Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Maray na Hapon sa inyong gabos, (Good Afternoon in Bicol)

Hmm... I'm already beginning the third week of the transfer; boy that was fast.  Things in Ragay have been pretty exciting except for the fact that I was sick on Wednesday.  But even despite that fact; Elder Joaquin and I were able to teach 23 lessons for the second week in a row.  We are teaching a family (Bordon) who just accepted the baptismal invitation and they are so excited for it!  The other Elders here have a baptism on the 15th of March and we invited them to attend that and they started asking all of these questions which was just marvelous.  It's so much fun to see the excitement of these Filipino people when they accept the gospel in their lives.  We have about 10 people who have baptismal goal dates but only a few are attending church which is the big struggle for us.  Well... the gospel is still true as Elder Watson would say.  For once not a lot that was extremely funny happened this week.  I'm sorry that you can't laugh at my own self stupidity or clumsiness this week. 

If you didn't know already Brendon emailed me and told me that he's stationed in California right now but he's going to Japan and then Australia.  I'm alright with that; he's pretty close to me.  Oh yeah Mom, I don't think Ipads fly either so be careful with it.  Due to the fact that I can't go to Naga and there's not an ATM for about two hours... I have not been able to enjoy the goodness of a Big Mac yet from Grandma. Maybe if Elder Joaquin is transferred in March I'll go get one.  President Reeder is really focusing on the work in the Ragay area so he really expects a lot from us.  Which is why he took away our privilege of going to Naga on P-day because it takes too much time.  There's only one actual mini-mart in Ragay so our choices are pretty limited here.  But I'll live.   I love you guys and I love hearing the updates from home.  Keep up the good work!!!! Mahal ko po kayo pamilya ko!!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                            -Elder Cole

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Well here is the news that you've all been waiting for.  I was transferred to Ragay.  It's a small little area about 2 hours North of Naga City.  The funny thing is that this is the same exact area that Elder Manicdo was transferred to before he became Secretary.  I guess I'm just following in the footsteps of my father so to speak.  I just hope I don't follow him in becoming an Office Elder. Well my new companion is Elder Jaoquin.  (Waqeen).  He's from the Manila area and man is this kid funny; along with the fact that he is a master chef.  Here in Ragay there are only 45 or so members so we're just a small little group.  Although work here is very fruitful.  This last week we were able to teach 25 lessons not including P-Day or transfer day.  I've never been so busy in my life!  The people here are so friendly and willing to listen to us.  Even if they aren't completely interested in us they show us a lot of respect and love.  We have about 8 people with baptismal dates and most of them are progressing towards their date.  There are only four Elders in our District so we have District Meeting in our apartment which is pretty nice.  Although it is quite the change from coming from a district of 12.

Well now it's time for the funny thing that happened this week.  On Wednesday we went tracting and Elder Jaoquin and I met a lady who was an "Iglesia ni Cristo"  That's like the rival church to the LDS church here in the Philippines.  Once she said that she was "Iglesia" we thought that she was just going to ask us to leave but she invited us in.  But the moment we got inside she kept telling us about her church and kept inviting us to "talk" to her minister and "compare" doctrines.  We tried to start the lesson for a good 15 minutes until we finally gave up because she wouldn't stop talking.  She also kept trying to get us to read some "Iglesia ni Cristo" pamphlets.  This is honestly the first time here that I've had people try to convert me while I've been on my mission.  

My dearest family, I love you all so very much and I'm grateful for all the support that you have given to me while I've been here.  It's fun being to hear from you guys and of all of the fun activities back at home.  I wish I could send pictures but it won't let me edit them here and it takes an hour just to send one picture.  Just wait, May will be here before you know it and then hopefully I'll be able to Skype with you guys again.  Take care and continue to be awesome. Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                    -Elder Cole

Monday, February 10, 2014

Can you believe it!  I've just hit my 30 week mark!  Oh naku (Oh boy).  I'm becoming a veteran in the mission considering that most of the senior missionaries are leaving pretty soon.  People keep telling me that I'm going to become a District Leader/Zone Leader soon but I sure hope that doesn't happen.  I'm just fine being a regular missionary with no title but "Elder". 

