Monday, May 26, 2014

May is almost over????  Where did all the time go?  But this past week has been mixed with the good times and the bad.  I'll go with the hard stuff first.  Well we have to extend the baptismal date for the Bordon kids from this week to sometime in June; on the other hand Joselito is going to be baptized this Saturday which is awesome!!  I haven't seen somebody more excited to be baptized than this man.  His love for this gospel and his desire to share it is unlike anything I've ever seen before in my life.  He wants so much for his wife to come with him to church and he does everything he can to try to convince her.  It was funny because the other day we taught him about Tithing and Fast Offerings and he said that he'd fast for his wife to come to church with him.  What faith!!!!  As the transfer is getting closer to the end, I really am having the feelings of not wanting to leave.  I'm a wild card this transfer because this is my third transfer here and I've only been with Elder San Pedro for one transfer.  I sure hope that I'm here for my birthday!!!
This Ragay branch is truly a very special branch of our Heavenly Father.  The excitement and the willingness of the members to participate in missionary work is uncanny.  Back at home where it's hard to get one youth member to come out sometimes; here we have 10 different youth plus adults who come to work with us.  Their faith and their testimonies only make the lessons that much better too.  Sometimes I wonder of why I was blessed to be able to serve in such a great area.  Of course I've had my fair share of difficulties, but the people help make the challenges not seem so bad. 
It's so much fun to hear about what's going on back at home. Yeah I'm not going to lie, at times I get a little bit homesick (especially now during the playoffs) and I want to go home because I miss you guys; but I wish all of you could experience what I get to experience everyday.  It sure is hard but the feeling that you get is unbelievable.  I honestly can't put it into words because you just have to find out for yourself of what it's like.  I love you all and I hope that you enjoy this summer!!!  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!  May God be with you till we meet again.
                                    -Elder Cole

Monday, May 19, 2014

Man.. I don't know where to start.  So much has happened this week it's insane!!  Well I'll just start off by saying...... I MISS SNOW!!!! I never thought those words would come out of my mouth (or on a keyboard) but it's the honest truth.  This past week it's been hotter than I've experienced so far in my young adult life.  I think I've lost a little bit of weight just because of how much I've been sweating and walking.  But it's been worth it.  This past week Elder San Pedro and I have gotten 5 new investigators and four of them are makakapatid (Siblings), and the other one is the brother of one of our long time investigators!!!  There are always people who are willing to listen, sometimes they're just right in front of our eyes.  This past week we also had Zone Training which really opened my eyes to how important finding (tracting) really is.  It made me remember something that Elder Ian Ardern said in our Mission Tour last October.  He said "There goes by another brother/sister who is very special to our Heavenly Father."  For one of the first times it really hit me hard that hey, I'm a missionary and the Lord has entrusted me to preach His gospel to His children here in the Philippines and I should talk to people whenever I have the chance. 
Now for my personal favorite part of the week.  This past week the Ragay Branch had their branch activity at the beach and we as missionaries were invited!!!  Although I wasn't able to go swimming (which really sucked) lying in a hammock on the beach, eating food, in the Philippines was probably one of the most relaxing things of my life!  Just hearing the crashing of the waves while I tried to nap (key word there is tried) made me feel like all of my concerns and worries were just gone.  Well that is until I found out that I was going to be translating for President Reeder for a baptismal interview with one of the baptismal candidates of the other Elders in my district.  Thankfully enough this sister understood English enough to where I didn't need to translate everything, but it was still quite the adventure.  But thanks to the help and mercy of the Lord it all worked out just fine.  I still don't know why I was the one who translated; Elder San Pedro is pretty good at English so he could have done it; but hey, it was a good learning experience for me so I'm not going to complain.

Well I love you all and I wish you the best of luck with this coming up week.  I love each and every one of you with all of my heart.  But before I close I saw a sticker that I really liked.  "The very opportunity which you have to be afraid, is the very opportunity that you have to put your trust in the Lord".  Mahal ko po kayo!!!  May God be with you till we meet again.
                                                     -Elder Cole

Monday, May 12, 2014

Well it's a big bummer that we weren't able to skype earlier today.  There was brown out (Black Out) in all of Camarines Sur until noon so I wasn't able to access the internet until now.  I tried to buy an international call card but well... they don't sell them here in Ragay.  I guess we'll just have to wait until Christmas.  I was really looking forward to talking with you guys but at least I was able to send this email letting you guys know of what's going on.

This past week has been pretty awesome.  My new companion is Elder San Pedro.  He's from Cebu and he's just as big of a basketball junky as I am.  Everyday this past week we've woken up early so we could play basketball longer.  I love this guy like a brother.  We've only been together for a week but I already feel that we are practically brothers.  On a different note... I am now the only American in the apartment and all of the other Elders in my apartment speak Cebuano.  I'll just say that I don't understand anything of what they're saying!!!!  It's just like when I arrived here in the Philippines.  But it's alright; it's not very often when you have two other people who speak your native language living in the same apartment.  

