Monday, December 29, 2014

Feeling peace from the Lord and spreading Christmas cheer

Silliness at Christmas conference!
3 generations!
Well, this week has been all over the place!  Monday was alright.  We had a couple of unplanned teaching opportunities so that was fun!  We also had a really good lesson with the Solis family.  They still have solid testimonies but they’re struggling still.  Tuesday was Christmas Conference and it was SO fun!  They went all out and it was a lot of fun and really got  us in the Christmas spirit! It was so fun! They had different stations we did, like Mr. Krugers Christmas, cookie decorating, photo shoot, Christmas jeopardy, and then we had a musical nativity where Elder Armatage and Sister Dally read the Christmas story and various quotes from prophets and then different zones in turn would sing various songs. It was really cool. At the end, we sang I Know that my Redeemer Lives, and I finally felt the biggest peace that the Lord accepts our offering, because we're giving our heart to this work, and I know that He has accepted it. It was unexpected, but beautiful. 

 After the conference, we were able to teach April about the Book of Mormon.  I really hope she reads it!  We taught a couple other lessons but there wasn’t a ton of time after Christmas conference.  Wednesday we were only able to teach one lesson in the morning, then in the afternoon there was an interview fiasco where we were in the Kalikid elders’ area forever, and didn’t get back until 5:00 pm, and we had to be in our apartment by 6:00 pm.  So we just did visits to our investigators as we were punted from our appointment.  We had a fantastic Christmas Eve dinner because we actually had time to cook for once!

Christmas Eve dinner with the kabahays!
 The rest of the evening I spent organizing and preparing the AMAZING GIFTS my mom sent to give away to the various friends, investigators, active and less active members and recent converts here.  Seriously, she must have put in a ton of work!  So thanks a million, Mom! 
Christmas gift bags sent to the Philippines that Elders C & P gave out

Christmas morning was AWESOME!  We all opened presents and enjoyed the stockings Mom sent.  (Thanks!) Oh! And big thanks to Aunt Michelle!  The fudge and brittle are AWESOME!  I also got Mountain Dew from Elder Tufele, new sheets from my companion, Oreos and a Spiderman coloring book from Elder Westover and an awesome tie AND certificate for a new suit from my folks back home, NICE!  After personal and companionship study, I skyped!  LOVED IT!  Apparently my cat is fat now, we have a hot tub and Dad can still dunk!  It was good to talk with my “biggest fans”!  And next time I do that, I will only have 3 WEEKS LEFT.  Crazy.
Kabahays with their stockings!
Christmas Skype with the fam!

And then Christmas got really fun!  We got to play Santa and deliver presents, and we taught a few lessons, of course!  And yes, I made a list and checked it much more than twice.
Making a list and checking it twice!
 I was able to give out ALL of the gift bags! All send a huge thanks to you, Mom.  Your love has once again reached the Philippines! Some highlights of the day:  getting fed three full meals throughout the course of the day (Elder Palabrica was about to puke.  He told me so and I just said, “You can do it!  I’ll pray for you!”  That was a blessing and we didn’t have enough room to receive it!  We also were able to help Noli, who wasn’t feeling well, and we gave him a blessing.  Biggest highlight of Christmas:  We went to the Planco family and they’re just inside watching TV.  No yummy food, no Christmas lights, no presents.  Brother Planco was all like “Just as long as your family is safe and healthy, that’s a good enough Christmas.  We were like, “OK, time to spread some Christmas cheer!”  We taught from Luke 2 and just got them all excited about the miracle of Christmas.  You could just see their faces light up as we kept going.  And after the closing prayer, we gave them all presents, even Brother Jonathan, and he was surprised.  They were so excited, I just loved it!
Elder C and Elder Palibrica ready to play Santa!

And then the 26th came, BOOM pains.  I had a rough night of sleep then I woke up with a sore throat and a headache.  After weekly planning I just crashed.  Oh, in weekly planning we discovered we’re down to 7 investigators, only one of which is progressing but even she hasn’t committed to come to church yet.  SO, we’re going to start doing some new things, like church movie nights where members invite their friends, church tours, and starting English class, so that should be fun!  But yeah, currently I’m not feeling good.  You know, towards the first half of my mission I was always dying to have a break, a rest.  Now, it just bugs me so bad!  I’ve got people to find!  And people I love to visit and help.  But whatever, I have my orders from Sister Clark, and I need to be more patient.

