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

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

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.  

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