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