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

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

What a Year Has Taught Me; Mabuhay, Kaibigan!; Malapit Na

What a Year Has Taught Me

Mon 6/30/2014

Dear Everybody,

Saturday I performed my first baptism personally! Mark Castillon said he felt like I would be best because I'm like the only person taller than him. It was such a sweet experience. I was so nervous! I gave him a big hug right afterwards. And just yesterday he worked with us and bore such a heartfelt testimony to investigators of learning of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon just like he, himself, was doing only 2 weeks ago.

I can't believe this Saturday is my one year mark since I left American soil to teach the gospel. I wish I could just share with you what I've learned over the years, in three main points. 

1st: God lives and loves you more than you know. 

That may sound a little stereotypical, but goes a little deeper when you understand what kind of love He gives to you. He trusts you enough to give you trials. He has pointed us to the map to return back to him. You don't need to guess. It's the scriptures. For me, I've learned that to realize how applicable scriptures are, you just need be willing to believe. That belief turns you to Him, and to start loving Him. You find yourself praying because you realize how close He actually is to you and you understand He will guide you.  

How could I learn this from serving a mission? It's because I get to see people who are going through these things just as much as I am. I've also noticed the people who understand that God is loving are the happiest. That love they feel then turns into action and repentance. We invite our investigators to pray the very first lesson. Often times they're muddled and awkward, just as I was when I first started speaking Tagalog!

2nd: Families need the gospel and the priesthood to stay intact. 

Above you see several pictures I took of the Lovendino couple, who just got married this Saturday! It was a small wedding, but it was sweet and joyful. They're getting their lives straight. 

 I interviewed a man for baptism for the second time, right after the baptism. I felt he wasn't ready for baptism, even though there weren't completely clear markers for why he shouldn't be baptized. The sisters were a little puzzled and maybe angry at me, because they were planning on getting him married then baptized right afterwards. I slowed down the process. But when I called them on Monday night to follow-up a little bit, they said that me failing him was the best thing I could've done for him, for several reasons. The rest of his family has slowly all been getting baptized, except for him. He, who should set the example, was the last one. He got very discouraged about everything, but he started taking the lessons more seriously and prayed for spiritual confirmation. And he got it! It didn't take me long to pass him in the follow-up interview, because the spirit was so strong. He's going to be the priesthood holder who can bless his family! 

3rd: God will strengthen you as you try your best

It's made possible through the enabling power of Jesus Christ. He took upon us our trials in the Garden of Gethsemane. This power is available to everybody, at any time. This past week, we set a goal for 30 new investigators, and tried talking to everybody, and just using every moment wisely. We fell short, only getting 14. But, I felt like I tried my hardest, and we taught many people. One, in particular, stood out to me. We had to wait for Mark, (the one who got baptized on Saturday) and we could've just waited for a few minutes for him to finish up showering, but I said "Hey, Elder Vaivai, have you walked down that area before? Let's go see what's down there." And then we met a very nice taxi-driver who doesn't have any religion who wants to get closer to God. If I had set a lower goal, would have I had the motivation to do such thing? If you don't try your best, do you think you would find such miracles in your life? 

I've just been experiencing these types of things in the past year, and I know that they're true. It makes my vision more clear and more focused as a missionary. I just can't wait to get moving, because I know God will strengthen me, because He loves me. And He loves each person I talk to as much as He loves me. 


Elder Thurber

P.S. Virginia hotdogs? C'mon! What a disgrace! :)

Mabuhay, Kaibigan! 

(Link following is for an article in the Liahona about the Philppines)

If you've read the April 2014 Liahona issue which featured the Philippines, you would know that means "Hello, friend!" Obviously, nobody says that in the US, but there's your Tagalog for the day. For me, I am discovering, in this area more than others, that I am quite the sensation: Whoa.... Americano..... He has blond hair and he's super white. I get to hear such things as that all day long going to and from appointments, and have good full share of high fives from kids playing outside, and the classic "Hey, Joe!" from construction workers here. 

On the other hand, people are usually very surprised to realize that Elder Vaivai (it sounds like bye-bye) is Samoan, and usually start talking to him, asking if I'm good in English. My companion's the man! I found out the other day that his dad is the stake patriarch, and they share almost everything in the Samoa. I like it. In fact, we're wearing each other's tie, and we just split the cost for groceries! Why can't we adopt that? 
At the Temple

Elder Thurber and Elder Vaivai at the temple

The Temple
Market Market

Market Market

Some of the pictures I've included are of Market-Market, the mega-store here in the Philippines. After we went to the temple, we went there to pick up groceries only go to outside and see a line to get in a jeepney that was literally a quarter of a mile. The worst part it wasn't even moving. We eventually, out of pure frustration, decided to walk home. I'll admit, I was frustrated that such a thing would happen.
Walking home
And then I read in PMG about patience, which says:

"Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious."

