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

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

OYM, GMA7, Savory Chicken, and so forth

Matthew's Mom's note:  Some of the pictures in this post are from Matthew's Mission President's family mission blog  thephilippinesmanilamission.blogspot.com

Sun 12/14/2014

Dear Friends and Family,
Do you remember the feeling when you once opened up a soda bottle and started overflowing over everything everywhere, so you desperately try to scramble around to stop it? That's been this week for me.
I'm a zone leader now, so I talked in zone meeting for 20 minutes on OYMing (Opening Your Mouth). It means talking to somebody somewhere about the gospel, and inviting them to act on your message. As a zone, our standard is to get 70 OYMs every week per companionship. For most missionaries, it's super hard to do; it's so scary! In fact the previous week we got only 330 OYMs as a whole zone, compared to 980 which we should've gotten. I was so happy we now have over 550! We're on our way as a zone.
So you're already aware of the 20 missionaries and I who performed on GMA7 last Thursday. It was a memorable experience! We practiced and practiced on Wednesday night at the mission home until 11 o'clock, learning new songs because GMA7 changed around what they wanted--short parts of songs to and from commercial breaks in the span of two hours. Sister Ostler was a little shell shocked with the assignment, but we all pulled through and witnessed a miracle of learning "Carol of the Bells" by memory on Wednesday night. And during Thursday morning, we sang "Pasko Na Naman," a festive Filipino Christmas song.

Here's a recording of "Pasko Na Naman:"
The performance group slept for just three hours, got ready to go, and was shipped off to GMA7 to put on a little make-up before performing first at 5 AM. 

The sun wasn't even out yet and we were already performing! The lady in charge said we shouldn't sing "Oh Come, All ye Faithful" because it wasn't upbeat enough, so we practiced the other songs more and perfected them. I honestly thought we would be singing more, but we caught the attention of all the people in the bldg, and the performance is spread on Facebook. Look it up on "Mormon Pinoy Newsroom."  It's good stuff!

After the performance, we were given some food, including two enormous cakes, which were, unfortunately.... mocha. And... I can't find my camera with all the pictures of the performance. Oooppss...
My MTC teacher Brother Ronquilla, and me
I got to attend the temple on Saturday! Elder Amante and Sims (the elder I replaced) didn't go on the scheduled temple day so we could attend the endowment and sealing of a couple in our ward. Coincidentally, it was Boni 3rd Ward's temple day, and so I got to see all of my old ward yet again, as well as my old MTC teacher Bro Ronquilla (see picture) and some temple workers in my second area. 

We rode home with the family, and we ate at a super expensive restaurant.  We then went straight to Sister Angel and Althea's interview. Melody Toledo, who takes care of them, brought along a friend, Christopher, who we taught during the interview, who could be baptized in January! He'll be attending Angel and Althea's baptism.

That's just a small portion of my week.  It'll be even more exciting, I'm sure, as Christmas comes, because of the choir opportunities, meetings, parties, and transfers.

Stay alive!

Elder Thurber

Matthew's Mom's Note:

You may also be interested in Sister Ostler's account and pictures of the GMA7 performance.  


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Emergencies and GMA7

Dear Everybody,

I'm currently emailing at 8 AM in San Juan Manila in missionary clothes. There's a huge thunderstorm called "Ruby" that's coming later today. 

What on earth happened to my world?!

It's called an emergency transfer. President called me on Tuesday, telling me I'll be going to the Manila zone with Elder Amante (who was my replacement long ago in Aborlan) on Thursday. I'm glad I got to have a day to say goodbye to everybody. By the end of the day, there were about 5 people working with us as I traveled to and fro, telling everybody goodbye. 

The three pictures are of Mariano Arcibal, Mark-Joseph Abello, and Perping Cruz. 
Mariano Arcibal
Elder Ronquillo, Elder Thurber, and Mark-Joseph Abello
Perpring Cruz, Elder Thurber, and Elder Ronquillo
We had taught Sister Cruz on Tuesday, before I was called.  She said it would be so sad if I left! Little did she know. . .  I will miss her as with all the people I visited on Wednesday. I gave out almost all my ties to those who I've been able to teach here. Few things come close to the feeling I had when I said bye to those in Bonifacio 3rd Ward.

These are the ward missionaries in the zone leaders ward that came along my last day.
My wonderful companion, Elder Ronquillo. He'll continue training under Elder Lewis, who's coming from Palawan.
The Laddaran family and Bishop Paraiso. Oh, it's hard to express how much I'll miss each one of them. 

