Kumusta aking pamilya! Maligayang mga Panahon na Kasal! (Happy Wedding Times!)
First of all... So many Maeser Missionaries now! How awesome is that! And tons who will be speaking Tagalog! Elder English, Elder Anderson... Speaking of Sam, tell him that he is going to absolutely love Bagiuo. So many Filipinos are obsessed with basketball. A lot of them exclaim, after I tell them I'm from Utah, "Ay! Ootah Jass(Utah Jazz)!" He will have a hoot and a half, I'm confident of it.
No baptisms this week to report. They will be occurring closer to the end of this month. It is better that they occur later, if it be that they be more fulfilling. These people are preparing to enter in at the gate to the Tree of Life, and it would be better that they do it with conviction, knowing according to their past experiences, that obedience has brought them happiness, and no other means could bring them that true joy. It must needs be that there are fruits brought forth worthy of baptism, and if that means waiting a little longer, so be it! Your prayers are being heard, thank you all for your support to the Mercados, Hannah, Pitong, and Kevin.
Brother Mike is awesome. He joined the Church with his family about three years ago, and he is a karaoke rock-star. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but here in the Philippines, karaoke is a BIG DEAL. Like, everyone does it. In all places. Everyday. Day and night. Brother Mike was a bit of a rebel before he joined the church, as evident in his older, long-haired rock-n-roll pictures. Now, however, he is a great example as to how we can have good, clean fun whilst still being a model father and husband, and in keeping the statutes of God. That's what makes him awesome. That, and he has a guitar. Which I played Hotel California on. And we both sang it. At the top of our lungs. So that was beast. Haha.
This week was awesome, in all meanings of the word, for various reasons.
This week in Balagbag, we were walking down a small street when about five kids came out of a small house. "Hey, can you teach us?" Me and Elder Manabo looked at each other. "Um, yeah." We came in. The oldest of the bunch was a girl about my age, and the rest were elementary students. We saw that they had a DVD player, and I realized I had Finding Faith in Christ in my bag. So we decided to play it. As we all watched, kids from all over the street started crowding into the small house to watch with us. There must have been about 12 of us inside and 8 jammed outside. After the movie, we got to discuss the life of Christ with all of the children. It was awesome to have been able to bring to light the specific things that Jesus did in His life, and what He did for all of us, with these little kids, who sometimes are taught very superficial notions of who Jesucristo really is.
After the lesson, we walked to the Mercados, accompanied by their 6-year-old granddaughter Abril and her friend(who is also a boy) JonMarc. We then played a game of baseball with a rolled up piece of paper, a few sticks, and four rocks for bases. Super fun. There is no way to express the absolute fun it is to play with Filipino kids on the street and make their day a little better with the smallest of means. True joy. Just absolutely delightful.
During the Mercado's lesson, I got a prompting to compare daily scripture reading to putting on bug repellent. I did this as I was putting on my Terra-Sheild and the mga lamok(Mosquitoes) were thick. There are a lot of temptations around them right now(especially as they get closer to baptism). It's like how there are tons of mosquitoes around us all the time, trying to suck our blood. So, we need the defense that comes from scripture reading to help us deter such temptations, just as mosquito repellent deters mosquitoes. Kind of sounds like it came from a kids section in the Ensign, but an effective parable none-the-less.
My testimony of the restoration grew tremendously this week, as I met challenges I had not been faced with before. I won't go into depth on exactly what challenges I faced, but let it be known that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and is in fact a record of the peoples of ancient America, written for our benefit at this time, and it answers questions that even the Bible, in its vastness, could not answer alone. When reading the scriptures, you are reading the words of actual people. Just think about that for a second. Nephi was a real person. So was Mosiah, and Alma, Moroni, etc. They actually lived. They are not just made-up stories. They wrote down their actual experiences, just as I write down my experiences in the Philippines. The Spirit that comes from reading the words of prophets is priceless. Even if you didn't find anything particularly interesting that day, just the action of opening the book and reading their words brings down a testimony to the heart, which in turn effects your decisions, and in turn effects your countenance. The Book of Mormon is a Testament of Jesus Christ in its entirety, not just the chapters in 3 Nephi or even just the prophecies of His coming. All of the words within it, if read frequently, have the effect of altering your own countenance to one closer to the Saviors. We need that, if we are to survive this world. All of us need to have a name-tag inscribed on our hearts. I'm lucky enough to get to wear one every day over my skin, but we should all have one on at all times, physically visible or not.
Yesterday, Elder Manabo was sick, so I had to stay at the apartment as he rested. During that time, I thought it would be of benefit if I studied the words in the Hymns a little more. So there, in the other room of our apartment, I sang aloud about 50 or more hymns as passionately as I could. What a spirit. There are some truly remarkable hymns in that green book of ours, which testify of truths that could not be uttered with words alone. It gives you a glimpse as to how the Spirit works. The Comforter testifies truths to us in ways we cannot always express, or even put a specific emotion to. He does it, though, as long as we have that sincere desire.
Can I ask you all to do something? Pray to know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. Also, pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true. Before you ask, ponder and meditate. Then ask, with real intent, and listen. See what your Heavenly Father has to say.
Press forward saints, with steadfast faith in Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.