May 19, 2014
Hello There Family!It was great to talk with you last week, even if it's not quite the same in a noisy computer shop. I can see you are still all your funny awesome selves. Don't worry, I think I kept in the zone despite the Skype call.
NEWS FLASH: I got the call on Wednesday. Elder Bautista is transferring, and my new companion will be fresh from the Manila MTC. I'm training! It appears I'm the only one from our batch training. I'll divulge a little further later in the email.
Here's some information that I had left out in the Skype call that was pretty fun last week:
I had splits with Elder Monilla. He is from Saudi Arabia. The church there is totally underground (figuratively and literally). He has just entered the mission field. Both of his parents are full Filipino, and he grew up there the first 6 years of his life. He is almost fluent in Tagalog already; the only thing holding him back is his accent, which still sounds pretty English. He is extremely smart. I believe he entered college when he was 15? Anyways, he is super articulate with his words and it makes him all the more hilarious. We've gotten along really well due to a mutual interest in musicals. He is really the only one I've met here remotely interested in stage plays and stuff like that, so it's been great to bounce stories off each other. We always make fun of him because he's filthy rich. He'll try denying it, but then he'll mention something outrageous that only a rich person in Saudi would find normal, and it makes for good fun. His relationship with his trainer Elder Heumann is super funny to watch. His testimony is on fire and he is one of the most powerful missionaries I've met. He doesn't speak brashly, but when he testifies, the Spirit is plainly manifest. Such an awesome example.
Due to the large amount of member help we get here, I've found myself usually on splits with Rusell. That way, we've been really taking advantage of dividing and conquering. As I mentioned in the Skype call, our recent converts have been constantly giving us referrals for people to teach. I testify that the great changing power of the Gift of the Holy Ghost is true. I've seen it in Sister Balubal, in Sister Elvera, and in all the faces of the Durwin family. Truth has begun pouring down upon their heads, and it is apparent in the way they hold this gospel important to them, their desire to share it, and the increased understanding they gain daily from themselves. It's remarkable to witness true missionary work at practice. We come, we pray to invite the Spirit, and then they end up teaching themselves. That is how the Spirit works. And it only works upon principles of righteousness. I know that if I wake up one day a little late, and neglect to do all that I am asked to do as a missionary, I end up choked for words, and I find myself humbled and enlightened. Obedience opens the way for understanding. Selfishness does not. If we close up, and do not keep the covenants and commandments entrusted to us, we damn the way for further understanding to be made manifest to us. Obviously, this brings frustration, and a lack of truths being manifest into our lives. Then we wander. We forget. We find our own way. I testify to you if we hold our covenants dear to us, we will gain understanding, and our burdens will be lightened, whether they be physical, mental, spiritual, or all of the above. That is the power of the Atonement. That is what it is there for. For you.
As for training... I've felt pumped all this cycle that there would be a possibility I would be training when Elder Bautista left. But after I got the call on Wednesday... I had some serious doubts. A lot of things seemed to hit me really hard. I didn't think I was ready. I didn't feel I'd been obedient enough. I felt weak in the language. I felt weak to open my mouth. The next few days I felt pretty low to the dust. Then we had splits with our Zone Leaders. They taught us a lot of things by example that really helped me. First of all, I was talking with Elder Tietjen (That's Elder Proctor's trainee who is now our Zone Leader). We talked about other missionaries that have been in the mission, and their experiences with past companions, the work, etc. I learned a lot from the experiences he shared. I learned, first and foremost, that obedience is always priority for missionaries who really make a difference. If you have yourself situated on a strong foundation of obedience, the work comes easier and more Spirit-directed, even if you have "doors slammed in your face"(I have this in quotations considering we don't really deal with doors here in the Philippines very much). That is how you get yourself ready to go forth. They told me some of the obedient missionaries they knew, who really performed miracles in the work, were not all that popular with everyone. They didn't seek to be recognized of men, but of God, and His glory. Sometimes we get a little lost here in the world, where we can't remember the glorious world we came from, and can't really understand how beautiful the kingdom awaiting us is either. So we end up putting our trust in more tangible things. However, we need to put our trust in God.
How do we put our trust in God? We can remember the love we have for one another. The love you have for your children, spouse, etc. We know that love is eternal, and that through the plan God has revealed to us, we are capable of understanding love at a wholly more complete level than we can comprehend in our current state. We can also remember the testimonies of thousands of people past, from Jerusalem to Zarahemla, who have written to us that we may believe their witnesses, receive spiritual strength from their words, and remain protected against the wickedness always so prevalent in this world. We can pray, and as we pray, come to find what our true desires really are. Through prayer, we can become much more familiar with what we need rather than what we want. That opens the way for growth and progression, which is our purpose. We then, must press forward with faith. Through turmoil and sunny days, we must always press on.
There are a lot of things I wished I would have done in the past to not halter my progression. One I'd like you to know is that the power of the Spirit is essential in this work, and without it, this restoration becomes void. As President Uchtdorf has said, we cannot sleep through the restoration, and think that we can just teach people based on our knowledge and beliefs. We need to be worthy to invite the Spirit, and let Him teach. That is the only way this restoration works. That is the only way people can become closer to Christ; much closer than they could have in any other way. We must fulfill the Saviors words and show the world the power of the Spirit, which gives utterance, to groanings within that cannot be uttered. This is how we can return to Heaven. Our home. We can return to our Father, and become like Him, if we follow what he says. Listen to the words of the prophets. Study, follow the Spirit, and act upon the witnesses you receive. This will make us fit to enter the presence of our Father, guiltless, cleansed through the Blood of Christ our Savior. I leave this in His name, Amen.