Hello from Elder Thurber--who serves in the Philippines Manila Mission

Hello from Elder Thurber--who serves in the Philippines Manila Mission

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Last blog entry: have I changed?

Hello again!

Overdue, this post responds to question in the back of people’s heads, including my own. Have I changed because of my mission? Missions can have surprisingly dissimilar effects to different people. I could slowly forget it or discard it, like my wacky Western Civilization class I took at a community college five years ago. Or I could remember the odd events, food, people etc. forever and ever and bore EVERY unlucky person I’ll talk with to death with sentences that start with “when I was with my fourth crazy companion, who, as you remember me telling you about the other day….”\


At the other end, I also refuse to believe I haven’t changed.

On the visible surface I haven’t, as far as I can tell. I’m still 1/4th of an inch shorter than my dad, and still terrible dancer.

Perhaps you’ve caught on, but—to use some seismologic terminology—rumbling within the posts I’ve written in the past two years is an earthquake of experiences that have changed me within core. Like the city of Manila, I was on a fault line. I’ve been thinking over the past month what happened beneath the surface in those memorable two years, and I’ve found some groundbreaking changes. I’ll only mention three, though I could go on and on.

The first thing I’ll mention I’ve learned is to talk WITH everybody like this ßà. I don’t talk TO (à) anybody anymore, or just listen to (ß) somebody. Everybody (including myself and Thomas, my 1 ½ y.o. nephew) has something to say worthy of our attention. Even to the people who talk but don’t have anything more to say, I’m willing to listen; I want to show them I love them and respect them. It may be hard, but it’s always worth it. It also says in Preach My Gospel it says to “send a message of interest and enthusiasm by listening sincerely.” Interestingly, Christ’s most powerful teachings usually came he heard others.

Second, I’ve discovered the scriptures contain the answers or guide me to the answers. There are more than you think! We just have to view the scriptures as an answer book to our own life, and be willing to take some time to recognize that what we’re reading contains the answer.
Here’s a quick example: a thought entered into my mind repeatedly on my mission that missionary work is so grueling and long, and often wondered how I could be happy. Then one day I read the story of the Jaredite barges in Ether 6:8-13 (which you should read), and was struck on their response to being stuck in a boat for 344 days in vs. 9.
And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.
Their gratitude and optimism carried them through those months, and I realized I, too, could sing when things get rough. Emulating their attitude made the rest of my mission not only doable, but pleasant and rewarding. As I read and applied some of the enduring truths found in the scriptures like in Ether 6, I feel like I’m adding layers of knowledge that provides the strength to become self-confident in a shaky world in several situations.
I can’t say I had that before my mission. Answers came from my head just as my problems did.

The last change I’ll mention is by far the most important. My capacity to love and serve has increased as I have come to know my Savior and His atonement. It has changed my view of
  • my ability to change (or be changed)
  • others and their ability to change
  • trials and the reason they are so hard
  • why we take the sacrament
  •          missionary work
  • what the light of Christ can do
 I’ll ever remember that every time President Ostler (my mission president) spoke, he taught about the atonement. The atonement is the well of healing I’ve often needed, and the source of strength in everything I do. I feel I can confidently say yes! to Alma’s penetrating question here:

And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?

I remember using the computer I’m using right now to create my blog, anxious and excited for what the future had for me—wearing white button-up shirts, weird food, worn out shoes, and hundreds of adventures. I didn’t expect to be changed by something I already thought I knew. I knew of the atonement, just as I know of the Great Wall of China, but shallow knowledge is cheap and won’t change a person. My advice to anybody who wants to begin to understand the atonement is read Isaiah 53, 2nd Nephi 2, Alma 7, and D&C 19 very slowly, pondering the importance of every verse. Pray fervently about what you’ve read, and then work with the missionaries. If you are able to serve a mission, please do so. Don’t delay. I would do it again, but not only because it changed me forever, rather, because it put me in a position to be changed through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

6/8/2015 Chicken Curry and Comparing

Chicken Curry and Comparing

Monday, June 8, 2015

Dear Everybody, and Elder Wilson and Elder Hadley,

Elders Hadley, Wilson, and Thurber at our MLC station with a computer and projector
I feel bad I haven't said a word about my excellent, due to their awesomeness, companions. The three of us are always on some mad adventure or on exchanges, putting our shoulder to the side bag. This past Tuesday, they got their official Philippino driver's licenses. Elder Hadley had some issues with getting his, because his current ID from Pompeii wasn't "acceptable" to the Land Transportation Office we went to last time. But it all worked out.

