Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 21, 2013

 A quick snapshot of the terminal that I wait in every day, in Talavera
 BUKID! ( A rice field )
A cool baby (the neice of one of our members). 

 Some of the kids from Bertese, the little farm community where most of our investigators are. 

 Fish...these are little fish that the people here catch out of the canals and dry out. You eat them like a potato chip, head and everything. I had about five of them, haha. 
 Me eating one of the fishies. 
They were really crunchy, and you had to chew them well so the bones all got crushed up and the heads and eyes and stuff.)
 Some of the more jungle-ish areas that we walked through. 

The McDonalds I had for breakfast in Cabanatuan City this morning (We are part of the Cabanatuan Zone). It was the first McDonalds I've had in probably 10 months, haha. It tasted like heaven. 

Dear Family,

This week has been a lot better…we’ve found a lot of new investigators and we’ve been seeing more companionship unity in our lessons which has been really good.
We have been working a lot in Quezon, which is a smallish town in our area and where our new meetinghouse will be once the branch gets going. We have about 4 new investigators there from last week and about 10 potential ones for next week. It’s been really hard to pin down the fathers of families for discussions right now because it is harvest time in the rice fields, but we’ve been doing the best we can to find more potential priesthood holders to teach.

Last week, we were in a neighborhood of smaller huts and cement-brick houses that people put up beside an irrigation canal. We were excited to find it, because there are a lot of people there, and as we entered a lot of people came out to talk to us. We talked to a bunch of them and got a few return appointments. What we didn’t realize about that neighborhood is that it is comprised of two congregations – Born Again and Iglesia ni Cristo – and that both of the ministers of those congregations live there. As we were giving out pamphlets and getting appointments, the preacher of the Born Agains came out and started bombarding us with questions and Bible verses (I guess he wasn’t too happy about the fact that we were proselyting his congregation), and he was clearly trying to confuse us and get us to leave. We didn’t engage in a debate with him, but rather gave him a few simple answers and stated what we believed. Then we left.

As we left, I felt a little embarrassed that we hadn’t  ‘won’ or answered all of his questions or proved his doctrines wrong with the bible. I felt like all of the people in that neighborhood must have thought that we were pathetic or didn’t know our bibles. As we were walking through Quezon yesterday, one of the men from that community rode up to us on a bike and started talking to us. He told us that he was a part of the Born Again congregation there, and that he had been there when the preacher approached us. He said that he didn’t agree with what his preacher had done and that he admired us for not debating with him. He also asked us where our church was and ended up coming with us to the sacrament meeting in Bertese yesterday. We have a return appointment with him this Wednesday. I felt a lot better about the whole situation after that, and that what we did was right. As missionaries, we INVITE people to come unto Christ – not destroy their beliefs with the bible, even if it is tempting to just pull out a few verses and prove them wrong. I’ve learned that we need to rely on the spirit, and testifying especially, along with the scriptures, to teach and invite the spirit to be present in a lesson. We had an amazing lesson with a mother and her three teenage daughters yesterday…it was about The Restoration of the gospel, and it was just a really simple, powerful lesson. They understood it and had tons of questions, and we’re excited to go back and invite them to be baptized.

I’ve also really had the feeling this week that the Lord really does place people in our path. I was on a jeepney (picture half bus half jeep) going to one of our areas and I noticed a wealthier looking lady and her son. I didn’t talk to them or anything, but a few hours later, as we got on another jeepney to go home, I noticed that the same lady and her son were on it again. I felt like I really needed to talk to them, but I was scared because they were rich (the kid has a PSP in his hand…definitely rich). I pushed myself to do it, and they were really happy to hear about our message and to receive a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. They are from outside of our area, but we referred them to the missionaries in Cabanatuan and to Mormon.org. I felt really happy that I had followed the prompting to talk to them, and it really taught me that sometimes people are just put into our path. This type of incident happened a second time the other day, where I saw somebody twice (also rich) and ended up talking to them and getting a return appointment. They are three sisters from Quezon who are excited to be taught. They warned us though that their husbands will have a lot of questions about our doctrine, which makes us even more excited, haha. We love questions.

I also had a very humbling experience this week as I was on splits with Elder Monroe (the other American in my house – the marine). We taught an interesting family that had been taught for a long time. They were the poorest people I’ve ever seen here…there house is more like a few sticks with a tarp thrown over them and no roof or floor (the floor is dirt). They have five kids that sleep on a patch of linoleum that is sprawled out in the dirt floor, and the wife works every weekend, cleaning her sister’s house to earn a few pesos to feed her kids. Her oldest kid is probably 11, and he works every night with his mom picking up garbage on the streets. The father is probably 50 and isn’t able to work because of high blood pressure and arthritis. He told me a little bit about his past, which is very violent and difficult. He has been married twice, and he was reduced to robbing people at gunpoint as part of a gang to feed his family at one point. His is now separated and ‘remarried’  to his wife now. We taught them about the importance of the Sabbath Day and invited them to church, but they told us they were unable to come, and I was fighting back tears as the wife told me all of the problems that they have. It made me sick to see their kids, all hungry and crying because they have no food, and their house with the rain pouring in on every side and the bathroom just out in the dirt behind their house. I want to do something for them, but I don’t know what or how. We aren’t allowed to give them money, but I think I might try and secret Santa them even though it isn’t Christmas.
I’ve noticed that there are a lot more poor people like that in the cities…everyone out in the country lives in really simple circumstances, but they have food and shelter. It’s bit a really hard adjustment for me.

On a brighter note, I’ve had some pretty good adventures this week. We have this new member out in the country that we visit once a week, and she always feeds us interesting stuff. She is the nicest sister and we appreciate her so much, but sometimes the food there is a little odd for me. You probably saw the pictures of the fish. Those were interesting. They were really crunchy, and you had to chew them well so the bones all got crushed up and the heads and eyes and stuff. They didn’t taste too bad…really salty and bitter, haha.
I also had McDonalds this morning, which was a nice treat. I got an egg Mcmuffin, a chicken sandwhich, and a Lychee Float, which all tasted great. We also went to one of the huge malls in Cabanatuan today to get some socks for Elder Soberano. It’s just crazy to see these modernized, clean places here. The Mcdonalds here is one of the cleanest, fanciest places I’ve seen here, and only rich people can afford to eat there. Who would have thought? Elder Soberano didn’t believe me when I told him about what fast food restaurants are like in Canada, haha.

That’s about all as far as adventures go. I’m almost done the Book of Mormon for the second time on my mission and I’m working on the D&C and new testament. I love having personal study everyday and the opportunities I’ve had to study the standard works and use them in our lessons.
I love you guys – thank you all so much for your emails.
The church is true.

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