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

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jan. 20th, 27th, & Dec. 29th Blog updates (Goin' back to Manilla!)

January 20th, 2014, Aborlan, Palawan
Kumusta sa inyong lahat!
Just look it up on google translator. Should work.
So... I apologize for not sending blog entries lately. I never have enough time to do what I want!
Let me boil down to the business quickly: E Saclot has left and Elder Tekanene has been added to the apartment. He is from Karibiti, a small, small island south of Hawaii, where the church is blossoming LIKE CRAZY! a tenth of the population are members! You should all look it up on google maps and mormonnewsroom.org. He is the kindest missionary I've met, and is super funny. I broke my camera so I can't send any pictures
Also, we get a baptism (in a river) this coming Friday.  Pictures will be coming your way.

I'm also learning how to cook. When I get back, I'm going to make all of you (who want it) Bicol Express.


January 27th, 2014, Aborlan, Palawan
"Goin' Back to Manilla!"

Yep! It's true! Elder Thurber is finally going to be going to the most crowded city in the world and preach the gospel.  I'm not sure where I'm going in Manila. I found out right before coming here to email for the last time. I'm crying a little on the inside, knowing how much I have changed, and how I have changed the lives around me.
The baptism of Marissa Aton went very well! Eric, one of the priests in the branch who frequently works with us, baptized her in the Liska River. While it took about 8 tries to get her fully in the water and for Eric to say the prayer, salvation was reached in the end! :) All of the speakers spoke in Tagbanua, so I didn't understand squat. But it didn't matter. I was just happy for the baptism.

(Matthew's Mom's note:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tagbanwa_people) 
A typical Tagbanwa hut

This week was full of miracles! We have tried our best to visit members lately, (something me and Elder Hart hadn't done in the past) trying to strengthen members and ask for referrals. We went to one last Wednesday. The dad, Jimmy Somblaceno (Sohm-blah-sen-yo) is less active, but is always too tired from fishing to join in on the lesson. After talking for 15 minutes at the door, we were about to leave when one of the back doors started to open. We stood in silence. And then it closed. And then it opened and the great Jimmy came out! It was the first time I had even seen the guy, and we quickly became great friends. He told of his desire to attend church and be an example to his family, but his shyness and smoking problem are keeping him at bay.
I'm happy to say that I saw him come in at the middle of priesthood mtg. yesterday! While he was in a plain white t, he got a bunch of welcomes from the branch. And before sacrament meeting started, we got to see Joel Tico come in! The branch flooded him just like Jimmy. And when we taught him later on, he got up the courage to say the closing prayer in the lesson, something he was too shy to do previously.

Frankly, it was one of the most spiritual lessons I have been in. We talked about faith, and how it leads to action, and how Christ didn't eliminate our responsibility by completing the atonement. What he did eliminate, however, is the consequences of sin and death, to those who comprehend that they need Jesus Christ. By that I mean that they understand that faith and repentance is necessary. Looking into my own personal path, there are so many things that have hampered my progression towards that understanding. I think English needs a stronger word than understanding to express what I'm trying to say.

Elder Thurber

Dec. 29th, 2013
Aborlan, Palawan

Dear everybody on the opposite side of the world,

I hope you all had a wonderful merry Christmas and that you have kept the true spirit of Christmas as the great Thurber/Chong companionship have tried to do! By the true spirt of Christmas I mean eating a little more than needed at lunchtime, and then going to a member's house later on, and then seriously overeating. I felt like a king at Christmastime! I think it sufficeth me to say that I’m a happy elder here in Palawan. Even though I’ve been sick even until today, I’ve been able to push through.

So, we got ten new investigators this week which we tried to get. Nine out of the ten said before we even started out with the prayer, that they would be willing to hear our message, but that they’re catholic and they won’t change religions. You may ask, “What about the other one?” Well, that’s just one of the tender mercies of God that I’ve been blessed with this week.

Like everything that has meant anything in my mission, I met him after we got a bunch of tough experiences! It was 8:30 and we were walking on the national highway back to our house, which is about maybe a 15 minute walk. I had tried to meet with the people in his house before, and so I didn’t really think too much to try it. I saw a shirtless guy my age working on his motorcycle. He reminded me of Moguli, the main character of the Jungle Book. Trying to be friendly, I said, "Hi." Much to my surprise, he responded energetically, asking a bunch of questions as Filipinos love to do. We started talking to him and he asked bluntly “what does it take to become a member of your religion?” My response: “Uhhh…” He continued, “Is it okay that I’m catholic right now? Can I still change religions?” I tried my best to respond to such an energetic response! We taught him quickly the message of the restoration and how we need to be baptized. He didn’t even hesitate to accept the baptismal invitation, even though he said he wouldn’t be able to come to church this next Sunday, he expressed his desire to go to church like his family used to do at the catholic church, and that he missed it terribly.

I hope to tell you more about him in future emails.

Marcia Aton is on her way to baptism! We’re planning on January 25th. And unless something terrible happens, I’m pretty sure it’ll work out . She’s steadily getting more willing to answer questions and to pray. We taught her on Friday and Sunday. We had 4 returned-missionaries as member presents on Sunday! One of them spoke Tagbanua, her native language. We had no idea what he was teaching, but at the end of the lesson, I got to learn 10 words in Tagbanua! So maybe we’ll gain a little bit of her trust by speaking in the language she best understands.

Roger… oh Roger. He’s the man. He came to church this Sunday! He actually got to church before we did! He came up in a trike with two of his kids! And he said he’s off of the cigarettes! I hoping with all of my heart that January 25th will be the day all of the prayers and fasting will finally pay off. If you, whoever you are, would please keep him in your prayers so that he’ll be able to keep of the cigarettes and attend church every week, that’d be greatly appreciated by me, personally. 

You'll be thankful you did. I know a lot of people are already praying for us, and it is definitely making a difference. One thing me and Elder Chong are constantly talking about is how we want to do missionary work when we get back to the states. By helping us through prayer, you are hastening the work of salvation that has been commanded of us to do. I love the work, however tiring it may be sometimes! I love seeing the look of understanding on people's faces when we teach them the gospel and learn true, unchanging principles that god has given us in these latter days through prophets who live in our day and know, through revelation, what god wants of us.

Elder Thurber