The "gang" before I left
All of my new housemates, or "kabahays" 
Elder Torido and Elder Noveda's baptism on Sunday morning before church. Elder Amante, my new companion, is kneeling here. 
On Thursday morning, I had my bags all packed and headed out early to go to MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) to begin the transfer. Elder Amante's companion is going to Palawan, the missionary in Palawan is going to Boni 3rd Ward, and here I am, in San Juan, Manila. 

MLC was one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. It was easy to recognize that each person there was obedient, and continuously working to help the mission move forward. We talked about talking about talking with everybody on the street. We watched a movie about "The Go-Getter" which I suggest you should watch. President Ostler also mentioned a "Music Committee" would be made to set the standard for the mission when it comes to what missionaries can listen to. He asked who would be interested. My hand shot up :D

After the meeting ended at 3, a few other missionaries including myself talked with Sister Ostler, who asked for our advice, because we needed to select only 20 missionaries to sing on live national television this Thursday on GMA7! I'll be playing piano! In our previous practice, Sister Ostler recorded everybody singing, to see who had stage presence and knew how to sing. Everybody looked so good in the recording, so it was hard to decide. We gave a few suggestions, and then I left with all my luggage, and headed to the rich community of San Juan, Manila. 

We arrived there at around 7, and got to teach just one lesson to the Toredo family. We're going to be baptizing two of them this coming December 20th! They're both very "makulit" or naughty or rambunctious, seeing as they're only 8 and 9 years old. 

Friday, I got a call from Sister Ostler telling me to go to Buendia to play piano for the choir of 20 she selected. Man they look good! I hope that somehow you all get to watch the performance! I stayed late to accompany everybody for the Mission Christmas Program that'll be going on later this December. 



Phew! What a crazy week. And life's only going to get crazier now.

Hey, check out this great video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzjFEMmM0Xs

Elder Thurber


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ma! Simba Na tayo!, November 23, 2014

Ma! Simba Na tayo!

(Dec. 6th note from Matthew's Mom:
This coming Monday there is a Typhoon headed towards Manila where Matthew is currently serving.  Please remember all the people there in your prayers.)

Sun 11/23/2014

Dear People,

This week was fantastic. Do you remember Ricky and those ladies who came last week? Well, we came back to them and got to teach them all, with an additional four they invited, who we assumed were Catholic, like basically everybody I've met here. We were teaching them all the Plan of Salvation when Elder Ronquillo started talking about those being preached to in the spirit world, when one of them said "Ohhh, that's right! In 1 Peter, right?" We nodded and continued on, impressed. Then we taught the kingdoms of glory, and she said "Oh, and only in the Celestial kingdom can we live with God." I raised an eyebrow, and then she started talking about how she knows it's all true. She gave herself away when she then said we needed to be baptized by someone holding the proper priesthood authority. I blurted "Member kayo, Sister?" She exuberantly responded she was, and started testifying about how the church was true, and taught true doctrine. 

We escorted her and 3 others to stake conference last Sunday, where they got to meet President Ostler and Sister Ostler, and hear their beautiful talks. And the others who didn't come have committed to come to church this coming Sunday! 

My favorite part was when we were talking with one of them (Miriam), who said she was feeling ill, and said she'd come next Sunday. Then her granddaughter came up to her and said "Ma! Let's go to church!" Miriam hesitated, but asked if we could wait for her. Isn't it interesting that God used a little 5 year old girl to persuade others to come unto Him? She did something we couldn't do. 

~~~~~ There are things only the spirit can teach, and these are the most important. Why do people fall away from the church? Maybe they have never been taught by the spirit. In reality, what we teach as a missionary is only preparatory to what the spirit will teach to them. 

So June Laddaran is.... smoke free! He's on track! Wooo!! He asked for a baptismal date for Dec 20th, and we've been praying for him. He is so diligent in reading the Book of Mormon, he stays up all night reading and pondering what he read. 

I've been brought to think about things I've learned on my mission. There are things I can only say. For example "God is our loving Heavenly Father." Nobody I've met has denied that it's true, but how many people know what I’ve said is true? There are things we can only know if we’ve been taught them by the spirit. Read this:

Alma 26:21-22
 21 And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent.
 22 Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such itis given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall begiven 
to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and itshall be given unto 
such to bring thousands of souls to repentance,even as it has been given unto us 
to bring these our  brethren to repentance.

There are things only the spirit can teach, and these are the most important. Why do people fall away from the church? Maybe they have never been taught by the spirit. In reality, what we teach as a missionary is only preparatory to what the spirit will teach to them. We are mere "assistants"
D&C 12:8
9 Behold, I am the light and the life of the world, that speak these words, therefore give heed with your might, and then you are called. Amen.

Think on that.
Elder Thurber