Monday, October 24, 2011

Lovin' the Mission!

Language Improvement: Last night we went to a less active and she asked me if I had been here in the Philippines for a year! When i told her no I've only been here for 3 months she couldn't believe it. She said "You can speak Tagalog so well." So that was pretty encouraging.

Companion Talk: I love my new companion Elder Ramos! He's a really cool elder. He knows English pretty well so that's really good. I really like his style of teaching. He really teaches in a way that shows that we love the investigator. He speaks Tagalog really fast but I'm dong a pretty good job following the lesson and understanding what's going on.

Spiritual Moment: Yesterday I had a really awesome experience. We went to Cezar's with a member to start re-teaching him everything and we asked him what the greatest blessing in his life is and he said "You guys baptizing me." That was the first time I really felt the true joy from missionary service. In a very literal sense your entire soul is so happy when you hear something like that, happier than I've ever been before. The mission is all its cracked up to be!

Mission News: Elder Ramos and I have been more focusing on less actives this week. We will probably continue to do so cause Elder Nelson, who is the area 70 here, said that the first presidency wants to see real growth here in the Philippines. Last year we baptized 700 people here in the Philippines Naga mission and 80% of them our active, which is the highest active recent convert percentage in the Philippines. But our sacrament attendance did not increase. So that means that lots of people went inactive too. Elder Nelson said real growth is more active members. So a lot of the missions focus is being switched to less actives. There's a ton! In our ward we have 40 to 50 active members with around 350 members on the ward list. So there's lots of work to do. We still have investigators, we just don't do any tracking.

We got a new zone leader here too, His name is Elder Mckendrick. He's from Florida. He's a pretty cool guy. He's the only other American I ever have contact with now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Baptism!

A Spiritual Moment: Tuesday I had a pretty awesome experience! We were at one of our investigators house teaching and this was our second time going to teach them. We went planning to invite them to be baptized. So we got there and started teaching the lesson and right before we were about to extend the invitation it started raining so so hard. We were inside but the roofs here are all made out of aluminum so it's so so loud, we could barley hear anything that was going on and we were yelling just to be able to communicate with them and it just wasn't very inviting of the Spirit. I said a real quick prayer and just asked for Heavenly Father to stop the rain just so we could extend this baptismal date and within 10 seconds the rain stopped! It was such a great feeling to know that the Lord really is listening to my personal prayers.

Cezar's Baptism:  On Friday we had Cezar's wedding and baptism!! It went very good! Cezar and his wife were so grateful that we were there and helped them through this whole process. I'm very glad and grateful I got to be there with him as well. Elder Taylor and I are the 4th set of missionaries to teach Cezar. Something clicked though when we taught him cause he was awesome when we taught him. He recognized all the blessings he was receiving from listening to us and from coming to church. Then after that was his baptism! He wanted me to baptize him! That was a pretty awesome experience, one because it was super hot outside and the water was cold, and 2 because I knew I had helped in performing a saving ordinance for someone else. It's just an amazing feeling to help others know the Plan of Salvation and know that there's more than just this life.

Mission News:  Elder Taylor is on his way to his new area and I'm with Elder Betalas right now, one of the zone leaders. He's Filipino. I'm staying in Talisay for another transfer (6 weeks) and I'll be getting my new companion tomorrow. When I had my interview with President 2 weeks ago he said I would probably have a Filipino companion. It'll increase my language skill really fast.

This is of me on a putjak. There's tons of them here. You just pay for them to take you where ever your going. Ive only done it once just for the experience.
This is right before Cezar's baptism. It's Elder Taylor on the far right, then me, then Cezar, then President Abaw, the stake president who performed the wedding.
This is at the wedding and the people who came. The wedding was way small compared to one in the states. but it was good. They were both happy so that's all that matters. For some reason lots of Filipinos don't smile in pictures, it's just the culture.

Saturday, October 15, 2011 UPDATE!

