Monday, December 29, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

The last week of 2014 is officially over and this transfer is also nearing it's end which means I can say bye bye to Elder Grospe.  But this last week was full of excitement and adventure which easily makes this Christmas better than last year; despite the fact that I still haven't received my package yet.  Last Monday we had the Ward Christmas party which was loaded with food, activities and presentations.  Unfortunately for me Sister Paasi and Elder Grospe found some Hawaiian skirts which gave them the wonderful idea for me to dance for the missionary presentation.  I bet you can imagine how that went.  All in all it wasn't too bad but uh... it's not something that I want to do again.  Then on Christmas Day we relaxed and ate with members which was the best.  I think I gained a lot of weight but hey... it was worth it!  Work this week was rough and we were punted a lot but it was as to be expected.  Things should be the same this week due to the New Year.  

Well I'm sorry that this email is short but there's not a lot to say.  It was the best being able to talk to my family and especially to my good buddy Brendon who is valiantly serving our country.  Oh man how I love technology that makes long distances seem not so far.  Well I love you all so much and I wish you the best with everything.  Let's all strive to do better this year and to make our Heavenly Father proud.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,
Maligayang Pasko sa inyong lahat! Well its that time of year again and Christmas is just around the corner.  It's honestly crazy to think that Christmas is here again; probably because it's been raining like crazy this past week.  In the past 7 days there has only been one day where it hasn't rained.  Along with the rain it's been super hot and humid again so I've been showering twice a day so I don't feel sticky.  You think after being here for over a year that I wouldn't feel it any more but I guess I'm wrong.  Hooray for showers!!! 
But this past week has been a blast... hard but way fun.  On Wednesday we had exchanges with the Zone Leaders.  Let me just say that after that day.... I was soaked from head to toe.  I guess that's what I get for not bringing my umbrella with me. But we did manage to find a new investigator.  Her name is Ada Caprecho and well.... she's a hard shell to crack.  She's super nice and willing to listen but she told us up front that she has no desire to change religions but she is interested in knowing more about the church.  Well I hope that her point of few changes in the coming weeks/months/years/as long as it takes for her to change her mind.  We also had our mission Christmas party this last week; they split it into two different parties because it's hard for the far areas to come here.  It's too bad that the whole mission couldn't be together but it was a blast anyway.  Elder Seegmiller and Elder Grospe(one of our zone leaders and my companion) played one of the works pranks on me that I've experienced on my mission.  The night before the party Elder Seegmiller changed his signature to the name of the AP's on his cellphone and Elder Grospe changed the contact information on our cellphone so I thought it was the AP's.  In short he told me that I was going to be dancing in the talent show because apparently news has gotten out that I like to do Hawaiian dances in the apartment.  Well thankfully they told me that it was a joke before I got to the party because I almost had a heart attack.  Now I can also say that I've watched Frozen for the first time.  Now I know why every little kid was saying "Let it go" ha ha. 
Justin was also baptized this week and it was awesome!  Not a lot of people attended his baptism but it was a special event anyway.  Elder Grospe had to baptize him twice because his foot came out of the water so he asked us why he was baptized twice.  He's such a funny kid.  Justin's dad even came to the baptism and he's been Less-Active for a while.  I sure hope the Justin can be the way to get his dad reactivated in the church. 
I would like to say that I've gotten my package but it still isn't here yet.  I got so excited to see all the packages at the party but I was bummed when there wasn't one for me.  I sure hope I get it before Christmas.  But about the Skype, I'll call you guys so just stand by.  I'll do my best to be on time.  I can't wait too see all of you guys!  It's nuts to think that I only have 26 weeks left (not that I'm counting it's just easy math).  I hope you guys have a great Christmas and I'll talk to you later this week.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!  May God be with you till we meet again.
                                                -Elder Cole

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

Well I would like to say that we've had a lot of snow this week but that's not the case.  It's rained a good portion of the week which has resulted in a lot of mud and puddles.  When you put the two together you get a missionary with really wet and muddy pants.  But needless to say that it was was fun week regardless of the weather.  Elder Grospe and I struggled to teach a great deal of lessons but we were able to find three new investigators.  One of them particularly stands out to me at this moment.  We met a woman by the name of Gem who's husband had recently left her and her two kids; one is under the age of 2.  When we first tracted the house a big dog came out and started barking at us; and for those of you who know me I'm not really fond of big dogs so I started to kind of back off a little.  But eventually we got inside the gate and we met sister Gem.  She was very receptive and really seems to have a sincere desire to learn more about the church.  I"m proud to say that I have more good news.  Justin is getting baptized this week!!!  I'm super excited for him and his family.  His mom even asked us to come teach Justin every day this week until his baptism.  Because of Justin his mom is becoming active in the church again and he's setting a great example for his younger siblings. 
The Christmas Devotional was also one of the highlights of this week. For those of you who haven't watched I highly recommend that you do so when you have time.  I truly felt the spirit of Christmas and of what we can do to really remember our Savior Jesus Christ.  Elder. D. Todd Christopherson told a story about a young four year old boy in Utah that had battled leukemia for half of his life and of the service that the people of his community offered during his last precious moments of his life.  They helped his celebrate Halloween, his birthday, Christmas Eve, and Christmas all in one week. Three days after his last Christmas the young boy passed away. Through their selfless service they showed the love of Christ and the love of God for all of His children on earth.  May we all try to turn outward this Christmas season and remember that the joy of serving far outweighs the joys of receiving.
Well Mom, I haven't gotten the package yet, I thought that I would get it at this last zone training but it isn't here yet.  Oh well;  patience is a virtue. I have a feeling that I could be here for another two transfers so I'm not worrying.  I love you all so much and I wish you the best the Christmas season.  I plan to Skype you guys on December 26th  at around 10:00-10:30 (Philippines time).  Mahal na mahal ko payo.  Ingat po kayo palagi.  May God be with you till we meet again.
                                              -Elder Cole

Monday, December 8, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,
I know it's Christmas time and all, but I don't think that the Filipino kids asked Santa for another typhoon to come.  But I am glad to say that everything here in Calabanga is good.  We had a lot of strong winds and rain for about three consecutive days but there wasn't a lot of damage done here.  But church was cancelled yesterday because of the weather which meant I had a really long personal study ha ha.  Three days of being inside the apartment just about killed me!  But along with not being able to leave the apartment (except to get food),  there were eight Elders in our small apartment for those three days.  That's exactly the present that every Elder wants ha ha.  Apparently our apartment is another districts evacuation point.
I'm sorry that this letter is fairly short due to the circumstances which I was placed in this week so there isn't a lot I can talk about.  But I would like to thank you all for your prayers and support that you've given me.  As 2014 is coming to a close I'm starting to get a little more nervous for what life's going to be life after the mission.  I mean of course every missionary is excited to see his family, but I want make sure that I've left everything here.  I don't want to look back on this time with regrets but I want to be proud of what I've accomplished.  Being a missionary is easily the best thing that I've ever chosen to do. I know I'm still not even 20 yet but I feel that I've grown a lot more.  Of course my personality is still the same but when I look in the mirror in the morning I see somebody that is a little better than he was before.
Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!! May God be with you around this Christmas season and may we always strive to remember our Savior by doing what we can to serve those around us.
                                         -Elder Cole

