Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 23, 2017

Naimbag nga aldaw iti kakabsatko,

I honestly have no idea if that was write because that was Ilocano, but I feel like it was good.  

This week wasn't very eventful.  We had many many appointments fall through. But we had a great experience with one of our investigators.

So we have an investigator named Sister Valdez. She was the one I talked about with the "points system" that will get her baptized.  She has been meeting with the missionaries for a while now, but she has been avoiding a baptismal date because she simply isn't ready to make a decision. She keeps telling us that "everything has it's right time."  Well, with this in mind we looked for a scripture that would help resolve her concern. We came across Alma 34:31
31 Yea, would that ye would come forth and harden notyour hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and theday of your salvationand therefore, if ye will repent andharden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan ofredemption be brought about unto you.
We shared this and told her that we knew this was her time. She knew the doctrine, she was reading the Book of Mormon and praying everyday, she had a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel, she just needed a push to 
help her make a decision.  We extended a baptismal date for May 20 and she was a little surprised at the date. We asked her why, and it turns out that May 20 is her birthday! So... we found that her right time was now, and the scripture was just for her.  She attended church yesterday and she has committed to prepare herself for baptism on the 20th. I'm so excited to see her progress and I know that the Lord helped us find that scripture verse to help her realize that her time is now.

I would also like to testify that the scriptures are meant for all of us.  Find that scripture verse that speaks to you, find the verse that will guide you in your decisions, help you in your trials, and strengthen your faith.  I love the scriptures, especially The Book of Mormon, and I know they can help us in all aspects of life.

Have a great week everybody,

April 16, 2017

Hello everyone!
This week was pretty great and busy. We had interviews with the mission president, which is always uplifting and inspiring. I really do appreciate President Andrada and all that he does for us in the mission.  We also had a ward activity this week where we updated the membership records (so we essentially had a ward census haha), which gave us a lot of referrals. I don't have any pictures from the activity because I accidentally left my camera at home (sorry Mom). 
So, Eric was not able to meet with us this week because of Holy Week. He traveled to Cagayan with his family, but we are setting up appointments with him this week and hopefully we will see some progress.
Speaking of Holy Week, here in the Philippines Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday are national holidays, everything is closed on those days.  However, they give more emphasis on Good Friday rather than Easter Sunday.  One of the churches next to our house also had an interesting tradition for Good Friday.  From what I understand, the members of the church all dress in white, and as a church they make three statues of Christ dressed in red and three statues of Mary dressed in white. They place the statues on a float that is attached to a sidecar of a motorcycle, and the congregation follows the statues while holding candles and singing hymns.... Definitely a new experience.
Anyway, I gave a talk in sacrament about the Eternal Ministry of Christ, which focused on all that He did to help accomplish the plan of salvation.  Starting with His premortal responsibilities and ending with the anticipation of His Second Coming.  I also shared about the importance of His Atoning Sacrifice.  Afterwards, I asked, referring to the question of Pilate, "What should we do with this Jesus who is called Christ?"  My answer was found in Alma 36:24, which you can all look up ;)  The joy that we can all feel from the Atonement of Jesus Christ is so powerful.  No joy is so exquisite as that found through the grace and virtue of God's Beloved Son.  I would invite you all to study the life of Christ and ponder what you will do because of what He did.
I love you all, and have a great week,

Pictures - April 9, 2017

April 9, 2017

Hello everyone, what a great week :)
Conference was fantastic! My companion and I were super excited throughout the whole week waiting for conference to come.  We are truly so blessed to live in a time where living apostles and prophets are here on the earth, with priesthood keys to administer the true church of Christ and to receive revelation to guide us in all that we do. 
We had an investigator attend conference too! He is a former investigator taught back in January, and we had been trying to contact him and teach him but he was always away from his home or busy.  On Saturday we tried to contact him but he wasn't home, so we texted him to remind him about conference the next day and he showed up! (on time too, which is really hard for people here to do). After the session, he told us to come to his house the next day and teach.  This was the first time I have had an investigator set up his own appointment! We will be going to teach him later today and I am so excited!
Our other investigators this week were a little... difficult. We think one of our progressing investigators is hiding from us because she is never home when we go, even at times where we have been able to go before. Woo.  Another investigator decided to turn down her baptismal date because she said she wasn't quite ready to make a decision. She also devised some sort of "points" system, which we score when we "impress" her with our righteousness... what?  So... yeah. I'm not even sure where to go from that.
Conference was seriously great. One thing I noticed was "The Living Christ" was mentioned several times, and we were invited to study and learn about the life and teachings of Christ.  I definitely feel like this was a very specific and direct invitation to all of us. I personally have not really studied "The Living Christ", but this conference I felt a definite prompting to take special care to learn more about Christ and what He did for all of us.  I planned to make this a part of my studies in the upcoming weeks and I will let you know how it goes!
However, I know that Christ lives. He is our Savior, Redeemer, and closest friend. He brings hope in this increasingly discouraging world. He is the Light and the Life of the world, and if we will walk with Him, we will never be lost. We will become more than we ever though we could be.
I love you all, and I hope you have a great week!

Pictures, April 2, 2017

April 2, 2017

Hello everyone! 

So this week was pretty great. We were able to continue to find new investigators and extend two baptismal dates! We have been using the area book pretty heavily to find the investigators of the previous elders so their labors wouldn't go to waste and we found Sister Marisel and Sister Selly. Both of them had received all of the lessons, their only problem is they haven't attended church. This is quite common here in the Philippines.  However, they have been super receptive and we have tried to help them truly understand the teaching of the previous missionaries in order for them to realize how important church attendance is.  They weren't able come to church this week due to family occasions (graduation week kasi) but they promised to come next week and we will continue to visit them throughout this week in order to strengthen their faith and understand the importance of church.

