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

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

Coming Unto Christ; Quick to Observe (August 11th and 18th blog posts)

Mon 8/18/2014

Coming unto Christ

Hello, everyone!

Since I've been reading Jesus the Christ, my thoughts have been constantly drawn back to Him this week. In the lessons, in my studies, with my companion, I'm drawn back to thinking about Him. 

You may remember how I said that four people *for sure* would be baptized. Well, only two turned out: Sister Cruz and Brother Jonathan. Sister Cruz, being the vivacious 73 year old she is, was undeterred by the crazy rainfall coming to the far-away chapel. She mentioned that she had doubts as we first started to teach her the lessons, but as she started to read the BoM regularly, she felt like she was coming unto the Savior. And right now, she's reading in 3 Nephi! On top of that, she's fed us basically every time we've gone to her house, which is usually 4 times a week.

I had the pleasure of also baptizing Jonathan and Queennee, (who is the investigator of Sister Romero and Jones). Jonathan, in his testimony Saturday night, mentioned how when we had taught him repentance, was so touched that Jesus could be so willing to make the sacrifice for our sins when we repent. He mentioned that he felt spiritual confirmations of the things we had taught him after the lessons. 

Can I make mention of the other two people that didn't get baptized? I am happy to say that they have also come unto Christ through faith and repentance. Baptism has to wait, though,  due to very new rules by the area presidency: they're too young, and their parents aren't members. I'll mention Kay-ann first. Turns out, her parents are strongly against her being baptized in the church. And since her baptism didn't go through, she decided to go back to her parents, who missed her. I never got to say good-bye, but she now lives in Pasig, Manila with her sister, going to school. Sister Cruz says that she still reads the Book of Mormon and is persuading her sister to come to church. 

Lastly, I'll mention Abhie, who hasn't been meeting with us after I informed her that her baptism couldn't go through. She would constantly reschedule appointments. On Friday night, we dropped by because she lives by the Ward Mission Leader. She was there and agreed to let us teach. We didn't have any plans, so we just started the lesson not knowing what to teach. I used my picture book I bring along, and showed her the photo of Jesus calling his disciples who were fishing. I explained that Jesus called them just as he called the Twelve Apostles who called Area Presidency who made the rules.  If you really love Jesus, you'll do what he wants you to do, just as the fishermen did, leaving their nets and following after him. I asked her why she loved Jesus Christ. She responded because He provided the gospel and has a plan for us. I then asked if she could wait. Tearfully, she said she would do it because of her love for the Savior.

This blog entry is getting lengthy, so I better close. For you, what do you notice about the people I talked about? How did they come unto Christ? It doesn't just mean baptism, but personal conversion to what we have learned and prayed about. It makes me think how important the calling is to "Invite All to Come Unto Christ." 

First, a few pictures. We had a district activity at President Ostler's home! 

Mon 8/18/2014

Quick to Observe

I'm learning lately how important effective finding people to teach can be as a missionary. And since members are missionaries as well, I s'pose this week those members can gain something out of my blog as well, because finding is hard. First off, you can ask yourself the question: what makes YOU excited about the church? For me, I find that the people are fabulous, and I can easily befriend them. Also, I feel the spirit constantly as I learn and hear the gospel, as well as live it. Also, I know my family is blessed when they focus their lives on the gospel. There's a great responsibility for every member go gain his/her own testimony. And so, as I've been finding people to teach this week, I've been focusing on those members and those people who know it's already true.
We had a baptismal service on Saturday for Melanie, who's the Sister's investigator. It was a great service, and many investigators attended. And this coming Saturday (*trumpet sound*) we'll have 3 people be baptized in the ward! Queennee, Sister Cruz, and Jonathan! They’re all very well known people, so they're going to invite all of their friends to the baptism! We've contacted many of them, and they're excited to come. I'm looking forward to people experiencing the joy that comes from the gospel!
Or, another way to find people to teach  is to do a service project. All the missionaries in the district served the neighborhood association with Sister Cruz and Sister Manantan, the Relief Society President. We shoveled some gravel, and got to meet many people, exposing them to missionaries in a more casual way.
Or, you could follow the example of Sister Manantan, who referred this new couple who just moved in 10 seconds after meeting them. They live next door to them. She gets her hair done at the salon they have. She is one of the best missionaries because you don't feel like she's pressuring anybody to do anything, but simply inviting and being her friendly self. She also lent one of her dresses to the wife so they could come to church yesterday, because she doesn't have her own dress. And then they went to church with their other neighbor, who also served a mission!
I just really want you all to become finders, because it's easy--if you do it right. Nonmembers just need to be invited the right way for things to become a success. Think of Moroni, as being "Quick to Observe." He was blessed of the Lord because he thought things out. As we find those interested in the gospel, think about it first, and then act! And then we will realize the miracles God has in store!

