Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013 Christmas Trees and Baby Owls

 Poor piggie. I didn't take any pictures after this. Let's just say that it was messy. Real messy. President Mabalot is the one in white with the machete. 

 Our Christmas Dinner...grilled cheese sandwiches (with the cheddar cheese that Elder and Sister Moser gave us), Korean Style fried chicken, and Spaghetti. On Christmas Eve we ate a lot of pig. 
 Mango Float. Best Dessert ever. I'll make it for you all someday. I ran out of cream though for the top so it doesn't look very nice. 
 Pindangan Branch Christmas Party! I wish our attendance would look like this every sunday! (It will, though). 
 Some of the YM's. From left to right - Aldrin, forgot the guy in blue's name, Rodolfo (he's probably going on a mission soon), Bernie, and I don't know the kid in red. 

 Jovell and MJ with some of the members. (MJ is the taller girl that was baptized). The girl in the plaid is MJ's sister, who was baptized last June. 
 Baptism! Jovell Agustin and Mary-Jane Castro were just baptized on Saturday. Brother Maverick Mabalot was the baptized...he's getting ready to leave for his mission to Naga next month. 
In the Jungle...the Mighty Jungle...

 Baby Owl! Some of our investigators found him in their backyard :)
Elder Tavau and I earlier. We took a quick run to the market. (just kidding).

Dear Family,
It was so great to skype with you all the other day. You all look so different! You all look great though. It sounds like Christmas was a fun one for you all this year. 
Our Christmas was great…I woke up on December 24th to the sound of a pig squealing really loud and walked outside to see the branch president with a machete in his hand a pig tied up on the ground. Coincidentally, that pig became Adobo, Dinuguan (blood and intestines - which I didn’t eat), Sisig (made of pig face, snout and ears), Chicharon (deep fried fat and skin), Giniling (ground pork with potatoes and carrots and peas), Bicol Express (pork cooked in coconut milk and hot peppers), BBQ, Crispy Pata (deep fried pig legs), Kilawin (Pork cooked in vinegar and onions), and many more to come. There was also lots of ‘salad’. Salad here is made of canned fruit salad mixed with macaroni and fresh coconut with a lot of condensed milk and cream. And cheese. Lots of cheese. We will get round two of pig on New Years Eve, haha.
On Christmas Day, we went out and worked and had one of the best days in my mission. We had 9 lessons and found two new investigators. I think it was because everybody was inside their houses recovering from the Christmas Eve festivities. One of our new investigators is Iglesia ni Cristo, which makes me happy because they are usually really opposed to meeting with us. His name is Ramon…we found him outside of his house cleaning some mushrooms he picked from the field. He’s probably about 70 years old but seems pretty interested. He was especially excited when we told him about the bible and how we can ALL read it (they aren’t allowed to read the bible…only the pastors have bibles). He asked us for a bible so we’re going to try and get one for him by next time. One thing I’ve noticed (I say this respectfully) with a lot of other religions here is that their members are forbidden to listen to or accept literature from other religions. I love that our church doesn’t try to restrict us but encourages us to read and study and find out for ourselves. That’s what the Lord wants us to do – to exercise some faith and gain a witness of the truth for ourselves. There is no coercion  involved – just faith and a desire to know God’s will.  
We’ve also been teaching Sister Eva Ibarra and her three kids (Sister Eva is a member, but became inactive after her divorce…then she moved to Pindangan and we found her). Her three kids, Robalyn, Catrina and Juris (17, 14, 12 – Juris is a boy) have been taking the discussions and well as Robalyn’s boyfriend MJ. We invited them all to the Branch Christmas Party and they came! The kids have been progressing slowly but surely – they were way shy to pray and stuff when we started teaching them, but now they are opening up. The youth have been really great too in the branch for fellowshipping and helping them feel welcome. The youth here are way cool.
Our other investigators are doing alright…we have three scheduled to be baptized in January (Sister Eva’s kids) and hopefully will be able to help Sister Christine be baptized. She comes to church every week but has ben hesitant to accept commitments because of her husband (he works in Manila and is an Iglesia ni Christo). We are hoping and praying for good news though.
The best news though, is that our mission hit our goal for this year – 1350 baptisms. I think we even passed it…almost 1400. I was also so grateful to be able to hit my personal goal of twelve for the year. The Lord really helped me out with that one…I knew when I fasted and prayed about it that I’d be able to achieve it, and it was a testimony builder for me to be able to have the strength to achieve it.
I’ve been having a lot of ups and downs this week as far as my health goes. When we skyped I felt really great, and on Christmas day too. I really have faith that I can do it and finish my mission here in Angeles, and a lot of days I feel like that is what I have to do, but I have other days where I can hardly think or focus. I am still praying about it and working my hardest to know what the Lord would have me do…I am focused on staying, but I am ready to do what He wants. I’ve been reading the letters from last week and staying focused on the scriptures. I get up extra early to read and study and pray. I think things are improving overall, but it’s slow. I think this is the Lord’s way of teaching me how revelation works. Either way, I’ve learned a lot in the last couple months.
I love you guys – have a happy New Year!
Love Jared.

December 23, 2013

Thank you to all who participated in the fast we had for Elder Hubbard last week. We could feel your prayers on all of our behalf. Here is a little excerpt of what he wrote to me:
"I am doing a little bit better this week. I don't really know what to say other than that I am so grateful for all of the prayer and fasting that everyone has been doing for me. It makes me tear up to know how many people are praying for me. Thank you so much, and please thank them for me if you can. "

 Me and Elder Magno, (my trainee) at Christmas Conference (I gave him that shirt). He is training this transfer, which means I have an apo (grandson).
Elder Gernale and I (new comp) We got caught in the rain the other day.
 We made the most of it.
 More puddle-jumping action. 

Christmas Cheese! Elder Tavau from my district gave me the bear.  

 Dear Family, 

Thank you so much for all of the emails and for the prayers and fasting. I am so humbled and grateful for all that is being done for me by the family and by the ward and by friends and even people who probably don't know me. I feel stronger and confident just because of the knowledge that the power of fasting and prayer is on my side. 

