Monday, June 10, 2013

June 9, 2013

 Some of the food that Nanay Acosta fed us last week...the stuff on the lower right is greens (kind of looks like pigweed) and squash flowers cooked into this soup type of thing. Pretty good. Definitely healthy. 

 "I will open the windows of heaven and give you a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
 Hamerto and Sharon...they are married and recent converts. The guy in black is Alex...he used to be a member of the Iglasia ni Christo and the last missionaries had a hard time baptizing him. He is a really strong member though now and he wants to serve a mission soon. 

 Cool scenery. 
 Ron-Ron and Marky. Probably two of the funniest kids I've met. Ron-Ron is two and Marky is 3. They follow us around and say, "Den! Den! (Elder! Elder!)" We are teaching Marky's mom, Aiza, and are working on getting to Ron-Ron's parents,
 Footlong hot dog! They only cost like a dollar. I treat myself on occasion

 Me on my birthday with the cake that Elder Monroe gave me.

 Lizard with two tails. 
 We had a binyag! (baptism). Brother Marvin, me, Elder Magno, Brother Danilo (Bro. Marvin's dad) and Rosalyn (his sister).

We were glad that his dad could be at the baptism. 

Family reunion! I saw Elder Janolgue (my trainer) at zone conference...he is training again, which means I have a kapatid (sibling) in the mission. I am also training, which makes him a lolo (grandfather). We all took a picture together. 

June 9, 2013
Dear Family,
It’s been a good week…we had a zone conference on Tuesday and the topic was on testimony and conversion. I really learned a lot about conversion…it isn’t an event but a process where we experience trials and use our faith to overcome them. I listened to a really great talk yesterday in sacrament meeting where the speaker touched on how we as members of the church face a lot more trials than non members because we are held to a higher standard and have covenants and commandments to follow, but we are also blessed a lot more than anyone else when we face those trials and use our faith. It was one of the best talks I’ve ever heard (Brother Richard, one of the high council members, was the speaker in our little group). He talked about the spirit and called several members to repentance in the congregation…I was a little shocked when he mentioned names – he looked at one Brother and told him that he didn’t know what the problem was, but that the spirit was telling him that he needed to fix it. There were no hard feelings in the group though, and after the talk all of the members were in tears. It reminded me of the scripture in Alma 38, “Use boldness, but not overbearance.” We are to speak with boldness when directed by the spirit, but always reach out in love afterwards. Brother Richard was a great example of both.

My birthday went good! I didn’t get to eat rat (Marvin couldn’t find any) but I cooked up some adobong sitaw (green beans, vinegar, garlic, onions and soy sauce) with some oyster sauce for flavour, and then Elder Monroe surprised me with a cake, which was super nice of him. The day after, we went and visited the Fege family (some of our favorite investigators) to say happy birthday to their mom (her birthday is the 6th). We ended up staying for two hours and visiting (a little bit too long – but they had a lot of gospel questions) and sharing a message. They are slowly warming up to the gospel more and more, and it’s great to see, especially in the Mom. When I first met her, I thought, “There is no way the mom is ever going to listen,” but she is actually the nicest lady, and I’ve seen her heart softening in response to our prayers and fasting. All of them coming to church was the biggest miracle, and their three daughters keep talking about how they want to come back. We will hopefully be able to extend some  more solid commitments next week.

Another great part of the week was Marvin’s baptism. I remember when I first got to this area, he would just run away from us and hide, haha. He is from a massive family and is the youngest of 13 kids (five of those kids have families with like 4 kids each and 3 of his siblings have passed away). His parents are less active members that are returning, and a few of his siblings are also members. It’s been amazing to see the change that’s come over Marvin…he is about 14 years old, and maybe has a grade 2 or 3 education, but he tries his best to read the Book of Mormon every day. His baptism was one of the best I’ve been to…he forgot to plug his nose and bend his knees, so he got a good gulp of water, but when he came up he was smiling ear to ear, and it was touching as he bore a simple testimony of the living prophet and then expressed thanks to his family. I knew he was feeling the spirit. Yesterday he showed up for church in a white shirt and tie that we gave him. It was a great experience.

We’ve had some really good experiences tracting this week…we were able to teach another family – a husband and wife (the Sumang family). The wife’s 14 year old sister lives with them. We taught them about the Restoration and it was going super well until their grandpa showed up drunk with another guy and they started expressing their opinions…there was also this cow behind their house that wouldn’t be quiet. I just prayed and prayed that the Tatay would stop talking and that the cow would shut up, haha. As we started to close the lesson and we were bearing testimony, I noticed something cool. The Tatay quieted right down and listened. The cow stopped mooing. I could feel the truth of the message, and I know that they could also. As soon as the amen was out of my mouth, the noise started up again, but I was just greatful that the family was able to feel the spirit for that brief moment. We had to walk a little ways through the rice fields to get back to the road, and the 14 daughter came with us to show us the way. As we walked, she looked at us and asked us, “Do we have to forgive every body?” It was such a simple question, but there was meaning behind it and we could both sense it. We quickly explained that we need to forgive people in order to be forgiven, and then she asked, “What if this person was the person that wrecked your family?” I suddenly realized that this little girl was probably in the middle of some big family problems, which is why she lived with her sister and not at home. We talked with her a little bit more about forgiveness and she understood. It was just another really good experience for me.

The language is going pretty good...I've hit a little bit of a plateau where I can speak all of the simple, conversational Tagalog and understand it, but the deeper stuff still gives me some problems. I am usually good in a conversation just depends on who I'm talking to and if the spirit is there. There is a huge difference, I've noticed, in my Tagalog when the spirit is there in a lesson. It all just comes out straight and I seem to understand everything a lot better. When there isn't any spirit in the lesson I tend to stutter and struggle with the bigger faith - pananampalataya or through/by - sa pamamagitan, or humble - pagpapakumbaba, haha. I really need to find some more time to language study, but it's hard sometimes in our schedule. 
I'm grateful though that I'm just learning Tagalog. 

Forgiveness has been sticking out to me a lot this week. I really felt in sacrament meeting that I need to be more patient and forgiving of other people’s faults, and it occurred to me that God is merciful to me, despite the many faults that I have, and as a missionary I need to be more understanding. Sometimes I tend to get frustrated with leaders or members and I realized that I need to just be patient and try to encourage them, rather than getting angry inside.
That’s about all…we are really excited for the following weeks. I’ll probably be in this area until about August, so hopefully I will see some of these great families being baptized.

I love you guys. 


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