Monday, June 22, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

Well this is it guys... the very last email that you will recieve from me as a missionary of our Heavenly Father.  As most of you can guess I'm not going to make it very long because most of you will be seeing me in a little more than a week.  I would just like to thank each and every one of you for the support that you have given me throughout my life and my mission.  It's always nice to open my email and see emails from such wonderful people.  Each one of you has helped me to stay strong and to endure the hardships of the mission.  These past two years have definitely  not been easy, but they have been more than worth the trials that I have experienced.  I would just like to leave you all with my testimony that I do know that this church is true, we have a living prophet on the earth today and if we follow his counsel and the counsel of the living apostles; we will not fall.  We will be able to stand before the judgement seat of our Heavenly Father with a clear conscience knowing that we have done what he has desired of us.  And then we will be able to enter is kingdom with our families; never to be separated again.  I know that the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ and we will be able to overcome our challenges in life if we read and heed the counsel of the prophets that have written in there.  I have read it many times now and I know without a shadow of a doubt that it is true.  No person call tell me otherwise, no book can prove me wrong, because Heavenly Father has made the truthfulness of it known unto me.  I am grateful for a loving father and mother who have raised me in this church and have taught me the ways of the Lord.  Without them I don't know where I would me in my life, but I know I wouldn't be who I am without there help.  Thanks again for all that you have done for me in my life.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                    -Elder Cole

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,
Life here in the Philippines has been... rainy.... hot... just what you could have expected :)  News has also gotten to my ears that LeBron and the Cavaliers have fallen into a win or lose situation.  Well.... at least I'm not going to be around to witness it.  But this past week has again been pretty rough work wise.  The Pasiona family has almost stopped progressing even though we have taught them all of the lessons and reviewed them multiple times.  We're going to teach them one more time this week and if they don't attend church this week I'm afraid that we'll have to drop them and wait until they are ready to be baptized.  I was really hoping that they could be ready by the time I went home, but it's not going to happen.  Most of our other investigators that have BGD's aren't progressing and not attending church which is making things rough.  Finding is pretty hard around school days because everyone is busy and most males aren't home.  On the bright side, Marbie and Jenny are still awesome!  We went to their house on Saturday to teach them but there wasn't a male home so we asked them to ask their grandpa if we could teach in his house so we would be able to share.  Their faces were so funny as they ran back saying that he said yes.  Anyway we showed the "Restoration Video" to them and they enjoyed it a lot.  Unfortunately they weren't able to attend church yesterday because it was in Goa and their dad wouldn't let them go without one of their older siblings going.  They were pretty bummed about it to. 
For church yesterday we had a Philippines area broadcast where Elder Christisten, Nielsen, Sister Wixom, and Elder Neil L. Anderson spoke to us.  There was a phrase that Elder Nielsen (the former area president) and Elder Andersen used that really touched me.  "I will be the one".  When  I hear that phrase the first things that comes to my mind is Jesus Christ.  Before this life he said that he would be willing to act as a Savior for mankind so that we could return to our Heavenly Father.  It's not easy for us to have that kind of attitude.  I know for me when my  mom said "Who wants to do the dishes" I didn't want to be the one to say "I will be the one".  But in our life there will be times when we need to have the attitude of the Savior and be willing to stand first so that others will follow.  In the world we live in today the attitude of stepping forward is one that is greatly needed.  I see a lot of great followers but the Lord doesn't just need good followers, He needs people that can be examples for His children so that they can return to Him.  If we don't step forward and say "I will be the one", then the likelihood of things getting done are that much smaller.  The difference we make will only be made manifested if we have the courage to take that step of faith and say "I will be the one". 
I love you all so much and I am very grateful for your continued support until the end.  Ingat po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.
                                                   -Elder Cole

Monday, June 8, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

This past week was a week where a lot of patience was needed due to the extreme heat, sick companions, and no member presents.  On Tuesday Elder Key got gout in his foot so we couldn't work then.  But thankfully by the next morning he was up and ready to go.  But despite the fact of how hard we tried, we just struggled with almost all aspects of our work.  Most of our appointments fell through and tracting/finding was pretty difficult due to the heat and because the kids have school now.  I find it pretty funny that these things are happening right at the end of my mission.  Maybe it's just Heavenly Fathers way of helping me keep focused on the work.... not that I'm saying that it is hard.  Most days it doesn't even feel like I"m at the last part of my mission.  But anyways, the highlight of this past week was with Marbie and Jenny.  We weren't able to teach them this past week because every time we went to their house they were busy.  Despite the fact that we didn't share with them; they still came to church yesterday!  Why couldn't every investigator be as diligent in attending church as these two girls?  If the Pasiona family would attend church they could have been baptized already; but I guess that's a sign that they're not quite ready for the commitment of baptism.  

The other day I was looking through my luggage and I found the talk "The Fourth Missionary" that was given to me by a sister in my district before we went to the Philippines.  I decided that we would read that talk as part of our companionship study because of the power and the influence that that talk has had on me. (if you haven't read in I highly recommend that you do).  Anyways, while we were reading it I had a few thoughts that came to my mind.  "Have I become the missionary that I set out to be?"  "Have I become the man that Heavenly Father needs me to be?"  And "Is Heavenly Father proud of what I've done".  Looking back in my mission I look at who I was then and now, and I really have changed.  Not just physically, but spiritually as well.  Things that I thought were funny before the mission aren't that funny now.  Things that I wanted to do in life don't seem as important.  I have come to really now that life is about change.  If we don't change what we do, the way we think, and the way we act than we will get the same result.  But I have also learned that we can decide of how we change or we can let world kind of shape us with the trials and events that occur.  But if we do that than we won't nearly reach the full potential that we have in life.  We have the potential to literally become like our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ; but it's up to us to decide if we're up to the challenge.  

Thank you all so much for the support and the love that each one of you has shown me in these past two years.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                       -Elder Cole

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

I found a nice but disturbing email in my inbox this was my flight plans.  I'll be flying out of Naga on my birthday but won't arrive in Utah until July 1st.  Dang life goes by way to fast.  My time here in Naga is winding down, but my desire to serve continues to burn stronger than ever.  

This past week and Elder Key and I have been giving it our all to bring our brothers and sisters to the knowledge of that which is just and true and trying to rescue those who have fallen away.  There is a recent convert family who has been struggling with the trials and cares of the world and after weeks of trying to teach them, we finally were able to help them to be nourished by the good word of God.  The tatay is a tricycle driver and is constantly working in order to just provide the necessities  of life.  The nanay is constantly watching there 5 wild children which makes life tiring.  Anyways we shared Helaman 5:12 and Ether 12:27 to just help them realize the reason for trials and for why we need to establish our foundation on Jesus Christ so that we won't fall when those trials do come.  It was a very powerful lesson in which I could really feel the spirit touching their hearts.  Unfortunately they still didn't attend church yesterday but the ward has been awesome and the auxiliaries went and visited them to check up on them.   Marbie and Jenny also attended church again this week which was awesome to see!!  They have a hard time understanding things so we're going kind of slow with them.  But I feel that they could be baptized a little after I'm gone.  

