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.:))