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