Also this past week my testimony has been strengthened about people being prepared by our Heavenly Father to hear the gospel.  Last week we OYM'ed a man by the name of Michael and another teenage girl by the name of Jessica.  On Friday Elder Key and I went to go visit Michael but when we got there he wasn't at the house.  Thankfully his mom sat us down and told us to wait a little bit.  Not too much later he arrived at the house and looked happy that we were there.  He told us that he had read the whole pamphlet and really enjoyed what he read.  We taught him about the restoration and well... he understood it better than most people that read the pamphlet.  We invited him to go to church but unfortunately he wasn't able to go.  Then on Saturday a few of the youth worked with us when we went to contact Jessica.  When we got to her home there were a bunch of people and within 30 seconds all of them were gone besides Jessica.  At first she was pretty shy of us but slowly she started to up up with us.  One of the members Jobeth was able to relate with her really well.  They're the same age, go to the same college and even are doing the same course.  At the beginning of the lesson I really didn't know what to say and I was kind of stumbling with my words. But when we started to teach about Joseph Smith and the restoration my mind all of a sudden became clear and the spirit flooded the room.  Jessica's eyes started to tear up and I knew that she was feeling the spirit.  At the end I felt inspired to extend the baptismal invitation in which she accepted but she hasn't committed to a date yet.  The Lord truly does prepare His children for us; we just have to do our best to find them.  Even if it takes 100 rejections; because every soul is great in the sight of God.

Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                           -Elder Cole

Monday, May 25, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family

Two years ago from today I graduated from High School and prepared to embark on a journey that would change my life forever.  I never expected for my mission experience to be the way that it has been, but I wouldn't have had it any other way.
This past week has been..... really.....really.....reallly............ HOT!!!  It's gotten up to 46 degrees Celsius which is well over 100 degrees back home.  It's been hard to work at times because of the heat but because of the mercy of our Heavenly Father nobody has gotten really sick because of the heat.  Work has been pretty good this past week.  School is about to start here so it's been a little harder to teach because everyone is busy trying to finishing getting there kids enrolled.  But despite that fact it's been good.  Elder Key and I have been a little more bold in extending baptismal dates and now we have achieved 6 investigators that have a baptismal date.  If we aren't inviting people to repent and to come unto Christ than we aren't fulfilling our purpose as missionaries.  At first I was scared to invite people for the fear of having them say no but I've realized the importance of inviting people to things so that they will gain a testimony of what we are teaching.  We have also began to teach the sisters of one of our less-actives.  Their names are Jenny and Marbie; they're about 9 and 11 and they are probably some of the best kids that I have had the opportunity to teach in my whole mission.  We invited them to attend church, and on Sunday morning Bishops wife waved at us to come here and look who's standing there; none other than Marbie and Jenny.  What's funny is that they attended church over their older sister who is a member.  Unfortunately the Pasiona family wasn't able to attend church :(  But we've been teaching them stories from the Book of Mormon and I can really tell that they are gaining a testimony of it.  Hopefully that they'll be able to attend church again this coming week!!!  

Elder Key and I had the wonderful opportunity of giving a blessing to a sister before she passed away a few days after we had come by their house.  One of the returning less-actives in our area came and asked us if we could give a blessings to one of her friends who has been sick since February.  They've gone to the hospital and done everything that they could to get her better but nothing worked.  When we walked into their humble home, there lying on a makeshift bed was the skinniest person that I have ever seen in my life.  Even more than on T.V.  Her hip bones were as visible as the noon day sun and her arms were probably just as thick as Jarods.  Apparently her body rejected most of the fluids and foods that they put in which resulted in this state of being.  It was hard for me not to cry because of this sisters physical situation.  But I remember this peace as we gave her a blessing, it was a peace that really made me think of the eternal perspective on life.  Maybe that was a sign that this sisters mortal life was just about to end and that she was being called home to our Heavenly Father.  

I truly know that this is the work of the Lord and that no unhallowed hand will stop it.  No man or power on earth can prevent the Second Coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.  The only thing that we can do is to prepare for it, or fight a hopeless fight against the Almighty.  Let us all rise to the challenge and help those around us prepare for the Second Coming so that they can experience the joy that we will feel if we remain righteous to our Heavenly Father.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.
May God be with you till we meet again.

                                               -Elder Cole

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

"You shall not pass".... Well Gandalf, I'm sorry but I just entered into the final transfer of my mission.  I never thought that this point would ever come, but yet here it is.  Well I'm a 4th quarter player and I can still feel that flame to finish out strong and to leave everything here in San Jose.  

To start things off..... Nica and Theresa attended Stake Conference this week!!  They texted us at 6:30 and said that they were on the way to the church to wait for the transportation.  Well I can't say that there could have been a better way that to start off Sunday morning.  Elder Key and I prepared faster than any missionary has in history so that they wouldn't be left there waiting by themselves.  It was a great stake conference and they made a few friends which was awesome to see.  The ward has been doing a great job in making them feel welcome.  Theresa is still kind of shy but she's slowly getting out of her shell.  Stake Conference was amazing; a member of the Area Presidency came to speak to us and the spirit was so strong during the meeting.  Although most of the speakers spoke in English so most people didn't understand a great deal of what was said.  But as long as the spirit is there, it doesn't matter what language you speak in because the spirit testifies of truth and can speak the heart of the people.  

On Tuesday we had a great adventure in Naga at the trainers training.  I learned a great deal about what I can still improve on so that I can bring my teaching more in harmony with the desires of our Heavenly Father.  As all RM"s now, you don't really have a training without having practice teaching... and again my companion and I had the opportunity to teach President Reeder.  Oh what fun ha ha.  I remember when I taught him when I was with Elder Manicdo (who is now going home this week) and I was happy that I could teach in English.  This time is was totally opposite.  I had the hardest time trying to think of what I wanted to say in English.  At one point in the lesson President Reeder winked at me because I couldn't think of what to say.  But all in all... it was a good lesson and another thing to laugh at.  Poor Elder Key got sick so we couldn't work as hard as would have liked to but this past week was amazing.  Fiesta is also going on in San Jose right now so there are a lot of drunk people everywhere which makes OYM'ing pretty adventurous.  

Well in one of my recent personal studies I came across this scripture which has really given me a new light about "Love" In 1 John 4:18-21   

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

 19 We love him, because he first loved us.

 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

We as missionaries/members have the responsibility to share the gospel to other people.  But of course, how will we do that if we don't feel love for them and desire their eternal salvation.  Like it says in verse 18, if we fear sharing the gospel with others we will not be made perfect in the Love of Christ.  One way for us to show our true love to our Heavenly Father is through sharing the gospel.  I know it's not easy, but it is a commandment.  I can promise you that as you strive your best to help your fellow man to return to our Heavenly Father, you will experience joy and happiness like you have never before experience.  Then you will feel the "True Love of Christ".  

Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                    -Elder Cole

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

It was so great to skype all of you guys!  Since we were able to skype earlier I'll keep this letter pretty short.  

