Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in the Philippines

Dear Family and Friends,

     I'm officially finished with my first Christmas in the mission field.  It was an odd mixture of being homesick, tired, and really excited at the same time.  We had our Christmas Zone Conference and it was a blast.  President Mangum delivered an amazing message on the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  He has redone the whole training plan of the mission.  The whole thing is now centered around discovering and teaching the Atonement.  He kept saying, "Elders and Sisters, the ATONEMENT IS NOT A DOWNER DOCTRINE."  He told us to practice teaching the Atonement with a smile on our face.  It's a lot harder than it sounds.

     It's helped me realize that we really are helpless without the Atonement.  I always say in lessons, "Kung walang Pagbabayad-sala, walang pag-aasa sa atin." (Without the Atonement, there is no hope for us)  The Atonement is the true gift of Christmas and it really is the good news of the Gospel.  

     As far as our work, we have been having a really hard time finding new investigators lately.  Since referrals are extremely rare, we are left to tracting.  This is probably the hardest part of missionary work for me, but there truly are blessings that come from it.  We are going to be doing a lot of walking over the next few weeks.  We have been asking the office for bikes, because we walk for about 45 minutes to an hour between some appointments on gravel roads through rice fields.  Let's just say that bikes would be a truly appreciated Christmas gift here.  It would also give me a tiny taste of the mountain biking I've been craving.  That's all for now!  Thanks for all of your support and Christmas letters!
Maligayang Bagong Taon! (Happy New Year!)
- Elder English

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