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

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

Six Blog Posts from Elder Thurber (April 21st- May 26th, 2014)

Las Pinas Village, Manila, Philippines

May 26th, 2014

Dr. Doom goes to Mall of Asia

Dear everybody!

Well, we taught a whole dang lot this week! As Elder Mullins' training is coming to an end, we're sprinting to the finish, so to speak. 

MOA, obviously, was just fantastic. We got to see extraordinary things in normal clothes. I forgot how comfortable jeans can be. I got a bunch of souvenirs I hopefully can send out back to you all sometime soon if you're lucky.

My parents decided to send me a Dr. Doom action figure a while ago, so I decided to put him to use. He had a great time in MOA! (Mall of Asia)

Shoot... I lost track of time. I'll talk more about our teaching next week! 


Elder Thurber 

Las Pinas Village, Manila, Philippines

May 19th, 2014

"September 21, 1923"

Friends and Family,

As you can see from the first picture, I was pretty excited to go down to zone conference in Buendia chapel this past Wednesday! It was President Stucki's last Zone Conference to all of us, and he emphasized Elder Ballard's talk on Following-up

So... I guess I needa ask you all some questions. Hopefully I won't scare the very few viewers of my blog away. 

1st: Do you have a copy of Preach My Gospel? 
2nd: Will you try to share the gospel at least 4 times a year? 
3rd: From the missionary experiences you've had, do you feel like you've adequately followed up? 

I'm not trying to criticize you for anything. Rather, I'm just excited about missionary work! I don't care if it's in my area or the other side of the world. To tell you the truth, I'm fed up with the wickedness of the world, and we need to do everything we can in our power to bring people unto Christ! It amazes me what I can do. Just earlier today, Elder Mullins and I got a pleasantly surprising text from our investigator who just needs to get married. She said (in the English language): 

“Have you ever wonder why you’re still on earth? 
It's to help other people.”

It's a good point right? I feel it more and more every day that the gospel is the only thing that'll help people the most.

It's amazing how some people just recognize it, and others take their time. We taught this lady "Nanay Esperanza" for the second time last Friday. When we started teaching the restoration she interrupted and said, “I know that what happened in September 21, 1923 is true! Because it happened!"

I was kind of dumbfounded, and assumed she was talking about the first vision, so I dumbly said that "Uhhh... it says here it happened in 1820." Little did I know she read the introduction to the B.o.M, three times, and has already prayed and received an answer that it's all true. Not surprisingly, she accepted the baptismal date. Before we left, she remarked, "It's not important whether or not you believe it's true or not,  if it's true." Ha! I couldn't have said it better myself (especially in Tagalog).

And then there's people like me. Looking back, it took me a whole long time to gain a spiritual testimony of what we teach all day long is true. And I decided to put my testimony into motion towards conversion by serving a mission. 

Sorry I'll get off of my soap-box right now and tell you about my week.

On Monday, after emailing, Elder Mullins and I went to this mall and got customized t-shirts! It's the third picture. It says "Hindi ko alam. Basta, totoo and Aklat ni Mormon." Translated, it means "I don't know. Anyways, The Book of Mormon is true." That's what we're wearing right now, as we're going out bowling in the Mall of Asia! We have already got some people asking about it. 

Shoot now I'm out of time! See you all next week!

Elder Thurber
 Gwuapo, for those unfamiliar with Spanish, just means handsome.
The check mark I did with my hand in picture 3 is just a sign to say "guapo" 
 These are centimos, that are practically worthless, unless they're together! We've been saving them for quite some time now, and we'll maybe be able to buy lunch with it before me and Elder Mullins get torn apart!
 I got my hymnbook "leathered" by this lady who does stuff like that for the all the missionaries. It was about 10 bucks.
 I thought I could be adventurous and buy a bunch of quail eggs, but it turns out they're just like regular eggs.... 

Elder Thurber

Las Pinas Village, Manila, Philippines

May 12th, 2014

"The Four Minute Mile and Our Life on Earth"

Maaaaagandang araw sa inyong lahat! (beautiful to you all!)

My week has been so fabulous. My Tagalog has really been clicking, and, as my family can protest, [attest] my English is failing me, so I apologize if the rest of my blog entries seem to be written by... well... a Filipino. :D 

I feel like I could write a book, with the blog entry title being its title. I love being a runner, and find great joy out of being fit and running half-marathons. Obviously, I'm not quite to a full-marathon yet, but I would love to get there. It's inspired by somebody told me just yesterday while we were walking to an appointment. "Oh, it's those Mormonizers again!"

In a sense, us missionaries are like running recruiters. We want everybody to become runners, to help others see the joy running [or the gospel] can bring to the people we meet. I always say to the people we meet that "We have a message that will be able to help you.” And I truthfully believe that it can. Hopefully, they'll listen. They'll maybe even believe that it will help them. 