So on Saturday I still wasn't feeling well. I couldn't get a hold of Sister Clark, so I just prayed to know whether to work or rest, and I surprisingly felt that I needed to rest, so I did. And then Sunday came around, and we had a couple of miracles at church! Jeffery, a less active 17 year old we've started working with came to church! And now he comes with us to appointments sometimes! And Sister Baby, the mother of our recent convert Dustin, came to church! She's been less active for so long and would just always tell us there was a reason she wasn't coming to church but she wouldn't tell us. Well, she still hasn't told us, but she came to church so that is a huge step in the right direction! Then in the afternoon, neither me or Elder Palabrica were feeling very well, but we needed to get some work done. But man, that was rough, we taught some lessons, but basically the remainder of our investigators basically told us they want to listen to the words of God, but they aren't willing to act or to be baptized. We asked one if when she received a personal witness that this is God's plan for her if she would be baptized [I am so sorry I cannot form a clear English sentence anymore], and she wouldn't reply. She told us she was not going to get baptized. She asked us why we keep coming back if she's not going to get baptized, and that was an inspired question. It was because she was keeping other commitments like reading, but she's not even doing that anymore...AHHH! So yeah. Oh, and with the Solis Family, on Saturday night JR was driving home on his motorcycle and fell asleep while driving and got in a wreck and broke his femur. We visited him at the hospital today, and he's in good spirits, but he has to have it set later on today...yikes. We're praying for him.

So, after all that has happened in our area, and after the fact of working in this area for 7 weeks and not having any progressing investigators at this point, we've decided to start pulling out of this area and focus in a different part of our area. The new part we're going to go to is called Atate, and we have a few referrals there, and we feel good about going there. It's going to be a little like opening an area, again, but our efforts right now are just not fruitful. I feel like this area we've been working in has a lot of potential, but maybe it's just not the right timing, like Middoni in Alma 20, but one day I know many more baptisms will come there. But for now, we're going to try something else. Last night my companion was having a hard time, so I shared my favorite chapter with him, John 15. If the world hated Jesus, they're most likely going to hate me and my companion a lot more, but that does not make me, my companion, or Jesus failures. It just means we have to dig a little deeper, and find those who will not harden their hearts when they hear the Lord's restored gospel. No unhallowed hand can stop the work. I had the thought pass through my head earlier this week, if I would be ok if I didn't have another baptism before I went home. I thought about it for a while, and that would be ok, as long as I do all I can to fulfill Christ's commission to "go and bring forth fruit, and that (my) fruit should remain." But I know that there are many more souls out there. We're not lowering our expectations, if anything we're holding on to hope more than ever that great things are ahead of us.

Love you all, take care!
--Elder Christensen
Christmas Conference w/ Elder C's side  of the mission
Sporting Christmas pjs from Gma Christensen

