Screensaver material. The sunsets are so gorgeous here
We were invited to the birthday party of the Branch Presidents daughter (she is turning ten). I let her pick out one of the butterflies that Janae made. We had spaghetti , macaroni salad (which is a dessert here), cake and RC Cola (about 78% carbonation, 20% aspartame, and 2% cola flavoring, haha)
Monica, Rizalyn, and Richelle (13, 14, 16 - Richelle is the one that fell asleep for three days
Some of my favorite kids here in Cuyapo - they are all Brother Rey's kids. Their names (left to right) are Patrick, Daniel, and Arjay (the little one). They are hilarious.
Family Home Evening with the Oliveros Family!
A cool lizard thing I saw. I saw a kid the other day with one - he had a string tied around its neck and was dragging it around. I think it might have been dead, haha. (He was maybe Jarom's age - the kid, that is). They are probably 6-8 inches long and like to hide in leaves.
The meeting house
Did somebody ask for a desktop background?
Sinigang! (sour soup). We had a good lunch.
This week has been good! One of our investigators finally came to church! We have been teaching her since the beginning of December, and have invited her to be baptized a couple of times. She wasn’t sure before if she wanted to or not, but when she was leaving the church yesterday after Sunday school, she told one of the members that she really wants to be baptized now. Everything went well – all of the members were super friendly and helpful to her, and the lesson in Sunday school happened to be all about baptism and confirmation. We have a date of Feb 26 set for her baptism, and I’m super excited to go back and teach her again this week.
Tatay Oliveros is also doing amazing – he seemed really upset and shy when we visited him last Saturday, but this week we had a home evening at their house. We played some games, had treats and shared a message. Brother Oliveros really came out of his shell and we all had a lot of fun. We gave him a whole bunch of Mentos candy, and he said he would eat one every time he felt like smoking. Yesterday at church, Sister Oliveros was very excited. She told us that Brother Oliveros had some great news for us…but that we have to wait to hear it. She says he is progressing more than he ever has before. I am pumped to see what has happened.
We gave an interesting blessing last week…I don’t know if I told you about it yet. We went to visit some of the recent converts in our branch (three teenaged sisters), and were shocked when one of their cousins came running up to their house carrying Richelle (one of the sisters). She looked like she was unconscious, but when I looked closer, I saw that she was breathing. I guess that her family hadn’t been able to wake her up that morning – it was like she was asleep, but couldn’t be woken up by anything. I guess it had happened once before, and she was asleep for three days. We gave her a blessing, and exactly three days later, she woke up again. It was really odd. I asked her about it after, and what it felt like, and she told me that she had visited a place – like a huge field full of white flowers, and that her father and niece (both have passed away) were there, as well as a white lady that she didn’t recognize. She says it was beautiful there, but that she felt scared the whole time, and that she was really tired and hungry feeling. It was interesting to hear about. The doctors can’t find anything wrong with her. We’re glad that she’s alright though.
We found a few new investigators last week – and they are all very interested in listening to us. We have been looking for quite a while, because a lot of the investigators we have now are just not progressing. It is a blessing to have people that are willing to listen to our message. We are planning on extending some more BGDs this week.
Also, big news – next Monday when I write to you, I will have a new companion. Transfer announcements are on Wednesday. I will almost certainly be staying in Cuyapo, and I will either be getting a new senior companion or I will be training. I am happy that I get to stay here. The work is really starting to pick up, and I will probably be around in the spring when the new chapel is finished. That will be great. I am just hoping and praying for another good companion like Elder Janolgue – If I get a pasuway (disobedient) right now and all of our progress gets ruined I might feed him to the spiders in our roof, haha.
Things have really gotten a lot better in the branch too – President Toledo has been really supportive and has been helping us with fellowshipping our investigators. The members seemed to have stepped things up too. One of the area goals for the Philippines this year is for every active member to rescue at least one less-active member and return them to the church, so one of our jobs as missionaries is to help with that process. There are about 50 active members here in Cuyapo and about about 200 less actives. We have been visiting a lot of them…many left because they have no friends in the church, or because they were having trouble with Word of Wisdom things. Some of them just can’t afford to get a trike to go to church every Sunday (but the money seems to magically appear when there is a Christmas party, haha). I hope that the members will be able to put out a greater effort to help these less actives return. It is so much more powerful when the members reach out.
Oh! I have an Elder Curtis Despain from Idaho in my zone – he says he has Callahans in his family tree somewhere back too. I’m pretty sure we are related somehow.
There are a lot of challenges here, but I don’t think life would be half as meaningful without them. They are certainly a part of missionary work and are meant to make us better people. I’ve found as I work hard and trust in the lord, they aren’t as bothersome, and I am able to press forward. I have learned so much, and I still have a lot more to learn in the future.
Thank you all for your letters and support. They have helped a lot. I will be printing that talk off that you sent, Mom. I’m sure it will help me a lot.
I love you all,