Saturday, August 23, 2014

Arrived in Manila

This has been quite the week for Bradyn.  He began his travel to the Philippines very early Thursday morning with some time in between for him to be able to call us from the Portland airport.  What a cherished moment that was for our family!  Dan, Kyra and I were all able to talk to him.  It was fun to combine all of our individual conversations and feel as though we had more time with him.  He spoke of everything he could think of in the short precious minutes we had.  How grateful we were to hear that same sweet voice, but with greater confidence, purpose and eagerness to continue on his journey.

We learned from Bradyn that they were initially going to the Manila MTC and staying for a few days.  Then they would be transported to their respective missions.  Last October, I had the opportunity to meet a missionary couple from Springville currently serving in the Manila MTC (she as a nurse).  She was so thoughtful to send me a couple of quick reports of the missionaries upon their arrival and the following day.  She and her husband stayed up late to welcome them.  She even sent photos!  These are her notes below, along with Bradyn's, the next day letting us know of his safe arrival.

I had asked her to also look out for Nicholas Scoffield....

"Your son and Elder Scoffield are here.  Elder Scoffield came on the first plane that arrived at 1130pm to the MTC, and was asleep  by the time I am writing this.  I will get a picture tomorrow.  
Elder English arrived at 1215 am and we just took them to their room to get to sleep.  They are tired but so excited.  They will go out proselyting on splits tomorrow afternoon.  
We'll take good care of them!  They look great!" -Sis. Eves

"Here are two great missionaries who were sent out proselyting this afternoon.  They will be great and are doing well." -Sis. Eves

Elders Scoffield and English
(Manila MTC)

Hey Mom!
     They just wanted us to email you really quick to let you know that we arrived safely.  We are in the Manila MTC now and things are moving really fast.  After lunch today we are going to go on splits with native missionaries in downtown Manila.  They gave us one extra hour of sleep to accommodate for 14 hours of jet lag, so we are all really out of it.  I already met with Sister Eves and she took a picture of me.  They have our schedule packed here so I need to go soon.  They said we are the first group of a pilot program called the "post-graduate program".  Apparently, we should know Tagalog now, so we are doing some pretty intense stuff.  They also said we are here mainly to get everything in order for our work visas and switching our passports over.  I guess in the past, missionaries had to leave their area and fly back to Manila to finish up their paperwork.  We won't have to do that.  Anyway, everything is going great and they cooked a special American breakfast for us.  Egg and sausage sandwiches.  (He mentioned in our phone call that he was looking forward to eating a Filipino breakfast his first morning there.)  So I actually haven't eaten any Filipino food yet.  Talk to you soon!  Ingat! - take care

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Last P-day in the MTC

P-day is short for "preparation day."  This is when they usually attend the temple, read and write e-mails, do laundry and of course continue to study.  


Family and Friends,

     I can't believe that my time in the MTC is done.  It is really weird not to be heading off to school.  Instead, I'm going to the Philippines for two years.  There really isn't much to report this week.  Basically the same thing that we have done every day for the past month.  We did go to this thing called In-field orientation.  It was yesterday and it was 8 hours long.  It is held every week and it is for all of the missionaries that are leaving the following week.  They basically teach us all of the stuff that we don't learn in the classroom.  We learned how to relate the gospel to someone that you just meet on the street, use key indicators to set goals, and about three hours just on working with members.  We practiced how to get referrals, and how to invite members to lessons, and how to utilize every aspect of the church organization for our investigators.  They kept saying over and over that the only way to do missionary work today is to use the members.  I never realized how important members are in the conversion process.
     Other than that, same routine every day.  I'm definitely ready for a change.  This week I learned that the Tagalog word for conversion is pagbabalik-loob.  It actually translates into English as "return inside".  My teacher used it to show us that when we teach the gospel, we are helping people discover who they really are and how they can return to that.  It just made me more excited to get to the Philippines.  It just barely hit me yesterday that next Sunday, I will be introducing myself to people at church in the Philippines.  It is a little scary to think about, but I know that I'm as ready as I'm going to get.
     I really wish that I had more to say, but I'm sure that I will have a massive email next week.  Thanks for everything and for all of your support!

-Elder English

"We turned our suits inside-out like the Fresh Prince.  We goof around sometimes."

Saturday, August 9, 2014

One Month Gone!

