something and we were left with nothing! This area is super small as it is and finding an apartment is super hard, nothing. at all. We were just walking and there was a woman next to us in a nurses outfit and looks like she just got off the bus and was walking home. The thought came to me to ask her where we can rent a house. So I did! She was shocked! haha. Her next door neighbor was renting a house. We went and looked at it, perfect, the couples came and looked at it the next day, then said that I had done a miracle... I was like... no really, but okay. ha. 

The work is till progressing pretty well. So far so good I guess. As far as the branch goes, still a little rough. Yesterday we had a meeting and I asked them to goal for baptisms for the month of April and was actually laughed at and then when I asked again, the Branch Pres. stopped the meeting and we had the closing prayer. I'm so angry! This is what we're supposed to be doing and they don't want to do it???! What is that! So I was upset, but I"m over it! They are excited for the sisters coming and I don't know if they'll change, I really hope they do! But I guess we'll see!

We should have a baptism coming up on the 29th... I'm really hoping it's going to happen, it's a huge toss up right now, but it should happen. They're doing good so far, the only problem is church attendance. We're doing the best we can though!

Well, I got a letter form Brandon Dennison, I don't know if y'all knew we wrote back and forth. This is the 2nd one I got from him Yesterday. It's good to hear from him, he writes a lot, I thought I wrote a lot, his letter was super long. haha. He's doing good, so let his mom knows he's all good. I sent one to Sam Anderson like 2 weeks ago... who knows when that'll get there though. 

I love you guys, we're going to go here soon after I email President Lopez and we're going to play basketball ;) YEH! Love it! I love you guys! Keep going! The Church is TRUE!

Elder Ellis

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

3.11.14 Preparing for Zone Conference

Mine Epistle to the World,

WHAT IS UP! Sorry you're getting my email on a Monday evening and not on the normal Sunday evening. Because of Zone Conference that's on Wednesday, President is allowing us to have our P-Day in Bacolod on Tuesday. So we're heading there right after we're done emailing. We're going to have our Zone Conference in the mission home, FINALLY! I haven't had my zone conference there in so long. We're staying the night tonight in Bacolod and then it'll be tomorrow morning from 7am-3pm. So I'm sure there will be some pictures for you mom maybe tomorrow on Facebook ;) haha. I'm glad we get to go to Bacolod because that means I get to eat some good food! I think we've planned on eating Pizza Hut... you can tell how deprived I am here because we actually plan, to eat, fast food. Yeah... it's special to us missionaries for sure! Needless to say coming home to America, is going to be like walking into the Celestial Kingdom... just not as white and there's still a lot of wickedness. However, we're still excited. We played basketball this morning too, at 8am, since we're doing our studies tonight in Bacolod. Rocked it! Love our zone here, it's way fun. There's a lot of good players, so the competition is way good. My 3 was off last week, but this morning it was golden, but my floater is dead on, calling in the Derek Rose right now.

Last Monday I had a great p-day! One of the best in a long time. We emailed and then played basketball right after. Elder Wilstead was there, Elder Pulsipher, all the other missionaries, Elder Gibbons, just a ton of basketball players and so it just makes it so much more fun when there's good competition. Love it! I know basketball isn't that important to you, or maybe you wonder why I put it in my email all the time, but I'll explain. It's a good stress outlet for sure! And 2, when you just want to play basketball everyday, but can't, basketball on Monday becomes it's weight in Gold. Super great. Then we went and ate at a place call Charlie One. It's what they call a restobar, but there's nobody ever there, just us and it's super good food and pretty cheap. So we all ate there afterwards! Grocery shopping is a lot better here than it is in Escalante, but nothing compared to what it was in San Carlos. We have a grocery store that has more stuff than most places, so I won't complain. I can still get all the good stuff that i want to cook. And lately I've fallen in love with a type of meat (pig), but it's called Tocino. It's super good and it's sweet! I started cooking it in San Carlos and now I'm like the bomb at cooking it. We just bought propane last week for our apartment, so we can now cook finally. Before that we were cooking everything in the Rice Cooker, which is cook for some things, but uses a lot of electricity and we don't have that much money. We actually get the least amount of all the missions here in the Philippines... hooray. Totally sucks, but it's whatever. It's like scraping by on a budget. Literally. But we still manage to live. We ate at our Branch President's house and they were oddly surprised that I eat fish. I guess all the Americans that have been assigned here in the past were just bums or something, but they all shocked that I eat fish and rice, with my hands... (that's normal here don't freak out), yes, by my hands. My Branch President is way cool. He's an RM and his wife is an RM too, so it's always nice when they are RM's. The work seems to go a little bit better, but you can also see how the mission taught them to run a branch and things. I can really tell that Pres. Lopez is preparing the Filipino missionaries to be leaders when they return home. Too many RM's here just get home and that's the end of helping us or helping the church there. They think they've done there part and that's it. They don't need to do anymore. But here in this mission, it's training us to be way way way diligent in work and in leading the branches that we're working in. All in all, it was a good Monday

