Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 17, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

I got my Christmas package!

This week, we had plenty of Christmas preparations! On Sunday night we watched the Christmas devotional in Tanjay. That was glorious. I absolutely loved the whole thing. But one thing that really stuck out to me was Sister Oscarson's talk, for one that the greatest forces in the world are babies, but her story of discovering a goodly deed of her great grandfather. Her talk along with the first one about the character of Jesus' earthly family really stuck out to me, his description of Joseph as a man humility and complete integrity. These things reminded me of the stories I've heard of my grandfathers, especially of Grandpa Bruce. I know that we can become men of God, of complete integrity to God and family through this gospel of Jesus Christ.

Across the street from our house is Noreco, the electric company center for northern Negros oriental. It's a big house-like building that doesn't need to pay their electric bills, so they have a ton of lights outside.

On Monday, we were in Dumaguete for the Christmas Conference. All of Cebu Mission Negros Island was there, including all my batch Elders. It was a very fun day. It started with some short messages from President and Sister McCurdy, including a nice reading of Luke 2, of course. But from there we went to the celebration part. All of the zones had little skits prepared, and Tanjay Zone (us) did a well-thrown together version of Christmas Carol. I was chosen as (guess) narrator. Why have I always been narrator for things? But a lot of talents were shown, a lot of beatboxing and haka- like things. 

My very ocean-y meal yesterday of fried fish and seaweed.

This week was an incredible week. I learned a lot. In no great or worldly way did I gain a lot of knowledge, but I've learned a lot. I just had a bit better sunk in the truth that the commandments are given to us as guidelines for happy living. If you do it, you follow a perfect plan. If not, you don't (mosiah 3 21-24)

But I love being a missionary. Like linus I tell tired souls the true meaning of christmas, and I know that this is true. I love you.

 Elder dunford

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December 9, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

Posing on the causeway

Rock garden

Elder Pascua's told me about how in Manila, if there's just a little rain, the drains clog up and they get floods, and if there's a typhoon, that chaos is just the common occurrence. But absolutely none of that befell us here in Bindoy. This whole story of Bagyong Ruby (Typhoon Hagupin?) Starts two weeks ago...

Like I told you last week, we actually had a tropical storm (Baguio Queenie) come directly through Negros last week, which is what caused floods, broken banana plants, and the washed-out bridge (which I still haven't gotten a picture of yet.), and after it came through, people started looking ahead at this new storm brewing out there. We started hearing about this storm that was coming in, it's bigger and faster that Yolanda was, and it's headed straight for Samar/Leyte again. And so for about a week, there was all this news about preparations, all over the place just preparing. We got it here, people driving around in vans pahibalo-ing (causing to know) about the bagyo, where to go to evacuation centers. 

But last p-day (wednesday), we were advised to get our 72 hour kits into order, which we did, because at that time especially, the storm looked like it was going to sit right over the Central Visayas. Then on Friday, we were told we needed to get back home by 5pm, so that we could be safe. All day, we were teaching everyone about the words of our modern-day prophet, about emergency preparedness. We ran into a few people that would say "Oh, we're not going to evacuate, we're just praying and trusting in the Lord." "Sister, your house is literally on bamboo stilts on top of the sea, you need to get out of here if they tell you to." "Well, yeah, we'll go to the school if there's an evacuation call." But for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we did this, on Friday, we got home at 5, Saturday at 12 noon, and then on Sunday, we were not allowed to leave the house. We didn't go to church, we juts had a little special sacrament the four of us in the house. We had an Investigator, Sister Sheila, come to church to find we weren't there. But we were advised not to leave our houses, because the storm was moving so slow, and we weren't sure where it was headed. But we never got more than a few sprinkles of rain and a few gusts of wind here. We truly were blessed in this that we were protected from the storm. And we got to watch an old school 1970's Joseph Smith First Vision video. It was a good time. 

 I talked to some people, and they said there was none of this for Yolanda last year, no prep was done at all. It reminded me a lot of Katrina, how there was no preparation and response, and people were outraged, and then the next year, there was another storm building up in the Gulf of Mexico, about to hit New Orleans again, and there was a ton of Natl Guard, and everyone preparing, and then the storm just died away. That's what it feels like happened here. 