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

We are not alone in this work

Wow!  So time’s not slowing down at all!  Monday evening we went out and visited a referral of a member that lives pretty far away, and they were nice enough!  They’re this couple who have a lot of teenage sons, but they weren’t around.  Apparently the people this member wanted us to meet really bad was their daughter and her husband, who turned out to be a Methodist preacher.  But he accepted a baptismal goal date back before the old missionaries got pulled out.  But they weren’t home either…but these members, the Bulacans, ended up feeding us dinner!
Tuesday we were excited and ready for the work again!  We met and taught a lesbian woman named D in the morning...that was  interesting.  We taught Michael and Mariel the law of chastity, which they currently aren’t living because they aren’t married.  Then while we were teaching Marlon, my head just started aching super bad.  We taught Mia, who had tons of questions about the apostasy and gaining a testimony.  We read Alma 5:45-46 and left Alma 32 as a reading assignment.  I hope that helps!  We taught April and her grandma, but the environment wasn’t super great for teaching, so we didn’t finish teaching them.  We taught the Llamas boys lastly, and I was kind of out of it.  Sleep was much appreciated that night!
Wednesday morning we had district meeting and transfer announcements!  My house (Elders Westover, Tufele and Palabrica) are all the same!  Elder Armatage is going to train AGAIN, which means we get one more transfer together as zone mates!  Two district members are transferring, Elder Gallego and Sister Acosta, so those will be replaced by two new faces in my district!  And that’s all I have to say about that!  Wednesday afternoon we had a way cool new investigator, but she and her family are going out of town until after New Year’s.  We didn’t have anywhere to go at one point, so we started talking to this teenage kid and it turns out that he is a long lost member!  We taught him right there on the side of the road.  I hope it helped.  Thursday we had a really good lesson with Maricel and Lyn, who are starting to progress a little bit!  We taught April the rest of Lesson 1 and we taught Mia the Word of Wisdom.  She had great objections with the no coffee part.  We asked her if she could stop the coffee and she said no, then asked again why it is bawal (forbidden).  We told her again that God said it wasn’t good for us and we need to trust him.  That wasn’t flying.  So we then explained that it’s addictive and she protested against that as well.  Then we just used logic: it it’s not addictive, just stop it and prove to us that you’re not addicted.  Then she started to see. 
Friday we visited some new investigators and one of them, Novilyn, is so golden!  But, she’s moving to another province on the 27th L.  We’ll refer her!  We also went by a member’s house that texted us because he was fuming mad at another member.  We listened for a while and shared Ephesians 4:31-32, and let him know that we are always here to help.  And it was the branch Christmas party that afternoon! 
Palayan Elders at the branch Christmas party!
Palayan Branch Christmas Party
Bien's mom doing kareoke!
And so many less actives came!  We had the children of some of our investigators come and Dahlia, Bien’s mom, came!  She had stopped listening to us these past few weeks;, but she really opened up at the party.  Heck- she belted out some karaoke! 
Big success.  We taught Dustin and the crew.  As Dustin’s been doing this scripture study every day, you can really see his growth.  He’s started asking great questions like, “Who’s Heavenly Father’s dad?”  Friday was also the day that a little red bump started to form next to my right eye.
Saturday was a good, solid day working in the vineyard.  We shared the Book of Mormon with Novilyn Gose and her family.  In the afternoon we taught Bien, then we taught Maricel and a couple of her in-laws who were rather receptive!  We had a great lesson with Mia!  She said in her praying to know that she’s felt a small change.  We talked for a while and what it comes down to is that she believes our message is true and that she needs to be baptized, but she hasn’t had that desire yet.  We taught a couple of less actives, then went home.  And that night I was starting to feel a bit irritable and exhausted.  Well, Sunday morning I woke up just not feeling good and that little red bump next to the side of my eye?  Not so little anymore.  It was kind of swollen and it hurt pretty badly.  At church I was not so hot either, then they asked me to teach the youth because the teacher didn’t show up.  I tried, but I just was really not feeling good.  I eventually went home.  I called Sister Clark and she told me to rest.  We had some appointments we needed to get to, so we went to those and then came home early.  I just rested and whatnot, but man, I just was not in a good mood.
This morning (P day) my eye is HUGE!  I’m feeling a bit better and I’m in a better mood, but my eye is almost swollen shut!  But it’ll get better. 
Painful, swollen eye :(
And as far as spiritual insights go this week, I had one thought.  Especially in this area I’ve always been praying for guidance and revelation as to what we need to do to break this area open, but it has never come.  BUT what has come has been very clear inspiration in making our lesson plans for our investigators, and the result has been incredible lessons where the spirit is super strong.  God always gives us direction, just maybe not the direction we expect.  We’re not alone in this work.  He’s working with us every step of the way!
Love you all!  Merry Christmas!

Elder Christensen

Monday, December 15, 2014

Miracles with some less active members!