Tuesday there was no district meeting like there usually is because of Zone Training on Wednesday since it's the beginning of the month. So I haven't had to teach a district meeting so far! So we worked instead. There's so many less actives, I know you won't learn all their names and things, but I'll put them in here for future reference for myself when I re read these in the years to come. Brother Davao: he's 91 years old. He's a less active member that is super strong and such a work horse. He's the only person at his house right now because his wife is sick, we don't know with what, and currently in IloIlo, so the island that's across from this one. I can see it from my area! ;) He said that if his wife gets well and comes back to San Enrique that he'll come back to church, but I looked in his window while he wasn't looking and i saw a bottle of liquor, smokes, and yeah... so there's obviously other things. But this guy is so old and still so strong. No problems! Totally weird for Filipino because these people usually die at age like 70... so he's doing great. Sister Cariedo is recent convert, I'm not sure if she's less active as well. She hasn't been at church since I've been here, so that's 3 weeks now, but we've been to her house every week and are still teaching her. Her sister is less active, I think, so it's just a huge mess. Her dad just found a different wife and left his current family, nothing new for this place. So the mom is still active and moved to a different house, she was at church last week, but not this week. The daughter is Sister Cariedo, who we're still trying to get to come to church, but we're thinking the problem is money to come to church. We've found a huge new less active family; the Ombao family. They've been less active for over 10 years if my numbers are right. Her sister is from Manila is visiting her here in San Enrique. When we walked by she said, Elders come over here. Turns out her sister is still way active in church and sealed and is the relief society president or something in Manila where she's from. So we got introduced to this family of 5 that are all members. Although they don't seem that interested, that's not the point... we found them. I wonder if her Sister goes back to Manila if they'll let us in their house again. haha. However, the mom of the family came to church on Sunday with her Sister. I think she made her though, so we'll see what happens I guess. I've really started to like this family, the Magbanwa family. They all live in like this 3 house compound, and they're all members except one of the Dad's. I didn't know that till Sunday, so now I have a new goal! ;) Yeah Buddy! Tuesday was a busy, lots of lessons to less actives. Finding is still killing us though. 

