Monday, October 27, 2014

First Baptism

Pamilya at mga Kaibigan,

     My companion and I had a kind of rough week.  We didn't really accomplish any of our goals.  We weren't even close on a lot of them.  It's very hard to teach people in this area.  You would think that it would be easier to get around in more of a city area, but it's actually a lot harder.  Everyone wants to be taught on the weekends when they have time, but the traffic through Calamba Friday through Saturday is bumper to bumper the whole day.  We are trying to figure out a way to get around it so that we can teach the people that we need to.

     The highlight of the week was definitely Brother Harry's baptism.  We had the baptism on Thursday because he always has reservations at the resort on the weekends.  It was a great experience for everyone.  We were all scared because just a few minutes before the baptism there was no one there.  My companion walked into the room and said, "Ay, walang tao!"  (I think this means, no one or nobody?)  Then in true Filipino fashion, everyone, including the ward mission leader, the bishop, and the speakers, showed up at the absolute last minute.  We were very relieved.  I had the opportunity to perform the ordinance for Brother Harry and it was an awesome experience.  He was confirmed yesterday in church and he is slowly starting to introduce his family into the church.  He is very careful not to force them.  He wants it to be their decision.

Bro. Harry's baptism

     We keep reminding him that this is only the first step of membership in the church and he still has so much more to accomplish.  He actually went up to the bishop and said, "So when can I get the priesthood so I can use it for my family?"  (in Tagalog of course)  The Bishop was pleasantly surprised and pulled him right into his office for the interview.  It's been amazing to see how the gospel can change someone's life and how many people they can affect.  My companion and I are very excited because we realized that we have quite a few baptisms to follow. 

With Bro. Harry after his confirmation.

     On another note, we haven't had the opportunity to visit the Exporna family again, but we did hear something about a branch president last time we talked with them. So I'm pretty sure it's the same person that everyone is talking about.  It's really cool to find connections that spread so far.  

     Thanks again for all of your support!  We also found out that Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the seventy will be teaching us tomorrow in San Pablo City.  He gave the talk in conference about "Which way do you face?"  We are super excited to hear him.  Even though it means an early morning, two hour jeepney ride.
- Elder English

View outside the church.

 Riding in a trike.  We were going really fast and it was raining.

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Discovery


Pamilya at mga Kaibigan,
     My companion and I had a great week.  We didn't get as much teaching done as we wanted to, but we were able to find a lot of people to teach.  We decided to go to a different area in our neighborhood that we had never been to before.  We were walking through all of the houses and my companion and I realized that we didn't understand anything the people were saying.  We started talking to people and apparently the whole area is Ilocano. (Another group and dialect of the Philippines.)  They were really friendly and we found a lot of new people to teach.  I've discovered that tracting here is probably not the same as it is in the US. (They met someone from Pasuquin, Brgy. 1 with the name of Exporna. Sound familiar to anyone?)

"The trail to the new area."

     We have our first baptism this week and I'm super excited.  Brother Harry is getting baptized and he had his interview last night at his house.  It's been a really cool experience seeing him progress in the Gospel.  I think he knows more about the doctrine and history of the church than most members do.

     The members in our area are great.  We always have young men who are willing to go out and work with us, and members are always preparing referrals for us.  I feel like I got really lucky with my first area.  The weather is starting to cool down, or less hot, and it's cloudy and rainy a lot.  I have been very thankful for that.  I still haven't adjusted to the weather here.   

     "We forgot our umbrellas."

     My favorite experience this week was when we got to teach a little 9-year-old boy.  His whole family are members, but are currently inactive.  We used the Gospel Art Book and taught as simply as we could.  It has been amazing to see his family rally around him and help him to read the Book of Mormon.  Through teaching him, we have been able to strengthen the testimonies of the rest of the families.  It has helped me realize that the Gospel really is for everyone and anyone can gain a testimony that it is true.  

"The path to and view from one of our investigator's houses."