I don't have a lot of time to email today because I opened my email and it was flooded with emails. I don't think I'll ever be able to reply to them all. I'm going to print off all of your emails and put them on my desk. 

This week has been pretty good. I have felt small breathing is starting to get a little bit better...pain has gone done is some places, and gone up in others, but I feel like it is part of the healing process. I have been able to keep working and teaching. I will continue to have faith and be healed. 

We had a pretty good week finding, and 7 investigators came to church! Sister Eva Ibarra and her three kids who we are teaching (Eva is a member) were supposed to come, but they were shy at the last minute and didn't show. We brought a bunch of the YSA and youth with us to their house and invited them to the Christmas party and they said they'd come, so we're excited for that. The three kids have baptismal goal dates and we are teaching the eldest daughter's boyfriend MJ too. We will try and give him a goal date too on our next visit. We were also able to find some more youth this week who have been taught in the past and were almost baptized but stopped because they were shy of the members. I don't know why everyone is shy here, because the members are great and the youth are especially strong here. Anyways, we are teaching them again and they are coming to church this week. 

It's hard here sometimes because a lot of our investigators are in the 14-18 yr old range. That isn't a bad thing, but at the same time I'd like to find some families and especially priesthood to help build up the branch. That has been one of our goals for a while...and yesterday we were able to have a small miracle. We were out finding and just going house to house (there are only about 200 houses in Pindangan (spread out over an 8 km area)) and we met this really nice guy and his wife. Brother Bong. I forgot his wife's name. I guess their 7-year old kid was really good friends with one of the members kids back in the day and the missionaries used to visit them. We were going to leave and come back another day because they were really busy, but he invited to sit down and went and picked a couple of mangoes from his tree. I was excited about that because fresh green mangoes are the best, but then he pulled out the Bagoong and I remembered that Illocanos never eat mangoes without fish paste, haha. It smells like death, but tastes pretty good. Anyways, we were able to teach him the 1st lesson and it turns out he has been searching for the truth for quite a while. He committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and come to church. 

It really is Christmas. My dream is that we'll be able to help the branch grow by adding another potential Priesthood holder to the ranks. 

We also had our Christmas conference this week and it was great. We watched all of the nativity videos from the Life of Jesus Christ and in between each zone sang a Christmas hymn. We sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing. President also read us a Christmas story and we had some yummy food.

This morning we went to Elder and Sister Moser's house for breakfast. They are the couples missionary in the Camiling zone. from Idaho. We had our zone Christmas activity with them. They made us breakfast burritos and even had muffins there for us. It was so nice of them and SO DELICIOUS, haha. They also surprised us with a gift...a block of cheddar cheese for each companionship that their kids brought down with them a few days ago. I haven't tasted real cheese in 15 months, and am way excited to taste it again. I'm totally shelling out for bread and making a grilled cheese sandwich. 

Our plan for Christmas this year is to probably eat dinner with some of the members and work! I'm also going to read about the nativity in my personal study.

I can't wait. 

Also I'm excited to skype with you all. 

Thank you all so much again for all the fasting and prayers. I feel ready to face this and beat it, whatever it is. I have faith that everything will be okay. 

Love you guys. I'll talk to you tomorrow!


Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013

Daryn and I decided we would invite everyone to join in a fast for Elder Hubbard this coming Wednesday, December 18, 2013. He is still experiencing serious health issues and he could use our love, prayers, and a combined fast to help him right now. Thank you so much...I know that if God wants to heal him a miracle can happen when we combine our faith and prayers.

 Illocano Food! With some of the members. The noodles are called pansit, the salady--type stuff is made of fish paste, tomatoes, unripe mango, and sprout-type things. The stuff at the back is made of coconut milk, okra, eggplant, and a little bit of pork and squash. Way good.  
 The river that flows along our area. Our whole area is basically just the stretch of road along this river. 

This sketchy bridge we have to cross every day...its basically just sheet metal nailed together. There's another one that's a hanging bridge made of planks...way scary.

Hey Mom/Family,

My new area is called Pindangan, it's in the Camiling Zone...probably the most wildernessey place in the mission, haha. That's okay though...there's mangoes here. LOTS of mangoes, haha. 

As for the bank probably got de-activated when you got the new one. That's okay though. I lasted a whole 14 months without having to get a new debit card. The bank workers at home would be so proud of me, haha. 

Its been a pretty okay week...we're still getting used to the area (the elder I replaced here just got called as a ZL, so my companion has only been there about a week) but the work is picking up. We have five investigators that are progressing and two of those 12 year old girls are going to be baptized this week. The third opted out...her parents are less active and told her to stop investigating because they want her to focus on school (I probably wouldn't have started teaching her in the first place because she is so young and her parents are unsupportive). The other two should be okay though because both of their older sisters are active. They are excited to be baptized. I'm also excited...baptisms are always a huge blessing. I will also be able to achieve the goal I set for 2013...12 baptisms. I'm really happy about that...when I made the goal, I felt like 12 was the right number and that I would be able to accomplish it. Our mission is also really close to achieving it's goal of 1350 baptisms, which is a huge miracle. It is amazing what can be accomplished with the Lord's help.

It's been a bit of a tough week for me...I have really been looking for answers and for what the Lord would really have me do. There have been a lot of good things happen this week that have given me comfort. I was reading in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 101 about how we must be tried as Abraham in order to be sanctified. We have to be able to endure trials with faith and endure chastening in order for the Lord to be able to work with us and mold us. I also read in 103:12 where it says "after much tribulation comes the blessing.' I know that there are so many blessings waiting for us if we can endure our trials. 