This past week has been amazing, I have really seen the hand of the Lord in our work.  We have been able to get 24 lessons this past week which is awesome. I haven't been able to get that many lessons since my first transfer here.  Our church attendance has also gone up from around the mid 80's to 119!  On Tuesday I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with Elder Watene (Elder Greens companion) and it was awesome!  We worked in their area which has been struggling this past little bit but it didn't seem like it when we worked.  When we were walking trying to find new people to teach we found some kids that were playing basketball and made them a deal that if we beat them we could teach them, but if we lost we would buy them soft drinks.  Lets just say that with help up above we beat them pretty easily.  Thankfully they sat down right after the game so we could teach.  At the beginning of the lesson it was pretty rough, they weren't listening and we could tell that they weren't really interested, but as we continued to teach about 20+ people came to listen to the lesson and a lot of them seemed really interested in learning about the church.  In short the Lord helped us use basketball to gain access to the hearts of his children in the Philippines.  Later that night I probably had one of the most spiritual moments of my entire mission.  Elder Watene and I visited one of their investigators that I had met on a previous exchange in their area and when we got to their house their lights were off so we assumed that they were gone or asleep.  But Elder Watene OYM'ed some nanays and the told us that this family was actually at the house, their power had just been cut.  When we talked to this family (Tagle Family) they told us that they couldn't pay their power bill and it was cut because their neighbors had been using their electricity and they didn't bother to help them with the bill. Elder Watene had the impression to use Ether 12:27 which happened to be the exact verse that they needed to hear.  During the lesson I had the feeling to share a personal experience about when my grandma passed away and about how hard that trial was for me in my life.  I was so filled with the spirit that I don't even remember what I said but I remember of how I felt.  That's a feeling that I never want to forget.  

We've been struggling with getting investigators to church which has been frustrating but Elder Key and I are doing every thing that we can do in order to help these people understand the importance of attending church and keeping the Sabbath Day holy. But I love you so much and I am grateful for everything that you guys have done for me. Ingat po kayo palagi.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                         Elder Cole

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

Exactly two years from today a young man received a very large envelope in the mail that would literally change his life forever. It still is a weird thought to me that it's been two years since I got my mission call and now my mission experience in the Philippines is no longer going to be a dream, but a memory. But these will be memories that I will be able to call upon when I am in need of strength.  I have learned so much over these past 22 months and I know  that this is easily the best decision that I have ever made in my life.  It also kind of makes me feel old that my good friend/cousin Danny got his mission call; I still remember playing Super Smash Bros. at their house when I was like 15; oh my how time really does fly.  If I have any advice for people who are getting ready to serve missions; make every second of your mission count because it will come to a close sooner than you know.  

This past week has been super duper hot!!!  Elder Key and I can't go any where without coming back drenched in sweat.  We also had the opportunity to plant rice which was way fun... just hot.  But I can't complain, I'm getting a nice tan for when I get home.  I just can't take off my shirt or I'll scare people because of my whiteness on my chest ha ha.  We also had a ward family home evening on Wednesday which was way fun!  We as missionaries were put in charge of games and it was super fun to see the older people getting involved as well as the youth.  I tried to share the"Dare to Stand Alone" video from President Monson but it didn't end up working.  Oh well; such is life.

Work this past week has also been kind of rough due to all the fiesta's and events that have been going on.  It's also harvesting season so most people are working in the rice fields so there are almost no males available which makes teaching and finding pretty interesting.  Our ward has been struggling with sacrament attendance over the past month or so so President Reeder want's us to do use 50% of our time for less active/recent convert and the other 50% for investigator work.  Bishop Flororita gave us 4 names of in-actives that we could visit, but as to be expected they were not there when we visited.  On the other hand I saw Elder Bienvinuto this week!  It was great to see him while he visited San Jose for the day.  What made it better was that he worked with us for a little bit.  We visited one investigator that we found (Baby Cam) and that lesson was probably one of the most powerful lessons that I have ever taught in my entire mission.  When we saw Baby Cam she seemed pretty excited to see us and told us that she had just barely gotten home from selling stuff. She told us that she really missed us coming and teaching her and wondered why we hadn't come back for a while.  We had gone to her every week she just hasn't been home when we've gone by. But the thing that really made the lesson powerful was when she shared an experience with us.  She told us that she had a dream about us and that we were always at her side.  When she told us that I knew that Heavenly Father was speaking to her so we changed the lesson and decided to share to her about Ammon and King Lamoni.  While we read about the experience of Lamoni the spirit just overcame the lesson and I knew that she was feeling this.  At the end of the lesson we invited her to be baptized but she still doesn't think that her faith is strong enough and that she doesn't quite know for herself if this is the true church.

Oh yeah mom, Bingo's are like Oreo's but a lot cheaper.  I used that sign to defend my food because if you leave it unprotected; who knows what might happen ha ha. Especially with Polynesians in the house.  But I was planning to skype on May 9th (Philippine Time) so it will still be Friday for you guys.  I don't quite know of what time, it depends on when the computer shop opens.  Just stand by and wait for the call :).  I love you all so much and I wish you the best. Ingat po kayo palagi.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                   -Elder Cole

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,
"If you go in life thinking about tomorrow, you're going to look back and see a lot of empty yesterdays".  -Thomas S. Monson  When I first came on my mission I never expected for things to be so difficult; every time I saw the missionaries they always seemed so happy like they didn't have a problem in the world.  But now after being in their shoes for almost two years I have realized that there are a great deal of happy times, but there are also times where Heavenly Father has something for us to learn through trials and difficult circumstances.  Now is one of those times where it would be so easy just to look forward to the day where I pack my bags and get ready to see my family at the airport; but by doing so I would miss the important lessons that my Heavenly Father has in store for me.  Work this past week has been kind of frustrating but I'm doing everything that I can to be positive about it.  Elder Key and I went tracting and OYM'ing in a place that we had never been but every time we went to a house or talked to someone they turned us away.  I can't say that it wasn't frustrating and that I really wanted to give up right then but we didn't.  We've also been punted from a good portion of our appointments due to the lack of a male present which is almost just as annoying as being rejected while tracting. 
On the good side of the work we have two new baptismal dates for June 6th.  Some of our long time investigators (Gemma and Lengen Enciso) have been taught even before I got here and they know the church is true they just need to attend church.  That's one of the biggest obstacles that we've been facing; investigators attending church.  We haven't had any investigators attend church since Angela was baptized.  We're still trying to encourage Theresa and Nica Pasiona to go to church but they are super shy and are worried about what people will think of them.  One of the blessings of this week was with the family of William Prado!  We finally met his kids and they are super awesome! We went over to their house Friday night but William wasn't there so we talked with his kids while we waited (unfortunately he never showed up) and got to know them.  We haven't been able to share to them yet because there wasn't a male present but they're super interested like their dad!  I love working with Elder Key; even though work is hard and he's still struggling in Tagalog he has a positive attitude and always has a joke for everything.  Literally everything. 
Since it's almost Mothers Day I think it is only appropriate to talk about how awesome my mother is.  There isn't a time in my life that I can remember that my beloved mother put herself before us kids.  Even when she was sick she got up to make me breakfast and to see me off to school.  I don't know what I would do without my mom in my life; she is such a loving person who would sacrifice anything for her family.  I'm so grateful for her wonderful example to me of having faith in our Savior Jesus Christ and always remember him in my life. Because of her example I know of how much our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of his children.  She has shown that love to all the kids that she has taught during her many years in Primary and I know that because of her, many kids have felt the love of Christ.  I love you so much mom!!!

