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

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Landmines, 3 Baptisms, Rain, and a Wedding

10-28-2013 Aborlan, Palawan

Dear Everybody,

I have a new reason why I like being on a mission: time flies by so quickly while on your mission. I definitely have found this to be true now that I realize my time being trained is coming to an abrupt close. I will find out next week if I'm going to be
1. Transferred (most likely back to Manila, which will be for the rest of my mission, most likely.)
2.  Stay here and have a new follow-up trainer.
3.  Same as 2, only having Elder Hart be my follow-up.
4.  Stay here and train a new missionary, most likely Filipino.
So yeah, I'm a little excited about all of this!

To keep this blog fresh, I'm going to look at my daily planner now, and then just jot down one of my days as I planned it, and report how it actually panned out, according to what I remember. As you will see, it has its bonuses and its minuses!

I choose.... Saturday!

The Plan
* 6:30 Wake up and exercise and shower and eat and get in missionary attire.
* 8:00 Do companionship study for an hour
* 9:00 Get ready to go to Mike Sevilla's wedding
* 10:00 arrive at the wedding, and eat there
* 2:00 return to teach Brother Biolena (Bee--oo-lane-uh), the recently returned less active who lives with one of our investigators. Unfortunately, they're not married. We go there to talk about families and what is required to go to the temple.
* 3:00 Finish off our last hour of companionship study.
* 5:00 Baptism of Mike Sevilla, and Anthony Jadloc
* 7:00 Teach the Somblaceno family. The dad's inactive, and very shy because they say he smokes and doesn't feel worthy to come to church. We were going to teach about how the gospel helps people overcome difficulties in their lives.
* 8:00 Teach Bro Capinig "Saints for all Seasons" by President Uchtdorf in one of the past Liahonas.
* 9:00 return home.
It's a pretty good plan, and in retrospect, I wouldn't change it at all.

Here's How It Actually Went:
* 6:30 Goes according to plan...
* 8:00 we start up companionship study, but totally forget about the wedding, and continue doing companionship study until 9:45.
* 10:30 Pick up a trike and head down to the wedding hoping we're not missing the wedding of our investigator. We get there and find out we're surprisingly early, as seen in the first picture.
  • So we actually spend a lot of time waiting, and talking with everybody. I didn't know too many people there, and so I tried to reach out.
  • I got to meet a Baptist minister who said in very broken English that I'm not good in Tagalog.
  • I met a newly returned missionary in our ward who served in the Philippines Angeles Mission.

  • I also congratulated  Brother Mike Sevilla, who looked stunning in his suit.*I had a good conversation with him where he said I was good in Tagalog. So as to whether not I am "marunog" (or intelligent) in Tagalog, is a mystery to me.
  • Then it started raining, and the tarp had a few holes in it, so we put a few buckets where the leaks came down. Then it REALLY started raining, and that's when the tarps started failing. Being the tallest person (by far) I got to be the one to try to fix all of the tarps, but alas, even the great Elder Thurber can get defeated. While trying to save the beautiful decorations made for the wedding, I was baptized by water several times. But it was okay because everybody put their umbrellas over the tables and hurriedly took the food into the house. 

        This picture is about our first attempts to save everything

But thankfully, the rain stopped just as Mike and Christine Sevilla came back from the Mayor’s house. 

The couple looked gorgeous, and a little nervous because of it all. (Don't judge my terrible photography skills. My weaknesses will be made strong. . . . eventually) (see Ether 12:27). 

  • We ate while listening to Brother Deo sing karaoke and saw the couple dance. The people stapled a bunch of 100 and 200 peso bills onto their clothes as they danced. Sorry I didn't take a picture.

But I did take a picture of me and Elder Hart having a serious conversation.

And of us missionaries with the happy couple. Good times!

