January 26, 2014
So, this morning was really fun. We went to the Aglipay Caves. Aglipay was one of the Spanish conquistadors that came to this part of the Philippines however long ago. I think. Either that, or he was one of the Filipinos who kicked the Spanish out. So really I know nothing about history is what I'm getting at.
The caves were so cool! Like, real, hardcore caves. Bats, giant spiders with freaky crab arms, giant drops, stalactites and stalagmites... There were parts of the cave that were absolutely gigantic, with all sorts of sounds of life coming from the immense ceiling above, and then there were parts of the cave that even I wasn't sure I could fit through. But our whole district made it through (even the slightly larger Samoan sisters) with our old Ilocano tour-guide. It was a really awesome experience. Besides some of the Elders taking pictures every five seconds. That was kind of annoying. But oh well.
Our investigators with baptismal dates have been having a bit of a difficult time keeping commitments, and we've had to move quite a few dates further away. It is pretty down-putting. I really hope that they are able to secure a firm foundation for their testimonies, and that we will be worthy to invoke such with the power of the Spirit.
Let me tell you about some of our investigators/less-actives:
Brother Bidonio is a really kind-hearted man that works out in the bukid(rice fields) every day. He was baptized over a decade ago. He has an extremely humble house on a heavily vegetated hill, and when the Superstorm came however long ago, a lot of his belongings received heavy water damage. He doesn't have a whole lot anymore. But the things he has kept through it all are his termite-tarnished water-logged Aklat ni Mormon and all of the missionary lesson pamphlets. It really doesn't bother me that much that he can't make it to church often if at all. I know what he holds dear to himself. And I'm sure a way can be found if he is to fellowship himself with the excellent members of this ward again.
Pitong Basco is a 9 year old boy. His mother and sister are members. His father is a classic rock fanatic, concert ticket collector, guitarist, and vocalist. Pitong takes after his rock-and-roll father and kicks serious butt at the drums. He has won several awards for "best young drummer" in local and non-local competitions. We are close on a baptismal date for him, and one of his friends, Joseph. His father supports Pitong joining the church, but has no desire of his own to join. He doesn't wish to leave his current life-style. It's sad that their family can't have that patriarchal support of a priesthood-holding father. Me and Elder Manabo have related in several lessons with their family how an effective family based around the gospel is like an amazing rock band. Even if the lead guitarist is extremely talented, it's no use if he isn't playing the same tune as the rest of the band. I know he desires in his heart to be better.... He just isn't ready yet. We will try our best.
Every day walking around here in the Philippines is a great adventure. It is such a pleasure to witness such simple natural beauty in this place; geographically and demographically. I once explained the Philippines parabolicly in my journal: "An orphan of Asia, raised by a God-fearing Spaniard and apprenticed by an American business tycoon." It makes for, really, the most diverse and fun culture you could ask for.
Every time I watch Finding Faith in Christ, I am extremely moved by the message it holds. The people responsible for acting, arranging music, directing, and producing that film, should be applauded. It is so amazing. I watched that movie every night when I was in fifth grade. It always gave me peace as I went to sleep. I cry every time it comes to the end of that movie, and they show a montage of the miracles performed by Christ. Watching that, accompanying my constant reading in Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage, has especially struck me recently. I take great comfort in the fact that I was one of the primeval spirits who chose to follow Him. We all were. I like to think, when we were there in that grand meeting; before the presence of the Father, and His Beloved Son, and in the other who seeked his own glory; that as we were all gathered there, disputing which plan we preferred, all of us -- You, me, and all of us who have ever come to this earth -- decided we wouldn't take the easy way out, and decided to come here. I'm sure other spirits mocked us. "You can't expect one man to save you from all of your sorrows, and pains, and sins, and that you could really make it in a world where you'd have to chose between good and evil." And guess how we responded? "Well, I believe Christ can do it. I think he can save us. It's going to be hard, but it will be worth it."
So here we are! Strengthen your Light of Christ; that part of you who remembers the primeval decision you made to come here, and grow, and learn, and return to the presence of the Father. Strengthen your testimonies. Always move forward. Don't look back. Don't look sideways at other people around you. Don't judge others according to their "righteousness" or their "wickedness". We have a judge, and thank goodness it isn't one of us. Always move forward. Always.