Wednesday was great! We had a good zone training meeting lead from our great Zone Leaders; Elder Reyes and Elder Pulsipher. They trained on different types of fishing and about how to fish; Net Fishing, Fly Fishing, Dynamite Fishing, Cyonide Fishing. I was like, I'm all about the Dynamite fishing, then they pointed out that it kills the investigators. So i guess I've been doing my "fishing" here all wrong. haha. Fly Fishing is the worst because it's so much work and you only get one little fish. I explained that it's the art of fly fishing, not the fish, but it wasn't that funny... apparently NET FISHING, is the correct answer in finding investigators. Who knew?! So I'm not sure how I can use a net to get investigators, but apparently it's about our faith and doing everything that President has taught us to do, whether or not it work right at first, keep doing it because it's what's been asked of us. It's a principle of obedience and not a principle of finding necessarily. Afterwards we ate lunch then came back home and just got right to work. We went to teach Sister Joanah Comporaso. She's the 9 year old part member. Parents haven't returned to church yet. The mom has come for 2 Sunday's in a row now, but it must be 4 consecutive to be counted as a return, so it starts back over because she didn't come this Sunday. Joanah was supposed to have her interview this Sunday, but since Mom didn't come to church, she didn't either. So no baptism coming up this Saturday, we were supposed to have one. Super bummer. Just another trial, not surprised. haha. I've started just laughing at it rather than being angry at all the things that happen here, just kind of go with the flow. Now is the time my yellow personality is really kicking in, not in my work ethic but in my attitude I guess towards all the ridiculous things that happen here. Who knew being a yellow ended up being a good thing. We've also been working with 2 less active sisters, the Metusa Siters. One is Myra and the other Iyra. They are 2 years apart, one in high school and then other in college. Both speak Cebuano and the lived in Mindanao for some years, so they understand if I speak Cebuano super great because I miss speaking it and I'm afraid it's going to be gone in 6 months because I'll have had to learn Ilanggo all over again... Palagpat. Okay, so the parents of the branch president's wife are non members. So she told us that we should go stop by and work on getting them to listen to us. We stopped by and talked to the mom and grabe ba. So funny! She started talking about how faith and prayer were going to save her and I was like sister, if only you knew anything. Super funny lesson just because of the things coming out of her mouth, but in the end, she ended up saying that she didn't know how to pray... I was like, "Sister, you said that you pray all the time earlier, now you don't know how?" She was like... "Well... like... I don't know." So we taught her the proper way to pray, not just the crazy things that people say here and have no heart in it. So, she said the closing prayer. I've started laughing when people ask for Grace when they pray, without a doubt, even members always ask for grace in a prayer and it's just funny to me I guess. I've never prayed and said, Father, give me grace. It's like Seinfeld, you either have grace, or you don't. You can't have some grace. You either have grace or none at all. (Dad, that's for you)

Let's keep going! Thursday, pretty rough day, not too many lessons. We have these investigators Sister Febe and Sister Arevalo. Both of them are in live in situations, Sister Arevalo is a live in with a member, and Sister Febe is not. Sister Arevalo has 1 kid and Sister Febe doesn't have any, but still live it. So both of them love the missionaries, love the church, read, pray, follow all the commandments, we're just waiting for marriage and things to get going, but that will take some time I guess. But still, they're way cool. We also went to a less active families house and saw them inside, then when we asked "tag balay" meaning, like, come to the door kinda thing, you don't knock here, they all acted as if there was nobody there. Sort of like that Home Teachers scene where he's like, "Sister, I can see your arm" That's really how it was. Such a joke. So we won't go back there. They are offended I guess at something that happened at the church. I don't know, it's the same ole same ole here about people getting offended. Usually not because of something that happened to them, but to someone they knew or heard about... soooo dumb!

Friday we had a super productive weekly planning session. It really depends on the week how that goes. Sometimes we're just waisted and it's super pointless and we just want to get it over, so we do it fast, other times we do it the right way, so we're trying our best. This week was a good one. Then we had a huge day! 7 Less active lessons, 2 recent convert lessons, 4 lessons to investigators, and 2 new investigators. That's pretty big given that we walk everywhere... So every Friday night my companion and I have a tradition that I guess has been going on in this area forever and it's BBQ night. We buy 144 pesos worth of BBQ and cook tons of rice and go for it! Not that cool, but totally awesome to me! ;) 

Saturday was probably the dumbest day ever in the world. So the branch plans something called a 1 day mission. It's an opportunity for members to come with us split and then we visit less actives and try to get them to be friends with the members and get them back to church. This was planned by the branch, not by us. The given time was 1pm1pm we show up at the church, gate is locked. Call the Branch Pres. Pres. where is everyone. He says he's going to be late, maybe we'll start around 2 or something. We didn't have time to waste so we didn't even work with the members in this one day mission thing. We just went to work. Nobody even texts us to ask us where we were or if we were coming. The branch here is very different when it comes to visiting people and less actives. The missionaries and the branch are supposed to work as one right?... That's what the whole work of salvation thing was last year... I guess oh well? Not really sure. So we just did our own work and it was good. We went back to the Comporaso family and taught Joanah, she was there and we did all the Baptismal Interview questions for her and she knew them all, except for the fact that she didn't come to church, so pointless. I guess next week. We were supposed to have a bunch of people at the church that night as well, just people playing basketball and other activities. Elder and I were just going to wander around and talk to non members and teach them about the church, but nothing happened yet again, church closed, didn't happen. Bummer of a day. 

