Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23, 2013

Hey Dad (and Family),
We've been getting a little bit of rain, but as far as the typhoon stuff goes basically only northern Luzon got hit super hard. Region 3 (Angeles Mission) is probably the safest place in the Phils weather-wise. The rainy season probably has another month or so to go and then winter will start here (winter here is a slightly less hot version of summer). It's crazy to think that almost a year ago I stepped off of the air-condition plane into the Manila airport...and have been sweating ever since, haha. 
Do you know what's funny? Stuff doesn't gross me out any more like it used to, haha. You probably don't believe me yet, but it's true. I remember a few months back, the members gave me a glass of juice and there were like four ants in it. I looked at it in disgust for a second, but then remembered that I was in the Phils and I DRANK IT. Ants and all, haha. I'm sure the grape juice won't bother me like it used to. 
We've had a pretty good week...the best parts by far being zone conference and a baptism that we had on Saturday. On Thursday we took a bus up to Tarlac City and spent most of the day there getting trained by President Martino. He talked about a lot of stuff, about the gathering of Israel and how it's a process that we are all a part of right now. He also compared two missionaries in the scriptures - Jonah, and Ammon - and talked about how we need to be more like Ammon and less like Jonah. Jonah was a good missionary and had success, but he always put himself first. He ran away from his call, and when he finally repented and got to the mission field, he was still self-centered  while he preached. He told the people of Ninevah that they would be be destroyed, and when they repented and weren't destroyed he took it as an insult to himself and told God to just kill him. Ammon, on the other hand, became one with God and felt enormous success and love for the people he taught. He ended by reminding us that the Philippines is an island, and that there are a lot of whales around. 
And then there was Sister Lenny's baptism! We have been teaching Sister Lenny for quite a while. She is 20 and works for a member of the stake presidency here. She really has great faith and a desire to follow Christ, but we were a little bit worried at first about her baptism because she is really really shy in front of people. It all went so well though. A lot of members showed up and gave some great talks and were really supportive. Lenny's Sister and Cousin were also there and she was so excited about that. When it finally came time for her to bear her testimony, she stood up completely confident and bore a quiet, but wonderful testimony. It was a great baptism. The ward did such a good job of making it special for her. Her sister (who lives in another area in Angeles Zone) also wants to be taught by the missionaries now. 
We were invited over for dinner last night by the family we are teaching from Australia. It is still really weird to me to teach in English, but it's been a really powerful experience for me to be able to visit with them. They have such strong testimonies, and it's been really touching as the Dad and the older brother have been sharing their experiences and testimonies with their 12 year brother and the Mom who we've been teaching. I don't feel like we've really done a whole lot for them, because they have been doing so much already as a family. The oldest son told us yesterday that he hasn't been to church for five years, but now that he is reading the Book of Mormon again, there is a huge difference in his every day life. He told us that when he goes back to Australia, he's going top go to church again in his old ward. They have also been coming to church here and have had some good experiences so far. It's such a blessing to be able to visit with them and learn from them. 
They also cooked tacos and some really really good curry last night :) haha. 
As far as myself is concerned, I'm starting to feeling a little bit better. It kind of goes day by day. Some days it's bad, some days it's okay. I'm going to meet with a doctor again to figure out the blood test results sometime this week. He thinks I picked up a bug when I was in the bukid area. I've been taking the homeopathic remedies a lot and they've been helping too. I was having trouble breathing one night and I took Apis and it got better almost right away.

I love you guys. I love this Gospel and I love being on a mission. It's such a great time and chance to help others and to also become closer to God myself. I know that this church is true and I'm so grateful to have it in my life. 

Have a great week. 
Love Jared. 
P.S:  I also have a bunch of pictures to send next week. 
P.P.S. Haha, I think it probably takes 10 days for the package to arrive in the Phils...and then a couple more months for it to get through customs. That's okay though, I'm sure it will get here soon. The storm actually didn't hit us here, although I feel bad for the elders up in the northern phils. It's probably pretty crazy up there right now. It's also pretty crazy down south in Zamboanga...there's some sort of civil war going on between them and the Muslims and I heard they pulled all of the Elders out of that province. Perfect time to be where I am, right in Central Luzon, haha. It's a good thing that the church has a really good emergency plan. 

September 16, 2013

(This is Jared's mom. I was sent this link from a missionary mom in Raymond who got it from a Sister Pink in the Philippines who videoed Elder Hubbard teaching a Family Home Evening Lesson. It is so awesome to watch him interact and teach this group. Here is the link!)


