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,


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 20, 2014

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


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.

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. 


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.