I love you guys so much!  I still can't believe Timothy is Deacon now, it's crazy to think that he'll be passing the sacrament when I get home.  It's going to be so weird walking into the chapel and seeing so many new faces. Mahal na mahal ko kayo.  Ingat kayo palagi.  May God be with you till we meet again.
                                                     -Elder Cole

Monday, April 20, 2015

"You try you fail, you try you fail.  The only time you really fail is when you stop trying".  Some times when the pathway looks bright and clear, there are always a few pot holes that we don't quite see until we trip and lose our balance.  Let me just say that there have been quite a few pot holes in our work this past week.  Yesterday while Elder Key and I were walking to Tominawog, we got a text from Nica and Theresa Pasiona saying that they thought that it would be better if we didn't come back to their house because they haven't been able to attend church.  My heart just dropped at the thought of possibly losing these wonderful people.  I don't listen very well so we're going to go visit them anyway later this week and try to see what their concerns are.  I can't sit back and do nothing while there is a possibility that we can get them back.  We've also been struggling with being able to teach some of  our investigators because either they aren't there or because there isn't a male present.  But we had a solid meeting with the Ward Council yesterday so we should have a lot more people working with us this following week.  

On the sunny side of the work, we have had greater access to the hearts of the people thanks to my dear companion Elder Key.  He's always smiling and waving at people which makes it so much easier for us to approach people.  Of course sometimes some people just want a picture with him or they want to compare height but most of them time we're able to get a good conversation about the gospel and we can get a return appointment (which almost never goes through :(.  We also have met a wonderful new investigator named William Prado.  He's about 58 years old and has nine kids.  He drives a pudyak for a living unless it's anihan (harvest season) then he works part time in the rice field.  Any way we OYM'ed him while he was sitting in his pudyak and got a return appointment with him.  When we showed up at his house his kids kind of hid from us because they were scared of Elder Key (that happens quite often).  But we were able to have a good solid lesson with William even though his kids wouldn't come into the lesson but he told us that we were always welcome at his home.  We are finally seeing the fruits of just opening our mouths to people.

Being the "Nice" tatay's that we are, Elder Green and I put Elder Watene and Elder Key up to the balut challenge.  Might I just say that it brought a lot of memories back to mind of when I first was introduced to the Philippine culture.  But I'm sad to say that not even my good Samoan friend was able to swallow that Filipino delicacy.  Although it was very entertaining to watch because now I know how every one felt when I ate balut for the first time.  

This week I have truly realized of how much we need trials in our lives in order to grow.  Being with Elder Key reminds of how hard missionary life was when I was still new in the mission.  I can tell you that not being able to communicate with people is hard; there were nights that I almost cried... and actually did cry because I couldn't talk to people. But being in the opposite situation I truly feel of how much the Lord has helped me through my struggles and through my weaknesses.  Without trials there would be no way for us to know of the power of God.  Sure He has the power to make everything good, but just like with the Nephites if life is always easy and there aren't mountains to climb or seas to cross; we will forget of how much we need God in our lives and our faith will be weakened.  

Mahal na mahal ko po kayo :)  May God be with you till we meet again. 

                                              -Elder Cole

Monday, April 13, 2015

Well my kid came out at 6'5 and 340lbs.. and he's only 18. Not bad for having my genes ha ha.  If haven't already guessed he's Samoan but he was born in California and moved to Salt Lake.  His name is Elder Key and I love this guy, he's the cousin of Elder Kelsall who's also in our mission which made things super cool.  It was cool when they got to see each other at General Conference on Saturday for the first time in five years.  Elder Key was telling me that he played football for East High and that he had 20 sacks his senior year along with a few scholarship offers from Utah, Oregon...and other schools. Yeah I could be seeing this guy in the NFL in a couple of years.  But that makes me respect him a lot more for making the decision to come on a mission before playing football.  Maybe he would have ended up like Jabare Parker if he would have put football before his mission.
This week before Elder Green and I got our new companions we decided to deep clean our apartment.  And when I say deep clean I mean "DEEP CLEAN".  There was so much stuff that past missionaries had left that we just thought that maybe if future missionaries would see a clean apartment that they would keep it clean too instead of piling up all of the junk.  Now I'm happy to say that the spirit is more fully able to abide in our apartment :). 
Work has been fun as people have naturally been attracted to my awesome companion who is soaking in all of the attention.  But I told him sooner or later he's going to get sick of it like I did when I first arrived.  Anyways, with the help of Elder Key's new missionary energy we have had a lot of success with OYM'ing people, it's just getting an appointment that's the hard part.  One of these day's we'll get a return appointment with someone and it will actually happen!  Being with Elder Key reminds me a lot of when I was a new missionary, full of excitement for the work and a love for God, but  still new in the language.  It's a humbling opportunity for me to be able to help him learn this wonderful language so that he can better fulfill his purpose as a missionary.  He told me that he just want's to learn this language so he can talk to people.  He doesn't want to be quiet!  It's a hard experience coming from having pure Filipino companions who can say anything they want to having to pretty much lead the entire lesson but I feel a great power when he speaks that he truly loves these people and our Heavenly Father.  I couldn't have asked for a better companion. 
General Conference was awesome and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to listen to the words of our living prophet and all of the other apostles.  I thought it was funny that there were so many talks about marriage.  Sorry Mom and Dad, I really need to heed the apostles advice about marriage so maybe you'll be grandparents earlier than you wanted to ha ha.  Of course I'm just joking.  But really one of the talks that hit me was from Larry M. Gibson about "Fatherhood".  When he told the story of when he did a 50 mile hike in under 20 hours with his two sons.  Upon their return from the hike all of them retired to their respective rooms to rest; but with all the strength that Elder Gibson had he went and checked on his sons and asked them about their experience.  The first one replied "That was the hardest thing that I have ever done, and I don't want to do it again". Then Elder Gibson promised his son that he would never have to walk 50 miles in one day.  So his son replied "Good, then I'm going"   Then he went down to the room of his oldest son and asked him the same question, he got an answer that showed the spiritual maturity of his son.  His oldest son said "That was the hardest thing that I have ever done, and I don't want to do it again; unless my sons want to".  Elder Gibson's son showed a lot of spiritual maturity by already realizing that a true father puts the needs of his family before his own.  Of course fathers deserve the opportunity to do stuff that they want to do but a fathers primary responsibility is to raise their kids in righteousness and to be a good example.  I am so grateful for my father and for the example that he has set for me.  I never realized of how much my father sacrificed for me throughout my life but my heart is full of love and gratitude for both of my grandpa's who have raised my parents in such a way that I was able to be born a member of this church.  (I am just as grateful for my mother and grandmother's as I am the the males, I was just focusing on Fatherhood here). 
Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again. 
PS:  Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad :)

                                          -Elder Cole

Monday, April 6, 2015

15th transfer in the mission complete.  It still can't believe that I'm in my last two transfers of the best two years of my entire life (I'm not saying that marriage is any less exciting but you get what I mean).  It's going to be hard saying goodbye to Elder Bienvinuto but the people of Butuan need his great spirit and abilities!!  We got a call from the ZL's this morning and well.... I"m going to be a dad.... or in other words I'm training for my last two transfers.  I can't think of a better way to end my mission by helping another missionary get excited about missionary work.  This new assignment will also help me think about the work instead of the playoffs ha ha.  

