Wednesday, August 13, 2014

chicharron August 4, 2014 last week

 Jackfruit. That thing probably weighed 30 lbs. 

Frog! this is my second time eating it. It's way good though

Hello family!

This has been a great week! There are so many things that are going through my head right now that I don't know where to start but the work here is moving forward really fast. We had another half day mission with the branch yesterday and tons of people showed up. We split into eight groups with five names of less active members to each group. I got to be one of the group leaders and one of the recent converts from the sisters area came with me (he was baptized last week). He bore his testimony yesterday and shared his conversion story and it was really powerful. His cousin also came...and (this is the best) she is still an investigator! She's only come to church twice but she is super ready to be baptized. She even bore her testimony to the less actives we visited. The sisters have some seriously golden investigators, haha. We have some really good ones as well. 

Disney (the girl we are teaching who is Jianna's age) told us this week that she is ready na ready (super ready) to be baptized so we scheduled it for this week. I have mentioned before that I usually don't baptized youth who aren't part-members of an active family but Disney has been coming to church for a long time and has a good testimony of the gospel. She comes with her friend Erica who is the only member of her family and is only 11. They go to every class and even joined the choir. It is a blessing to have a baptism in my last area. 

We've seen a lot of opportunities open up this week with relatives and friends of those we are already teaching. I think I mentioned Jeg a few emails back (the boyfriend of one of the active ward missionaries). He is doing really good and will probably be baptized sometimes in August. We met his parents and started teaching them too this week, and by the third visit we were able to meet one of his brothers and his niece and they are interested in listening too. Jeg and his parents are some of the nicest people I've ever met. His parents are like my grandparents here. I accidentally left my face towel (the one I use for keeping sweat off of my face) at their house and when we came back Nanay had washed it, folded it, and even sewn part of it back together for me. They are great and hopefully will be able to come to church soon. 

About the title of this email...my companion and I have become addicted to chicharron. It's basically super deep fried pig skin (or pork rind I guess in English). We ate a whole bag each last night to break our fast and got really sick. It's really light and crunchy and it's way good with vinegar (Just so you know, you will have to get used to me eating vinegar with everything when I get home, haha). We ate another bag this morning and then decided that we need to buy some fruit this afternoon. 

I love you guys and I know the gospel is true. My mission may be coming to an end but our mission as the saints in these latter days won't end until the Lord is here on the earth with us again. I am both sad and excited to leave here but I am ready to see what else the Lord would have me do to hasten his Work in the world.

Have an awesome week and I'll see you soon. 

Love,
Jared. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 27, 2014

Dear Family, 

It's been an interesting week. We felt like everyone in Guimba was hiding from us this week but we still had a really good turn out on Sunday with five investigators and eight less active members that we are teaching coming to church. The Sisters (in the same branch as us) also had a lot of people come to church. The branch has been growing really really fast and they are talking about splitting it in the near future and putting a meetinghouse in our area which would be nice because our area is super far away from everything.

I'm not sure what it is here, but the people are terrified of us. It's almost silly...when we walk down the streets everyone rushes inside or turns their back and pretends to be invisible. They'll be sitting down or lying in a hammock but when they see us walk by they grab a broom or a machete or whatever is closest and pretend to be busy. The best one though: We were talking to two younger mothers and one of them pinched her baby to make it cry so that she would have a reason to run away. Poor kid, haha. We have been having tons of success with less actives and member referrals though. I almost feel more successful when a less active comes back because they usually stay strong after they've returned. Recent Converts tend to disappear fast here...there are a few really great ones though. 

I'd say that the great work that the Lord is doing in the hearts of the people here is the most amazing thing that's been happening. We have been visiting several less active families and priesthood holders and it's been amazing to see how the Lord has softened their hearts. We visited this one brother (his wife and daughter are really active) probably about 6 times and he hid from us every time. His wife told us that we'd probably never pin him down but we told her that we'd keep coming back until he was ready to come out, and then one day it happened. We came by and he walked right out of the house with a big smile on his face and we were able to start helping him gain a desire to take his family to the temple. The Elder's Quorum President who hadn't been to church in a really long time started coming back. 

The best story though is from last week. One of the active members from our area hadn't been to church for a few weeks and we dropped by to visit them. It turns out that her mother who lives really far away in a group of huts in the middle of the bukid got really sick. They thought that she was going to die and she almost did. When she was able to breathe properly and start to sit up and stuff again, this member asked us to come and visit her and give her a blessing. We started to visit her and gave the blessing, and when he came back she was able to walk and she told us that after the blessing she had started to feel a lot better and she wanted to know more about the Gospel. The church that she had formerly belonged to didn't even visit her and she had prayed that if she was healed, that she would do all she could to be converted to the Lord. I think it's so cool how the Lord prepares people. We are excited to keep teaching her and her husband. 

