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

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The 12 week program and 10 hours of conference AND The Power of Fasting

Mon 4/14/2014
Las Pinas Village, Manila, Philippines

The 12 week program and 10 hours of conference

Dear Friends, Family and Followers,

This week has been crazy, obviously, since I'm a missionary. We're going to be getting two new Elders in the Pamplona ward this upcoming transfer, so we're trying to split the area, and most likely, we'll have to give Brother Gabino to them.   :'(   It's alright, though; we've got so many good investigators who are progressing in our area, I remain a happy missionary.

On top of that, we're getting ready for Holy Week, which isn't exactly a good thing. Point being: people go out on the street, drunk, waving around things symbolizing palm leaves. Apparently, they do these things to show “respect” for the sacrifice of good. This is the point where I need to vent. Let's be honest, who do they think Jesus Christ really, truly is? It's so very disgraceful, mixing in blatant sin with the sacrifice of our Savior and Redeemer. How could something like this get so mixed up!! Frankly, this upcoming week for me will just have to be an example to me of how Satan uses the most ridiculous tactics upon Gods children-- and they accept it. Honestly, he just plants seeds, and then BAM! Cultural acceptance sets in, destroying people's common sense to actually read the Bible and understand its message, rather than glorifying him in vain ways.

So… this week we're using our Word of Wisdom pamphlets to try to destroy his baleful tactics. I'm slowly learning as a missionary that I've just got to live the truth!

My title just kind of describes this week. We basically got one lesson in the whole Saturday and Sunday. Thankfully, we had a full tank of people in Brother Gabino's jeepney which hauled them off to church, including the Pascual family* and their two neighbors who we're teaching: Marisa and Mary-Ann! WOOOO! They all had the wonderful experience of watching General Conference. I, obviously, enjoyed it immensely.

I thought Elder Ballard's talk was particularly touching. And I distinctly remember Elder Packer's statement: "I know God." Can you imagine? His spiritual level? When we sing Follow the Prophet, do we get it? This is important! These men are the men God uses to talk to us! What a great, great blessing! What an opportunity to listen to them for 10 hours! It stinks that people may think two hours is good enough.

On the flipside, I got a cold because of the air-con. But it was worth it cuz I got to hear prophets!

I'm sorry, but once again this computer, like the ones next to it, won't accept my USB for some reason, so no pictures this week, either.

Hey! Do you know what'd totally make me happy? Send me some letters! They're like the WD40 on the machine of missionary work.

I love you all and I know this church is true!

Elder Thurber

*minus the dad. He was called in to work.

Mon 4/7/2014
Las Pinas Village, Manila, Philippines

The Power of Fasting

This week has been delightfully.... exhausting. I don't think I've talked to so many people in my life about the gospel, trying to plant seeds and give out pamphlets, return appointments, ask for referrals, and get their number. On the bright side, I'm getting better at learning names because I constantly have to remember them!

I suppose I have two great experiences I'd like to share today. First, is with Edwin, who has about 8 kids, who are mostly grown up. He opened up to us last week and talked frankly about his cigarette problem. And this week, when we returned, we found out he usually smokes 15 cigarettes a day. Even more surprising, though,  is his willingness to change. But, obviously, that won't happen overnight. In fact, we passed by his house the other day and saw him smoking and drinking with his oldest son. I asked him how he's doing, and he simply said "I'm not good at all." This was only last Saturday.

So why do I think this is a great experience? Well, he accomplished his goals. We started using our Word of Wisdom pamphlet, and there's a goal section, and he's been accomplishing his goals! His most recent one he accomplished is going to church. Out of about 8 missionaries who have taught him previously, I had the awesome privilege of seeing him come through the doors of the church and to see members coming by and shaking his, and his son's, hands (who, incidentally, is not a member. Hmmm...). I truly feel he is going to overcome this problem, and brings me back to the 'ol faithful scripture: Ether 12:27

Ether 12:27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Cesan is second. She has been getting a lot of chiz miz or gossip from the neighbors, who talk bad about her switching religions. Also, she and her husband are struggling financially lately, and can't pay for the necessary procedures to get married for her to be baptized. We suggested to her that we could all fast for her. When we came over on Saturday night to start the fast for her, she looked pretty sad, and said we couldn't teach her tonight, because she has somebody to talk to, and was helping her out. But she still said she would fast, thankfully.