We also had the chance to attend District Conference this week (Camiling is made up of two districts...there isn't a stake yet) and it was really good. President Martino talked about revelation, and how to know that our personal revelation is coming from God and not our own minds. He said the we have to compare the answer we've received to what it says in the scriptures, and to what the modern prophets have said. He also shared what he does personally to make sure that revelation is coming from God...he prays about it 3 times, and if he gets the same answer all three times, he is absolutely sure that it is coming from God. Elder Villanueva of the Area Seventy also spoke about the importance of missionary work at one of the sessions, and I got to be a part of a role play/demonstration on how to teach the gospel to active members and ask for referrals. It was a little bit nerve-racking to teach in front of so many people but the spirit was strong and one of the members that we taught said that as we taught her, a name came into her mind of someone she could refer to the missionaries. They are really pushing here (and all over the world I'm sure) for the members to be more involved with missionary work. I've been learning more that as missionaries it's important to not just ask for referrals, but to teach short powerful lessons that will help the members to feel the spirit and receive inspiration for who to share the gospel with. 

The best part of the conference was when the youth stood up and sang As Sisters in Zion/Armies of Helaman. As they sang the spirit bore witness to me of the power and truth of missionary work and I've decided, no matter what happens, that I always want to do my best to be a missionary. D&C 88:73 is one of my favorite verses. It is so true and we are so blessed to be a part of this time and this work right now. 

I love you all. I'll let you know about how skype is going to work this year. It will be next week sometime most likely. It's crazy how fast it comes around...I feel like we just skyped last month, haha. 

Have a great week! I love you guys, 


P.S: JAROM! Happy birthday dude! I can't believe that you are actually 6! You're probably huge now! I hope your birthday is so fun and that you find a big pachicephalosaurus or something like that. Also, tell mom to make sure that your machine gun should be a M-16...because that's what all of the police carry around here, haha. Love you buddy!

December 9, 2013

Hiking pictures. There are 15 scenes set up along the bottom of the trail from the life of Jesus Christ.

Dear Family,

I have indeed been transferred! I am now in Pindangan (peen-dahng-ahn), which is basically just a 4 or 5 km stretch of road through the jungle with a bunch of huts and farmers. I love it, haha. There is a branch here with a gorgeous chapel and about 80 weekly attendance. The members here are strong, but there are also a lot of less actives...about 300 or so. My new companion is Elder Gernale, from the Bicol area (the missionary I trained in my second area is from Bicol too). He is really tall and quiet, but we have a lot in common so it's been good. He's a programmer/software designer. Pretty smart guy. 

Our house is right across the street from the chapel, and the branch president is our next door neighbor. Pretty great setup. 

I am also still a District Leader, but my district is only 4 elders now so it isn't too much to handle. I like small districts the best. 

I am really happy to be back in the bukid, although I miss our great investigators from the city. They are doing well though, according to my last companion. The people here in Pindangan all speak Illocano, just like the people in my first area, so I'm excited to learn more of that language. I'm not sure if I'm exciting about leaving behind the Pampangan food (Angeles is the culinary center of the Philippines...) but the Illocanos eat a lot of fresh food and veggies (and bagoong [fermented fish paste]) which will probably help out my health situation a lot. They also love soup...everything they make has sauce or broth or something watery. It's good stuff. Yesterday the members cooked this dish with eggplant, string beans, okra, and coconut milk. So good. I'm also developing a fondness for Illocano 'salad'...sour green mango, tomatoes, shrimp paste, and weird stringy sprout things. Delicious. 

Aside from the tasty food, there is a lot of potential here. The hard part is that there aren't a lot of people in this area, (kind of like a Magrath situation, but where everyone else is Catholic) so we've made plans to find part-member families and less actives so we can see some more success. We have three baptisms coming up this month though...three twelve year old girls. I guess their parents are less active but a couple of them have older sisters who are active. I was a little bit worried about the fact that they come from inactive families and wondering about whether we should still baptize them, so yesterday we told them that we would be moving their baptisms to the end of the month just to make sure they would be ready. I was so shocked when they started crying! One of them even got angry with me and said that she's been wanting to be baptized for so long and is tired of waiting. We weren't quite sure how to react at first, but we both felt that they would still be able to be baptized and that we didn't need to extend. It was a good lesson to me that faith really isn't measured by how old you are or how well you know the baptismal interview questions. It's measured by desire. I'm sure it will be a great baptism. 

We had another cool experience finding this week. We had some time before an appointment so we decided to go and tract. We felt inspired to walk down this dirt road that led to the forest. We walked a little ways and didn't really see anything, but as we were about to turn back we saw a house off in the distance. We tao po-ed it and a woman came out. After talking to her for a minute, she told us that she is a member, and had moved from the city after separating with her husband. Her name is Eva and she's been having a lot of trials in her life lately, especially with her three kids, two of whom are teenagers. We shared a quick message with her and faith and trials and then she asked to come back and teach her three kids, who haven't been baptized yet. We have a return appointment with them on Tuesday. It was simple, but I really felt that we had been guided there to help this sister, and to also find some potential investigators. 

That's about all for this week. I'm sure there will be a lot of new adventures this week...probably some dog stories, haha. There are tons of dogs here.   

Love Jared.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December 2, 2013

 Pics from our hike camera was out of batteries so Elder Mosquera took a couple for me. I'll send more next week. 

A photo after we performed for the stake presidents in the mission home. I'm in the back can't really see my face. 

Dear Family, 

I'm sorry if this email is so short...we went and hiked mount Arayat today and it took a little bit longer than we expected. It was actually a really hard hike...almost straight up through thick rocks and jungle. I came about three inches within dying...I was coming back down from the top with another elder and I guess I came a few inches a away from stepping on a snake. The elder behind me saw it come out from under the leaves close to where I'd just stepped. I saw it was a little black one with white stripes and a red tail...way poisonous. At least it wasn't a cobra though, or I probably would've been bitten for sure. 

I've had a pretty good week. One of Brother Jensen's colleagues brought the package by so I've been taking vitamins and stuff now. The guava tea has been helping a little bit but there's still a lot of weird stuff going on, so I'm hoping that the drops will add some more strength to the mix. Please tell Brother Jensen thank you so much for me. That package probably wasn't easy to bring down and I appreciate it so much. 

