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

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 27th, 20th, 13th, and 6th Blog Entries: Forinoy; Thorbear, Salve, and Marietta; Araw-araw, Araw-araw, Araw-araw; and Budgeting

Mon 4/27/2015


Dear Everybody, and Hunter, David, and Jared,

Last week was a record-high week for total lessons taught! President has moved most of the administrative things off our plate and given us the opportunity to have a model area. We've been able to leave the office tiles behind and hit the pavement! We had two great exchanges where I went with an Australian and then a Californian elder. We saw plans fall through--and miracles come in. The Australian's name was Elder Pickford, and I just love him. We went into his densely populated area on a rainy Tuesday and had plans fall through one by one. It was around 8, and we still hadn't taught a lesson that day. We'd talked to many people, but with little luck. We were using the ward directory, and found people that'd left. Eventually we made our way to the Wong family. Brother Wong had come home just for vacation--and for us! He's the only member in the family, and the whole family is open to be baptized! That small miracle made up for everything that didn't go right. 

We taught Noah at a member's house on Thursday and set up the baptismal interview for Saturday. He didn't show up at the office like he said, so we headed directly to his house, where, thankfully, he agreed to be interviewed! He passed, and now his baptism is happening this Saturday. 

Another cool note: there's a popular show in the Philippines called Forinoy, which is a word coming from "foreign" and "pinoy" (i.e. Filipino).  In this show I think non-filipino people come and they speak in the languages here in the Philippines and do a little bit of dancing, but I'm not sure. In one of the pictures I attached, you see a man named Dwayne Bulley, who served his mission here, and knows Tagalog, Wari-Wari, and Cebuano. He's a contestant and is up to the next round of the show!

Last thing. We had a service project last Saturday, and swept a bunch of streets in our area with the ward, and talked to a ton of people. It took an hour, and then took another hour to eat. 

Take care!

Elder Thurber - Philippines Manila Mission

Mon 4/20/2015

Thorbear, Salve, and Marietta


I wouldn't give myself a good rating on comletely describing my missionary experience in my blog entries. They've been mostly about the most interesting parts of my mission, but not necessarily about my average day-to-day walk.  So my blog entries seem to be about things that are relatively unrealistic, albeit exciting, at least to me. Maybe I'm writing this blog entry so you don't get the complete wrong idea about what a mission here is like. We experience very mundane and repetitive things as missionaries, like following-up with investigators on reading the scriptures, attending church, etc. But most of the glamour comes because there's grit—

Like this week: It was hot, and we were out of the office, preaching the gospel in our area, Palanan. We had a few copes of The Book of Mormon returned to us from people no longer interested. Some people said there wasn't any difference between our religion and theirs, so they said we were wasting their time. A few decided to just simply hide. Yes, Filipinos are very nice people, but it's something about the gospel that they don't get yet. 

So why bother? Those experiences are so common in every missionary's life. I've found comfort in PMG. It says "when you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself." Being out on a mission for a while has brought me to the point that I treasure any opportunity to share the gospel because it strengthens my own testimony—and—maybe they'll just accept it.

It's people like these that are on the road to conversion that make me smile:
  •          Last Sunday a Danish man in his 20's came to church named Thorbear. He only came for "moral support" for his Filipina member girlfriend, but he loved what he saw in church, and will be coming back every week with her. We had a good conversation about the origin of his name and my own. I remember him asking, "So you have many people from different countries?" To which I responded, "Yeah, he's from Brazil and doesn't speak English. That family's from Japan. I think they're Korean. He's from Ghana.  There are a few families from Utah, and there is a couple that just moved in from New Zealand." 
  •          Salve is Jerome's mom. She came to church for the first time last Sunday to support him. Jerome passed his interview on Saturday, but his mom was a little concerned he wasn't ready. Before church started, Bishop Espi told us he wouldn't let Jerome get baptized. After sacrament, he talked to Salve, then brought us in. He said he would allow Jerome be baptized on the 16th of May if she would come to church every Sunday. 
  •          Saturday, we looked for members we hadn't met. We were looking for a family at a particular address when we met a different lady named Marietta, who's an endowed member who always bears her testimony to people. We hadn’t seen her at church because she just arrived. She used to live in Virginia Beach, and now has a new non-member husband, who we will be teaching. 
This is a written commitment we gave to Alexander, who hadn't been attending church.
He came to church this Sunday.

Alexander is on the left, along with some of his family, who are members.
This is another reason I love being a missionary:  
Family Home Evening at member's houses.
That's all I'd like to share today. I am thankful I can be part of this work, where people really change.