Dear Family,
Your steak dinner sounds like it was really good. I didn't have steak last night (I had it last week though, with rice) but Brother Cuay cooked us a bunch of fish dishes with a side of baby potatoes and onion rings. There was some grilled fish in really spicy sauce and then some raw fish that had been marinated in vinegar for a couple of hours and served with sauce (that was super good...the vinegar kind of 'cooks' the meat. I ate quite a bit of it). I definitely miss the garden veggies at home though. 
We were coming back from playing soccer/volleyball at the field close to the stake center here and we saw a whole bunch of the temple workers from Manila drive in to the stake center. I met and Elder and Sister Barfuss from Medicine Hat. They are related to Brett Barfuss. It was good to chat with them for a little while. I also got to chill with Elder Palmer a little bit this week. He came and lived in our house right after he finished his term as AP. He's a way cool missionary. I think Sister Pink has some pictures of me and him together. 
This week was okay. I have a new companion now and he is THE MAN. haha. His name is Elder Adorza, and he's from Lette (pronounced lay-tee) in the southern Philippines. He's probably 5'1 or 5'2, but he's one of the buffest guys I've ever seen. He is in to probably 5 different types of martial arts...his favorite one is from Thailand. I forget what it's called but they only use their elbows and knees to fight. Pretty crazy. I really like him a lot - our work is already getting a lot better and we were able to find some new investigators this week!
We had some more good lessons with that family from Australia this week. They came to church this week and said that they had a good experience there. We shared a quick message to them and their family, and then started teaching their 12 year old son who wants to be baptized. It was great because the Dad and the older brother shared their testimonies and contributed a lot to the lessons. My companion bore his testimony too in English, which was really hard for him I'm sure (he doesn't speak any English), but it was amazing how the spirit entered in the room because he had the faith to open his mouth and share those things that he felt with them...even if he wasn't sure if they would understand. It all came out great and the lessons were just awesome all around. 
We've been a little braver about going house to house this week too...the responses we get here are pretty funny sometimes. We had walked up to a house yesterday and 'tao po-ed' it (called in from the gate), but nobody came out. As we turned to walk away, the owner of the house (a woman, probably 40+) walked up from the road and we said hi to her and tried to introduce ourselves. All she said was 'thank you' in English and then ran into her house and shut the door. Pretty weird, but we laughed about it later.  

I'm really excited to start working with my new companion here. We have a baptism coming up next week and we plan on finding a LOT of people. As many as will listen to us. Bahala sila kung ayow nila, haha. (it's their loss if they don't want to listen). 
I love you guys. 
Love, 
Jared. 

September 9, 2013

Dear Family,

It's been a pretty crazy week but really cool at the same time. The Lord opened some good doors for the work here this week. I am feeling kind of better, but still really tired and winded a lot of the time.  I've been talking with Sister Martino about it though, so we're getting it figured out. In the mean time I will keep taking my vitamins and working hard. I do really need to eat more veggies, but it's hard here because we always get fed, and it's always steak, chicken, fish, fast food, and COKE (which are delicious, and the members trying to make special dinners for us, which is so nice of them, but I kind of miss just eating bitter melon and malunggay leaves with rice in the bukid). A day has not gone by this month that I haven't been given coke to drink, haha (although I have been refusing it lately). I'll try my best to eat better though. 

My health aside, we met some really cool people this week. The first is a family that was referred to us by the stake president. The dad is Australian, and lives here in the Phils with his wife and a few of his kids. He and most of his children in Australia are members, and he actually used to be a ward mission leader there. He told us about a really cool basketball program that they started there to help fellowship people into the church, and how about 20 people and 2 families ended up being baptized because of this program. One of the players that they trained actually went on to play in the NBA. The dad is married to a really nice Filipina woman, who isn't a member yet, and we've set appointments to visit them every Sunday and teach her, as well as his youngest son who is 12 and hasn't been baptized yet either. It was a really simple, but great lesson. They are such a cool family, and have such great faith in the Savior. We shared Helaman 5:12 with them and then the Stake President bore his testimony at the end and invited them to come to church. We also had a YSA rep. (Brother Tom, one of the coolest guys I know here) come with us to invite one of the older kids (who is 22) out to the YSA stuff here. It was terrifying teaching in English (that was the first time in my whole mission that I've taught in English), but it was a really good experience. I'm so excited to get to know their family more and continue to teach them. 

We also had some good experiences with finding this week. We were in one of the neighborhoods here called Sunset, going house to house and getting rejected house to house, when all of a sudden we knocked on a door and a guy answered, "Who are you guys?" "We're missionaries." "Oh. How long will you guys be?" "Just 10 minutes or so." "Okay, come in." That was basically the conversation. His name is Mark, and it turns out that one of his friends is an RM in the ward. We were able to meet his mom and share a quick message with them. They were really nice and receptive. I'm excited to visit with them again. 