I was also roped into a performance this week...President and Sister Martino held a dinner for all of the stake and district presidents and a few missionaries were chosen to perform musical numbers. I played the piano part in a vocal/piano/violin arrangement of Saviour, Redeemer of my Soul. We also sang some Christmas songs and then afterwards went Christmas caroling to some of President's neighbors by the mission home. They were all way of them is actually the aunt of the current president of the Philippines. It was a great experience to be there. 

I have been having some awesome experiences this week.  Two of the less actives  that we've helped return were just called as high counselors in the Stake, and we were able to extend some baptismal goal dates to several investigators for January. I bore my testimony too on Sunday and said goodbye to the members. I'm really going to miss this ward and all of the great people here. It has been a huge blessing to be assigned here. 

I fasted on Sunday that I would be able to receive inspiration for the trials that I am facing right now. My goal is to become more sanctified, and I know that this can happen as we overcome trials and do what we can to improve ourselves. That same day we also went to visit a Sister. She has been doing so good...she has tons of friends in the relief society and is coming to church and loving it. She has been struggling though with smoking. She wants to be baptized in December, but needs to be able to go without smoking for a whole month before that happens. She had been making good progress before, but it was coming too slowly to make her baptism in December possible. We had set goals and plans and felt good about the 28th of December for her baptism, and President Martino also encouraged us to help her be baptized in December, so we weren't too sure what to teach about yesterday. When we got to the appointment though, we felt like sharing about faith and miracles with her. We shared the story of Alma and Amulek and the trials they went through, and then the miracle that the Lord provided for them afterwards. After we had read it and talked about it, I felt inspired to ask her if she had the faith to overcome her challenges with smoking, and she said yes. We also felt to give her a blessing, and after the blessing was over she looked at all of us and said, "That's it. I'm not smoking anymore." 

I don't think I've ever felt the spirit so strong in a lesson. It was like I knew exactly what he wanted me to say and it all worked out. It was a miracle for us.

That was the best part of my week. I love being a missionary and I know without a doubt that God loves me and is watching out for me, even through my trials. I can feel more and more the strength that he is giving me. 

I love you guys and I'm so glad that things are going so well at home. I wish I had more time to email now but we're rushing a lot. Tell Josh to get better for me. 


Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013

Hey Dad,
My companion is way cool and the work is progressing. The previous elders in this area struggled a lot with baptisms...some of them went six months here without a single one, and there have been four in my time here with two more coming up hopefully in December. That isn't at all to say anything negative about the other Elders or that there is anything different about what we are's just so amazing how much the Lord has blessed us to have success here. Elder Adorza is my favorite companion. I feel like our work has been effective, even though it's difficult at times here in the city. God really does prepare a way for things to be accomplished. 
It's also been amazing to meet some of the missionaries from Tacloban that were re-assigned here and here their stories. One of them was published in the mission newsletter. I guess some of the elders there had been told to stay in their apartment, despite the evacuation that was happening in that particular area. They felt like evacuating but decided to listen to the mission leaders and stay in their house. The house somehow managed to survive the storm, and when they went outside after the storm their apartment was the only building left standing on the block. They've all been sent to the other missions around here. I think some of them have also been assigned to help with relief efforts down there too. 
As far as crazy adventures...we got attacked by dogs yesterday, haha. We were walking down the street and two big ones just ran out of an empty lot and came at us. I instinctively started moving backwards and bent down to pick up a rock (if you turn your back to them they will eat you), but Elder Adorza just let out this Bruce Lee yell and got into some martial arts stance and went into attack mode. Both dogs went for him (while you're picturing this, keep in mind that Elder Adorza is like 5'1) and he (in perfect martial arts form) kept them back with a bunch of well aimed kicks. He nailed one right in the eyes and probably would have ripped the other one's jugular out if the owner hadn't came outside and called them off. I haven't been attacked by dogs in a long my first area we kept air-soft guns in our bags because there were so many dogs everywhere, haha. Good thing my comp is ninja. Jet Li and Ong Bak are his heroes, haha. 
We've got some baptisms coming up too in December. I probably won't be here for them, but it makes me happy that I was able to plant a couple seeds for the next missionaries. One of them is Sister Van M...her step son was baptized last month and her husband has recently become active again and just was called into the High Council of the stake here. We didn't think she would be ready for a goal date in December, but the Lord really prepared a way for her to feel ready to work for a December goal. She is so excited about the Gospel and about the church...she is friends with all of the relief society already. We are also teaching a 16-yr old girl named Alyssa (pronounced Aliza). She is the cousin of Sister Hershey - one of the ward missionaries and she has also accepted a goal date for December. It is a miracle in a way for us because we didn't think we would be able to have any investigators ready for December...but just this last week our prayers have been answered.
We've also been able to attend Ward council meeting and work closer with the members which makes ALL of the difference. It's said that from house-to-house contacting, only 1 out of 1000 people will be baptized, but through referrals and working with members 5 out of 10 will be baptized. Such a huge difference. The ward here is great and really supportive. 
I love you Dad. Thanks for all that you do for me. I hope everything continues to go so well with the family and with the ward. I can't believe I've been out for almost 16 months now. It's weird to think about. 
I'll send another quick one to Mom and then I guess it can all just be the family email, haha. 
-         Jared. 
Hey Mom,

I've been feeling better in some ways, I feel stronger. There are still a lot of other things going on though. I'm doing a lot to fix it though and I have faith that I can do it. It's just a trial. I feel like the Lord's already shown me a few things that have been guava leaves, haha. I've been drinking guava leaf tea for the last few days.
As far as this week has gone it's been good. I told about most of it in my letter to Dad, but I just want to say that I am so grateful for you guys and that we are so blessed in so many ways. Some of the members gave us some leftover roast beef the other night, and as we were walking home we noticed this little kid hanging around asking people for money. He was wearing a pair of tattered shorts and probably hadn't bathed in days. We talked to him and found out that his name is Jason and that he's 8 years old. We asked him what his family was going to eat with their rice that evening and he answered 'tuyo' (soy sauce). We gave him the tupperware of roast beef and wrote a note to his family, who didn't know that he was out begging, and then we sent him home. It's so sad for me to see little kids on the streets makes me think of Jameson and Jarom being in the same situation and breaks my heart. It was nice to be able to help out in some small way.
Anyways, our time is up. I sure love you mom. I'm going to get better...don't worry. I'm working and learning a lot about faith and keeping a positive attitude. The Lord is just helping me come closer to him.
Have a great week! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 18, 2013

