Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 28, 2014

Sorry guys...we had all sorts of nightmares with paperwork today...our big monthly report got erased...twice. I am about on the edge of my sanity right now and I have no time to write the big email. I love you all and things are going good. I'll talk to you next week. 


April 21, 2014 Holy week is over!

 These are the pictures from the baptism this week - Jena Salvador. She is almost fourteen and had a great baptism. Her uncle Rolly baptized her and confirmed her. I am with Elder Tsunoda, my newest companion, here. Others in the group picture are (left to right): Moy-moy (Mohammed is his real name - he's 17), Sister Fernando, Jena, Anwar (the Ward mission leader and Moy-moy's older brother), Bishop Rafada, Bro. Fernando, Lemuel (just got his mission call to Tacloban), and John Chris.
Elder Tsudoda, Rolly, and I are in the front. 

Dear Family,

Holy Week is over! If you want any idea of what I've been through the last week - look up Holy Week in the Philippines. I'm just glad I didn't get any blood spattered on me. All of the jeepneys were covered...it was gross. 

To give you a small idea of what happens here: 

I woke up on Monday last week to see some guys building a little shelter thing in the middle of the road by our house. I didn't really think much about it until I saw them put an altar type thing up in it along with some speakers. I guess here in Tarlac they set up little booths for holy week. They have a bible in Kapampangan that they SING (in whatever tune they want) through the speakers for 24 hours for three days nonstop. They call the little stations 'pabasa's'. There are also a lot of people here who get someone to make tons of little slices in their backs and then they walk down the streets whipping themselves. Other people carry huge crosses through the street. When they get to a pabasa they lay down in the road and people beat them with sticks. They basically just go around to all of the stations and do that all week. 

It was different. I was so happy when the pabasa on our street came down, because hearing someone singing all night (and not necessarily in tune at all) was getting pretty old by the third day. It is so sad to see these people making a mockery of what Jesus Christ did. I know they aren't meaning it like that, but that's what it is. Jesus Christ came to Earth to teach the Gospel,  Atone for our Sins, and also teach the higher law that would do away with the Law of Moses. He abolished the vain and frankly ridiculous traditions that the Pharisees had established through the truth, which made people free. Thinking about the atonement this week made me think about the people who followed Christ in the New Testament and how it must have been such a relief for them to stop following those traditions and just focus on the Gospel. I wish everyone would be able to break free of the vain and foolish traditions that they have and just understand the Atonement. 

We had zone interviews this week and Elder Tsunoda and I gave a workshop on Developing the Faith to Find. The zone has struggled a bit with with finding and we felt that it was something to bring up. That was on Wednesday. I wasn't sure if it had much effect but all of a sudden miracles started happening all over the zone. One area that usually only gets one or two new investigators a week had 12 this week. Other areas had 10 or 8. We passed the standard of excellence as a zone this week. I don't mean that as a boast about our workshop; it is just amazing how much can be accomplished with faith. I've felt more love for the people I see around me this week than I have in my whole mission. Things are going so great here. 

We are teaching a family - the Garcia family - who are Iglesia ni Christo. They are interested and welcome us into their home. Great family. We taught the Plan of Salvation to them this week and focused on the Celestial Kingdom and eternal families. I could see the spirit bearing witness to them that it was true...especially Sister Garcia. Then Tatay dropped the big question that I was waiting for (every Iglesia asks it, or tries to debate about it): "Is Jesus Christ God?" We tried to explain the Godhead to him but he just told us that if we believe that Jesus Christ is anything more than a person he can't accept our message. BUT. He also told as that if we can show him and convince him of the divinity of Christ, his whole family will be baptized. We prepared a very solid lesson on the godhead that we'll teach this week. I love teaching this doctrine, because it is so simple and so many people just don't get it. God is our Loving Heavenly Father. He has a body of flesh and bones. He loves us and communicates to us through revelation. He isn't some silent ghost that we can't see or comprehend. Jesus Christ is Jehovah, the son of God. He IS a divine being who took upon himself a mortal body (John 1:1-14) in order to complete the atonement and achieve the highest degree of glory with God. No PERSON could do any of the things he did. The Garcia Family is so great. We're really praying that Tatay will accept the message and that the spirit will teach him of it's truth. 