Sunday night finally rolled around with all of us fasting, including Brother Gabino. She didn't come to church earlier that day b/c she didn't have any strength in her-- but she did fast! And she said she received a calm reassurance the night before, telling her that she needed to be baptized. She also gave me a great insight. She said that from one degree or another, we will face adversity just as Jesus Christ did to be able to come back to heaven. I never thought of it that way! She's following Christ through overcoming these problems! I also got to talk to the RS president, who said she would be more than willing to talk to Cesan personally to help them get enough money to get married! 

Once again, this computer doesn't like my camera usb, so I'll just have to send pictures next week.


Elder Thurber 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Magandang Gabino!

Las Pinas Village, Manila, Philippines

Friends and Family and Foes,

This week has been one of the best weeks of my entire mission. Miracles are happening. I felt like God was just pouring out ways for us to teach the gospel.

It's because of Brother Gabino!

My title is a little joke off of the phrase "Magandang gabi," or "Good (beautiful) night." And it's so true! He got a call just last Sunday to be a ward missionary, and I whole heartedly approve. He has been working with us every day of the week, and provides a stirring testimony of the power of the gospel to all we teach. Additionally, he shares scriptures in his testimony, and how they're helping him.

Seven investigators were able to attend Pamplona's First Sacrament Meeting today because of him and his faith. Get this: when we came over to his house last Friday, he had a story to tell. He said he talked to his boss about how our church time is being changed to 9 o'clock in the morning. At first, his boss was so upset, and said to him, "Do I need to find another jeepney driver?" Bro Gabino, in reply, said, "I'm giving my Sundays to the Lord. I have six days to do my work, but the Sabbath day is for Him, because He has blessed me so much in my life." His boss was impressed with what he said, but still said he would have to work on Sundays. So guess when his shift is? 2 in the morning until 6 in the morning. I was thinking, “Wow! What faith!” Despite his lack of sleep, he wanted to work with us on Saturday night, and we taught great, spiritual lessons! At one point we went on splits and when I returned to him and Elder Mullins, he said he would be willing to take all of our investigators to church on Sunday morning! That's what this picture is about. Sorry it's kind of  hard to see.  We had a full investigators class! Thing is, Bro Gabino's going to do it again next week!   :)
From L to R: Rose Caverte, Sophia Caverte, Juan Dumlao (he's less-active), Arlyn Ceran and her daughter, May Ann, Angelica, and Jerwin Jr Inocensio, and Cesan.
I had the opportunity to interview a man named Edgardo, who is an investigator of Sister Romero and Riddle. He is a rather forgetful man, so I had to take it slow going over the questions, but he had a great spirit about him. At one point, he was trying very hard to remember all of the parts of the Word of Wisdom, and got so frustrated at himself, because he had been trying to remember them all but forgot cigarettes, and I gently explained it was no big deal. After most of the questions were over and it was apparent he was ready for baptism, I started saying "When you will be baptized on April 5th..."  He cut me off and said "HALLELUJAH! WAHOOOO! TINANGAP AKO!" (I'm accepted!) and got out of his chair! It was a testimony builder for me to see somebody so old and having gone through so much get so excited for baptism because.... well..., he knew it was true! I can't wait to attend his baptism and give him a tie :).

This is my awesome new companion, Elder Mullins, from Indiana! He's brand new to the mission and is learning Tagalog rapidly, and is just a fun guy to be around. He says he likes the weather in the Philippines, which surprises every Filipino, because they hate it. He's super into video games he says, and will probably be a computer science major when he gets back.

That's all for today! And I haven't even covered half of it! But time is short, so darn.

Elder Thurber