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,
I'll be home for Christmas..... next year.  I can't believe that there is only 24 days left until Christmas; it seems just like last year that I was absorbed in the "Tropical Christmas of the Philippines".  I guess today means that there is exactly 30 weeks left until Elder Cole becomes a "normal person" again.  It's a bitter sweet feeling thinking that I probably only have one more area left before I go home.  Elder Grospe and I are staying together for one more transfer which could mean that I could be here in Calabanga for six months.  Well I love this ward so it shouldn't be too much of an issue.
This past week has been full of adventure and fun as this transfer has now been passed in the the book of memories.  We have found four new investigators this past week through tracting which has helped us immensely!  We met this one old tatay who had served in the Philippine army as a Con. back in the day and he told us war stories for an hour before we had a chance to share our message.  After that I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with my good buddy Elder Kelsall.  He's from California and man this kid can play basketball.  Despite all my efforts I have yet to beat him in a one-one game.  I gave him a run for his money most of the time but he just had the end game magic to seal the W.  Anyways, during the exchanges he bet me a Mcflurry that I couldn't OYM a really cute girl and get her number and a return appointment.  Needless to say he got his Mcflurry ha ha.  Too bad he's getting transferred so now we'll get to see who our new roommate is. 
Also, we have been trying to have Family Home Evenings with the Less-Actives in our ward.  It's been really fun to bond with the members and to just have a good time while helping them return to our Heavenly Father.
Well Mom, I know you taught me when I was a kid to not play with fire... but you never told me not to eat it.  That's right, I am an officially licensed fire eater in the Philippines.  Sister Delicano taught us how to do it so I thought why not.  As most of you know I don't really get things on the first try so I burnt my lips a few times in the attempt to master this trick.  I have a video of it but I don't know how to send it.  I guess you'll just have to wait seven months and then you can see it. 
On a more spiritual note I would like to leave you with a scripture verse from D&C 58:27 " Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness."  I've learned that if we wait for someone to tell us to do things; a lot of time will be wasted doing nothing.  But if we take the courage and always try to do good to our fellow man, our lives and the lives of others will be blessed.  Take care and I wish you all the best of everything.  It sounds like Thanksgiving was a blast and I can't wait to join you for the next turkey day.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again. 
                                             -Elder Cole

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,
Rain rain go away, come again another day!!  Welcome to my life in the Philippines.  This past week it has rained nearly every single day which has meant.... lots and lots of mud.  It has also meant that our work this past week was.... well it's looked a lot better in the past.  Elder Grospe and I have been trying to increase our teaching pool but it hasn't been that effective at the moment.  We talked to everybody that we've seen but they've either been busy or they weren't interested.  I guess we just need to "Keep moving forward".  That is officially my theme for my mission because it's true.  If your head is always in the past about what you did, you'll never know what you could do or become, but if you keep your head up and keep moving your right foot in front of your left; the possibilities are endless.
We had a baptism coming up this week but we have to move it back a week because we need to finish teaching Justin all the lessons and have the baptismal interview for him.  Elder Grospe and I are also teaching a young man named Sherwin and this guy is awesome!  He's about 23 and a criminologist but can't find a job because it's hard to find a job like that here in the Bicol Region so he's working for a delivery company right now.  Every time we teach him there is a special spirit in the room.  He hasn't accepted the baptismal invitation yet but I feel that in a little bit he'll be ready.  This past week we as missionaries also hosted a missionary fireside in order to try to help the members get excited about missionary work.  There were about 20 people who attended which is more than we anticipated so that was great  The only bad part about that was that Sister Delicano and Sister Redline (she was in my district at the MTC) told me a little bit before the fireside that I was going to sing a special musical number.  Whoop di doo.  I'm not going to say how it went so I'll let you imagine that I sounded like David Archuletta.  On top of that I had the wonderful opportunity of speaking in church yesterday about "Strengthening Families".  I'll say that that one went much better than my musical number.
It really has become a reality that my time in the mission field will actually come to an end some day.  It just hit me that my sisters are going home next transfer and that marks the beginning of my "4th Quarter".  Now for all you sports fans the 4th quarter is the most important part of the game because if you give up in the 4th, you give up the game. All that hard work that you did in the first 3 quarters wont matter because you are going to end up on the losing side.  It's almost the same thing in the mission life; of course the good that you did in the first 3 quarters of your mission isn't going to go away, but the feeling of being a victor is going to be absent from your heart.  Missionaries only have one shot to make their mark in the "Record books" so there isn't time to waste.  Even the best teams know not to relax when they have a big lead because anything can happen.  Live. Laugh. Love. Serve. I love you all so much and I wish you the best with everything.  May God be with you till we meet again.
                                                       -Elder Cole

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad and Cole Family,
What?  I only have 32 weeks left?  Oh nelly!

First today on the agenda... My arm is not broken!  You can all ask Elder Grospe about how our 1-1 basketball game went earlier this morning.  He can defiantly tell you that I am back to normal and lighting it up from long range.  Oh boy it feels good to back to my old self.

Let's just start off by saying that I have learned a great deal this past week.  We had the opportunity to have zone conference and to be counseled by President Reeder.  Just a quick fun fact; back in the day President Reeder was the accountant for the Utah Jazz.  Now that is cool!  Anyways, he talked about the keys and power of the priesthood.  It really helped open my eyes to really of how the priesthood works in our lives. I learned that after Jesus Christ and his apostles were killed, the priesthood power was still on the earth, but the keys of the priesthood were lost with them.  It was when one of the bishops made himself the "Pope" and a little while after that the priesthood authority was lost.  Oh man, how much I still have to learn before I can consider myself at least somewhat knowledgeable in the gospel.
Here in Calabanga I find myself bearing my testimony a lot more during lessons than in my last areas in order to defend our beliefs. Elder Grospe and I are teaching two nanays who are both really devoted to their respective religions.  One is a Baptist and the other is a Couples for Christ (Catholic).  Sometimes during the lessons they will tell is straight up that what we said is false and then they will explain what they believe.  I think it's pretty cool of what they do in order to defend their beliefs and to share with others of what they believe.  Most Filipino people are pretty sensitive so I can't just go and say "No, that's not the way it is" so just bearing my testimony helps invite the spirit even more into the lesson.  Sometimes during those specific lessons I have felt the spirit stronger than in most of our other lessons which lets me know that that was right thing to do.
Well congratulations Mom for enrolling in college again!!!  I wish you the best of luck with this new task but I know you can do it because you're awesome!  If you can raise 6 kids you can do this no problem!  I still can't believe that it's almost Thanksgiving, man I am craving some home-made rolls and mashed potatoes right now.  But I can almost guarantee that I'm going to miss rice when I get back home so I'll enjoy what I have right now.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that when I get home Uncle John and I are going to have a rice eating contest ha ha.  I don't know how that one will go but I'm sure right now I could stand a pretty good chance against him  I've learned that I have extra space in my stomach that I didn't have before because Filipinos like to feed you until you pop.  Well that's all for today folks.  Take care.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.
Ps: I tried to attatch pictures but my computer is being pretty lame and won't read my card reader.  So next time I'll send pictures for sure. 
                                             -Elder Cole 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,
Life in Calabanga is what you could say.... Magical.  Magical for the fact that we have a Ward Mission Leader!!  Calabanga hadn't had a Ward mission leader for almost a year and now we finally have one.  In fact we had a correlation meeting with him right after church.  What the biyaya!  I hope that this can help us in our efforts with getting members to work with us because right now that is one of the biggest challenges for us as a district.  
Now what has happened this week?  Justin came to church yesterday with his mom for the second week in a row which was awesome!  After that not a lot happened this week.  Just tracting on doors, getting punted, and trying to what we can to get lessons and new investigators.  There have been some pretty hardworking missionaries assigned here in the past so most of our area has been tracted out which means we're "re-tracting".
This past week Elder Grospe needed to conduct an interview for some of the Elders in Tinambac which is about an hour away from our area.  Long story short, we rode on top of the jeepney which is one of my favorite things to and I got some pretty cool pictures of the ocean.  When we were about to get off I started to jump off the top like I normally do but some old nanay and her grand kids came out of the jeepney and stood right where I was planning on jumping.  So I grabbed onto a bar and swung my self back with one arm and ended up slamming right into the jeepney.  I almost broke my arm and honestly it still hurts, but I'd rather have that happen than me landing on a little kid.  Well that's all the exciting news from this week.  I'm sorry nothing more adventurous happened.  I'll try to wrestle a Python this week so I can have something to write about ha ha just kidding.
Well I love you all so much and I wish you the best around this holiday season. May God be with you till we meet again