Pictures: Elder Suquib turned 23! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

7 Blessings; [A]nd Why Have Miracles Ceased?; Elder Suquib

7 blessings

Mon 8/4/2014 12:08 AM

Hello brothers and sisters,

They say there is good, better, and best. This week was okay. I have to laugh and just say everything went fine! I'll just simply list out the 7 blessings:

1. Elder Suquib gave me a (priesthood) blessing because I was sick from Wednesday at 5 until Friday morning. Truly bedbound. 

2. Working on Friday night, we were waiting for a member to work with us when a boy fell on the back of his head and was bleeding. He was falling in and out of consciousness, leaving everybody in panic. We offered him a blessing, and left. We saw him the next day, and he seemed fine. 

3,4. Sister Dennis and Sister Dissanayaka both got very sick, and we trekked over to their apartment to give them a blessing. There's the flu going around, it seems. 

5. Sister Manantan, who got the same thing. 

6,7. Sister Realin and her soon-to-be baby inside her who hasn't been growing. 

So yeah, the priesthood was used this week to really bless us! As I heard, or administered the blessings, I could tell that God was using his power to help his children. The priesthood is real!

Love yall!

Elder Thurber

"[A]nd Why Have Miracles Ceased?"

Mon 7/28/2014 11:49 PM

Hello everybody in the states and elsewhere!
I mention elsewhere because some people in the Philippines may just be reading my blog as well as others. As I've reached my 1-year mark, I'm eternally grateful for the reality of miracles. I say that because I've been reading Jesus the Christ, which I highly recommend you reading (along with a dictionary, just in case). So, before I talk about how awesome my week was, I have to ask you a question:

What is a miracle?
Imagine yourself  living in the time of Moses, seeing manna coming down from the sky every day for an extended amount of time. But then what was unprecedented becomes ordinary. Or think about Laman and Lemuel, who saw an angel. But I've never experienced it, so it'd be a big miracle to me. Then imagine us, being able to find out any answer to almost any question with our tiny little gadgets. To them, I'm sure that'd be quite the miracle!
To put things in another color, imagine the miracle of the growth of plants. They're everywhere, and remain completely unnoticed. But isn't the growth a miracle?

What I'm getting at is that miracles depend solely upon the viewer and their previous experience. But let me tell you how I've been feeling lately: The closer you get to God, the more you realize that everything around you is a miracle. Excuse the caps, but I can't say this without being enthusiastic: BROTHERS AND SISTERS, EVERYTHING IS A MIRACLE!!! We've just experienced it too, too long to remember it's true. And you can't help but just love God for the miracles you're experiencing.
Here's a scripture: Mormon 9:20

 20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.
Like I said earlier, miracles depend solely on the viewer, not God. God is bound back from showing us miracles because of our unbelief, even though miracles are there for those who believe. So have faith!
This week, I saw miracles all around me. First, from my companion, Elder Suquib, who is making leaps and bounds in the gospel. To be short, he hasn't had the best history, but he's here, learning Tagalog and English from somebody who doesn't know Cebuano. His whole family are converts in a branch of 50, who are just trying to get things all together. He was baptized in 2011. To be honest, he isn't that familiar with the gospel, but he spends all his time buried in the scriptures as we come home and even before personal study time comes around.