Elder Thurber

Mon 4/13/2015 2:41 AM

Araw-araw, Araw-araw, Araw-araw

Dear Everybody,

I'm currently surrounded by a bunch of missionaries from the Mandaluyong during interviews. I'm the hall monitor while classes go on! Thus is my life. 

Jerome's baptism is coming up on the 25th! He cracks me up! This week we've actually had enough time to teach him some of the lessons. He's going to be turning twelve two days before his actual baptism. The problem is he loves Primary too much and wants to stay there!
We're striving to teach his mom, Salve, who has been taught before. The problem is Jerome’s sister Sheila planned to bear hear testimony on the 5th (which wasn't GC for us) and didn't want her mom to hear her testimony, so she told her mom not to go, even though we tried our best to commit her to come to church. She’ll hopefully at least come to Jerome's baptism on the 25th. 

The title of this entry is entitled as such because of the talk by the seventy Elder Pearson, who said to read the scriptures "every day, every day, every day." Well, Araw-araw, araw-araw, araw-araw is the Tagalog of daily 3x. As an assistant, my schedule varies, and I have to fit in personal study whenever possible during the day no matter what, according to President Ostler. Other missionaries almost always get it in at 8 AM every morning, but it takes effort on my part. And now I can testify the importance of what Elder Pearson said. I add to the end of his words: no excuses, no excuses, no excuses. I've found on my mission, from everybody I've met that WE ALL HAVE TIME TO READ THE SCRIPTURES! I won't say I've been perfect at it in my life, and may have rationalized my lack of reading, but I will try my best for the rest of my life. And I encourage you to do the same. People are happier, more peaceful, and loving when they read the scriptures. 

That's all I have this week! 

Mon 4/6/2015 12:43 AM


Dear Everybody,

Due to Sister Hiatt's sickness, the Hiatts have been staying here in Manila, and will leave on the 15th. President Hiatt is the 2nd counselor in the mission presidency, and they have been in Palawan for a while now. We're in interview season yet again (there's 2 this week), and so they're teaching the classes, not us. We're just the hall monitors. 

During the interviews, and also during MLC, we discussed in depth the importance of budgeting. Many people really struggle with budgeting! So now we're accounting for how much money each missionary has and their emergency fund (which should be 3000 pesos). Missionaries now receive 8000 pesos of support each month. At the end of March, many missionaries were eating out of their 72 hr kits because they used all their support and emergency fund. Sad, right? Well, some missionaries are already down to 3000 pesos in support for this month of April. In comparison, other missionaries have budgeted wisely, and get to enjoy a life free of financial stress! Self-discipline really pays off. 

Here are some other random cool parts of the week:

Some cool views from Makati.
We're looking down on the Buendia office from a neighboring building.

Paul Groome and his family.
We finally got to teach Paul Groome! We went 30 minutes north of Buendia Chapel and taught his family. 
Three boys came to church yesterday in the fourth ward. There was one from Taiwan, but has been here for 10 years and speaks Tagalog. They were making a report on the differences between Mormonism and Catholicism. They asked questions about the degrees of glory, purgatory, the cross, etc. I think they were blown away with how different it was. 

Our wonderful district at the Northrup's apartment
where we watched Big Hero 6.
The Jensens, a Canadian family in the 4th ward, fed us a Jewish-inspired Easter dinner, which consisted of lamb and unleavened bread, among other things I haven't eaten in forever. 
Before our Easter dinner, we realized we needed more companionship pictures.

Elder Thurber - Philippines Manila Mission

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

#BecauseHeLives; Let's Do Everything We Can So Families Can Be Together Forever; Palawan

Mon 3/30/2015


Dear Friends and Family,

I hope everybody knows about the Church's initiative this Easter! It's really exciting and I hope many people will be able to know about Jesus Christ because of the site.

It's HeLives.mormon.org and hashtag it with #BecauseHeLives. Please share it on social media. People don't feel the spirit too often, but sharing the video helps them understand who Jesus Christ really is. Many people know about Jesus Christ, but very very few actually know him. 

Missionaries are busy with the initiative in this mission. In various wards, missionaries have been speaking about the initiative and showing the video, having open houses, and taking pictures with the maroon icon, like the one in the pictures I sent. We have a new key indicator: new investigators found from the initiative. 

This transfer week has been fun. Instead of doing an endowment session with other missionaries, we went and did sealings for an hour or so. For many missionaries, it was their first time. It was surprisingly spiritual, at least for me. Sister Northrup, a senior missionary, had many names she wanted done. 