They are both superb in Tagalog, and are experts in finding joy while working the hardest. It's incredibly hard not to laugh when you're around them. At the same time, they've gotten down their responsibilities of being assistants just fine.

The wonderful family who made us delicious chicken curry.
On Wednesday, we picked up two missionaries from the airport assigned in Palawan to bring to our area for exchanges. Elder Wilson, out of the goodness of his heart, made some awesome curry that we devoured. The two of us worked with Elder Yu, and had an excellent dinner appointment (see first picture), where they fed us chicken curry. It was so delicious!

Add caption
Thursday was MLC, which was the easiest MLC  BY FAR for me, as the office elders played a huge part in their role, allowing us to just work. I played an arrangement of Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise / Saints Behold How Great Jehovah by Jon Schmidt as a special musical number.

For lunch, we had chicken curry made by Angel which tasted great. Afterwords, we watched Meet the Mormons, and then the going-home missionaries bore their testimonies. After shuttling missionaries to the exit of the neighborhood, we came back to the mission home and prepared the MLC, and made notes and a training plan for zone conference. We stayed there that night, and Angel heated up the Chicken Curry for us yet again.

Me with my awesome compaions:  Elder Wilson and Hadley

This is Elder Morales.  He's from Utah, and is a great piano player!
So we ate chicken curry four times in a row. Just like a teacher who teaches one subject in two separate classes, it's easy to compare. Most of our decision making in life involve comparison. While analyzing is good for improvement, I've realized that comparison does little good, and numbs our ability to see the good in the things. For example, the numbers zone leaders submit every Sunday evening from 9-10:30 vary greatly. Sometimes it's hard not to be harsh on some when others are hitting much higher. But the Spirit, I've noticed, cannot abide with us when we compare. It's better to just be grateful and help them improve.

So, even though the different types of chicken curry I ate we differed in taste, I'm not thinking about which one is best, but continue to thank the people that fed me it. I hope more comes my way. 

In other words, stop comparing and be grateful so you'll be happy. 
Elder Thurber - Philippines Manila Mission


Thursday, June 4, 2015

6/1/2015 Personal Study on an Airplane

June 1, 2015

Personal Study on an Airplane

People, Close and Far,

I think Satan's main weapon in missionary work is the false idea (notion, assumption, reason, excuse, postulation, etc) that we are too busy. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend new missionary follow-up meeting, zone conference in Palawan, bring an elder up to the area office, and go on splits--twice, one with an elder coming back to the mission from a year and a half ago, and another, named Cameron, who has a job and served in the Philippines and just wanted to work with us while he had time.
Outside of our apartment Thursday Morning before going to Zone Conference
I've recognized there's always time. Wednesday was a roller coaster in Palawan, so I really only had time to plan during the plane ride over. Afterwords, I talked to a man who is from San Diego California, and referred him to missionaries over there. 

I thought we didn't have time to make our flight back to the mainland after zone conference, because there were some interviews President Ostler had to do. We decided to leave early and were panicking when we arrived at the airport, because the elders who had gone before us texted that they had closed the check-in gate. True enough, they had closed it when we were going through security. I ran over and put my luggage on the scale and showed my license ID, stalling the trip long enough for everybody to get through security and leave on time. Then, the Ostlers showed up with smiles on their faces; they had gotten in a trike and somehow made it to the airport in half the time it took us. We were all able to board the airplane 2 minutes before the door closed. What inspired me most was how calm the Ostlers were. The two took selfies before they got on the plane, seemingly oblivious to the close call that had taken place. 

While doing personal study on the plane, I thought to myself, hoooowwww do they do that? Perhaps some of it was just experience with being in airports, but there's more. I think there's the truth that we actually need to follow him. Mainly, I think they succeeded because they trust in the Lord, and know they're on the Lord's errand. It was a valuable lesson that they didn't know they were teaching me. They're on the Lord's time, so they rely on him. 