As far as adventures go...I feel like every day is an adventure. I'm not really scared of cockroaches or big spiders anymore. The food is delicious. I think going home is the scariest thing. 

Before I go...my new companion is hilarious. He bore his testimony yesterday and this is in effect what he said in front of the whole ward, "I am so happy to be in Tarlac, even though the transportation is really expensive. I also am happy to be Elder Hubbard's companion. He is really shy, so he told me to tell you that we could use more dinner appointments from the members." I said nothing of the sort, haha. The members loved it (it's not rude to say things like that here) and now we have about 38 dinner appointments. He's a character. I love him though. 

I love you guys. The gospel is true. I am out of time :S

Have a great week! 

Love Jared.      

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14, 2014 Holy Week

Dear Family,

First off...conference was great. I especially loved Elder Holland's talk. He is right...God is not just something we can create in our own image or change for our own convenience. Religion isn't just a nice group we belong to for an hour out of our day on Sunday that we spend going to church. It's a way of life. There are so many people that do not understand that. "Even if I don't go to church, I still pray in my house." "I keep God in my heart, even if I do work on Sundays." "God understands my situation...he won't mind if I don't follow this commandment." "All I have to do is believe and then I'm saved by grace." NO THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS.

Thank you so much Elder Holland for saying exactly what I've wanted to say every day of my mission since day one, haha. I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. His story about the sister missionaries at the beginning was hilarious too. Poor sisters. I've never experienced anything like that before, and I guess I'm lucky. 

This week is Holy Week! It is interesting here...they set up a whole bunch of little prayer booths everywhere with big speakers and people come and chant prayers all day and all night. I am so glad that there isn't one close to our house because I enjoy sleeping from the hours of 10:30 and 6:30. In a few days I'm sure there will be some beautiful parades and some not-so-beautiful parades (people whipping themselves or walking barefoot down the scorching hot road...I still don't get those ones).There was an amazing parade last year in my second area that portrayed Jesus's whole life in floats. It was probably 2 or 3 kilometers long. 

It was transfers last week...Elder Leduna left for his last area in the mission. My new companion is Elder Tsunoda. We were housemates in my second area. He's a convert from Cebu...he was baptized when he was eighteen and is the only member in his family. He's also half Japanese. He's a great missionary, I'm glad were companions. 

We were pretty busy this week with transfers and conference, but we had a few good days of work too. We were able to visit with the L. Family again. We got there barely before a huge rainstorm hit and ended up waiting for about an hour for the rain to stop so that we could teach (the rain is really loud on the tin roofs...you can't hear anything). So we played the sign game with them while we waited. Then we had an awesome lesson after the rain. I get annoyed sometimes when we aren't able to work, but at the same time I feel like it was a good opportunity to build relationship and trust with them. It turns out that the real concern is that Brother L. has a little bit of a Word of Wisdom problem. They aren't afraid to change religions because of their family. We taught them about family prayer and scripture study and how it can strengthen them as a family and help them get ready to be baptized. It was a really good lesson and Elder Leduna's last visit with them. They really loved Elder Leduna so I hope that they will continue progressing with Elder Tsunoda and I. 

I've really developed a testimony of family prayer and scripture study. It makes the difference for a family in the church. I like what Sister Reeves said in conference about family prayer and scripture study being a defense against evil in the home. We felt like dropping by the house of a member family the other day. The mom and one of the daughters are active but the dad has been struggling financially with finding a job and hasn't been coming to church along with three of the other kids. Both parents are RMs and very strong. We felt to share about prayer and scripture study as a family with them...and it was amazing to see this brother light up as we invited him with his wife to start doing those things again. It wasn't an immediate answer to his problem, but I know it will help him to find an answer and to become active again. We are going back to their house again to help them get back into the swing of Family Home Evening again. 

