Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 10, 2014

Dear Family, 

This has been a marvelous week. It's been an adventure working in Tarlac, and I can already tell that I'm going to get fat here because we take jeeps everywhere and the members like to feed us. We always buy lunch at a little eatery run by members and they give us probably 3x more food than we pay for, haha. We also had an awesome dinner appointment last night with Sister Joaquim...Hilagang Baboy (pork soup with cabbage and bananas) followed by coconut jackfruit ice cream. I was in heaven. 

I will hopefully have a camera again by next week so I can send you some pictures of my new area and companion. We had a great week finding. We've been focusing as a mission on teaching Doctrines of the Gospel, not 'Mormon Doctrines' as someone put it. Some of the examples given were watching TV on Sunday or saying that we aren't supposed to drink coke. They aren't doctrines. President also told us to avoid pontificating and to always engage in a two-way dialogue rather than a one-way monologue. He also explained how we are like fiber-optics...conduits that carry light, and how we must be clean and pure for that light to be transmitted. He also reminded us all that we are the CONDUIT, not the light. If we teach with our own light we are committing a form of priest-craft. Elder Leduna and I have really been trying to just teach the pure doctrine of the lessons as outlined in Preach my Gospel and to be friendly and sincere with what we say. We've had some great experiences this week from it. 

This is one of them that I wrote in my letter to President this week: 
There seems to be this culture here in the Philippines among many of the older people where they are 'solid Catholics' and they won't listen to us no matter what we tell them. It can be a very frustrating obstacle at times, especially when we are finding. I learned something very important this week about how to breach that. Elder Leduna and I were OYMing and we came across two older ladies. We greeted them with a smile and introduced ourselves and what we were doing. Of course, like so many other times, their first response was, "We are Catholic," and I kind of braced myself for another rejection and Philippines history lesson. Then one of them asked us a question, "Why are Mormons always so happy?" We immediately knew what to say and started to talk about the Plan of Salvation and the Restoration of the Gospel. They invited us to sit down and as we preached the doctrine of the Restoration and testified of the blessings it has brought into our lives, the spirit carried it to their hearts. One of them told us, "I have never been interested in listening to other religions, but I want you two to come back and visit me again." We had a similar experience with a baptist high-school teacher/youth minister. I know that the spirit was present because we were focused on the doctrine and their needs. The truths that they had gained from their religions were added onto and all were enlightened. I think this was one of the best weeks of my mission.

We met the baptist teacher when we dropped by Sister Riverra's house (Sister Riverra is a massage therapist and has been helping one of our investigators who had a stroke to be able to walk again and come to church). He had come by to give English lessons to her and her kids. We said hi to him and then Sister Riverra said, "Well, aren't you going to share a message with him?" So we did. I was a little hesitant at first when we learned that he was a youth minister back in the day but he said he'd be okay with listening to our message. He was a super nice guy. We started with the opening prayer and we were shocked when it was over to see this brother with tears in his eyes. He shared with us that he has been having some problems in his life and is trying to pay off a 1/2 million peso debt (a LOT of money here). He also told us that almost all of his family members belong to the Iglesia ni Cristo but that he doesn't want to join because he doesn't like what he sees there. We were able to teach a short version of the Restoration and read the Bible with him about how Christ helps us through our trials. I could tell the spirit was really working with him and that the truths he had found in his life were being added to. He asked Sister Riverra if we could meet with him again in her house (she gladly agreed) and we gave him a Book of Mormon. 

Those were the best two moments of this week. We had five investigators at church this week too which was good (for the city). A couple weeks ago we helped a girl out and she showed up to church with her friend who is less active. We are also teaching the siblings of Brother Ombac, who just got the Melchizadek Priesthood. His wife was baptized last month. They are a great family. 

I have been doing well. As a zone we are focusing on following the small and simple rules and studying the power of the atonement. The missionaries here in Tarlac are great. I am so glad to be working with all of them. 

I love you all. The Gospel is true. 



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