Upon arriving back in Manila, we met two newly married members.
Not related to missionary work, just a cool car!
I could share more, but time.... is all gone. Ironic.

Anyways, have a great week!

Elder Thurber - Philippines Manila Mission

"Our three intrepid Assistants--Elders Thurber, Hadley, and Wilson"
(Picture and caption from Sister Northrup's FB page)


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Path of Exaltation, Conversion (May 25th and 18th, 2015 Updates)

Path of Exaltation (May 25, 2015)

Brothers, Sisters,

I wish I could jump into my screen and pop out of yours to tell you how being a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the best thing that's ever happened to me! I just love being a missionary. This week's flown by, with two zone conferences and working in the Lord's vineyard. This week's crazy, too; we're going to Palawan on Wednesday. 

Elder Thurber teaching how to plan with grids at Zone Conference
Elder Wilson and I have taught all of the 200 missionaries how to plan with grids so that everybody can receive exaltation, which is President Ostler's new vision for us. You may be thinking that missionary work is all about baptisms. But truly, that's aiming lower than God's expectations, because, like Edward Dube's mom said, "Look ahead at what we still have to do.” Going for baptism is only for salvation. Planning for the temple is planning for exaltation. 
After showing his vision, the missionaries divided up into 5 groups for 5 classes. So we've taught planning for exaltation 10 times now to missionaries.

Question: have you ever heard of the New and Returning Member Progress Form? That is what we're using right now as a mission. We have four indicators - baptism, fully active, temple preparation, and temple ordinances. President Ostler would like for each companionship to have an indicator occur every week, especially in our area. It's difficult, because the people need to have a clear vision of the temple, and the ward needs to coordinate with us. But, from all the reports I've been getting, the wards love it! They're trying it.

Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. 2 Nephi 32:3
Missionaries love to feast on the words of Christ, but they need something for the road, too.  
Eating with the Hiatts at Zone Conference

Shoot, I have to get going. Time flies on wings of lightning. 


Elder Thurber - Philippines Manila Mission

Mon 5/18/2015 3:03 AM

Conversion (Mon 5/18/2015)

Dear All,

The chaos continues! Our area's really shooting for the stars! We had 8 investigators at church last Sunday, and full support from a loving ward, led by our awesome ward mission leader. Along with working in our area every day starting at 6, we've been meeting with President Ostler and stuff and discussing Zone Conference. It'll be epic! I'll tell you more next week. 

One of the things President Ostler sent out to prepare for the conference was a talk by Elder Scott entitled "Full Conversion Brings Happiness." He quoted Marion D. Romney, who once said "Converted means to turn from one belief or course of action to another." Adding on, I've been thinking about how conversion works with money. Why do we ever convert money? Well, because some currency won't be useful, depending on where you're going to. American money doesn't mean much here in the Philippines.

I've been thinking that we, as children of Heavenly Father, have intrinsic value. But what is that value truly converted into? When we know our destination, we must be converted to be of any worth there. If heaven is your goal, you must change yourself--leaving behind what you once were-- and understand this eternal yet misunderstood truth: "We are saved by grace, after all we can do." Elder Scott taught this in his talk, which I'd encourage you to read.

(Elder Scott's talk:  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2002/04/full-conversion-brings-happiness?lang=eng )

My two companions, plus Elder Limocon, my zone leader for most of my mision.  He came for the temple sealing of some of the people he had taught.

Elder McQuarrie, along with his companion, are working on most of the stuff for zone conference,
which has left us time to work.
I don't have any time, because zone conference is right around the corner, and I'm teaching a little bit and conducting!

Love you all!

Elder Thurber

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Going Home Activities, Transfer Day, MLC, "Remember Him", Guadalupe Chapel, Makati 2nd, and Vikings

Mon 5/11/2015
Going Home Activities, Transfer Day, MLC, "Remember Him", Guadalupe Chapel, Makati 2nd, and Vikings

Still reading?

Sorry for the long title. Too much has been going on and I can't seem to put it all together in a few words. 

On Tuesday, 19 missionaries headed home (eeek!). As an escort to those missionaries, you get to head to the temple. This time, I saw Diaz family from the Bonifacio 3rd ward, who were there to be sealed as a family. The two boys in the 1st picture often worked with us when I was there. 

