May 25, 2015
Once again, just happy to be alive, and happy to have a spiritual witness of God's truth that I can share with others! We had a very interesting week... to be honest, "weird" is the best way to describe it, but I saw in the course of things that God was making some arrangements for me and Elder DelosReyes that we hadn't had in mind, turning out much better and much more meaningful than anything we might have mustered up. When you allow yourself to be an instrument in God's hand, life is just simply beautiful.
Tuesday was in particular of a very bizarre variety... In the morning we had a service project at an elementary school. We dusted roofs and painted walls in preparation for the upcoming school year. We also, unexpectedly, found that Brigham Young had found his place among some of the famous educators framed and quoted throughout the school yard. How cool is that! And completely random... They must have had an LDS guy on the Board of Directors there some year or something. Anyways, once we got home and left out for work, a very strange string of connections began happening. First off -- Michael, you'll get a kick out of this -- we were coming back from one of our investigator's homes when a woman called us, "Hello, Elders!" We asked her if she had met with missionaries before. "Yes, when I was in Singapore. My son and his wife are members of your Church, and missionaries would come to our house almost every week. Elder... Something, I forgot his name, but the other one was Elder Wadsworth." Hmmm. Wadsworth. I couldn't be the Elder Wadsworth, your brother serving in southeast Asia, could it? Let's narrow it down, I said, "Elder Wadsworth? What color is his hair?" "Red." "That's him!" So you can tell your brother I met their investigator Lilia Isip, along with family members Louie and Erica, here in Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines. Weird connection.
But it didn't end there. We walked down the street a little farther and noticed a group of people, who started loudly talking about how an American was approaching (under the impression I couldn't understand). Once we got closer I greeted them in Ilocano to assure them I wasn't new around here. We started talking with one of the couples in the group and there was a man that used to work in the home town of Elder DelosReyes, and his wife originally came from Samar and knew a Rebojo family there upon further investigation. Ok, that's another weird connection... I started talking about how small the world is with Elder DelosReyes, and almost immediately upon his explanation "what else could possibly happen?", a young boy passed by on his bike, wearing a t-shirt that read with big letters, "DelosReyes". Well, there you go. We stopped the boy and started talking to him. Turns out there was no family relation with this one. The following, however, was shocking. Elder DelosReyes asked him "what's your name, bro?", to the reply of "uh, actually, I'm not a bro..." He was a she; A cross-dressing she. Lot's of other weird things happened that day, including children chewing beetle-nut, a few mentally challenged people approaching us, and a little girl scaring Elder DelosReyes, but after it all, we ended up reaching one of our investigator families at the perfect time. They were complete; husband, wife, and children. The lesson was really good, and I was so happy that we were able to reach them, considering they're almost never available together. It made me realize, as I mentioned above, that God was making arrangements for us, and although it made the world seem like it was a little upside down and jolted, we got to declare the gospel to those we needed to, no matter how unsuspecting or different they seemed.
We've been having really good spiritual experiences with sister Rita as of late. Our last few lessons about the restoration through Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon have been very uplifting, and sister has had tear-stained eyes at the end of each one. The Holy Ghost is telling her our words are true for sure, and now she just has to make the steps of asking and reading for herself. We taught Jonalyn about the Pre-Mortal life and she said it makes her feel happy that she chose to do hard things, a.k.a. experience earth life and choose for herself. She feels really good about the Church, but still has reluctance not attending the Catholic Church, which is understandable. Please continue praying for these individuals. Even if some won't be baptized in my time, I know the Lord's time will come for them, and the steps to feel the Spirit, act in doctrine, and follow the Savior, begin now.
We're teaching a little girl in a part-member family named Abish. She is super adorable and wants to be baptized. Her older brother, Vergo (who I think I've mentioned in past emails) is entering his mission papers, which is an answer to prayers! Anyways, the lessons with Abish are going well. Her closing prayer last time was hilarious. So honest, and so... Really just makes me wonder where she picked this up... She said (translated) "bless the Elders that they'll get home safe. And hopefully no one will *CENSORED* [edit for language, rough translation means 'stupid bad people will do bad things'] to them on their way home..." Oh boy, it was hilarious, and I'm sure Heavenly Father was having a fun time with that one as well. I think all of us must sound like that sometimes to Him. We can't find the perfect words to say, but it doesn't bother Him. To paraphrase Sister Hilary Weeks, "I may struggle and stutter... And sometimes swear... But to you, it's the perfect prayer."
I had my Birthday dinner at the Branch President's house, which was delicious. The members have been feeding us almost every night, so we've gotten so much closer to them. I love the people here so much. I love the food here, and I'm getting better and better at cooking the local dishes. Elder DelosReyes let's me know what he wants for lunches, we buy ingredients on p-Day, and then we feast. It's been good cooking experience for me.
We had interviews with President Rahlf this last week. It was a great interview, about where I thought I would be in the next ten years. I have been blessed with a vision for a good future, and I have a multitude of promised blessings I can count on. President Rahlf has been a great mentor to me. He has amazing leadership skills within the Church and without, and it's been an inspiring model for me to follow. I'm so grateful for his vision and his example as a Mission President.
Well, I think that's my report for this week! I love you all! I know this Church is true. I didn't come to that knowledge from persuasion of any individual, or a measured display of evidence. but because, as Alma said, "I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me." I love my testimony of the truth and I love to share it to God's children. May we all be filled with that love. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
And one of the items on the menu, ginisa. (Cooked vegetables including eggplant, ladyfinger, string beans, pumpkin, and tomatoes, cooked with garlic and onions)
Also on the menu, bicol express (pork meat with pumpkin, beans, and spicy chilies, cooked in coconut milk, ginger, garlic and onions)
(Editors note: I found this picture on the Cauayan Mission Facebook page this week. I love finding & collecting pictures of our missionary from other sources :-)