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

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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I'm Training an American; and Merry Christmas!

Dec 23 2013
Hey ya'll!
Elder Thurber and Elder Healey
I got the call from the Zone Leaders telling me I'll be training Elder Chong, a Hawaiian missionary who has been out for 6 weeks, being previously trained by Elder Healey, the great missionary I admire (see picture 1). They were in a threesome previously, with Elder Zook, who is funnier than his name sounds!

Quite frankly, our companionship has really been the topic of elders here in Palawan, because it's so unusual for Americans to be training Americans, especially right after the American has just finished his training by another American, who got trained by an American!

It is makes it even worse when the American who is training an American isn't fluent in Tagalog at all, just like the American who is currently being trained by him! It's pretty... kwan. Oh yeah, that's the Tagalog lesson for the day. It's the best word in Tagalog. It means, quite literally "um." If you don't know what to say, you just say “kwan!”  It's perfectly appropriate to say “kwan” whenever you want.  Me and E Echano use it quite often, even when speaking in English. Like, if we're going to the lesson he'll ask, "What's the name of this man, again?" I'll just say "kwan!" And it's alright.

So.... this week has obviously started off a little slow, with the transfers and all, but it'll be just fine! The same thing happens in every area. Improvement will come as sure as Christmas will! Elder Chong is a wonderful, obedient, and relaxed missionary. I'm barely training him. He's always willing to come with me to do the extra mile. For example, we got home a little earlier than expected from the missionary party for all of the missionaries last Thursday (more on that later), and, when I suggested we work for an hour or so, he jumped at the opportunity! While we weren't able to teach any lessons, he didn't think of it as a waste of time, just like I didn't.

While we don't have too much in common, we love sharing with each other different aspects of our lives! He would go surfing every day before his mission, and went to a private school, and has taught me a little about Hawaii and the Hawaiian language, even though he knows very little about it. We always have something to talk about when we're walking from lesson to lesson.

His Tagalog is OK, but he has openly admitted to me it's not his favorite. But he spends the full hour doing language study and will teach anything he needs to.

We had quite the time at the Christmas party! We had a pretty fun gift exchange, and I ended up with a bunch of Spongebob craft supplies (?????) and he got an alarm clock, which he doesn't need either.
But I got to participate in his old district's presentation later on in the day! They said they had a hilarious Primary Program a few weeks ago, so we all imitated them.  I was the kid who doesn't really know what's going on, and had my shirt untucked and mumbled when I spoke. I said “kwan” a few times in it.

Elder Thurber and Elder Echano
Aborlan gained another new missionary this past transfer! His name is Elder Echano, and he's our new district leader! Get this: he's amazing at chess! While he hasn't beaten me yet, he got relatively close two games ago! I really have to think, whereas I'm basically teaching all of the other elders how to play when I play chess with them.  Elder Echano is only one transfer ahead of me, and is very optimistic and hardworking. He's one of the few missionaries that is humble enough to ask for help in English when he's not sure about things!  I'm excited to know him better, as our personalities are very much alike.

As for the work this week... we weren't able to teach too many lessons, and many investigators haven't been able to come to church, unfortunately clearing out any January prospects for baptism. But it will go on, kind of like what is says in D&C 123, last verse.
17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us acheerfully bdo all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the csalvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.
Sometimes as members of the church, we expect the Lord to suddenly come into our lives and then have something to bear our testimony about in fast and testimony meeting. With few exceptions, only the opposite is true. We need to do everything in our power to have the arm of God revealed to us. People are lost from conversion to the Lord because they think that because they were baptized and they did go to church, that they did enough as members of the church. But they failed to do "all things that lie in [their] power." What does that mean? It means to do everything our modern-day prophets have commanded of us! And the blessings far outweigh the time and effort needed to do gain them. That is the pattern of the Lord, and it takes daily, consistent effort to cultivate and mature.

One last insight: it says to do everything "cheerfully." Come to think of it, I've never regretted doing anything that has been commanded to me, even when it seemed really tedious or hard at first. I hope it's been the same for you!
Here's my example: on Wednesday night we had to go up to the District President's house (he's like a Stake President, but Narra hasn't become a stake yet) and we had a little time. It had been a long day and we wanted to relax and talk with them, as they fed us mounds of food. But we decided to proselyte in his Barangy, or neighborhood, in order to be exactly obedient. And almost immediately, we found this family at the side of the road who had been working for 5 straight hours trying to haul off this gravel to make their porch. It was so evident that they needed help, and we were there for them.   Now we have a appointment set up for tonight! I hope it goes well! Pray for us! And maybe the "Lord's hand will be revealed."