                                            -Elder Cole

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,
Now what do I say about his past week?  It's been a pretty fun week, hot and rainy as usual but fun.  Elder Grospe and I have been putting the pedal to the metal and the Lord has blessed us.  We are teaching a Part Member kid named Justin.  He's about 9 years old and as quiet as a mute person. It's so hard to get him to talk because he is so shy.  When we ask him a question he just shakes his head.  But he is so funny and we're hoping that we can help get his mom and dad reactivated.  Thankfully Justin's mom and siblings went to church yesterday but not his dad.  He has a baptismal date for November 29th so I really hope that he can make it.  We've also been trying to get some new investigators this past week but at the moment we haven't been making a lot of progress; but that doesn't mean that we're giving up, we've just got to work a little bit harder this next week. 
We also had the opportunity to have exchanges with the zone leaders this past week in their area.  I thought I was masipag (diligent, hardworking) until I worked with these guys.  I can say that I was really sore on Thursday.  But Elder Seegmiller and I had an amazing experience with our last appointment.  It was about 7:30 and it was almost time for us to go back home but Elder Seegmiller (he's from California) wanted to go to one last appointment.  Now just a quick back story about this family.  Back in the day they were going to be baptized but soon before their baptism the husband passed away and for some weird reason the missionaries stopped going to their house so pretty much their teaching record got put in the former investigator section of their area book. During our visit we retaught about The Restoration and about Joseph Smith and I can say that the spirit was so strong and every time that we bore testimony we knew that they were feeling that same way.  Even one of the daughters who never was taught by the missionaries joined in on the lesson and she started to tear up like everyone else.  The power of the spirit is absolutely amazing and I'm just finally beginning to understand the ways of the spirit.
Well I love you guys so much and I wish you the best of luck with everything.  Continue to be the amazing people that I know you are.  Like the old saying says "Rome wasn't built in a day".  If we just have patience everything will work out.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.
                                             -Elder Cole

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family, 
Now let's play a game where I don't tell you of where I was transferred to, nah that's no fun.  Well I am now in the beautiful area of..... Calabanga.  For those of you who looked it up on the map I am still relatively close to Naga City.  Man I'm never getting out of here am I?  Three of my four areas have been close to Naga.  I want to go somewhere far and exotic, where I can finally wrestle with a python and make my appearance on Survivor man.  Ha ha, like that's ever going to happen. But hey, I'm close to the ocean so at least one dream came true.  My new companion is Elder Grospe and he in short, he's a basketball junky like me.  What a great companionship.  As the NBA season draws near, speculation of the new NBA champion team is the top topic in our free time.  Will LeBron make his come coming debut with a bang, or will the Spurs once again steal his thunder.  Okay Cole, snap out of it and back to the real world.
This past week for work was pretty rough.  Member present lessons are an issue here so it's hard for us to get fellow shippers for our investigators.  But on the other hand the ward members are awesome and I love them to pieces.  It was hard to leave Milaor Ward even though I was only there for three months but it won't be hard to adjust here.  We have two investigators Tatay Sisno, and his wife Maria who are awesome.  They are both almost 90 but yet they still try to do the work of younger people.  Oh man I really feel lazy compared to these Filipino people.  But at first Elder Grospe said that nanay Maria really didn't want to be baptized because she's a devoted Iglesia ni Cristo and on my first teaching appointment with them we extended the baptismal invitation and they both accepted.  Oh the power of the Lord never ceases to amaze me, that just shows me even more that every person has their time and we just need to be patient.  Even if we just plant the seed the Lord will help nurture that seed until they are baptized.
Mom, Dad, if you check my bank account it will show that there was a lot of money spent.  Yes that was me.  My luggage ripped (May it rest in peace) so I had to get a new one.  Unfortunately the guy who sold it to me was a very good salesman and I got the best one I could get so I know that it wouldn't rip on me.  Waterproof, it has a lock, lifetime warranty, yeah it's all there the whole package.  It's weird to think that Dad is going to be the bishop when I get home, that''ll definitely add a few things to his do list.  Also, it's kind of crazy that the some of the Jazz players actually came to play ball at Wilson; unless good ole Timothy is telling one of his "what I wish happened".  Well I hope you guys all continue to have a good time until this stud muffin goes riding on a jet plane over 8,000 miles overthe world back the land of Payson.  I love you all and I wish you the best with everything.  May God be with you till we meet again.
                                                 -Elder Cole  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

Thank you for tuning in to 98.7 "The Adventures of Elder Cole in the Philippines".  This week Elder Cole has just received devastating news that he will be transferred this week!  Yeah I was pretty surprised when the Zone Leaders called and said that I was transferred.  After being in only two areas for one year it's kind of weird to be one of those missionaries who moves a lot.  What makes it even more weird is that we were involved in an ET earlier this transfer so we were almost certain that I was going to stay for at least one more transfer.  I guess the Lord has different plans for me now.  I hope that I'm close to a beach so I can go running in the sand for my morning exercise!!!!  Boy now that would be the best!  

But this week has been pretty awesome for my last week in Minalabac.  First off, for the first time in my 12 weeks here we had an investigator attend church!!!  We started teaching the daughter of one of the less active members in our area and now she has a baptismal date for November 29th.  Too bad I won't be around to see it but at least I helped play a part in helping her come closer to Christ.  Things are also going pretty well with one our investigators Elmer (every time I hear his name I think of Elmer Fudd ha ha).  He has been reading the Book of Mormon a lot, especially about the Testimony of Joseph Smith which is awesome.  He said that he will be baptized if he knows the Book of Mormon is true.  Before Elmer told us that he's been searching for the truth for a long time and that he's attended a lot of different churches in order to do so.  But his only concern is that he doesn't want to pray to know if it's true. Elder Macaballug and I have been trying to help him realize that he won't receive his answer unless he prays.  He told us that he doesn't need to pray because if he does good things; good things will come back to him, or in other terms "Karma".  I hope that in due time that he will realize the importance of prayer so that he will be able to have the faith to ask our Father in Heaven if this is the true church.