I can't believe I only have two weeks left. It's not even funny, but I am excited to see you guys again. 

I'll email you again next week! That might be the last one before I see you guys!

Love you,

Jared. 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 20, 2014



 Elder Hubbard's "batch" that he went to the Manilla Temple with last week. 

Pigs!

Dear Family,
It's been another crazy fast week. We got to go the temple which was probably the best part of it all. It was fun being in Manila with my batch and going through the temple with them all. I'm going to miss those guys. 
This week was our branch conference, and to prepare for it, we had a half day mission with the branch last week and invited a ton of less actives out. We also worked with the branch president on Friday and then a bunch of the members on Saturday. It was crazy how many people turned up. We usually have about 120 for attendance, but yesterday 180 people showed up. A whole bunch of members invited their neighbors and friends and we got to meet a lot of new potential investigators. The branch is really supportive here. 
I also got to help with the choir. Only a few of the choir members had any singing experience, so the choir director and I and one of the sisters helped everyone learn their different parts. For not knowing how to sign myself, I think I did an okay job teaching the Altos (I don't know how I ended up being in charge of the altos) We sang Let Us All Press On, God Speed the Right, and Love One Another. It was pretty brutal for the first verse but then they clicked together and it turned out great. The spirit was really strong, especially when they all sang Love One Another. Erica, one of the recent converts here (she's 11) has a friend named Disney who is Jianna's age that she has been bringing to choir and we are now teaching her. She sang with the choir during the branch conference and is progressing really well now. We are trying to get to know her parents better but they are really shy.They are supportive though and want us to keep teaching Disney. We are trying to plan a FHE with one of the active member families there to help them warm up to the church a little bit. 
We are also teaching the boy friend of one of the Ward Missionaries. They have been dating for a while I guess and whenever we teach he already knows the doctrine. It's clear that this sister has always emphasized the importance of a temple marriage and keeping the commandments in their relationship.and that he has understood exactly what her expectations are. We don't really have to do much because he has been taught so well already. We're kind of just helping him gain a strong testimony and get ready to be baptised. 

I'm not sure if I'll have a baptism in this area, but it still could happen. Either way, I feel good as long as I left the area better than I found it. 
I love you guys! It's crazy that we'll be seeing each other in just a few weeks.
Love,
Jared.   

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 13, 2014

Dear Family

I apologize for the earliness of this message...I got a phone call the other night from the assistants and my whole batch is leaving today for Manila. We're going to go to the temple and get some fingerprints done. I'm pretty excited to go the temple again. We're leaving around 1:30 though so I have to write this now. I'm sorry if you don't all get the chance to email me today.

It's been a really fast week. We met President Clark and Sister Clark this week. They are great. I kind of wish I had a few more transfers with them just so I could see what else they will add to all of the amazing stuff President and Sister Martino did. I think the progress of the mission will continue to continue.

Things have a been a little bit tough as far as the work goes. Everyone hides from us - it's almost like we have leprosy or something. We talked to one guy a few weeks ago and he told us he doesn't know what's wrong with the world today; when somebody walks down a street and offers the word of God every hides, but when there's a occasion with alcohol everyone comes running. I think people are just frightened of change or maybe they think that they'll have to speak English to us. Either way it's been a bit exasperating, haha. 

One good thing though; we noticed last week in church that one of the branch missionaries had brought a guy with her to church. We asked her about him after but she seemed shy to introduce him to us (he left after sacrament). We have been trying to contact her dad (he's less active) and ended up meeting this guy at their house. We talked with him for a little bit and it turns out he is her boyfriend and he's been taught by missionaries before. We started teaching him again and he accepted a BGD on the second lesson! This sister bore her testimony at the end of the second lesson and it was powerful all around. 

We've also been having something called missionary night (dinner appointments where we ask referrals) and it's been good. The Branch Mission Leader here is really on top of things and set us up with a lot of those. It's been good but we haven't had any solid referrals yet. I've noticed that the youth are a lot less shy about stuff like that. There is a recent convert here named Erica who is 11. She's the only member in her family. She brings her friend Disney to church every week and even to choir afterwards. She also has talked to a couple other of her friends and has another one who wants to meet with us. 

I've been given an assignment by the branch president to train a pianist before I go home, so we've been having piano lessons everyMonday. About 20 people showed up last week so I just handed out staff paper to all of them and taught them how to read notes/clefs/time signatures and that kind of stuff. It was really fun and I was surprised how easy it was to teach to a group like that. It gave me a little bit of an idea of what I might be able to do after my mission. I'm hoping that one of the youth will be able learn enough to play the simplified hymns before I leave. 