That's I guess all I have to share this week.
Have a Merry Christmas!

Elder Thurber

I'll Be a Trainer

Kumusta sa inyo lahat! (How are you all doing?!)
It’s official! I’m going to be a trainer! He’ll most likely be a Filipino. I’ll be here in the wonderful world of Palawan for one or two transfers and I’ll head over to the crazy world of Manila. I say one or two transfers because my trainee has already done six weeks of his training, so I may be out of here at the end of January (one more transfer) or continue to be his follow-up trainer for the last six weeks.  Either way, I’m happy!
I'll miss this guy so much!
Elders Balonsong and Hart are both pretty thrilled to be going back to Manila. They’ll both be training and Elder Hart will still be a district leader. Elder Saclot won’t be training, which, I assume, means that his companion will be the district leader. 
But… let’s talk about me. I’m training. Do I feel prepared? In short, no. I’m pretty freaking scared on how much authority will be laid on my shoulders. I still am very unsure of the language, and when I went on splits last night, my confidence plummeted, as I basically taught by myself all night, and had a rough time meeting people on the street with 5 branch missionaries following me around, asking me questions I didn’t understand.

Looking on the bright side, I’ll definitely be learning the language quicker now! I’ll have to leave my comfort zone once again to get any better in this language. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes, but at least I’ll be better because of it. My biggest priority is just to have fun this week.
I’ll miss Elder Hart immensely. I’ve learned so much from him in many unusual ways that are kind of hard to explain. Put it this way: he showed me how to be a missionary even when times are hard, and the importance of consistency in every situation that you’re being put through. Like it says in 3 Ne 5:13, we are called as disciples of Christ and regardless of what people say or do or think, we have a sacred duty to preach the gospel to all those who receive it.
Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.  (3 Nephi 5:13)
I went on three wonderful exchanges this week with Elders Saclot, Haynie, and Delorino. What I learned from Elder Saclot is to keep the lessons short and powerful, especially when you're teaching first lessons. Elder Haynie taught me that I need to ask more inspired questions, and to not say "ummm" when I don't know what to say. He's really becoming a close friend of mine, or "barcada." And I noticed when I went out with Elder Delorino that he is a wonderful example of how to gain the investigators trust. The exchanges really helped me prepare to be a trainer, as I was leading the area in two of them.
But the biggest thing I've learned this week is that missionaries can do very little without members. I've taught probably... 200 lessons now? Probably more. I'm sure that I helped people gain a testimony, but testimony without conversion is dead. And the members need to do their part to nudge those in inactivity or investigating the church to come back.

I hope that this next transfer will be a transforming one for me. One where I will not only work with a brand new missionary, but work with the ward. To coordinate and follow through.

Elder Thurber

PS  This little bugger was under Elder Saclot's dresser this morning!

Dec. 10th "If You Don't Go On a Mission, a Huge Chunk of Your Life Will Always Be Missing"

Tue 12/10/2013 1:16 AM

Family and friends,
This past week has been uplifting and quite unlike any other. I can't believe how much more my testimony has grown lately, and how much I want to just get out the door and teach.

So you know how we set a record this past week for 16 New Investigators? Well, we just passed that this week by 7. Yeah, we got 23 NI! We're on a role! In fact, the whole Narra District is on fire, not just us. January will be a very promising month for all of us.
Here's a cool story about getting referrals. It occurred last Thursday, and brought unprecedented success.

Our 1st appointment of the day fell through, but the guy really likes us (even though he thinks of it as bible study) and gave us two awesome referrals in a place called "housing" which is a little far away. All of our other appointments weren't there, so we decided to see what he was talking about. When we took a trike down there, we saw a few houses here and there and then--BAM! We were in a brand new town!  Everybody waved to us! As soon as we got off the trike, 7 people just randomly started talking to us, and were as interested in the gospel as they could be, and then we taught them. They weren't even our referrals. They all said they'd read. We then taught the referrals from our first appointment, which were just as interested. It was quite incredible, and a total confidence booster for us.

