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

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

Thursday, March 20, 2014

We Baptize, We Retain, We Reactivate, We Marry People 3/17/14

March 17th, 2014
Metro Manila: Pamplona District, Paranaque West East Zone

(Note from Matthew's mom:
Today I posted five blog updates for Matthew's blog.  The first post is the "Starting Over--In Manila; Feb. 3rd & 16th."  I recommend you scroll down and start with that post so you'll understand his story better.)


Ok, I included the last part of the Manila mission motto and modified it a bit just because this describes my experience.

On the 29th, we're going to have a baptism of Cesan Dela Cruz. But before that, we're going to get her married. And our next baptism, Arlyn Ceran, is in the same situation. That'll be on April 12th, hopefully, if everything goes as planned. We constantly have to go over the Law of Chastity and help people understand that when they are cohabitating, they're sinning. It's hard to teach this because we know how easily offended Filipinos can be.

I think I want to dedicate an entire paragraph to this, because it has become more and more apparent to me as time has gone on. I’ve learned that you must not raise your voice to a Filipino for a second, or they will get offended. You can't reject the food they give you, or they think "Oh, this Americanos too good for me, ah?" But, seriously it's actually practically impossible to tell if you really do offend them, because they won't acknowledge it or anything. On the flipside, I can imagine a Filipinio coming to America and saying how easily Americans get offended. It's also just common nature for them to say "Oh, my goodness--you're getting fat! You probably should go on a diet." What's worse is when it comes to the language. When a lesson is over, they love going over how you did in the language. I.E. how *YOU*  did-- if they thought it was understandable. And they are blunt. blunt. blunt.  

But they're also so nice! We have a good new investigator, Sister Chi Ann. We taught her yesterday, and she said she would come to church this Sunday before we even got the chance to ask her! Ladies and gentleman, that's what I love to hear! We taught a good lesson, and we got a good new investigator who went to church last Sunday without us noticing her!

We have a sweet new chapel, where I got to lead my first district meeting. I gave a little lesson on being obedient and how we're "instruments" of the Lord. I talked about the new piano that's coming to BYU, and how important it is to have great instruments, especially when the Spirit of God is the one using us! I made four bullet points, or "strings" in the lesson.

1. Be exactly obedient.
2. Sound understanding. (get it? Sound? Music?)
3. Charity and love.
4. Testimony.

I chose these bullet points because I feel missionaries need to be worthy conduits, or instruments of the spirit!

That's all for today,

Elder Thurber

PS Sorry, my camera isn't registering on this computer right now, so no pictures this week.

I'm Going to samoa! 3/9/14

March 9th, 2014
Metro Manila: Pamplona District, Paranaque West East Zone
Good friends and family,
Yes, it's true I will be going to samoa, very soon! Ok, well, not really--but let me explain. Here's a little Tagalog lesson first. All these words--"on, in, by, at" can all be translated to the word "sa" in Tagalog. It's the most versatile word I know. So, if you were going to say “my house” in Tagalog, you would say "Sa house ko." It really just designates location. WELL, I'm going to sa moa later on today! And MOA is the Mall of Asia, one of the biggest malls in the entire world! I got permission today, and am going to take a bunch of pictures, so be prepared.

Since I finally have time, I'd like to share about my awesome recent convert, Brother Gabino! I can honestly say that I was the lucky harvester of a truly converted man. The other missionaries saw the previous Gabino, the one he always talks about, who constantly would argue with his wife and would smoke all the day long. I came in at the end of his conversion to the gospel. It's truly incredible! I remember meeting him as he would tentatively speak about his baptismal date, and his skepticism and questions about the gospel. Many of my most spiritual lessons have been within his very small house with his two kids and wife.

When we went to him last Saturday, we saw him reading his scriptures, with a highlighter in his hand, taking notes on the Tagalog triple-combination that we gave him. We didn't follow our lesson plan at all, rather, we spent our time answering his questions, unfolding, through the spirit, how we can "stand in holy places" here in Manila. He then gave us some great examples of how he has been doing missionary work while he is driving his jeepney. It's so darn inspiring!

Last Sunday he gave the closing prayer in Sacrament Meeting. He also came with a tithing slip in his hand, not knowing that you don't need to pay tithing every week. What faith!!

From him, I have learned the raw power of missionary work, to change a person’s life. The change is so visible! Manila is a pretty gross place, to be honest. Everybody's got a cigarette in their mouth. Amidst all of it, here is Brother Gabino! He has strengthened my testimony that I am in the best two years of my life because I'm helping everybody for the rest of their life.

In other news, I'm getting a new companion, fresh from the MTC! All I know is his name is Elder Mullins, and he's an American. Seeing as I've trained before, I kind of know what's going on, but now I'm more prepared!

On top of that assignment, I'm going to be a district leader! I found out just maybe 20 minutes ago from looking at the zone leader's screen that has the transfer information email.

Yep! I just got a lot of responsibility really quickly. Oh, goodness!

That's all for now!

Elder Thurber

This is delicious Lechon Sisig at Chik-boy! It's a soft delicious meat with onions and peppers.
I want this house!
Our zone activity last week. (We watched "Frozen." No, we're not disobedient, we just rocked our numbers in January and President Stucki gave us permission to watch it.) I'm going to miss this Filipino, Elder Rafon! He's not going back to Tacloban, yet though. He'll just be transferred.  