Dear All-

Well, Monday started out with a miracle!  We had 3 appointments and two back-ups, and we were rejected from all of them in the space of a half hour.  Not really knowing what else to do, we went to the Planco family to ask if they knew any other less actives we could visit.  And in the Planco family all the kids are active, but the mom works overseas and the dad, Jonathan, is inactive.  We got there and it was just the right timing that Jonathan was coming home from work (he’s like never around).  We asked if we could share with him and his family.  He hastily said no, but if we wanted to share with his kids he was ok with that.  As he started to go inside, I asked when the last time he listened to the missionaries was.  He said he hadn’t since he stopped coming to church.  I asked him when that was.  He said that had been a long time ago.  Then (this is why I love my companion), Elder Palabrica pipes up and asks “Why?”  Boom.  He opened up like a book. We stood in his doorway for forty minutes listening to how he was wronged and offended.  He talked about old callings and how the Church “should” be.  I noticed that he had a lot of knowledge and ability and that he really could be a great leader here.  He started to soften and we eventually started talking about scripture study, which he hadn’t done in 6 months.  Eventually he said, “Well, I guess we should have you guys share a message.  Kids, grab my triple.”  Miracle.  As we shared a simple verse, his whole demeanor changed.  He was happy, smiling and laughing with his kids.  The spirit was there.  It was beautiful and it would never have happened if we weren’t rejected by 5 people earlier!

Tuesday was good.  We met and taught a man named Marlon who was really receptive.  His big question is, “Which?”  We’ve got answers!  WE also were able to visit with Mia, who committed to come to church, and the Solis family again.  I love them!  Wednesday was awesome as President Clark came and spoke to our zone.  He talked about how it was ok if we weren’t going to get 4 baptisms in our area by the end of the year.  He said not to worry about it and just to enjoy this great time to be a missionary and to pray that as a mission we’ll still reach our goal of 1650 baptisms this year.  The rest of that day was awesome!  Even though we got rejected a bit, and we saw Roby, not so discretely, run and hide from us.  It was all good!  We were trying hard and that’s what matters!
Thursday we had the trainers/trainees meeting, which was super good!  I was so happy to have Elder Palabrica as my companion! 
McDonalds after trainers/trainees meeting
Afterwards we went on exchanges with the elders in Kalikid, as they had an interview.  I worked with Elder Gallego, which was good!  We were a bit rejected at times, but it was good all the same!  Friday…I don’t know, I just had a dream about my parents coming to pick me up and I just woke up feeling homesick.  I couldn’t focus and it was hard to shake it.  The work was alright.  We taught Michael/Mariel’s cousin there, who listened to our message and accepted a baptismal invitation!  Cool!  We were able to teach Grace again, and she committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  It was funny, we didn’t teach anyone on our daily plan—pure back-up plans!  But that’s why you have those!

Saturday was interesting.  We were asked to speak at a baptism here in the branch, so we helped out with that in the morning. In the afternoon we just were super rejected, pretty much everywhere we went. It's hard, because we make these plans that we think are good, and then we always end up scratching our heads at some point thinking what's next. Also, the family next door had their mom pass away (active members), and that was really hard for them, and the funeral service was on Saturday so we went to that. Afterwards we taught our favorite family, the Solis family, but they are still just not living the word of wisdom, and not trying to hard quite frankly (we visited with Brother Solis on Sunday and he was drinking, AGH I HATE ALCOHOL!), so that was kind of a tough visit. Then I made a mistake that night, in that I made my companion lead the nightly planning (which is a part of the training program), but I just kind of said “You do it”, kind of like throwing a kid into the deep end without knowing how to swim. Well, he did NOT react well to that. He was upset with me pretty much all Sunday, but I was able to apologize last night and we talked it out a bit, but I still feel like we're not as good as we were before. I need to rebuild some bridges. 

Only one investigator, Mariel, came to church, but a miracle happened in that her less active husband who hasn't been to church in years, as far as I understand it, came! White shirt and tie and everything! He's still working on the word of wisdom problem, but that was a HUGE step for him! So happy there. The highlights of the day was teaching our investigator Mia, who finally accepted a baptismal date for January 31, once she's received a more sure answer and she's "Really ready." Also, we're teaching this 11 year old recent convert of the past missionaries, and to get him to pray and read every day, we promised if he would do it for a week we would take him to get a snack and a soda. Well, news travels fast, and now we teach five 10-13 year old members who have organized their own scripture study class every day!  So cool! I was inspired by the faith of these youth. 