My companion also went home today (It was the end of his mission). He was a pretty cool guy, I kind of wish that we'd been together for more than just one transfer. I'm excited to see who my new companion is though. Elder Blackham (my ZL and housemate who is really cool) just called called to be the new AP, so we've been short a ZL for this week too. My companion until Thursday is Elder Qima...he's a professional rugby player from Fiji (he's got a contract with one of the big Australian teams after his mission for $80k as a starting minimum. He's GOOD). I'll be sure to take some pictures with him. 

I love you guys. I just want to tell you all how great it is to be on a mission. If I could go back and do one thing over all again, it would be to focus everything in my life before on serving a mission. No matter how hard it gets, it is just such an amazing privilege and blessing to be able to be here. Also, you guys need to get some referrals for the Elders! Get on that and tell me how it goes, haha. I understand completely now why the elders always ask for referrals, and how terrible it feels when there aren't any. You can also bring the Elders out with you to visit less actives. We do that all of the time here. A lot of our baptisms here come from finding and reactivating less actives and then baptizing the members of their families that haven't been baptized yet. It's been cool how successful the Rescue program has been. 

Have a great week you guys. I sure love you all. I can't believe it's been a year. 

Love, 

Jared.   

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September 2, 2013

 I think I finally got my camera figured out! These are from my last area.
This is Osmond and Arbie. They are Jameson and Jaroms age. 

 Family Home Evening at bishops house before transfers. I'm sitting beside elder Tsunoda, and bishop is the one beside the kid in yellow. Elder Monroe is in the back. 
 A few of Elder Magno and I's investigators...Brother Boyet (in the back) Sister Beth (big one in the front) and Charmaine (in brown). I don't know who the little one is, haha. They are all progressing pretty well, they just have been having trouble coming to church (they live far away). I'm sure that Beth and Charmaine will be baptized some day. 

 The Feje Family! I love this family so much. They will probably take a few more months to get ready, but I am certain that they will become members. From left to right: Kathlyn (15, we took this picture on her birthday), Sister Eileen Feje (the mom), brother Andrew Feje (the dad), Ferlyn (the little chubby one...she's 8), and Sister Andylyn ( she's 18 - we originally started just teaching her, but eventually we were able to approach the mom and set an appointment to teach the whole family)
 The food we ate for Kathlyn's birthday. We bought the cake. The little white things are called Puto...it's a soft rice flour cake with cheese in it. The bowls are full of duck meat and liver and intestines all mixed up into two different dishes. The pasta is called pancit...they always eat it at parties, and of course...rice. The pink stuff is kind of like jello.  

 First week in Angeles. They have a burger king here. No poet on earth could describe how good that whopper tasted. 
 BK! The guy on the end is Elder Bustillo - one of the ZLs here. The guy in the middle is Elder Bacalso...he's my companion. And the guy on the end is Elder Illustrisamo. He's cool. 
This is the inside of one of the malls here, Marquee mall. There are several bigger ones here that I haven't been to yet.
  
 KFC :) The wrapped up thing is rice, haha.
 Roast pig! So good.
 Shawn and Justin. The part member kids that we baptized. They are 11 and 12 and go to chuch with their grandma. 
 Me with a bunch of the members from the Bertese group. From left to right: Brother Hamerto Javier, Rosalyn Javier, Katrina (the one who is Jianna's age that will be baptized soon), Joy Javier (the one in black), Sister Sharon Javier (Hamerto's Wife), and Alex Javier (Alex is a recent convert...he's the only melchizadek priesthood holder in the group and he is preparing to go on a mission. He would always work with us).
I love these people. I miss them a ton. 


 A few more people from my last area. The guy in orange is Brother Herminigildo (her-min-ee-hil-doh) Javier. He was less active for years but now he's been coming to church and trying hard to quit smoking so that he can receive the priesthood. He is also Alex Javier's dad. The guy in the plaid is Jomar Javier. He's not a member (he wasn't interested in being taught), but we payed him every night to drive us back to Talavera. I don't remember the other guys name. He isn't a member either. 
 Cabanatuan zone! I miss that zone too :( The guy beside me in this picture is Elder Blackham...he's the ZL and one of my housemates now here in Angeles. He's the coolest guy ever. 
This is Sister Cherry (in red). We found here one day as we were walking through a new area. We felt prompted to turn down a small alleyway, and when we did we saw Sister Cherry sitting on her porch and we were able to teach her right away. Her baptism is scheduled for the end of this month (this is still in my last area). The guy in the wifebeat is a Born Again. He had just popped by for a visit and decided to listen to our lesson. The lady in orange is sister Cherry's nanay (mom). She's super nice (she sewed up my bag for me for free) but not interested in listening to the lessons. The two little kid's are sister Cherry's too.

This is Sister Lyn Laus and her 12 year old Hiron. They are so awesome and are going to be baptized sometime this month too. Some of the most powerful moments I've ever had have been in lessons here. She loves to read the Book of Mormon - she told us in the third lesson we taught to her that whenever she reads she "cries and feels really light and happy inside." It was cool because we were all able to feel and say that it was the spirit testifying to her that the Book of Mormon is true. 