So all in all, I am fine. Negros is Fine. Today is a very hot and a rather dry day, I had the feeling this morning riding a pedicab here that I haven't had for almost a year: the need for chapstick. In the beginning of this new transfer here in Ayungon and in our companionship, I've seen a little more clearly the hand of the Lord. His Help and his love. I know that this work is a flood of righteousness which will bring the Earth to rest. (Moses 7:62) It is a work of peace, from the Prince of Peace.

I love you all. Thank you for the concern, and for the prayers. We've needed it.

Elder Dunford

Thursday, December 4, 2014

November 25 - December 2, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

 Me, RJ, Ram Ram, and Elder Pascua, eating a fruit called "Eba." It was very sour. Ram is an investigator of ours, who is the son of a member who was baptised years before she was married, but never continued to church. Ram's uncle is a bishop in Dumaguete, though, and so he's grown up knowing about the church and going every once in a while. But we found their family my first transfer here, and since then, we gave Ram a Book of Mormon and found he loves reading, coming to church, and learning, and simply knows that this is true. He's gotten a hold of a ton of old church materials of his uncle which he's been reading (including a blue handbook [?]) and he is juts super bright. I love this kid. We've tried a lot to teach his mom and Dad, but they are very busy, but last night, we got his dad to say he'll join when his project finishes in a few months (He's building a birthing house [what do you call this in english] somewhere in the mountains)  Ram is just so clearly a door into his family, and he is so good.

The bridge in Ayungon is out! Last wednesday night, we had a storm come in
and hit Negros Oriental! All night, we had strong winds, rain, and coconuts
falling very loudly on our tin roof, and got up in the morning to find
everything blown about a bit. The corn and sugarcane outside our house was
fallen, coconut fronds and unripe mangos everywhere, and everything was
covered with little, shredded leaves and wet. There were many places that
were na ba-ha' (flooded, with accent mark for pronunciation), and most
every banana plant has been snapped in half, but there was only a few
houses I know of that were hit by trees or washed out.

However the big scene of destruction was at the bridge in Ayungon, across
the main river. The concrete bridge was destroyed a couple of years ago in an
earthquake, and they've been working on it, rebuilding the concrete span
since. There was only a rickety coconut-wood one-way detour as the path for
the highway, which in the flood last week, was washed out! I haven't
gotten a picture of it yet, but it is quite a scene.  Luckily, in just the last month, the new
concrete span was completed, and by yesterday, they jerry-rigged together a
way for cars and buses to get across, because this bridge is the only way
for the highway to get across the river, so Negros Oriental was cut in half
for about a week there.

So my Thanksgiving Thursday was actually filled with grey skies and a
passing baguio (storm) and splits with the Zone Leaders. I worked with
Elder Snyder, from Thousand Oaks, Ca. He was super cool and taught me
a lot. But for our thanksgiving dinner, we were invited to the Romano
house. There the four of us, (Elder Pascua, Elder Gama, Elder Snyder,
and myself) ate with our Recent convert family. They cooked one of
their chickens for us and mais (corn grits, cooked like rice, which I
found nice I was able to have corn for thanksgiving too.), and we had
a good time. I loved the fact that I was able to eat with this family
for my Thanksgiving dinner, because they truly are always so grateful
to have us and to have this gospel.

We had an experience beginning last week that I want to report on.
Last Tuesday, we were tracting around in Tampocon 1, one of our areas
that we've been trying to build a teaching pool, and we ayo'd at a
house with a very nice yard and garden. We were welcomed in by a
teenage girl cleaning the house, who said that elders had visited her
mother a few times earlier this year. We went in and came to find that
she was the care taker for her father, Rafael, who was bedridden, and
had a obviously very ill body. She said that he had a multitude of
sicknesses, and had been deteriorating for the last year. He could
hear and could speak a few words, and was aware and listening. We
taught a short message about the Gospel of Jesus Christ to him and his
daughter, and Elder Pascua said that he felt very prompted to give
this man a blessing. He was caused to sit up and we taught a little
about priesthood blessings to Rafael and his daughter. When we stood
and came around him, we told Brother Rafael we would give him this
blessing, to which he answered clearly, "Salamat." Elder Pascua gave
him a simple blessing, saying that through his faith in Jesus Christ,
he would be healed. We closed and left. Elder Pascua and I discussed
as we were walking out that he just truly felt that they needed to
feel the power of the priesthood. We were unable to go back to this
house until yesterday, where we found at the front tables, chairs, and
easy-up tents, indicative here of a funeral, and the teenage daughter
sitting outside. She told us that the day after we visited, Rafael had
passed away. We talked a little, but did not teach, because there was
still visitors of the funeral party. I know that in our visit, this
family was able to feel the power of God. I know they received a
blessing through the direct power of the priesthood, and we now have
the great responsibility to show them the way that they all can be
healed through their faith in Jesus Christ.

