July 27, 2015
It's quite interesting... When I first got on the mission, I had a ton of emails every week. Then they decreased more and more, the longer I'd been out, until a good portion over the halfway-mark when it seemed to be only immediate family would write me. Now, as I get closer to going home, the emails are steadily increasing. How fascinating. I haven't heard about "The Plan" yet, but we have interviews with President Rahlf this Thursday so I'll expect to hear something about that from him.
I also find it interesting to note that the younger brother of one of the members here in the Ward also committed suicide this past weekend. It stemmed from a break-up with his girlfriend. He was a really handsome kid, and had a lot going for him. How tragic. His brother, one of our Ward missionaries, seems to be taking it well although he's been really busy running his boarding house lately and hasn't made it to Church. I feel especially grieved when I hear stories like that, having also allowed myself to be a victim of negative thinking in past years. I've learned from experience to expel those kinds of thoughts as soon as they come. They do not originate from anything Godly. They originate from the source of pride and misery himself, Satan. I've learned to accept and welcome Godly sorrow, which worketh repentance, and to cast out "the sorrow of the world [which] worketh death." (2 Corinth.7:10) The Atonement can heal any inadequacy I might encounter on my mortal journey, and it makes me happier and live a more positive life.
This week in Echague has been very rewarding. On Tuesday we had a large "Elder's Conference" in Cauayan where we were trained on honoring our Priesthood during and after the mission. There was some great training from the Senior couples and others. Elder Honeycutt, the financial secretary, is also an electrical engineer and made an amazing presentation comparing electric power to the power of the Priesthood. When electric power is distributed from the main power plant (or God giving Priesthood power to man on earth), it first goes through several stations as the voltage is lessened and lessened to make it into a maintainable amount of volts to power our homes (like God distributing Priesthood power through delegated leaders holding Keys til we can use it comfortably and worthily in our homes). It was a really cool connection. President Rahlf gave a great lesson about the difference between worldly men and men of God. My favorite quote by far came from D. Todd Christofferson:
"In a large measure, true manhood is defined in our relationship to women."
Speaking of which, I have to tell you about one of our new investigators. Her name is Monica. She's ten years old and has an extremely deformed face. In all honesty, when I first saw her I was frightened, but now I've become use to her appearance and learned how beautiful her heart is. I've been informed (though I don't know how much is factual) that she was horrifically abused by her mother while still in the womb and as a small infant, wherein lies the cause of her deformation. Just as one example, her mother would place super small rubber bands on her arms to the point of cutting of her circulation (who knows why she did it), and the marks on her arms from said bands are still visible. Children make fun of her at school and sometimes she comes home crying, asking her step-mother why she looks the way she does and why the other kids look normal. Her step-mother, Irene, is a golden woman and has been an investigator for a long time now. They both came to Church this last Sunday. Monica had a huge smile on her face and walked in with a Book of Mormon Stories picture-book in her arms. I read it through with her, as well as a New Testament picture-book, explaining the stories and seeing her face light up. It was a priceless experience.
We've had a hard time contacting a lot of our investigators, especially those who are students (which is a lot). They've been pretty jammed with exams this last week but we still had a really great, effective work-week. There were three other investigators who came to Church; two of them haven't been in a very long time but both had excellent experiences (they just need to be married before they get baptized), and the other was a 12-year-old boy named Joshua. He's the grandchild of the Elders Quorum President in our Ward. At first, when Elder Bautista and I tried to teach him, he was super quiet and wouldn't even answer simple "yes or no" questions. Elder Arorong has some amazing people skills, however, and our first lesson with him went fantastic. We got close right away and he opened up to us about difficulties he's been having with his parents, who are separated. He participated in the lesson and it was a great experience. I'm so glad I'm here with Elder Arorong.
I've got to tell you about this Elders Quorum President, too! His name is Brother Dumalleang. He has a condition where he's basically crippled at the ankles, and limps around with a cane wherever he goes, but boy, does he go! He is an active carpenter, completes his home teaching, attends all the meetings, drives his tricee, and even works with us sometimes, despite his condition. He is such a man of faith. When he worked with us and Bishop on Saturday, he was extremely bold with investigators, telling them that this was the only Church with Priesthood authority from God and telling them they needed to stop praying in vain repetitions. Wow! Super bold, and the investigators felt the Spirit of his words, especially after considering his condition, and all that he does without pay. The investigators were very excited for return appointments.
That's all I have time for! I love this work so much and I'm so grateful for the many tender mercies I've been able to witness here in Echague! I know that this is the restored Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth. I know that we have a living prophet who receives modern-day revelation to help save a dying world. I've lived these things, I've seen others experience great changes and live them, and I know the difference. It is incredible. I know that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of Mankind. I love Him and I'm so grateful to be His servant. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.