I think this past week everyone remembered that they were Catholic because work was pretty hard for us this past week.  There were a lot of parades going on where they brought around their "Saints" and people walked behind carrying candles.  It was pretty cool to see how different religions celebrate Easter but I felt like a Twinkie in a Zinger box because everyone was looking at me funny while we were trying to walk to our appointments.  

We're still trying to get the Pasiona Family to go to church which is kind of frustrating.  They're so awesome and they love hearing the gospel; they just need to attend church!  We have to move their baptismal date now because they haven't attended church.  This is where I've really just had to learn to have patience with people because the Lord probably feels the same way when I don't do what He wants me to do.  We also met a potential investigator family this week while we were finding.  Two nanay's started calling me "Joe" so I took that opportunity to approach them and to share a simple message.  We showed them the video "BecauseHeLives" and it really brought the spirit into the lesson.  Then we testified about Jesus Christ and that he lives today.  They didn't commit to a specific appointment but they told us that we could come back; so I hope it goes well.  We are also teaching the sister of one of the less-actives in our ward who originally had a baptismal date but she wasn't baptized because the missionary who she wanted to baptize her was transferred.  Lorelee (the investigator) is still super shy of us but we're really trying to help her open up to us.

Angela was also baptized this past Saturday even though there were chances of having a typhoon that day.  That's how we do it in the Philippines.... No Fear!  Ha ha.  Well we just got a lot of strong rain but that was it; nothing to worry about.  I felt so bad, I had to conduct the baptism and when I invited Angela up to the front to bear her testimony she cried because she was so afraid.  But Bishop Flororita's closing remarks were very spiritual which helped me feel better after that incident.  

Oh, "Happy Birthday" to my gorgeous sisters Kat and Maddie along to my studly Grandpa Woolstenhulme!!!  I still can't believe that Kat's going to be a senior this year, time sure does fly.  I just want you all to know that I love you so very much, day in and day out my heart is full with gratitude for everyone who has helped me get to this point in my life.  If it wasn't for my family and friends I wouldn't have been able to go on this mission and my life would have been so much different if I didn't go on this mission.  Sure times have been hard and I have been discouraged, but I have no regrets about serving a mission.  Ingat po kayo palagi!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                  -Elder Cole

Monday, March 30, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

It's a crazy thought thinking that I have less than 100 days left before I will no longer be a studly missionary in the Philippines.  Also, this is the last week of the transfer so next week I will be saying goodbye to my good friend Elder Bienvinuto.  Oh yeah, he just got his mission call and he will be serving in the Philippines, Butuan mission!  It's in the southern part of the Philippines so there aren't any foreign missionaries so at least he had one foreigner companion. Now this next week has me pondering if I will finish out my mission with pure Filipino companions or will I have my first foreign companion.  Who knows?

Work work work, it's everyone's favorite thing; especially missionaries.  Work this past week has been pretty great.  Our lesson numbers are pretty low but we've made up for it in our finding efforts.  This past week Elder Bienvito and I have achieved the standards of exellence with 59 OYM's!!!!  I know that's not very high for my good buddies in the states but for here in San Jose that's pretty gosh darn high.  I think it's almost half the population of San Jose ha ha.  But we have a lot of potential investigators that we can teach now so that's exciting!  I've learned that it's not to hard to talk to people here, it's just finding them at home that's hard.  It's kind of annoying because even if you set an appointment with someone; most of the time they're still not available.  This last week we taught Baby Cam and the spirit was super strong in the lesson!  She is really trying to find out the truth and to see if she should remain a Catholic or convert.  But she told us that she's going to work in Batangas in a few weeks but she still wants to be taught so we're going to refer her to the missionaries over there.  I don't know what's going to happen but I have faith that she'll find the truth for herself someday even if I don't see the fruits of our labors.

  We also had zone conference and we were able to watch "Meet the Mormons".  For those of you who haven't seen it I would highly recommend that movie.  Then President Reeder gave a great discussion about a talk from Elder D. Todd Christofferson  entitled "Free forever, to act for themselves".   He emphasized the topics "Justice, Mercy, and the Atonement"  In the law of Heaven we must be punished for going against the commandments of God so that justice may be satisfied.  But because God loves each and every one of His children so much he gave them a way to return to His presence without taking away their free agency as was recommended in the plan of the adversary.  But because God being the loving father that He is, decided to give His one and only pure child to us.  One who had no sin.  One who felt no hatred toward his brother.  But one who has an infinite love for every human being who had ever lived and ever will live on this earth.  I don't know the anguish the Jesus felt when he suffered for our sins in Gethsemane.  I don't know the humiliation that Jesus felt when he was stripped and whipped by his brethren.  Nor can I comprehend what Jesus felt in his last moments on the cross when he called out, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do".  Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ all of mankind has the opportunity to repent of their sins and to become like God.  Being a mortal man I don't know have a perfect knowledge about all things; but one thing I know without a doubt is that our Savior Jesus Christ; lives. And because he lives, we will to.  

The Church just came out with a video about Jesus Christ for the Easter season and like we have been inviting people here to watch it and share it with their friends; I invite you guys to watch it and share it on Facebook or anywhere else so that more and more people will see this wonderful video that the church has released.  They wouldn't have spent so much time and money on it if they didn't think that it was important.

No matter how many times I say it, this is one phrase that doesn't lose it's meaning.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!  Each and everyone of you has a special place in my heart.  I have only began to see the love that our Heavenly Father has for His children, May we all enjoy this Easter season and remember that "He Lives".  Ingat po kayo!  May God be with you till we meet again.

Ps. Please don't spoil General Conference for me in your next emails: I don't get to watch in until the 2nd week of April.  Well you can if an angel appears to you and tells you that I need this information but other than that.... you get the picture :)  

                                           -Elder Cole

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

There are way too many people in Manila!!!  Just coming from the airport going to the Immigration Office took us almost an hour in what could have been a 10 minute drive.  I didn't help that I had to pee the whole time we were in the car so I headed straight for the CR when I got out of the car.  I've never seen more foregin people in one place than I have at the Immigration Office.  Koreans, Japanese, Jamaicans, Indians, and of course good ole Americans wearing Kobe Bryant jerseys and cargo pants; all of whom were amongst the population of the overly crowded Immigration Office.  We waited a good 2 1/2 hours just to get our finger prints and picture taken.  Everything is all digital now so I didn't even have to get my fingers dirty with ink which was really nice.  But any ways after the long wait, we were able to go to the biggest mall in all of Asia.  Let me just say that I'm glad I wasn't assigned in Manila because it would be way easy to be distracted from the work.  It took me a little bit to adjust back to provincial life once we got back to Naga and we weren't even there for a full 24 hours.  But being able to go bowling (which was approved) was probably one of the funnest things that I've done in a long time.  I got four strikes in one game which made me get a little more excited that I should have been, especially because there were a lot of people looking at us.  But unfortunately I still didn't win that game!!!  Why do Indians.... sorry.. Why do Sri Lankans have to be good so good at bowling?  Elder Wjendran doesn't like being called an Indian ha ha.