It's been a good week, despite the ridiculous game of hide seek we've been playing, haha. I love being a missionary though. 

Love you guys!

- Jared. 
      

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014

Dear Family,

Well, this week kind of got a little more difficult as far the work goes. That happens occasionally on missions. We had really awesome work last week and the week before and found lots of new investigators but this week they are all hiding. We also had a less active we were teaching get baptized. In the Jehovah's Witness. I was really sad about that but we told her that God and the Church respect her agency and so do we. We taught her about the Book of Mormon one more time and urged her to pray about it again. I don't think she is joining because of any particular doctrine but more because she feels more loved and accepted there. I wish sometimes as members that we would reach out more and show the less actives and recent converts in our wards that they are important and that we love them. 

It's kind of funny though in the Bukid. In the city people will just tell you they aren't interested, but in the farms they let you in the first and second time and then the third time you come back all you see is the dust cloud from where they were sitting a few seconds ago. The best one this week happened with a less active sister. We went to visit her one morning and she was there with her two little kids (a little boy probably about 4 and a little girl lying in a hammock on the porch, probably about 3) and their little cousin. She told us to wait a minute while she walked the little cousin home and left us there with the little girl in the hammock. After about 5 minutes of her not returning I started to get suspicious. Then 10 minutes passed, and 15 minutes...We were ready to leave at that point but how could we leave this little baby all by herself on their front porch. So I just swung the hammock back and forth and we waited for a HALF HOUR. Still hadn't came back. The kid was asleep by then, so we just left her there in the hammock. That sister was really smart...she managed to avoid us while putting her kid to sleep at the same time, haha. 

There were also some good things that happened this week. We are teaching a recently returned less active and felt that we should read a chapter from the Book of Mormon with her. We chose Moroni 10 and read the whole thing and as she read one of the verses she felt the spirit really strongly and it brought her to tears. I wanted to ask her why but felt something stopping me. I guess it was enough for me to know that the message we had chosen had touched her heart in the way it needed too. The Book of Mormon really is such a power tool in conversion. 

We also had a small miracle last night. We got finished with our last appointment around 9 and were waiting for a jeepney by the highway. Three jeepneys passed by and didn't stop. We also had turned down an offer earlier to ride a trike. All of a sudden it started to rain softly (which means you have about five minutes before a waterfall pours out of the sky) and we saw another pair of headlights coming towards us that looked like a jeepney so we flagged it down. It turns out it was a little cargo truck and the driver stopped and let us get on. As the rain got really strong he told us, "It's a good thing I took the truck...I almost took my motorcycle this morning." His name was Gary and he had driven up from Manila to visit his mother-in-law. He also told us that he always takes the other highway (the one that doesn't go through our area) and that this was the first time he's come that way. We were able to introduce ourselves and give him a pamphlet real quick before we got home. It was such a simple thing, but I really feel like the Lord's hand was in it because way too many things happened for that pamphlet to get to him, haha. 

Last night, to break our fast, we made no-bakes and ate them with ice cream that we bought on Saturday. It was super good but felt pretty sick after. I haven't eaten that much sugar in one go since I was at home still. 

Things are going well! I really like the story from Dad's journal. That is quite the finding experience. Did he ever get baptized?

I love you guys!

Have an awesome week!

Love Jared. 


June 30, 2014

 The Mendoza Family, and Nanay Victoria (Far left) with James (far right). They have all returned to the church and James will be baptized this month. He told us on our third visit that he wants to be baptized and serve a mission someday. ​
 Uwang! They are these huge beetles that randomly dive bomb onto your head at night.
 Nora and Alan (And Sigrid, their granddaughter). They didn't come to church in my time (but are going now) but are such golden investigators. They have been less-active Catholics for ten years and have been looking for the true church for a long time. 
 The Fiesta Family. Sister Fiesta, Joshua, and Eloisa are all active members. The missionaries are still working on her older son and husband. We baptized her youngest child, Eulo (right).
 Tatay Guevarra and I. When I first met Tatay, he was super grouchy and was praying that he would just die. He had a stroke last year and lost the use of half of his body. His family doesn't have money for therapy so one of his daughters applied for a job in the Middle East to help him out. His wife and three of his children are members but only one of them is active. Tatay isn't a member. 
It was amazing to see the changes that came into Tatay's life. We had a hard time with him, but decided to just help him be happy and develop faith. We'd help him stand up and walk outside to shower and slowly he started getting stronger and stronger. He is close to being able to walk on his own. There were times at first when we would dread visiting him because he was so grumpy, but after he started developing more faith we noticed that he was happier every time we visited him. Now he is one of my best friends in Tarlac. We taught him to pray for strength and patience instead of for death and to have faith that he will be able to walk again. He is getting ready to be baptized in August and I have no doubt that he will be able to walk by then. 

