Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014

Dear Family,

Guyabano is the best fruit ever. It's also called soursop for those who have played Amazon Trail. It's kind of hard to find sometimes but I've been able to get some this week. It, combined with the nectar of life (coconut water) has been helping me a lot health-wise this week. It was a good week...a lot of progress with our investigators. I feel a bit stronger too this week :) Guyabano is the best fruit on earth. It's been cool...since I haven't been feeling good I've had a lot of ideas enter into my head about what I can take - guava leaves, guyabano fruit, coconut water. I was in a little hardware store the other week and I saw this little bottle of chinese medical oil (made from herbal stuff). I couldn't read the label (it was in chinese) but I felt like buying it and it numbs out the pain. The pain has gone down a lot this week. I've been just trying to keep a positive attitude and focus on others as much as I can. 

This week was marvelous. Remember Jobert? The investigator we have who is investigating the Iglecia ni Cristo? We had a great lesson with him. In the lesson before he had drilled us with questions, expecting an answer from the Bible, so during personal study I found about 10 verses about the divinity of Christ, and several more about other things like the sacrament, prophets. We also found a lot of good cross-references for him in the Book of Mormon for those verses. We taught him about the Atonement and resurrection onWednesday, and as we spoke, the question came up again about the divinity of Christ and the Godhead (The Iglesia teach that Christ is only a man, and that the God is the only god...they don't support the godhead), and we showed him several bible verses (1 John 5:7, John 1:1,14, stuff like that). He was very receptive and willing to learn and seemed to be shocked that there were verses in the Bible to support the doctrine of the Godhead. He wrote them all down, haha. The best part of the lesson though was when we read in Alma 7 about the Atonement and baptism. We bore our testimonies and the spirit entered into the discussion. We told him that no matter how much we know about the scriptures, only the Holy Ghost can show us the truth. We challenged him again to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and to be baptized when he receives an answer. He accepted. It was a great lesson for me...the spirit came when our testimonies were there. If we can just used the Bible and our knowledge, I believe that lesson wouldn't have turned out the way it did. We were super happy to see Jobert at church on Sunday. He's a great investigator and really has a sincere desire to follow the Lord's will for him. 

Our other investigators are doing good too...I am amazed at how much MJ has changed. When we first met him, he was kind of reluctant, awkward, and quiet. He kind of just sat there while we taught his girlfriend and her little sister (Sister Eva's kids). Now he has been to church probably about 6 times, has prayed in Elder's Quorum class, and is doing so good with the Word of Wisdom. We challenged them to go a whole week without smoking or drinking and they have been going strong. MJ has also been reading the scriptures a lot. Last night we shared about the 2000 stripling warriors, and as we were introducing the message, I mentioned that there are a lot of wars in the Book of Mormon and MJ piped in: "Oh yeah, that's in Alma right?" I was surprised that he knew that. They are all so much happier now...we can see it in their faces. 

We weren't able to teach Manuel this week but he took an hour to drop by sacrament meeting before heading off to Tarlac. He's an awesome investigator too. We might have to arrange a wedding for him though before he can be baptized. We'll have to see. 

Besides the work, things are alright. I've gotten kind of lazy with cooking but have been eating a lot of Goto lately (look it up...a picture is worth a thousand words). It's cheap and tasty with bread. I usually don't eat the tripe though. I've been trying to eat more fruit and vegetables lately too. There is so much good stuff here...soursop, guava, and coconuts are some of my favorites. Fresh papaya is also so good. President Mabalot gives us a lot of food all of the time too. He's a great branch president. 
    picture of Goto (kinda like a porridge as far as I understand :) )

Transfers is coming this week. I have the feeling that I'm being transferred. It's okay though. I'm happy to serve wherever and as whatever I'm called. It's scary to think that my next area could be my last one in the mission.

I love you guys and I love the Gospel. It is so true.
Keep going strong in the faith and being amazing. I'm so lucky to have you all as a family. 



February 17, 2014

Dear Family,

I was just at the Ukay-Ukay and I bought two new ties for P100. Ukay-Ukay's are like second hand stores with all of the stuff coming from other countries. The one here gets it's stuff from Hong Kong, so there is some pretty cool stuff. I also bought 8 classical piano CD's there. I buy a lot of ties when they have them...I only have a couple of the original ties that I brought. I give a lot of them to the members. 

This week has been okay. It's been hard with some of our investigators, but that's just how it goes sometimes. Alcohol and smoking are such a huge problem here. It's the hardest thing for a lot of people to give up. Our part is just to be patient and continue to show love to them. Also, Sister Devera didn't come to church this week. We invited her but she just said that she wouldn't come. We told her that her kids won't be able to be baptized and her family will miss out on the blessings of the temple one day if she chooses not to come, but she just said, "It's okay. As long as my kids go to church I'm happy. Even if they aren't baptized." We can't really force anyone to do anything, but it's so hard for me when people seem to be making progress and then they just stop for no reason. 