Anyway, the rest of the week was pretty good too. It's been pretty hot because this is summer time here in Ilocos Norte, but we keep on working and drinking lots of fluids :)

I hope conference was great for all of you. It's such a great opportunity and a blessing we have to listen to living prophets to guide us in this life.  I haven't had an opportunity to watch it yet due to the time difference in the broadcast, but I am sure it will be fantastic :) it always is.

I would just like to share that I know that Thomas S. Monson is the current prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I know that God loves us so much, and He has blessed us with prophets to guide us in these troubling times in life.  I know that this Church is the same Church that Christ established here on the earth, and it contains all of the Priesthood keys and ordinances necessary for salvation. I know that we will never go astray in this world if we follow the words of the prophets.  

Sorry this email was so short, I just don't have anything else to really add.
Mahal ko kayong lahat! Ingat kayo palaga!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Pictures- March 26, 2017

March 26, 2017

Magandang umaga, tanghali, hapon, o gabi mga kapitid, kaibigan, at mag-anak.

I absolutely love my new area!  Even though we are opening the area, I can see massive potential for progress in San Lorenzo!

First off, the ward is fantastic!  Our bishop is really organized and our ward mission leader is diligent in his calling!  This has been the first time where the members don't have to be forced to hold MCM or other council meetings! I love it!  In fact, President Andrada said the San Lorenzo Ward is the model ward of the mission! I'm so lucky to be serving here!

Next, my trainee is the BEST! His name is Elder Leduna. He is Filipino, from Negros Occidental (part of the Cebu mission). He has been a member since he was eight and he is super awesome at beatboxing. He likes electronic music, jokes, and basketball.  He love the gospel and has had experience working with missionaries in the past.  I absolutely love working with him! He is diligent, obedient, and humble. We have a great time working together and I can't wait to get this area going!

Anyway, yesterday in Priesthood class the one who was supposed to teach didn't show up. And, for some reason, every priesthood holder wanted me to teach the lesson (probably because I'm white, I don't know). I told them I didn't know what the lesson was and instantly I was handed a kindle fire with the lesson plan. Wow.  So, the lesson was just the First Presidency Message and it was about the blessings of obedience.  The lesson went pretty well actually. I talked about how all blessings are dependent upon obedience to the commandments, and we have a choice whether or not we want to be obedient in order to receive those blessings.  I especially emphasized the commandment to home teach and committed them all to perform their home teaching. Overall, it was pretty good.

After church, we had a body viewing.  That's right, first Sunday and we get to go see somebody who died.  It was actually pretty good. My companion shared a spiritual thought and we sang a couple of hymns as well.  Afterwards, we come to find out that the actual funeral will be held on Thursday and I was recommended by the Sunday School teacher to give the Spiritual thought. So, not even one week in the new area and I get to speak at a funeral for a person I didn't even know. Exciting :)

That's all for this week, I will try to send pictures more regularly from now on. The internet here in Ilocos Norte is WAY faster than Cagayan.  

Mahal ko kayong lahat!

March 20, 1017

Hey everyone! Sorry for the super short email yesterday. I had two minutes to check my email for the travel schedules, send a quick email, and then I left to Laoag for the trainer's training. Later I will be headed to a meeting for the trainers at 1pm, and I'm very excited but also nervous.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to train a new missionary, and I am also grateful for the time I was given in Santa Ana.

I really fell in love with my last area, and I am really going to miss it.  However, I am not leaving it with any regrets.  I truly feel like I did the best I could have done with the circumstances with my companion, and the area is set up for the next missionaries.

Anyway, the past three cycles (transfers) have probably been the hardest so far on my mission as far as my companion goes.  However, with the help of the Lord and the guidance of my mission president and mission leaders, I was able to continue the work.  The biggest lesson I learned was patience, and I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to exercise and increase such an important, and Christlike, attribute.  I definitely feel like these past 4 months have made me into a much better person, and I am truly grateful for that.

I will be opening my next area with my trainee, but I have heard that my next area is great.  My next area will also be the first time I will be assigned to a ward rather than a branch.  I'm pretty excited to see what is in store for me. 

I would just like to close with a spiritual thought. In Matthew chapter 16:25, Christ is teaching the people about what we need to do in this life in order to achieve eternal life. He says:

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Oftentimes we tend to focus on ourselves. When things get difficult in our lives we tend to only think about ourselves. Often, we think about ways to constantly improve our own lives before helping others improve theirs.  While improving your own life is important, we must also remember the example of Christ.  Christ never, ever put Himself before others. Instead, He always gave the work of The Father and the needs of others the top priority.  He suffered, bled, and even gave His own life so that we didn't have to suffer the agony of sin in the next life.  He died so that we may live again.  He always gave time to help others, regardless of His own personal affairs. He made time to show others that He loved them through service.

Let us all strive to be a little more Christlike. Rather than focusing on 'saving' our own lives, let us lose our lives in the service of others and then we shall find eternal life in the world to come.  I know that Christ gave us the perfect example to follow, all we have to do is choose to follow it.

Mahal ko kayong lahat,
Ingat kayo palagi

Until next week!

March 19, 2017

Hello everyone! I don't really have much time because I need to go travel today. Hopefully I will be able to email later, but I want you all to know that I have been transferred to San Lorenzo C and I will be training a new missionary! I will meet him later this week and I will give you the details next week!

I love you all!