 Tarlac Zone! I miss that zone!
 The Hodriel Family! They are another family who has returned (before I got there). We were really tight with them and the Ombac Family. 
 The Ombac Family! Brother Ombac is in red and his wife is in the stripes. The two little girls are theirs. He was reactivated by the missionaries a few months before me and his wife and eldest daughter were both baptized. I helped baptize his little sisters, Charmine and Marilou (the chubbier one and the skinnier one in grey). We are currently teaching the kid who they 'adopted', Mark (in white PJ's) and his cousin Emily (Yellow). They are due to be baptized any time
The Landingin Family! (Tatay isn't there). We were so happy when Nanay finally came to church. I am sitting in between Nanay and Crystal. Vines is the guy in the awesome shorts (He's Josh's age) and Joseph (the little guy) is between me and Crystal. The other lady is named Angie, she's one of their neighbors and the other little girl is named Bea


Hi  Family,

Basically describes my diet this week, haha. I've eaten tuna and tomato omelette with rice almost every day for the last week. I've also had a lot of pineapple (it's pineapple season here...I love life). I think I was really spoiled in Tarlac food-wise and it's taken some adjustment to get back into the missionary diet again. My companion is a pretty good cook though, so hopefully this week we'll get more creative between the two of us. 

I hope you liked the pictures, I have a bunch more. They are all from Tarlac. I really miss that area and all of those great families but I know I'll learn to love this area too and the people here. 

We had a pretty good week. It's hard to adjust to a branch again after being assigned in such a strong ward. We are really focusing on rescuing. There are so many less-actives here that need to come back. Most of our good teaching experiences this week have come from teaching less actives. Here's one I shared to the new mission president:



We have been teaching one wonderful sister who was offended a long time ago and stopped coming to church. We were really dismayed when we found out that she is seriously investigating a different church and I wasn't sure what to do. My companion and I talked about it and decided to teach her about the Book of Mormon again. We took a returned less active member with us and we taught about the Book of Mormon and bore simple testimony of it and the Restoration of the Gospel. I know that the spirit carried those testimonies to the heart of this sister because she said, "I still know that the Book of Mormon is true. I haven't forgotten." She also committed to come to church again this week (she wouldn't commit before). It was such a simple thing but for me it was a huge miracle 

We had a service project this week where we hauled bamboo around for a while. I'll attach a picture. 

We also had a great lesson with a younger girl named Disney. She is only 14 and has come to church before. We taught her about the Restoration yesterday and she told us that she is ready to be baptized. We are hoping to be able to teach her parents too. There are so many amazing youth here who are ready to listen to the gospel but so many of the older generation won't be bothered by it. We stopped by the house of another teenager who had talked to us and was interested in learning about the church only to meet his mom at the door. She acted rather annoyed that we had bothered her and got kind of angry and said, "We're Catholics. We will always be Catholics and you won't ever get us to come to your church." "I had about 768 different answers go through my head to that statement but we only said, "We know that the Gospel we teach is true, but we won't force anyone to learn it. If you ever want to know God's plan for your family just let us know." I just wish people would be more open minded. 

It was a good week though. I am excited for what's happening here. We get to meet President Clark this week too which is exciting. 

I love you guys. The church is true. 

Love, 
Jared. 

June 22, 2014 Last transfer of mission


Dear Family,

I have now been transferred into my last area! I am in Guimba. It's kind of a sprawled out little city with tons of farmland around it. We share it with a pair of sisters who work the city part of the area. It's a nice area but there are a LOT of less actives here. We had 35 less active/recent convert lessons this week as well as 18 lessons to investigators. It's crazy how many members there are here.

My new companion (and last companion) is Elder Lopez. He is from Bicol (I've only had one companion who wasn't from Bicol or the Visayas). I'm his follow-up trainer. We get along really well and have the same vision for the work...a lot of returned less actives...and he is super diligent. I am excited for the things that we'll be able to accomplish here. 

I am also the only native English speaker in our house. I live with two Filipinos and Elder Tebau from Kiribas (Micronesia). We all speak Tagalog though so there isn't too much of a language barrier. They are also all converts to the church which is cool. Elder Lopez use to be Iglecia, Church of God, and Catholic, Elder Bigbig used to be a Jehovah's Witness, then a Baptist, then a Born-Again, and Elder Tebau was a Methodist or something like that until all 9 of them in his family were baptized. It's good to be around missionaries with strong testimonies. 