Just a quick update that Jared's companions family has been found and are safe. A friend sent me a part of a letter a sister missionary serving in the Tacloban Mission from Calgary wrote home. You can read the full story if you click on this link. It is from Deseret News and an amazing story of how all 204 missionaries serving in that mission were protected by the hand of God, all had frightening and faith promoting experiences but in the end all the missionaries were found and by a miracle flown out to the MTC in Manilla. As a mother it gives me great hope and faith while my son serves in such a far away place. We have turned Elder Hubbard  over to the Lord and he is in God's loving care.

 About ten of us from the Zone went out this morning and played basketball. I'm sitting next to Elder Coquia, Elder Adorza (my comp) is in red, Elder Paredes (from my district) is behind him, and then  Elder Gaudiano on the far left.  
 Dinner last week that Brother Cuay cooked for us. Litson Manok (spit roasted chicken) and Crispy Pata (deep-fried pigs legs). SO GOOD. 

 Christmas!! It's a little odd to see so many lights and no snow. I forgot to mention in my previous letters, but in the Phils they start celebrating Christmas as soon as September hits. You'll see lights going up and the radio stations all start playing Christmas songs. This is an office building that we pass by almost every day. 

 A tasty balut from the other night :)

Nom nom nom. I always have to eat balut in one bite. It get's a little gross if you do it in two or three bites. 

Hey Mom,

Yeah, his family is okay. Their house got wrecked up pretty good, but everyone is alright. It's a huge miracle that all of the missionaries were accounted for there. There will be 16 missionaries from the Tacloban mission arriving here tomorrow to be reassigned. Other than that I don't think our mission will be affected too much. 

Dear Family,

It's been a pretty good week...we did a lot of exploring and going house-to-house. We didn't see many results at first and it got kind of discouraging, but than I realized yesterday that God's plan for people can be unexpected at times. We had gone to visit a less active family, but when we got to their house the Jehovah's Witness was already there teaching the dad (the mom was hiding behind the house...from the Jehovahs that is). They hadn't seen us yet and we didn't want to get into a lengthy conversation about what God's name is, so we told the Aunt (who was also hiding) that we'd just come back later and we went to a nearby subdivision to do some finding. We went down one street and knocked on maybe ten houses...everyone was either busy or just closed their doors, and when we got to the end of the street it had seemed like nothing had come out of the effort we'd put it. As we started walking back we say a guy standing in front of his house and decided to talk to him. He seemed a little hesitant at first but as we introduced ourselves and I told him that I was from Canada, he seemed to relax. It turns out that he actually works for Bell customer service...and all of the people that he gets calls from are Canadian. His name is Bernard, and he let us in to share a message. Super nice guy. 

It was funny, because at first we were a little frustrated because our LA appointment got stolen, but if we had never gone to that subdivision to OYM, we wouldn't have met Bernard. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Did you guys like the balut pictures? I don't know why, but people gave us balut three days in a row. The one is the picture is the biggest one I've ever eaten. I also ate a smaller one that was a bit under-cooked (the duck felt like it melted in my mouth...I almost gagged, haha). 

Things have been going good too in the ward here. The stake president came into Elders quorum the other day and talked about the things that have been happening in the Phils...the typhoons, and the earthquake - and how the Lord is hastening his work to prepare for His second coming. It really kind of hit me how true that really is. We are living in a time when the world is being prepared to meet Jesus Christ again. People's hearts are being softened and readied to hear the Gospel, and the church is spreading all over the world. It is so great to be a part of this work, and everybody in the church is a part of it. Even just by going onto the internet and doing family's all a part of hastening the work. I think it's so cool. 

As far as Christmas things go, do you think you could get me a new debit card? My wallet somehow went missing last month. I think it must have been stolen, because we've moved apartments since then and it never turned up. It had my debit card in there. My licence, thankfully, was not in my wallet so I still have it. 

I haven't got the package yet, but I'm sure it'll get here sometime soon. I guess I'm not actually allowed to see Brother Jensen...(I read the white handbook to find out) so he might just have to mail it.

I'm sorry that this email is kind of short. We're almost out of time. I love you guys so much and I hope and pray that things will continue to go well for you. 

Have a great week!
- Love Jared. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 11, 2013

Thanks for all your prayers, concern, emails, texts and phone calls. We all appreciate your love for Jared and our family.

November 8, 2013 Jared sent this message to us.

Hey Family,

As you may or may not know, there is a signal five storm headed for the of the strongest storms in history. It is tearing through the Southern Part right now and it's estimated that over 2 million people will be left homeless. We have been authorized  by President Martino to use the computers for 5 minutes today to inform you all that we will NOT be affected by this storm. It may get to a signal 3 at worst. 
Love you guys :)
Love Jared. 
 Yes...there are pink chickens in the Phils. Just kidding. These belong to Vincent, who is the grandson of the sister in the ward who washes our clothes. Here, they have these guys that walk around with these little cages on wheels, which are full of baby chicken and baby ducks that they sell to little kids for about 10 pesos (I would have bought a baby duck already but it's not allowed :( ). Anyways, they dunk the baby chickens in paint to make them more interesting. 
 My crazy ninja companion strikes again. Love this guy. 

Actually our mission didn't get hit at all by the storm. I'm sure that the Tacloban Mission and the Cebu Mission got evacuated though. The whole province of Leyte got destroyed. Like, nothing is left standing anywhere. My comp. is really worried because that's where he's from and he hasn't heard from his family yet. There isn't any food, power or water there.

November 11, 2013
Dear Family,

Thank you for the pictures!!! It was good to see snow again and to see Dad! Looking good Dad! It was also great to see Jarom. He looks like he could play drums for the Beatles or something, haha. 