This morning we went to Dingalan, the farthest area in this zone for a zone activity, at the beach! It was like going back to Baler for a little bit! And I got to sit on the beach and talk with Elder Armatage for a long time. I love that guy.  He seriously is my best friend, and he really helps me out a lot!
Elder C. with his anak,, Elder Palabrica
Beautiful rainbow at the beaach in Dingalan
Elder C and Elder Armatage
And that’s all for this week folks!

Mini Christmas tree in package from home
As far as scriptures go, this is what I'm hanging on to! 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 17-18 "...for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

I love you all, and let us catch the real spirit of the season this Christmas!

--Elder Christensen

Mosquito net sent in package from awesome Aunt Jean!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Plant, preach, work hard and invite

Hello once again!

So Monday was interesting.  We went to Cabanatuan for P-Day, to withdraw our support, then we emailed, ate at an all-you-can-rice place, then got some shopping done.  We also found out what our investigators need to do to get married so they can get baptized, which is good too!  We didn’t get done everything we needed to.  Next time we’ll plan better for sure!  In the evening we went and taught some members and got 2 referrals!  Sweet!  We then went and taught the Solis family.  JR was feeling a bit down, I think because he is struggling with the Word of Wisdom.  We encouraged him and told him he was doing good!  We had a good lesson AND got a referral from them, too!  Then Tuesday came.  In the morning we went to a far out area to track down a media referral, the first one of those on my mission aaaand it turned out to be a member.  Darn.  Oh well.  My companion and I had a good laugh about how “prepared” she was.  In the afternoon we went door to door.  That was good for just about nothing.  Everyone rejected us, and most were not kind about it.  The nicest one was a Diyakano from Iglesia ni Cristo, but he graciously told us he couldn’t listen.  We eventually taught an old Methodist grandma, and she said she would listen, but she wasn’t seriously looking to find out if this was the true church to join.  Dang.  We went to Mariel, our golden investigator who is not married, and basically it’s gonna take a whole lot of time, effort and money to get them married, so we were a bit bewildered.  We taught Jared, but he wasn’t into the lesson.  The Ruiz family told us not to come back.  They were nice about it, but that didn’t help much.  We taught Mia, who always has a lot of questions.  We then taught Roby, who is really not progressing.  We gave her a reading assignment and if she doesn’t do it, I don’t think we can teach her anymore.  When we got back to the apartment we were pretty discouraged. 

That night and Wednesday morning, I was praying really hard to know where to go and what to do to find these people who will be baptized this year, but I wasn’t getting any answers.  I wasn’t feeling anything really and that was discouraging.  I felt like I no longer had a right to personal revelation.  Then the spirit finally spoke to me and it was something along the lines of, “How can you expect an answer from God when you have such weak faith?”  And it was true, my faith was wavering.  I re-read James 1:5-6, as well as a whole lot of other scriptures about how God is a God of power and miracles but he works according to the faith his children.  I did that until my faith and the spirit returned, then it was on.  In the afternoon we taught two sisters, Jasmine and Jenin, who accepted baptismal dates for the 31st.  BOOM.  We taught Mariel again, then Bien, and now his little brother wants to listen to us, too!  We then taught one of those referrals, who is a less active/part-member family and they’re super nice!  Joshua and John Lloyd Sabido are their names.  We also contacted our other referral, and set an appointment for Thursday evening.  We then met up with Elder Westover, because Elder Tufele is in Manila doing fingerprinting stuff for his exit visa.  We ate dinner and on the way home we met a girls basketball team, who had lots of questions for us!  They reminded me of Ashley and Anna and how they are true ballers!  Anyways, AWESOME DAY, and that’s just the key: FAITH!
"Doing Standard Work"