Just this past yesterday we got a special treat. All Narra Zone missionaries watched "The Grinch" after zone meeting. It's the one with Jim Carrey, and I can't believe we were allowed to watch it.
We had "District Conference" this past Saturday and Sunday. It's the same thing as Stake Conference, but our area isn't big enough to be a stake yet. (More on that later). It was a spiritual feast, and we saw and heard a bunch of wonderful talks and testimonies from recent converts, that I could understand. What I got out of it most of all is that the missionary work is moving forward.

One of the talks is actually where my blog title, "If you don't go on a mission, a huge chunk of your life will be always missing" came from.  It was from a guy in our ward who cried while saying it. And it's so darn true! If you're a guy thinking about serving a mission, please consider that you will be twice the man you were before. There isn't a substitute. By losing yourself, you realize that your Heavenly Father has more in store for you than you realize.

I'm running out of time, but I just want you to know that I know the Church is true, and that Heavenly Father did in actuality appear personally to Joseph Smith and that the Book of Mormon holds the truth. You probably know that. But comprehension of these things is a gradual, life-long process that can only come through living every aspect you learn. By going on a mission, these truths will sink deeper into your heart and mind, and you will want, like so many people before, to tell them to all other people on the earth. You'll find, at the point I am right now, that any doubts you had before your mission are, in comparison, extremely weak compared to the benefits.

I'm so happy to be where I am right now. I'm in the middle of The Narra Zone which is hopefully being transformed into a stake soon. We're really close. The solution, President Stucki has said, is to do Home Teaching. We're at 3 percent right now. So every Sunday, all the missionaries here are going to be going on splits and doing home teaching with home teachers to those Less Active members here. All we need is more Melchezidek priesthood holders and then we're a stake. The goal is that in July we will reach that criteria.

This is what we saw one day at a "Tindahan" which is a small store people have as part of their house. It's like a 7-11, but really tiny and cheap. I thought it was funny what the sign said. What they meant was halo-halo, which is this mixture of ice cream, shavings, and fruit, which I have yet to try. It seems they have yet to try the awesomeness of halo 1. 

The guy on the left is who I'll be working with later on today, who is a Zone Leader. Hes Elder Haynie from Alabama. He's great and only a few transfers ahead of me. 

It's interesting how being a missionary doesn't really change how you take a picture. These are all of the ties that I bought for us.  

So yeah! Life's great here. The missionary work is pushing forward at a great rate.  The language is great. The missionaries are great. Every part is great.

Elder Thurber 

Matthew's Mom's note:  Be sure to read the other posts I publish today. I think I will be able to get caught up later today.  Merry Christmas to all of Matthew's friends.

Dec 2. "Mission Tour"

Mon 12/2/2013 7:50 AM:  "Mission Tour"

Magandang hapon po! (Good Afternoon!)
Elder Thurber and Elder Echo Hawk
The mission tour last Tuesday has strengthened my testimony tenfold. It's changed my life, really. Elder Larry J Echo Hawk is inspiring as they come. He changed my outlook on life and how God is in the middle of our lives. It was one of the most spiritual meetings in my life.

He started out the meeting by taking the group picture, which is usually done after the meeting. The reason being was he wanted to speak to us before the meeting started, and asked us to not talk on the way over and give him a handshake and speak with our eyes, and not our mouths, so that we can be reverent. And it worked! The whole day was one big spiritual feast! I loved every moment of it.
 He talked for a full hour about all of the crazy stories he's been through. For example, he made a deal with the Lord (while he was taking the missionary discussions as a teenager) that if he read the Book of Mormon, he would be chosen to be the high school starting quarterback. He kept his promise, and so did the Lord. He later played for BYU, too. Later on, he taught at BYU as a law professor, and then presided over all of BYU athletics, until he got a call from Barack Obama to lead Americas affairs with Native Americans (he's half Native American, hence the name.) He actually gave a talk in October 2012 and he addressed Native Americans personally.   http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/come-unto-me-o-ye-house-of-israel?lang=eng&query=Echohawk

I could spend a lot of time talking about him, but my time here on the internet is short. It's 8:20 right now. I technically should be proselyting right now, but earlier today, for the third straight Monday, the power went out during email.

