Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27, 2013

 Carmie and John Loyd! Two of my favorite kids. 

The grossest thing I've eaten on my whole mission. The members caught all of these catfish type things in their rice fields and then barbecued them and fed them to us. The thing was...they weren't cleaned out, or scaled, or hygienic in any way. I choked down two and almost threw up, haha. 

My week has been pretty good. We had some good lessons and found some cool people to teach. I'm doing pretty good...I haven't been eating very well, but I've been managing, haha. I know what it must feel like now for a lot of these families that we teach. Yesterday I fried up a couple of tomatoes with some garlic and threw a little MSG on them to give it some flavor and then ate it with rice, haha. I usually don't eat breakfast and sometimes dinner - I've probably lost about 10 pounds, haha. It's not as bad as it probably sounds though...I've been focused on the work and I've been blessed with strength and energy to keep going. I am allowed to use personal money for food and stuff but I should be okay :) I think I have enough to last until the end of the month. A lot of the members have really been helpful too - they always tell me: Elder - you're so skinny! You need to eat more! Our one member, Nanay Acosta, won't let me serve my own portions at her house...she dips them up for me and will force me to eat seconds and thirds and sometimes fourths, I get fed good at least once a week. She is always giving us mangoes and squash and camote (like a potato type thing) too. Such a nice lady. 

Sacrament meeting seems to have gotten a lot more interesting since I left. That is a really good point, that sacrament meeting isn't interactive. You would be really shocked to see what happens here sometimes, haha. Everything from chastisements over the pulpit to question and answer during talks, with members in the congregation vocalizing their opinions to everything the speaker says. Definitely a different country.

We had a really great week this week. The best parts for me happened yesterday...we went and visited a guy we had talked to on the streets a few days before...he is the tallest person I've seen here (probably 6'6 or 6'7) and I'm pretty sure he's gay. Anyways, we visited him and it turns out that he invited a bunch of his neighbors over to listen. We taught about the Restoration and it went super well. We are planning on extending Book of Mormon challenges to all of them next week. It was a very simple lesson, but the spirit was strong. I've noticed that the spirit is a lot stronger in a lesson when we testify and ask questions, rather than just blast off all of the doctrine in a routine. All five of the people present are very interested, and we're hoping to see some more progress there. 

Also, we had a really great lesson with a sister who comes to church in our group. Her name is Sister Aiza, and she has been investigating the church for almost a year now. She really wants to be baptized, but her and her husband aren't married yet. Her husband is an inactive member, and we weren't able to help her progress for the longest time because he would always just run away when we came to their house. A few weeks ago (I might have already told this story...I don't remember) I was talking with her, and she pointed to her house and told me that her husband was sitting behind it. I quickly ran around the other side and saw him sitting there...before he could say or do anything I grabbed his hand and shook it and told him, "Brother Joel! I'm Elder Hubbard, and I'm so happy to finally meet you. We'd love to be able to share a message with you and Sister that okay?" He agreed, and we've been teaching them for a couple weeks now. It turns out he was just running away because he's shy that he's not active and he probable thought we were just dropping by to get mad at him or something. It's been really great teaching them...they have a day set in July to be married, and Brother Joel is starting to warm up to us more and get more comfortable. He's agreed to the marriage commitment that we've extended. 

I really love the work, my companion, and this area. It is such a blessing to be assigned here. We have two baptisms coming up in the next couple of weeks (One of them is the husband in the wedding pictures) and we're really excited. 

My birthday is coming up...and it's rat season in the bukid. Elder Monroe and I have been talking about what my birthday dinner will be, and we've decided to try and have one of the members catch us a rat out of their bukid and cook it up for us (bukid rat is very clean and apparently tastes better than chicken). If we can't get a rat we are going to try for some Frog Adobo, haha. Definitely pumped.

That's about all this week. It sure was great to get your emails and especially to see the pictures of Janae's grad. 

I love you guys. I'll send some more pictures here before I log out. 

Love JAred.


May 12, 2013

May 12, 2013
Hey Dad!
They do celebrate mother's day here but I don't think it is as commercialized and honored as it is in America. There aren't as many presents and flowers and stuff like that. The ward did a really nice program though where the primary sang and one really cool kid gave a talk. It was really nice. 

My week has been good. We extended three baptismal commitments on Saturday, and now have eight people scheduled to be baptized in June. We'll just have to try and get them all out to church now (that's the real challenge). We have two people who will will be baptized on June 1 though who are coming to church, which is good. We also scheduled a wedding with a part member family so that the wife can be baptized. She wants to be baptized so much, but can't because her and her husband aren't yet married. Her husband is less active and really didn't want to meet with us at first. I caught him hiding last week behind his house and went to talk with him, and now he sits in on the lessons. They have a marriage goal date for July 15, which we are very excited about. 

