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