Family and Friends,

     I got my travel plans yesterday!  I leave on August 21 at 4:30 in the morning.  I go to Portland, then a 5 hour layover, then I go to Tokyo, then a 2 hour layover, then I go to Manila, then a bus ride to San Pablo.  I have two weeks left in the MTC and so much to learn still, but I just want to get to the Philippines.  The other day, we all went on Google Earth and looked at pictures of our mission.  We decided that we needed to stop because we were all freaking out and wanting to leave right then.  We made a rule that we can only look at pictures every other day so that we can stay focused.  
     Everything is still going well in the MTC.  I loved the package that I got with letters from all the cousins.  It really helped a lot!  I only have 12 days left in the MTC which makes me realize how much more I still need to learn.  The other day, the MTC president (Pres. Nally) came and took me out of class.  I was really scared until he told me that his daughter (Jessica Davis) was in my ward.  He took a picture with me and everyone in my district is super jealous now.  The MTC presidency really is like royalty around here.  
     One funny story that happened this week.  One elder in our district started talking about some things that probably weren't missionary appropriate.  Nothing too crazy though.  He was leaning against the board and the framed picture of our missionary purpose fell down and smacked him in the head.  We were all laughing because he literally got hit with his purpose when he was getting distracted.  Just a little reminder that the Lord really is watching all of us, and sometimes we need a little reminder or smack on the head. 
     Also, all of our investigators are progressing really well.  We got Gemma to go to church. We basically told her that there were blessings waiting for her and her family.  We said that she will have to make sacrifices, but the Lord will bless our broken Tagalog, so it took about 15 minutes.  We are now actually able to ask open-ended questions and answer them.  We are still trying to get the sentence structure down though.  It's just a different way of thinking.  It can be kind of hard to break an 18-year habit.
     I'm almost out of time so I just wanted to say hey to all of the cousins, family, and friends. I'm working my hardest and can't wait to get to the Philippines.
-Elder English

*For those of you who remember the Scoffields (Lance and Cherie), their son Nicholas, ended up in the same district as Bradyn.  He is going to the Quezon City Mission.  So exciting!!

Photos courtesy of Elder Scoffield
Companion - Elder Erickson

Elder Nicholas Scoffield

Saturday, August 2, 2014

MTC Halfway Mark

Dear Friends and Family,
     Things are going great in the MTC.  I'm not going to lie, every day is really hard, but when you think about why you are here, everything else seems to not matter.  We have a teacher named Brother Kaka.  He's from New Zealand.  It's really weird to hear Tagalog with a New Zealand accent, but he is an amazing teacher.  He asked us the other day, "Why do you want to learn Tagalog?"  We gave him the generic answers of teaching better and to change people's lives.  Then he told us, "I don't think you realize what you are saying.  I don't think that you guys are learning Tagalog so you can go impart your wisdom on people.  I think you are learning Tagalog to help people be happy."  It helped us to realize that if you learn with that purpose in mind, you want to study every minute possible and learn everything that you can.
     We got three more investigators this week!  It is getting really crazy.  We were all stressing out and then one of our teachers told us that he taught 13 lessons a day in some areas.  We were all blown away.  We also received an email from our mission president that laid out our goals in numbers for the San Pablo mission.  It said we needed to have at least 20 discussions and 7 new investigators a week.  According to our teachers, if we are good missionaries, it will be really hard to keep track of how many baptisms we have.  It just makes us more and more excited to get over to the Philippines and share our message.
     We have one investigator that is in a really tough situation. It's actually just one of the teachers, but they use investigators that they taught in the mission. She is an inactive member with 8 kids.  She said that her husband works every day but Sunday and she has to wash his uniforms on Sunday.  If she doesn't, he will lose his job and she can't do it any other day because she has 8 kids.  Our teacher said that sometimes you have to tell people that their excuses are never going to be good enough to miss out on the sacrament.  They might have to make sacrifices, but the Lord will bless them.  It's a really hard situation, and one that we don't really understand because we are still teenagers.  
     Anyway, I am getting pretty good at the MTC lifestyle.  I have the meal schedule memorized and I have found out which foods upset my stomach the least.  Our building has filled up with new missionaries and we feel like veterans now.  We make fun of ourselves and brag that we are three weeks old.  
     We also had an amazing devotional this week.  Brother Groberg spoke to us.  For all of you who have seen "The Other Side of Heaven," you might know that it was a true story. Brother Groberg was the real missionary in that movie.  He actually lived that exact story!  It was just really incredible to think about.  Our mission president said, "Not to take anything away from him, but you will have stories just like that to share with your families."
     So things are going well.  I am halfway through the MTC and every day I see friends arrive who I went to high school with.  Some of them have arrived and left while I have been here. It's a little discouraging, but I know that it will all be worth it when I get to the Philippines. Thanks for all your support and prayers.  

-Elder English    

Going to the temple.
(Provo Utah Temple)