But that is nothing more than watching a show about marathoners. While you may be inspired, you have work to do, that nobody else can do for you except yourself. So we give commitments, small at first (i.e. "will you please read the introduction to the Book of Mormon before we return?" or "will you run one lap around the block before tomorrow?") causing them to exercise their muscles, previously unused. They most definitely don't feel the pleasure out of running, do they? They're just testing the waters.

Sadly, most people don't take the advice of the recruiters. They go back to their lives, and sadly, we put them in the "former investigators" section. But, there are those who take our word for it. When we return, we hear they ran 10 laps! Or they read the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon! They come to church! They know it's true. They get the support of those who enjoy running (or the church members) and sign up for.... the marathon of baptism. 

There's obviously a wait from the time people sign up for a marathon and then run the race. In the same sense, there's a time period from when an investigator accepts a baptismal date and gets baptized. It's a time of great discovery of one's own capabilities, and to discover true happiness! There comes a point where the missionaries say "Where did you read in the Book of Mormon?" Rather than "iid you read the Book of Mormon?" 

And then the marathon begins, and, unfortunately, some fall off the path. In the Manila Phillippines mission, we have a goal of 92% retention. People have their reasons, and lose the chance to reap the rewards of finishing. 

I'm still in this marathon. In fact, I'm not even close to finishing! But it's great! 

So why is this the four minute mile? Well, you have to look at everything in its correct view. Compared to eternal life, our life on earth is just... four minutes. That's something we could all consider once in a while. It's tough, but, wouldn't you agree it's worth it? 

I testify it is! It's a great feeling, and I am soooo thankful I'm a missionary and gospel recruiter, and am helping people see the joy I do. 

Have a great week!

Elder Thurber

Las Pinas Village, Manila, Philippines

May 5, 2014 

Proper prior preparation precedes power

Dear Americans, 

It's funny to think that I'm coming up on my one-year mark, being out here in the Philippines. It’s still a few months away, but hey! Let's review what's gone on:

July 5: Elder Thurber entered the Manila Philippines Airport at 1 AM, tired, exhausted, and so confused, as everybody tried to speak to him in Tagalog

July 6: Entered the MTC, and spent six weeks there with Elder Langi, my Tongan companion. I tried to learn Tagalog, and thought I was pretty good by the time I got out. 

August 15: Got trained by Elder Balonsong down in Aborlan, Palawan, and quickly learned I didn't know Tagalog at all! I got worked to the bone, and forgot what being in the comfort zone feels like. Gained a great appreciation for my "tatay," and we achieved great numbers. 

About September 20th: Got a new trainer, Elder Hart, and switched areas. Was with him for two transfers, and started to "get" Tagalog, but still had a hard time. 

December 18th: Much to my surprise, I would finish up training an.... American! Elder Chong was his name. I prayed a lot about why on earth I was asked to train an American, because I was far from perfect in Tagalog. Turns out,it was perfect, and Tagalog started coming quickly, and I was able to help him progress, too! It wasn't perfect, but I learned a lot. 

January 29th I got transferred back to the city of Manila, and became companions with Elder Rafon, who would be returning to Tacloban after the transfer was over. I basically didn't speak English the entire transfer, except in the apartment, because he didn't know too much English. 

March 12th I was asked, once again, to train another American, and become a district leader. I get to see first hand everything went through. 

So.... what did I learn? It's been a while! Well, from the numbers that we're achieving, I have grown to understand the importance of.... 


Christ-like attributes. 

Just like any commandment, principle, or doctrine, we experience and gain a testimony of the truth of the thing by doing it! Would you like to know the church is true, the gospel is true, and that it will change your life? Read John 7:17. There is no substitute for knowing the gospel is true is by doing it. 

That's my testimony to everybody, anywhere. That I have found for myself that all of what I'm teaching is true because I have I done it. Christ's church is a church of proactivity, which is a word I just made up. Sorry. I'm losing my English. 

Picture 1: Nestor Sedon's baptism. He's Pamplona B's new recent convert. (was that redundant?) We had a great turn out at the ward, and I had the opportunity to interview him. 

Picture 2: Brother Nestor ready to get baptized by Brother Areiola, with Sister Murray and Sister Riddle. Sister Riddle actually never taught him, but both of their companions were sick on Saturday, so they went on exchanges. Interesting fact: I had to write Sister Wells on the baptismal record because he's her investigator, but, because of the transfers that happened this week, and her being sick, she never got a chance to meet him until he got confirmed on Sunday! 

Picture 3: President Stucki wanted all of the district leaders at Missionary Leadership Council (MLC) on Wednesday, so I got to see all of my batchmates here :) 
....As well as my trainer, Elder Hart. 
Picture 5: And this is the official 
MLC, consisting of the Stucki couple, Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders. They all wore crazy glasses because President Stucki wants us to see the "vision" he has for us, that we just can't see yet. 

