Monday, June 20, 2016

Small Town Problems

WEEK 100 - WEEK 101
Dear Family and Friends,

     It's been another great week here in Majayjay.  The work is going well and we're continuing to see progress.  The members here in Majayjay are great, and there is always someone ready to work with us whenever we need it.  It really makes the work a lot more fun and effective.  Majayjay is a pretty small town, so everyone gets to know you pretty quickly.  While we're walking around every day, we see the same people over and over.  It's a really close-knit community and it's quite fun to get involved in the work here.  It gets pretty funny sometimes with the "small town problems".  For example, Majayjay is known for having the coldest, cleanest water.  Most of the conversations here end up in a discussion about water, and which political leader provides their barangay with the best water.  Elections just finished here, and the new mayor isn't too fond of the barangay where the church is located, so we currently don't have water at the chapel.  It's like we're in our own little separate world, and it's actually helping me so that I don't really think about going home. 

     We're also focusing a lot about getting out to the members who have trouble getting to church.  Sometimes they simply don't have the means to get to church.  All we can really do is testify that the Lord will bless them for the sacrifices that they might make to follow his commandments.  It's really inspiring to see their faith as they do everything that they can to show their love to our Heavenly Father. 

     We have mission tour coming up this week, and Elder Haynie from the area presidency will be visiting us.  He had our whole mission take an online survey, and apparently there were a few statistics that concerned him, so that's what he will be teaching us about.  Our half of the mission is heading to San Pablo for the meeting, and I'm really excited to hear his message for our mission.  I will also be bearing my testimony along with the other missionaries who are close to departing, so it's really putting things into perspective for me.

     Right now, I'm just focusing on keeping my head down and working through the last few weeks of my mission while also trying to savor all of the sights and sounds.  Everything is going well, and I don't really have anything at all to complain about.  
- Elder English 

Monday, June 6, 2016


Dear Family and Friends,

     So my last transfer in the mission went smoothly.  It was a really weird feeling to unpack my things knowing that I would be packing again in six weeks, but I'm loving my new area.  On transfer day, I took a two hour bus ride from Lucena to San Pablo, then an hour jeepney ride from San Pablo to Santa Cruz, and then finally an hour and a half jeepney ride from Santa Cruz to Majayjay.  It is the most exhausting thing to travel in the Philippines.  Especially when you're pulling your luggage around and sweating the whole time.  I also didn't have anyone to travel with, so I did the whole thing by myself, but everything went well.

     Majayjay is a really cool area.  It's a small town at the base of a mountain.  When I say small town, I really mean small.  The biggest building here is this really old Catholic church.  We don't even have an ATM in our area, so if we want to withdraw our money, it's another hour jeepney ride.  It's a lot cooler here and rains about twice a day, so I'm really thankful for that.  There are three sets of water falls here that are pretty famous throughout the region, so hopefully we'll get to visit some of those.  The members are really amazing and supportive, I'm excited to see what work we can get done here.

     My companion's name is Elder Villasana.  He's from the Visayas region of the Philippines and speaks Illongo (another dialect).  He's a really great elder and loves to smile and laugh.  We spend a lot of our time just laughing while we're walking or at members' houses.  It's only a branch here, so the members are really close to the missionaries and know all the Elders who were assigned here before.  These past few days, we've just been traveling around the area and getting to know everyone.  It's been a while since I've done a lot of walking in an area, so I did have some sore feet for a few days.  

     There was one miracle that we saw this past week.  We had Stake Conference on Sunday and it costs about twenty pesos (50 cents) to get there.  We were walking on Saturday night when we saw one of the elderly women in the branch.  She came up and said hi to us.  When she shook hands with me, she suddenly refused to let go of my hand.  She then told us that she had just spent the rest of her money on food and asked if she could have 20 pesos to be able to go to stake conference the next day.  We explained to her that we weren't allowed to give her the money and she seemed a little upset, but said it was ok.  The next day we saw her at the Stake Center and she said that her cousin had come by the night before, unannounced and bought some of the vegetables from her garden.  It was exactly 40 pesos. Just enough for getting to Santa Cruz and the return trip.  It was a really big miracle for me to see how happy she was.