Because he's pulling out his best, we've been blessed to reach the difficult key indicator of 8 investigators who attend sacrament meeting. In my whole mission, I have reached every key indicator except that. And it's the most important! It's now becoming a problem in this ward that we don't have enough space in our investigator class to house them all.
And I'm proud to say we're going to have 4 baptisms this coming August 16! I'd like to give you a brief history of each of them.

First, Sister Cruz. She's best friends with the Relief Society president and feeds us every time we go over there (which is about 5 times a week). She used to be a missionary and sometimes we see her walking around, chatting with friends, holding a "The Gospel of Jesus Christ" pamphlet. [I'll send you word on her referrals--that'll be coming. ;)
Second, her granddaughter who lives with her, Kay-Ann Lobrico. She's 14, and has gone to church twice now. She's read all the way to Alma. Sister Cruz once said she stayed up one night reading the Book of Mormon until 1 AM. We just invited her last Sunday to baptism, which she gladly accepted.
Third, Abhie Allabun. She's living with the members, and she loves the Book of Mormon. She's finished it all in the matter of one month. She hasn't accepted a baptismal invitation until after she finished it. We went into the lesson intending to teach the 10 commandments only to just talk about baptism. She tearfully accepted our baptismal invitation!
Fourth, Johnathan Parades.  I told you a little bit about him. He's been taught by missionaries who baptized his older sister, but for some reason contact was lost. He said he didn't feel ready at that time, but now he feels ready to follow Jesus Christ through baptism!
What miracles! And I could list more and more but I'm out of time. I challenge you to see the miracles that you've experienced.

Elder Thurber

Elder Suquib

Mon 7/21/2014 1:15 AM 
Last Wednesday was President Ostler's first transfer day. He got the wonderful opportunity of experiencing Typhoon "Glenda" first-hand! Talk about a headache! Missionaries went home at 6 PM on Wednesday until further notice as the storm went through. It was terrific in a scary way. It didn't rain too hard, but when we were allowed to leave to get to the mission office, trees were scatted all around the skyscrapers. The transfers still went through on Wednesday. To make things more hectic, I was getting a pretty high fever that day. But I pushed through!

Last Sunday, I was talking to Sister Romero and Jones about me training, musing on who I'd train. I said I would've liked a challenge to train somebody who isn't good in English OR Tagalog. 

Elders Thurber, Suquib, President and Sister Ostler
Well, once the meeting started in the mission home, I got called to train somebody from Cebu! And I got exactly what I asked for! Elder Suquib's a cheerful guy who gave me a big hug. He's a farmer, 22, and comes from a very different background than me. He's a pioneer, and went on a mission because he has a testimony about Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon. He has 50 active members in his ward, even though there are 8 members out on missions.
It's super weird trying to teach a Filipino Tagalog and English. Sometimes he knows the Tagalog for something I don't. He also says that Cebuano is super easy, and that I should learn it. I'll try to pick it up when I have time on preparation day.
Elder Vaivai has gone. :'( We had the opportunity to do a small service project before district meeting on Tuesday. We hauled a bunch of old wood together from one member’s house to anothers. Obviously we get stares from people, but during those two hours it was comical. We got three awesome referrals from our member we were serving, who just went around while we worked, asking if they wanted to listen to us.
We got two awesome baptisms this coming month! I've mentioned them in past emails: Sister Perping Cruz and Brother Johnathan Parades. We've been rushing to cover all the material in such a short of time because they're so prepared. On Sunday, Johnathan came to church and during EQ, he read with me in the handbook about the blessings of revelation from the gift of the Holy Ghost. It hadn't been taught to him before, so he studied it thoroughly, and shared what he learned just then and then bore testimony! Just last night he texted saying how thankful he was that he has the opportunity to listen and be baptized.
Sister Cruz will be baptized on August 2nd. Yesterday, she gave a kneeling closing prayer when she just broke down in thanks. We all cried a little. She then mentioned about how in all of her religious experience, she has never found the truth until now. Bear in mind, she listed off about 5 churches she's entered!

Ahhh... the church is true.

Elder Thurber