Well things at home look pretty exciting!  I can't believe Jacob is already a teacher and Brandon is now a deacon.  Time sure does fly.  2014 is almost over and then I'll officially be in the last quarter of my mission.  What makes me even more weireded out is that Tim is going to be 12 when I get back too.  That's going to be a fine looking batch of missionary cousins in a few years ha ha.  Everyone is growing up so fast it makes it seem like I've been gone for forever.  Well I love you all so much and I can never express of how much gratitude I have for what everyone of you has done for me.  Every letter, every package, every email, and every time you say I love you has made an impact in my life.  I'm not the only one who has said and will say "Missions are hard, but they're worth it".  I would like to add "Missions are hard, but they're easier when you have family and friends behind you".  Thanks again for all the support. Take care around this Halloween season!  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                      -Elder Cole

        Bro Eugene Vallencia and Neil Garribay (They always worked with us when they had time).

 "Mr. Pogster" (Me) and Elder Macaballug

Milaor Bishopric

The skates got stuck on a bridge so it was a perfect picture moment. 

                             The Brosula Family: They were baptized after I left my first area.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

"Only a Bible verse can explain of what happened next".  With the Gnashing and Gnarling of his teeth he howled".  Oh man how I love Elder Bednar.  That talk was easily one of my favorites from this last talks.  It's amazing to see how the prophecies in the Bible and Book of Mormon are coming to true, the gospel is truly spreading forth across the four corners of the earth as we have had the great opportunity to hear general authorities teach in their native tongue.  I am also proud to be one of those 88,000 missionaries across the world spreading the gospel among the children of our Heavenly Father.  It's a big responsibility considering of how many people there are on this world that don't know the gospel, but it is possible if we heed the council of President Monson in previous conferences and work together hand in hand with the missionaries.  

General Conference was easily the biggest highlight of the week as I was able to watch all of the sessions in a two day period.  Thank goodness for technology, I don't think that I would have been able to wait to watch all of it.  Work this week was still difficult but we managed to get 3 new investigators.  If you all remember my last letter I mentioned that I had a few girls trying to flirt with me..... yeah they are the new investigators.  But honestly they are all really interested and they all have a great desire to learn more.  Their understanding of the gospel is also pretty solid which is very helpful.  Some people here don't really have a strong understanding of who God really is and about other doctrinal terms so we have to make sure to use simple words to fit their vocabulary.  

Oh yeah, we also had interviews with President Reeder this past week.  I am really grateful to have him for a mission president because he really understands what it's like to be a foreigner missionary and the challenges that we face (he served in Hong Kong).  Minalabac is easily the hardest area that I have ever been in and sometimes it really is hard to keep myself confidence up.  But he told me to just always remember that through prayer I can receive the strength that I need to overcome the challenges that have come in the work. I know that eventually I will see the blessings of these trials because these are the experiences that I need to have in order for me to become the man that God is shaping me to become.  

Brendon Brendon, he really did pick Rick!!!  I can't say of how much I miss Killer Bunnies and peanut butter bars at the moment.  It really looks like you guys had a blast.  In due time I will be able to join you guys in that great fun once more; and maybe I'll actually win for once.  I love you guys so much and again I want to thank you for everything!!!  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

First off.... I can't wait to watch General Conference next week!!  I know you guys have already had the wonderful opportunity to listen to it but I am so excited for this coming week.  There's nothing quite like watching General Conference when you're a missionary.  I don't know if it's because I'm wearing a white shirt and tie but I have found that I pay a lot more attention now than when I was a kid.  It's weird to think that I only have one more General Conference in the mission and then after than.... I'll only have 1 1/2 transfers left.  Boy that's a weird thought.  

This week has been a little more difficult than last week.  I've had a lagging cold this week and so it's been kind of hard for people to understand me because I've been sneezing every 5 seconds.  Gotta love life as a missionary.  Also it's been kind of difficult to find people this week.  Unlike last week where we had a pretty time finding people, everyone just seemed to play "Let's hide from the Mormons". Every time that we went back for a return appoint they almost always had something going on or weren't interested anymore.  But just for a funny story.  On Saturday Elder Macaballug and I went tracting in Iryang Sulong and when we were heading back to the apartment, we came in contact with a few college students who started talking to us.  The first thing that this girl asked me was if I had a girlfriend; because of my past experiences with girls like that I told her that I did but that didn't help the situation any.  As you could have guessed she asked me to take her to America with me.  In the end we ended up giving them all pamphlets and we have a return appointment with all of them on Tuesday so I hope that that can be a good event for them.  But when we were giving them handshakes this same girl that asked  me to take her to America told me that she didn't want a handshake, she wanted a hug from "her babe".  I can't tell you of how awkward that is being a missionary but in the end she didn't get her hug.  

Now that I'm thinking about it there's another funny story that would be funny to share.  On Thursday we had exchanges with the District Leader and like always he decided to come work with me. While we were working in one one of our farther areas, we stopped for a second to buy some barbecue for a quick snack.  For your information, barbecue here in the Philippines is a lot different from barbecue back in America.  Barbecue here consists of Ulo ng Manok (Chicken Head).  Pritong Dugo (Fried Blood), Isaw (Chicken Intestines, that ones my favorite) and usually hot dogs. Before I start I would like to say that this is why I won't wear tight pants.  While Elder Hodge and I were waiting for our food to be cooked, he ended up taking a bad step backwards and falling of the road into a little stream and ended up ripping his pants from his crotch down to his knee area.  That was seriously one of the funniest moments that I have experienced on my mission.  I felt so bad for him but I couldn't help laughing.  The funny thing was that the next day was Zone Conference so he had to wear shorts to Zone Training until his companion showed up with his pants. 
Well Mom, my Sunday Shirt size is a 15 1/2 neck.  Please don't get me a long sleeve shirt, every time I wear one I feel like I'm going to die.  Then for the regular T-Shirt size I'm a medium (I think).  Sizes here are different so I'm not really sure any more.  But it's good to hear that everything is going well back at home.  I really can't believe that it's almost Christmas again.  Time moves by so fast that it's hard to keep track. With all the Christmas music playing I think I'm going to get burned out of Christmas before it arrives.  We have this neighbor who already has their lights set up and they play loud Christmas music everyday so the whole neighborhood can hear it ha ha.  I guess the Filipinos are really excited.  But I love you guys so much and I wish you the best. Continue to do what's right and always "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith" -Pres. Uchtdorf.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                             -Elder Cole 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad and Cole Family,

October na? Grabe ang bilis ng panahon.  Well this past week has been..... amazing!!!  I can't believe the things that have happened this week.  Over this past little while Elder Macaballug and I have quadrupled out lessons in just one week (it's only 16 but for us that is amazing)!!!  We have really put the pedal to the metal this week and have tried to stretch ourselves.  It wasn't easy because it's been so hot this past week but I am so glad to see of what hard work does.  We went tracting in two of our farther areas and we have been able to find 3 new investigators.  First off we met an sister named Jenny and she is awesome!  She wan'ts all of her kids to learn about God and when we returned for our follow-up visit, she had read the whole lesson one pamphlet and she was filled with questions.  At the end of the lesson we gave her a Book of Mormon and looked so excited.  Even her 7 year old son started to read it because he was so excited.  We also had the opportunity to meet a man named Elmer who hopefully can become one of those golden investigators.  The first time we met him he was sitting in front of a tindahan (it's a small little store) watching his grandchild (who happens to share the same birthday with me).  He started saying that he recognized the wrong teachings in different church's and started to ask of where he could find what's closest to what the Bible says.  I can't express the feelings that came over me as we taught but that first lesson was one thing that I won't forget  We weren't able to contact brother Allen because nobody was at home.  We went there twice but we still got the same results.  I hope that we can contact him one of these days!

