Monday, January 27, 2014

It looks like things are pretty great back at the fort!  Each and every picture just shows of how much you are all growing up.  It looks like by the time I get home I won't be the "Giant" anymore.  I'm sorry I haven't sent any pictures the past few weeks; I let one of the Sisters borrow my card reader and she still hasn't returned it yet.  That's just the Sisters for you.  Although they do make sweets all the time and they share with us so I guess it all evens out.  Before I get into "the good stuff", I would like to say that while I was getting my haircut this morning, I saw a little bit of the Miami-Spurs game.  It was really weird to see a basketball game because I haven't really worried about sports up to this point.  President Reeder also told me that the Seahawks beat the 49ers and the Broncos beat the Patriots to get to the Superbowl.  I guess the bandwagon fans won this year.  Poor Uncle John, this is the second year in a row his prized 49ers have been so close to victory, but have been defeated by "Birds" 
This week hasn't been all that exciting.  Transfer announcements are next week so I'm going to start packing early because I know for sure that my name is going to be on there.  But this week has consisted of a lot of punts because there hasn't been a male present.  The big struggle for Elder Villanueva and I is member support because our area is so far away and it's expensive to get to and from.  Another big struggle for us this week has been progressing investigators.  The other day when we went to go teach Jose, we found him drinking which was a big disappointment to us.  We truly thought that he had given up that part of his life in order to pursue better and greater things.  I guess the influence of his friends didn't help in that regard.  Although his wife doesn't like it when he drinks which is a blessing to us because I think we all know of the influence that women have on men.  On the bright side of the week, one of our new investigators is really showing a lot of desire to know more about the church and read the Book of Mormon.  This past week we gave her the assignment to read the first chapter in 1st Nephi and when we returned to talk about it; she pretty much taught us the lesson.  It was great to see such excitement in her eyes and to experience the joy that she felt.

 Just for kicks and giggles I think I'll share one pretty embarrassing thing that occurred this week.  On Sunday after we had attempted to visit "Helen" before church (the investigator I just talked about).  Elder Villanueva and I were walking past a basketball court where a few people were playing volleyball heading back to the apartment.  As we walked by the ball came near me so I went to go get it.  Now here's the good stuff.  From a distance I thought the people playing were female.  But oh no, they were a bunch of Baklas (or for a nicer term, they're swinging the other way).  So until I was out of sight all I heard was "Thank You Sir" in a voice that sounded like something you'd hear from Lady Ga Ga.  Yeah I don't think I want to have that happen again any time soon.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thank you so much for the package again!!  It was so good to see all the hard work and sacrifice that you guys put into that!  Also for your guy's information, the clothes were a big hit.  It is such a pleasure to be able to see all the kids faces bright up at a the sight of new clothes.  My heart was never more full then when I was able to see their smiling faces.  It made me feel like I was doing something good in the world and that I truly am making a difference in these peoples lives.  It was also a lot of fun being able to see the expressions on peoples faces when I gave them Starbursts!  It was priceless.

As you probably now by know, it has been cold here in the Philippines right now!  Well at least to most people, it's just fine to me but I guess that's because I'm used to having snow around this time of the year.  Okay I'll admit it, I hate showering in the morning because it feels like I'm dumping ice water on myself.  I must also must be starting to become a man because I have to shave every other day... well at least my little "Mexi-Stache".  Our work this week has been pretty good even due to the fact that it's almost literally rained for the past week!  Every time we step foot outside of our apartment it starts to rain!  Well the work must go on!  We were able to find Ann Bon's house this week so now we can finally talk to her dad about why he doesn't want Ann to be baptized!  We tried this last week to contact him but he wasn't there, on the bright side we were able to meet her siblings and associate with them for a few minutes.  Elder Villanueva and I also found a new investigator family!  They aren't really interested....yet.  They said that a lot of other missionaries from different religions have come to their house and almost tried to force them to join their religion.  After we taught them the Nanay commented on how respectful we were and that we seemed pretty knowledgeable about what we were teaching even though were "young".  I sure hope that over time that we will be able to spark their interest even more.  

As each transfer passes, each one gets faster, and I don't like it!  At the end of this week this transfer will already be halfway completed.  This puts into reality of how short two years is.  I remember when I was young thinking that 1 year was such a long time and now here I am nearing the end of my teenage years (well figuratively speaking).  I'm sure mom doesn't mind time going by faster but now for me, it makes me feel kind of sad.  It seems like yesterday I was in Primary singing "I Hope They Call Me On a Mission" and here I am in the Naga, Philippines Mission in the 2nd quarter of my mission. 

Well I love you guys so much and I am most grateful for all that you've done for me. Thank you so much for all of your examples and your love for me; there is no way that I would be able to do this alone.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Well I'm happy to say that I got a text on Saturday night saying that "There was a Ginormus package for me in the office"!  I haven't gotten in yet but I'm excited for it!  That's one of the great advantages to having your trainer be the Secretary.  