Sunday... worse. So we were supposed to have a lot of investigators at church and ended up only having 2, I guess it's better than zero though, so that's a plus. A few less actives were there as well. We didn't have to speak, bless, or pass, so that was good. We let the zone leaders know not to come since Joanah wasn't at church, so they didn't need to interview, dang, I was looking forward to it. Also, Elder Gibbons had to cancel his interview as well, I was supposed to interview a family in his area since I"m his district leader, and that didn't end up happening, super sad. There was no power all day, rumor is there is a circulating thing of taking turns because of the shortage of power and it relates to Typhoon Yolanda somehow... not sure, but Sunday was San Enrique's turn to not have power... bummer. We worked though, so no like it makes a huge difference. But we talked to our branch president about all the problems we're seeing just so we're all on the same page and at least he knows. Rumor has it that they want to add a pair of sisters in my branch...I'll keep silent how I feel about this. I think President wants to boost the missionaries to boost the work in this area. So maybe it'll work out better in the end, I don't know. Not a huge fan, but we'll see what happens. If they make us move out of our apartment and find a different one and gives ours to the sisters, I'll be pretty upset. Our apartment is nice. But it depends on President I guess and our branch president is totally all game for it. 

Yesterday Monday was such a weird day. It felt like it should be p day but it wasn't p day... so it was like a dragish kind of day. We worked a lot though and taught a bunch of less actives as usual. We found a new investigator at the Inario family. He's their son, but was never baptized. So, I guess that's a plus. We've found some good people the past few days, I'm rather excited in an odd way. 
Sister Amor & her daughter

Sorry we're going to Bacolod now and so time is a bit short. I hope all is well with you back home and I love you so much and I hope you're all doing great. Congrats to Ash and Sam on the work promotions and school things, that's awesome. Syd, keep up the gymnastics. Mom and Dad, I guess just keep doing what you do best. haha. I love you so much! I guess I'll be hitting my 6 months to go mark next week. Pretty exciting ;) haha. No, I'm not trunky! Love you guys!

Elder Ellis

Monday, March 3, 2014

3.3.14 District Leader and Serving Less Actives

Dear Friends and Family,

San Enrique Elders Ellis & Urgelles
Well, I'm exhausted. I don't know how to explain that. I'm just dead beat tired exhausted. I'm sure there should be some punctuation in there somewhere, but my backspace is broken and it doesn't stick to the computer and it's flustering me right now... so I'm trying my best. We've worked so hard this week. Only to have the trial of one of investigators show up at church... hooray. I hate weeks like this. It's almost as if working so hard and doing all the things that we know are right, nothing, same ole' same ole'. 

Last Monday at least I got to relieve some of the stress by playing so basketball. Since we haven't played in awhile I wasn't that good! I was so upset, so I think I got even more stressed out, but it's okay. It's just basketball for fun, not a big deal. Monday night we taught some less active families. There were also calls for transfers for Tuesday morning, we didn't get anything, but our district did. So... I don't know if you know this, but I'm now the District Leader. There are only 4 Elders in my district, so it's not a big deal. Elder Gibbons is in my district and his companion is just a brother right now, a local member on a "short term" mission. Is what we call is here. We're in shortage I guess of missionaries. After all the Tacloban people came we opened some new areas and now that they're all gone, we've had a shortage in missionaries. So it's just the four of us in the district. It makes for an awkward district meeting sometimes... but all will be well I guess. 

So we have new planner since it's the start of a new transfer today and I left my old planner at home, so I totally don't have my daily list of things that we did, but I'll try my best to remember everything.

Tuesday we had no district meeting because of transfers so there was no district meeting so we decided to just work all week. We've decided also to find new less actives that hopefully have part members in them and ask everyone for referrals, no success, but also for less actives that live in their parts of the town. We've contacted 6 new less active families this week! Super awesome actually. They said they'll come to church if they have time... but who knows when that will be or what that means... frustrating thing less actives are. It's all good though I guess. 

We've found a new less active sister, 23 years old, who's actually really cool. She's been less active for about 3 years, we don't know why, we asked and she didn't say much. She said that she wants to come back to church though, so that's the important part. So we've been working hard to get her to come. She's got friends and stuff too. Personally I think there's a family problem. We talked to her dad and he stopped our conversation so that he could have a smoke. He's a member as well... so I think there's some stuff going on there. 