On the flip side though, Manuel, one of our investigators, has been progressing really well. He is dating one of the active members in the ward and has been coming to church for a while. He works in Tarlac all week and then comes here for the weekends. We taught him about the Book of Mormon last week and invited him to pray about it. We were both kind of surprised when, in the closing prayer, he asked the Lord to reveal the truth of the Book of Mormon to him as he studies it. After the prayer he wiped a few tears away from his eyes and looked at us and said, "I don't know why I'm crying." Love it when that happens. He is going to keep reading and praying to get ready to be baptized in the first week of March. 

We weren't able to visit with Jobert too much this week, but we left him a Book of Mormon with a list of different verses from the Bible and the BOM about the Apostasiya, Restoration, and Prophets. As well as an invitation to pray about it. He is currently being proselyted to the Iglesia ni Cristo, but wants to know more about the Book of Mormon before he makes a final decision. The Iglesia take a really cynical, philosophical view of the Bible (their main doctrines are that Jesus is not a god, and that they are his church...the only Church that will be saved. They believe that God is a spirit, that the sacrament is not necessary, nor the law of the Sabbath. They also claim that their founder is the angel ascending from the east that is mentioned in the 7th chapter of Revelations). We've had to answer some pretty hard questions, haha. I really hope and pray that he will seriously read the Book of Mormon and PRAY about it. There is no other way to be absolutely sure about anything in life. We have to ask God and have it revealed to us by the Spirit of Truth. We'll see what this week brings. 

There are so many less actives's getting really stressful. We are teaching a brother who is a member but joined the Iglesia...his wife used to be a member and so he was baptized there before they were married. We are really after him in a way because he holds the priesthood. Not many men here do. His wife told us that she wants to join the church...she saw a picture of the temple and wants to get married there because it 'looks so beautiful there'. We just hope that we can help Brother find his testimony again. We are also teaching several families...usually just the kids will face us...who were baptized years ago and have all become less-active. Sometimes, I wonder how these people were even baptized because they have almost no idea at times about the church. I think I mentioned last week that I have decided to not baptize anyone if they have not received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true. Many have gone less-active because of lack of friends or because it is easier to just be Catholic, or because of lack of support from their families. A lot of the times it's because they work on Sundays. Some of the biggest joys on my mission have been when these great members have found their way back to the church...but it's also the most stressful thing in the world sometimes trying to teach them. 

I love reading your emails today. Things are going pretty well. The work is true and the Lord loves us. Stay strong and keep looking for missionary opportunities. 

I love you guys.


February 10, 2014

Hello Family!

It's been a pretty good week. Our investigators have been progressing...Katrina will either be baptized this week or the next week. Her little brother will probably be in the next few weeks. We've been really trying hard to make sure that our investigators are prepared to be baptized. It is really easy to get a baptism in the Philippines, but a lot of people don't even last a year after their baptism. I made a commitment to myself that I won't baptize anyone if they don't have a testimony. Katrina has been doing great with reading the Book of Mormon. Her and her Mom read everyday...and her mom told us that Katrina reads really really loud so that everyone in the house can hear her, haha. It's been great to see the changes that her mom has been experiencing. When we met her she was super quiet and sad...she hardly said anything. She told us the other day that she hadn't been to church for ten years before she started coming again here. She also told us that she feels happier and 'lighter' now that her and her kids are coming to church. It shows...she is always smiling now. 

We are still working on teaching her oldest daughter and her boyfriend...they may take a little while longer, but that's okay. Conversion can take time. 

We also have an interesting new investigator...we are at war with another church for him, haha. What I mean, is that he is also investigating another church at the same time. We taught him about the restoration and the Book of Mormon and he accepted it alright. He had a lot of questions...Bible questions. The church that he is investigating right now believes that their founder is the angel from the East that is mentioned in Revelations 7...the one that will gather Israel and seal them in their foreheads. We invited him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and he accepted the commitment. Then he told us to come back with Bible verses to support our doctrine, haha. I sometimes wish that people would rely a little bit more on the Holy Ghost as well as the Bible...because one never lies and the other one has been translated hundreds of times and confuses a lot of people. As I've read the Bible, I've noticed that my own testimony of the gospel has been strengthened. There is nothing in the Restored Gospel that is out of harmony with the Bible...because the gospel is the same now as it was back then. We will have some pretty good verses for him though when we come back. Then we'll ask him again to ask if it is true. 