We gathered up the courage to ask President Stucki to give us more time to email, because the internet worked so slow I couldn't even open up my email until the power was shut off, and I lost a page and a half of my blog entry. :(  The reason for the power being shut off (so I heard) was the power company is doing a campaign to change the people’s minds about the coal power plant by intentionally turning off the power, helping the people understand that they need a coal power plant, as there are plenty of signs in jumbled or "Caribou" English that they want to keep Aborlan clean by not getting a power plant. I'm not sure I believe it, but if you want a reason for why I sporadically send emails, it's because of this local struggle about the power plant. 

Usually the power outages do missionary work harm. But this week, I'm pleased to announce that Elder Hart and I set a companionship record for New Investigators! (Definition: people who we taught for the first time.) We got 16! Our goal was 14, which was the Standard of Excellence given to us by the mission president. Looking back, it makes me just smile and realize that God is the one in control of everything, not me. I say that because, when doing weekly planning last Friday, Elder Hart offered that suggestion. I didn't really like the idea, because we had one less day to work because of the mission tour, and our previous finding efforts have been significantly lacking. Like, last week, we got only 3 new investigators. I hope that puts some perspective on the success we had this week.

I asked Elder Hart, "How do you think we're going to be able to reach this goal? We haven't been able to in the past, and now we have even less time to complete it? Do you really think you can do this or do you just want to set goals that fulfill the Standard of Excellence?" He promptly replied, "I think we can do it." I decided not to think on it further, and have this mumbly-grumbly compromising attitude about it all. Oh, how my attitude has changed! Elder Hart's faith made up for mine, and we taught many, many lessons this week. We had so many lessons we had to split on Sunday to cover them all.

On Saturday we had exchanges and I got to go with the great Elder Merrill once again. Two new foreign missionaries always make for a lot of fun! His area is probably the most beautiful place I've ever been. We were surrounded by mountains and gardens and resorts. I wish I could go back there once again. We had good lessons, too. One guy asked, "So what do I need to do to be saved?" I wish every investigator would ask that. He accepted the baptismal invitation and they say he went to church last Sunday.
So, unfortunately Jorald's dad didn't budge on his decision to not sign the signature, even though we brought an old branch president by to visit with him. *sigh* Oh, well! Jorald is as strong as they come, so I'm not worried. He'll be baptized when he turns 18. I'm just happy to be a part of his conversion and having him constantly work with us.

Marisa A. is progressing! Sunday I taught her the Plan of Salvation. She has the most desire to be baptized of anybody I've met, but she is so darn nervous. If you have an extra moment, pray for her to feel comfortable, especially around us.
This is my first time as a missionary eating Jollibee. We got to go to the mall after mission tour, where I got some ties for the four of us, some exercise equipment, belt and slacks, and a good Tagalog-English dictionary, along with some chicken seen here which is better than what you can buy at Martins. 

We have a banana tree in the backyard, which we decided to harvest. These bananas, while small, are a lot more delicious than the bananas we eat in America! They're much sweeter and smell really good for some reason.
The picture at the end of this blog entry is a great example of how life sometimes works out in the Philippines. "It's more fun in the Philippines." I apologize for not getting Elder Wilkinson's head in this picture, but this lady with special needs, while we were in the mission tour, opened up his package and ate all of the chocolate here! Ahhh! He was pretty bummed, but he says it'll become one of those things he'll laugh at later on in life.  
God be with you until we meet again, my friends.
Elder Thurber

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Life and Times of Jorald; and Marica

12/18/2013Note from Matthew's Mom:Because I was out of town due to Matthew's sister Amy having a baby boy, I have been unable to update Elder Thurber's blog until now.  Also, there have been power outages in Palawan on P-day, due to the power company shutting off the power trying to convince the people of the need for a coal-powered power platn, so it has been unpredictable when we would hear from Matthew.  I will try to get caught up, though, today and tomorrow, so check back for a few more posts.  :) 

We very much are looking forward to hearing from Matthew on Christmas Day. He has been encouraged to bring the mission home when he calls us.  

Merry Christmas to all of Matthew's friends, and family!

Mon 11/25/2013 
Aborlan, Palawan

Sorry I just now sent this email. The power went out last Monday when I was typing.

Before I get into the steak and potatoes of my blog, I should talk a little bit about the Typhoon and Tacloban mission.  Be sure to check out the mormonnewsroom and see the like 400 missionaries from Tacloban that are transferring to different missions here in the Philippines.  The Manila mission got about 15 missionaries from the Tacloban mission, and two new missionaries are going to be coming down here (still from our mission) because of these changes probably in this next week.  Also, let me just say that I reached a historic, manly milestone during the storm. I took a shower outside! The water in the tub was dirty, so I really didn't have another option. It was a sweet, freezing cold, thing-you-only-experience-on-your-mission-in-the-Philippines type of thing.

