Monday, August 31, 2015

The Office - Season 1 Episode 1

Dear Family and Friends,

     I received an unexpected phone call last week Tuesday.  President Mangum called during our lunch time and notified me that I would be the new office elder for the mssion.  I was really surprised, especially when he told me that I would be leaving for the office the very next day after our district meeting.  I was a little disappointed because I had only been in Bauan for about a month and I was just barely getting to know the area and the members.  The good news was that I still hadn't even fully unpacked from my last transfer so that went pretty smoothly.

     Life in the office is really different, and I'm still adjusting to it.  Our mission doesn't have enough senior couples to take care of the different zones so we have taken on a lot of extra responsibilities.  We head to the office at about 8:00 or 9:00 every morning.  We go through all the baskets and prioritize what we need to do for that day, and then we do our hour of personal study there in the office.  Then we do work in the office (referrals, pouches, mail, supplies, cellphones, deductions from support, and anything that President or the senior couples ask us to do).  After that, we usually need to drive somewhere in the mission to help someone move an apartment or give them supplies for their apartments (we do a lot of driving).  Once a month, we also drive to most of the areas in the mission to replace water filters since we don't have senior couples to do it.  We usually get out to do actual proselyting at around 6:00 or 7:00.  We usually only get 1 lesson in a day and then we go OYM and give the referrals to the other missionaries in San Pablo.

     It's definitely a different schedule than I've become accustomed to, but the work is still really exciting and and fulfilling.  The two other office elders are really good at planning so everything runs very smoothly.  It is also really exciting to be involved in all the inner workings of the mission.

     I will be replacing Elder Nielson at the end of this transfer.  They just brought me in early so I could learn everything that I needed to before he leaves.  Elder Nielson was actually my zone leader on Mindoro and the other office elder (Elder Benosa) was my district leader on Mindoro, so it's pretty fun for us to all be back together again.  Elder Nielson is from Alberta, Canada, and Elder Benosa is from Mindanao, Philippines.  They are both really nice guys and it's been fun to be in a trio with them.  Elder Nielson will be transferred on September 10th, so we have a countdown to learn everything we need to since he has been in the office for the longest time.  

     Everything is going well, and once again, I'm just trying to absorb as much as I can.  I'm really excited for all of the new and unique experiences that lie ahead.

- Elder English   

Monday, August 24, 2015


Dear Family and Friends,

     This week was refreshing.  It rained off and on and was cloudy the whole time.  Even though it gets a little harder to talk to people and get inside when it's raining, it was definitely a nice change from the heat.  There is a typhoon going through the very northern part of the Philippines, so we have just been getting the edge of it.  This week seemed to flash by.  We got  a lot of good work done and we really focused on getting members involved in the work.  We have a large pool of investigators right now, but we noticed that the only few that were progressing were those who had been referred by members.  So we really focused on trying to find a match for all of our investigators so they can have a fellow-shipper and someone to go to besides the missionaries if they have a question or concern.  It has been really successful and we are definitely going to keep doing it.

     We always have a mix of interesting experiences when we focus on finding and we also had a few this week.  Most of them just involve drunk people trying to get us to take a shot or sometimes they will just try and give us money so that we will go away.  On one occasion, they thought we were the employees for the TV company and they invited us right inside.  They realized that we were missionaries, but we had already come inside so they just decided to listen to us.  They seemed really interested and were excited for the next appointment.  A lot of times, a little kid will run outside and then run back inside telling their parents that it's the police and then the parents come running outside.  It's not the best first impression, but it is just one way that we're able to get our message out. 

     Everything is going great and I'm really starting to enjoy every phase of the work, which makes everything go by so much faster.  I'm getting to know the area and the members here.  Thanks again for all of your support and advice!

- Elder English

Our view of Batangas Harbor.  
Definitely not a beach but there are a lot of really big boats.

Dinner with the Dimatulac family

Monday, August 17, 2015

Baptism in Bauan!

Dear Family and Friends,

     No matter what happens in your mission, it is always worth it when you have a baptism.  When I first got into the area, Verlita had a baptismal goal date.  The only problem was that we still had a lot of lessons to teach her and we were thinking that we were probably going to have to extend her goal date.  When we told her this, she absolutely refused.  She told us very frankly that she had agreed to that date and that she had been looking forward to it for a long time.  She also said that she would do anything that it took to be baptized on that date because she needed the Gift of the Holy Ghost as soon as she could get it.  We agreed and flew through the rest of lessons making sure that she understood everything.  She was really happy about it and completely prepared.  It made me think of one of our mission president's questions that he always tells us to ask ourselves.  "Who's dragging who to the baptismal font?"  She was definitely dragging us.