Picture 6: This is me and Elder Zook, who used to be companions with Elder Chong. True story: the tie I'm wearing right then is the tie he gave Elder Chong, who then gave it to me. 

I love you all!

Elder Thurber

Las Pinas Village, Manila, Philippines

Mon, Apr 28, 2014 

"Is That Me?"

Good day!

A lot of good things happened this week. We welcomed in the arrival of Sister Wells and Sister Ordiz, who just came back from shotgunning their previous area, to shotgunning this area! We basically split our area in half and gave it to them. Sister Wells is from Mesa, Arizona, and is relatively new and is always smiling. Sister Ordiz, on the other hand, has only 2 months left here before she heads back to Mindanao. She was a Sister Training Leader before, and is super diligent.

Our coordination meeting took forever this Sunday with the new sisters and all. We did it with Denver Dacanay, a RM, who is fluent in English. One of the things we discussed was the "new and returning member form," because we got two just this past week. After I asked him if he knew what we were talking about he said, "Oh, is that me?" He actually had a point because he's LA! I really wanted to say him "No, you're next week." But I just kept silent.

We have a great progressing investigator now who comes from a returning member family! Her name is Judelyn, and she's a katulong. Alright time for a quite Tagalog lesson: “tulong” means help. If you put “ka” at the beginning of a word usually, it means something like "to be with." For example, kahouse would be "of the same house." or kamission would mean "of the same mission." So, katulong means something like "helper." In the Philippines, everything inside is kept spotless. I've never taught in a dirty house. So, if you're well off (i.e. not in poverty or your house has an address on the map) you usually have a katulong, which basically means maid.

Anyways, Judelyn is great! She went to church this past Sunday with the Pada family, learned about the church in their province. She isn't completely fluent in Tagalog (like most people in the Philippines) because she speaks Cebuano. Just like I did with Marisa Aton, I now want to learn Cebuano.  :D

I'm going to the temple right after this, which explains why I'm emailing on Tuesday. I read the "getting ready to enter the temple" booklet we give recent converts. Reading over it made me think about how important going to the temple really is. Suddenly, once you enter, you're entering God's house! You step into a new frame of mind, where you can take your problems and trials that are in your life with new vision. Our perception of God's plan is polished. We understand what we must do. What a great blessing! What a great god to give us such things.

I love you all! I'll take pictures this week.

Elder Thurber

Las Pinas Village, Manila, Philippines

Mon, Apr 21, 2014 

Record-breaking Week Ito!!

Tagalog lesson: Tagalog switches up the verb and the noun and adds words like "is, are" and so on. Ito=it. So in English it would be: this is a record breaking week!!

Truth be told, we met almost all of our Key Indicators this week, and we're pushing along.

On Friday, there was a huge parade, where we saw enormous statues of Jesus and Mother Mary, with people crunched together, holding candles. Sorry, no pictures! I can't while proselyting.

I absolutely LOOOOVEEE being a missionary! I've never been this happy in my life. It came to me the other day, when I mentioned Bro Gabino to a Less Active member. There is absolutely no comparison to the joy I feel when I'm able to bring people into the gospel. Nothing! Don't believe anybody who says they don't have time for a mission. Here's my challenge to you: go watch Mission Impossible. Missionary work is like that, only souls are at stake, not money.

1.  Chicken feet! The Inocencio family gave us it last Family Home Evening. Get this: we found this guy named Mark who wants to come back to church, and his friend, Mark, who wants to join the church, all in the same lesson! FHE rocks!

2. This is the Mormon Batallion, coming on to church two Sundays ago! Woo!!

3. This is me, getting ready to spread the gospel.
4. Introduce yourself to Sara, the brand new Caverte family member! Brother Gabino called us at 3:00 AM on Saturday morning, telling us if we could come by and give Sister Rose Caverte a blessing after the procedure. Unfortunately, we slept through the text, but thankfully got to visit him the next night and give them our congratulations (and a small cake).
5. Us before the priesthood session, lookin' guapo (handsome).

6. This bishop (far left) and his family decided to take us our to some suuuuper expensive restaurant, Cecil's, the night before conference. It rocked, bigtime!

7. My zone leaders,  shining with power.
8. The sisters in my district. From left: Sister Riddle, Romero, Garcia, Murray. Sister Garcia makes clothes, hence, the matching clothes.

9. Mary-Ann Inocencio cutting up some mangos or "mangga." They're unripe, but that's how they like it. They dip it in this fish sauce, too.

10. Me and Elder Mullins going home after a long day of soul-saving. I thought the jeepney looked so posh, I had to take a picture.

11. Termite infestation! Ahhh!!! Don't worry, mom, it's fixed.

12. Simon, ready for church. For being so young, he's got a bright future in the church! He's going to go on a mission, for sure.

13. Translation: It's not allowed to pee here. Poop? Try it.  

Elder Thurber

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