Monday, June 20, 2016

Small Town Problems

WEEK 100 - WEEK 101
Dear Family and Friends,

     It's been another great week here in Majayjay.  The work is going well and we're continuing to see progress.  The members here in Majayjay are great, and there is always someone ready to work with us whenever we need it.  It really makes the work a lot more fun and effective.  Majayjay is a pretty small town, so everyone gets to know you pretty quickly.  While we're walking around every day, we see the same people over and over.  It's a really close-knit community and it's quite fun to get involved in the work here.  It gets pretty funny sometimes with the "small town problems".  For example, Majayjay is known for having the coldest, cleanest water.  Most of the conversations here end up in a discussion about water, and which political leader provides their barangay with the best water.  Elections just finished here, and the new mayor isn't too fond of the barangay where the church is located, so we currently don't have water at the chapel.  It's like we're in our own little separate world, and it's actually helping me so that I don't really think about going home. 

     We're also focusing a lot about getting out to the members who have trouble getting to church.  Sometimes they simply don't have the means to get to church.  All we can really do is testify that the Lord will bless them for the sacrifices that they might make to follow his commandments.  It's really inspiring to see their faith as they do everything that they can to show their love to our Heavenly Father. 

     We have mission tour coming up this week, and Elder Haynie from the area presidency will be visiting us.  He had our whole mission take an online survey, and apparently there were a few statistics that concerned him, so that's what he will be teaching us about.  Our half of the mission is heading to San Pablo for the meeting, and I'm really excited to hear his message for our mission.  I will also be bearing my testimony along with the other missionaries who are close to departing, so it's really putting things into perspective for me.

     Right now, I'm just focusing on keeping my head down and working through the last few weeks of my mission while also trying to savor all of the sights and sounds.  Everything is going well, and I don't really have anything at all to complain about.  
- Elder English 

Monday, June 6, 2016


Dear Family and Friends,

     So my last transfer in the mission went smoothly.  It was a really weird feeling to unpack my things knowing that I would be packing again in six weeks, but I'm loving my new area.  On transfer day, I took a two hour bus ride from Lucena to San Pablo, then an hour jeepney ride from San Pablo to Santa Cruz, and then finally an hour and a half jeepney ride from Santa Cruz to Majayjay.  It is the most exhausting thing to travel in the Philippines.  Especially when you're pulling your luggage around and sweating the whole time.  I also didn't have anyone to travel with, so I did the whole thing by myself, but everything went well.

     Majayjay is a really cool area.  It's a small town at the base of a mountain.  When I say small town, I really mean small.  The biggest building here is this really old Catholic church.  We don't even have an ATM in our area, so if we want to withdraw our money, it's another hour jeepney ride.  It's a lot cooler here and rains about twice a day, so I'm really thankful for that.  There are three sets of water falls here that are pretty famous throughout the region, so hopefully we'll get to visit some of those.  The members are really amazing and supportive, I'm excited to see what work we can get done here.

     My companion's name is Elder Villasana.  He's from the Visayas region of the Philippines and speaks Illongo (another dialect).  He's a really great elder and loves to smile and laugh.  We spend a lot of our time just laughing while we're walking or at members' houses.  It's only a branch here, so the members are really close to the missionaries and know all the Elders who were assigned here before.  These past few days, we've just been traveling around the area and getting to know everyone.  It's been a while since I've done a lot of walking in an area, so I did have some sore feet for a few days.  

     There was one miracle that we saw this past week.  We had Stake Conference on Sunday and it costs about twenty pesos (50 cents) to get there.  We were walking on Saturday night when we saw one of the elderly women in the branch.  She came up and said hi to us.  When she shook hands with me, she suddenly refused to let go of my hand.  She then told us that she had just spent the rest of her money on food and asked if she could have 20 pesos to be able to go to stake conference the next day.  We explained to her that we weren't allowed to give her the money and she seemed a little upset, but said it was ok.  The next day we saw her at the Stake Center and she said that her cousin had come by the night before, unannounced and bought some of the vegetables from her garden.  It was exactly 40 pesos. Just enough for getting to Santa Cruz and the return trip.  It was a really big miracle for me to see how happy she was.