We are still waiting on the Church for confirmation on a meetinghouse, but we should have an official branch set up here in another month or so. It's been really exciting to see the progress here. The members are amazing here and every single progressing investigator that we've been teaching has been a referral. We have family home evenings with all of them twice a month and a big group scripture study every week to help them become more united as a group.
Oh. I'm also training now. I don't know if mom read you her email, haha. My new companion is awesome and the work is getting a lot better here. My american roommate also got a new companion you is half-japanese. His name is Elder Tsunoda and he's really cool...he's totally fluent in English and he's from the southern Phils. 

Love you guys,

My week has been good - I was surprised last Wednesday when our ZL's announced that my companion would be transferring and that I would be training a new missionary. It kind of scared me actually...I thought I had at least another six weeks with Elder Soberano. It's been a little bit stressful training, but I like it. I feel like we are more focused on our work now and that we both have the same goal to work hard. My new companion is Elder Magno, and he is from Bicol, an area of the Philippines where they grow hot peppers. He is really quiet and speaks slowly (he won't speak in Tagalog to me...he wants to learn English) and is really good at cooking. He puts hot peppers in everything, haha. 

For Mother's day here, we went to church in the bigger ward in the morning. They had the seven or eight active primary kids sing some songs and then one of them gave a talk in front of the whole congregation. This kid was maybe like 6 years old, but he stood up there and gave the sweetest talk about why families are important and about why mothers are important in families and in the church. This little kid is practically fluent in English (he speaks better than most of the FIlipino Missionaries that I know) so a lot of the talk was in English. It was really impressive and I had to hide my face because I started getting emotional. He reminded me a lot of Jameson. 

I love you Mom. Looking back to my life, I don't think I would have made it without a great mom like you. Even if I was the guinea pig in the family,  you have always done a wonderful job of raising me and encouraging me to do the right things. One story I love to tell to the investigators here is the time that I wanted to go out with my friends and you told me you didn't feel like it was a good idea, but I bothered you about it and then I ended up going and wrecking my leg and getting into some trouble. I relate it to the principle of obedience and honoring your parents. I hope a lot of the youth here are learning from my mistake there, haha. I also tell the story about when I was looking for a job and you encouraged me to pay my tithing...and after I paid it, Rick Humphreys pulled up in his car a few days later and gave me a job. 

Thank you for everything that you do for me Mom. If I could give every person in this world one gift, it would be to have a mother just like you. There wouldn't be a problem left in the world if that were the case.

I love you Mom. Happy Mother's Day =]

Love Jared.  

May 19, 2013

It’s been a pretty good week.
The best part was being able to talk to you all on Skype. You look great and it was good to see you all.

We’ve been working hard trying to talk to all of the people in the neighborhood of Bertese, and we’ve been having a lot of success as we work with the members. There are a lot of really good things happening in the group and a lot of problems are starting to be solved. The thing about the Bertese group is that almost all of the members there are from about 3 branches of the same family (sibling, cousins, etc) and there is a lot of contention between them. There are also a lot of Word of Wisdom type things happening and a lot of the other people in the neighborhood are unwilling to be taught because of what they see the members doing. Our group leader decided to have a ‘cottage meeting’ this week with all of the men in the group and it went really well. We watched the documentary about Thomas S. Monson and then discussed how to be better examples of service and selflessness in our lives. I’m really grateful for good leaders that fulfill their callings.

We had a good experience this week with a Sister who is an active member of the Jehovah’s Witness faith. We met her as we were walking and our lessons started out as friendly conversations about religion…we would share something, and then she would share something with us. (I have about 6 JW magazines in the house, haha) Last week, we decided to teach her about the Book of Mormon and bear testimony of it. It was a very simple, nice lesson and the spirit was strong as we bore our testimonies of the Book of Mormon. We left her Moroni 10:3-5 to read and invited her to ask the Lord if it is true. She responded that she wasn’t sure if she would, and we asked her why. She said that she was having second thoughts about her religion and I think that she was a little bit worried that she was feeling the truth of our message. She did accept the commitment though, and we’re excited to follow up with her. I’ve learned that testifying is one of the most important things that we can do to invite the spirit into the lesson. We taught another new investigator – an 18 year old girl named Andylyne – and extended the same invitation to her.  I found myself almost in tears as I described the importance of the Book of Mormon in my life and how it could bless her life. We left her 2 Ne 2:31 and hope to extend a baptismal invitation this week.

We also were able to attend the wedding of one of our investigators and a member…it was held in the chapel here and I was the official photographer/pianist. It was a very simple ceremony, and there were a lot of non-members in attendance. It was nice to watch them feel the spirit that was present as the Stake President gave a talk about the importance of family and the responsibilities of marriage. There was also a baptism for a younger boy in the other elder’s area and it was probably the best baptism I’ve attended so far in my mission. It was really touching to see this little 9 year old boy bear his testimony and express his thanks and love for his mom and the missionaries that taught him. He is from a really poor family with a single mom and they sacrifice a lot to come to church every week. It was just a really nice experience to see his baptism.