We actually haven't experienced any of the super-storm up here. They thought that it would hit a signal three here in Angeles but it never came. Just a little bit of wind and a few drops of rain. Leyte Province (Tacloban Mission down south) on the other hand has been completely destroyed. The news networks here flew down there in a helicopter to talk to some survivors...almost everyone they talked too had lost family members and EVERYONE had lost their houses. I don't think there is a house or tree left standing in that whole province. They probably pulled the Missionaries out of there before it hit. It is crazy how much destruction can happen in just one storm. My companion is really worried about his family, as he is from Leyte. He is being really brave about it, but I can tell that he is worried. Maybe include him in your prayers. 

It's exciting where missionary is going in Magrath...the work really is being hastened. All over the world. There are almost 240 missionaries here in our mission now, and a whole lot of areas are being opened up all over the place. The stake that I'm serving in right now is getting ready to split into two stakes. So cool. 

We had a good week - the best part was definitely Aaron Van M's baptism. The Ward Mission Leader couldn't get off work on time to fill the font, so we went over to do it a few hours before the baptism. When we turned on the water, it was brown, and definitely not safe to be baptized in. We were also shocked when we opened up the cupboard full of baptismal clothes and saw that it was full of cockroaches, and all of the white clothes were stained with cockroach nastiness. We were kind of in a state of panic and I was ready to text everyone and cancel the baptism, when some maintenance workers showed up and were able to fix the water problem. We were also able to run a pair of the baptismal clothes to one of the members and she was able to bleach it real fast and clean it up in time for the baptism. Close call...definitely some divine intervention involved there. 

The baptism went really well...I got to baptize Aaron, and as always tends to happen, he came out of the water with a big smile on his face. I asked how he felt and he just grinned and said, "Amazing." It is always special to be a part of a baptism. The Van M family has been a huge blessing to us here. I really don't feel like we've had a lot to do with Aaron being baptized, or their family coming to church - it is just a result of the Gospel working in their lives and the awesome faith that they have. 

Aside from the baptism, it's been another interesting week of finding. Finding is one of my favorite things because you never know who you'll meet or get to talk too. This week we OYMed on a street behind the Iglesia ni Cristo church, which also claims to be the restored church of Jesus Christ. There are a lot of great people in their church, but they are told by their preachers that only their church will be saved and are forbidden to listen to any other religion. That, mixed with several other factors, often makes for some interesting conversations. Anyways, after about six doors closed in our faces and one rather myabang fellow telling us to join his church because the judgement is close (I stopped myself from telling him that he doesn't know HOW close), we ran into a Baptist, who was also very nice but just told us, "I've already been saved. I've accepted Jesus into my heart," when we asked her if we could share a message with her. We also ran into an interesting old guy and politely introduced ourselves to him. He didn't seem too sure of what to say to us, so he just did what his preachers told him and started to prove our 'false doctrine' wrong. I was a little bit tired of this treatment, and got a little irritated, but felt at the same time that I just needed to be calm and not react at all. We just smiled and answered his questions, and then asked him some questions - like why God is important to him, and about his family and stuff like that. I asked him if he believes in revelation, and we were able to share the Book of Mormon with him. He wasn't a fan of that at first, and he told us that the BOM isn't true because Joseph Smith wrote it, and that Joseph Smith isn't a prophet because he had 48 wives. I was a little caught off by that...but felt to say, "Well, I'm not sure where you read that, but think of it this way: would you be able to handle having 48 wives?" He laughed about that and it kind of broke the ice. We were able to explain and testify to him and even get a return appointment. 

Lesson learned: Kindness and sincerity > Debate.

We've been struggling a lot with new investigators, and a lot of the ones we've found are hiding from us (I still don't know why people have to hide...they could just tell us they don't want to meet with us anymore). We've been focusing more on the members and trying to get referrals and there is some progress that is starting to happen. I just want to make my last transfer here as effective as possible so the next missionaries will at least have something to go off of. 

I've also been studying a lot in Isaiah and it's amazing how much all of his prophecies line up with the things that are happening right now in our church. It's amazing and a huge privilege to be a part of this great work. Keep me updated on the missionary work that you guys are doing as a family! It sounds like you have some great Elders there in Magrath...keep them busy!

I love you guys. 

- Jared. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 2013

Out Tracting :) Just a couple days ago.

