February 16, 2014
(My Beloved Family and Friends)
Well, sounds like everyone is moved now. Conflagrations! I was going to type "congratulations" but then I forgot how to spell it because Tagalog is completely phonetic and it messes with my English a great deal. And then I searched the definition of "conflagrations" and thought it was pretty funny. So that's the story. Haha.
So, we have 3 for sure baptisms this Saturday: Brother and Sister Mercado, and Pitong Basco. Brother Mercado looks like an absolutely changed man. When Elder Manabo first met him before I came here, he was wearing a sweaty wife-beater, smoking heavily, sitting back on a chair at his old house, his mouth red from betlenut chewing. Now, he comes to church every Sunday, with a tucked-in shirt and white pants, smiling and serving and learning more every day. The power of the Atonement is remarkable. It gives me hope to change as well. It gives us all hope, to progress ever greater into the unknown. I'm so excited for them to take these first steps: baptism and conformation. After which, they will be able to make covenants in the Temple one day. The Temple is so awesome! Salvation is made available for all in those sacred walls! We have those exact restored keys promised in the last chapter of Malachi! What a marvelous work and wonder!
So, here's a weight update. Before I left on the mish, I weighed around 117 lb. (Yes, that is very light). In the MTC, I hovered around 124 lb. And now, I'm about 137 lb. My lifelong dreams of becoming fat are being fulfilled! Way to go, Filipino food!
This week, we had an awesome activity with the Elders Quorum in our ward. We all got together on Saturday morning and went on a marathon of visiting less-active members in the ward and teaching them lessons. All of them have motorcycles, and we made ourselves a pretty sweet caravan of priesthood-holders looking to strengthen the stakes of Zion. We taught and visited many less-actives that a lot of us didn't even know about, and many of them visited church the following morning. Our ward is so sweet. Everyone is so strong in the faith and displays it with fervent action. I would consider inviting your own home wards to take on a similar activity. Those who are sick are in need of a physician. Even if they don't know they're sick, or even if you don't think you're a physician, go and do. A way will be provided.
Oh, also, we had a bit of a lunch break during that quorum activity, and we got to watch this really funny Korean T.V. series called "My Girlfriend is a Gumiho". It is strait-up hilarious, I need to get a hold of it when I get back in a few years. The great thing about the Philippines is that you get a chance to embrace pretty much all Asian cultures. For instance, at the grocery store here in Santiago, they have Mochi balls (A Japanese rice-marshmallow desert) in lots of favorite Filipino flavors, such as Ube(A kind of purple sweet potato), and sweet mango(which often-times is completely naturally flavored, the ingredients including "mango puree"). It is so delicious! They also have tons of Chinese-style foods and a lot of other Korean television series, which seem to be their favorites.
In our apartment, we have a large collection of "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church". It has been extremely interesting to read the words of the prophets in this dispensation; or, in other words, the words of God for us at this time, the last days. I've been able to see the true necessity for a prophet. Many people in the Philippines who have become fed-up with the religious turmoil here in its abundance have made themselves neutral, and explained that salvation could not come through any one church. That is true, if you term religion in its apostatized state. President John Taylor demoted religion, without the guidance of a prophet of God, as a completely meaningless institution. It is obvious, in the words of the Bible and of the Book of Mormon, that the true Church of Jesus Christ could not stand if it was not receiving direct instruction and leadership from God Himself, through a prophet who had been called by Him. How great it is that Jesus Christ and the Eternal Father appeared to Joseph Smith in the grove so many years ago, and called a young 14-year-old boy to become a prophet of God! He was not a scholar of religion, or even fully a man yet! But he was chosen by God to usher in this dispensation! Just incredible. I wish we could all appreciate that a little more every day.
Also, about Temples again... I cherish the fact that eternal progression is, indeed, a progression. When a couple is sealed in the Temple, it doesn't mean they are ready, then and there, to become Gods. Haha, that's ridiculous! It's the covenant and the promise; that is the important part. Of course none of us are ready to even comprehend what lies ahead in the Eternal Realms, even the lowest of which is incomprehensible. The only important part for us now is to make sure we are walking in the right direction. Then, one day, we will found we have made it, and have become something we couldn't have even imagined in our earthly state. So let's keep walking in the right direction, and have fun while we're here!
Except, of course, I'll be having more fun, because I'm in the Philippines, and everything is more fun in the Philippines.
P.S. That's weird that the surprise isn't there yet. Oh well. It should be coming soon.