Other than that, things are going pretty good. I’m super busy with training and paperwork and I’m a little bit stressed out about it. Like I said on Skype, my diet hasn’t been the greatest…so I’ve been getting really skinny and having some stomach problems. I just need to hold out ten more days or so and then we’ll get next month’s support…which I’ll budget out better. I didn’t really comprehend how much the transport would cost this month, haha. The members have been really great at feeding us as giving us vegetables though, which has been a blessing.

I love you guys,
Have a great week! I’ll send some pictures next week.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

April 30, 2013

Things are going pretty good this week, but the work has been somewhat difficult because everybody is still out in the bukid harvesting rice. We've been circling the same town day after day and trying to find new investigators and everyone seems to be busy or doesn't want to see us. It was getting really tough the other day as we were walking. We had been punted all day and hadn't had a single appointment. It seemed like every person that we tried to talk to was busy or invented an excuse not to talk to us. I had a woman tell me not to come to close to her because she was afraid that I would give an Usog (evil spirit that causes colds and fevers) to her baby. That was a new one, haha. 

Anyways, we were walking and were feeling really discouraged, and then my companion told me that we needed to pray. I was so frustrated with that day that the thought had not occurred to me, and we stopped in the streets and said a prayer that would find someone. We walked for probably another ten minutes, and as we passed an Elementary School a man came out and introduced himself to us. He explained that he was a teacher and had just moved from another town. He and his whole family had been baptized into the church six years ago and he held the Melchezidek priesthood. It was just so amazing that our prayer was answered so fast, and we are so happy that we found that brother because we need 6 or so priesthood holders to establish a branch out in our area. It just shows me that even though people may be busy or choose to reject the message, the Lord will still prepare ways for his work to move on.

That was the highlight experience of my week, but we had another really good one as we paid a visit to Brother Richard, the group leader in our ward. We had been having a hard day because of contention that the members were having and had felt that we needed to go to his house to talk with him. As we showed up, he told us of some problems that he had been having with heart palpitations and that he hadn't been able to work for three days. He was anxiously waiting for some test results to come back from the hospital and was really worried that it was serious. He asked us to give him a blessing, which I managed to give in Tagalog (This was the first time I have given a blessing in straight Tagalog) and then after the blessing we talked about the problems in the group and then we left. The next day we received a text message from Brother Richard saying that he was feeling great and that the problem was gone, and that he had received the test results back and the only problem was a vitamin deficiency in his blood that could be easily fixed by multivitamins. It was a really simple experience but it strengthened my testimony of the priesthood. We are really lucky to have Bro. Richard...he is very diligent in his calling as group leader and does all that he can to strengthen the members in our area. We have a lot of plans with him to get the members out there more united and active. It's amazing what a huge difference good leaders can make in an area.

There are a lot of good things happening right now but it has been difficult. We have been having a lot of trouble finding new investigators the ones we do have haven't been progressing. We extended baptismal goal dates to two people last week and both were turned down. The one investigator isn't sure yet, but I think the other one is hiding from us. Sayang (too bad). Our Mission President told us to focus on the area around the members, which is in Bertese, a small group of cement houses beside the highway. There are probably 60 people that live there and about 30 are members...we've been working with them to baptize their friends and family, and we have quite a few people there that want to be baptized (five or six). We just have to wait for harvest season to be over (it's almost done) because none of them are ever home right now. 

On a more humorous note, my companion got into a big debate the other day with this Catholic who had a son who is a preacher. I really don't like debating with people, but the Catholic man started it. Before I could do anything else my companion had his bible out and was using it to answer every question this guy had, emphasizing the importance of priesthood and authority. The man got a little bit smug and then told us that Peter was the one who passed down the authority and became the first Santo-Papa (Pope). Elder Soberano just looked up at him and asked him to provide a verse in the bible where it says that Peter became a "Santo-Papa" and then the debate was over. He had nothing. I felt kind of bad that my companion had just destroyed him so I bore my testimony and invited him to learn more about the restoration. He didn't want to listen to any more, but we have a return appointment with his daughter next Sunday. My companion is super super good with the bible and the scriptures...but it's hard sometimes for him to miss out on a good debate. He'll never start one though, which I'm thankful for. 

Well, that's my week in a about a nutshell. We've been reporting all day (this week is transfers and we're probably getting a new housemate) and we're going to run and get some groceries now. I sure love you guys and I am also really excited for mothers day. I will let you know what the dealio is with that when they tell us. 

I love you guys, 
The Church is true. 

Love Jared.