What a week it has been! Tuesday I went on exchanges with an elder from my batch, Elder Rebelde. We had a great time together! That day I had a cool moment where, while teaching a recent convert, we shared Alma 34:32-33. That scripture hit me in a new way. We don’t have to wait to repent! We don’t have to be stuck in a state where all we can do is wallow in regret and shame! We can change NOW! And that’s why I’m out here! To share that awesome message! It fueled my desire to talk with everyone I met the whole week!
Lots of our investigators are progressing and building testimonies, but not coming to church. This week is conference for us, so hopefully we can get some more people to listen to a prophet of the Lord in their own language!
On Thursday I got really frustrated with the language during companionship study. Elder Lungay and I have been trying to speak more Tagalog, as that seems to be the trick to learning faster: speak the language all the time, especially with your companion. Anyways, he really helped me that morning. He said, “You can’t learn everything all at once.” And he’s right. All I can do is just keep going! So I did! And on Saturday, I really felt like I was able to speak the best Tagalog I had so far.
But on Friday, the Assistants stayed with us because they went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. Super fun! We had a service project with them where we cleaned and help prepare a member's new apartment, which was super fun! I got to know the assistants a lot better, and one of them is the trainer of my trainer’s trainer! Or my great grand-father! That’s pretty cool!
Saturday I had another insight that was pretty cool. While sharing 2 Nephi 2:11, I realized how no one can truly know the blessings of obedience without knowing the sorrows of sin. Paul even touched on that, saying the sorrow of sin leads men to repent. So not only is sin an unavoidable part of life, it is a necessary step for us to come closer to Christ in the great plan of redemption. If we never turn away from Christ, we will never know what it is like to come unto Him. Thus, there must be opposition in all things! Kinda cool!
We taught a lesson to the Valiente family, the family I talked about last week where the mom wanted to become worthy to return to Father. And man, that was the most spiritual lesson of my mission! The spirit improves my speech a lot too. I put together sentences that I had never tried before in that lesson, and they were correct (according to my companion). I am better able to discern when those we teach have concerns or questions when the spirit is strong. The spirit is everything! They accepted an invitation to be baptized!
Church was good, but many people we have been teaching didn’t come this week, which was a bit discouraging, but we were able to make some progress with one certain investigator later on that day. Usually she has a hard time staying focused and remembering what we teach, but she was much better yesterday!
This morning we went to Milka Krem, which is this super awesome dairy/café where everything is made with Carabao milk. It was soooo good!
*Note: Carabao is a swamp type domestic water buffalo found in the Philippines. Milka Crem is at the Philippine Caraboa Center (PCC), which operates to conserve, propagate and promote the carabao or native buffalo as a source of milk and meat as well as draft animal power and hide to benefit the rural farmers.
And that brings us to now.
To close, I wanted to make a list of things that I have done in the Philippines so far that I would not have done back home: Ride on the back of a motorcycle side saddle. Eat quail (like it was prepared and cooked, but when they handed it to me it still had the head and wings and legs and everything!). Eat pork fried in boiled pigs blood. Eat WAY more coconut than I used to. Shower using a bucket. Walk until I start falling apart, yet love every minute. Share my testimony every day. Bring souls to Christ. Be an instrument in the Lord’s hands.
I love you all, this work is so important, and I know this is the Lord’s Kingdom. Remember, if you believe that this church is just another church, that’s all it will ever be for you. But if you have the faith that we hold the power that split the Red Sea, makes the blind see and the lame walk, then you might begin to understand the “Visions and Blessings” of this dispensation. Miracles happen. Visions are real. Revelation is received. Angels visit the earth, and Christ will too.
I thought I'd add some questions and answers from my emails from Brandon! Here are a few:
1. How was your week?
My week was super good actually! We taught the most lessons (I think) and had the most OYMs in one week than I have in any other week of my mission! Way fun week, I had lots of cool spiritual insights as well!
2. What are your mission’s rules about what is required before a person can be baptized? Do they have to go to church a certain number of weeks, etc.?
That's a good question! We would baptize MUCH more if we didn't have these requirements, but then we would probably have that many more less actives. OK- so 4 Sundays of church attendance, and you can't miss twice in a row (unless a valid reason). Next is 4 consecutive weeks of living the Word of Wisdom. And of course, all the baptismal interview questions found in PMG. Reading the Book of Mormon, all that jazz!
3. How are things with your companion? What's he like? Do you work well together? Do you have fun together?
Where do I even begin! We are great! I love him to death. We only have about two weeks left together. I'm sad this will come to an end. We've done good work together. What is he like...He's a bit like Anna actually! But always, I mean always happy! I've never heard him get sad about anything. Sure there are times when he isn't as happy as other times, but for the most part he's just enthusiam, which has really helped me. We work great together. We have a system working right now where I lead the lessons, introduce the general points and topics, offer what insights and ramifications I can, then he goes even deeper because, well, he speaks better Tagalog than I do! And Mom, we laugh all the time! Pretty much in between every lesson after we talk about how the lesson went we just talk and laugh and have good times. I was talking to Elder Owen (ZL & housemate) last night, and I said that even though I know there are many miracles and great times ahead in my mission, I don't know if I will have a better situation than I have right now. I'm just trying to take in every moment!