This area presents a few challenges because it is really far away from the church building and most of the people are poorer farmers. We have a plan to focus on wealthier people to try and build the church. We had a really good experience this week that I wrote in my letter to President:

I had a good experience this week working with the Branch Mission Leader. We were on splits and he took me around the neighborhood and introduced me to several of his wealthy neighbors, including a teacher and an engineer who is married to the Barangay Captain. I am certain that if we had tried to visit them on our own they wouldn't have given us the time of day, but having this member who they knew take me there we were able to talk to these influential people and set an appointment with the engineer for next Saturday. I was terrified talking with this man at first, especially when he started asking me questions about my mission. One of his questions was, "In your almost two years of service, would you say that you have been successful in convincing a lot of people to join your church?" I thought for a moment and answered, "Engineer, if I myself have convinced anyone to join this church than I have failed in my mission. We only carry this message, and it is the Holy Ghost who testifies of it. When I see people feeling the holy ghost I am able to say that I have done my part." My answer surprised me, and him too I think, but I knew that the Lord had answered that question and not me. He seemed more interested after that and opened up a little more. 

Aside from there, I think the biggest adventure I had was eating rat, for the second time. One of the member's husbands had some friends over (he's not a member yet) to drink and they had some adobo style rat cooked up (people eat anything here with alcohol...snakes, cats, dogs, rats, crickets, etc.). She asked us if we wanted any and brought each of us a good sized leg to chew on. It tastes a lot like chicken actually. Don't worry mom, It was a field rat (they only eat grass and are really clean animals), not a house rat. I won't get leptospirosis.

It flooded in Magrath?! It seems like the Philippines weather is moving over there to Southern Alberta. I'm glad everyone is okay though. The last days are pretty crazy hey? We had this freak rain storm the other day that lasted about 15 seconds and then the sun came out and it got hot again. So weird. 

I love you guys! Have an awesome week!


- Love Jared. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 16, 2014 Fathers Day

Hey Dad,

Happy Fathers Day! We've been talking this month in the mission about being a visionary missionary and catching the vision from our leaders. One example that was given was Lehi and Nephi. Nephi definitely caught the vision from his dad, and I feel like you have always helped me to have a vision in my life of what I should do to be the most happy. And now I'm doing it, and I am happier than I would be doing anything else. Thanks so much for being my Dad. 

My companion and I ate a Japanese Fast food restaurant today and I ordered Chicken Oyakodon. I'm pretty sure you used to make it at home sometimes. Elder Tsunoda and I would make it at the apartment a lot too. We also had some california rolls which were good. My companion wasn't a big fan of the wasabi though, haha.

Thanks for everything Dad. I'm excited to catch up more with you after working like a wild man for the next eight weeks. 

Love you, 

Jared.   

Hey family! 

It's been a good week here in Tarlac. I'll find out tomorrow where my next area is. I'm thinking it will be somewhere out in the middle of nowhere like my fourth area was. I'm okay with that though. 

Thank you guys for all of the updates and Happy Father's Day to all of the tatays and lolos out there. 

I think the best experience this week came in the form of a simple miracle we had finding. I already wrote to President about it so I'll just paste it here: 

I had another small miracle happen this week with OYMing. We were looking for a referral that a member had given us and were having trouble finding him. A guy walked by and asked us if we were looking for something and we were able to get directions from him before he walked into his house. Once he was inside, we looked at his house and it was the exact house number that was listed in our planners. Thinking he was the referral we were looking for, we knocked and he came out. It turns out he wasn't the person we were looking for (we had been given the wrong address). I had the strong impression that I needed to talk to him, but I was embarrassed and we ended up apologetically leaving. As we walked away, I just felt sick inside. The ward missionary who was working with us felt the same way. We walked about a block and then stopped and looked at each other and decided to go back. I felt so bad for ignoring the first prompting but as we came closer to the house the words I needed to say popped into my head and when we knocked a second time (when he came out he looked a little confused by this point) they just came out, "Hello Brother, we're sorry for bothering you again, but we have forgotten something important." We gave him a Restoration Pamphlet and set an appointment with him. 

It was crazy to me how the wrong address turned out to be the right address. I'm not sure what will happen with him but I am happy that we followed the prompting because I know the Lord used us to bring something into that mans life. The chance to know his Heavenly Father's plan for him. 

