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

Hello from Elder Thurber--who serves in the 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

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