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

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