Friday, November 27, 2015

Christmas is Coming

Dear Family and Friends,
     It's been another great week here in Alaminos and it's hard to think that transfer day is already coming again next week.  Things are starting to get even more busy than they were before.  There are a lot of meetings coming up and with all the transfers and supplies, things are starting to get pretty crazy.  The good news is that my companion, Elder Benosa, will not be getting transferred.  When there's a new office elder, he gets transferred a few weeks early so that he can have a little more time to get the hang of things.  No one has come in yet, so it means that Elder Benosa and I are going to be spending another transfer together.  I'm really happy about it.  We actually have very similar personalities and sense of humor, so it's been a fun few transfers.  

Some Elders in San Pablo zone.
The Ford Ranger is the car that we drive.
     Other than being really busy, things are going well.  We haven't been able to go out and work as much as we would like to, but the families that we're visiting are doing pretty well.  It's really easy to teach the Gospel during the holidays.  There just seems to be an extra force behind our words with Christmas coming up.  We've started doing lessons where we just sit down and talk about Jesus Christ with them.  We ask them how He has blessed their lives and how they have felt his love for them, and then we testify of how he wants to help them be even happier and come closer to him.  It's very simple, but it seems to be quite effective, and the spirit is always really strong. 

     One of the Elders in San Pablo got dengue fever so we kind of just hung out with him and helped everything get organized at the hospital since our mission nurse was busy in Batangas.  I felt really bad for him because I knew what he was going through.  I guess he was luckier than me though, because he actually got to stay in a hospital to recover.  He is all better now, and I had a really good time getting to know him.  We also went to Paete to move one of the sisters' apartments.  We have gotten really good at making everything fit in one trip.  I never liked packing or moving, but it's a whole new world here in the Philippines.  You can't really drive up to a lot of the apartments because they're all down really skinny, crowded roads.  This means that we usually have to park on the main road and walk all of their things down these skinny little alleys that are usually full of people and tricycles.  It' definitely an interesting experience.

     Everything is going great and I'm really excited for the Christmas season.  Thanks again for all of your support and advice!

- Elder English    

(another city in Laguna Province)
Elder Galbraith, one of the senior missionaries came with us.  
He's a photographer and he's always taking pictures.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The One

Lookout in Siniloan
Dear Family and Friends,

     Another week has come and gone and it's hard to believe that the next transfer is already coming up in a couple of weeks.  Just like last year, I'm really starting to miss the cold weather.  It is still really weird to me to be coming up to the Christmas season and not to have any change in the weather.  

     Things have been pretty exciting lately.  With all of the events happening around the world, a lot of the world leaders are gathering for a conference in Manila.  They have shut down a lot of the city for security concerns and everyone here (and I' m sure everywhere else)  is excited to see what's going to happen.  

     Everything else is going well.  We just finished up the filter runs this month, so hopefully we will have some time to get out and do a lot of work before next month, transfers, and Christmas Zone Conference.  Everyone in the office is just waiting for the big rush of everything that comes in around Christmas.

     We are really pushing the new church initiative right now.  It's called "A Savior Is Born" and we already have a ton of pass along cards and material going out through the mission.  I'm really excited to see how the mission can use this to help the work.  It seems like the Church is really trying to emphasize the purpose of Christ's birth and what this world would bee like without a Savior.  As far as work goes, we have been getting back to the office pretty late for the past week, but the other night we had about two hours to go out and work.  We didn't have any appointments and no one was available.  So, we were stuck doing the same thing we usually do in that situation.  We walked down the street behind the mission home to try and talk to some people.  I had a little bit of a negative attitude and was thinking that there is no way that there is someone on this street who hasn't been talked to before by missionaries.  Well, I guess we happened to find the one.  She was really interested in our message and even went across the street and found a male to sit in the lesson so that we could teach her.  It was a really spiritual experience for all of us and we're very excited to visit her again.

     Thank you again for all of the support that you continue to show.  I really can't think of anywhere that I'd rather be right now.

- Elder English  

Lookout in Siniloan


There was a giant B so I kind of had to take a picture.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Encrypted E-mail

His letter started out well.  I'm hoping that he'll be able to resend it un-encrypted?:(

Dear Family and Friends,
     This week has been another great one.  (*^%^&*))))(*GLGH
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Monday, November 2, 2015

All Saints' Day

Dear Family and Friends,

     Another week has come and gone in Alaminos, and surprisingly, I am starting to like working in the office more and more.  We have really been striving to get out and work more.  Even if we just walk down the street behind the mission office and try to find someone who we can teach a lesson to.  It has really helped me understand the difference between being an effective missionary and just being a missionary who's outside.  It's really easy to go outside and wander around, and then say that you worked hard because you're tired at the end of the day.  It's another thing to be able to say that you were able to utilize and maximize every minute of the day.  I have really been trying to bridge the gap between "hard work" and "effectiveness".
     As I said last week, I have been enjoying having the opportunity to have all of the words of all the prophets at my fingertips whenever I want it.  I was reading a talk this week called "The Inconvenient Messiah" by Elder Holland.  He said some things that really related to a few things that I've been trying to improve on when it comes to missionary life.  It says that Satan knows that most members of the Church, or believers of Jesus Christ will not be tempted by the blatant and obvious sins of the world.  Instead, he "counters our discipleship with the offer of 'Convenient Christianity."  He is constantly bombarding us with all these decisions to make things more convenient at the cost of  losing just a little direction on our path of discipleship.  It really made me think of all of my personal "sins of convenience" that are making things easier for me at the moment, but are ultimately leading us away from our Heavenly Father.  
     I had a really odd realization the other night as we were out working.  I kept feeling like there was something that I should be remembering or that I was missing.  I then realized that it was October 31st.  I stopped dead in my tracks, and shouted at my companion, "Elder, Halloween pa la ngayon!"  (It's Halloween today!)  He just shrugged his shoulders and kept on walking.  Apparently, Halloween doesn't exist in the Philippines.  Instead, they have All Saints' Day.  It's on November 1st and is basically the equivalent of our Memorial Day in the States.  Everyone sets up a big tent at the cemetery and just hang out there all day.  Anywhere in any city that is close to a cemetery is completely shut down, and we had to be in at 6:00 on Sunday.  Apparently, a lot of people also like to drink with their ancestors.  Even though I've been here for a little while now, there are still these huge differences in culture that you would think would be really obvious, but that I'm just realizing.

     Everything else is going well and we have the District Leader Training and MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) that we need to get ready for this week.  Thank you again for all of your support and all the advice that you continue to give!
- Elder English   

There was a member that fed us after we played basketball on pday.  
You can see that we're all really, really happy.