Our numbers this past week weren't super high but we've really got some good progressing investigators.  We were able to teach the Pasciona Family and now they all have a baptismal date for April 18th!!  The only problem is that only one member of the family (Teresa) attended church yesterday so I really hope that they can be baptized all together.  Teresa's birthday is on April 18th (which we had no idea about until we extended the date) so it would be so cool if they could all be baptized on her birthday.  Then we have another fairly new investigator Baby Cam who is awesome!  She's an active Catholic but she listen's to other religions because she is so interested in the differences of churches.  Any ways, yesterday Elder Beinvinuto and I taught her about the First Vision and the Book of Mormon and she had a lot of questions about Joseph Smith and especially about Baptism.  But when she prayed at the end of the lesson she prayed to know which church is true and to help her understand what we taught to her.  She also invited us to come back later tonight which is a great sign!  

I have truly learned to love reading my scriptures since I've been here on my mission and I wish that I would have treasured them more before I left on my mission.  This past week I was reading in Mormon and there was a verse that really stuck out to me in Mormon 9:28.   "Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God".  It was funny because I read this after I went to Manila.  But it really made me think of "How many of the people that I saw at MOA are really giving into the natural man and satisfying the lusts of man".  I know that it's not an easy thing to overcome the natural man that dwells inside of us, but if we heed the advice of Moroni and "ask with a firmness unshaken" that we can overcome the trials and temptations of this world. I know that our Heavenly Father will help us control our natural desires.  Even just playing bowling and walking around the mall made me feel different than when I was in Naga.  I felt the influence of the world on my teenage mind/heart and it was a hard thing to overcome; but through our Heavenly Father nothing is impossible.  

I love you all so much and I'm grateful for everything that you guys have done for me.  I couldn't be a happier missionary.  Just thinking that I have less than 100 days left is mind boggling and that number is only going to get smaller.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                         -Elder Cole

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

Well...... I'm going to Manila on Wednesday!!!!!  All of the foreign missionaries who are going home in 2015 get to go to Manila to have their fingerprints done so it looks like I'll be going to the biggest and most crowded city in all of the Philippines.  Maybe I could get lucky and see a celebrity there ha ha?

This past week has been a lot like last week. Hot, rainy, and there were a lot of punts.  Walking for long distances on a road with very few houses is a hard thing to do, especially when the person you had an appointment with isn't there or is busy.  Welcome to the life the a missionary in the Philippines.  It's pretty easy to get a first lesson, it's just the 2nd and 3rd ones that are difficult.  Sometimes it's more effective just to show up to someones house unexpectedly so they can't hide from you when you show up at the time of the appointment.  Despite the challenges there is a big bright spot in our work.  Angela is progressing very well and at this moment she is going to be baptized on the 28th of this month!!  She is super shy but super smart and when we reviewed the baptismal questions with her she answered them perfectly.  It's hard to believe that she's only 10 and she is that smart.  We also met someone by the name of Baby Cam and she is a devoted Catholic; but when we came to visit she welcomed us in and listened better than almost anyone I've ever taught.  She even took notes about what we shared so she could study it before our next visit which was very impressive.  We also had a service project in Elder Green and Haueia's area which was pretty awesome.  We weeded and tilled this families ground so they could plant more plants.  It sounds pretty simple but my arms were pretty dead after using a hoe to till the ground.  I never have been more grateful for things that I have in America that makes life so much easier.  Afterwards this member family gave us buko (coconut) water for a snack.  Not being prideful or anything but I by far drank the most out of anyone.  The only problem was when I had to pee on the jeepney going home.  

The other day I probably had one of the best personal studies that I have ever had on my mission.  I studied in 3rd Nephi Chapter 17 when Jesus Christ invites all of those who have illnesses and all of the children to come unto him and to be blessed.  I just imagined what it would be like if I were one of those young one's who Jesus Christ blessed and cared for.  When I read that my heart was filled with spirit and I was nearly  in tears when I read there.  I realized that we are all figuratively speaking young children and we need to come and be healed by Jesus Christ and his atonement.  Life is hard and of course we aren't perfect.  But because of the love of Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father, there is a way for us to become clean and relieve the weight that sin puts upon our shoulders.  All we need to do is come unto Jesus Christ as a little child and become perfected in him.

I love you all so much and I am most grateful for everything that you do for me in my life.  As the sand in my hour glass is about to run out I really have developed a deep love for my Savior and for all that he has done for not just me, but for all of us.  Thanks for your wonderful examples of strength and obedience.  Continue to be strong and to always hold strong to what is right.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo.  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                  -Elder Cole

Monday, March 9, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

This last week reminded me a lot of The Princess Bride just without the romance.  There was a lot of hard times, annoying times, but at the end of it all things worked out.  Just for starters, the beginning of our week was boss!!!  Elder Beinvinuto and I OYM'ed this girl named Marjorie on Sunday and got a return appointment with her on Monday night.  At first she really didn't seem interested so we both just hoped for the best.  When we started teaching she told us that she was a Baptist but she was open to listen to different religions.  Then she told us that she had two miscarriages so she doesn't have any kids yet.  At that moment the spirit told me to just testify about eternal families and I could tell that when we mentioned that the family can be together forever she started to listen a little closer.  Her sister Cindy even joined in on the lessons and she is now really interested to!!!  Then on Tuesday we went to one of our further areas and we got punted from most of our appointments within an hour or so which led to tracting.  At first we didn't have a lot of success but before it was time to go back we wanted to go check out this road that we've never been down before.  Let me say that it was a long road and it didn't look like it was going anywhere so we were thinking about turning back; but then we saw a woman walking with her Caribou so we asked her if there were more houses ahead.  She told us that there was a whole little sub-division ahead.  Both Elder Benvinutos and I just turned to each other with big smiles on our faces.  When we got there there was this guy who started talking to us so of course we went up and started talking to him.  As we were introducing ourselves to him people just started to gather around like I was David Archuletta.  I'm serious there were a good thirty plus people just standing around listening to us.  Eventually we started to teach a short simple lesson and because of that we have a lot of return appointments and potential investigators. 

