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

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

Monday, July 29, 2013

7/26/2013 Philippines MTC

July 26, 2013
Philippines MTC


Hello! It's hard to believe I'm halfway out of this training center place thing. Honestly, I can say I'm getting the feel of the language now. I can understand quite a bit about what is being said in, say, the Book of Mormon.

I have now two Filipino roommates. They're pretty cool, but what really bugs me is that it seems like they only need like 5 hours of sleep. So they always wake up early in the morning. I often wake up just to see them praying. They probably pray for like 30 minutes each morning! Even though they're a lot shorter than me, they have a taller spirit, so to speak.

I would say that my relationship with my kasama (companion) is probably one of the best here at the MTC. We are always early to everything, and teach really well together, even though we don't exactly talk a lot on our own. But we definitely love each other.

The MTC pres is rather fond of me, I think. He always seems to run into me when I'm doing something good. I have a picture with him. 

His first counselor, Bro. Villanueva, was able to come to one of Elder Langi’s and my investigator lessons, and it was by far the best lesson we had ever taught! Elder Langi took the words out of my mouth that I wished I had said when I asked him if he wanted to add anything. It was inspiring.   
Here's a picture of my companion Elder Langi, and the teacher I wrote you about last week:

Last Sunday was a pretty crazy day for me.  In our leadership meeting at 7:30, we had several new district leaders and sister leader missionaries who spoke up about their missionaries. There was one Chinese missionary that asked if the MTC could turn UP the temperature of the water in the drinking fountains because "cold water doesn't taste good." (I thought it isn't cold enough.) Another Filipino missionary said that his district wasn't comfortable using toilet paper, and that they ask to use "soap and water." I couldn't believe it!  We also had a surprise leadership meeting. Basically, there have been a bunch of viruses going around, and yeah, almost everybody around me has been getting sick. But, I've been healthy this entire time! I feel so blessed. Oh yeah, and this is a picture of all of the missionaries from America.

At district meeting, I gave a lesson to my district. I was really nervous, because I really wanted to hit hard the importance of being on time and following all of the rules. I was really stern--REALLY stern! I felt crummy afterwards, and I felt i just destroyed the relationship I had with my district. But later, as we were all coming back from companionship study, they asked me to give the lesson again because they liked it! I couldn't believe it. (I didn't, btw.)

Later on in the day, the Tongans in our group told me more about Tongan culture. For one, they share EVERYTHING, regardless of how much you want it yourself, and it's super offensive to not share. If you buy a car, it's also your neighbor’s car. Get the picture?
They also don't really *agree* with the idea of punctuality. They don't like being rushed, and prefer to just be happy doing things on their own time, which has really stressed me out as a district leader since I’m supposed to keep things organized. For example, for roll call in the mornings I often have to wait another 30 minutes before I can go to breakfast because they're still sleeping or taking a shower. And they love to sing, which I'm okay with. For Sunday's language study, we sang the missionary purpose in Tagalog to the tune of "The Spirit of God" and the last part was "Come Follow Me." It was awesome!

Starting on Saturday, our teacher gave us the "only 20 words English every day" rule. To be rather blunt, it was ridiculously hard, and stressed me out. But it's definitely helped me progress in the language
This Wednesday I get to go proselytizing with a missionary in the field! The class above me has given me some crazy stories. For example, they've taught a 14 year old married woman who is pregnant... or taught a man who hasn't eaten for three days who looks happier than they had ever seen. Crazy stories. I can't wait!

My favorite part of the day right now is probably companionship study. My kasama and I have this system where one of us reads in Tagalog while the other looks on in English, and then we switch. I always feel the spirit of God so strongly, even if I have no idea or connection about what's going on. 

I can see that a lot of missionaries are losing confidence here at the MTC, though. I can understand why. It's tough. But, I think their problem is that they haven’t figured out yet that they need to be willing to be changed, and that makes all of the difference. I am definitely changing as a person. If I were to go home right now, my life would be so much more productive, and I would try to keep just as busy as I am right now, as well as read the Book of Mormon more and I would just be a happier person.

On Tuesday the fire alarm unexpectedly went off at around probably 3 o'clock. I smelled fire, and my district quickly went to the grass in the front. We had had fire drills earlier, and so this was quite unusual. A minute later a fire truck pulled up and a bunch of firemen jumped out and hurried up to the second floor, and then came down with an elder in a stretcher. But it was all fake. Booooooooooooooo! 

Also, two of my silk ties have stains in them now. Neither time was it my fault, though.

Elder Ardern of the Seventy spoke to us this past Tuesday. He gave a talk a few General Conferences ago, about angry birds, I think. He talked with us about power.  The quote by him I'll remember is this: "Participation Precedes Revelation." He was speaking to us missionaries, whether in classes, or during lessons, or when you companion is talking. It's so true! My life has been so much better because of it.

There are some crazy missionaries who arrived recently. There's a sister missionary who is the nicest person I've ever met, who is also a midget! I want to be more like her. And also there's an Elder Sister! Elder Wejendran is from Sri Lanka, and has become one of my best friends. I love hearing about other people's country while they’re here.  There are two brothers here who are going to the same mission! One's a year older than the other. Isn't that crazy? They didn't like request to go to the same mission, but there they are! I want to travel to every country where my new friends come from. But I know that the missionaries are the best part of the country. 

Here's the bottom line: I can't wait to get out in the field!


Elder Thurber

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