I think that the one thing that I won't really miss in the Philippines is the heat.  It's hard having it be 90 degrees with 100% humidity.  Every time I step outside I feel like I need to take another shower.  I start sweating from the moment that I get out of our apartment.  On Thursday Elder Macaballug and I used the air con in our room because it was so hot!!  Our electric bill is going to be a little higher than normal but it was worth it.  I don't think I've fallen asleep so fast since my first two weeks in the field.  

Bishop Sarto's son just came home off his mission this past week and it really me thinking again of how soon that's going to be me.  It's honestly a really weird thought because the MTC just seems like yesterday and here we are nearing the end of 2014.  I think I truly understand the phrase ":Life is to short".  These past 15 months haven't been easy ones, but they have been worth it.  More than I probably know at the moment.  Elder Richard G. Scott said "Everything good that has happened to me in my life was because I chose to serve a mission".  Or something like that.  But I know that phrase to be truer than true.  I have learned things here in the Philippines that I wouldn't have learned anywhere else, not at home, in school, or maybe even at church.  The mission life is truly the best two years (well besides getting married of course ha ha but I have a while to think about that).  

Well I guess I owe dad a candy bar when I get back.  Nice job for remembering it; not bad for an "old man".  Just for your information dad I don't think that I'll be able to solve the technical problems at home.  Sometimes I even struggle trying to remember my password for my LDS account.  But Elder Macaballug and I are both well seasoned missionaries here in the Naga Mission.  He actually got here in the field one transfer before I did but he was only at the MTC for 12 days so we're batch mates going home.  He is one funny guy and he's fun to have around.  It was a weird transition because my last companion was kind of serious or a "straight glazed Elder" if you want to put it that way.  So now our apartment is fun and lively most of the time.  Oh and dad, I think that picture was of Maddie.  Well I good luck with everything guys.  Words can't explain of how excited I am to skype with you guys in December since we weren't able to talk on Mother's Day.  I'll try to talk to President Reeder to see if I can talk a little bit longer because I wasn't able to call/skype.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

A few things have happened this week so I'll try to fit it all in.  First off I can say bye bye Elder Ursua.  On Monday night after daily planning we got a surprise phone call from one of the AP's(which is every missionaries favorite thing ha ha).  At first I thought we were getting pulled out of the area due to our recent challenges but we had actually been involved in an emergency transfer.  Oh what fun.  So now Elder Ursua is in one of the farthest areas in the mission.  It was hard for him to leave but he's where the Lord needs him.  Right now my new companion is Elder Macaballug.  He's from Quezon City (close to Manila) and he is awesome!  We're going home at the same time so that makes things even better.  He's one of those really smart techy guys so he loves to talk about computers and stuff like that.  I try to understand what he's saying sometimes but most of the time I have no idea.  Spects, RAM, Google etc.... Yeah I don't think all of those words are in my daily vocabulary.

This past week I also had my first experience with a flood in the Philippines.  The water probably was up to my waist (not that I went in it or anything) so we were stuck in the house all day! Elder Macaballug and I played Monopoly deal for a good portion of the day because there wasn't any electricity.  On the work side of the week, we went tracting in one of our farther areas and there was this guy named Allen who came up to us and told us that he wants us to teach him and his family about the gospel!  Miracles really do happen to those who put their faith in our Heavenly Father.  We have a return appointment with him on Tuesday so lets hope that everything goes well.  Work is still hard but we're managing.  "Keep moving forward".  For any of you that got my movie reference I'll buy you a candy bar when I get home ha ha.  

I guess now that I'm in the 62-63rd week in the mission it's getting harder to write about stuff.  I just want to leave with one of my favorite quotes.  "I can accept failure, everyone fails at something.  But I can't accept not trying". -Michael Jordan. If we fear of failing, then we won't ever enjoy the feeling of success.  No matter how hard life can seem or how difficult a trial may feel, don't give up.  That's one lesson I've had to learn right now but I can see that it will help me in my future.  Like the scriptures say, if there wasn't opposition the plan of God would be frustrated and we wouldn't be able to become like our Heavenly Father.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!!  May God be with you till we meet again. 

                                                       -Elder Cole

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

In the midst of these challenges of mission life, I have really come to know my Heavenly Father  and of His divinity and endless love.  Again this past week Elder Ursua and I have struggled to find people to teach and we both have been extremely discouraged.  I can tell you that there is almost nothing more that makes a missionary feel discouraged than writing a zero in his planner for lessons taught.  Last week we were only able to teach two lessons the entire week after doing all that we could to share the gospel.  It seemed like everything we did wasn't effective at all.  The missionaries who opened Minalabac did the same thing as we are doing so of course in my mind I think that it should work for us too.  But I am trying to see what lesson the Lord needs me to learn because the missionary experience isn't exactly the same for every person.  Some missionaries see instant success, others don't see success until after they are transferred, and maybe on a rare occasion they won't see anything at all until after they have returned home. Earlier in the week I was studying in Helaman  about Nephi and of how much adversity he faced before people believed that he was a prophet of God.  He  prophesied about the death of the chief judge and people still didn't believe him after sharing that revelation.  He must have been pretty frustrated because of the hardness of the peoples hearts; I know I would have been.  But the example of Nephi shows me that no matter how hard the work may seem, or no matter how hard the hearts of the people may be, if we give the the Spirit the opportunity to work in the hearts of the people everything will work out.  It may not be now, but it will happen.  

Also this past week our district joined together in a special fast so that we can have miracles happen in our areas; and I can already see small and simple miracles that are taking place.  This past week Elder Ursua and I taught a recent convert family that hasn't been able to attend church for two weeks due to financial problems so we taught from Moroni 6:4 about baptism and the baptismal covenant.  In short that was one of the most powerful lessons that we have ever taught as a companionship.  At first we focused on the contents of the scripture but the spirit eventually led us to talking about the importance of church attendance and then about the sacrament.  After the lesson we both looked at each other with the look of "That was awesome".  Miracles don't have to be large in order for us to recognize that they are miracles, but miracles are blessings that come after an act of faith.   

Things at home continue to look well and it's crazy to think that General Conference is next month!  Honestly I have grown to love General Conference a lot more here on my mission; no longer is it nap time but I have found that General Conference is the time when the disciples of the Lord help give answers to the questions of my heart and direction to my life.  I would encourage you guys to take notes and really try to listen to what the speaker is trying to say.  Even just one time, I promise you that you will learn something new.  And again.... I can't believe it's "almost" Christmas.  Well mom I think that it would be alright if you guys didn't send clothes this time because it's really hard to get the package to my apartment.  I'm grateful that Elder Savage brought me my birthday package when I was in Ragay because it won't fit on jeepney's.  For now I have no idea of what to put in the package so again... just surprise me.  That's always fun!!  Maybe a basketball hoop or a new shirt?  I don't know.  Well I love you all and I wish you the best of luck with everything that you do.  Oh Maddie, don't let the lice back!  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!!  May God be with you till we meet again.  P.S:  I might have another boil!!!!  Thankfully we caught it in enough time so it won't get so big.