On Thursday Elder Westover gave the zone training which talked all about “real growth” and what we wanted to improve on in 2015.  Really cool!  In the afternoon we taught a contact of ours, Lyn, and she was receptive enough!  We taught Michael about the power of prayer, and then we had to go to Cabanatuan again to meet Elder Tufele, which was a little crazy, as he didn’t have a cell phone, but it worked out.  When we got back we only were able to teach one lesson to our referral, Grace, but her kid was absolutely crazy so I don’t think she understood everything.  Friday we were pretty punted, so we eventually went to a less active’s house and we taught a lesson all about sharing the gospel and asked her how we could help her in her personal missionary work.  She asked for a couple of pamphlets, because she had a couple of friends pass through her mind as we were talking.  Yes!  We’re following up on that next Tuesday!  We had another good lesson with Mariel and then we had an INCREDIBLE lesson with Mia about the plan of salvation.  She said she had prayed to know and when she did she got goose bumps all over.  And when Elder Palabrica testified about the atonement—Man, that was one of the most powerful moments of my mission.  She committed to come to church.  Saturday morning we taught Lyn and some of her friends, which didn’t go so well, but we have a return appointment, so we’ll do better next time.  In the afternoon we taught Jared and Bien, and then we just were super punted again.  Eventually we taught Dustin, and then went to a viewing of a mother of a member who suddenly passed away.  The members gave a little service and I gave a message based on Paul’s teachings about the resurrection.  Afterwards we taught one more lesson.  

Then it hit me that it was the last chance to get people to baptism this year, because if they didn’t come to church the next day, they couldn’t meet the requirements this year.  We tried to go to a couple of our other investigators who had the greatest potential to be baptized, and they told us that they couldn’t come or they didn’t even come to the door.  We went home with our hands hanging low.  The promise of 4 baptisms wasn’t going to happen.  The only thing I could think of is that we didn’t do absolutely everything that we could have.  They only thing I could figure out is that we weren’t perfect, even though we've worked really hard. I really trusted the promise of President Clark that there were 4 people that could be baptized before the end of the year and if we came short I felt it must be because of my shortcomings.  That weighed down fairly heavily on me on Sunday. 

Good things still happened on Sunday.  We found and taught a less active/part member couple and we were finally able to teach the Solis family again!  But man, I was not in a very good place mentally.  I eventually talked with Elder Westover about it.  We first read the section of Preach My Gospel about being a “successful missionary” and he said that in his eyes I qualified there. Then he said that President’s promise was that there were 4 people that could be baptized, but these 4 people still had their agency.  We can’t force anyone to be baptized; that was Satan’s plan.  Until then I hadn’t thought about it that way.  We TOTALLY have had super spiritual lessons with way more than 4 people in my time here.  I know that the Holy Ghost testified to their souls, but for whatever reason, they said no.  All we can do here is plant, preach, work hard and invite.  And like my companion said, we’re here to help in any way we can, but we’re not here to fix everyone’s problems; that’s up to them and Jesus Christ.  We can only show people the way and do all we can to persuade them to walk that path, but we can never push anyone.  I still know this work is true, and I do know many more will be baptized in this area. We’ve just gotta work a little harder, fix the little things, and trust that Christ’s grace will be there every step of the way.  D&C 30:11 (And your whole labor shall be in Zion, with all your soul, from henceforth; yea, you shall ever open your mouth in my cause, not fearing what man can do, for I am with you. Amen.)

-Elder Christensen

Monday, December 1, 2014

A harder week, but a blessed one, too, as Bien is baptized!