We had our Stake conference this week and it was a special broadcast from Salt Lake. Elder Cook, Elder Teh, and Sister Mconkie all spoke about simple gospel principles and it was amazing. A sister from our ward also sang an arrangement of 'Because I have Been Given Much.' accompanied by the piano, three violins, and a bamboo flute, and almost had the whole congregation (probably over 600 hundred members) in tears. I was having trouble keeping them back myself. That was the most spiritual part of the meeting.

I love you guys. The church is true and we are so blessed. 

Love, 
Jared. 


Hey Mom!

I'm still in the same area but I'm leaving on Thursday. President hasn't told me where yet though. It'll for sure be my last area though. I'm really sad to be leaving here. Tarlac is my favorite area. I feel like I've felt the spirit the strongest here and had the most success. I'll be leaving a lot of good friends behind. 

Haha actually for Filipinos it's considered healthy to be chubby. Most of them are skinny though. Elder Evangelista's mom owns a carendaria (fast-food restaurant that sells cooked food to go on rice) and is an amazing cook. That's what he attributes his stoutness to, haha. 
  
I sure love you Mom!

Love, 
Jared. 


Monday, June 9, 2014

June 8, 2014 Jared's Birthday



 The Capas Death Memorial
 
 Cool Basketball Kid!


 Service project





Gud PM Family (Tagalog Text Slang),

Thank you all for the birthday wishes! The actual day of my birthday wasn't all that exciting but on June 4th we found three great new investigators which made a perfect birthday present. I don't like to make a big deal out of my birthdays, so it was good. I made sure to buy an ice cream though :)
 
The Sister Training Leaders knew it was my birthday (I tried to keep it a secret but they read it in the Mission Newsletter) and they surprised me with a cupcake and a match (I blew out the match). We also had a service project where we hauled buhangin (cement mix/sand) into a house. AND THEN (The best part of all) we went out and worked!
This week I had the grossest experience of my mission. I was on exchanges with an elder in the zone here in our area and it started raining super hard. We had appointments in H-Crus, which is this really filthy crowded area with hundreds of little hollow-block houses and really narrow little alleyways. I think I already mentioned canals (basically open drainage systems on the side of the roads...a lot of the sewage from houses just empties out into the canals). Anyways, we ended up trapped in H-Crus, knee deep in overflowed canal water. It looked and smelled like the black plague. When we got to our investigator's house we ran to their pump and washed everything...pants, shoes, socks, and soles. It was awful. We took antibiotics afterwards. So gross. Biggest loss though...I didn't have my camera with me :(

I have mentioned the Landingin Family before and how they are the greatest family ever but we just haven't been able to help their parents come out to church. All of their kids are members. We taught them on Friday and at the end of the lesson (as always) we invited them to come to church. Sister Landingin said (jokingly), "Okay Elders, if you come and pick us up for church, I'll come." We jumped on that opportunity, "Okay, we'll be here at 11 tomorrow," and she was all like, "No! It's okay, we'll just come!"

"Nope, too late. We'll see you at 11 tomorrow."

"Elders! It's okay, we'll just come ourselves!"

"Yep. And we're taking you."

"Really! We'll just come!"

"Really?"

"YES!"

"I'm not sure if you're telling the truth..."

"I am!"

"Do you promise to come?"

"Well...I'm not promising..."

"We'll see you at 11 then."

"Okay, okay...we'll just come ourselves."

"Sure?"

"Yes."

"Really?"

"Yes!"

"Promise?"

"..."

That's basically how the conversation went. (We are VERY close with this family, and Filipinos love to joke around like that, lest anyone think we were being pushy or overbearing at all. This was all done with a great deal of jest).

AND...SISTER LANDINGIN CAME TO CHURCH! We had been praying and praying and praying that they would come. We talked to Tatay the other day too and he said he wants to come next time. Miracles really do happen.

We've seen another miracle with a less-active family we are teaching. They are very poor and just live in this little one-room house in the middle of H-Crus, but they have been coming to church now as a family. For me those are the best miracles of all...when someone decides to make the difficult decision to return to the church. We've been so blessed to see this family make that decision.

I am so impressed with the members here in Tarlac. Especially the Ward Mission Leader and the Elder's Quorum President. The Young Women's Presidency has been doing an amazing job do. They go and visit the people we are teaching and are always coming back to us with more people we can teach.

Anyways, that's about all the update I have for now. I probably will only be in this area for another week and a bit...we have a short transfer this transfer and an 8 week transfer next week because President Martino goes home this month. I will be really sad to leave here. It's been my favorite area hands down.

I love you guys!

Love,

Jared.

June 2, 2014

 

 
We went to the Monastario De Tarlac - it's a big monastery in mountains. There's this little mini castle thing up there too and we took some zone pictures there - there are more sisters than elders here.



