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

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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Elder Francisco; Educational Pursuits and "Educational Pursuits"; Gaston, Portugese, Ray Goodson, and Whose Line is it Anyway

Mon 2/9/2015 5:21 AM

Elder Francisco

Dear Everybody,

Ah! My first transfer as an assistant is ending! I got a text from President saying that Elder Francisco will be the new assistant, and I'm sitting right next to him, emailing you while doing other things. He was my zone leader in Bonifacio, and is from Tarlac City. I remember seeing him last transfer and hearing him say to me "I do not envy you being in the office." Teehehehe.
We love bowling in our district!
We assigned some sister training leaders to talk about budgeting in MLC, so they 
got with Elder Rydalch and McQuarrie and handed all of these out with quotes 
on the back on how to budget. Funny, but embarrassing, don't you think?
This week has been awesome! We had interviews, MLC, a New Trainers Mtg, met a former investigator, and waited outside while Elder Obray went to the "Finish Strong Mtg." He'll be going home with 15 others tomorrow, and Elder Francisco and I are in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly, while helping others during transfers. 

In MLC, we talked a lot about a video by Henry B. Eyring called "Choose this Day." We're hoping missionaries will use time more wisely, so we talked about what we taught last MLC.
Elder Obray's birthday was this past week, so we basically celebrated all week. 
We had so many appointments where we got fed! 

Another birthday celebration!
Queennee lives super close to Buendia Chapel, so she had us over for lunch
outside her condominium. She gave us, among other things, designer jackets. 

On Saturday, we finally met a great man named Dominique, who is a black man from France who was taught previously by some legends of the mission. He was upfront with his opinions and has read the bible several times. We had a deep discussion on God with him, and invited him to church, like he did a year ago when he was getting taught. Like our dinner appointment with Noah's parents, he's thought of the hard questions to ask, such as "Why does God let bad things happen?"  He really wanted to listen to us and to come closer to God. 

Perspective is key to finding answers to questions and peace in this life, and the one to come. I think one overlooked portion of God's plan is the resurrection. I mentioned previously about miracles and how it depends on your perspective, but to have somebody come back from the dead is a phenomenon that could only come from God! 

I don't have any more time to email, but I must say what I know is true: Through the atonement, Christ brought upon him the suffering of all mankind, and allowed each of us to return to the presence of God to be judged. Christ's disciples became discouraged and lost hope when Christ was buried, despite the numerous miracles they witnessed by his power. 

Yet, he lived again! He lives now! I know He lives! With Him, everything is possible. What do you want to be possible? Could you pick one thing? I pick eternal life. And Christ made that all possible. 

"Oh sweet the joy this sentence gives: I know that my redeemer lives!"

Elder Thurber

Mon 2/2/2015 3:41 AM

Educational Pursuits and "Educational Pursuits"

Dear Everybody, regardless of whether or not I've met you,

With President Ostler gone doing interviews in Palawan, we've had time to get out and share the gospel. We went on two exchanges with zone leaders, and learned a lot. Does anybody remember Elder Proudfit from the MTC? I worked with him in our area. For some reason, we decided to go inside this little alley. There we found this cute 7 m.o. baby and two parents who already pray and are Christian, who let us in and listened to our message of the gospel. 

I then went to my last area, San Juan Manila, where I got to see many people I had grown to love. Above all, I'll admit, I was excited for my painting brother Toledo made. It's gorgeous, and I'm happy that they're still on the straight and narrow path. They're still doing family scripture reading. 

I'm treasuring my time I have to work with Elder Obray. I probably won't be able to work with him much more, because this week we'll have interviews, MLC, train the new trainers, and prepare for the departing missionaries the coming week which will include Elder Obray. He's actually been busy applying for BYU, along with many other missionaries, from countries such as Sri Lanka and Fiji. As a mission, we're trying our best to make missionaries aware of the educational opportunities available to them, and church schools are what most RMs want. 

Elder Obray and I had one interesting appointment together with Noah. I've mentioned him before and how interested he is, and he's still doing great. His parents wanted to meet us, so they invited us over for dinner, in Das Marinas village, which is also where the mission home is. The home is a great place, but Noah's house was a mansion, and must be in an IKEA magazine. His parents are from Sweden and have names I can't pronounce, let alone spell. For dinner, they asked us if we had gone to IKEA before, to which I enthusiastically responded “Yes!”