Random Picture:  Elder Thurber and Elder Balonsong:

Zone Meeting last Tuesday was quite interesting. We got to meet the new ZL, Elder Haynie, from Alabama. I think that says enough. He's the tallest missionary I've seen and is very strict and hardworking. We also got a bunch of new missionaries from the MTC. Two of them are being trained by the best missionary I know, Elder Healey. 

Tue 11/26/2013 7:33 AM:  

"The Life and Times of Jorald J. and Marica A."

Dear friends,
Sorry, once again, for the late entry. Turns out that the power company set up a timetable for blackouts, and I was right in the middle of sending this message when the power was cut off, just like last week. I'll resist the urge to talk about yesterday's "mission tour" and all of its awesomeness, as it is for next Monday's entry. It's really awesome.  I’m so glad I can finally email! I have a lot to say, I suppose. Maybe you think differently, but I think it’s all pretty interesting.  

Let me start off with the most interesting investigator yet: Jorald. I’ve talked about him previously, and how he loves to work with us, along with attending church regularly and reading the scriptures daily, without any family support. In fact, his dad won’t sign the signature for him to get baptized. I’ve gotten really close to him as we’ve talked quite frequently (well... more like me muttering out some Tagalog, him responding, and me asking Elder Hart to translate) and I’ve really come to love him! When he prays, you know who he’s talking to.

This is a picture of Jorald and Grandpa Pambungas, who is the father of our branch president, from my Oct. 7th blog post.

The big hurdle is the signature. 

His dad is a born-again Christian, and while nice and friendly, says he won’t sign the signature because he thinks he’ll become LDS, too, if he does. I’m not sure how true that is, because we still haven’t been able to sit down and talk about it. Jorald is thinking there’s little hope right now, but the first counsellor to the branch presidency, Bro. Montellia, is willing to come with us to try to talk with him, or, at least to help us do the best we can.  In his behalf, I would very much appreciate your prayers for Jorald this week. Nobody knows for sure what will happen, except God!

I got sick for the first time on Friday. I lost a day of work, which was more frustrating than I thought it could be. But thankfully it only lasted 24 hours,  and now I'm back and running and annoying my companion once again when I feel like it.  :)

So we have finally got a investigator who completes the definition of a progression investigator (is following all of the commitments we give her and is progressing towards baptism). That is Marica A. I mentioned her earlier, right? Well, we finally got to teach her. I used the simplest Tagalog I know, because she was literally born and raised in isolation in a mountain until 16, and married a Less Active relative of the Branch President, and know has a kid at 19 years old, and loves to smile and attend church but not really talk. She, as well as the wife of the branch president, only know the language spoken in the mountain she was raised in. I can't even pronounce it.

The baptismal date we set was January 11th. Considering her enthusiasm and already attending church, we would think about doing it earlier, but considering her educational level, and that church on Sunday is in Narra, we decided that was the best date for her. It's a very solid date, as she meets all of the prerequisites for baptism, namely motivation and and a support system always there for her. In fact, the wife of the branch president said she will read to her the reading assignments we leave for her in the Book of Mormon! Talking about members and missionaries working together, eh? 

Most of our other investigators didn't attend church this Sunday because Manny Pacquiao decided to set up a huge donation-charity event for the people in Tacloban at 9 AM in the morning on Sunday, right when church starts. We lost practically half of our sacrament attendance because of it. Obviously, I'm not condemning his good intentions, but don't all churches start in the morning in the Philippines? Wish the timing had been better.

I'd like to leave and bear testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. It brings everybody closer to God. The spirit is felt by those who understand its message and read with real intent. It is the cornerstone of our religion and without it, our religion would simply fall apart. It binds broken testimonies and heals shattered faith. It is truly the word of God. How can I, or anybody, speak differently? What is its intention? Anybody who reads it can know that it testifies of Christ as the Bible does, and with more clarity, as it is translated purely through the power of god to his worthy servant, Joseph Smith. I know that regardless of how many times you have read the Book of Mormon, you will still gain something out of every single reading, unless you do it grudgingly. It's surprisingly simple and totally true! It's the word of God! I hope you agree.