Verlita's baptism (Elder Leon's first baptism)

     Other than that, everything is going well.  When I first came into the area, they had tracted and found a lot of investigators and that's what all their work was focused on.  There is no problem with that, but I have noticed that the work that I enjoy the most is with less-active families and part-member families.  I suggested that we focus on theses things a little more without pushing the investigators out of the picture.  Things went great and we have noticed that the members are starting to volunteer to come work with us because they have connections with many of the people that we have started to visit.  It's really exciting to see the ward rally around those who are going through a rough patch in their lives or feel a little forgotten.

     The area is progressing well and we're starting to get our work and teaching into a good balance.  No complaints!

- Elder English

ps - Welcome to the USA Angel! (Angel is a relative from the Philippines who recently arrived in the US this past week.)

Our last district meeting.  All of the sisters happened to get sick at the same time so it was just the four of us.

The Maranan Family

Zone pday on top of this huge church.

View of Taal 
(I think he's referring to a volcano, but I don't see it.)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Settling In

Dear Family and Friends,

     The past couple of weeks has been a swirl of faces and places. Our area actually isn't just Bauan. That's just the central location. Our area actually includes three bayans or town centers. One is Bauan, and the other two are San Pascual and Mabini. We have set days where we will only work within certain areas.  It is actually a really fun experience, because there is always a new place for us to go and a new place where missionaries haven't been before.  We do a lot of finding and going bahay-bahay (house to house). We have had to get really creative with our planning, because the traffic gets really bad here and we can sometimes get stuck on a jeepney for an hour in between appointments.

     I had the opportunity to become an on-the-spot speaker yesterday in sacrament meeting since the two other assigned speakers conveniently didn't show up.   It was a really good opportunity for me to introduce myself to everyone in the ward.   They told me the topic was families and eternal marriage.   Let's just say that I mainly focused on families.  I have discovered that the easiest thing to talk with anyone about is families.   I have a routine where I always ask all investigators what the most important thing in their life is.  The first answer is always family.  It is then really easy to jump into any aspect of the Gospel.

     We also have a baptism coming up this week.   Elder Leon is really excited because it will be his first baptism. We're both really excited and she was interviewed just yesterday after church.

     Everything is going well in the area, and Elder Leon and I get along great.  We both have more relaxed personalities, but we still like to get out and work hard.  Thanks for all of your support and advice!

 - Elder English

Monday, August 3, 2015

Bauan City, Batangas

Dear Family and Friends,

     It's always an interesting experience to come into a new area and try to take all the surroundings, landmarks, and faces in at once.  This is my fifth time doing it, and it is still really stressful for me.  My companion (Elder Leon) is great and knows the area really well.  We have a pretty large teaching pool here so its really nice to always have a full schedule.  We're pretty close to the ocean here, but not close enough to get the ocean breeze.  Instead, we just get the heat and humidity from the ocean.  The deeper that you go into the Batangas region, the Tagalog gets more wacky and deep.  We're pretty far in now and they speak really different here.  Sometimes when we walk past people having a conversation, I have to listen really well to see if they're still speaking Tagalog.  They say that Batangas is where Tagalog came from, so that must mean that I'm in the best place to learn it!

     It was really hard for me to leave Tanauan, and I'm still really missing the friends that I made there, but the members here in Bauan are awesome and have a great desire to get out and share the Gospel.  My companion is new in the mission and is still working on the language, but he is trying really hard and really putting his all into every aspect of the work. 

     Right now, the focus of the mission is on developing faith to find.  The whole mission has started an "experiment on faith."  The whole mission has committed to get 10 OYM's every day for the month of August.  It has been a little bit of a challenge for us and our faith has definitely been tested when it's close to 9:30 and we still need to talk to 6 more people.  But we're  already seeing the fruits of our labors as we're continually finding more people to teach and the number 10 seems a little smaller every day. 

     A little more information on my companion.  He is 18 years old and from Sydney, Australia.  He is 6'5" and a huge rugby fan.  I don't have any pictures right now, but I will for sure next week.  Let's just say that this is the first area where people have started saying that I'm small.  Just because I look really short when I'm walking next to him, when I'm actually taller than most people here.  The work here is progressing well and I'm just trying to memorize faces and landmarks right now since our area actually includes three other towns other than Bauan City.

     Everything is going well and I'm just adjusting to the heat and Tagalog here in Batangas!  Thanks again for all of your support and advice!

- Elder English