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

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

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Spirit is the Most Powerful Influence in Missionary Work!

September 30, 2013, Aborlan, Palawan
Dear Everybody,
First, I will give you a new Tagalog lesson! In order to make something plural, you use "mga" or munga. So if you want to say "How are your kids?" You would say "How are your mga kid?" So, Yeah--I'll try using that in this email.

My companion, Elder Hart, just became district leader for the first time since the MTC! So that means he's going to be spending a lot of time on the phone with other missionaries. I totally believe in him that he will totally fulfill his calling, mainly because we have great mga missionary in our district, and Elder Hart's a great missionary as well, obviously. We have Elder Stephens, too, who was a high school quarterback, and joined the church just a year before serving a mission. He's a zone leader along with Elder Limocon, who is a total goofball, but has a strong testimony. The previous district leader has now left, and his trainee, Elder Delorino, is now training. Elder Delorino is learning English, and they say his companion is apparently American

Because of mga exchange, I'm going to be seeing a bunch of different mga way of seeing how missionary work is being done by these people! I can't wait for what's in store for me.

This guy is Elder Belnap. He's my hero. His Tagalog is impeccable. I've only seen him at zone conference, where this picture was taken, but I was with him in practice teaching. The scenario was street contacting. He was absolutely ridiculous-- both literally and figuratively. He just said what he wanted to, and said to me that's what gets people's attention out in the field. 

We had a ward party/variety show on Saturda. It was a well-organized event, and lasted from 10 to 5. Our responsibility as missionaries was to provide ice cream for everybody, which turned out to be pretty expensive. We said we would bring it if they gave us mga investigator.

 We also sang a rendition of the song "Ere You Left Your Room This Morning." Most of the people got the message, but some were still pretty confused.

Here it is:

“Did You Think to Ask”

Verse 1
Ere, you left your friends last e-vning
Did you think to ask?
Have you met our missionaries?
Have you read the Book of Mormon,
And prayed to know it's true?

Oh, how referrals rest the weary
missionaries here for you!
So when you give us a referral
You will be blessed.

verse 2 
How was the ice cream?
Was it masarap?
Did you remember your commitment?
That you might refer another
who had crossed your way?

verse 3
We have gone to door to door
seeking precious souls
but there is a better way
to teach and to be baptized
every other day.

I also was asked to play piano, and so I played some good ol' Chopin (the Polonaise in A-flat Major). I am SO out of shape! But, I don't think they cared all that much, so oh well! It still felt good to play it again, even though it wasn't up to tempo.
This is what we sometimes get for breakfast when we're out of oatmeal or fruit or whatever. Minus the packaged stuff, each piece of bread there is only two pesos! Pretty cheap, right? Well, I try to avoid it as much as I can, because of how much hydrogenated junk they put in it. But sometimes it's unavoidable when you have the hectic schedule of a missionary. 

Interesting fact: Elder Gwilliams, the senior missionary serving here with his wife, served in Manila as a young elder many years ago, and got called to return to the same area. Turns out, it was an English speaking mission back then, because the Book of Mormon at that time had not yet been translated into Tagalog, AND because more people knew English at that time.  (This is because the Second World War resulted in close relations between the Americans and Filipinos.) The language now has reverted back to Tagalog, so the mission language has changed to Tagalog, too. So... like most 60+ people know English, but not the 50 year olds.
Our investigators are doing well, but it's so hard to get people to come to church, and people need to go to church four times in a row in order to be baptized. But Decila Corpuz, the woman I mentioned earlier, is quite on track with that! She will most likely be baptized on the 19 of October, if she continues to stay away from coffee. Her older sister is an investigator, also, and is actually married to a less active. But the BIG problem that we're facing with them is this: they need to be married first. It is a big deal here in the Philippines, because people are not legally allowed to be divorced. Weird, right? And divorce can be expensive. But I heard from Elder Balonsong, that there are ways to deal with it. Elder Hart and I will look into that. 

This is a picture of Jorald and Grandpa Pambungas, who is the father of our branch president.
Jorald has given us so many referrals, and loves to do missionary work. Thing is, he's not even a member! He wants to be baptized, but his dad won't sign the form-- yet. We'll see about that. We're planning on meeting with his dad this week to discuss things.

These are two of our future mga missionary!  I've worked with them once or twice each.

One of our other mga investigator is Jena Orkin. She lives out in the middle of nowhere, and it takes a good 45 minutes to walk to her house. We can't take a trike because there aren't any roads. This picture is an example of what it is like to get to her house. Her "husband" is a member, as well as his mga parent, but once again, they need to be married in order to be baptized. 
Just the other day, we met once again with Roger Dela Cruz. He was one of the first people I ever gave a lesson to. He has a family of five, and loves Mormons and the church, but with his health condition things are hard. The reason why I was able to visit him again was because our boundaries in Aborlan changed, so now he's in my area again. He knows a little bit of English, and tries to use it as much as he can, so that's nice. His wife is very supportive of his decision to be baptized despite his condition, which I'm not completely sure of. He's a great guy and if he just keeps to what he says he'll do, he will most certainly understand that joining the church is the right thing to do.

I love teaching him because he knows a lot of English, and I get to testify in English. And instead of focusing on the words, I can simply focus on him and the Spirit. And put quite simply, the Spirit is the most powerful influence in missionary work! Frankly, it's what keeps me going, when every part of my body says to stop walking, relax, and just go home for the evening. But once I sit down in a lesson and talk about prophets, the restoration, the atonement, the Spirit seeps in to me, and tells me it is true, once again. It fills me with purpose and with hope that I have never felt before in my life. I love doing work because of the Spirit. And the wonderful thing about it is the Spirit it always makes itself known to those who are willing to listen. I testify that it is real, and is the reason why the church is able to progress.

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