 This picture (with the guy and his two kids) is really funny. There was this big group of relatives from another place up in the mountains and I guess they hadn't really seen foreigners before. They asked me in broken English if they could take a picture of me and were pretty freaked out when I answered in Tagalog. I took pictures with a couple of the men and their kids and then one of the Nanays came out with her daughter (probably about 15) and told me to get a picture with her 'Dalaga' (Dalaga means 'single girl'...and is usually used by mothers to show off their daughters). That was kind of awkward but I maintained an appropriate distance while being friendly. We were able to talk with the whole group though about the gospel and they seemed really interested, so it all worked out okay. It'll be weird coming home and not being noticed ever, haha. I think it's better that way though.
Elder Evangelista is a really cool companion though. I think I've trained him pretty good so far...the only real thing that needs training is all of the reports. I could never be an accountant or any job that handles numbers. It's way too stressful.


Dear Family,

 

CHIKI! (Cheeky)

WALI! (Wally)

HINDO! (As spelled)

PAK! (Puck)

TAMBO! (Tahmbo)

RIKI! (Reekee)

 

That's all heard for an hour this morning on the jeepney, haha. I learned a new Filipino game as we were going to our zone activity earlier. It involves a lot of shouting and slapping each others hands. I'm pretty sure some of the Elders hands were almost bleeding afterwards, haha. I'll have to teach you all someday. We went to a really cool monastery place up in the mountains today and ate mangoes with salt the whole way home while four of the Filipino Elders went crazy with that game. Then one of the Samoan elders joined in and they were all too scared of him and the game ended, haha. I love the Phils.

 It's been a good week with a few sad parts. One of our great new investigators who has been to church twice told us he doesn't want to meet with us anymore. I guess when his pastor found out he was being taught by 'Mormons' he started emailing our investigator and telling him all sorts of stuff like how there is no such thing as revelation and visions and that the Bible is the only source of truth. Does that sound familiar? I told him about Joseph Smith and how his pastor said the exact same thing to him, but Joseph kept on trusting in the Lord and seeking further revelation. We told him his questions would all be answered if he would just earnestly read and prayed about the BOM. Nope, he doesn't want to. We respected his agency and told him we would have to focus on other people who are ready to hear the Gospel. It makes me sad when people believe in their pastors more than in God. So many good people get misled by other people with good intentions. It's not something to get angry about, but it makes me kind of depressed sometimes.

 "Quench not the Spirit." I feel like most churches nowadays do that.

 On the bright side, the four investigators we have goaled for baptism this month all came to church. They are all teenagers from part member families. I am happy about their baptisms and their families are all supportive...but I really wish that some of the adults we are teaching would come to church. We have so many awesome investigator families that just won't come to church. The Mendoza family came to church though for the second time! And their daughter brought a friend named James. They come from a pretty rough neighborhood without much money, so I gave James a shirt and tie. The Mendoza's have been less active for a long time and it is such a blessing to see them come to church again. Brother Mendoza coming back was a miracle, and he's shown so much faith and courage coming to church again. I love it when priesthood holders realized their potential. It makes all other hardships and crazy pastors worth it.

I'm doing well. The Lord has really been blessing me :) It has started raining a little bit but nothing too crazy yet. Last Monday there was a pretty good storm though...the power went off in the whole city for about an hour. Tarlac floods a lot so I'm kind of hoping it won't rain a lot until August.
 
I love you all. I'll talk to you again next week!

 

- Jared.

 
 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 26, 2014

Dear Family, 

It's been an incredibly stressful day...a zone reporting day. I have a new companion now and I have to train him to be a ZL in four weeks because I might be transferring in four weeks into my last area. We were in here since noon trying to figure all of the numbers out...and then all of the power went out and it started pouring rain so we ran over to the 7-11 and waited there for an hour until the power came back on.  Now I get to email you all real fast before we run to family home evening, haha. 

My new companion is Elder Evangelista from Manila. He's my first companion who isn't from the southern Phils or from the Bicol region. He's just this short, big, happy guy who doesn't say much. He's a way good missionary and I love him to death.

There haven't been too many crazy adventures this week...just the good teaching experience kind. We had 6 investigators come to church yesterday but Nora and Alan still didn't show up. They are such great investigators and they say that they have received answers that this is the true church, but they just haven't come to church yet. It's so hard to solve concerns, haha. We have faith that they'll show up though. We also visited the Landingin family again (the parents didn't come to church either and haven't for the whole time I've been here) and taught them. Nanay told us that before, when they went to church, that a whole bunch of really bad things happened - her kids got sick, they never had enough food, etc. We were all like, "Nanay, when you come to church and have family prayer and stuff, the Lord will bless you," and she was all, "But Elders, whenever we do stuff like that our lives get worse." That was the first time I'd heard something like that but I told her about you guys and how our family has always been blessed because of the Gospel, even if it's not easy sometimes. I really hope they will come to church. 