                                              -Elder Cole

Monday, September 8, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

I am now in my 11th transfer in the mission!!  Where does the time go?  Literally I would like to know where the time goes, if any one knows please email me immediately.  And..... Elder Ursua and I are staying together for one more transfer.  We were both so sure that he was going to be transferred but well.... here he is.  Oh and also.... Merry Christmas from the Philippines ha ha!!!  They just started playing Christmas music everywhere so I guess 4 months is close to Christmas in the tropical islands.

This past week has had it's ups and downs.  At the first part of last week we really struggled to get lessons and nothing seemed to be going right.  But we had exchanges with the Zone Leaders on Thursday and after than everything just seemed to get better.  Just for fun though; when Elder Sondregger and I were tracting we saw this guy watching t.v in his house so we tried to tract him.  But he literally just walked away and hid from us when he knew that we knew he was there.  It was pretty funny but everyone has their free agency.  Another blessing is that we met the Barangay captain of one of our areas and he said that Elder Ursua and I could speak at the end of their meeting so we could introduce our message to the people.  What a better way to find new investigators!!!  We're going to their meeting on Wednesday so I hope it goes well.  We have also been thinking about different ways that we can find people to teach because our area pretty big but there aren't a great deal of people.  So we decided that we're going to try to start an English class and see if that can help us gain to people to teach.  Lets hope that all goes where there because I don't really know how to teach English, I just can speak it.  

Earlier today when we were shopping we saw some of the departing missionaries and man it made me think of how fast that day is going to come when I'm in their position.  But I'm not going to lie I did get kind of trunky for a little bit after I saw them but oh well... being a missionary is great!!  I also had the opportunity to talk to a man from Anchorage Alaska.  He made the comment "Hey look, the Mormons are here".  So I grabbed the opportunity to talk to him.  It was funny at first because I had a hard time speaking English to him.  Every time I tried to speak I ended up speaking in Tagalog.  For now that is a great sign because it means I can finally speak this language at a decent level!  But we talked for a good ten minutes and he told me that he had served in the Vietnam war and that he loved the Philippines because everything is so cheap compared to America and of course that it is easy to get hitched.  

Just some advice for mom, think of my mission in transfers and it will go by a lot faster (because from the sound of your letter you're already starting the count down).  I only have 6 transfers left and I can guarantee that that time will go by in a flash.  But might I just add that being a missionary is hard... and being a senior companion is harder!!  I don't think all of the stuff that I did to prepare for my mission could have prepared me for what has happened these past six weeks.  I've had my struggles this past transfer with the adjustment because I was used to having a lot of investigators to teach and not having to tract all of the time.  But here tracting is the main way to get lessons because our teaching pool is still pretty small!  It's been rough because tracting isn't exactly my strong suit but I've been trying to do my best to overcome that struggle.  Where I'm going with this is that no matter what we are experiencing or no matter how hard our situation seems to be; if we turn the Lord He will always provide. In His time.  That's the hard part for me because sometimes I want things right now but if we are patient in our afflictions like the sons of Mosiah, everything will work out for the best.  Well take care and good luck with all that you do.  I am so grateful for all that you guys have done for me in my life because without you guys I wouldn't be anything.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                           -Elder Cole

Monday, September 1, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

As the end of another transfer draws near I again find myself looking back and thinking of what I could have done better this transfer.  Life here in Minalabac is fun, but quite difficult.  The people are nice but their hearts and minds aren't quite open to accepting the gospel into their lives.  This past week Elder Ursua and I found ourselves doing everything we could to try to be able to share the gospel with people but on a few occasions this past week we came home empty handed.  I guess I really know what missionaries Europe feel like almost every day.  But I guess my purpose in this area is to plant seeds and have other missionaries harvest.  I hope that I can see the day(even if I'm not there) when Minalabac becomes a group and when it is the top baptizing area in the Naga Mission.

On the bright side of this week we were able to help a less-active member build a new house which was pretty fun.  I still wasn't able to do a lot due to my boil but it was fun digging holes in the mud for the supports.  Just a quick note my boil is healed now so I'm back to full throttle.   Thank goodness for anti-biotics!!!  We also started teaching a friend of one of the members. She is still really shy of us but she is very willing and excited to learn about the gospel.  She even attended church yesterday which was awesome!!!  

Well it's quite crazy that it's already September and that I'm entering into my 11th transfer if you can believe it.  Elder Ursua and I both feel like he's going to be transferred so I'll probably be getting a new companion next week.  I sure hope I don't train if he does get transferred!!!!  I still don't feel like I'm ready to train a new missionary.  But I guess we'll have to wait and see. 

 But this past week during my personal study I was reading in Alma about Alma and Amulek when they were teaching the people of Ammoniah.  Even though I've read/heard that story many times it still never ceases to amaze me.  Through all of the challenges and the rejection, Alma and Amulek never gave up their faith in the Lord and they continued to walk steadfast before God.  Sometimes I like to put myself in their shoes and think of what I would do, honestly I don't know if I could do even half of the great things that they accomplished during their ministry among the people of Ammoniah.  Well continue to be steadfast like the prophets of old and always trust in our Heavenly Father for He will provide if we have faith in Him.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                            -Elder Cole

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

It's been a pretty eventful week this past week, not work wise but in different ways.  Just for starters, I ended up having a boil..... on my butt.  Well technically it's on my hip line but either way it's still close.  At first I thought it was just a scratch so I didn't mind it too much but it just kept growing until at last Elder Ursua just starts laughing at me and told me that I had a boil (Pigsa)  Might I say that this thing was the most painful thing I have ever had in my life!!!  I was able to work Monday-Friday but on Saturday I could barely even walk.  So on Sunday after church Elder Ursua and I tried to get all of the puss out so we could get the eye of it.  Might I just say that I have a lot more respect for women because that was probably the closest pain that I'm ever going to get to child birth and it probably wasn't even close to how that feels.  I'm not going to lie there were a few times that I just about cried.  But needless to say.... we haven't removed the eye yet.  Oh joy! 

We also had a pretty interesting experience with a Less-Active yesterday.  At the beginning of the transfer Elder Ursua told me that we have a LA in our area who he is afraid to visit because the first time he visited them they got mad for not helping them right after Typhoon Glenda hit.  So yesterday morning when we were greeting members we saw her walking to the church wearing a skirt so we thought that she was going to church.  So when we went to greet her she started just yelling at Elder Ursua really fast so I didn't understand all of it.  Long story short she gave him a death threat a long with one of the original Elders who was there and one other member.  It was fun trying to translate to President Reeder of what was going on because I had no idea of what happened or why it happened.  I was just the translator (even though Elder Ursua is pretty good at English).  