This week has been pretty fun. Hard but fun.  Tracting in our area is pretty rough now because the kids are back into school.  The kids are the easiest way to get into a home because I'm a foreigner and they all want to talk to me.  We get a few return appointments but when we go back they are busy or there isn't a male there so we can't teach.  There are only two members who live in our area and they're always busy so member present lessons are hard to come by.  One of our biggest concerns now is with Ann Bon.  We just finished all of the lessons but she still wants us to come back.  We don't have a problem with that, but the she is too afraid to talk to father about baptism.  She attends church almost every week and she knows the church is true but she doesn't want to get baptized right now because of her father.  We offered to go talk to him but she won't show us where she lives.  Now we are to the point where I should just encourage her to do what she feels is right and not push her towards baptism.  Pushing her to be baptized will only result in a loss of a good relationship with her and a rougher time with the next missionaries.  Well on a happier note; we did a service project for a guard that works at a school near to our apartment and might I say I've developed a greater respect for the things some of these people do to earn money.  What we did was probably one of the things that teenagers hate most to hear.  No it isn't wash the dishes.  We trimmed a lawn..... with grass cutters.  My arms were so tired afterward I could barely grab a cup of water.  But it was worth it because the guard seems really interested in listening to us when he has free time and even asked if "We".. not any other missionaries would come to his hometown and teach his family.  Unfortunately he lives on Candunates (which is in the Legazpi mission) so no can do for us.  Although we could have a good referral for the missionaries there.
I'm so grateful for all that you've done for me and for the many sacrifices that you have made so that I could be here now.  It may sound cliche but these really are the best two years that everyone talks about.  No words can describe a mission unless you have experienced it for yourself.  I know it's hard being away from you guys but I really see why the prophet encourages All Worthy young men to serve missions.  This is helping me better my relationship with our Heavenly Father and I am truly helping my brothers and sisters here in the Philippines feel of the love of the Savior. There's a quote in Preach My Gospel that says  something like this  "These are our brothers and sisters and they "Need" what we have" -Jeffrey R. Holland.  Keep doing what your doing and soon the missionaries will probably be at your door quite often, which is not a bad. thing.  Mahal ko po kayo!!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,
Well this week was crazy with New Years!!! Almost everybody was busy, gone, or drunk which made things pretty difficult for Elder Villanueva and I.  We even had one investigator who fell asleep on us in the middle of the lesson which kind of made me frustrated.  But might I say that it was the hardest thing to sleep on New Years Eve due to all of the fireworks; people here LOVE firecrackers!  Not a lot really happened this week.  It was one of those weeks where we got punted a lot and nobody really wanted to talk to us.  Well except for the kids of course.  Kids in our area haven given me three nicknames which they use all the time 1. Mr. Bean 2. Wacky? 3. Mickey Mouse.  Now why they chose these names I don't know; but they do.  I think I get called Mr. Bean more than any other one though because I love to make goofy faces.  We have 8-9 kids who all want to listen to us for "Bible study" so we just need to get permission from their parents first.  I think I'm finally starting to learn how to use my white skin to my advantage.
I know I put this quite often in my emails but I'll say it again.  I still can't believe I'm 1/4 of the way finished with my mission!  It feels like yesterday I entered the field and I didn't know a lick of Tagalog.  Now I still don't speak Tagalog very well (although I can understand it pretty well) and I have truly grown a love for these people and this country.  No I don't have the luxuries of home; but I have learned that material things don't mean anything compared to the gifts of God.  I love you all and I wish you the best 2014! Make it a memorable one because it'll go by faster than you think.
Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again.

(This is what happens when you only have two elders, have a curfew, and when baby powder is on your desk.)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Well it was so great to be able to Skype with you! That was probably one of the fastest hours of my life though; but it is okay.  We got our transfer announcements on Saturday and I'm NOT being transferred!  I thought for sure that I was going to be transferred to, but hey I'm not complaining.  I can do 1/4 of my mission in my first area.  Based off of my return date I am nearly at my 6 month mark as well!  It's a weird thought to think that I've been gone this long.  About our work.... This last week due to Christmas ask you can expect we got punted alot!  Everybody was busy and didn't really wanted to talk to us unless they were members.  The upside was that I was fed maraming beses (Many Times) from the members.  Even though it wasn't prime rib it still tasted pretty gosh darn good.  

Well I love you all so very much and I wish you the Happiest New Year.  I'm sorry this is a shorter email than usual.  There just wasn't a great deal that happened this week.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                              -Elder Cole

                                                       Service with a SMILE  blowfish?
"I'll be home for Christmas.."  Okay that was uncalled for; but I still thought it was pretty funny.  Well this last week has had it's high points, and low points.  My personal favorite part of the week was when we had our Mission Christmas Party and everyone was there!  I got to see Elder Savage for the first time since we were assigned to our first area's.  I also found out that my tatay/trainer (Elder Manicdo) is the new Mission Secretary and he's only two transfers ahead of me.  Hmm... I really hope I don't follow the family line and become the new  Finance Elder.  I hate math!  Transfer day is on New Year's Eve so I'll probably be traveling to my new area with my new companion on one of my favorite holiday's.  Well unless by some miracle I stay here and train, which I really hope doesn't happen because I'm not ready to be a trainer.  On another note; I hate getting punted!!!!  I'm sure dad knows exactly what I mean.  We were punted from nearly 60%  of all our appointments this week.  That's the one bad thing about the holiday season, families are together but nobody wants to listen to you.  Even my good lookin American self has a hard time getting into homes.  But just last night one of our investigators (Jose) committed to baptism on January 26th and his oldest daughter said to give her more time to think about it.  It felt really good to have something like that happen again.  Like I said before, whoever said that the Philippines is a pushover mission needs to get his rear end  on a plane and have a taste of what it's like.  Walking around all day while it's 90 degrees (in December) just to get punted is not all that fun. 
Well I still haven't received your package yet but now that I have an "In" in the office; I should know right when it gets there.
Mahal na Mahal ko po kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again.
                                                    -Elder Cole