     Everything is going well and I'm really enjoying the area here.  I can't find anything to complain about.  Thanks for all of your continued support and counsel.

- Elder English

Monday, May 30, 2016


Dear Family and Friends,

     I'll start off with the big news.  I have been transferred again.  My companion went home yesterday and I received the call that I had also been transferred.  Elder Pepa and I are going to be replaced by four sisters.  I was positive that Lucena would be my last area since I only have 6 weeks left in my mission and I had only been in Lucena for 6 weeks, but I guess it just shows that you can never get too comfortable.  My last area will be Majayjay in the Sta Cruz Zone.  I've had the opportunity to go there before while I was in the office and it was always my favorite place to go, so I guess everything worked out well.  It's a small town in the mountains and it's pretty far away from any large city.  It's a really beautiful area and it's also much cooler there than Lucena so I'm definitely looking forward to that.  My companion will be Elder Villasana.  I don't really know anything about him except that he's Filipino.  It was definitely an unexpected change, but I'm also really excited.  It seems like Heavenly Father is just keeping me on my toes until the end of my mission.

     Elder Pepa left for the mission home yesterday.  It was definitely a weird experience, but I was really happy for him.  Right now, I'm companions with Elder Yagomyom since his companion also went home yesterday.  We're just splitting the work between our two areas until transfer day.  Elder Pepa and I spent most of the last week making sure everything was ready for the sisters.  We also had to let all of our investigators know that the missionaries coming there will look a lot different from us.  We also spent a lot of time cleaning the apartment.  President Mangum even called us and explained that a Sister's idea of clean is much different than an Elder's idea of clean, and that he didn't want to get any calls from traumatized sisters.  The apartment used to have four elders in it, but that was a long time ago.  We only used the bottom floor and the top was just locked off and we never felt the need to open it.  Let's just say that we realized that we were going to have to move some appointments around once we cracked the door open. 
     We also experienced a lot of success this last week.  Three of the families who have trouble getting to church all came last week so we were really happy to see them.  Elder Yagomyom and I also have been having a fun time together.  He's from Mindanao and he definitely has a different attitude than the Filipinos that are from Luzon.  The tone of his voice is really loud and harsh.  Sometimes I'm not sure if he's upset or not, but he said I will definitely know if he's upset at me.  Apparently, that's how they speak in Visaya.  He's a really cool elder and he speaks the purest Tagalog I've heard from the missionaries that I've worked with so I'm really learning a lot from him.

     Everything's going well and I'm really excited to head out to my new area on Thursday, and meet my new companion.  Thanks for all the support that you continue to show!  I love you all!

- Elder English

Monday, May 23, 2016

Repeat Letter??


Well, Bradyn has sent me e-mails that have been extremely short, encrypted and even missed a week or two here and there, but this was the first.....sent the same e-mail from the previous week.  Ugh!!! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Orange Soda and Cookies

Dear Family and Friends,

     It's been another great, hot week here in Lucena.  It seemed like one of those dead weeks where everything just seemed to be happening a little slower, but we were still able too see a lot of miracles.  The heat continues to get hotter, and we're really thankful for any opportunity that we can get to take a break and share a message with someone.  I never thought that part of my motivation to find would be the opportunity to sit in the shade for 20 minutes.  Also, it's pretty customary here in the Phillipines to give your guests a little snack.  This usually ends up being soda and some kind of bread or crackers.  We got to have a lot of orange soda and cookies this past week.

     The current training plan for the mission is focused on charity and the atonement.  The objective is that once we realize what charity truly is and how we can obtain charity through the atonement, our only desire will be to share that knowledge with others.  My companion and I definitely had the opportunity to share that charity with others as a lot of our appointments fell through and we were able to find new people to share with.  

     The family that I talked about last week came to church again last week, and they said that they're back for good.  The father was interviewed last week so he can start working towards getting the Melchizedek Priesthood, so that was definitely a miracle for us.  We're really happy for how much he will be able to bless and help his family.  

     Everything else is going well.  My companion's getting down to his last few weeks in the mission, but we're not even really thinking about it since we both know that we're close to the end.  Thanks for all of your continued support and advice!

- Elder English

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Dear Family and Friends,

     First of all, I'm so thankful for the opportunity that I had to skype with my family.  Even though I'll be seeing them in just a few months it was a really fun experience.  It was especially fun to see my pamangkin (niece), Kinley.  I'm really excited to meet her in person!