With love,

Elder Thurber

Friday, November 15, 2013

Journal 2.0, Typhoon, and my 20th Birthday

Monday, Nov. 11, 2013
Aborlan, Palawan

Dear People Across the World,

I have come to a point that I accept that nothing in my mission will ever be normal. It's beautiful chaos 24/7. It's 20 times more interesting than regular life. 

First off, I'm still in Aborlan with Elder Hart, with Elders Saclot and Balonsong. Everybody is still here except for Elder Stephens, who was shipped back to Manila, and is still a zone leader. This is a picture of me and Elder Stephens.  He's served here quite a while! We got a new ZL, Elder Henie, who I'll be meeting tomorrow. 

I reached a milestone on Tuesday night, the day before my birthday. I knew every word that was spoken in a lesson. :D But it's still tough sometimes though.

I also got a birthday cake on Tuesday from Sister Gwilliam.  It was the perfect time to have a birthday, because my other batchmates, Elder Webb and Proudfit came down to see us, too! They're both staying in Palawan, but their trainers are heading out. Elder Webb is training immediately. They got some cake. Plus I get to see them all tomorrow because of Zone mtg!

My birthday was mabuti! I'm going to write about it just so you know the people here are really taking great care of me. BTW It's pronounced "mah-booty", and means good!  For breakfast I had some Frosted Flakes, which tasted like heaven. Do not take for granted cereal my friends! You never know what you have until it's gone. 

Something I noticed on my birthday is that Filipinos are really good at birthdays! Every Filipino wished me a Happy Birthday that I knew! They don't need Facebook to remind them of birthdays.  Me and Elder Hart and Decila Corpuz, Jorald Josol, and Glen Favella got 2 chickens, spaghetti, 2 things of soda, rice, 2 cartons of ice cream, and some bananas. When we came home, the other elders were waiting to surprise me. They even turned off the power and had candles to light to sing Happy Birthday. Notice our Thurber family picture sitting on the table.  Filipinos go ALL out in birthdays! They bought a 3500 peso cake! That's like 40 bucks in American money. They basically spent a quarter of their support on this chocolate cake, and they also bought kasava cake and a bunch of other food, so we've sure been feasting for the past few days on the leftovers.

It just so happens that I finished my first journal the day before my birthday, so I started my bigger journal right on my birthday. It should last me throughout my mission, so it's the new and improved journal 2.0! :D

I taught Roger and Trixa on Thursday. It was wonderful because all of the kids were asleep, and they could both fully give their attention to us. It was mabuti! We taught about the Word of Wisdom, and it made sense to them, and they said they would follow it. I am really starting to admire Trixa, because all of her comments about what she read are as correct if not more so than most Mormons would give-- and she hasn't even gone to church! It seems to me that Roger thinks that he should go to church first and be baptized, and then the rest of his family will follow. 

He was able to go to church on Sunday, but we had the unfortunate opportunity of seeing him walk to church with a cigarette in his mouth. Not mabuti! I guess we need to focus on him just a little bit more than what we have been. 

Apart from his cigarette, church was wonderful because Brother and Sister Gwilliam spoke in English! They gave great talks, and I wish you all could have heard them. Their speech was simple and pure so that people could understand them, but the message was powerful. 

We didn't get to work on Friday, because of the Typhoon that was coming through. Honestly, there wasn't too much to report other than I learned a bunch of new card games and a card trick I can bring back to America. 

On Saturday we got a text saying that we needed to email, but the power was cut off. We tried to work and taught 3 lessons, but had to head back home because of the zone leaders. 

Like I said at the beginning, there isn't a dull moment here in my mission. The work is really picking up here. We've taught more lessons and met more of our key indicators than we ever have as a companionship. While we go in usually intending to teach something we've taught before, it never is close to the same because of the people we teach. Each person has their own individual needs. It's cool to see them react to the gospel and then to try to add on to what they have and bring them to Christ. I may just be naive, but it never gets old!

Elder Thurber

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Four Companions and the End of my Training

Nov. 13th Note from Matthew's Mom:  We received our regular email from Matthew Monday, Nov. 11th.  Matthew did not report that the Typhoon had any impact on him other than he and his fellow companions were confined to their apartment for the day, and did no missionary work.  I will post his Nov. 11th update tomorrow or Friday.

