Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013 Christmas Trees and Baby Owls

 Poor piggie. I didn't take any pictures after this. Let's just say that it was messy. Real messy. President Mabalot is the one in white with the machete. 

 Our Christmas Dinner...grilled cheese sandwiches (with the cheddar cheese that Elder and Sister Moser gave us), Korean Style fried chicken, and Spaghetti. On Christmas Eve we ate a lot of pig. 
 Mango Float. Best Dessert ever. I'll make it for you all someday. I ran out of cream though for the top so it doesn't look very nice. 
 Pindangan Branch Christmas Party! I wish our attendance would look like this every sunday! (It will, though). 
 Some of the YM's. From left to right - Aldrin, forgot the guy in blue's name, Rodolfo (he's probably going on a mission soon), Bernie, and I don't know the kid in red. 

 Jovell and MJ with some of the members. (MJ is the taller girl that was baptized). The girl in the plaid is MJ's sister, who was baptized last June. 
 Baptism! Jovell Agustin and Mary-Jane Castro were just baptized on Saturday. Brother Maverick Mabalot was the baptized...he's getting ready to leave for his mission to Naga next month. 
In the Jungle...the Mighty Jungle...

 Baby Owl! Some of our investigators found him in their backyard :)
Elder Tavau and I earlier. We took a quick run to the market. (just kidding).

Dear Family,
It was so great to skype with you all the other day. You all look so different! You all look great though. It sounds like Christmas was a fun one for you all this year. 
Our Christmas was great…I woke up on December 24th to the sound of a pig squealing really loud and walked outside to see the branch president with a machete in his hand a pig tied up on the ground. Coincidentally, that pig became Adobo, Dinuguan (blood and intestines - which I didn’t eat), Sisig (made of pig face, snout and ears), Chicharon (deep fried fat and skin), Giniling (ground pork with potatoes and carrots and peas), Bicol Express (pork cooked in coconut milk and hot peppers), BBQ, Crispy Pata (deep fried pig legs), Kilawin (Pork cooked in vinegar and onions), and many more to come. There was also lots of ‘salad’. Salad here is made of canned fruit salad mixed with macaroni and fresh coconut with a lot of condensed milk and cream. And cheese. Lots of cheese. We will get round two of pig on New Years Eve, haha.
On Christmas Day, we went out and worked and had one of the best days in my mission. We had 9 lessons and found two new investigators. I think it was because everybody was inside their houses recovering from the Christmas Eve festivities. One of our new investigators is Iglesia ni Cristo, which makes me happy because they are usually really opposed to meeting with us. His name is Ramon…we found him outside of his house cleaning some mushrooms he picked from the field. He’s probably about 70 years old but seems pretty interested. He was especially excited when we told him about the bible and how we can ALL read it (they aren’t allowed to read the bible…only the pastors have bibles). He asked us for a bible so we’re going to try and get one for him by next time. One thing I’ve noticed (I say this respectfully) with a lot of other religions here is that their members are forbidden to listen to or accept literature from other religions. I love that our church doesn’t try to restrict us but encourages us to read and study and find out for ourselves. That’s what the Lord wants us to do – to exercise some faith and gain a witness of the truth for ourselves. There is no coercion  involved – just faith and a desire to know God’s will.  
We’ve also been teaching Sister Eva Ibarra and her three kids (Sister Eva is a member, but became inactive after her divorce…then she moved to Pindangan and we found her). Her three kids, Robalyn, Catrina and Juris (17, 14, 12 – Juris is a boy) have been taking the discussions and well as Robalyn’s boyfriend MJ. We invited them all to the Branch Christmas Party and they came! The kids have been progressing slowly but surely – they were way shy to pray and stuff when we started teaching them, but now they are opening up. The youth have been really great too in the branch for fellowshipping and helping them feel welcome. The youth here are way cool.
Our other investigators are doing alright…we have three scheduled to be baptized in January (Sister Eva’s kids) and hopefully will be able to help Sister Christine be baptized. She comes to church every week but has ben hesitant to accept commitments because of her husband (he works in Manila and is an Iglesia ni Christo). We are hoping and praying for good news though.
The best news though, is that our mission hit our goal for this year – 1350 baptisms. I think we even passed it…almost 1400. I was also so grateful to be able to hit my personal goal of twelve for the year. The Lord really helped me out with that one…I knew when I fasted and prayed about it that I’d be able to achieve it, and it was a testimony builder for me to be able to have the strength to achieve it.
I’ve been having a lot of ups and downs this week as far as my health goes. When we skyped I felt really great, and on Christmas day too. I really have faith that I can do it and finish my mission here in Angeles, and a lot of days I feel like that is what I have to do, but I have other days where I can hardly think or focus. I am still praying about it and working my hardest to know what the Lord would have me do…I am focused on staying, but I am ready to do what He wants. I’ve been reading the letters from last week and staying focused on the scriptures. I get up extra early to read and study and pray. I think things are improving overall, but it’s slow. I think this is the Lord’s way of teaching me how revelation works. Either way, I’ve learned a lot in the last couple months.
I love you guys – have a happy New Year!
Love Jared.

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