     This week was another hot one.  Summer is really starting to set in, and it's only rained once in the past two months, which is really crazy for the Philippines.  Everything has started to turn from green to brown, and it's especially hot in our area because it's a city that's close to the ocean.  We're just the right distance away so that we get all of the humidity of the ocean without the breeze.  It's weird to say that I actually miss the dry Utah heat, but aside from the weather, everything is going great.  The area is progressing and we're continuing to see an increase in the involvement of the ward.  

     There was one miracle that really stood out for me this week.  We were running behind on our schedule and it looked like we weren't going to be able to make it to one of the families that we had planned to visit.  We had a set appointment that we really couldn't be late for.  My companion and I didn't even really say anything to each other, we just decided to go anyway, even though it would make us late for the rest of the day.  I guess we both had the same prompting from the Spirit, because we both just jumped in the tricycle without even saying anything to each other.  This family hasn't come to church in about a year so we were pretty unsure.  We showed up at their house and their 17- year-old daughter told us that she had been waiting for us even though we never told them that we were coming.  Her father had just gotten out of the hospital that morning and was having a rough time recovering from a surgery.  She told us that she had just said a prayer earlier that morning that someone with the priesthood would come to their house so that her father could have a priesthood blessing.  My companion and I both stared at each other as we realized what had happened without us even saying a word to each other.  We gave her father a blessing and then shared a message.  It was a great experience and they were able to make it to church yesterday.

     Elder Pepa and I get along well.  We always seem to be on the same page and seem to know what the other is going to say or what the other is thinking during planning or a lesson.  It's been a really great blessing to be companions with him.  Everything is going well and the days are flying past.  Thanks again to all of you for your support and advice.  Love you all!
- Elder English
With Elder Pepa - Lucena City

Monday, May 2, 2016

Short and Powerful

Dear Family and Friends,

     Another great week has come and gone in Lucena and it continues to amaze me how fast the time seems to be going.  My companion has one month left in the mission, so we're trying to get the most out of our companionship that we can before he goes home.  We're continuing to see miracles every day in our finding and visits to members.  When I first got here, there was only one member who was working with the missionaries.  It seems like the elders before just assumed that other members didn't want to work with them.  Elder Pepa and I have been trying to invite every member that we can to come out and work with us for a few hours.  Amazingly, several of them were willing to come out and work with us.  It turns out that all we had to do was ask.  The work and teaching all becomes a lot more effective when there is someone there that the investigator can relate to, instead of a Tongan and an American.

     We've also been working on getting our lessons focused on doctrine and making them more short and powerful.  President Mangum always says that the most important part of their conversion takes place in between our visits, not during them.  So we've really focused on just making sure that they understand our message and making sure that they've felt the spirit.  Then it's just up to them to act on these feelings and promptings.  It's been a real blessing to be with Elder Pepa, and a really unique experience for both of us to close to going home.  I've learned a lot from him.

     We have some investigators who are doing really well.  They're all reading and praying about the Book of Mormon.  The real trick is getting them to come out for church.  A lot of them have work on Sundays, and it really isn't an option for them to miss a day of work, since they're living meal to meal.  It can be pretty scary to tell them that if they sacrifice and come to church, the Lord will bless them and help them.  It really is a true test of their faith.

     Our district here is really fun, and I've served with all of the missionaries before in past zones, so there wasn't much of an adjusting period.  Everything's going great.  Thanks again for all of your support and advice!

- Elder English

Monday, April 25, 2016


Dear Family and Friends,

     I arrived in my new area and met Elder Pepa on Thursday.  It was about a two and a half hour bus ride from Alaminos.  It's one of the biggest cities in the mission and a really beautiful area.  My companion is 22 years old and from Tonga.  He's a rugby player and probably about three times my size.  He doesn't speak English very well, but he's basically fluent in Tagalog.  So we just speak Tagalog to each other.  He's a really experienced elder, and he definitely knows what he's doing in every phase of the work.  He relates very well to the people here.  Sometimes I feel like I'm working with a really big Filipino.  He goes home this transfer and I'm going home the following transfer, so I think it'll be a really good opportunity to put our heads together and get a lot of work done.  The ward here is struggling a little bit, so I think that we'll be able to get a lot of good work done.