     Everything is going well and I'm really enjoying the area here.  I can't find anything to complain about.  Thanks for all of your continued support and counsel.

- Elder English

Monday, May 30, 2016


Dear Family and Friends,

     I'll start off with the big news.  I have been transferred again.  My companion went home yesterday and I received the call that I had also been transferred.  Elder Pepa and I are going to be replaced by four sisters.  I was positive that Lucena would be my last area since I only have 6 weeks left in my mission and I had only been in Lucena for 6 weeks, but I guess it just shows that you can never get too comfortable.  My last area will be Majayjay in the Sta Cruz Zone.  I've had the opportunity to go there before while I was in the office and it was always my favorite place to go, so I guess everything worked out well.  It's a small town in the mountains and it's pretty far away from any large city.  It's a really beautiful area and it's also much cooler there than Lucena so I'm definitely looking forward to that.  My companion will be Elder Villasana.  I don't really know anything about him except that he's Filipino.  It was definitely an unexpected change, but I'm also really excited.  It seems like Heavenly Father is just keeping me on my toes until the end of my mission.

     Elder Pepa left for the mission home yesterday.  It was definitely a weird experience, but I was really happy for him.  Right now, I'm companions with Elder Yagomyom since his companion also went home yesterday.  We're just splitting the work between our two areas until transfer day.  Elder Pepa and I spent most of the last week making sure everything was ready for the sisters.  We also had to let all of our investigators know that the missionaries coming there will look a lot different from us.  We also spent a lot of time cleaning the apartment.  President Mangum even called us and explained that a Sister's idea of clean is much different than an Elder's idea of clean, and that he didn't want to get any calls from traumatized sisters.  The apartment used to have four elders in it, but that was a long time ago.  We only used the bottom floor and the top was just locked off and we never felt the need to open it.  Let's just say that we realized that we were going to have to move some appointments around once we cracked the door open. 
     We also experienced a lot of success this last week.  Three of the families who have trouble getting to church all came last week so we were really happy to see them.  Elder Yagomyom and I also have been having a fun time together.  He's from Mindanao and he definitely has a different attitude than the Filipinos that are from Luzon.  The tone of his voice is really loud and harsh.  Sometimes I'm not sure if he's upset or not, but he said I will definitely know if he's upset at me.  Apparently, that's how they speak in Visaya.  He's a really cool elder and he speaks the purest Tagalog I've heard from the missionaries that I've worked with so I'm really learning a lot from him.

     Everything's going well and I'm really excited to head out to my new area on Thursday, and meet my new companion.  Thanks for all the support that you continue to show!  I love you all!

- Elder English

Monday, May 23, 2016

Repeat Letter??


Well, Bradyn has sent me e-mails that have been extremely short, encrypted and even missed a week or two here and there, but this was the first.....sent the same e-mail from the previous week.  Ugh!!! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Orange Soda and Cookies

Dear Family and Friends,

     It's been another great, hot week here in Lucena.  It seemed like one of those dead weeks where everything just seemed to be happening a little slower, but we were still able too see a lot of miracles.  The heat continues to get hotter, and we're really thankful for any opportunity that we can get to take a break and share a message with someone.  I never thought that part of my motivation to find would be the opportunity to sit in the shade for 20 minutes.  Also, it's pretty customary here in the Phillipines to give your guests a little snack.  This usually ends up being soda and some kind of bread or crackers.  We got to have a lot of orange soda and cookies this past week.

     The current training plan for the mission is focused on charity and the atonement.  The objective is that once we realize what charity truly is and how we can obtain charity through the atonement, our only desire will be to share that knowledge with others.  My companion and I definitely had the opportunity to share that charity with others as a lot of our appointments fell through and we were able to find new people to share with.  

