Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27, 2015-- Email #79

April 27, 2015
Bagabag, Philippines

Maayong Buntag! 
(trans. "Good Morning!" in Bisaya)

On to the next chapter of the mission! Elder Larona is transferred to my old Zone in Tuguegarao! It seems like everyone that comes from Solano gets transferred there. And just in the nick of time! Last weather report says Cagayan Valley is in the high 30's C (or about 100 F), not to mention the humidity! Good thing I'm in, relatively, the coldest part of the mission... I don't know what they're talking about 'cause it's still super hot. To be honest though, I think I'd prefer hot and humid over cold and dry. Not looking forward to that in October. 

Speaking of seeing familiar faces, the Mother's Day call is coming up! On the 10th of May we can have a Skype call (but I might still hide my face for kicks and giggles ah?). What we'll probably end up doing is I'll Skype on the 11th here while it will be the evening of the 10th over there. That goes perfectly 'cause the 11th is our P-day. But if people won't be able to make it, we are given flexibility with our schedule so just email me the details by next week so we can get everything coordinated.

So, guess who my new companion is? Of course! It's Elder DelosReyes, the only companion I've had that has a last name with more than 3 syllables! He's been a Zone Leader for a cycle more than me, and just came from the Alicia Zone. I met him when we were in Tuguegarao together, he being in North while I was in South. He's from Davao City, in Mindanao, which makes him the third companion I've had from Mindanao. He's awesome! He reminds me a lot of a Filipino version of Jonah Hoskins... Friendly, fun to be around, really great singing voice, contagious laugh... We've been getting along swell this past week. It's been a great relief; in all honesty I was getting a little stressed with Elder Larona and he was getting stressed with me. However, I'm eternally grateful for the endless list of things he taught me and that I learned from him. 

On Wednesday night Elder Olson slept over with his new trainee, Elder Cloma. He's also from Mindanao, and has the same accent Elder Rebojo had on his first day in the field! It was so cute, all of his little Tagalog grammar mistakes and everything, ah! Reminded me of my first day with Elder Rebojo. So glad I still get to see him so often. The next morning we had a meeting with the District leaders and the Sister Training Leaders in the Zone to set some new goals. Our Zone goals this last cycle were seriously lacking specific direction, and I seemed to be oblivious to it until this last transfer... So we all got on board and set some brand new goals, within the Districts and the Zone as a whole, concerning baptisms, less active returns, and contacting/finding. It's really lightened up our work this last week! Having a goal where everyone is working for a certain number, all dependent on one another's hard work, really helps with motivation and drive every hour each day! The area, and the whole Zone, just has such a nicer feeling about it as of late. I'm glad I've begun learning what hope really means!

Elder DelosReyes is a great teacher, and I've learned a ton from his methods this last week. It's really helped me refine and define myself. We have a really cool new investigator named Bryan. He's from Marikina, Manila, but he's living up here for a month to do the glass work on the new Bagabag chapel. Considering he is helping build a new church building, it turned into a great way to begin learning more about the church. He's attended sacrament meeting two weeks now, and he's having really great experiences. He's expressed wanting to know for himself before committing to baptism, and wants to be taught by the missionaries in his home town once he heads home. So that's been fun!

We've had awesome finding opportunities as of late, and one of them especially comes to mind. We were walking down the street from brother Efren Oro's home (who seems to have disappeared due to his unpredictable work schedule) when we saw a middle-aged woman wave at us, calling us Elder. My companion thought it might be a member but I'd never met them nor seen them before. We introduced ourselves and found out that she, sister Rita, was not herself a member, but that she had three older brothers who were active members of the church and were currently serving as bishops in Singapore -- all three of them. Their whole family of 6 had been taught when they were young but only the boys in the family were baptized; the three girls were too young at the time. We met two of the sisters there at the house and they remembered attending church once in a ward in Singapore. She said "it felt like I was in heaven!" We were shocked that their family hadn't been referred to the missionaries before. We haven't taught their entire family yet, but we did get to teach a group of their grandchildren one afternoon which was a really spiritual experience. There is a hopeful future ahead for this family. I know it. 

We had a really awesome service project on Saturday where the whole branch got together, suited with Mormon Helping Hands vests, and cleaned up the streets of Lamut, Ifugao. We were blessed with some finding opportunities along the way and it really helped people gain an interest in what the Church really does. On Sunday I gave a talk having to do with a lot of the themes in my last email... Hope, faith, traversing the wilderness of life, looking forward, not looking back... After the talk the District President, who attends our branch, came up to me with his wife, thanking me for the message. They said they'd been fasting and praying for an answer to a specific issue in their lives and I seemed to be used as an instrument in God's hands in answering their prayers. How great is that feeling! Please thank Brett for his article about hope, I really needed it! He was an answer to my prayers as well!

I truly know that for my own strength, and wisdom, and talent, I'm nothing, but with God I can do anything. His plan is perfect, and his promises are sure. I will definitely boast in his strength. Who would have thought, from the beginning, I'd end up where I am now? Now I'm in this beautiful place, serving along side such beautiful people, coming closer to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It's such a wonderful journey, and I wish it'd never end. However, I know that when the time comes I return from my labors here, I want to leave no regrets. It is possible through my God, whom I love so dearly. Wake up, and do something more, every day til the time comes we're called to meet our Maker! I leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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