       Most of the work that we do here is in an area called Landing.  There used to be this massive airport.  Then it was abandoned for some reason.  The whole area that used to be where they landed the planes got filled up with all of these improvised houses.  So it's basically a massive tarmac that's full of people.  It's pretty much a missionary's dream for finding investigators and organizing an area.  The only problem is that it turns into a giant oven in the sun.  I've been in some hot areas, but nothing so far compares to going to Landing in the afternoon.

     Everything is going well, and it's a great feeling to be back out to the normal missionary life, and we experienced quite a bit of success the first few days that we've been together.  Really not a single complaint that I can think of right now.  Everything's awesome!
- Elder English  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


WEEK 91 - WEEK 92
Well, the unexpected transfer from the previous letter wasn't necessary after all......
Dear Family and Friends,

     It’s been another great week in Alaminos, and it’s hard to believe that another transfer week has already come.  This will officially be my 6th and last transfer week in the office and it’s kind of a bittersweet experience.  The Elder who will be replacing me arrived last week, and I have been showing both of them the last few things that they need to know.  It’s actually been a really fun experience to train them, and they’re both catching on really fast.  The new office elder is Elder Stewart.  He’s from Salt Lake, and has been in the mission for about a year now.  He’s a really smart elder and isn’t having any problems with the adjustment.  He also attended the University of Utah before he came out, so it’s been really fun to have a fellow Ute fan in the apartment.

The office crew...with Elder Costales and Elder Stewart

     I also received the call from the assistants about where my next area is going to be.  They actually called me from the next room over.  My next area will be in Lucena City.  I will be companions with Elder Pepa.  He’s from Tonga and will be going home in six weeks.  I’m really excited for the opportunity since I’ve never actually been assigned on that side of the mission, so I can’t wait to get out there and meet some new people!

     This transfer week seems like it has been a little harder for me than the others since I’m really close with a lot of missionaries who are going home.  It also became very real all of a sudden that time is starting to wind down for me as well.  There’s this really weird cycle that happens to me every time.  When the departing missionaries get on the jeepney and head to Manila, you kind of get flooded with feelings of homesickness and thoughts of when you’ll be going home.  Then the new missionaries come in the next day and they fill you with this fresh energy to get out and to get to work.  I’m really excited to take that energy to my next area and make the most of the Lord’s time that he has given to me to serve.
With Elder Encinares before he left.  My companion in Tanauan.
     Everything is going great and I’m really excited for the next stage in my mission.  I’ve learned a lot of things being an office elder that I never expected to and I can’t wait to get out and put it to use.  Thanks again for all of your support and advice that you send every week!

-Elder English

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Off-cycle Transfer

WEEK 89 - WEEK 90
Dear Family and Friends,

     So first of all, there has been a few changes for me this past week.  Some things happened, and in this situation, some transfers were necessary.  I was informed that I will be leaving the office off-cycle this coming week, so next week I'll be in a new area with a new companion.  I am happy for the opportunity to return to the usual missionary schedule and work, but I do feel sorry for Elder Costales since he has been getting the crash course of how to do all of the work in the office and is still working on his driving.  He has a really positive attitude and I know that he'll do a great job.  So I will let you all know how my new area is next week!

     One of the few negatives about serving in the Philippines is that we get general conference a week later than everyone else.  So I get to hear all of the excitement and reports a week before we get to watch it, but it really just adds to the anticipation.  I'm really looking forward to it since it will be my last general conference in the mission, and there are lots of questions that I'm looking forward to getting answered.  It's been really important for me to remember that if we put in the proper preparation, we are entitled to receive revelation for the things that we need.  It's definitely one of the greatest things that we should be taking advantage of.  

     We experienced a miracle in our work this week.  We have been visiting a member for a while who has problems attending church because of his work.  I turns out that the assistants were also looking for a member and found out that they actually live right next to each other and that they work at the same place.  We had just never seen him because we always visit later in the evening.  They said that they're going to help each other figure out their schedules so that they can come to church together.