We also went to the American Cemetery, where we waited (in style) to hear Sister Ostler talk to the missionaries. 

On transfer day, we picked up 8 new missionaries from the MTC, which, if you do the math, means the mission is going down in size. There were a few areas that got consolidated. During the orientation, Sister Ostler took the new missionaries to the American War Memorial while we and President Ostler taught the new trainers, including some zone leaders I'd worked with. Orientation went relatively smoothly, because we're just teaching. The real chaos began after it all ended, as we had to formulate plans for missionaries getting to new apartments, then planning for MLC. If you can keep a secret, I'll tell you that we got to bed at 1 A.M. b/c we were preparing MLC. 

MLC was so cool! We discussed four main points 
1) all lessons under 30 minutes or less 
2) singing during lessons 
3) always bringing up baptism during the lesson 
4) extending baptismal dates in every lesson. 
President Ostler made some comments in as the three of us taught. After MLC, we finally got time to get groceries and unpack the bags.

Friday was relatively normal.  Elder Wilson told us about our area, and how much potential it has. We're really striving be a model area now, and to have a vision to baptize every week. We've made a graph that shows every week for the next 3 months. We've filled in some of the slots with people who can be baptized. I love how it raises our vision of what we can do. 

The Whole Laddaran Family.

Saturday, I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to baptize June Laddaran. It's a completed family, set for the temple. I really can't express how I felt during his baptism.

 Here are some pictures from the Bonifacio 3rd Ward.

Jonathan Parades and Elder Thurber
Elder Thurber and Mark Castillon
Perping Cruz with her granddaughter, Kaylee (who I taught before)
Sunday, I got to meet the Makati 2nd ward! They're excited to see us, and know our vision to baptize weekly.

Today, we went to this place called Vikings. It was a buffet for about 15$, but I am stuffed! I have a bunch of pictures I want to send to you!

No more time! Take care!
Elder Thurber - Philippines Manila Mission

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

5/5/2015 I'm Going to be "Killed" by Two Elders in the Office!

Family, Friends, and People in the Makati 3rd and 4th Wards,

NOTHING is quite as unexpected as transfers coming from the Lord thru President Ostler! Elder Francisco is going to train a new missionary and be transferred to Coron, a very small but breath-takingly beautiful island with only 4 missionaries.  I'm staying put, and am going to be in a threesome with Elder Hadley and Wilson! I'll tell you more about them next week. I have a slightly dark picture below of them. They got interviewed by President last night and were both pretty shocked. 

On top of that, the assistant's area is being changed to Elder Wilson's current area, which means no more international ward! President Ostler's vision is that our area is the best area in the mission. I'm feeling the pressure, but I know my companions well enough so there won't be a problem. 

Last week was a appetizer for what's in store for my next transfer. We went on three exchanges, one after another. I went on my second exchange to Manila and taught Angel and Althea. One of the best feelings as a missionary is to see those you've taught and see they're still strong in the gospel. You really grow to love them. I also went to Makati 2nd Ward, which, ironically, is where I'll be working in, starting this Thursday. 

This picture is from a Career Workshop that missionaries going home in May and June had to attend. Aside from teaching from the booklet we were given, they taught us how to use the experience we obtained on our mission. I should avoid church-y words and instead say "I was a service volunteer for two years for a non-profit organization" for nonmembers. I can say I presented a lot of training, which could help in a managerial profession.
Elder Thurber and the other Assistants presenting training
this week at the mission home to incoming new missionaries.
(Picture from the Ostler's blog:  thephilippinesmanilamission.blogspot.com)

This is what our office looks like when there are missionary meetings and such.

The following picture is also in the office, displaying some of the baptisms that have happened in the mission.

Lyn and Wilma
I said some goodbyes to people last Sunday, so I had to get some pictures. The first is off Lyn and Wilma, who were baptized right before I came in the area.

Then, everybody wanted to join into the picture, thus there's a 2nd picture. In the middle, you see Samuel Owusu, who knows the Bible as well as most members. I really appreciate all the time I've been given to teach them.

Time is too short in supply. 

Love, Elder Thurber