Sunday, November 23, 2014

Transfers and The Island Life

Family and Friends,

     I've been transferred!  My new area is Socorro, Mindoro.  It is about as far away as you can get from the mission home and my companion and I are pretty isolated out here.  The other missionaries affectionately refer to our area as "outer darkness".  The Socorro branch isn't actually a branch.  It is a group.  There is a really interesting story that goes with Socorro.  A few years ago, they pulled the missionaries out of Socorro, because of some things that were going on in the branch.  After that, the whole Socorro branch dissolved and just went away.  We are the second group of missionaries to come into Socorro after it was reopened.  Now it is just a group of about 15 active members and two active priesthood holders.  Let's just say that I was a little overwhelmed by the whole situation at first.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done here, and my companion and I are really excited.  

     My new companion is Elder Santos.  He's 19 years old and only speaks a little bit of English.  I'm really excited to improve my Tagalog a lot here.  On Mindoro, they speak the deepest form of Tagalog you can find in the Philippines and I'm in a very provincial area.  We spend almost all of our time here visiting inactive families.  It has amazed me to see them pull out their old Books of Mormon and dust them off, and then commit to come back to church.  

     I had to travel all by myself from Calamba to the Batangas port (about three hours).  Then it was a three hour boat ride to Mindoro.  Then it was another 2 hour drive to our area.  We only have district meetings once a month because of the travel time and expenses.  

     That's all the information I have about my area right now.  I'm getting pretty talented at walking on muddy trails in the jungle without getting my pants dirty.  Other than that, I'm really excited to get to know the area and my companion better.  There is an unbelievable amount of work to do here, but we can't wait to get to work.
- Elder English

Our current meeting house.

 What we see outside of our apartment.

My last week with Elder Torio.  We had this service project while it was pouring rain.  My first service project with machetes and bamboo.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Transfer Week

Pamilya at mga Kaibigan,

     This week was an awesome last week for me and my trainer.  Our mission president emailed us personally and told us that we need to increase our oym's.  An oym (open your mouth) is when you are able to share a gospel truth with someone and extend an invitation to them.  My trainer took the liberty of telling the mission president that we would get 50 this week.  I was a little apprehensive, but we decided we were going to do it for our last week together.  We talked to everyone on jeepneys, tricycles, people sitting outside their houses, and anyone else who would listen.  It's probably the scariest thing that I've ever done.  My Tagalog has definitely improved a lot this week.  So after a crazy week, we counted up the names in the back of our planners and found that we had 101 oym's.  We were freaking out.  It really is the most fulfilling feeling to conquer something that you never would have even thought of doing before.

     We still haven't found out what is happening with transfers.  Only people on the islands are notified on Monday, and the rest of us tomorrow.  My trainer goes home on December 29, and we're almost positive that one of us will be transferred.  He says It's good so that I can get away from him before he gets trunky.  I went on exchanges with our district leader the other day, and I've realized how much I've learned and also how much I still need to learn.

     I've really come to love the area and the members here in Calamba.  Our ward had Its primary program this week and it was a great success.  The theme was "Families are Forever".  We had a lot of investigators their and we know it was a really powerful message for them.  Our investigators are doing well.  It is very difficult for some people here in the Philippines to get to church every week, so we're trying to help them any way that we can.  We really are blessed to know what we need to do in order to have eternal families.  I've always known the Plan of Salvation growing up, so I never though that we would be teaching people who believe that they won't know their family after they die.  Teaching lessons is turning from stressful to fun a little bit more every day, and everything is going great! 

     Thank you also to all the ward members, family members, and friends that are writing me.  I might not be able to respond, but just know that I really do appreciate it.
- Elder English

Monday, November 10, 2014

Missing Autumn in Utah

Family and Friends,

     It has been another great week here in Calamba with lots of successes, failures, and interesting experiences.  We have been a little frustrated with a few things.  We have two investigators who are both ready to be baptized.  The only problem is that they are in less-active families.  We have a very strict rule that we cannot baptize them until we reactivate the parents.  We have been working really hard at it but they just don't seem interested in coming back to church.  It has been really hard for the investigators, but we know that everything will work out.  

     Other than that, things have been great.  We have been finding little ways to get around the traffic problems.  Even if it means leaving an hour of travel time in between some appointments even though they're only about 5 miles away.  Let's just say we've put some wear on our shoes this week.  

     Transfers are next week.  I don't know if I will be transferred or not.  My companion said that the mission president likes the missionaries who have just finished their training to lead the area.  So he thinks that I will stay where I am for right now.  My companion and I have just gotten to the point where we feel like we can teach fluently together, but I know that's how a mission works.  We're going to make our last week together the best one yet.  

     My language is getting better and my trainer is having me lead all the lessons.  It can be really hard when it feels like the lesson is stalling out.  I'm learning to just listen to the Spirit and not to hesitate when I get a prompting.  We really are so blessed to have the Holy Ghost as a guide in our lives and to always know that our Heavenly Father is watching us.  Even though I am really missing the Utah Fall weather.  That's all I have for this week.  I know I will have a lot to write next week for transfers.  Thank you all for all of your support!  
- Elder English

Playing baseball in the rice fields with pieces of bamboo and a volleyball.

This little boy (Gerald) always comes up and talks to us.  I've learned a lot of Tagalog from trying to talk with him.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Great Week!


Pamilya at mga Kaibigan,

     My companion and I had a great week.  We had the opportunity to be taught personally by Elder Lynn G. Robbins.  He started out by having us make a list on the board of different excuses and ways that we rationalize.  He referred to this as 'the list' for the rest of the time.  He said, "The second that you make an excuse, the very second that you rationalize or go to 'the list', you lose control of your life.  Having 100 percent agency means that you have 100 percent responsibility."  He basically told us to accept the results of our work and make sure we will be proud of those results.  It was a really inspiring message.

     My companion and I had a really great week.  We have six investigators with a baptismal goal date, and every single one of them came to church!  We were ecstatic.  We also had two less active families that we have been teaching come to church yesterday.  We could really tell that they felt the Spirit during the testimony meeting.  We also got to teach two referrals after church that the members had prepared for us.  They both accepted baptismal goal dates.  I'm always nervous about extending a date in the first lesson and I always think that everyone will just say no.  But I've come to realize that if we are bold when we teach, they are more likely to feel the Spirit.

     Everything else is going well.  I've become addicted to this chocolate drink here called Chuckie.  It's the closest thing they have to chocolate milk that I can afford.  My family knows how much I love chocolate milk.  Any dairy products here are crazy expensive.  Other than being hot all of the time (even though everyone is wearing big coats when it gets dark) everything is going great and we're just excited to get out and teach every day.

- Elder English

The view out of the back of the San Pablo chapel
(city where the mission home is located)...... 

......and a view of part of my area (Calamba).

The first car that I've been in for 3 months..... 

....and a turtle that I saw on the street that I thought Brock and Dad would like.