     Everything else is going well and I'm definitely a little anxious about my new area and companion but also really excited to get out and work.  Thanks again for all of your advice and support!
- Elder English

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Driving Lessons

Dear Family and Friends,

                It’s been another great week here in Alaminos.  This week was pretty crazy.  We helped move apartments in two different zones, and then we were traveling to the rest of the zones to change filters and to do apartment checks.  It was a full week and I was definitely exhausted at the end of every day. 

                There was also another experience that I found really interesting.  Elder Costales doesn’t have his license yet, and he told me that he’s never driven anything except a tractor.  So, this last week, we went and picked up his student permit.  We headed over to the church parking lot, where I then attempted to teach him how to drive.  It was a really weird experience and definitely not something that I would’ve ever imagined doing on my mission.  He’s picking up everything really well though and I think that he should be ready to head out onto the road soon.  There’s no course or required driving tests here in the Philippines.  You simply get your student permit, and if you’re still alive after thirty days you can go take the test to get your driver’s license.  For the driving test, you need to back out of a parking spot, drive in a circle in the parking lot, and then pull back into the parking spot.  I’m really surprised how good everyone here is at driving since they don’t get the best training in the world.

                The weather here is starting to heat up and you can feel summer coming.  I’m definitely not looking forward to it, but the plus is that there won’t be any more typhoons for a while.  It’s kind of reminding me of Fall back in Utah, because all of the leaves on the trees are burning up and falling off. 

                We had some great opportunities to get out and visit with our normal families this week.  Even if it was only one or two a day, and they’re all doing really well.  The only real problem for them is money.  Alaminos is a pretty poor area and most of the people here are living meal to meal.  It is really inspiring to see their faith and their desire to live the Gospel even though it seems like everything is working against them.  The mission is progressing as a whole.  We get to see all the numbers and fancy charts and graphs come in, and it’s really exciting to see the energy building throughout the mission.  I’ve even noticed that I’ve been having to order more supplies more often because the missionaries are going through them faster.

                Everything is going well and Elder Costales and I get along great.  He is a very jolly, out-going person so there was no awkward adjusting stage in our companionship.  I’ve been in the office for almost seven months now.  I’ve only realized how much I’ve learned as I’m now training Elder Costales, since I will probably be transferred next cycle.  It’s actually been a really fulfilling experience.

                Thanks again for all that you do and all the support that you continue to show!
-Elder English

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Zone Conferences

WEEK 86 - WEEK 87
Dear Family and Friends,

                It’s really crazy to think that another set of Zone Conferences has come and gone.  One of the great blessings of being in the office is to be able to attend all three of the zone conferences.  On Tuesday, we were in Lucena for the Lucena, Lopez, and Marinduque zones.  On Wednesday, we were in Lipa for the Lipa, Batangas, and Mindoro zones.  Then on Thursday, we were in San Pablo for the San Pablo, Cabuyao, and Santa Cruz zones.  It was an awesome experience once again to be involved in and all three of them were a huge success.  To my surprise, hearing the same business, workshops, scriptures, and quotes never seemed to become repetitive or dull. 

The main focus of the zone conference was to evaluate the progress that we’ve seen in the mission since we last got together and to introduce the new training plan for the mission.  Since, we’ve last had our zone conference and even since I’ve come into the mission, every area of the work has seen steady and notable improvement.  President Mangum threw a huge bar graph up on the projector so we could see how the numbers all lined up.  I know that it’s not all about the numbers, but it was definitely exciting to see how everyone’s faith is continuing to grow in the mission.  You can definitely feel momentum moving through the mission right now, and it really is an exciting thing.

The new training plan is focused on Charity and the Atonement.  The assistants used a quote by Abraham Lincoln that I thought was pretty cool.  “I do not like that man very much.  I must get to know him better.”  It made me think of the people in my mission that  I had walked by because I had judged them or decided not to talk to, just because I had already decided that they wouldn’t accept our message.  You see some pretty interesting people in the Philippines, but it was just a good reminder to me that everyone needs the message that we carry.