Kumusta Family! 
I am terribly sorry to hear about the measles outbreak that is sweeping across southern Alberta...make sure you are all drinking plenty of water and getting a few extra measles injections (just kidding). I hope everyone feels better soon. 
Snow. :) Can you guys send pictures?
I got a great surprise in the pouch on Saturday...a whole bunch of letters from all of you and one from Grandpa Al. It was super good to hear from all of you. Thank you so much for the letters. I actually haven't seen that video of the family home evening yet, but I think it's funny that you all got to watch it. I was comparing my voice in one of my camera videos to my voice in a video that I took in my first area and there is definitely a difference, haha. I love speaking in Tagalog.
This week has been good. It is nice to see the work slowly go uphill here in Angeles. We were able to have a lot of success this week in finding...AND there where no debates or close calls with people wanting to kiss us, haha. We have been working in the Lourdes Sur neighborhood more and finding even more people to teach. There are a lot of streets there and we've just been going door to door. We were really surprised when a girl and her two younger siblings and their friend (two of which were teenage boys, so it was okay) let us in the house. They were waiting for their mom to come home from Malaysia...she had been gone for 2 years to work and she was coming home that same day. We happened to have the Restoration Video on hand so we watched it them and they were really interested. I love the Joseph Smith story, and the spirit is always strong during that video. We are going to visit them again on Tuesday. I love teaching youth because they have such strong faith. They aren't closed minded at all. 
We also met a woman named Amor who is a faithful Catholic but feels like something is missing. She has been meeting with a few other religions as well and was excited about the Book of Mormon when we gave it to her. She says she is looking for more truth in her life, and is ready to follow the Spirit if it tells her where to go. I feel like the Gospel is really meant for people like her - people who love God and want to follow him as best as they can. They aren't afraid to read the Book of Mormon, or open their hearts to the message. The best part is, the Gospel will not take away the things that they already believe will just add to it and make it even better. Some people get too hung up on the Bible or God's name or the Sabbath Day - which are important (well, the Bible and the Sabbath Day are) - but they miss the most important thing - that through Jesus Christ we can all be saved. We can become LIKE God by following his commandments. We can receive guidance and revelation in our own lives and eternal progression and families in the next life. I feel like so many people are missing out on this!
The ward is starting to get a lot more involved in the work too. I think that some of the members here might have lost trust in the missionaries in the past, so it's been kind of hard to get referrals and stuff (although there are a lot of dinners). We've been trying hard to be diligent and helpful to the ward and some good things are starting to happen. The ward here is awesome and everyone fulfills their callings and assignments. Yesterday, the Stake President walked in to all of the different quorums and shared a message about the importance of giving referrals. A couple months ago he had committed the entire stake to each give one name to the missionaries to teach, and in the ward yesterday he followed up with EVERY QUORUM, haha. He asked everyone in the whole Elder's Quorum (made up of RM's for the most part) about their referrals, and was a little bit put off when only a couple elders raised their hands. Needless to say, by the time his message was over, a lot of them were pretty uncomfortable...haha. I think sometimes as members is it awkward or even scary to talk to our friends and coworkers about the Gospel, but we forget that it is a huge responsibility of ours that we will one day be accountable for. I love the ward here and the members and I hope we will be able to help them overcome their trepidation and fears so that they can do their part too in this work. I understand now why the missionaries in Magrath would suffer through so many casseroles every night...just for the chance that they might be able to receive a referral and have someone to teach there, haha. 
I am so grateful for the members that do help us out and support us in the work. Especially the leaders here. They are fantastic leaders. The secret to missionary success is definitely being united with the members, and I am seeing that more and more. It makes me want to do all I can after my mission to help the Elders.
I love you guys so much. Thank you for all of the letters. I know that this church is true. I can't believe that in about a week I will have been out for 15 months. It is going way too fast. 
Have a gooder :)
Love Jared.  

October 28, 2013

Dear Family, 

First off, I think it's so cool that there is some good missionary work happening at home. I was looking at the ward directory on and I saw the missionary from china that is serving there. What a miracle for that family from China, and also for that missionary to be able to teach someone from his home country. We are starting to get more involved with the ward here (I think the members here lost a bit of trust in the missionaries here before) and the work is getting better. Oh! And I didn't end up getting transferred, which makes me happy because Elder Adorza is a cool companion and we have some great people that we are teaching right now. This is the hardest area I've been in, but I love it. The Lord has been helping us to somehow see some success here. 

We had a VERY interesting week this week. We've really been focusing on finding new investigators, so we've been running all over the city shouting 'TAO PO!' at different houses (you don't knock here, you say 'tao po'). We were really successful in one of the down town neighborhoods called Lourdes Sur and managed to find and teach quite a few people there. A funny thing I've noticed about Angeles City is that there are almost more Born Again's than Catholics (or maybe it's just that the Born Again's are a lot nicer and they let us in more). There are also a lot of Iglesia ni Cristo in Lourdes Sur, which makes things interesting. We had a guy from the Church of God (Dating Daan) invite us in. We told him our beliefs and he asked us probably 100 questions to try and undermine the Book of Mormon. He was very respectful and nice about it, and we'll probably go visit him again. I've been realizing more and more how valuable a testimony really is. A lot of people think that the Bible is perfect and that it is all the Revelation that we need, and won't open their hearts to the book of Mormon (I've heard Revelation 21:19 or whatever that verse is about 'adding to the bible' about 800 times by now). They won't even try to read and pray about it. We said hi to another man last week, and he opened up the copy of the Book of Mormon we showed to him and pointed to the picture of Jesus, rather long-windedly preaching to us that we need to worship God and not Jesus Christ, and follow the Bible and not things that men make up. He ripped into our doctrine and just started spewing all of these random Bible verses at us. He also asked us questions, but then when we'd answer them he'd interrupt us and sputter off on a new scripture chase. After about twenty minutes of this, I started to get irritated. We bore our testimonies of the Book of Mormon to him and the importance of receiving revelation for ourselves; to which he just laughed and told us that the revelation we received isn't real, and that real revelation comes from listening to a preacher. I finally couldn't handle it any more, and I raised my voice (just enough for him to quiet down) and told him that if he wanted to respectfully talk about our beliefs, we would be happy to share a message with him, and that if he didn't want to hear what we had to say, we had a lot of other more important things to do. And we left it at that. 

I'm so grateful for my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I haven't seen or found reason to believe that it contradicts anything in the Bible. It is another testament of Jesus Christ that will help everyone come closer to Him and to know the fullness of the Gospel. Like it says in the Bible, and in the Book of Mormon, we all must gain our own knowledge of the truth from the Holy Ghost. I am so thankful for the fullness of the gospel. No matter what I here, read, or go through - I cannot deny my testimony of the Book of Mormon. It makes me so sad when people choose to ignore it or try to prove it wrong. They are missing out on so much.

I'm just glad that I'm not Elijah from the Old Testament. There would be a lot of fire raining down, haha. (Just kidding...I still love these people). 

Weirdest thing that happened this week: My companion and I were out tracting on Saturday morning, and we had stopped to talk to someone. As we were conversing with them, I felt a surprisingly strong hand come from behind and grabbed my shoulder, spinning me around. The hand belonged to a woman who was probably 96, and she leaned in for a kiss! I almost dropped my shoulder bag, but I managed to dodge her and explain to her that we don't give kisses but we could give her a picture of Jesus. She seemed satisfied with that, and we left her an articles of faith card and then fled like Joseph of Egypt. I will definitely be watching my back from now on, haha. 

