Sunday, November 24, 2013

My new companion is Elder Villanueva!  He is from the same batch of Elder Manicdo so both of my tatay's will go home at the same time.  He's from Ilooiloo which is close to where Judy is from.  This guy is so funny, he has so much energy and he I know he truly cares about me.  We've only been together for a little less than a week now and I can already see a  big progression in my Tagalog thanks to him!  Almost every second of the day he is asking me what stuff is in Tagalog and if I don't know he tells me.  About our work.... well this week has had a lot of punts!  We even had one day where we weren't able to teach one lesson!  We have one difficult area; there aren't a lot of members here so it's hard to get member present lessons along with being able to teach single women.  But Ann Bon (one of our progressing investigators) finally came to church this last week and she looked so excited!  Her boyfriend Rading is a less-active member and his mother came to church as well.  Rading even wore a white shirt and tie.  He only had one tie so I gave him two of mine; I just can't not want to help these people.  They've changed my life.  A family like the Saqullo's only comes around once in a great while.  But yesterday we gave a blessing to a RC Brother Benjamin.  He's 89 years old and he is the nicest person I have ever met in my life. He doesn't know Tagalog very well (He speaks Ilookano or however you spell it) but yet he still comes to church every week.  It was a very humbling moment when I walked into the room and saw him lying on the bed with the room lit by candle light.  He hadn't eaten anything for two days and he didn't even have enough strength to sit up so Bro. Olivar had to help him while we gave him the blessing.  I almost cried during the blessing because I really do care about this man; when you look into his eyes it's like you're looking at the Savior.  They're filled with love and compassion for everyone. These people are defiantly very special to our Father in Heaven, you know it by even just looking at these people.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Well I have officially completed my training!!!  It's a really weird thought thinking that I've already been on my mission for 4 months now.  Elder Manicdo is being transferred tomorrow and I truly am going to miss this Elder.  He's been a great example to me and has given me a new insight on missionary work.  This week has been really rough to get lessons because everyone seems to be busy or not at home.  But on the bright side Elder Manicdo and I have gotten 8 new investigators this week so now our teaching pool is finally at a decent size.  Opening a new area is very difficult; especially when your area is far from the church so people have a really hard time attending church.  It's about 50 pesos per head total just to attend church so it's not very cheap.  This part of the reason why we have a lot of investigators and very few progressing investigators.  The highlight of the week came on Saturday for Andrew's baptism!  He is a very special young man; he completely turned his life around in order to be baptized.  He kept every commitment without hesitation and always was very willing to participate.  When I stood in the water with him I truly felt the love that our Heavenly Father has for His children.  After the baptism he told me that I was his idol because even though I don't know the language very well, I tried my best to teach in a way that he could understand and that he truly felt like I loved and cared about him.  I'm not going to lie I started to tear up when he said that.  But he also said that he's preparing to serve a mission in a year!  I couldn't be more happy with my decision to serve a mission.  Hands down this is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but this is easily the most rewarding thing that I've ever done.  I love you all and I'm grateful for your influence in my life.  Take Care!!  Mahal na Mahal Kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again.
Doing what I Love! Basketball!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thankfully typhoon Yulanda really didn't do a whole lot of damage to our area.  We didn't have electricity for a day but that was the worst of it.  The winds were pretty fierce and it rained off and on for the whole day so we had to stay inside all day which was really boring. I don't know why any missionary in his right mind would give up working to stay inside all day long.  All I can say that it is definitely a different experience being involved in "One of the worst calamities in Philippines history". On a different note; we have two baptisms this week for Andrew and Diana and I am so excited for it!  This is the last full week of my training so I'm glad I get to end it on a good note.  It's going to be hard  leaving Elder Manicdo, I love this guy with all of my heart.  He has taught me so much about how to be a good missionary and he has also played a huge role (along with the Spirit of course) in learning the language.  At this point in time I can finally lead all of the lessons comfortably and I can hold a steady conversation for a while until people get the impression that I know Tagalog better than I actually do and start speaking faster than I can translate.  But this week has had it's ups and downs.  A big down was the Typhoon of course so we couldn't work for a day. But even a super typhoon can't stop the work from progressing.  On Sunday when we were tracting; Elder Manicdo and I met a family who owned a farm and lived a very modest life.  They had 8 people living in a small three room home with sheets for dividers which is very common here.  When we started to teach a very special spirit came into the lesson.  After the lesson Elder Manicdo told me to invite them to be baptized  and in my mind I thought "You're crazy, we just met these people today".  But when I did, two of the children accepted the invitation and the nanay said that after she prayed about it she would let us know her answer.  It was another experience that testified to me of how many people the Lord is preparing in his vineyard; all we need to do is to pick them off of the bush.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been one that I will not easily forget.  First off Elder Manicdo and I still haven't moved into our apartment yet!  They're having some problems with the contract etc. so we still have to travel 40 minutes just to get to our area.  But on the good end of things Elder Manicdo and I have gained 8 new investigators this week and I'm so excited to be able to teach all of them.  On another good note Elder Manicdo and I have two baptisms on November 16th and Andrew asked be to be his "Baptizer", Diana (our other investigator) asked Elder Mac.  But the highlight of the week came just last night (Nov. 3rd).  We've been teach a less active family in our ward and their son Rading has a girlfriend who's a non-member and lives with his family because she has family problems.  We've only been teaching Sister Ann Bon for about two weeks and she doesn't have a big religious background so we have had to take the lessons really slow and try to make the doctrine as simple as we could.  But last night Elder Manicdo had me extend the Baptismal invitation and she accepted!!  It was one of the greatest things to happen so far on my mission.  The expression on her face was priceless when she accepted the invitation; it was as if there was a new light that came into her eyes.  Afterwards she pulled me to the side and told me of "How Talented I am at Tagalog".  It really touched me; and I must be a big softy now because I started to tear up.  I think there must have been dust in my eye or something like that ha ha.  I am so grateful to have been called to this mission because I have met some of my dearest friends and I am among the people of one of the greatest nations in all of the world.  I am so grateful for all of the support that you've given to me and I miss you all greatly!  Mahal ko Kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again.