Now that we've exited the holidays, we've finally had a week where we didn't have meetings and parties every other day! Yay for missionary work! It feels so good to get back into the groove. Oh, and I know who sent the package. The young men from the ward. Tell them thanks! I got some Christmas lights and decorations that I will now have to wait to put up next year... Oh wait, I'll be home by then. So... They also sent a Book of Mormon in English with their testimonies in the back, which ended up working out perfectly 'cause one of our investigators, an older woman with the very Spanish name of Maxima Balthazar, had just requested a Book of Mormon in English. She was very gracious in accepting it. She's still having a hard time understanding what the Book of Mormon really is, but she is keeping up on her reading and I know she will highly appreciate it throughout her life. It is a voice crying from the dust, to give us addition strength and assurance in the true and living God as we speedily approach His coming. Read it daily! It is a fool-proof way to suit the armor of God!
Let's take a look at the week page by page in my planner, shall we?
Monday night we watched the movie "Legacy" with the Balatico family (They are the super cool Ilocano family in our ward preparing to be sealed in the temple). To be honest, it's a highly cheesy movie, but it became so much more rewarding to see each of the family members' faces light up as they watched. They were so excited to see events from church history come to life, especially the pioneer trek and the singing of "The Spirit of God" at the Kirtland temple dedication. It always gives me a rush to sing that divinely inspired song, especially when you take into account the miraculous events which coupled its debut. The Lord truly did visit His house, accompanied by numerous concourses of angels. The Priesthood, and the various keys associated with it, were restored in that holy edifice to a living prophet of God. Who else can attest with such profound simplicity that God has not ceased to be a God of miracles, and of visions, and of prophesy, on account of the witnesses of the Holy Spirit, which have poured upon the saints unceasingly in this dispensation? The words and music to that hymn, "The Spirit of God", for me, personify my testimony of the Restoration. My heart and soul will forever be stirred when I sing it, and I will continue to praise my God with a song of righteousness. He has been so merciful to me in granting me the capabilities and the talents necessary to serve Him through sacred music, and I hope to continue living worthy of that tremendous blessing. Hymns truly have the power to call upon angels, and to chase away evil. I've seen it.
On Tuesday we had a good district meeting about the purpose of missionary work. I asserted again what I had learned about the gospel being a perfect plan. If you were to take all of the spiritual points out of the gospel, it would still allow you to obtain temporal success and prosperity in your earthly life. Belief coupled with action, changing yourself for the better, setting goals and staying true to what you have promised, enduring to the end... Even without mentioning Jesus Christ, it sounds like a formula for a good life. Now, as you add the Savior, and His Atonement, and a loving God who gave us His Only-Begotten Son to save us from destruction, and the Holy Spirit to guide us and supply us with truth from Heaven, it becomes a formula for an unimaginably rewarding eternal life. That is the message we bring. Sounds like publishing peace, and good tidings of good, to me. What a great work, ready for you to get lost in. Later that day I practiced my Ilocano with one of the Relief Society sisters, and we've begun working on translating the First Vision. Naragsak met (trans. "Super fun")
Wednesday we had several opportunities to testify to people of the restored gospel. We were accompanied by one of the YSA in our ward who will be entering the MTC this February before serving in the Quezon City North Mission. His name is Jeremy Articulo. He is an awesome fellowshipper! We found a lot of new investigators from tracting who seem to be interested. One of them, a woman named Jennifer, had lost her husband a year ago when he was murdered. We testified to her of eternal families, and of the Book of Mormon in association with the restoration. I hope she can act on the Spirit which I know she's felt. We've continued teaching a good amount of students who are boarding near CSU. The problem with them is their busy schedule and the varied locations they go home to on weekends... But it's been an awesome experience. We met with Tatay Victor Ramos again, and he expressed a desire for us to baptize his 8-month-old grandson. We explained that one needs to reach the age of accountability first before being baptized, and left him Moroni 8 to read for the next visit. When we came back later in the week he expressed a desire to be baptized, but we'll have to work around his paralysis not only for being able to attend church but for the ordinance of baptism itself. He's still up-beat and funny as usual, always making us laugh with sly comments on how I'm imported and how Elder Rebojo should give him cock-fighting chickens from Mindanao so he can get rich. Did I mention that about cock-fighting here in the Philippines? There is a lot of it. Everywhere you go you can see hundreds of roosters on little porches being raised up as warriors. The fights go down on Sunday mornings. More people attend cock-fights than church at the Cathedral. Haha. Good ol' Sabbath Day, right?
On Thursday we went to the Tuguegarao North Stake Center so we could get Elder Rebojo his belated Christmas present: A Patriarchal Blessing! From the tear-stained eyes on both Elder Rebojo and Patriarch Bautista's faces after the blessing, I'm assuming it went well. While I was waiting in the lobby I also met an RM from Manila who served in the Cauayan mission when it first was split from the Ilagan Mission back in 2006. He was assigned in Cabarroguis and Santiago, just like I was! That was super cool. We exchanged stories with each other for a good bit while we waited. The rest of the day went well work-wise.
Friday and Saturday were pretty difficult. A lot of the return appointments we had set fell through, and we had cold reception from a lot of people. We did attend the baptism of Joseph and Susan, though, who are the Sister's investigators in our ward. This is now the 7th church they've joined. Yeah. They were born into Jehovah's Witnesses, then they moved through a variety of Born Again churches before going back to Catholicism, and then finally surmounting with when they met Sister Hirst. They both have shared how much they admire how persistent she was in helping them recieve the restored gospel. Both of them testified of how glad they were that they had finally been baptized under the correct authority, and how they had finally found the Church that Jesus Christ established, and not man. President and Sister Rahlf attended. They are now in awares of my nickname, Elder KokoKrunch. So that's good.
Sunday we had an excellent broadcast from the Area Presidency which focused on calling the Filipino saints to become more self-reliant; in their homes, in their wards, in their stakes, and in their country. The only bummer of Sunday was that none of our investigators were able to attend church. Ugh. Stuff like that happens sometimes, so you just pick up from where you left off and press on, like we're suppose to. I am so dearly grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who laid down His life that I might live. He suffered for all of my mistakes, which are not a few, and it is unimaginable for me that he could do that for all of the rest of my brothers and sisters which encompass mankind. But He did it. He is risen. Death is conquered, man is free, Christ has won the victory. There is no doubt about it. The only thing we need to work out is which side we're on when the day comes that He returns, and accounts with us on how well we've taken care of our little time on this earth, in loving God and all of men. I hope I can say, in that day, without fear, that I've done all that I can. I am forever in His debt. Precious Savior and Redeemer of my soul, who has given us peace in such a tumultuous time as this. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.