For the work part of the week we met a Nanay named Janith who was very open and kind to us.  She told us that she is open to listening to all religions.  The hard part about some of the Filipinos is that they have the idea that there are many roads (religions) that lead to heaven so it doesn't matter which one you follow.  But she was really excited for us to come back (when I get better) so that she can continue to learn.  We still don't have any progressing investigators and our teaching pool is still pretty small but the work goes on.  The ward is trying to do all they can to help us which is really great and I appreciate their efforts so much.  The Ward Clerk lives in our area and he said that from 1990 to now, this area has been closed three or four times because there hasn't been a lot of progress.  Well I sure hope that I can help that change, but even if it doesn't progress a lot at least I'm doing my best to plant seeds for future missionaries.  

It's crazy that school is just beginning.  Life is moving by so fast and from the looks of it all of kids are getting pretty big.  I don't think I'll have my title as the "Family Ladder" for much longer.  Honestly I think I'm done growing now.  But I just want to wish you all good luck with this coming school year and work hard!  I know school isn't easy but at least you guys have weekends.  Missionary work is non-stop so it's hard sometimes to keep motivated but I know that this is what I need to do right now.  It's not always easy but it sure is fun and I wouldn't have it any other way.  As my mission is nearing its "4th term" I often find myself thinking about what it's going to be like to be home and what people are going to be like.  Life sure isn't going to be the same but I'm excited to see what has happened while I've been gone.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!  Sana po maiintindihan nyo ako paguwi ako ha haa!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                   -Elder Cole

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

This past week has been full of learning experiences that surly will help me with the rest of my mission and especially with the rest of my life.  Due to the fact that Minalabac is still a pretty new area our investigator list is quite small and our progressing is even smaller.  So that meant that this past week has been focused on tracting and trying to find new people to teach.  It's pretty emotionally draining to get punted day after day because they aren't interested or because there isn't a male present in the home.  Work here is defiantly a lot harder than back in Ragay!!!  But obviously I'm here for a reason and the Lord has something for me to learn here.  One hard thing about this area is that a lot of people speak mainly Bicol and I can understand it okay but speaking it is a whole different ball game.  Thankfully Elder Ursua is almost fluent in Bicol which really helps.  Gotta love all of the different languages in the Philippines ha ha!

This past we had exchanges with our district leader Elder Van Boreum (he's in my batch) and so I had the opportunity to work up in his area.  Well not a lot happened during the exchanges but we ended up eating dinner on the roof because it was so hot inside their apartment.  The sisters in my district also had a baptism that we were able to go to which was another great thing to be able to witness.  It's always a pleasure to be able to see someone come closer to our Heavenly Father.  But after the baptism I probably had one of the greatest experiences that I have experienced on my mission.  Elder Ursua and I went to go give a blessing to 9 month year old baby who had been in the hospital for five days and is still experiencing severe stomach pains.  After we gave the blessing all of missionaries (the Sister Cambell and Sister Tematang) bore testimony about the Priesthood or something along the lines and the mother just started to cry along with the father who is a former member of the church but was converted to Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ).  I won't ever forget that feeling that came over me and it made think to myself that I don't want to do anything that wouldn't allow me be able to exercise the priesthood that I hold.
It sure looks like you guys had a lot of fun up at the family reunion!  Yeah I can say that for a moment I was day dreaming about camping when I get home.  I still have some of the bug spray that I brought with me and every time I use it I want to go camping.  Well I don't have too much time left here in the mission so I'll enjoy my time here while I can and then I can look forward to camping with the family again.  It's crazy to think that summer is over and that well... I'll be home for the next one.  Elder Van Boreum and I were talking that we'll be back for the 4th of July!!!!!  It's going to be an exciting time to be able to be united with family in order to celebrate our Independence day.  I love you all and I wish you the best in all that you do.  Continue to do all that you can to follow our Heavenly Father and I know that your lives will get better.  "Wickedness never was happiness".  That statement has never been truer than while I've been on my mission.  I have seen the blessings of obedience and I have also seen what it's like to do things on your own without the help of our Heavenly Father.  Life isn't always easy, but it is worth the effort to be able to enter the kingdom of God.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!  Namismiss ko po kayo araw-aldaw at napaka-astig kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                 -Elder Cole

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

Well you guys have been waiting a whole week to hear where I am now
assigned so here we go.  I'm now in Minalabac (kind of close to Naga
City) and my new companion is Elder Ursua.  He's from the Northern
part of the Philippines.  Let me just say that Mom.... don't get mad
at me for this but I think his cooking competes with yours.  He is one
great cook and the great thing is that he likes to do it.  I don't
know what Heavenly Father was thinking, but he finally thought I was
ready to be a senior (I would have been satisfied with being a junior
my whole mission, it's a l lot easier that way.  Our area is still
pretty new and I'm the first American to be actually assigned in
Minalabac in like 4-5 years.  We live close to a catholic church so
most people are hard catholic which makes working rough sometimes but
oh well, the work moves on.  We almost literally have no investigators
so our work is almost pure tracting.... the thing that every
missionary "loves" to do.  Tracting's not bad, it's just a little
demoralizing when you get punted over and over again.  But we have a
lot of support from our ward which makes things easier.  It's weird
coming from a church attendance of 50 or so to 158.

On a different note, it was hard for me to leave Ragay but I'm looking
forward to working in Minalabac with Elder Ursua.  Let me just say
that it was an emotional night for a lot of people when we left Ragay.
(I didn't cry... but Elder Bolambao did).  There were a few people who
confessed  to me that they had a big crush on me which was pretty
funny because I already knew it before they told me.

Well as school is approaching I bet mom is getting excited to being
able to have the house all to her self for the first time in almost a
million years.  I love you all and miss you all greatly but my time
left here in the Philippines is almost up.  It may seem like a long
time but in reality I'm almost a returned missionary.  Take care and
good luck with everything.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be
with you till we meet again.

                                              -Elder Cole

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

Guess what??? I'm transferred!!!  I guess the Lord thought that 1 year in two areas is long enough for me.  I truly am going to miss Ragay, probably more than I did my first area.  I do love my first area, but I have grown so much here in Ragay as a missionary, but also as a man.  Well as my chapter in Ragay is coming to a close, a new chapter is just beginning in an unknown place (for right now).

We haven't had electricity here in Ragay for two weeks now and let's say that it's been rough.  We have had a curfew at 5:30 which makes teaching difficult sometimes due to the fact that some of our investigators have school during the day and they don't get home until 4:00.  It's been a fun experience trying to survive by candle light because the life on our emergency lights aren't very strong.  The city hall has a generator so we have to go there to charge our cellphone every two to three days.  But hey, we still have running water so I'm not going to complain.  As long as I can take my shower every day I'm okay.

President Saraus had me speak last minute yesterday about The Authority of the Priesthood and Keys of the Priesthood yesterday because the assigned speaker had decided not to show up.  Oh what fun!  I'm alright with giving talks, I just like a little more time than 5 minutes to prepare a 8 minute talk(which ended up being like 4 because I ran out of material to use and I didn't want to ramble).  But it was great because most of our investigators attended church yesterday for my last Sunday here.  

As you all know I like to put a little humor/or funny story in my email if I have one so here it is.  The other night while Elder San Pedro and I were charging our cellphone, we were talking and this girl came up to me and just started looking at me.  So naturally I put out my hand to introduce myself but she just gave me this weird look so I offered a fist bump instead.  Long story short, I was in her way of someone that she wanted to talk to and she wanted me to move.  Boy was that an embarrassing moment!!!  For all of you basketball fans "Shaqtin a Fool moment".  