It's been a while since I've updated this, but I'll write a little from each letter that I've missed:

September 11:

Elder Salas and Elder Taylor, acting normal
Elder Salas and Elder Taylor, acting goofy

From this letter: The language is coming a lot better. I can understand a lot more that is said and say a lot more things. But I still have a long way to go. There's still a lot I don't understand as well. But I really like the language. It's an awesome language! I love and miss you guys! Thanks for all the letters and support!

September 18:

His first baptism! Her name is Anaceli and they've been working with her for a while. Here's what Elder Salas had to say about the baptism:  
"So we called her and planned her baptism!! Then we set things up with bishop. Then all day Saturday we went around to member's and investigator's houses and invited them to the baptism! We had a good turnout too! The second picture is everyone who was there. That's pretty much out whole ward. We have probably 10 other people that come that aren't in that pic. Her baptism was awesome. It was such a great feeling to know that were really doing out purpose. Bring her closer to Heavenly Father. It was awesome."

September 26:

Some highlights from this email from Elder Salas:

- Cezar, out investigator who needs to get married, has all the paperwork and the stake president got his marriage license! So were good to go! They want to have their wedding on Thursday but we're not sure if the stake pres can come then. But it looks like Elder Taylor and I will still be together to see his baptism! Which is pretty awesome!
- One thing that's kinda hard here is that the members think its better to wait till their kids are 9 to get baptized so they go through the missionary lessons. We have one family who has an 8 year old but wants to wait. We're dong our best to tell them that they shouldn't wait, it's just a weird thing they believe here. It doesn't make any sense.
- Yes, Anaceli is married, but shes been away from her husband for 10 years. The church actually has a rule here that you can still be baptized if you're married not divorced but separated from the guy. Cause divorce here is illegal. You can get an annulment but it's super expensive. It's around $3000. It's been really hard with Anaceli 'cause since she is technically married even though she's separated, she can't ever get married in the temple unless her husband dies or the law changes. Telling her that was the hardest thing I've had to do. 'Cause our goal for her is to get her to the temple, but then we find out she can't even get married there. She can get her endowment but that's it.

October 2:

Highlights from this week's email:

- There have been a couple of Bagyos (hurricanes) in Manila but they haven't effected us too bad. We're pretty far from Manila so we usually don't get hit too bad if they go through Manila. It got to be a signal 3 (signals go 1-5) Monday night here in Talisay. If it's a signal 3 it means you can't go out and work. But it was night so it didn't effect us in that sense. With no power though we couldn't have our fans on. And that was killer. The temperature isn't too bad if you don't have your sheet over you, but with no air flow the mosquitoes come by the 1000s! Elder Taylor and I got eaten alive Monday night. I would cover up so they couldn't bite me but would wake up 20 min later sweating like crazy.
- Wednesday I had my first experience of slipping in the mud! We were walking though a rice field and there was this huge puddle and I tried to jump it. I jumped and as soon as my foot hit the mud it slid out from under me! It wasn't super bad though. My pants were pretty muddy though. You literally wash things by hand here. Hardly anyone has an actual washing machine.

October 9:

Highlight from this week's email:

- One of our investigators came (to watch General Conference) and he didn't understand anything. It was Cezar who came. He had his baptismal interview after the Sunday morning session and passed! His wedding is Friday at 11 and his baptism is right after that! And he said he wants me to baptize him! So I'm pretty excited for that! His testimony is way, way strong! So from Talisay to Daet is about a 10 mile ride on a jeepnee, Cezar rode his bike all the way there for conference, plus he had a little side cart thing on his bike that he pulled his wife and kid in all the way there. They left their house 3 hours before conference started to get there on time! Just to get there then not understand anything. He literally told us he didn't understand any of it, but he wasn't mad or anything, he was just happy he got to have his interview. One of the really, really cool things I've realized about serving a mission is that the faith I see other people show is strengthening mine so, so much.