My companion and I also had some time to get out and visit some members.  We’ve been taking little reading charts to the members that say, “BINASA KO ANG AKLAT NI MORMON” (I read The Book of Mormon), that they can color in for every day or section that they read.  At first I thought it was a little silly, and I was a little shy to give it to them.  Then I was surprised as we went back to their homes and we saw the charts pinned on the wall with little sections colored in.  It’s pretty funny, but the parents are actually telling us that it is now their children who are pushing them to read the scriptures so they can keep coloring in the sheet.  One Brother even admitted that sometimes he starts making excuses to his children because he’s tired or busy, but always ends up reading the scriptures with his family.  It’s been really fun to see the progression in their families.

Everything else is going well and we’re definitely very busy.  Elder Costales and I get along great and are finding ways to make all the office work more fun and entertaining.  We’ll even divide the pouch into two piles and then race to see who can get their pile sorted the fastest.  We’re also finding more time to get out and to visit members since this cycle is eight weeks long.

Thanks for all of the support that you continue to show and of the counsel that you give!

-Elder English

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

Apostle of the Lord

WEEK 83 - WEEK 84
Dear Family and Friends,

                The biggest event that happened this week and probably the biggest in my mission was the opportunity to hear President Nelson speak in a Special Stake Conference for San Pablo Stake.  It was an amazing opportunity to be in such an intimate setting with an apostle of the Lord.  He gave very specific and inspired counsel on how we can better help ourselves and others to follow the Lord.  It was actually a very intense and almost mesmerizing experience to be only a few rows away while he was speaking.  He gave very simple counsel on basically every commandment you could think of.  He would just pause and say, “I sense that there are a number of you struggling with …” and then he would say a very specific situation and give counsel on it.  He had absolutely no notes and you could tell that the whole thing was completely by the spirit.  It was definitely one of the coolest things that has happened on my mission. 

                I also have a new companion.  His name is Elder Costales and he is from Ilocos Sur.  He has all of the classic characteristics of an Ilocano.  He has a really high voice when he talks, shouts everything, eats a ton, and is really good at cooking.  (Hhmmm, I'm not sure where he's getting these generalizations from....) He’s really fun to be around and it should be a really fun next transfer together.  He's 24 and already graduated with a four-year degree in business administration, so I don't think there's much that I'm going to be teaching him.

                It was also transfer week, so we spent a lot of nights staying up late and getting up early.  The sisters that I came into the mission with also went home with this last batch, so it’s really starting to set in that the time is counting down.  My companion has a ton of energy and we should be able to make a lot of good changes in the office and just get everything as organized as possible.

                Everything is going well, and I’ve now spent six months in the office.  It seems like it’s barely been one.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to teach Elder Costales everything that he needs to know so I can set him up to have a fun time as an Office Elder.  We were also able to get out and visit some members this week, so I could introduce my new companion.  We taught all of them lessons on the Book of Mormon.  I’ve realized that you really could teach every lesson straight out of the Book of Mormon.  It has everything that we need. 

                Thank you for all the counsel and support that you continue to give!

-Elder English

With new companion, Elder Costales
and former companion, Elder Benosa
Special Stake Conference with Russell M. Nelson
(San Pablo Stake)

Pizza Happiness

Thursday, February 11, 2016

We Are the Tools

WEEK 81 - WEEK 82
Dear Family and Friends,

                It’s been another awesome week here in Alaminos and the excitement is still building for President Nelson’s visit.  We did receive the news that he won’t be staying at the mission home, so we’re a little disappointed about that, but everything else is still going forward as planned.  They’re giving every church in the San Pablo Stake a huge make-over just in case he decides to stop by on his way to the stake center.  The mission home also got some upgrades. 

                We just recently were able to watch the worldwide missionary broadcast that happened a few weeks ago.  It was a really cool experience to hear and see apostles telling us exactly what we need to be doing with investigators and members.  The title was “Teaching Repentance and Baptizing Converts.”  It was really nice and simple and they simply talked about how we need to be making more of a focus on Repentance and being guided by the Spirit.  Elder Bednar gave a workshop and he really is a master teacher.  He said, “We need to change the way that we think as missionaries.  The Holy Ghost is not a tool that we use to convert people.  We are the tools that the Holy Ghost uses to provide an environment where it can testify to people of truth.”  He basically reinforced the point over and over that there can’t be the slightest amount of pride or selfishness in our work.  We need to always remember that nothing that we’re doing is for us.  But we will be blessed for the work that we do. 