Summer Break is almost over?????  Boy time sure does fly.  I remember when mom said that she was annoyed of the kids being home all the time because they were always fighting; and now Sam's officially in High school and everyone else is growing like a weed.  As for myself I'm only growing outward, not upward anymore.  Rice is killing my stomach but I can't stop eating it!  Well good luck with everything and I hope that things continue to go well for you guys at home.  Continue to be amazing and never give up in anything! "Missionary work (life) isn't easy because salvation isn't easy" -Elder Holland  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.  

                                           -Elder Cole

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

I know you were all anxious to hear from your studly missionary who just had his first really experience with the power of nature.  The typhoon was a pretty scary experience and isn't something that I would like to experience again.  We were evacuated to the meeting house because our apartment only has one floor.  There we spent the night with a few families as we awaited to see what Typhoon Glenda had to offer.  Let me just say that that was probably one of the worst nights of sleep that I have ever had in my life.  You could just hear the wind whipping and breaking branches and uprooting trees.  For most of the night I thought that the roof was going to be ripped off.  But thanks to the mercy of our Heavenly Father everything was all right.  As we walked to our apartment the next morning seeing the damage that Glenda had caused, my heart sunk lower and lower.  A lot of people lost their homes and two people even lost their lives.  But there is one word that describes these Filipinos... Perseverance.  Despite the fact that most people had a great deal ripped away from them in one night they still kept going.  They didn't sit and cry and say, "Why did this happen to me".  They said, "Let's get to work".  President Reeder related typhoons here in the Philippines to snow storms in Utah.  When it snows in Utah, we shovel it and keep moving on with our lives.  When a typhoon hits here, the Filipinos rebuild and move on with their lives.

Well as for the after effects, we haven't had electricity for a week now and shouldn't expect it for another month or two.  Oh joy!!  But thankfully enough we still have water pressure unlike some people here.  Right now I'm emailing from the SM (a really big mall) in Naga so I'm grateful that President Reeder gave us the opportunity to email.  But I can say that it's been a great pleasure being able to help serve the people here in Ragay.  My life has been changed through their example and their diligence to the Lord.  No longer will I complain about what I lack, but rather I will give gratitude for what I have, for I truly have been blessed.  The humility of the people is almost for me; a reflection of our Savior.  I truly am going to miss these wonderful Filipino people as my time here is halfway complete.  It's a weird thought thinking that I'm to this point in life, but I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything.  Not even for  an autograph of LeBron James.

Just to let you know Dad, Joselito and his family is just fine.  Their house is still standing but their yard is still flooded and their pig pen is destroyed.  Joy (his wife) is about to have a baby but I won't be here to see him/her.  But hey, at least if it's a boy their going to name him after me!!  That's not something everyone can say.  But I'm grateful for your support through this time and I love you all.  Take care.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!  Namismiss ko po kayong lahat at masaya ako para makita kayo sa SLC kapag uwi ako.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                         -Elder Cole

PS.  Just ask Sister Shultz or Google translate what I said.  I'm sure she would enjoy translating it for you guys ha ha.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Due to Typhoon Rammasun, (Glenda for the Philippines) we have not received any information from Elder Brycan Cole at this time. The particular area that he is in was hit pretty hard and it might take a few weeks before he will have any electricity or access to a computer to write. The church missionary department has been contacted and all missionaries in the Philippines were safe and accounted for as of July 17th, so there is not much more I can offer at this time.

Bill Cole (Brycan's father)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Magadang umaga po galing sa ung pinakang astig na gwapong missionary dito sa Naga Mission.  Just start off I would like to let you know that tomorrow a typhoon will hit the Bicol region so let's hope that it doesn't do too much damage here in Ragay.  It's fun coming from a place where I didn't need to worry about typhoons to a place where it's normal for them to happen.

This past week has been another average week for Elder San Pedro and I.  Due to school being in session right now and most of the males are working, it's been pretty difficult for us to be able to find new investigators or to teach in general.  But we've been doing our best to be patient.  Well I know that missionary work is a lot harder in other areas of the world so I'm grateful for this opportunity to be in a place where people are so kind and willing to listen to the gospel.  As transfer day is nearing, the members have started to express that they don't want me to leave and that when I leave that there won't be any more Pogi (handsome) missionaries.  I truly am going to miss the people here that I've grown to love.  I know I say it a lot but these people have become part of my life and all of them have helped me grow in the man that I'm becoming now.  

Well I've gotten a few updates that LeBron has returned to Cleveland and I don't know quite how I feel about that.  All I can say is that the NBA is going to be a lot different when I get home.  But on a different note, don't worry about me Mom, I'll be fine.  I know it's your motherly instinct to worry about me when there's a natural disaster, but I know everything will work out.  It's honestly quite the experience being in a typhoon, a little scary but kind of exciting at the same time for the fact that I'd never experienced that before.  Well I love you all and it sounds like things are going well for you guys.  Take care!!!  May God be with you till we meet again. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Another week bites the dust and my official year mark in the mission is only 9 days away.  One year in the mission and only two areas so far; I must be one lucky missionary because that means I don't have to pack very often like a majority of my friends here.  Although it sure makes things rough when transfer day arrives because the area and the apartment (even if it's pangit) becomes a part of who you are.  

Well now about what glorious things happened this past week..... to be honest nothing really exciting happened this week.  Although Elder Bolombao stepped on a dead frog on the road while we were walking yesterday and that was pretty funny to see his reaction.  But anyway, life here in Ragay continues to go faster than I would like.  I almost 85.2689% that I will be leaving in only the matter of 22 days  I'm really starting to realize what parenthood is going to be like.  At first it seems  they won't grow up and then the next thing you know...skadoosh. They're in High School.  On a different note, last night we had Family Home Evening at Sister Neo's house and it was quite enjoyable. Quite a few members attended last night which only added to the fun.  All I can say is that games here in the Philippines are quite entertaining even if they make you feel a little weird at times.  But hey, life wouldn't be as much fun if you didn't feel stupid once in a while. 
 Last night they also made me teach the lesson for Family Home Evening so  I decided to teach about Family History Work and of actually how important it is.  I remember when our stake had a competition for the youth to see which ward could index the most names; and I remember seeing that our ward had.. well...0.  That's not the Oregon touchdown O. But a zero zero.  It really made me think of how many relatives that I have who are just waiting for me to find their name so they can have their ordinances finished so they too can have the opportunity to live with our Heavenly Father.  I don't know why I felt so strongly about teaching about Family History; maybe it is Heavenly Father's way of telling me again that once I'm finished with my mission that my missionary service in life has only just begun.  

Well I would like to thank you all again so much for that package!!!!  It was such a treat to experience the simple pleasures of home.  I also think my Filipino kabahay's (roommates) loved the beef jerky more than I did.  I don't think it lasted more than two days ha ha.  But again thank you for sending the clothes... just seeing the faces of the people of having a new piece of clothing is something I wish you could all experience.  It's so funny to see the expression on a little kids face when they're like.."This is from America!"
I love you all so very much and I am so grateful for all that you do for me in my life.  I couldn't have asked for a better family.  Ingat po kayo lagi (take care always).  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again.