We also found a new less active family that has some non members living there. I forgot their name, I think it's Inario Family. Anyway, they actually bake bread. Dad! You would get a kick out of this house. It's a bamboo house like most houses here, but inside they have the gigantic brick oven! They fed us some fresh baked bread and it was super good. We shared to the whole family and they are way cool. They've been less active for quite some time now, but I didn't see any type of envy or anything towards the church, just more like, they haven't come to church in a long time and are maybe shy to come back. And they bake on Sunday mornings for orders that they have. So that's going to be the problem that we have for them to not bake on Sunday's so that they can go to church. They make really good bread though... haha. 

Gigantic bread oven.....awesome!
We had this Valentines day activity this week... It was all the couples of the branch. It was super fun and Elder and I were in charge of helping and meeting the less actives that came. It was successful and we did contact one family that we've now visited. Pretty cool. It was funny since everyone was supposed to bring a date and then there's just me and Elder... so it was a ball. Good church activity.

All our investigators didn't even come to church this week. We gave dates to 3 people in the Depedro Family, mom and her 2 kids, and she was great! And then all of a sudden she just doesn't come to church. We let her know that her baptism can't continue unless she goes to church, she said, Yes Elders no worries, We'll come to church... then... not at church. Same thing with Sister Balijong, her husband is an investigator as well, then boom, not a church. Even the Comporaso family. Sister and her kids have been at church for a solid 3 weeks now, her daughter that hasn't been baptized is supposed to be baptized next Saturday, they weren't even at church! We don't know why... WHY DON'T THEY COME TO CHURCH????! That's the thing that frustrates me so much here is that people say yes and they actually mean NO. Just stop lying to me already!!!! Then they tell me they have no money to go to church and they're drinking a coke or something. The same price it would be to go to church... just... gr... so frustrating sometimes. But I'm not going to do what a lot of other missionaries and pay for them to go to church and things like that. I don't think it's a smart idea. It's definitely not a smart idea. And I really dislike those who choose that action to get investigators at church. 

Anyway, our work this week was a lot. We have over 40 lessons taught this week, I don't know if that's a lot, but it's a lot for me I think... I know there's other areas that get more than that, but that's high for this area. We're always getting compared to other missionaries here though. Like missionaries from the past... people say, we use to work with the missionaries all the time, and now they're less active. It totally makes no sense, but that's what they say. And then I always ask... so what happened? And then they say we don't know. I mean, that's like how I use to answer dad, "Son, why'd you do that?" My answer was always, " I don't know"... now I know how Dad always felt. aah. Sorry Dad! 

So, it looks like we'll have zone conference next week... I'm not sure on the details. I think we're staying in Bacolod overnight at mission apartments there, so it should be fun. All day event and I bet you're excited mom for pictures. haha. I'll try and jump into some. I'm sorry I forgot my planner and that this email is terrible. I just feel like all my days are super blurred into one long day. That's just the life here I guess. But I'm creeping up on my 18 month mark. Super crazy! Mom's counting fast Sundays! haha. That's great! ;)
So, I apologize for having a terrible email this week. I wish I wouldn't have forgotten my planner because I'm still working at memorizing names and places and stuff. Just know that we're killing it right now as far as working and just being outside. President has also banned us from having exchanges this month so that we can focus on our work only... so... that sucks. I really look forward to exchanges, but this whole month we're not allowed to have any. I hope that all is well back home and you're doing good. I'll remember my planner next week. Sorry again for the terrible email. 


Found a cool hat at church!

I just want to leave my testimony. I know I don't share it as often as I should to you and things, but I do know the work that we're doing is a true work. I've seen the Hand of the Lord in the work many times and I'm praying that i"ll see it again here soon in my area. With things being really hard, it's hard to explain sometimes, so I'll just leave it at it's hard. But I know the Lord will help us. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God the Father and Jesus the Christ. There's no way that that book isn't true! I've been reading a lot on Joseph Smith lately and that man was as true a prophet as the prophets of Old; Moses, Abraham, and Isaiah. A true and living prophet of God the Father! I know the church is true. I know it! 
Have a great week!

Elder Ellis