Also this week is transfer week, and not much changed! All four of us
here in Bindoy Branch are staying, which I very am thankful for. I
have seen so much growth in myself here, and I know that the Lord
still has work for me here. I love you, and I am so glad I am here in
Ayungon for this Christmas season.

Elder Dunford 

 Us at a pizza shop after District meeting. I promised I wasn't going to have pizza much here, because I'd be better off just to wait till I get home, though this shop was cleaner than many pizza shops back home.

November 11-19, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

Sunset above Anibong

The Pastors with the family of their Daughter (lives in Amlan, in Tanjay District as well.) The Pastor's grandson is on a mission in Angeles now, and they were able to come to Tanjay District Conference with their daughter's family. Their Daughter is in all ways exactly like her parents. It was a really sweet experience, too. I love the Pastors so much.
So I really want to tell my story that I now have of Pentecostals on my mission.

On Monday, we got out of the house at about 8 o clock as usual to get to District meeting in Bais. As we were waiting up on the highway at the tindahan ("a place to sell", a common little house-shop) by our house for a ceres bus to pass, a big cargo-type truck full of people standing in the back came up the road, so we flagged it down and hopped in the back.

So the four of us were standing in the back of this truck along with about 30 other people, and Elder Pascua started talking to the group in the corner by us, just getting to know them. One of them, a man who was certainly an elder of the others, being about 60 years old, started asking and answering our questions in a very confident, though not entirely fluent English, a common sign around these of someone who is (considers themselves) well-educated. Elder Pascua asked them where he was going, and this man answered "We are pentecostal, we are going to a retreat activity in Mabinay." Elder Pascua answered excitedly, "Mao ba? (really?) Well we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!" So this older man started, very excitedly as well, asking Elder Pascua what our message was, what the "good news" is, and such. Elder Pascua answered his questions and told this whole group of people of the restoration, of Joseph Smith, of continuing revelation, while this man kept asking simple questions, just questioning everything Elder Pascua was saying.

So at this point, Elder Pascua had gotten just about as much as he was going to get through to him, so I started to take a try, testifying of the restoration. This man asked us "Why do you need a prophet, God gives to man his Spirit to guide man." At this point I also noticed just how much all the other people on the truck were watching, and very much in tune to what we were discussing. I answered "He gives prophets to give his law, so that we can be worthy to have his spirit to guide us." To which he questioned again, "Well, how do you know Joseph eSmith is a prophet? What exact scripture can you read that will tell me Joseph Smith is a prophet?" I answered that "He came after the Bible, you can't read his name there, but if you pray and ask your Father in Heaven if it's true, he will answer you!" This brought about my favorite part of this experience, because our friend answered this by saying "Why would you ask the Father? He's not the one who deals with you, the Father sent Christ, and Christ sent the Spirit to man, so the spirit is the only one who works with man!" (These are all in exclamation points at this point now, because remember, we're standing in the back of an open-air cargo truck riding down the highway at a good clip, which made this whole experience a bit more spirited.) But this was my favorite part because I got to testify this, that "You can pray to your Father, because that's what he is! He's your literal Father in Heaven, and he loves you, and he wants to help you and guide you, because you are his child. He gives his Spirit to guide you and to answer you, but you can pray and ask your Father personally, and He will listen to you, and answer you!"
At this point, we had gotten to the point where we had to get off the truck, so we wrapped up our discussions very good-naturedly and started saying goodbye to the people around us, and asked again what the name was of this man, and he introduced himself as the pastor of their congregation. As we hopped off the back of this truck, I just felt so greatly and happily the joy of having been able to bear this testimony, that our Father in Heaven does care for us personally, and that our God isn't just some Spirit in the Sky, where you're gonna go when you die. But he's our Father, For we are also his offspring (Acts 17:28) God isn't some thing we can't understand. Rather he's someone we already know.
I love you all. I love this missionary work stuff. I love this area, and these people. I just want to help them all (alma 29), but I know the Lord will help us where he needs us. He will give us success in his own measure, and I have seen that a lot here. This is true.