A lot of good stuff happened this week too though, even though we got debated and almost kissed by old ladies. A lot of the investigators we found last week (which we thought would progress) were hiding from us this week, which is frustrating, but we found some new ones which show a little bit more promise. The funniest one - we went back to teach a couple we had found, as well as the wife's two younger siblings. When we got there and knocked on the door, nobody answered. We noticed that a light was one (obviously, people were home, so we just waited and knocked again). As we waited, the husband walked around the corner and saw us. He paused, thinking hard for something to say. Finally he told us, "I'll just go and call them." And then he walked off again. 5 minutes passed, then 10, then 20..."Elder, should we drop them?" "Yeah." haha. We'll go by one more time just to be sure though. 

Anyways, a few of our investigators are progressing well, and we have a baptism next week. We've been teaching the Van M family for about a month and a half now, and their son Aaron is ready to be baptized this Saturday. The ward has done great at reaching out to them, and he is really involved with the YM's group and the youth and goes to all of the activities. It just shows me how much power is in a quorum, even when it comes to missionary work. Aaron has been to camp, a dance, and plays basketball with his deacons quorum often. There is another deacon in the ward too who is from Utah, and he's been great with helping out and fellow shipping (they are both English speaking). Sister Van M is doing great too and preparing for her baptism. She is making a lot of sacrifices and doing a lot of work to be ready. It is so great as a missionary to see how much the Gospel works miracles in people's lives. The Van M family has been doing so great...Brother Van M is really the one teaching his family. He is helping his wife out so much with learning and understanding the Gospel and they have all been progressing so well. That is what missionary work should really be like. It works out so much better when the members get involved; whether it is with their families or close friends. 

I love you guys. I love reading about everything that is happening with the family and the ward and the work over there. We are so so blessed to be a part of this church. Keep on working hard to share it with others. 


October 21, 2013

Dear Family, 

It's been a hard week, but at the same time I feel great. I feel so happy about the Gospel and I really feel a desire to do all I can to live it and invite others to live it. I feel like the experiences I've had this week have added to that desire and to my testimony of this church. 

I was able to see a simple, but powerful miracle this week that really strengthened my testimony about the Book of Mormon. We have been teaching the Van M's (from Australia) for quite a while now, and a couple weeks ago we invited Sister Van M to read the BOM and pray about its truth. As we kept visiting them and following up with her, she had trouble at first. She would read every day, but she didn't feel ready to ask the Lord if it was true. We felt impressed to invite her and Brother Van M to pray together about it after reading Moroni 10. Anyways, when we went to visit yesterday, I had forgotten to follow up again. We started teaching the Word of Wisdom, and then Sister Van M quietly broke in and told us through tear-filled eyes that she had prayed and got an answer. I was amazed, and although I felt bad for forgetting to follow up right away, I could feel the power of the answer that she had received and it filled me with happiness too. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, without a doubt. I have only seen it happen a few times in my mission, but when a person really reads, ponders and prays about the Book of Mormon, they will always come to know that it is true. It just takes faith, and because of Sister Van M's amazing faith, she was able to receive an answer. Their son Aaron is scheduled to be baptized on Nov 3 (I hope I'm here for his baptism) and Sister Van M is ready to start preparing. We are going to pray about a date for her. 

It is such a blessing to be on a mission. It is worth going through any trial to be able to see the miracles that the Gospel brings in people's lives. We are so blessed to be a part of this work, and this church. 

We've been doing a lot of finding too this week, and have actually gotten into a few houses. The only problem though is that the people we taught didn't seem very interested. There were a couple of weird experiences too. One day as we were walking through one of the neighborhoods downtown, an older guy was standing by his gate and he invited us in. We were really excited because that doesn't happen very often in Angeles, haha. We sat down with him and he started sharing how important religion is with us. He quoted the Bible, about prophets, the second coming and even talked about the Millennium. I was super pumped that he knew all of the stuff and so I immediately brought out the Book of Mormon, thinking that he would be just as excited as we are about the fact that God revealed things for our generation to get ready for the Second Coming. Nope. He (in a nice way) just kept quoting the bible and saying how our religion is wrong because we aren't Christians and how all of the religions that come to his door are the same and that the Bible is complete and we aren't supposed to add on to it and he doesn't need a Mormon bible, etc. We explained to him that we believe in the Bible and that we need the Book of Mormon to have the fullness of truth. We also bore testimony of the Book of Mormon. It was a really spiritual lesson, because we chose not to tear down his beliefs or debate with him, but we shared our testimonies with him and he couldn't say anything to disagree with those. It makes me so sad when good people like that won't open their hearts or minds or even think about the stuff that they read in the Bible. If they really read their Bible, they would notice that so much is missing in their religions. Not that their religions are at all bad or wrong, just that there is so much more that they could come to know. They are really just missing out. 

We had another REALLY WEIRD lesson. We were tracting and we met a woman (probably in her late twenties or early 30's) who turned out to be the house-help at one of the bigger houses there. The owners of the home weren't there, and there weren't any men around that we could invite in, so we just taught her outside in front of the house. I happened to be leading the lesson, and as I asked her about her religious background and experience, she didn't answer. She just silently, and WEIRDLY stared at me. I wasn't sure what to think, so I just repeated the question. Then she said, "Oh, sorry kuya, hindi ako makikinig...tumitingin lang ako sayo...ang gwapo mo kasi. (Sorry brother, I'm not listening. I'm just staring at you because you are so handsome)." I was a lot uncomfortable (I'm so glad we obeyed the mission rules by not going inside the house without another priesthood holder) and we wrapped up the lesson pretty quick and got out of there, haha. 

That's about it for this week. Transfers are coming up this week, and I have the feeling that I might not be staying here too much longer. I feel good though about the things that we've accomplished and that are happening here in our area though. Health wise I am feeling a little bit better, just weak, but I am confident that it will continue to get better. I, like Jeffery R Holland said, am a firm advocate of square shoulders and positive attitudes, haha. 

I love you guys. Thank you so much for sharing all of the cool things that are happening over there with me. Keep being strong in the gospel and looking for missionary opportunities all around you. 

Love, Jared.