No... time... uggggg.... March 2nd, 2014

March 2nd, 2014
Metro Manila: Pamplona District, Paranaque West East Zone
Just three things I have time for are:

1.     I think I want to be a religion teacher at BYU when I grow up. All I want to do is write about the church and learn about everything!
2.     Rose Caverte FINALLY said the prayer this week! She's a returning LA, and the wife of Bro Gabino. It's literally taken since I've been here to get this to happen. We gave her a blessing because she was sick earlier that day, and when we asked her to pray, like we usually do, she bowed her head and a heartfelt prayer came forth! It was awesome.
3.     The Ceran family came to church yesterday! Edwin is the nephew of our ward mission leader, and is always away from home when we teach his wife, Arlyn.

Have a great week!

Elder Thurber

Here are a few pics:
This is a very popular religion here. Directly translated, it means the earlier way, but, in a deeper Tagalog viewpoint, could mean the true way. It's very industrialized, as you can see by this picture!
This is halo-halo, which, translated, means a big mix. It has a lot of tasty things in it like ice cream and cookies, but at the same time corn and beans! Pretty delicious

A very friendly member family who feeds us good food.

February 23rd, 2014

February 23rd, 2014
Metro Manila: Pamplona District, Paranaque West East Zone


Ok I have like five minutes, so I'll make this quick.

I had a great zone conference, which focused on faith. Truly inspiring. I'm surrounded by those willing to step into the darkness and exercise great faith in the Lord. But, at that time, I still had my doubts in my head. Then, in church, five minutes before Sacrament Meeting started, I was asked to give a talk. Yikes! Well, I rushed to put together a talk, and decided faith would be a good subject for me. Knowing how much Filipinos love jokes, and how bad I am at making them laugh, I asked my companion, Elder Rafon, for a joke I could give. His response shocked me. He said "Whenever I get asked to speak, I get nervous, and my butt gets realllly big." That sounds totally inapproriate in English, right? Well, not so in Tagalog! The audience cracked up. Filipinos are so chill!

In my talk, I asked a question: “When do we exercise faith in Jesus Christ?” For me personally, I understand that exercising faith is doing something you know is right but is hard. When have you exercised faith? Not to make us feel guilty, but when haven't you exercised faith? I'll leave you to answer that for yourself personally. 

Two pictures of the Great Gabino on that great day with me and Elder Rafon and a member!

The cake we bought brother Gabino. He deserves it. He was smiling before I took this picture, but I one thing I still don't understand about this culture is how they don't like to smile during pictures.

Still not smiling. This is actually my tie and polo! I gave it to him. He said it's the first time he's ever worn a tie.

This is the Robles family. Their son, Lehi, often works with us. As you can see, they are quite nice, and love to feed us American food whenever possible!

This is siopmao (show-pow). I got it at 7-11 which is ABUNDANT here. It's this doughey goodness with teriyaki.

This is me at Jollybee, a huge food chain here in the Philippines. I bought a float.

This is a great example of how unreal this city is. This guy is selling homemade baskets, pulling it along using a cow, in the busiest city in the world! What the freak!
Me and my companion chilling at the great and spacious building (our church) before Sacrament Meeting starts.
GAAHH my time is up! I have much more to write. Bye!

Elder Thurber 

Starting Over--In Manila; Feb. 3rd & 16th

February 3rd
Metro Manila: Pamplona District, Paranaque West East Zone
Hello po!

Well, of all the weeks that I've spent on my mission, this was certainly one of them! Straight up, Manila is a chaotic mess. On one hand, you have these great luxurious houses and stores, swarming with American goods. I basically could get anything I want here if I have the money. With the missionary budget, that doesn't seem too possible, unfortunately. I actually went to this place called "Hyper Market" when I got down here. It is essentially Costco, but the people speak Tagalog. 

My companion. Elder Rafon, reminds me of an ewok sometimes because he's kinda short and has this evil, mischievous face all of the time, and wants to do good. He works incredibly hard. I would love to be his companion for the rest of my mission, but unfortunately, he is initially from the Tacloban mission. If you know anything about church news lately, the missionaries from the Tacloban mission were all evacuated after the typhoon. Turns out, they are now slowly going to be putting all of the missionaries back there. One of my sisters in the Pamplona district just returned back to Tacloban. By my thinking, it'll be maybe just two more weeks and Elder Rafon will return. 

Time is running short, but I'll just say that we have two great investigators that are most likely going to be baptized in February! Gabino Caverte, and Richard Tapar. More on them later. 


Elder Thurber! :D

February 16, 2014
This past week's been good! I'm starting to know the area and enjoy the work.

I know this next week will be a great week, as well. We have zone conference, and I get to meet a bunch of people. For now, though, my blog needs to be on the back burner, but here are some pictures.

Picture Isa: My awesome companion, Elder Rafon.

Picture Dalawa: This is me with the Caverte family! Sophia, the 10 year old, just got baptized this past January, and Brother Gabino will be coming up just this Saturday! And Rose, the pregnant woman, is going to be a recently reactivated member!
Picture Tatlo: At the Pelotes household. The man on the right seriously likes Winnie the Pooh teddy bears for some reason. I'm way too shy to ask. He's super nice and fed us mounds and mounds of food, and made us laugh our missionary tags off.

Oh, and those are the other two sisters in our ward; Sister Garcia (the American) and Sister Alberto. They're the dream team. They make us look bad, with all of the work that they're able to do.)

Picture Apat: No, this isn't the temple. This is the Pamplona temporary meeting house. It's a cathedral. Two floors. There are four wards that meet here every Sunday. Our actual meeting house is being renovated, and will be finished in the middle of March.  

I hope you enjoyed learning the Tagalog numbers 1-4!

Til' next time!
Elder Thurber