We've been hoping that Noah will be baptized quickly, but he, along with his mom, was born into The Church of Sweden, which is Lutheran. His mom is asking him to take it slow. She is one of the top executives at Asian Development Bank, which reaches to all sorts of countries. She travels all the time, and even has been to Virginia a few times. We were hoping they would be interested in our message. They said they'd listen as an "educational pursuit," which is great, but brought up issues with evolution, and believe only in a "supreme creator." 

How can we claim that Adam and Eve even existed? It's a tough question, but many true things are centered on their fall. I believe in evolution, but I also believe that Adam and Eve were the first of God's children He put on the earth, and that we all descended from them. Think about this verse in 1 Cor 2:

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

If you really truly want to know if they existed, I have no better suggestion than for you personally to ask God. It's amazing how much doctrine must rely on whether or not they existed. Nevertheless, He will answer, and you will know that The Plan of Salvation is true. 

That's all I have to share! Oh, and it's Elder Obray's b-day today, so we've been celebrating. 
Happy Birthday, Elder Obray!

Elder Thurber

Mon 1/26/2015 3:43 AM

Gaston, Portugese, Ray Goodson, and Whose Line is it Anyway


Weird is the word that describes this week the best. I've reached a record low of lessons to members or investigators and set a record for the most taught to missionaries. We've been holding things together during President Ostler's interviews to the missionaries from Tuesday to Friday. We're continually teaching people about learning English effectively. We've changed our approach, however, to be more fun than anything so they'll want to apply it during their language study. We eventually concluded that a few parts of “Whose Line is It, Anyway” are great for learning English! Making up stories is especially fun. We had missionaries laughing all week. On top of that, we had to cover for some Sister Training Leaders a few times, so we also taught about prayer. Additionally, we taught in a follow-up meeting for new missionaries. With that, there was little time to proselyte. 

I gave Elder Ronquillo his ticket yesterday.  He's no longer a visa waiter.
He's going to Edmonton, Canada now.  He was nervous and remarked
how fast time has gone for him.  I'm super proud to have been his trainer,
and I know the mission over there will need him.
Sundays are turning into the most productive day for us. After the 3rd ward, we used that hour to re-teach Sheila and share with Noah, along with Caleb, President Ostler's son--and cram in some food and coordinate with the ward mission leader. 

This is Adam with the Sunday School class. 
Does he look like Gaston?  I think so!
My mom asked me what the most interesting part of the week was for me. I can't narrow it down so I'll just share what happened that was cool. After Sacrament Mtg in Makati 3rd (Tagalog speaking), we saw a tall American in the hallway asking if the international ward was about to start. We talked to him and found out he is in the musical Beauty and the Beast--and he's Gaston! He's from Utah and served a mission. There were many Filipinas fawning over him and getting his picture as Sunday School ended. How ironic; he's right for the role. 

In the opening exercises of the 4th ward, a man who sometimes visits here named Ray Goodson was introduced by his friend. He had served his mission in Taiwan for three years until he got a yet another call to preach the gospel to an area yet to be proselyted--the Philippines. He was one of the first four missionaries called to this country. 16 years later, he came back as a mission president. 

The man on the left is named Ninyo, and is one of our
recent converts.  The other two are active members.
I have been texting with a man named Lauro. He comes from Brazil, and knows very little English. We communicate by using his translator on his phone. Undeterred by the lack of communication, he is going to have us over for dinner and teach his relative who doesn't understand any English either. I'm pretty pumped, and am learning a little Portuguese. 

Pretty cool things, right? Well, I think my interactions with President Ostler tops all of them. He tirelessly works to help each missionary in whatever they need. Do you want to feel better? Talk to him for a minute. Want to feel the spirit? Listen to him teach. I prize every moment I have with the man. I feel too lucky to be around him. He's gone the extra mile to truly follow Jesus Christ, and I've felt inspired to be more charitable as I hear him talk about missionaries.

Take care! 

Elder Thurber

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