 Long story short the next few days weren't so nice to us.  Walking in the summer heat getting punted, and not being able to find anyone to teach is rough. But that's what the next few days brought to us.  Rian and Mark Dave also told us that they don't want to get baptized.  When we asked them why they said because they had already been baptized.  Well I know that an answer like that doesn't come from a 10 year old so I'm suspecting that they're family members have been influencing them in a negative way. But I guess that right now is not there not time and that they'll have to make that decision when they're a little older.  Bishop Flororita told us to keep teaching them so that they can know the gospel and that maybe they can change their minds.  Things were kind of like that until Sunday when the Lord fulfilled his statement to Joseph Smith "Your trials shall only be a small moment".  One of the members referred one of his friends families to us so we went and visited them before we went to our scheduled appointments.  I truly do have a testimony that the Lord is preparing the hearts of His children, we just have to show our faith in God to find them.  We weren't able to teach the father because he was working trying to get money so they could buy food but his wife and two daughters are golden investigators!!!  They are excited to attend church this next Sunday and they even said that they want to attend English class on Saturdays.

I am so grateful for all that you guys have done and continue to do for me.  I love each and every one of you so much.  I can't picture my life any differently.  I read an article in the new Liahona and it really made me grateful for you guys.  It was about this missionary when he was in the MTC and Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at a fireside and afterwards he gave a hug to his grandson.  This missionary overheard some other Elders saying "Oh it would be so cool to have President Hinckley as my grandpa"  Of course it would be cool to have your grandpa or relative be an apostle but I wouldn't trade my Grandpa Woolstenhulme, Grandpa Cole; or any other relative for anything.  The times that I have had with these wonderful people have influenced me just as much as an apostle has influenced his grandchildren and different family members.  Treasure your families.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                           -Elder Cole 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

BYU beat Gonzaga, well that's always a good thing to hear.  I don't think John Stockton was too happy about it but it's about time that BYU beats a high ranked team.  This past week has been one to remember.  Lot'ts of tracting, lots of punts, but a whole lot of fun.  My new companion is Elder Beinvinuto, he's a short term missionary from Canaman (which really close to my first area) and he is awesome.  I love this kid and it sucks that we'll only be together for one transfer; but at least that means that I'm going to die here in San Jose.  Elder Beinvinuto has so much fire and love for the work it's hard to keep up with him sometimes.  For being a new missionary he has no fear in talking to people and he has great teaching abilities. The Lord has truly blessed me with a great companion.

This last week we've been trying to find all of our hidden less-actives in our area which has led to some pretty eventful memories.  Yesterday we were looking for a guy named Roger and when we got to his house he told us to never come back.  I've met some pretty hard less-actives but I've never been told not to come back.  We also were OYM'ing people while looking for the houses of LA's and one time after we introduced ourselves to this one guy as missionaries he told us "I thought that all you wanted was to know where so and so's house was".  The only thing harder than work this week was pronouncing Elder Beinvinuto's name.  But on the bright side of work we do have potential investigators who seem pretty interested so let's hope that things work out.  Another blessing though is that Rian and Mark Dave finally attended church.  They're both primary age at the moment and I adore these kids to death.  In every lesson they listen and they are super smart so it's not hard for them to understand what we're teaching.  Anyways Elder Beinvinuto and I were sitting in church yesterday and then a few minutes before church started they walked in and I got a super big smile on my face.  I can't explain the joy that I feel when investigators come to church; especially because they came on their own.... well with their aunt who is a member but hey; for being under the age of twelve and coming to church without being forced to is pretty awesome.  

Elder Beinvinuto and I also had a pretty powerful experience yesterday.  One of the recent converts in our area had a stroke and they had asked us to give her a blessing.  So as soon as we finished the lesson that we were in we went straight to the hospital to give her the blessing.  The only problem was that there was no transportation going back to centro so we had to walk to the hospital.  Now this recent convert (Betty)  reminds me a lot of my Grandma Cole and just seeing her lying on the hospital bed reminded me of the last time that I saw my grandma before she left this life.  The spirit that I felt during that blessing was hard to describe; but this is one experience that I will not forget.

Thank you guys so much for all that you do for me.  My life has been greatly blessed from each one of your examples.  Because of you guys I am the man that I am today and the father that I will be in the future.  Don't forget that each one of you has great value to me and that I love you guys.  Take care always.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                       -Elder Cole

Monday, February 23, 2015

And so goes another fast transfer and I can say my goodbyes to Elder Guevarra and Elder San Pedro who are transferred.  With only 18 weeks left to go I'm starting to get a little bit nervous about going back into the real world.  Driving, school, dating (well actually I'm pretty excited about that one).  I've honestly had a few dreams about being home and it's starting to freak me out because this dream is going to be a reality before I know it. 

Not a lot of really exciting stuff happened this week which was kind of a bummer.  We've been focusing a lot on working with our potential Melchizedek Priesthood holders so that they can be ready to receive it before stake conference which is coming up pretty close.  We also focused on helping the ward organize a fireside to help members understand the importance of home teaching and of how to home teach.  We as missionaries had planned out a pretty good workshop but another one of the members gave a 3 1/2 hour workshop (and he still wasn't finished) so we weren't able to share our part on Saturday.  But Bishop Flororita said that we'll be having a part two of the fireside this upcoming Saturday so we'll have a chance to give our insights about how to help the ward. 

We've also had the opportunity to do service at a resort in the area of the zone leaders.  We cleaned up the land around the property because summer is quickly approaching.  "Who ever knew that coconuts could be so heavy"!!!  I think that the Philippines has the heaviest coconuts on the planet.  After an hour or so of carrying bags of coconuts you really start to feel out of shape.  While we were cleaning we found an ENORMOUS spider; and I mean that this sucker is huge.  So Elder Haueia thought it would be funny to put it on a stick and chase me with it because I hate spiders more than I do the Lakers (no offense to Laker fans).  I think I lost a good 5 pounds from that little joke.  

This past week in my personal study I've read a lot about the life of Christ and of the love that he showed for each of those he served.  For me tracting and OYM'ing is one of the hardest things for me to do.  I love talking to people it's just getting the courage to approach them which is the hard part.  But there's a few verses in 1st John Chapter 4 that really helped me to realize the importance of loving everyone  

18.There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

 19 We love him, because he first loved us.

 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

If we truly love our brethren and our God, than our fear to share the gospel will go away because we know that this is what they need in order for them to achieve eternal life. 

Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                  -Elder Cole

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

I spent Valentines Day without a Valentine :(.... well at least we had a baptism!  Hay-Hey was baptized this last Saturday(on Valentines Day) and  words can't describe the feelings that I felt during his baptism.  He was so excited and I will never forget his face when he came out of the water.  It's such an honor being able to help people come to know our Heavenly Father and to help them to start on the straight and narrow path.  It's such a weird thought thinking that in a little over 4 months I'll have to remove my name tag and people will start calling me "brother" again.  I still remember when Bro. Wilkinson started calling me "Elder" two weeks before I went into the MTC.  Looking back it does seem like a long time ago since I was a young 18 year old kid who didn't really know who he was or what he was doing.  But know I can say to you now that I have really found who I am, a "Child of God", and He really does love each and every one of His children;rich or poor, black or white, tall or small.  Being here in the Philippines has taught me a lot about how we need to have charity to all people, especially to those whom we struggle to love.  Now I'm not by any means saying that I don't have a problem loving everyone because there are times when I wouldn't mind putting some duck tape over peoples mouth; but if we strive to be like the Savior, He'll help us in our weaknesses so that we can make them strengths.  