But well it finally happened... I'm being transferred.  I knew my name was going to be on that list but my heart still dropped a little bit when I saw it.  I've grown to love these people in the Naga 1st Ward so much; it's going to be so hard to leave.  I was the only one transferred out of our ward missionaries who were transferred so while they were all rejoicing, well it was a pretty solemn moment for me.  Brother San Ramon(1st Councilor) asked me to speak yesterday since I've been here for so long.  He had me speak about "Serving the Lord with Love".  I wasn't nervous for the talk itself, but I was worried about the Tagalog because I'm still not what you call "Suburb".  But thanks to the help of our Heavenly Father; it didn't turn out too bad.  Like usual I just started off with a funny story/joke and that got me a little less tense.  After that things calmed down and I was able to focus.  Some members even commented afterwards of how much my Tagalog has improved from the time I got here to now.  I appreciated the comment but I knew that I'm not alone in this pursuit to learn Tagalog.  There is no way in... well ever that I would be able to learn a language in such a short amount of time without the help of God.  But  besides the talk nothing else really exciting happened this week.  Well work wise at least.
Now for the time you've all been waiting for.... the "Joke of the Week".  Now you have three categories to choose from 1. Elder Cole fell in a rice field  2. Ayaw ni Elder Cole ang mga bakla 3. Elder Cole took the wrong cell phone.  For those of you who actually read my emails probably chose number two, and if you did you are correct.  This past week when I was doing my grocery shopping, this "full on" bakla kept following me and winking at me.  At one point when we were walking towards each other "she" whispered to me "Oh you're yummy".  All I can say is that I've never been closer to doing something irrational (yelling at him) on my mission.  It took so much for me not to say something, but I'm glad I didn't.  I don't know what got into me; I just got angry. 
Well the next email that you'll get from me will be in a new area with a new companion.  I sure hope that all continues to go well at home.  I'm grateful for all of your support and your service back at home.  I never knew how important we as members are to the missionaries.  Like President Kimball said "Do it".  Don't be afraid to serve because the blessings and the feelings that you get can't be put into words.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo ang pamily ko!  May God be with you till we meet again. 


Monday, February 3, 2014

This week past week has been pretty good for Elder Villanueva and I.  We actually had two members work with us this week which was amazing!  Member help makes missionary work so much easier.  Andrew my very first  convert even worked with us this past week to get some missionary experience before he starts to work on his papers.  It was so cool to see him on the other side of the page testifying of what he knows to be true to someone who is in the same position as he was not long ago.  Elder Villanueva and I also had exchanges with the Zone Leaders this last week which was another great learning experience for me.  Elder Yarisantos (a zone leader) and I also found out that McDonald's delivers to our apartment so I had myself a nice burger for dinner in the sanctity of our apartment which was great!  I'm not going to lie... I really miss beef.  Beef here is pretty expensive so you have to be pretty "Tipid Tipid" (frugal) with your money if you want to have beef.  Since the end of the transfer is next week we also had our district activity today which was pretty great!  We went to Mt. Isarog for the second time (well for me) and it was just as cold as ever; but just as beautiful too.  It's a pretty awesome thought thinking that I was "On" a volcano.  Sure it's not active but I don't care, I was still on a volcano.
I love to put in at least one funny thing that happened throughout the week so here it is.  But here's the catch... it's not about me.  On Sunday Elder Villanueva and I went to go visit Ann Bon after our Missionay Coordination Meeting and well... we didn't have an actual lesson for her because we finished all of the lessons. He has a habit sometimes of going into lessons and changing the game plan on me so I'm completely lost. When we got into the lesson, I turned to the scripture that we had planned to talk about, but he turned to a totally different scripture.  Moroni 9:8 to be exact.  I know that all of you "Scriptorians" are probably laughing right now because you know that it's not really something that you use in lessons.  For those of you who are like me, here's what's its about.  It talks about about when the Lamanites made the Nephite woman and children feed upon the flesh of their fathers because they wouldn't give them food.  Then he related it to the Donner Party in the 17 Miracles.  Let's just say that I didn't say anything during the lesson because I didn't know what to say.  I'm probably the first missionary who can say that he had a lesson about cannibalism.

Well I love you guys so much.  I got the Christmas Card that Grandma sent me and I'm not going to lie, I look at it quite often when I feel discouraged about things.  It's not easy all the time being a missionary; there are a lot of things that can make your mood change pretty quick.  But when I see all of you guys it reminds me of what this mission means.  It's not for me.. it's for my Heavenly Father and there standing in one family are future missionaries who are going to be helping Him prepare for the Second Coming.  I just happen to be the one who was chosen to set the example.  Continue to be awesome and to stay strong.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again.
                                     -Your Son/Brother,
                                        Elder Cole


                                                                       Men in tights

                                                                  Falls at Mt. Isarog