Monday, October 13, 2014

A sobering week and a request for prayers

***Brandon has been writing his update in his journal, during the week, so it is written usually in 2-3 entries.  It is very apparent in this particular update, so I just wanted to let you know that that is how it is, so it makes more sense***

So! Monday was good.  We cleaned this super definitely haunted hospital.  We all probably contracted various forms of cancer, but we had fun serving as a zone and with members!  We came home, showered and emailed.  Afterwards, I made lasagna!  Well, the mix Mom sent me anyways.  We joined in President Go’s family’s Family Home Evening, where we got to further build our relationship with our District President and his family.  Good fun, great people!  Tuesday morning we visited the referral of Angie, the branch president’s wife, and she was super nice and she’s got tons of potential because of her incredible fellowshipper.  I also met a man from Palestina, San Jose City!  I got so excited!  It was like running into someone from Lindon!  The rest of Tuesday was good…

I’m sorry; I’m not going to finish that entry.  So much has happened.  We found out that our sister committed to be baptized needs to have her interview pushed to the 18th.  Wednesday we thought of the solution to Nancy's problem.  Elder Choresca suggested that she wash our clothes and we pay her so she can have money for her marriage papers.  After we taught her and told her the good news, President Mamaradlo (our branch president) and Sister Angie got home.  
President & Sister Mamaradlo & son
President Mamaradlo was excited to hear the news and I shook his hand and he gave me that big ear-to-ear grin he always has, just like normal.

I’m sorry; no other happenings seem so significant now.  Wednesday night I dreamed that something happened to President Mamaradlo.  His countenance and demeanor had changed.  He looked tired, almost drunk actually.  Anyway, in my dream it was apparent that he could no longer serve as branch president, so we were looking for another.  Then I woke up at about 5:50 am and the phone immediately rang.  I picked it up.
“Hello, this is Elder Christensen”, I said.
“Elder?  This is Sister Angie.”
“Yes, How ---”
“Elder, President is dead.” And hysterical sobs follow.  I was dead silent.  I couldn’t speak.  I certainly couldn’t speak Tagalog.
I say, “Oh my gosh, I’m so, so----“
“Elder, I need your help!!!”
“OK, we’re coming.”
I prayed, woke the others and told them what happened, and then we headed over.  I guess that the lyric is true: “We’re all just one phone call from our knees.”  On the way I was hoping that it was all some kind of sick joke, because I just couldn’t believe it.  President was so young, healthy and active.  It just seemed so wrong.  But when we got there, there he was on the floor, and Angie was not leaving his side.  He had a stroke at about 1:30 in the morning that killed him in a manner of seconds.  That was one of the one the saddest mornings of my life.  He is only 34, has 4 kids (11, 8, 4 and 1) and he was the nicest, most optimistic man I knew.  He literally was always smiling. He worked so hard and sacrificed so much for his family and the church here.  

I cried SO much on Thursday.  We were at their house most of the morning, mourning with our brothers and sisters. 
The members asked us to dress his body after the embalming, which was to take place in the neighboring town, so we had emergency exchanges where Elder Hedman came here and I went with Elder Purca there.  We waited for a while at the mortuary then they let us dress him.  You know, I didn’t have a good use for my white long sleeve shirt here in the Philippines, so I was happy to provide a white shirt and tie for him.  As we dressed him, I kept it together until I had to button up his sleeves.  I lost it.  That’s what I used to do for my Dad on Sundays back home.  It was so sad.  That whole day was so hard.  Usually smiling is something that comes natural for me, but I had a hard time smiling that day.  While I was working with Elder Purca, all I could think about was the Mamaradlo family.  I kept thinking of Angie talking to his body earlier that morning, how they were so happy the day before, and how many plans they still had, and how she kept telling her kids to wake him up….. I had the thought a couple of weeks ago that I’d never seen Sister Angie sad.  Well, Thursday she was a different person.  I called President Clark that night for guidance, which helped.  On Friday we taught close to the Mamaradlo’s house, and we even had a couple of relatives approach us, wanting to be taught.  In the evening Elder and Sister Lund came, then we put the temple robes on President. 

Saturday was finally a chance to smile as we enjoyed conference AND my companion’s birthday!  We ate at Costa Pacifica in between sessions, and the zone wrote him little birthday notes.  General Conference was SO AMAZING, but went by so fast.  I’m not going to try and pick a favorite.  In the evening the Habala family fed us dinner for my companion’s birthday.  Then we went back to the Mamaradlo’s to sing hymns with the members.  The Mamaradlos and the branch are our top priority right now.  And the support from the members has been phenomenal.  Sunday was good, but with everything going on, we only had one investigator come to conference.  After conference, we taught our investigators close to the Mamaradlos’ again.  We did set a date with Nancy, because finally, her papers, marriage and baptism seem to be in reach.  And it’s worked out perfectly, as she’ll wash our clothes for the meantime, as Angie (who was washing them before) is not exactly available now. 
Angie is doing better, thank goodness.  She’s not crying all the time now, and she seems a lot like her old self.  But of course, not as many smiles.  Just keep them in your prayers.  Please pray for them.  They need all the help they can get.  They never had a whole lot before, and now… Just pray for them.

This week was a sobering week.  You know, I never told President Mamaradlo that I loved him.  I guess that lyric is right, “If you love somebody, better tell them while they’re here, ‘cuz they might just run away from you.”  John 13:34, Alma 40:12, Moroni 9:25, Moroni 7:41

With little Walog Mamaradlo
-Elder Christensen
The Maria Branch after General Conference
Birthday lunch for Elder Anasario at Costa Pacifica
Eating the most beautiful burger ever at Costa Pacifica

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