Besides the baptism of Hay-Hey there hasn't been a whole lot that has happened.  Never mind....  On Thursday before District Meeting; we got a surprise phone from the AP's.  I"m not going to lie, even when you're innocent it's still scary when the AP's call because you know it's serious.  Well in short my good buddy Elder Christensen was ET'ed to Calabanga and my old room-mate Elder Haueia is the new companion of Elder San Pedro.  Oh, and this week we have a fireside coming up in the ward about home teaching and visiting teaching.  And guess who was asked to speak there... yep, yours truly will be giving a workshop on home and visiting teaching so if you have any ideas don't be afraid to email me.  

Thanks for putting some "play money" in my account, if you have any requests for souvenirs just let me know. Just to let you know T, I bought you your gift a while back so don't worry.  I still can't believe that Brendon and Shannon are getting married on the 4th of July!  Thankfully I'll be home in time to see dad tie the knot for them.  But it's too bad that I won't be able to see Kaiden... Elder Cloward pala. And please tell Emily "Good Luck and don't forget that you are a special missionary/friend."  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                            -Elder Cole

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dear Mom Dad, and Cole Family,

This past week has been another challenging week but I'm trying to stay positive as I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that each trial will help me grow in some way.  This past week I have gone on a few exchanges with Elder Christensen as Elder San Pedro and Elder Guevarra got sick earlier this week.  All I can say is that it's been fun walking around with a fellow American because everyone talks to you; especially when they find out that you can speak Tagalog.  But despite being two strapping young missionaries, we had a hard time teaching and finding people, partly due to the fact that we didn't have a male present with us which made things pretty rough.  Oh well, with all said and done I really enjoyed working with him and getting to know him better.  

We also had zone training this past week which was great.  We talked about the Plan of Salvation and of how we can more effectively teach it because it is such an important lesson.  It was weird listening to the testimonies of those missionaries going home at the end of that zone training because I remember when Elder Hodge (my district leader in Minalabac) was kind of bragging that he only had 3 transfers left.  Well now he's about to go home in two weeks and then I'll be in his position.  Man time goes by way too fast.  After zone training I was able to finally have a real american style burger!!!  It had real cheese, lettuce, and beef patties.  I'm not going to lie, it was pretty gosh darn expensive but it was worth every peso. Elder Guevarra's birthday was yesterday so a member invited us over to eat and have a small party which was nice.  But one of the members kept trying to get me to buy ice cream and pancit (the small little noodles) for him because one way I can show my love is by providing for his temporal needs, even if it meant buying it on a Sunday.  We both just laughed afterwards.  Of course I was planning on getting him something for his birthday; just not on a Sunday.

This past week I was reading in Alma about Moroni who just happens to be one of the coolest people to have ever lived on the earth.  Even cooler than LeBron James (which isn't something that I would say very often).  Well there's a verse about the characteristics of Moroni that really makes me look at myself and try to do better.  in Alma 48:17 it says "Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."  I don't know how you guys feel when you read this verse, but every time I read it I get the chills down my back.  The faithfulness and steadfastness of Moroni is honestly hard to explain.  Not once did he fear the power of the Lamanites; but he feared doing wrong in the sight of God throughout all his days.  I know life is full of hardships and temptations, but if we can try to be like Moroni we can overcome anything that the world throws at us.

Well Cole Family, I was so excited to get your letter , but I am sad to say that there wasn't any money in the card when it arrived :( There was a bunch of packing tape over the seal which seemed suspicious. Well I hope that the person is using the money for his family and didn't bet on the Seahawks to win the Superbowl.  Maybe 70 dollars will do for souvenirs for the family.  I've become a pretty good bargain shopper which has come in handy :).  I think that having a Filipino feast would be just fine with me when I get home.  Than you guys can taste the stuff that I've been having for the last two years.  Thanks for all that you guys do.  Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!  May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                          -Elder Cole  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dear Mom, Dad, and Cole Family,

The Lord has really shown me this week that He is preparing the hearts of His children to hear the gospel.  This past little bit the missionary counsel has been pushing us to OYM (Open Your Mouth) and have added a new key indicator in our reporting.  They have set the goal for 50 OYM's every week per companionship which is pretty gosh darn high for most people.  No we weren't able to reach the goal but we have had some great experiences.  On Tuesday I went on exchanges with Elder Christensen in their area (who is from Utah) and at the beginning of our day we got punted from most of our appointments which of course means...tracting/OYM'ing.  But me being me got this great idea to just ask people if they knew a specific person because Filipinos are always willing to help/talk to you if you have a question.  So we decided to start ask people if they knew where Chris Tucker lived.  I would just like to say that we got a lot of funny reactions of people trying to find out where "Chris Tucker" lived.  But this one time we met a guy named Elmer who invited us in after his frantic search of trying to find our good friend Mr. Tucker.  We talked to him and shared our purpose as missionaries.  Later on we met his mom who was about 87 but was still walking without a cane or any help.  We were able to teach Elmers mom who was super nice and open but she almost spoke pure Bicol which isn't my strongest point.  I got some of what she was saying so the lesson was still super great.  She has 12 kids but 3 of them have passed away along with her husband so she is really interested in learning about Eternal Families.

Well might I say that there are a bunch of Less-Actives in our area so most of our appointments are for Less Actives and new members.  But our investigator pool is still steadily increasing.  We met two kids by the name of Rian(11) and Mark Dave (9), and they are probably some of the politest and smartest kids that I have ever met in my whole life.  Seriously.  When we taught them they just listened and answered every question.  Their mom was an investigator when she was young but she doesn't have an interest at the moment in taking the lessons but she is all for having her kids take the missionary lessons if that's what they want to do.  Reynan (Hay-Hey) is still golden.  He's always excited to see us and always is willing to help us out.  I don't think that I've met a more prepared person my whole mission.  I really hope that his baptism will continue on February 7th!!!

This past week we also had the opportunity to have interviews with President Reeder which was great.  I have been so blessed to have him as a Mission President.  During our district meeting while we were waiting to be interviewed the zone leaders had us read and discuss a talk about being a consecrated missionary (I'm sorry I don't remember who gave the talk).  But he said that being a consecrated missionary means that we need be willing to give everything to the Lord.  Our thoughts, our desires, our energy, and most of all our time.  He even mentions that he keeps his heart locked and forgets about his girlfriend (not that I have to worry about that one).  Being a consecrated missionary also means that we need to change our nature.  We need to follow the commandments not because we know that it's expected of us; but because we really want to.  We need to work hard not because we want a lot of lessons to look good; but because we truly love our brethren.  I don't think that I can call myself a consecrated missionary but I know that if we all try to consecrate ourselves to the Lord that we will recieve blessings beyond what we can imagine.  

Mahal na mahal ko po kayo!!! May God be with you till we meet again.

                                                    -Elder Cole