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