Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February 11, 2013

Dear Family,                                                                                      February 11, 2013

This has been a really busy week. We had a member of the Area Presidency come to our stake in Paniqui as part of a tour of the mission. We had a whole day of training there with him and President Martino. The topic was the Atonement. Remember that amazing talk by Elder Bednar that you sent me? We read it as a mission last week before the mission tour started, and Elder Neilson (from the are presidency) used it for his training seminar. It was an amazing day and I learned so much about the Atonement and how it can help us and our members and investigators. Elder Neilson also talked to us about some things that we need to accomplish here in the Philippines in order to establish the church.There are 700,000 members in the Philippines and only 100,000 of them are active. The strongest stakes of the church here are found in areas where the leadership is made up of educated, independently wealthy members. They are able to support the other members and help the church reach out to them. Elder Neilson promised us that if we focused on the rich neighborhoods, we would have success with the people there and we would be able to help establish and strengthen the church. We’ve been trying to contact the wealthier homes here in Cuyapo, and we’ve had a little bit of success – we have two return appointments to a couple of large homes. We also have some return appointments with housekeepers, because a lot of the rich people here will just send them out to say that they aren’t home, haha. It’s been interesting to work in richer neighborhoods. It gives me a little bit of an idea of what missionary work must be like in first world countries – difficult, haha. It’s been good though.

The work has been a little bit discouraging this week. Our investigator that we thought was progressing didn’t come to church for the third week in a row and we haven’t been able to get an appointment with her lately. It almost seems like she isn’t interested all of a sudden, which makes me sad because she seemed so sure that it was all true and that she had found the right church. We are going to try and visit her again next week and find out what her concern is. We have a couple of other progressing investigators but they aren’t progressing as well as Sister Marlyn was. We had an interesting lesson the other night with two sisters from the Jehovah’s Witness Faith. They are great investigators and have lots of questions for us…we have challenged them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. Last night we were teaching them and the inevitable question finally came up: “Why do you worship Jesus Christ instead of God?” We tried to explain that we in fact worship both of them, but our gospel in central to Jesus Christ, but I don’t think they fully understood. We are going to teach them about the Plan of Salvation next time to explain better. We have another investigator whose wife passed away last month. We have been teaching him about the Plan of Salvation and how he can be with his wife in the next life. I love teaching about the Plan of Salvation, because it gives hope to people who are unsure about where their dead loved ones are and if they will ever see them again. We talked to an older man (probably about 70) the other day on the street, and we found out that he was living alone and that his wife had passed away quite a while ago. We asked him if he thought he would ever see her again, and he told us no and that death was the end. We sat down with him and briefly told him about the plan of salvation, and his eyes lit up with excitement as we told him that he could be with his wife again. I am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation and the knowledge that we have that family can be eternal. It is such a powerful source of hope and comfort to people here.

I feel like my Tagalog is really starting to click – I don’t stumble over my words as much and I can teach most of the lessons decently well (although not great). I went on splits yesterday with one of the young men in the ward and we went out to find people and get return appointments. We were stopped by a man in the street and he asked me if I was Mormon. I told him that I was, and he immediately got angry and started telling me, “Hindi ninyo alam ano ang diyos! Hindi ninyo alam!” (You don’t know what god is! You don’t know!). He asked me if I had studied the Bible and started throwing scriptures at me. (He was definitely drunk, but I didn’t realize that until halfway through the conversation). I was getting pretty mad myself, but I kept it under control, haha. I listened to him for about 5 minutes and then I finally said, “Tay! Makinig mo na!” (Listen!) and I bore my testimony and we left. It wasn’t really a nice experience, but it was comforting to me to know that my Tagalog is getting to the point that I can dodge out of debates, haha.

I learned something new this week – how to clean out a squid. Elder Dela Paz wanted to make squid for lunch, so we went to the market and bought some. To clean them out, you just pull the head off and squeeze all of the goop out of the body. It’s kind of cool, because sometimes there are whole fish inside of them that haven’t been digested yet. They only have one bone, and you just pull it out too. After all of that, we rinsed them all out and fried them up in soy sauce and vinegar (squid adobo). It wasn’t that good, haha. It was fun to cook though. I’ve been cooking a lot lately and I really enjoy it. I am going to try and learn how to do crab sometime soon – I love seafood, haha.

Also – we fit eight elders into one trike the other day – four white elders and four Filipinos. We had four in the sidecar, two on the seat with the driver, and one on the back luggage holder. I sat on the roof of the sidecar. It was great, although the shocks of the bike bottomed out every time we hit a bump. We got a lot of weird looks from people as we passed – a bunch of white guys and Filipinos in dress clothes crammed into a trike. It was fun though, and the driver got a really big kick out of it. People are so funny here – they are always joking and doing crazy things. I love it.

Oh! I saw my first cobra the other day – two actually! We were walking through the rice fields and I saw it draped across the path. It was probably about four feet long and about as wide as my wrist. We turned around and went the other way, haha. It’s pretty bad news if you get bitten. You have to make a really deep cut right above the bite mark to let the venom drain out while you run to the hospital. Apparently you only have about twenty minutes to live if you don’t do anything. The other cobra I saw was dead in the road…I didn’t have my camera either time. L

I am grateful to be here – even when things are tough. It is such a wonderful experience to meet all of these people and to have the opportunity to share the gospel with them. I know that this church is true, and I’m grateful to have that knowledge in my life.
I love you all, Thank you so much for all of the letters and support.

 Anyways, Love you J
-          Jared

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