I've noticed that the strongest families in the ward are those who practice those two things. I've also seen the other side. There is a family that we visit - they were sealed in the temple - and now their whole family is inactive. They didn't do anything bad - the parents just stopped being focused on the church. They stopped doing the simple things that we need to do in order to keep evil out of our house. And now they have all sorts of problems. 

I should probably finish this email up. I love you guys! 

- Elder Hubbard 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 7, 2014

 Interviews in Dap-Dap. It was getting dark so I didn't get to take a really good picture of the mountains. This is probably the most beautiful area I've seen in my whole mission. 
 I took my companion to the temple :) haha. 
 Some funny kids...we are teaching the little girl's (I forgot her name) older sister, 
Jenna. The little boy's name is Manuel. They are the children of some less active members. Their grandma takes some of them to church with her every week.  
Blessings of living in the city. 

Dear Family,
This week was quite fantastic. It started out with a very stressful Monday full of reports but it just got better from there on. We had our Mission Leadership Council and the topic for this month is Grace…which I am super excited about. So many churches believe that grace is the way we are saved but don’t really understand that grace isn’t just an automatic guarantee to heaven, but the opportunity that God gave to us, his imperfect children, to go through the process to become exalted. It is also the enabling power of the atonement that strengthens us in this life. Great topic.
Our big focus is still on finding, so we did a lot of that this week. Our ward has been doing great with all of its goals for the year as far as baptisms are concerned. There has been at least two a month for the last 3 months and our goal is to do our part to keep the two a month thing going. We were a little bit worried about next month because we didn’t have many progressing investigators left, but the Lord opened up a lot of opportunities this week. Yesterday a couple of YSA age sisters asked if they could work with us, so we got a couple of Priesthood holders to work too so that they could come. We worked out in Aguso, which has a huge dried-up riverbed with tons of little ramshackle houses built alongside it. It is a really poor area but there are some amazing members that live out there. It all started with Brother Ombac, when he became active and received the priesthood. His wife and two of their siblings were baptized and now that area is just growing. We are teaching another one of his sisters, Charmaine, who is progressing really fast and is just awesome. We also had been given a referral in the same area who we’ve visited a few times…her name is Sister Anna. We are teaching her and her daughter Angenette. Sister Anna has been a member of a lot of religions and is very confused and questioning about them. Angenette is very very very shy. She hardly will say a word in the lessons. During our splits yesterday I guess one of the sisters who worked with Elder Leduna’s group over there was able to relate to them super well and they both opened up and accepted an invitation to be baptized!

That’s not all though…we’ve been teaching a family (the Landingin Family)…all of their children are members, but the parents haven’t been baptized yet. They have been taught for over two years now I think. We’ve been able to visit them a few times but nothing super great had happened until yesterday. They believe that the church is true and even have testimonies of the Book of Mormon, but their extended family that supports them is super against them being baptized. We have been thinking and praying for a long time about what we could share to help them strengthen their faith and make that next step, and we decided to share Mark 10 with them about the rich young ruler. We compared his choice with the choice of the apostles in following Christ and giving up everything and then read the promise in verses 29-30. The best part, though, was when one of the sisters who worked with us shared the experience that her family had when they had just joined the church. Their grandparents were completely against it and were very angry when they found out that this sister’s mother had been baptized. She testified and shared all of the blessings that her family has received through the Gospel and how, eventually, her grandparents accepted the fact that they had become members of the church. It was one of the best lessons I’ve been in. The mother and father accepted a baptismal date in May. I really hope and pray that they will be able to have the courage to take this step.

Sisters out there, you need to go on missions. I don't think either of those investigators would have opened up to us so fast if those sisters hadn't been there. You can do things that no Elder is capable of.

