Monday, February 23, 2015

Sabbath Day

Dear Family and Friends,

     Another great week of work has come and gone on Mindoro.  The Socorro group is progressing well and our attendance at church is slowly increasing each week.  We're close to the 40 mark!  When I got here the attendance was around 15.  Sometimes the work here is really discouraging, but it's fun to see our hard work pay off in Sacrament meeting.  The most important hour of the week!  We have really been stressing the importance of the Sabbath Day to members and investigators in our work.  

     We have one RM in our group, and he's awesome.  Let's just say that he says what needs to be said and doesn't worry about what others think.  He was talking about being early to church when one sister raised her hand and said, " I wake up at 5:00 in the morning and sometimes I still can't make it to church on time."  He asked her, "Do you want the full blessings of the Sabbath day?"  She nodded.  Then he hit the table and said, "Then you need to wake up at 4:00!"  It was a little extreme and harsh, but everyone got the message and my companion and I were just trying not to laugh.  (All of this took place in Tagalog of course, but it takes a really long time to type.)  We have quite a few investigators who are reading every day and have baptismal goal dates, but they just can't make it to Sacrament. We are trying to teach them that they might have to make sacrifices, but God knows this and will bless them even more.  On the mission, I've realized how important it is to keep the Sabbath Day holy.  We are blessed throughout the whole week by observing the Sabbath Day. 

     Things are going great in the area, and my new companion and I are getting along great.  He's even taught me a few words in Ilocano (another Filipino dialect).  Thanks for all of your support!  I'm kind of losing track of the days and weeks, but I guess that's a good thing.  Getting lost in the work!

- Elder English

This was our district before transfers.  It was made snapshot of the week for the whole mission.  No big deal.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Companion

Dear Family and Friends,

     This week, I got a new companion.  I was the only one getting a companion, so I waited at the pier in Calapan with the couple missionaries for Mindoro all day.  He had a twelve hour travel day, which means I had a twelve hour wait day.  It's a nerve-wracking experience to wait all day wondering what your new companion is going to be like, but I did get ice cream out of it!  (Elder and Sister Cranston are the best)  It was actually the first ice cream that I've had since the MTC.  Anyway, after waiting the whole day, I saw my companion lugging his suitcase off of one of the boats.  We slept over in Calapan and then took the two hour van ride back to our area.

     So a little information about my companion.  His name is Elder Avelino, and he is from Pangasinan (Ilocano).  He is 22 years old and just finished his twelve week training.  This is the first time that I am the senior companion, and I have realized how much I still have to learn.  But at the same time, I have been a little surprised with some of the things that I have been able to say in the lessons.  I'm still not fluent by a long shot, but let's just say that the language is no longer a huge source of stress for me (just a little one).  We have spent the last few days getting to know the members and investigators.  I have come to realize that the most important thing in our area is the trust and friendship of the members.  Sometimes even just a two minute conversation with one of them can really help the work.  Things are going crazy here because there are tons of live debates going on between the different religions here in every city on Mindoro.  Some of our members and investigators were even becoming interested and attending some of the debates.  Our district president visited and gave a very bold talk addressing the matter.  He said, "No religion wins in a debate, only Satan."  I have become very thankful for the knowledge that I have, and seeing this kind of confusion gives me an extra boost to talk to as many people as I can.

     That's all for this week.  I was thankful that there was no drop in the work with a new companion.  I made sure that everything was organized and updated and we could just pick up where my last companion and I left off.  I'm really excited right now to get to know my new companion better and continue to improve our area!
- Elder English

With my new companion, Elder Avelino.

Monday, February 9, 2015


Pamilya at mga Kaibigan,

     I do have some news for transfers this week.  Fortunately, I am staying in Socorro, but my companion (Elder Santos) has been transferred to Siniloan, which is on the other end of the mission. Which means he has a few days of travel in front of him.  I'm really sad about it, because we were really starting to work well as a companionship, but I'm excited to meet my new companion.  I don't know much about him yet, but his name is Elder Avelino.  He just got into the mission in November, which means I will be his follow-up trainer.  It will be my first time being the senior companion so I am a little nervous, but excited for the opportunity.  My Tagalog has definitely improved over the last few transfers with there being absolutely no English in Socorro, and very, very little English from my companion.  It was really frustrating at first, but I am really thankful for it now.  I can understand everything now, except for the really specific words.  All the members are saying, "Filipino ka na!"  (you're Filipino now!")  Let's just say it made me really happy the first time they said it. 

     Anyway, things in our area are going great.  My companion and I have been working really hard to make sure everyone is progressing and we have had a lot of cool opportunities in finding people.  The mission is really in a shrinking stage right now.  The surge of everyone that came in has died down and we have lost a total of 25 companionships this last transfer and the mission is closing 15 areas, but the work is still progressing in our little corner of the mission. 

     The sister that I mentioned in one of my past emails who we met on the street is now in Alma 5 after only three weeks.  She is awesome!  The only problem is that she is really close to a place where they have live debates between different religions.  I think next to basketball, this could be the biggest spectator sport in the Philippines.  We had an awkward moment last week.  We walked by a debate on kaligtasan (salvation).  One of the pastors saw us and shouted, "Ano ang sasabihin ng mga mormons?!"  ("What do the Mormons have to say?") Our mission president is very strict in not participating in debates, and we politely declined and kept walking, but it made me realize how blessed we are to have the fullness of the gospel and the Plan of Salvation.  

     That's all I have to say for this week.  Being a missionary is great!  I will have a lot to tell you next week about my new companion. Thanks for all of your support!
- Elder English

Jessica's (recent convert) birthday.

Group members at church meetinghouse.

Monday, February 2, 2015

God is a God of Order


Dear Family and Friends,

     This week I found out how nice it is when you have an organized area book.  I decided to go through and clean out our area book a little.  I saw a teaching record that had been folded and put in the back pocket of the binder.  I pulled it out and found an investigator who had been taught every single lesson and had committed to baptism.  We had no idea who she was.  We went out and found her house, which was right next to a few members.  She told us that she had wanted to be baptized, but she wasn't married.  The missionaries were transferred and never came back.  She has been with her spouse for five years now which means that all she needs is a CENOMAR (certificate of no marriage) and she can be baptized.  This amazing find really added a little boost to our work as we were getting a little sluggish after a long week of walking in the heat and mud.  She has an amazing testimony and said she wants to get baptized as soon as possible.  We couldn't even speak we were so excited.  For all you future missionaries, keep your area books updated!  I know that my family will be shocked to hear this, but I really have seen the difference of being organized.  God is a god of order.  

     Other than that, we had a great fast and testimony meeting.  The way it works in Socorro is you start on the first row and everyone gets to bear their testimony.  Our investigators are progressing well and reading.  The real trick is getting them to church.  But we know that as long as they gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, nothing will stop them from getting to church.

     On another note, Christmas finally got to Mindoro!  I received all of your Christmas cards and also a big, big package from my family.  Let's just say that my 72-hour kit has improved substantially.   Thanks for everything! I really appreciate it.  (He mentioned that a couple of his favorite things were the cans of Hawaiian Sun drinks and the legos.)
- Elder English

P-day on Bulaklak Beach (Pinamalayan, Mindoro)