Nov. 4, Aborlan, Palawan

Greets and Salutations,

I had four companions this week. They were Elder Stephens, Merrill, Saclot, and obviously, Elder Hart. I can say I’ve had my fill of variety of missionary experiences this week. I stayed in my area the entire time, so I really had to stretch myself and figure out what was going to happen.

First, I got to go with Elder Stephens for Tuesday. He has been out for a year now, and is a zone leader. It was one of those days where everything we planned…. went according to plan! He was really by the book and every lesson was 1) sit down 2) chat and ask questions 3) start with a prayer 4) introduce and teach what we planned 5) relate the lesson to what we chatted about 6) bear testimony and close with a prayer 7) leave a scripture and ask for referrals 8)leave quickly. He was quite the superb missionary, and his Tagalog was pretty fantastic, and I had the special opportunity to understand him perfectly. I’m used to getting just 90% of what people are saying, but his voice was very clear. He used to work in my area, so he usually knew where to go just like I did.

On Wednesday, Elder Hart returned, and we pulled out our ward directory and headed off to the unknown land of Plaridel. We found Gudovito Mandaricio, who was baptized in 2000, and now has the Melchizedek priesthood. His entire family of 6 was baptized. When we came to his door, he was working outside, and a grin came to his face, and we knew we were at the right house! He explained that he didn’t have enough money to go to church, because costs about 80 pesos for him and his wife (who was the primary chorister) to go to church one way. He told how much he wants to go back to church, and told about the Book of Mormon, which he had let a friend borrow. Hopefully, he can head back soon enough! We’ll try him on Wednesday, but there’s a good chance Wednesday is when we’re going to be transferred.

We then taught Tatay Capinig. He was just one Sunday short of becoming a returned member. We always enjoy his company, and our member-present (Glen Favella, who is about to serve a mission) bought some of his balut, so I got to see that. Anyways, at the end of the lesson, he asked us if it would be okay to go to the Catholic church on Sundays. I was a little shocked, but tried to encourage him.

Honestly, the Assistants to the President or Pres Stucki should be calling us soon about transfers, and we’re all kind of giggly right now in the apartment. That’s basically all we’ve talked during dinner for the past few days. Obviously, I’ll letcha know next email what’s going to happen.

Thursday was a day solely unique to my mission experience, because I headed out with Elder Merrill (a new elder)  to Magsaysay. Elder Stephens went with Elder Hart there last week and got a bunch of return appointments, which I tried to handle and figure out, with Elder Merrill at my side. Thankfully, we had Jorald and Decila right next to us trying to guide us, but alas, we weren’t able to teach any of the lessons. I felt soooo beaten after it was over. My Tagalog failed me, it seemed, and while we handed out a Book of Mormon and got a few return dates, I couldn’t teach anybody I tried to reach. We were still able to teach some lessons that day, but left Magsaysay empty-handed.

We then came down to another return appointment, which went well, and then finally got to teach John Rex Unlao. He was Jorald’s friend in school, and accepted a baptismal invitation about 4 weeks ago. Thursday was our second lesson :/ It’s been tough. There in the lesson, Elder Merrill spilled out some Tagalog about prophets and the Book of Mormon. I couldn’t help but smile, as I could totally relate to what he was going through. And then I tried to relay what he said to those who were there. Truthfully, I’m SO glad I know more Tagalog now than I did as a new elder!

At the end of the Lesson, John-Rex beckoned over to Jorald to talk to him in private. When they came back, Jorald told me about the baptism that we had planned. That was definitely a highlight of my day! I said he had to have more lessons, attend church, and read the Book of Mormon, none of which he did. When I asked if was willing to come to church, he said resolutely “Opo!” Which means “Yes” in English. It was a good feeling to know that at least people who aren’t in the church want to try to live the gospel.
While he still wasn’t able to, Roger Dela Cruz, the man I’ve been talking about for the past long while, finally came to church! He said he had a great experience, and will be attending church next week in Pwuerto, Palawan, b/c that’s where he’ll be working.

This is on our way back from a members house from "All Souls Day", which is kind of like Halloween.

I just thought this picture was funny :) "100x paddle to the butt!" It's always funny when Filipinos use English. 

Right before fast Sunday, it was Sister Pambungas' birthday. I had some delicious pakwan for the first time in the Philipines. It's this great thing called watermelon. We enjoyed each other's company quite a bit. 