The transfer day, Tuesday, was just too chaotic. We anticipated 11 missionaries coming in, but there were only 7. It resulted in a transfer inside of a transfer, where we called 4 elders and told them they wouldn't be training, breaking their heart, and closing two areas. During the orientation for the new missionaries, I received a text that missionaries going to Palawan didn't catch their flight, sending us yet again panicking. It eventually sorted itself out, and missionaries were still able to work. Not too much harm done (minus the tickets the mission bought) but I sure am glad that's all over! 

Tell everybody back home that I miss and love them!

Elder Thurber

Mon 3/23/2015

Let's Do Everything We Can So Families Can Be Together Forever

These pictures are from the porch of one of our recent converts, Elias Samonte.  He lives on the 39th floor of a building close to our apartment.

Dear People,

If I've been learning from the tiny mistakes of all sorts I've made these past 3 months, it is that one must be prepared early for anything to go well. There's so much to prepare for all the time. This is transfer week, and Elder Francisco and I have been preparing. Despite our thought-through attempts at being prepared, something always happens. Like, for example, we need to print out at bunch of pass-along cards, which I thought would be an easy process, but in fact need to be taken to a print shop to have nice quality. 

"This life is the time for people to prepare to meet God." Everything we do should, indeed, be preparation for that day. There are actually very few decisions we make that don't have effect on our preparation. You may think I'm kidding, but I know it's true. 

Every day on the way to the office, I see a poster that says: "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is right now." We got a "new" investigator from England named Paul who is in his 60's. He's been taught by other missionaries, but doesn't know any Tagalog, so he finally transferred to the English ward. He was Islamic for much of his life, and married a member. He's part of a company that teaches people how to teach English. When we met with him, and during church, it was evident that he has repented and really wants to follow Christ. He's in his 60's, but he finally has decided to make the decision to prepare to meet God and be baptized! The only issue is he's still married to one of his previous wives, and will lose contact with his kids if he divorces her. He's in the process of requesting permission for that baptism.  Pretty cool, right?

Well, in the mission, we're focusing on getting 72 hr kits! Also, we are striving for self-reliance in budgeting and eating, learning how to communicate effectively with your companion, and making sure people are fully taught and ready before they get baptized. 

So, when I consider what's been most important to the people I've seen here in the Philippines, families are always on the top of the list. A sister came in today whose father died last night.  Everything stands still when we are forced to contemplate the effect the loss of one person can have on their families. I hear about things happening at home, and wish that everybody would stay worthy to be with their families in the eternities. We do everything we can to bless families.

'Til the end of my mission, I want to stay focused on the family--protecting them, and bringing the gospel into their lives. There is nothing more important than to remain with our families. Disobedience to the commandments ultimately means you can't be with your family forever, unless you repent and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We must do everything we can to prepare to live with our families forever, and offer others the same glorious opportunity for their families to be together forever, also.

Elder Thurber

Mon 3/16/2015


Dear everybody,

Zone conferences are over! Tuesday's went great, as I got to meet with many missionaries close to me. Wednesday morning, we got up at 3:30 AM (BLEH) to catch a flight going to Palawan, and did two exchanges before Friday's zone conference. It had been a year since I had been there. 

Upon landing, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Palawan was green and beautiful! With the first whiff of air, I felt reinvigorated. We went directly to the apartment of the zone leaders in Santa Monica, passing souvenir stores left and right.  We arrived there at 7 am, and then left directly for a service project where I got a sunburn in two hours. It didn't occur to me that Manila's pollution is so bad, the sun rays can't hit us. But in Palawan, there's nothing to block it. Once studies were done, we worked the rest of the day--and people accepted us and let us teach them. It was great! The highlight was visiting a humble family who is preparing to attend the temple. They said they want the missionaries to come every week. In half of their house, they have a dirt floor. In the midst of it all, they had a picture of the temple. I was uplifted as I saw their faith to become worthy to enter the temple--all 4 of them. 

Early Thursday morning, we traveled down to Elder Francisco's last area, and I went with Elder Matalang. This is the 3rd time I've worked with him! We also visited a member family who was sealed in the 80s, paving the way for the church in Palawan. The man eventually became a branch president but has now been released. They told us that the only thing you need to enter the temple is desire. The money or the distance is no matter because of the Lord. 

Zone conference went well! I got to see Elder Suquib again, who is doing great, along with many others. While teaching the missionaries about members, we had to use a different approach b/c members here need more strength and love from missionaries.

We eventually returned to the city and worked Saturday. I already miss Palawan, though. The bright rays of light and love come most from those who want to come to Christ, like Noah. He'll be baptized in April, and is half-way through reading D&C. 

Oh, I feel so blessed to be a missionary!

Elder Thurber