Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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.      

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