Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 14, 2013

 Baptisms! The first is Sister Lydia Fernando...her daughter was baptized a few months ago and she was baptized two weeks ago. 
 A bunch of kids at the Family Home Evening that we had last week. It was also a birthday party, so there were tons of people there. 
 The neighbor kids...they are hilarious and always make sure to say "Hi Sisters" to us in English every morning. Somehow, no matter how many times I explain it...they don't realize that we are actually elders and in fact, not sisters, haha. 

The couple is Brother and Sister Acosta. They are the last in their family to be baptized (all of their children are members - one is serving a mission) and they are both super strong in their testimonies. Elder Monroe and I were requested to baptize them because Elder's Corpuz and Soberano didn't think they were strong enough to immerse them, haha. It was a good experience to be a part of. 

Hey Dad! (And the Fam)

Conference was incredible. I loved all of the talks but especially Elder Holland’s talk about faith. It really hit me that even if you feel like we only have a little bit of faith, we can still use that faith to do miracles in our lives, if we choose to focus on it rather than on what we feel is missing in our lives. I love listening to Elder Holland...he’s hilarious and he explains the scriptures so well. I’ve read through the complete gospels once and studied them a couple of times out here, but I didn’t notice any of the stuff that he explained about the miracle that Christ performed on the man’s son. It gave so much more meaning to the story. I also really like Elder Uchtdorf’s talks (the one is priesthood and his talk in general session) and I really liked the General Primary President’s talk too. I’ve been thinking a lot about life out here on the mission, and something that’s occurred to me is how important families are. It’s occurred to me how much I want to become a Dad someday and how I need to prepare to be a good parent so that my kids will know what they need to do. The longer I’ve been out here, the more it’s become important to me. More than career or anything else.

I also noticed that the conference focused a lot on obedience and families and how both of those things can strengthen us as the world gets more wicked. As a missionary, obedience is very important, and I’ve noticed that if there are times that I am less obedient than I could be, the work suffers and I have troubles, but when we try to follow the schedule and what our mission president says I’ve noticed that things just go smoother.

Chariots of Fire is such a good show…I’ve noticed that too, how god gives us talents and blessing for a reason, to share them with others. A lot of people tell me that I’ve learned Tagalog really fast, but I know that it’s just because of the help that I’ve received from the Lord. I’ve noticed that when we are in a lesson and are focused on what the investigator says, all of the words come out smooth and I’m able to answer their questions, but if it’s a bad day or I’m angry or something, it doesn’t go as well.

Unity is also important. I’ve noticed that lessons have so much more power when my companion and I are getting along. I’ve had some trouble with my latest one. He doesn’t like to plan or get up on time and the work has really been suffering because we never have a plan or study as a companionship. I talked to him about it last night…we had an awful day yesterday because we had no clue where we were visiting or what we were going to teach…but I told him that if we want to do anything here, we need to have study and planning and be united in our lessons. He agreed and things are starting to look a little bit better.  I just hope we can work through all of that and do better next week.

On the flipside, we had a really good lesson a couple of days ago. I was on splits with Elder Monroe – who doesn’t speak Tagalog very much (he’s only been out a month) – and we went to teach a young less active boy who is only 13 years old. I met this kid and then asked him where his parents were – I found out that his mom had died two years ago, and that his dad is also a member, but inactive. I asked where he was and he pointed out the back of his house, where I found the dad smoking with a few of his friends. We shook his hand and invited him inside for the lesson, and with a little bit of persuasion he agreed to come inside. As we were about to start, I noticed an older woman in the kitchen and invited her to sit down also. I found out that she was the boy’s grandmother and that she was also a member. Their family had been inactive for years and years. We talked for a little bit and then shared a simple lesson in Mosiah 2:41 about the blessings that come from keeping the commandments. We asked them what blessings they had received when they became members of the church, and as the grandmother explained all of the wonderful things that had happened to them after their baptisms she started to tear up a bit. As we read the scriptures with them, it was like the lesson just unfolded and I found myself tearing up also as Elder Monroe and I shared our testimonies with this family. The father hadn’t sat in on a lesson for years, and it was so nice to hear him commit to pray. We both left that lesson feeling great, and the Grandmother asked us to return soon. I’m a little sad that that lesson wasn’t in my area, but it really just showed me how powerful the scriptures are and how we can use them to help others.

 I also went on splits with a member of the Stake Presidency and the Group leader in our area, which was a good experience. I found out that our group leader used to be less active, and he had problems with alcohol. I guess something happened to him one day, and he decided to pray. He told the Lord that if the missionaries showed up on his doorstep looking for him, he would go back to church and stop drinking. Sure enough, a day or two later, the Elders arrived at his and told him they were there looking for less active members to bring back, and from that point on he became super active in the church and has one of the deepest testimonies I’ve heard here. The visits went well and between the three of us we were able to help these less active members with some of their concerns and problems. I’m so grateful to be assigned to an area that has strong leaders who magnify their callings. The results from the work are ten times better.

As far as temporal things, I’m doing good. I had a wicked nasty cold the other week, but it went away pretty fast. I ate another balut last Friday, and I’ve decided that Lychee Juice from 7-11 is delicious.

I love you guys,

Love, Jared.

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