Dear All-

Well, Monday and Tuesday I felt like I just made one mistake after another!  P-day was fine, except that I forgot to get some numbers and I left a sheet at the house that I needed , so we were in the internet cafĂ© for a really long time!  And we had an activity in the morning and my neck got super sunburned.  In the evening though we taught the Solis family again and JR really wants to give up smoking, so we made a plan to help him!  They are SO awesome!  After that we taught Dustin, a recent convert, and his 2 year old sister is the funniest ever!  We were teaching and I said, “…Makagkapasak sa kocharian ng Diyos.” Then Alexa piped up, “Diyos? Wala naming Diyos eh!” Which translates to: “…enter the kingdom of God.”  “God?  There is no God!”  I was dying laughing!  Anyway, Tuesday I had a moment in the morning while we were finding.  We found this grandma and her two grandchildren who were like elementary age.  I thought, “They probably aren’t going to get this.  Should we bother teaching them?”  Then I thought how they are my spiritual brothers and sisters and they deserve to hear a message.  So we taught a simple lesson about how the gospel blesses families.  If anything we planted a good seed.  (Note:  I found out that their mom works in the Middle East and that their dad is in prison..)  In the afternoon the mistakes continued as I left my name tag at the house *face palm*, so we had to go back and get that after the first lesson.  I also forgot to tell the other elders that a certain lunch appointment was cancelled, so they showed up to a member’s house expecting food and there wasn’t any.  Awkward.  But the work was good!  Analyn Ruiz seems to be softening up now as we shared about the Book of Mormon. We taught Jared, as well as Sister Roby, whose progress is slow as she has a million questions but she said she might come to church this Sunday!  And we visited the Solis family again and they are so awesome!  They’re reading the Book of Mormon.  JR is cutting back on cigarettes and they want to be baptized so bad!  Earlier during district meeting I made a mistake and said that Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Gethsemane, not the Garden of Eden.  NICE.  But it was ok, because afterwards everyone brought food and we had a Filipino Thanksgiving dinner!  I had exchanges with Elder Gementiza, which was a lot of fun!  And we had some good work in the afternoon.

Thursday was a rainy day in Palayan!  It was not just rainy as in wet, but as in it was a darker day.  We did meet this one less active who just got back from Manila who really opened up to us, so that was good!  But yeah, after that it was difficult.  We found out that Bien and his family are most likely moving to a part of Aurora where there is no church and no missionaries.  We found out that our golden couple, JR and Mariaris, aren’t legally married yet and that they can’t get married until February, so they can’t get baptized until then either.  And when we went over there for an 8:00 pm appointment JR was drinking with all of his friends….that was hard.  We did have a nice family feed us dinner that night, so that helped!  Friday was going ok.  We taught the dad of a less active member who was into the lesson!  New investigator.  We taught Jared, our goal for Dec. 27th, then Mariel, whose papers for marriage we’re hopefully going to get worked out on Monday.  After that lesson, my anak was not feeling good, so we went home and he rested.  And I got some good stuff done!  I finished Jesus the Christ, did some laundry, wrote a letter for my Christmas package to the fam, and cooked a whole bunch of Litson Manok [roasted chicken], mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy (Thanks, Mom!), hot dogs, watermelon, soda and some other stuff that I’ve forgotten already, but man, it was delicious!  And in true Thanksgiving style we all ate too much! 
Thanksgiving feast with the kabahays!

Saturday was good!  We taught Bien, then had a really good lesson with his mom, Dahlia!  We taught Mia Bautista, whose real concern finally came out as she didn’t see why she needed to pray to know because she believes all you need is faith to be saved, so why does it matter if the Book of Mormon is true or not?  We told her we would make a good lesson plan and come back on Tuesday, to which she agreed.  We taught Dustin and a couple of his friends and then took them to get some snacks because Dustin read every day and prayed every day, and that was the deal!  We taught Mariaris the law of chastity and she took it really well and committed to be baptized in February. 

Sunday was hard in that only Bien and his mom came to church.  We also had a lunch appointment, but when we got there the food wasn’t ready and so we didn’t get out of there until 3:30.  Only 3 people showed up to a fireside we put on, so we just cancelled it, and we taught a couple of lessons.  Then I really wasn’t feeling well:  dizzy, headaches, and exhaustion, so we came home and I was asleep before 7… BUT  Bienjamin Moga Pascued was baptized on Sunday, so what else really matters?  He’s the coolest little teenager and he was so pumped!  He said he felt hot, even though the water was cold. 
Bien's baptism!
What a blessing.  It’s incredible how fast people forget the blessings of the Lord when little, minor inconveniences blind our view.  We always have to be grateful for all of God’s blessings or else Satan’s distractions will consume us!  I know this work is true and I’m just so lucky to be a part of it!

-Elder Christensen