Sorry this is getting rather lengthy…. One last thing! Sunday I taught the Egcol family. They’re Less Active and have been going to the Baptist church because of their children. They say they’re “closer as a family now.” I honestly felt that I gained the Gift of Tongues when I taught them. They were actually the first people I met when I came on my mission, when Elder Balonsong bugged me into trying to talk to people. Anyways, I read Moroni 10: 26 or whatever the scripture is about Mormon being a voice “crying from the dust” and how we’re accountable to the Lord for the information we know about the church. It was probably the first time I’ve spoken passionately in Tagalog, and I hope it made a difference in getting them back to church!

But they have agency, and I respect that.  Frankly, what I’m doing as a missionary is allowing people to use their agency to their good. Example: Winston Alaska, who is our age. We tried to teach him for the longest while, but he was always away. We finally got to him on Friday, and extended a baptismal invitation, which he accepted. The teaching record says that he had been asked several times in the past, so I feel so blessed to be the missionary to have him accept this sacred opportunity! That’s the type of time I’m thankful for agency, because they want to do good! I liked it so much that we accepted to teach him during this morning, which usually doesn’t happen bc it’s P-day, but since he’s right next to our house, we taught him anyways.

In today’s world, I feel like people spend more time being busy rather than improving as individuals through careful introspection of their thoughts and desires. Have you ever thought about how many people are going about their lives trying to do well and improve? Most seem to just roll along (Filipinos especially) but I testify that the gospel puts our very being on the path of true happiness and lasting joy, which fits us to once again return to our Father in Heaven and achieve perfection! Everybody I meet on the street has that chance! But once again it boils down to agency. It always does.  

Friday, November 8, 2013



Typhoon Haiyan Update: Church Supplying Relief Supplies to Those in Need

Leaders Establishing Contact with Members, Missionaries

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expresses condolences to the millions affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and is providing shelter, food, water and other basic supplies to evacuees and displaced families.
An estimated 700,000 people are now displaced. In areas impacted by the storm, particularly in the eastern coastal regions, transportation, power and communication networks are down.
All Mormon missionaries serving in the Church’s 21 Filipino missions are accounted for, with the exception of some serving in the Philippines Tacloban Mission. Before the typhoon, missionaries had been moved to areas where they would be adequately sheltered, and the Church is working to establish contact with Tacloban mission leaders.
“A Church Welfare Department employee is traveling to the island of Leyte with communication equipment to establish contact with the Tacloban mission president,” said Stephen B. Allen, Missionary Department managing director. "We plan to be in communication with those in Leyte by Saturday in the Philippines.”
Efforts are also underway to make contact with Church members. More than 14,000 members and others have sought refuge in 200 Church meetinghouses.
As daylight comes, the Church anticipates that missionaries throughout the country will begin assisting those in need.
Local Church leaders will spend the weekend assessing further needs of both members and the community. 
Additional information will be posted on Mormon Newsroom as it becomes available.
STYLE GUIDE NOTE: When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online style guide.

Church Members, Missionaries in Philippines Prepared for Typhoon Haiyan



Church Members, Missionaries in Philippines Prepared for Typhoon Haiyan

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines has taken precautions in anticipation of Typhoon Haiyan. Church leaders have been evaluating resources and making specific preparations for the storm for the past week, and they will work with local authorities and relief agencies to provide assistance as the storm progresses.

The storm is forecast to hit the Visayas region of the Philippines, and it may impact nearly two-thirds of the country. Officials are warning that the storm has the potential to cause widespread damage.
Church buildings in areas near the storm’s anticipated path are already being used as shelters for those in need of safer housing, and more buildings will be used as needed.
The Church has 21 missions in the Philippines. Mission presidents have taken precautions to protect the safety and well-being of missionaries, moving them to alternate housing where necessary.
“If there is any concern about the safety of an area, we move our missionaries out of that area,” said Stephen B. Allen, Missionary Department managing director. “We’ve known about this storm for some time, and all mission presidents have moved missionaries to areas where they believe they can be adequately sheltered from the typhoon.”
The Church stands ready to assist affected communities during and after the storm. Emergency response resources have been secured, including food, water and other supplies (items such as blankets, hygiene supplies, tarps, chain saws and shovels).
As the storm progresses, local Church leaders and Welfare Department personnel will make assessments and coordinate with local authorities and response partners to determine needed assistance and future relief efforts.
STYLE GUIDE NOTE: When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online style guide.