                We also had the opportunity to participate in some ward service this last weekend.  It was a really fun experience and there was a very good showing of support from the ward and we were actually able to get quite a bit of work done.  Their house was built on this hillside that slopes down into a river, and the house was starting to slide down the hill.  It was just sitting on these bamboo stilts, so we dug them out and filled the holes with some cement and rebar.  We also laid another pad of cement in the back so they could have a bathroom.  It was a really fun experience to help them out and to see their excitement when the little, plastic toilet bowl showed up.  They had never had their own bathroom. 

                Everything else is still running smoothly, and we basically have memorized where about 70 percent of the mission apartments are and can explain how to get there.  We have definitely done our share of hours in the truck.  Right now, I’m just really curious to see who my next companion will be.  Elder Benosa will be going home in two weeks, and I’m really going to miss him.  We’ve been companions for six months now, so I guess it’s a good thing that we get along with each other.  The time is really starting to fly by and I’m looking forward to getting out of the office, but I am savoring the memories here, since not very many missionaries get to experience what we are.  Thank you again for all of your support and emails.  You guys are the best!

-Elder English

We dug out the bamboo foundation of this house 
and replaced it with cement so it would stop falling over.

Zone Pday.
(It looks like Bradyn is happy to get more hiking in and that he and his companion both love that Backcountry goat t-shirt.:))

Friday, January 29, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

                It has been another great week here in Alaminos.  We started it off last pday by going on a hike.  We really had no idea where we were going, but we called one of the YSA young men and asked him to take us to the best bundok (mountain).  He hesitantly agreed, because I think it came across as a really weird request.  He took us to a really random mountain and then we started hiking.  We got to the point where there wasn’t really a trail anymore and we were just climbing over rocks and pushing our way through these vines.  Brother Edward was really confident though and just kept going forward.  We ended up making it up and back down with only a few scratches.  We also weren’t able to get a tricycle back to Alaminos City, but some really nice guys stopped and let us hop on the back of their construction truck that had a bunch of cement in the back.

                Elder Benosa and I have also really been working on trying to get things organized in the office.  The other day, we spent about 3 hours in our supply closet trying to get everything organized.  It had kind of turned into a place for everyone to put all the stuff that they had no idea what to do with, so it was quite a task.  We also found a lot of interesting things.

                We also had a great lesson with one of our investigators this week.  We found her while we were out behind the mission home and she seems really interested.  We taught her a very quick message on the Restoration.  She said that she was intrigued by the fact that we weren’t telling her what to believe, but that we were inviting her to come to know for herself.  She was really excited by the idea of a Restoration. 

                Things have been going well with the other families that we visit, and we’re really trying to focus on the Book of Mormon with everything.  It truly is our most powerful tool as missionaries and as members of the church.  We have set a goal as a companionship to use a verse from the Book of Mormon in every lesson.  It sounds really simple, but I did notice a few weeks ago that we taught some lessons without reading from the Book of Mormon. 

                Everything else is going well and I have absolutely zero complaints.  We’re moving apartments tomorrow so we’re really excited.  Mostly because the shower in the new apartment has a cool little electric water heater.  Once you get one of those, you join a very select group of missionaries.  We’re already planning out how we’re going to have to time each other so that we can all get ready in time.

                Thanks again for all of your support and advice!  Things are going great!

-Elder English

Our district.

We decided to hike up this mountain for our pday. 
It was really intense. 

There were no tricycles on the way back, 
so we got a ride on a construction truck.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Dear Family and Friends,

                It’s been another great week here in Alaminos, and it’s really hard to believe how fast the days are flying past.  We had the great opportunity to get out and visit some families this week in our ward just to check up on them and to see how they’re doing.  It’s amazing to see all of the sacrifices that they make every day to be able to live the gospel.  We talked to one brother who simply doesn’t eat lunch so that he can have enough money to take his family to church with him every Sunday.  He said he just thought about something that he doesn’t absolutely need so that he would be able to follow the commandments.  It was a really cool experience.

                We have just been sticking to our regular routine and traveling around quite a bit to make sure everyone has clean water and that they have all of the supplies that they need.  We did have the opportunity to travel out to Lopez, Quezon (about a four hour drive) to drop off a new refrigerator.  That means that I’ve traveled the whole mission except the island of Marinduque.  I always try to tell myself that we’re lucky to be able to see the whole mission while we’re going through the long hours in the truck.  It does get really tiring sometimes though. 