* Unfortunately, we lost track of time, and there weren't any trikes heading down the road, so we all walked for about 30 minutes back to our house, feeling crummy.
* Since we realized we didn't have time, we headed directly off to Bro Biolena's house, still a little wet because of the wedding.
  • We taught a good lesson about families and they were all receiving it well.
  • Then I asked "Gusto nyo ba pasokin ang Templo sa Maynila?" Then it went downhill. Glorybe simply left saying she needed to cook, and things got really awkward really quickly. But then, Bro Biolena started talking about the guilt he felt, and that while he had a testimony of the gospel (despite the many friends he has who love to persuade him otherwise) he knows he’s making the wrong decision.
  • I cried a little, because I realized I came there teaching him the wrong lesson. I wanted to commit him to go to the temple, but I needed to simply encourage him and tell him that God loves him. I felt so bad that I had given him such guilt by reminding him of how he's not currently living worthily of entering the temple for eternity. I could see it in his eyes that he was sincere.
  • He then said that's his top priority, and I felt the spirit just rush over me. I thought: here is a man who has tried to do his best, despite his mistakes he’s made in the past! He actually has two kids on missions right now, and he is a great influence to everybody around him. Now, I feel, he's helping himself.
* 5:20  After the lesson, we realized we were late for the baptism scheduled at 5:00. So we jogged down to the Liska River for the baptism. We couldn't head home and change our clothes.
  • When we got there, Elder Balonsong was dressed in too-big baptismal clothes. But he just laughed. Turns out, he baptized actually 3 people that day, because there was an 8 year old who was getting baptized. I forgot his name,(but he had a really hard time getting into the water because it was so cold! hehe)
      Everybody that attended the baptism
  • I got to know the returned missionary a little better. His name is Joman Saldino. He gave a talk to the baptizees. He was quite good! I felt like we really hit it off together then. Turns out, just yesterday, he got called as our ward mission leader! I am so happy for that, because he is very able to go with us to the lessons, getting that ever-so-crucial member present. We used him yesterday because we have a ton of lessons to go to, and had to split. He went with Elder Hart and I with two others.  Turns out, just yesterday, he got called as our ward mission leader! I am so happy for that, because he is very able to go with us to the lessons, getting that ever-so-crucial member present. We used him yesterday because we have a ton of lessons to go to, and had to split. He went with Elder Hart and I with with someone else.  
*  Back to Saturday: The baptisms went surprisingly fast, and we were able to head over to Somblaceno family with Decila and Jorald. After we crossed several shaky bamboo bridges ("Hey Elder, do you have these in America?" "Uh... no."), we got to their house only to find that they were having a party.
    • Despite the party, they let us in, and everybody became silent, wanting to hear our message! I was quite... petrified; there were at least 15 people there looking at me. Eeek!
    • I tried to put the pressure off of me by asking if they would like to watch the Restoration video for our lesson, The dad was on the couch next to us. And yes, he was interested in our message. But I still didn't know what I was doing.
    • I said I had a verse for them, to fill up the silence, but not knowing what verse to give. Luckety luck I opened up to the scripture about giving knowledge "line upon line, precept upon precept" and after that thought, Elder Hart and I gave the lesson on the Restoration and how our message gives people additional knowledge of the scriptures.
    • I am so glad for the Spirit because I definitely didn't know what to do. Luckety-luck, they really enjoyed our message they said, and wanted to read the Book of Mormon, and gave us an address and a return date! Wahoo!
* Then, Bro Capinig wasn't home. But that was actually a good thing, because we didn't have time to do companionship study at three as we planned. So we headed home, exhausted by all the happenings of the day.
* Truth be told, I only told you half of the important things that happened that day. Imagine what it's like for me every day, and then you'll realize why life goes by so fast for a missionary. You don't even have time to think, but only to do. It's a pretty sweet life!

* Missionary life has its funny moments too. That may be partially because the Philippines is awesome. 
  • Take for example the word landmine. Because of the lack of toilets around here, people sometimes resort to prehistoric measures to hide their excrement by putting a little dirt over it and calling it good. I had the privilege of stepping on one of those structures that they call "landmines." It was quite gross.
  • Or another reason why things are fun here: currently there's a cat that is deciding to take a nap on my sidebag.
  • Or the lady in the next picture who kept on saying I was "guapo" during the wedding.
    FYI, guapo means handsome. She asked for a picture with me hahaha so here it is.
    Or of the Karaoke machine at the wedding that modifies voices to sound better and in tune. Yeah my mission's the best. 
The best part is the lessons though.

Another time I'll focus more on what I'm teaching in my lessons. I haven't done it that much yet cuz I often don't know what's going on, but now that's changing, so I can start telling you what actually happened cuz I understand it more.

Elder Thurber

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