Yesterday was pretty funny.  Elder San Pedro and I were walking to one of our appointments and we met this guy who was walking so we started talking to him and later he invited us to his house so that he could learn more about our church.  So when got to teaching him about prophets; Elder San Pedro asked him if a stranger had the authority to come onto his property without permission.  So this guy "Jomar" said "If any stranger came on my property I would kill them" and he gave us both this really freaky look.  I'm not going to lie I almost peed my pants because he looked so serious.  I'm sure glad he invited us to his house and we didn't find him tracting.  

Well my dearest family.. I wish with all of my heart that I could have been able to skype with you earlier, but I guess we'll just have to wait until Christmas again.  I love you all so much and I'm so grateful for everything that you guys do for me in my life.  I wouldn't be anything without you guys.  Every time that I think about giving up because missionary life is rough; "The Best Two Years doesn't do service to how hard missionary work really is" I think of all the wonderful things, and the sacrifices of so many people so I could have this opportunity to preach the gospel to these wonderful people of the Philippines.  Take care and be safe.  I love each and one of you with all of my heart.  Only 14 months to go which honestly isn't a lot of time considering how fast this year has gone.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This past week has been a blast!!!  Elder Joaquin is getting transferred so I am currently awaiting to who will become my new apprentice (no I'm not training I just really wanted to say that).  On a different note, I think that this week we have had more dinner appointments than I've had on my mission so I really do feel like I've gained a little bit of weight if you couldn't tell in my pictures

Work this week was a little harder this week than in the past but that didn't stop us.  Even though it's been 95 degrees with like...,.. a lot of humidity.  The highlight of working this week was when we were tracting in Kali (one of our newer areas), we met this guy who wanted to become friends with me.  So we ended up teaching him a  lesson and afterwards he pulled out his guitar to for Elder Joaquin which eventually led to this guy and I singing "American Pie".  It was one of those moments where I couldn't help but laugh.  One a more serious note; when Elder Joaquin and I were contacting a tract, we taught him the first lesson and he was really interested.  He asked us of why America is the chosen land of God because life there is so much easier than here in the Philippines.  So we explained to him in the Book of Mormon of why America is the chosen land.  But at the end of the lesson when we invited him to pray, he started to cry and the spirit was so strong.  It made me realize of the really how important the gospel is and of how much these people need it in there lives.

You might be wondering of why this email is coming a little later... but earlier this morning, we as missionaries had the opportunity to accompany the young men to the BEACH for their activity.  I hadn't seen the beach in 10 months until that point so it was quite the site and the experience.  Although I got more red than Eric Sharp at scout camp ha ha.(which means I was redder than a lobster).  True story.

Congratulations Maddie on being baptized!!!  You made such an important decision in your life and I'm proud of you.  Continue to read the Book of Mormon often and always keep you testimony strong.  I love you all and may the Lord continue to bless all of you as you strive to follow Him.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Oh my gulay, this is already the last week of the transfer!!!  It's amazing how weeks feel like days and months feel like weeks.  I can't believe I've already been in Ragay for 11 weeks. It's even more strange to think that I'm going to be 19 in a little over two months and then after that... I'll be halfway done with my missionary service.

This past week has been pretty fantastic.  Elder Joaquin and I have been working our butts off even though it's been hotter than ever this week; but it payed off.  We have gotten 4 new investigators this week and now we have 5 more baptisms planned in May.  Now I can really see why the Lord is sending more missionaries to the Philippines; because the people here are ready to hear the gospel!  Very rarely do Elder Joaquin and I not get in a house because they don't want to listen, most of the time it's just because there's not a male in the house.  The kindness and the caring of these Filipino people goes beyond what I could ever imagine myself being.  They are such a good example of being Christlike and of showing love for all people.  

I think one of the highlights of this week was when Elder Joaquin and I were teaching one of our new investigators (Fernando) and his family.  He has five kids and his wife passed away not to long ago.  But his youngest child is a little younger than Jarod and he totally reminds me of him.  Aaron always runs up to me with a little grin on his face and holds my hand while we walk.  But while we were teaching, he grabbed onto my arm and looks up to me and says "Your my best friend".  It was easily one of the cutest things that has happened to me here.  Kids here are so funny.. annoying sometimes but hey, it makes it feel like home.

It's so crazy that Maddie is getting baptized next week and that I'm almost in the last year of the teenage stage of my life.  Time seems to go by a lot faster now than when I was a kid.. especially around Christmas time.  But I've only got a little over a year left here so I'm going to enjoy every moment.  I love you all and I'm grateful for what you have all done for me in my life.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!  May God be with you till we meet again.