I'd be kidding myself to say I had scored a perfect score on that. I'm sure most of us have had situations in our lives where we think "Oh, what? This is not my fault, and now I have to do this?" When we started walking home, it started raining, all the while we were carrying our groceries home. 

Then on Thursday, I went to the "Specialized Leadership Training," with Elder Merrill. Afterwards, we took a taxi and then all got dropped off at Elder Merrill's area, which is right next to Market Market. Once again we got stuck in the line at Market Market. I was just about to blow up! We had scheduled important appointments to go to, that would all flop. And then I decided to ask my companion what to do, and he just said we should wait in line. I grudgingly did so, and realized it was the best decision. It is usually the best decision to wait with a smile, and then you never know what good may come out of it. Turns out, we met a man in the line at Market Market that we got to teach a few days ago. It turned my day around.

All I'm really trying to say, is that patience brings many,  many blessings to those who do it right by being happy! 


Elder Thurber

Tue 6/17/2014

Malapit Na

What a week! 

I got to attend Mark-Joseph's baptism on Thursday, which is Independence Day in the Philippines. I forgot my camera, but I'm asking for a picture from some members.  He said at the end that he's decided to serve a mission! Woop! What faith! 

On top of that, our investigator, Mark Castillon, said, after the baptism, that he isn't far away! He actually said "Malapit na" which, translated, is something like "It's close now.  And just yesterday I was speechless when he said that his baptism will be on the 28th! There will actually be 5 people baptized that day. 

Love ya'll!


We splurged and went all American at Sbarro! 

What.... is.... this??? Market-Market has everything 
This is Brother Tagpuno and Kacey, who lives on a pole. They're both friendly, and Kacey loves to eat dead skin off of Brother Tagpuno's hair.
This is our "euro-style" apartment. We're on the third floor, and right above is a small basketball court we exercise at every morning. 
The usual urban streets here. 

I don't think I've mentioned before how many types of rice you can buy in the Philippines! Some are more expensive just because they have a certain aroma. I'm not even sure they truly is anything different about any of them, I think people just love having their own brand. 

Mon 6/9/2014 
Walang Oras!

That means no time in Tagalog!

My companion's awesome! He's from Samoa, and cracks me up. 

We go to church in a "meetinghouse" which is three stories high, and is right above a clothing store.

The best part is that there's an enormous catholic church across the street which you can see outside of Sunday School. But it's okay, because all these members are awesome!

There are only 6 people in my District. Sisters Jones, Romero, Burce, and Dissanayaka (from the United Arab Emirates). I know them all. 


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Will Be Transferred Wednesday; 3 Day Mission; Prelude Music for 2 Hours!


This, I just found out, is my last week here in the Pamplona Ward. I'm going to go be transferred over to Bonifacio 3rd Ward on Wednesday. I don't really know too much about this area, so we'll see how it goes. 

I s'pose I had the best time of my life in Pamplona! We had what is called a "3 Day Mission." (Do we have those kind of things in America? We should!) I got to spend Wednesday and Thursday with about 3 ward missionaries who dove into missionary work, trying to invite everybody who would respond to us to the open house! On Sunday, most of the youth bore their testimonies! The missionary spirit has simply sky-rocketed in this ward. 

And it'll continue to go on after I leave! Elder Saclot (from my first area) is going to become district leader and the follow-up trainer to Elder Mullins! I laughed so hard when I heard that. Also, Elder Limocon will be the next AP! He's been my zone leader for literally all of my mission except for 1 transfer! 

I won't be here to see the baptism of Josephine unfortunately. She has been a golden investigator from the beginning, and now says she wants to serve a mission! She's already memorized the 13 Articles of Faith, and takes notes from her reading. Maybe she'll even leave on her mission before I come home! 

On top of all of this craziness that's been happening, we were privileged to hear from Elder Christensen on Friday. It started at 3, but Pres Stucki wanted us to be there at 2:30. Sister Stucki called me and said that I would be playing piano, so we had to get there early. But, it turns out we got there at 1, along with basically the whole mission. So I played prelude for literally two hours, straight. Thankfully I used the prelude book my mom gave me.