     The family that I talked about last week came to church again last week, and they said that they're back for good.  The father was interviewed last week so he can start working towards getting the Melchizedek Priesthood, so that was definitely a miracle for us.  We're really happy for how much he will be able to bless and help his family.  

     Everything else is going well.  My companion's getting down to his last few weeks in the mission, but we're not even really thinking about it since we both know that we're close to the end.  Thanks for all of your continued support and advice!

- Elder English

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Dear Family and Friends,

     First of all, I'm so thankful for the opportunity that I had to skype with my family.  Even though I'll be seeing them in just a few months it was a really fun experience.  It was especially fun to see my pamangkin (niece), Kinley.  I'm really excited to meet her in person!

     This week was another hot one.  Summer is really starting to set in, and it's only rained once in the past two months, which is really crazy for the Philippines.  Everything has started to turn from green to brown, and it's especially hot in our area because it's a city that's close to the ocean.  We're just the right distance away so that we get all of the humidity of the ocean without the breeze.  It's weird to say that I actually miss the dry Utah heat, but aside from the weather, everything is going great.  The area is progressing and we're continuing to see an increase in the involvement of the ward.  

     There was one miracle that really stood out for me this week.  We were running behind on our schedule and it looked like we weren't going to be able to make it to one of the families that we had planned to visit.  We had a set appointment that we really couldn't be late for.  My companion and I didn't even really say anything to each other, we just decided to go anyway, even though it would make us late for the rest of the day.  I guess we both had the same prompting from the Spirit, because we both just jumped in the tricycle without even saying anything to each other.  This family hasn't come to church in about a year so we were pretty unsure.  We showed up at their house and their 17- year-old daughter told us that she had been waiting for us even though we never told them that we were coming.  Her father had just gotten out of the hospital that morning and was having a rough time recovering from a surgery.  She told us that she had just said a prayer earlier that morning that someone with the priesthood would come to their house so that her father could have a priesthood blessing.  My companion and I both stared at each other as we realized what had happened without us even saying a word to each other.  We gave her father a blessing and then shared a message.  It was a great experience and they were able to make it to church yesterday.

     Elder Pepa and I get along well.  We always seem to be on the same page and seem to know what the other is going to say or what the other is thinking during planning or a lesson.  It's been a really great blessing to be companions with him.  Everything is going well and the days are flying past.  Thanks again to all of you for your support and advice.  Love you all!
- Elder English
With Elder Pepa - Lucena City

Monday, May 2, 2016

Short and Powerful

Dear Family and Friends,

     Another great week has come and gone in Lucena and it continues to amaze me how fast the time seems to be going.  My companion has one month left in the mission, so we're trying to get the most out of our companionship that we can before he goes home.  We're continuing to see miracles every day in our finding and visits to members.  When I first got here, there was only one member who was working with the missionaries.  It seems like the elders before just assumed that other members didn't want to work with them.  Elder Pepa and I have been trying to invite every member that we can to come out and work with us for a few hours.  Amazingly, several of them were willing to come out and work with us.  It turns out that all we had to do was ask.  The work and teaching all becomes a lot more effective when there is someone there that the investigator can relate to, instead of a Tongan and an American.

     We've also been working on getting our lessons focused on doctrine and making them more short and powerful.  President Mangum always says that the most important part of their conversion takes place in between our visits, not during them.  So we've really focused on just making sure that they understand our message and making sure that they've felt the spirit.  Then it's just up to them to act on these feelings and promptings.  It's been a real blessing to be with Elder Pepa, and a really unique experience for both of us to close to going home.  I've learned a lot from him.

     We have some investigators who are doing really well.  They're all reading and praying about the Book of Mormon.  The real trick is getting them to come out for church.  A lot of them have work on Sundays, and it really isn't an option for them to miss a day of work, since they're living meal to meal.  It can be pretty scary to tell them that if they sacrifice and come to church, the Lord will bless them and help them.  It really is a true test of their faith.

     Our district here is really fun, and I've served with all of the missionaries before in past zones, so there wasn't much of an adjusting period.  Everything's going great.  Thanks again for all of your support and advice!

- Elder English