Monday, March 24, 2014

Darkness and Light

Dear All!

Well, just like that it’s been another week! It’s been an incredible one, moments of real darkness and moments of pure light. Let’s start at the top! Tuesday was kind of rough. We met the Layug Family’s neighbor, a faith healer who is blind and knew a lot about Joseph Smith but says she’s never met with the missionaries…I don’t know, I felt like I wasn’t fully prepared for that day, and that ultimately it slipped through our fingers and we didn’t work as hard as we could have.
 Wednesday the work was absolutely awesome! We taught one recent convert, Jessica, at the Plaza again, where we had tons of OYMs, so that was really fun. We were able to teach 8 lessons, and they went really good. It was such a good day until the evening. Me and my comp got into an argument of sorts about just the stupidest things…we were in our room until 11 at night, and then we ate dinner and went to bed. In the morning we both had humbled ourselves a bit and it was all good. We taught Maria and then her husband/live in Roldan, and they’re either going to get separated or married soon here, and she keeps saying hopefully before I transfer out in May.
Later that afternoon Sonny Layug told us that he had encountered Joseph Smith and polygamy on the internet…of course, the week of his baptism. We talked about it for a while there, but it ultimately came down to if he had prayed to know the truth. He said he had, and he had prayed the night before to know what to do and he felt he should go through with his baptism. We bore witness that that was of God, and he was a bit more at peace about things. We had a few more lessons, but right before we went home we ran into Brother Jericho, a 14 year old less active. He’s a bakla. I don’t know if I’ve said much about baklas yet. It literally means gay, but not in the way we think of it back home. If you’re gay here, you often change your name (he hasn’t, but many do), grow your hair out like a girl, and dress like a really skanky girl, short shorts, low cut shirts, makeup…the whole nine yards. Anyways, we taught him and his other bakla friend right there on the path. He says he’s willing to change and come back, just “step by step.” 
Friday…oh man. Friday we taught this recent convert who is also less active tatay, and he’s just been giving excuse after excuse, and basically I just didn’t take it anymore. I bore down straight, not sugarcoated doctrine, and it pierced him, I saw it in his eyes. I feel like I was a bit harsh, but he didn’t give any more excuses. Later we got Arianne ready for her baptismal interview on Sunday.
That night, I had a life changing moment. In the ghetto of our area, we stopped this one lady who told us about her daughter. This daughter was with her, but had gone ahead. This daughter has diabetes and cancer, and a crippling infection in her left foot. We ended up catching up with this girl, who was using a stick to hobble along with. Her foot was wrapped in dirty bandages. I asked her name, and she replied Mina Castro. She said she was 24, but she looked and sounded 13. Her left eye was fogged over. We asked if we could share a message of hope that could help her sometime, and she said she didn’t know, as she’s at the market with her mom every day. We gave her a pamphlet, and I walked away and just cried. I had to sit down on a little bamboo bench and I bawled. It was the single saddest thing I’ve ever seen. I was really shaken up. How can I ever complain about anything? How could anything possibly be hard for me in this life? I vowed there never to complain again…My spirits were really down, I was just so sorrowful for this one precious daughter of God who has been dealt an extremely unfair hand in this life. We later found out that they don’t have any transportation to the market, so they just walk the kilometer or so twice a day 7 days a week. Me and Elder Antoni cried a lot that night.
But the ultimate tender mercy came the next day when Sonny and Wilma Layug were baptized. It was a beautiful service, and it was a great reminder that while darkness is definitely real, so is light, and it’s our privilege as missionaries to help others receive this light in their lives. 
Baptism of Sonny and Wilma Layug
On Sunday they were confirmed, and Arianne passed her interview, so her baptism is next Saturday, which is perfect, because she’s going to the Mountain Province for summer break for two months, so if she was going to be baptized it’s now or never! It was awesome to see God’s plan for her come together. 
On Sunday afternoon Sonny worked with us, which was awesome, as he multiple times opened his mouth to testify, and the Holy Ghost justified his words. The gift of the Holy Ghost is real; I saw it in Brother Sonny yesterday. He told me he just had the words come to him and he felt like he needed to say them. It was awesome, and that was a great highlight to end my week on.
Sonny goes out with them to teach and testify

Darkness is real, suffering and sorrow are real, but they aren’t permanent. All that is unfair and unjust will ultimately be made right by Jesus Christ. He is the light, and I saw the Light triumph over darkness this week.
--Elder Christensen
Brandon w/ an investigator's baby
Sonny and Wilma Layug get baptized
All the convert baptisms that day
A spider eats a cockroach on his bathroom floor

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