     I'm slowly adjusting, my language is getting better, and it is getting a little easier to get out of bed every morning.  I am missing the fall weather though.  Thanks for all of your support.  Things are going great!

- Elder English

"We made a little Christmas scene in our freezer.  We don't use it because any food that we buy, we cook and eat that day."

Monday, October 13, 2014

General Conference

Family and Friends,

     I finally got to watch Conference after hearing everyone talk about it all week.  I really don't know if I can pick a favorite speaker, but I always love listening to President Eyring speak.  He is so genuine and you can tell that he really cares about what he is saying.  This is a skill that I have been trying to develop in teaching.  I also loved President Uchtdorf's talk on the perspective that the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers.  It is amazing to see the realization in people's eyes when we teach the Plan of Salvation.  When they realize what they can become and what their purpose is on earth, their whole life changes.  I also really liked how speakers gave their talks in their native languages.  After we got back to the apartment, my companion said the prayer for our lunch in his native language of Pangasinan (one of the many dialects of the Philippines).  I was really confused because I wasn't understanding anything and I started to get really scared.  He said he did it because of general conference.  He thought it was pretty funny.

     The work is going great and Brother Harry is getting baptized next week.  I'm so excited for my first baptism.  I'm excited for him of course.  He is so prepared and now he is starting to share the Restoration with his family and his neighbors.  He even referred his boss to us and offered to come teach her with us.  I thought that was amazingly brave of him.  He said now he just wants to share the Gospel with everyone.

     I had the opportunity to eat KFC at the SM this last week.  It was weird to be eating a drumstick of Kentucky Fried Chicken with rice and gravy.  It was nice to eat some mashed potatoes again though.  Everything is going great and I feel like General Conference gave me a little boost to go out and work really hard this week.  Thanks for all of your support. 

Ingat kayo!
Elder English

Monday, October 6, 2014

At Full Strength


Family and Friends,

     This week has been great.  My companion and I are both at full strength, finally.  It was really nice to start getting in full days of work again.  We got two more investigators with baptismal goal dates and 7 new investigators.  My favorite experience was last night (Sunday).  A few weeks ago we met a man on the street while we were looking for a referral.  He was very interested and we set a return appointment, but a lot of things happened in the last week, so we weren't able to go.  We dropped by last night and he was just home from work and his whole family was there.  They didn't have enough chairs for all of us so we all sat on the dirt/concrete floor and we taught them the Restoration.  The spirit was really strong and they all committed to be baptized if they come to know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. 
     My companion and I have really been trying to get our lessons to take less time.  Especially the first lesson.  We have been practice teaching and we only say a few sentences for each principle.  We have noticed that our teaching is much more powerful when we just teach simple, powerful truths.  Our goal is for all of our lessons to only take about thirty minutes.  We can also get a lot more work done this way.
     We actually don't get to watch Conference until next Sunday, so I haven't seen any of it yet.  I have heard a couple of quotes and I'm getting so excited.  I have never been more excited for a general conference in my life.  I have finally realized how amazing it is that we have a living prophet today.  We are so blessed to have someone that can simply tell us what God wants us to do right now in our lives.  We are going to the stake center in Cabuyao to watch it.

     The more we travel around our area, the more I realize how different and beautiful it is.  I am missing the chilly evenings back in Utah though.  If I feel myself thinking about home, all I do is focus on the work, and I completely forget about it.  The Christmas celebration is in full swing in the Philippines.  That part is still really weird for me.

"Just a picture of the mountains and the trail we take to get to some of our investigators."
     Our work is going great and we are finally working full days again.  I have realized that when you forget about yourself, the Lord really helps you with whatever you are trying to do.  Even if it is waking up in the mornings.  Thanks for all of your support!  Things are going great.  We are on schedule to have four baptisms this month and we are so excited.

-Elder English

"My companion and I take pictures of each other if we fall asleep."
 (Strategy for staying awake while studying??)