Monday, January 5, 2015

Willl Never Such Happiness Know!

Hey Everyone!  Monday was good!  We visited JR in the hospital and he seems to be doing ok.  He looked up and said to me, “Elder!  I haven’t smoked in 2 days!”  He’s so funny.  We were going to give him a blessing, but he was in a really crowded and noisy room,so we just offered a bedside prayer instead.  Email was good; my family had the most picture perfect Christmas ever.  Not gonna lie, I got a tad bit homesick, but then I prayed about it on the jeepney ride home and I remembered how awesome my mission is and I got over it.  In the evening we went to Atate and met Alloy and Julie Mendoza, two of Tatay Bulacan’s referrals and we taught them a bit of Lesson 1.  They had a lot of questions, especially about the priesthood and how God can offer salvation to all of his children if His authority is only in this church.  We decided to go home, plan, and come back the next day, so that’s what we did!  On Tuesday when we came back, we taught about the apostasy, the restoration and as a part of that restoration the restored truth of baptisms for the dead, then we offered the Book of Mormon as the evidence that all this doctrine is true.  And they accepted  baptismal goal dates for February!  They have real intent and it is AWESOME!  We also taught two referrals of Sister Jorja, who were good but their husbands may have problems with us teaching them so we’ll see if that goes anywhere.  We gave Mia the do or die lesson and she chose DO!  She committed to come to church on Sunday.  It was awesome!  We taught Dustin and his scripture study crew, who are awesome as ever!  We taught the Llamas family about the Proclamation to the World, which was a nice lesson as well.  Tuesday was a really good day!

Wednesday was good!  We had district meeting in the morning, which was cool.  We had a workshop on faith where I really began to understand that if faith is just that and there’s no result or fruit, then it’s not faith.  Cool stuff!  I was a bit worried about Elder Palibrica for a while there, as he was really quiet and serious and he said he was “pondering”, but eventually he was back to his old self.  In the afternoon Tatay Bulacan showed us around Atate, where various members, less actives and former investigators live, which was really nice of him!  We then taught Dahlia, Bien’s mom, and she committed to come to church on Sunday!  From there we went home at 6:00 pm because we have a curfew on NEW YEAR’S EVE!  We had lots of fun eating lots of food, watching church videos, playing UNO, taking pictures…Good fun!  And now I have finished 2014, the year where I served the Lord all 365 days as a missionary!  Pretty cool!
Harry Potter in the Philippines on New Year's  #1

Spider-Man with an Aklat ni Mormon!

Hipster on New Year's

Then the next morning we had a service project at the Bulacans.  We started filling in an enormous 15 foot hole.  Tatay threw a small cobra he found at his family and then his family started lighting off fireworks at him, and I cut my hand on a barbed wire fence.  All in all, a regular CSP here in the Philippines.  In the afternoon we went out to contact some referrals, but none of them were around.  After dinner we finally got Cristel to our lesson with Mia, and it was a super good lesson.  BTW, Cristel is the one we’ve been trying to get as a fellowshipper for Mia.  It was awesome.  The spirit was rocking.  While we were teaching Dustin, my companion started to not do so good, but to his credit he said he could keep going.  We taught Jeffrey, our 17 year old returning less active, about serving a mission.  Then we taught the Llamas family about keeping the commandments before coming home at 9:00.  Elder Palibrica passed out on his bed in full proselyting clothes. 
Asleep in full proselyting clothes
But all in all, “nothing changes on New Year’s Day.”

So Friday we taught Mariel all about scripture study and she is doing awesome.  We’re just waiting on her papers for marriage!  We taught Bien and I felt bad because we were teaching his little friend, Jared, but we stopped because there’s a rule that you can’t teach kids under 14 without their parent there and his parents didn’t want to listen… It was sweet though in Bien’s prayer he asked that somehow Jared could be baptized.  I hope his prayer comes to pass.  We taught Tatay Jose about the Word of Wisdom and found out that, even though he’s been a member for some 10 years, he still smokes after every meal!  We’ll work on that!  After dinner, we taught Danny from Atate.  He is a humbled less active member.  He has two kids and his wife has passed away.  We taught that families can be together forever, and he asked if it was possible still because his wife wasn’t a member.  We assured him that it was, and taught about temples.  It was perfect timing too because he was working in Manila but he just got transferred to Cabanatuan, so he’ll be around at least every weekend if not more, and he wants his kids to get baptized, too!  We taught the Mendoza family as well, and Tatay Bulacan came along.  We weren’t exactly on the same page as far as teaching, so it was a bit hard, but we were able to get the point across that if the Book of Mormon is the word of God then this church is indeed the only one with the authority to administer the ordinances of the gospel, which is his big question. 
Saturday I learned an enormous lesson.  In the morning we couldn’t seem to find anyone to teach, but I remembered we had a new investigator with potential a couple of weeks ago, Raquel, but she had gone out of town.  So we went to go and check if she was back.  Well, when we got there she was there, but she was not the person we met two weeks ago.  She looked at us with such disdain and disgust and grumbled angrily, “I don’t want to.  I don’t want to listen to you.  You just go find some other people for your whatever you call it.”  And I don't know exactly why, but that really affected me. All during that lunch and into the early afternoon I could not get her angry face out of my head. I just kept thinking, what did I do? What went wrong here? Our lesson with her was way good, she was excited to learn about the gospel! Well I talked to Elder Westover about it, and he gave me some advice about how when we have things like that we just kind of have to say, "Well, they're not the elect," and move on. As we went out to work, I was feeling better, but not totally sure. Anyways, we went out to contact a referral, and I was blown away. His name is Dave, he's 17, has two good friends on missions, and was taught last year but got busy with work, and now is going to go back to school and he sought US out! And he is so prepared. He remembered every doctrine about the Restoration, and he already has a testimony! It was the biggest blessing. As we were teaching him, the spirit was rocking, and I had the distinct impression where I felt, "You would not have understood how prepared he was if that didn't happen to you this morning." And all of the sudden I could see a glimpse of God's plan, there was a reason for that grouchy woman to turn us away! And by the way, we'll do just what you said, lady! We WILL go and find some other ELECT people for the FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL. It was the greatest miracle. We taught the Planco family that day, and we committed them to endure to the end, which pretty much means come to church, but I didn't exactly have high hopes as Brother Planco hasn't come to church in years.

Well, the miracles kept coming on Sunday.  When we showed up to the church, Brother Planco, our long time offended less active, was waiting for us with his 4 active kids! Absolute miracle! Then Mia, our longtime investigator, came to church for the first time, and she said she had a really good experience and made a lot of friends! Dave, who we met the day before, came as well! While the Branch Presidency was getting started, the whole Llamas family, a less active family we've been working with since my first week here, came for the first time! And Tatay Jose, a less active we met our first day and have been working with since then, came with his less active son and his wife. And Brother Mendoza, our hardcore Methodist investigator, came in during the opening prayer and stayed the whole 3 hours! I could not believe it. My joy just turned to shock as miracle after miracle poured through the door! It was everything I've been hoping for here in Palayan and it happened this Sunday! And later that day, Brother Mendoza told us that he now feels  the Book of Mormon is true! And we visited with Tatay Jose and he seems to be doing better, and we ended the evening with teaching the Llamas family about miracles, as there were many this day. Oh, it was just too good. Amazing. I really, truly learned this week, "Those who reject this glad message, shall never such [unbelievable, incredible and miraculous] happiness know!" But I know it, and I get to share it with all who will listen, how great is my life?!?!

--Elder Christensen
New Year's Eve snacks!

New Year's Eve preparations!

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