                Things have been going great and everyone here is just really excited for Elder Nelson’s arrival.  It’s still not for another month, but I think everyone is realizing how special of an opportunity it is.  There have already been a few security checks at the mission home to make sure that everything is up to par.  We’re all super excited! 

                Everything is going well and we’re continuing to see miracles every day in every aspect of our work.  Thank you for all of your advice and support!

- Elder English    

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Insanely Excited

Dear Family and Friends,
     It has been another great week here in Alaminos.  The biggest highlight was probably the area broadcast that we had the opportunity to watch on Sunday.  The Philippines Area Presidency reviewed all of the things that were accomplished this last year and then presented the new are goals.  There were three main goals that all had specific numbers behind them, but they all had one word to focus on.  The three words that they really focused on were obey, covenant, and establish.  They put these up in a graphic that looked like a circle.  They explained that as we obey the commandments, this will lead us to make covenants, which will in turn help us to establish the church wherever we may be.  I thought that it was a really cool visual and how we’re all in different spots in this cycle, but it never stops.
     Another one of their focuses was on the Sabbath day.  President Mangum always asks us, “What is the next gospel ordinance that every member of the church needs?”  People always say things like baptism and temple sealing and totally space the sacrament.  I think that it’s important for us to understand the importance of the sacrament.  It was just a really good experience to see how the church is all connected together and how our leaders are constantly receiving revelation to help us progress.
     We also received the news that President Russell M. Nelson is coming to San Pablo for our stake conference and to do some leadership training.  We are all insanely excited and can’t wait.  Also, he will be staying here at the mission home for a few days.  I guess none of the hotels in San Pablo met the security requirements that they needed, but the office and mission home are apparently very secure.  I’m really excited for the opportunity to see him and to hear his plans to help the church and mission here in San Pablo.  Can’t wait!!!

     Everything else is going well and transfer week is happening again.  It’s always a fun experience to be in the office for transfer week and to see everything happen.  Thanks again for all that you do! 

-Elder English
We celebrated Elder Allen's birthday and splurged a little at Shakey's
We go biking around San Pablo Lake for our pday sometimes.
(Bradyn is the one in red.)

Our zone motto, "We are one!"

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Transfers Again!

Dear Family and Friends,

     Well, another transfer cycle has flown by and it's now transfer week again.  My companion, Elder Benosa, was notified that he is not going to be transferred.  This means that we're going to be spending six months together as companions.  It's a really good thing that we get along with each other.  This also probably means that I will be spending seven and a half months in the office.  Not very many changes happened here in San Pablo Zone, so things are going to keep going about the same way that they have been.

     We also had the opportunity to attend MLC this past week.  The main focus was on planning.  They asked everyone how they can see God's love for them.  There was a whole different bunch of answers.  They talked about how all of these trace back to the fact that Heavenly Father has a plan for us.  In other words, the biggest way that our Heavenly Father has shown His love for us, was by making a plan for us.  This is also the biggest way that we can show our love for those that we visit and share with.  The more we plan for something, the more entitled we are to receive God's guidance and help with whatever it is that we're doing.  

     We've dropped back into our regular routine of going out and changing filters until the afternoon, and then coming back and doing office work, and then getting out to work in the time that we have left.  

     New Year's was also really fun.  There were a ton of fireworks, but those weren't even the noisy things.  Everyone who owns a scooter or a motorcycle (which is about 60 percent of the people) all got together and took their mufflers off.  Then they would all get together and drive around very slowly while revving their engines.  When you could hear a group coming, people would literally start running the other direction, or run into their homes covering their ears because it was so loud.  It was definitely a different experience and it got to the point where you couldn't even hear the fireworks.  They were just more of a visual thing.  The Philippines keeps surprising me with the things they come up with.  

     Everything else is going well and the mission is excited to get going on this year's goals.  I know that we'll be able to accomplish them and probably even surpass them.  There's a lot of energy moving through the mission right now and it's just an exciting time to be involved in the work.  Thanks for all that you do and for all your advice for me!
- Elder English