December 29, 2013
Cabarroguis, Diffun, Cagayan Valley, Philippines
Kumusta Pamilya ko!
San Fran! That looks so fun! Ah, Full House, What's up Doc, Princess Diaries... Yeah that is a city of many childhood memories of mine. Even if I never went there. Oh well, you've done it for me. I'm making some memories of my own over here in the Pilipinas! You only talked to Sister Missionaries, though? I think I know of at least two Elders there who went to Maeser... Elder Adam and Rindlisbacher. I think? That's really embarrassing if I'm wrong. Oh well.
What happened this week? Oh yeah. Pasko. Christmas. Here in the Philippines, they stay up toon Christmas Eve to celebrate. They have a huge fair, people get presents... It's pretty similar to here other than the temperature difference. We didn't get to teach nearly as many lessons because people were very busy with the holidays. But it wasn't that bad. We were very productive even though this season is crazy.
The ward Christmas party was very fun. I won the game "It's So Fluffy" or as we call it in the states, "Chubby Bunny". 23 Marshmallows in my mouth. It was delicious. Oh yeah, and I got to try the Filipino desert Halo-Halo. It's everything I've ever loved in my life stuffed in a giant bowl. Ice Cream, freshly shaved coconut, flan, gummies, jello, and yes, even beans. So that was amazing.
You know, I haven't really told you much about the people we're teaching. Lemme tell you about a few of them:
Brother and Sister Mercado we're being taught by Elder Manabo with his old companion before I came. My first lesson with them was my second day. They have been coming to church, always listen well, and always ask good questions. It's apparent that they want to know if what we are teaching is true, and even though they seem hesitant at times, they are finding out for themselves, and that's a good place to be. We've invited them to be baptized, and they said they would like to do it after they've finished building a house next door. So talk about a service opportunity! It kind of equates to the more we can help them on this house, the faster they'll be baptized. Really, in all honesty, the best missionary work is service. Even the smallest services we are able to offer go a long way. It's putting actions behind our faith. The example and positive aura of service, especially along side investigators, brings an excellent medium for the Spirit to be received and for truths to be testified of.
I'll talk about another set of investigators next week, and so on, but I don't have a lot of time left.
Most people here are Christian. The schooling here is all bible-centered, although some things have been altered, which is funny. I was looking in one of kids school-books, and they show a picture of Jesus being baptized by sprinkling. They also, ironically, take the time to tell the story of John the Baptist not allowing the Pharisees to be baptized because they had not brought forth fruits (repentance) that they were worthy of it. Hey, that's right, isn't it? So, why do you baptize babies again?
I also would like to stress the importance of why I was called to teach in the language of Tagalog.
People here are schooled in English. The prayers offered during school(memorized with crossing the chest) are in English. The road signs are in English. Most advertisements on T.V., billboards, or at the grocery store here are in English. Prices for things are repeated in English. They understand English very well! But, I was called to teach in the language of Tagalog, because Tagalog is the language of home. When a child comes home from a long day of school, and tells their parents about their day, it is in Tagalog. When the family gets together in the evening to talk to each other, it is in Tagalog. When we teach them the restored gospel, it is in Tagalog. Because this gospel, especially emphasized in this dispensation, is for families. It is for families to come closer and be strengthened in this time of great familial and relational destruction. It is not a vain, repetitious, "religious" thought. It is a tool for us to use; to hold close to those people we cherish most, and to stay away from things that might separate us from them. I know we have a living prophet and twelve apostles today, and that their counsel is not given indirectly. It is given to us directly, for our very real and moving lives, that we might be obedient. Obedience is how we learn what the fruits of faith are. Through obedience, we can find out for ourselves if this is the true church, if Joseph Smith is a prophet, and if the Book of Mormon is a true record of the people of Ancient America, and the word of God. So, try your faith out. "plant it in your heart," and "try the experiment of it's goodness"(Alma 34:4). And the Spirit, whether in a sign, or in a feeling, or in a still, small voice, will confirm. And always will. May we have such faith! In the name of our Divine Redeemer, Jesus Christ, amen.