Dear Family,
Whoo! Kalispell and waterparks! I’m glad you guys all had so much fun. It’s just started getting really hot here again, so I am jealous, haha. The floods have pretty much stopped and we’ve been able to get working again which is good.
Well, first things first – Elder Bacalso and I snapped one day and decided to clean the house. We swept the whole thing out, poured muriatic acid all over the bathroom and put in an air freshener, cleaned out all of the cockroach hideouts, sprayed permetherin all over the place, bleached the floor and counters, cleaned the fridge, pulled down all of the dust and cobwebs on the walls, threw away all of the dirty dishes (some of them were beyond cleaning), mopped, dusted, sanitized, and re-organized everything. The house isn’t quite as horrible as it was before now, haha. I feel a lot safer at night now that there aren’t cockroaches crawling all over me.
It’s been a pretty good week. We took a few hours and went house to house in one of the richer areas (one of the areas with no guards). Some of these houses look like castles, and a couple of them even have security cameras and stuff. They all have massive gates with doorbells and huge driveways. We probably hit 20 or so houses, and every single time we rang a doorbell, the maid or the house-help was the only person to come outside. I was getting kind of tired of it, so I just started speaking English (the rich people all speak fluent English but most of the servants don’t). It was hilarious…the maid would come out and I’d say, “Good afternoon, we’re the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We have a very important message about Jesus Christ that we want to share with you and your family.” And I’d say it really fast. It was so funny, the poor maid would just stand there speechless, and then after a few broken attempts at English, would finally just go inside and call the owner out. Then the owner would just tell me in English (annoyed at having to come outside) that he was busy or not interested. It was kind of discouraging, BUT we got a return appointment at one house! His name is Glen…he’s probably around 50 years old and he’s been a member of probably six different churches. We taught him Lesson 1 and he said he wants to come to church next week. I’m not sure if he is rich, but he lives in one of those big houses, haha. Either way we are happy to have a new investigator this week.
We also had some really cool lessons with another one of our investigators this week. He is an older guy named Marcello. He’s been taught for quite a while now, and has heard all of the lessons at least once. He is a very active member of one of the Born Again churches, and has super strong faith in God. He’s really awesome to teach, but hasn’t been progressing very well. I guess he was invited to be baptized before, but he said he doesn’t want to start all over again in a new religion. He seems to believe that, whatever religion a person is a part of, he will be saved, and that all religions are good and true. He has accepted everything that the missionaries have taught, and even believes that Joseph Smith is a prophet, but wouldn’t accept that there has been an apostasy because he believes that God wouldn’t do that to His people. We were running out of ideas to teach him, and had no clue what to do. We finally just decided to read the Book of Mormon with him, chapter by chapter. This is what I wrote to President Martino this week about it (to save time): It's been a hard week, but I've had the chance to see some small miracles happen. We have an investigator who has been meeting with us for a while, and has heard all of the lessons. He is comfortable with all of the doctrine - he even believes that Joseph Smith is a prophet. The only thing that he won't accept is the apostasy. He says that God wouldn't let something happen like that to His people. We tried explaining it so many times in so many ways, but he still wouldn't get it, and he still wouldn't commit to anything. I was getting kind of frustrated, and I told my companion that we should just drop him. Thankfully, my companion suggested that visit him a few more times, and even though we weren't sure what to teach, we just went and had faith that the Lord would help us. We decided to start reading the Book of Mormon with him, chapter by chapter. I was scared at the beginning of the first lesson, because I had no idea how we would be able to relate 1 Ne. 1 to his needs. As we read the chapter with him, we were surprised as new ideas came into our heads. We were able to share about Lehi, and how at the time that he left Jerusalem they were experiencing a form of apostasy. We were able to link it to the bible in Jeremiah and share how times of apostasy have occurred many times in history, but because of God's love for us, he will always prepare a way for his gospel to continue on the earth. He finally understood it! I know that the spirit put those thoughts into our minds. It happened again when we shared 1 Ne. 2 with him...we had thoughts come to our minds and he understood exactly why he needed to pray and receive a confirmation of the truth of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. It occurred to my companion to compare the journey of Nephi and his brothers back to Jerusalem to get the brass plates to our investigators journey that he will have to take if he comes to know if what we have shared is true...it will be hard, and he will have to start at the beginning again; but the Lord will help and bless him for doing His will. We asked him if he would be willing to read and pray, and make that change when he receives a confirmation...and he said Yes!
It was super cool to feel the spirit work through us and give us those ideas. I know that it was because of our prayers that his heart was softened and he was able to realize those truths.
I love you all. I’m sorry that this email isn’t too long…I hope you all liked the pictures.
Have a great week!
Love Jared.