It's so hard when you love these families and feel like you're a part of them but then you see them shy away from the Gospel. It's really sad. BUT, I know that, one day, both of those families will all become members and be sealed in the temple. 

It's really cool how the Lord prepares people for the Gospel. We've been teaching the Ombac family for a while and they are all strong and active in the church. There are five recent converts in that family, so we are there quite often. Brother Ombac, his wife and daughter, his two little sisters, and sister Ombac's sister have all become members. The only one left in that house who is a non-member is Sister Ombac's brother...who would always kind of avoid us when we were there. Sister Ombac has been hoping and praying that he would receive the gospel and last week, as he was driving his motorcycle (and slightly intoxicated), he crazed and got scraped up really bad. He ended up going to a hospital in Pangasinan and getting a bunch of stitches in his head. It's really a miracle that he lived, because here, if you crash on the highway, you will probably die. People just drive like maniacs here. Anyways, after his accident we talked to him and he had changed so much. He wanted to listen! We talked with him and he said he knows that God protected him when he was in the accident. We were able to start teaching him. The Lord really can and will open anyone's heart. 

That's all I have time for...it's been a crazy day. I love you guys and I hope you all have a great week. 

Love, 

Jared. 

May 19, 2014

Dear Family, 

Yep. My companion was called last week as the new assistant to the President, which left me alone with the zone for this whole week. I worked in a trisome with our housemates in their area. Transfer day is this week and I am totally sure that I am staying here for at least four more weeks, which I am excited about. Right now I am working with Elder Mosquera, he's the AP that my companion replaced. We've been able to work in my area for almost three days now. 

We had some good things happen this week. One of the families we are teaching, the Garcia Family, has been interested in the lessons, but won't come to church or make any serious commitments until the dad has made a decision. The Dad told us before that he wanted us to show him, using the Bible, that Jesus Christ is God, and if we could, their family would be baptized. We prepared a short lesson from the Bible about the Godhead and the importance and unity of each member of it. It was a very simple and powerful lesson. The whole family understood and accepted the Godhead. Except Tatay. He wouldn't accept anything we shared...even the most simple verses. We explained to him that we had done as he'd asked, and then reverted it back to The Restoration and invited him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it because that is really the only way to know the truth. We had a similar experience in our housemate's area with a Seventh Day Adventist. She believes that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is true, but she won't let go of the whole Sabbath being on Saturday thing. Nothing on earth can make her believe otherwise. We also invited her to ask again about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. 

It can be so frustrating at times when silly little things like that get in the way of the real important things. I just wanted to shout out, "Look! The Sabbath Day isn't a day...it's a commandment that needs to be followed, whether on Saturday like Moses and the Nephites did, or on Sunday like the apostles did. Or on WednesdayFriday, or any other day like the church does now." The church isn't built on the Sabbath Day. It's built on Christ and Revelation. It's not built on the Hebrew translation of LORD, or on Peter, or on the Day of Pentecost, or on baptism or faith healing. Talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel! 

We love the Garcia family and really hope that Tatay will be able to feel the spirit so that they can participate in the blessings of the gospel. 

We are also visiting a guy named Matthew from Minnesota. He's been through a lot of stuff that no 16 year old should have to go through and ended up here in the Phils staying with his uncle. He can't speak Tagalog at all. He has a lot of faith though, and he brings us to tears sometimes with his story. I remember him praying after our last visit that the people who have treated him so badly would be forgiven. We've only been able to teach him twice so far, but he is really progressing. He came to church with us on Sunday and the members were really great at fellowshipping him in English. I was impressed. 

Nora and Alan (The family I told you about on Skype) are also doing really good. They all believe that the Gospel is true (they've been searching for 10 years) and are seriously considering being baptized. Nora has received a very interesting answer in the form of a sign. We are trying to help them come to church now, but something always seems to get in the way. We've seen so many miracles happen that allowed us to find this great family and it's evident to me that there is another force at work trying to stop them from progressing. I know they will make it to church soon though. 

We also had a baptism this week. Eulo is a primary aged kid from an active part member family. He is 9 and his dad isn't a member yet so it was a convert baptism - a low-lying fruit as we call it sometimes, haha. It was good though. Sometimes children's baptisms can be extra special.

That's about all for this week. I have been super stressed trying to handle this zone all by myself this week, but I've been getting through it. 

I love you guys, 

Love 
Jared.