 We had an appointment yesterday also with a couple of younger guys from the Iglecia ni Cristo…one of them was a leader. I really admire the faith of many of the members there, but it is so hard for them to find faith to ASK GOD and expand the knowledge that they have. I feel like I am teaching Zoramites or Pharisees sometimes. They were really nice though. Two of them ended up leaving for Sunday Service, and we taught the third one, JR, for a while. The Iglecia denies the divinity of Christ, and we believe that it is one of the most important doctrines, so we decided to start off with teaching about the Godhead. We read Genesis 1:26 with him (notice the ‘us’) and compared it with Hebrews 1:2 and some verses about Christ in Col 1. We have another appointment this week…I am a little nervous though because I am 95% sure that one of their ministers will be there. I would rather not get pulled into a debate. On the other hand, it could be a really great teaching opportunity. I guess we’ll see.

Something funny this week…little kids. Little kids are always funny here, and there are tons in Tarlac because there are tons of people. Parents use scare tactics a lot here to control their kids, so it isn’t uncommon to hear things like, “Stop crying, or I’ll give you to the Mormon’s,” or, “That white guy is a doctor. He’ll take you with him if you don’t quiet down.” As a result, most little kids who aren’t members are terrified of us. Some other funny ones, “Go get on your pants (little boys hate wearing pants for some reason here) or the Elder’s will get out their scissors,” 
 “Mumu iyan! (That’s a ghost…referring to me and my whiteness)” Also, almost all babies here are scared of me. I don’t know why. I’ll just look at them and they’ll start screaming. It’s hilarious.

That’s about all I have time for this week. I love you guys!  The church is true!

-   Elder Hubbard.  

March 31, 2014

Dear Family, 

It was great to get your emails today. Sister Missionaries, gardens, birthdays, Elder Hatch's homecoming...sounds like an exciting week!

Dad, I have slowly developed a fondness for gardening here. I have a 'malamig na kamay' (cold hand....it's like the Tagalog for 'green thumb') I planted a bunch of tomatoes and hot peppers back in Angeles but they got eaten by worms. I planted some more here in Tarlac. We're definitely going to garden it up after my mission. 

This week has been great but super stressful. We had a last minute interview on friday out in Dapdap (the middle of the mountains far away from everything) and a temple trip on Saturday! Several returned less-actives in the ward took out their endowments and we got permission to go with the ward and sit in on their session. We also got to see an older couple get sealed. It was amazing. The Manila temple is beautiful, and there was a special spirit in the session as these wonderful members made their temple covenants. I had the opportunity to be the escort of a brother who is getting ready for his mission. He came to the temple all by himself to get his endowment. As I helped him through the session it made me think of the first time that I went through the temple...being really nervous and just soaking in the spirit at the same time. It was a good experience for me. 

We didn't have too much happen this week (we spent a few days in other areas and 1 at the temple). We are teaching a girl named Jenna right now who is around Jianna's age and she is crazy smart. Her mom is a less active member and her uncle takes her to church every week. It just amazes me how humble and spiritual the youth here are. They learn 600x faster than most of the adults. It is very clear that the Lord is preparing them to be strong leaders here someday. The youth that go on splits with us on Sundays amaze me. Some of them come from homes where only one of their parents is active or a member (almost always the mom). One of them used to be a Muslim but when his Mom heard the gospel and felt the truth of it, she had the courage to be baptized and bring her children into the gospel with her. Their dad was also baptized but now has gone less active and the mom basically takes care of all of them. Another youth that works with us comes from a family of 9 siblings. Their father is always drunk, and their mom balances several jobs in order to support the kids. She is currently learning English so that she can apply at a call center. Her son works with us almost every day.

There are so many strong members here, but I am especially touched by the examples of the sisters and the youth. They go through so much but have never questioned their testimonies. 

Did you like the spider photo? We have TONS of them in our house. I had a lot in my first area too. They don't bother me so much now though. They run super fast and can get as big as your hand but they don't bite. I think cockroaches are still more gross. I guess there didn't used to be spiders in our house but Elder OIsen told me that back when he lived there they saw a really big one and smashed it, and that it was carrying thousands of babies that ran all over the house. Ever since then, he said there's always been tons of spiders. 

It's a good time. 

Anyways, I love you guys. The church is true.

 :) Jared.