As for my health situation, not a lot has changed physically I guess. What has changed though is that I have the strength and courage to face it. I love this work and I have faith that the Lord will continue to support me. 

I love you guys. 



Thursday, February 6, 2014

February 3, 2014

 Elder Green and I. He is in my district and has been out for 3 weeks. He met Elder Keaton Welch (from Calgary) in the MTC (he's serving in the Quezon City North Mission).
 Cool flower thing. 

 One of the cool views from our hike.
 Another Cool View.
 Us at the hot-spring place (where we went hiking). Me, Elder Conrow, Elder Green, Elder Bodily, Elder Fatani, and Elder Emilio

 Huge Lizard. I think it's a monitor lizard or something (they call it a Bayawak I think here). They caught it in the river here. When I asked them what they were going to do with it, they told me, "Pupulutanin namin," which means, "we will make him into pulutan (pulutan means food eaten with alcohol)". Poor lizard. 
* Side note...people eat almost anything as pulutan...even cats or owls or other odd things like that. 

 zone pictures

Dear Family,
It sounds like you all had a cool week. Josh is a machine! 33 points! I hope you serve your mission in the Philippines my friend, because they will love you here. All of the men, ages 8-80 spend almost all of their spare time shooting hoops or practicing the moves they see on Youtube. Every chapel here has a full court basketball court beside the parking lot. Even the tiny branches have at least a half-court built in. 

It was also great to see Janae's snowboarding pictures. The snow looks great up there in Castle. Also, nice helmet :) haha. 

This week was good. 13 Investigators came to church! It was also such a huge blessing and a miracle to see some of the less-actives we are teaching come to church. One of them even bore his testimony - he talked about how it has been 8 months or so since he has been to church, but he will always have a powerful testimony of the Gospel. This particular member has some challenges, but he hasn't let it affect his faith. The less-active mother of two of our investigators (who haven't been baptized because their parents aren't active) also came to church, which is great news because it means her children we be able to be baptized if she keeps coming. 

The biggest miracle this week though, as far as church goes, was that Brother F**** came to church. He was one of the first branch Presidents in Pindangan, but he got into some bad habits and stopped coming to church. A lot of his kids followed suit, but Sister F*** *stayed strong and would always be there on Sunday with whoever would come. She would often tearfully express her desire that her family would come to church and become active, so that they could work on a goal to be sealed in the temple. We have tried many times to talk to her kids or her husband, but nothing really came of it. We were so surprised when their whole family walked in on Sunday. Sister F**** bore her testimony and was smiling ear to ear. I don't think I've ever seen her so happy. The Lord really is mindful of all of us, and will bless us if we are patient. 

Today we did a little hike as a zone and had a potluck...every missionary brought something from their home culture to eat. (there are like 67823 different cultures in the Phils, so every native missionary had something different). I tried to make some no-bakes, but they didn't turn out because I tried to use powdered milk. It tasted more like chocolate oatmeal. My companion made sisig, which is basically chopped up pig face grilled, then fried in lime juice with a ton of onions. At the end you mix a bunch of mayonnaise with it. Pretty good stuff. The food was really good - Elder Fatani and Elder Emelio made this Tongan watermelon drink thing, and one of the American sisters even made apple crisp. There was also mashed potatoes from Idaho, no-bakes from Elder Green (ones that turned out), potato salad, grilled milkfish, leche-flan (the best stuff ever), and lots of other stuff. It was a fun activity. 

I think the highlight though of my week was our Mission Leadership Council Meeting. To be honest, I thought I was ready to throw in the towel this week, but I had an incredible experience during the talks. One of the speakers there was a friend of President's who used to be the President of the Texas Ft. Worth mission. President and him both gave some great talks. As Brother Thurston was speaking, he shared a passage from Exodus 18 (13-36) about the importance of different leadership positions. When we came to the 23rd verse, which reads:   
 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
When I read this I felt as if it were speaking to me. I read it over and over again, and the words, "Thou shalt be able to endure," echoed through my head again and again. 

The burden isn't all gone, but I feel like I can bear it. Our Savior bore so much more than this and the least I can do is do my best to continue. I'm still nervous a lot of the time, but when I feel that way I can just look back at the prompting I've received and it gives me the strength to push forward. 

I love this work. I love the Gospel. I know that the Lord is helping me be who I need to be, and that he is watching over us all. 

I love you guys. Have a fantastic week. 

Love, Jared. 

***If you want to know the rest of Elder Hubbard's experience he has asked that I share with those I feel could benefit from reading about it. He had a real sacred experience and did not want it published on the blog. Needless to say he is determined to continue to stay on his mission and endure whatever comes his way. Camilla