Elder Dunford

This picture is awful because we had just come from a very cold church to a very tropical Dumaguete. But these are my ward-mates from my first area, Lawa-an Ward. Elder Gama, Sister Loquias, ako (me), and Elder Marzan.(Missing are Elder Haws and Sister Tune)
I am not in this picture. We had Zone Conf. in Dumaguete, all of Neg Oriental was there. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 5, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

The Watchman on the tower
So November 1, All-Saint/soul's day, day of the dead, calag-calag (soul-soul), whatever you want to call it, was fun. We couldn't get very many appointments, because everyone had family in town and was going to the cemetery, but we were fed a ton of bico (sticky coconut rice), which is the traditional Nov. 1 food here, apparently. 

This is a picture of me and Elder Pascua with the Filipino Arch Haskins, Elder/President Hernandez. His current calling is something in the District and with Sister Hernandez as part-time missionaries in Perpetual Education Fund. But President Hernandez was Branch President for years as Bindoy branch was growing, so he still generally is called "president" by the members, and he is just wonderful to talk to, just because he reminds me so much of President Haskins. He's got the exact same mentality of "I'm a wise old man, so you're going to listen what I'm going to tell you, whether you like it or not." But he really, truly has a loving heart and is an essential part of Bindoy Branch
Cooking. Elder Rowley knows how to cook things, so we have delicious meals every night. 

This week we had a ton of progress with our investigators! A bunch of people came to church, which was great!
Since the Pastors were baptised we were lacking on really progressing investigators; people who can get to church, mainly. But we've been finding people, and this one family who we've visited a few times came, or at least the daughters. And this family is just so golden, it is truly the reason why this is the greatest mission. We just come to their house and bring the restored gospel, and they know for themselves that it is true. On our third visit to them, we asked them if they had prayed to know if this is true. They said they had prayed and that they had received an answer, and they they wanted to be baptised, because they knew this is the true church of God. These are truly just people who are worked upon by our God. This is truly just miraculous, and I am so happy to be able to be here and bring this truth to these people. 

 Christmas lights at the Sablan's house. There's already been christmas lights and trees popping up in places, and it's really kind of funny to see. I don't know, I suppose I just didn't expect to see that here. 

One night we were waiting for a bus and the children swarmed. Well, that's about every night.

We have another person we've visited, He's a teenager, his mom was baptised in the 80's hasn't been to church since, but he has read the Book of Mormon, and he wants to follow this. He simply knows it's true by the power of God.
I know I am here to be an instrument of God. And I am far from being there. But in the mean time, I am sharing the truth with those that will receive it.
I love you. Always. Thank you for your love.
Elder Dunford

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

October 28, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

The Bindoy Branch missionary force, including Elder Wayne! The new companion of Elder Rowley, he is fresh from the MTC.  The word I would use to describe Elder Wayne would be "swell." He is a very happy individual, and really just wants to show it to the world. He is really talkative, and is really friendly. He is literally the perfect new missionary, the archetype of good. 

Halloween doesn't seem to be quite as big a thing here, though there is a bit of purple and orange going around. But the main attraction seems to be the actual All Saint's Day activities, they do a bit of praying for the ancestors and things. But we've already seen a few places some Christmas lights coming up, which makes me happy to see. 

The Pastor family, including daughters and grandkids.
Here's us after District meeting.
I really just want to tell about my friend Mori this week. Mori, from BYU, who's serving in Santa Rosa, Calif. We've been emailing a little bit, and I just really liked what he told me last week. He always had the world's best attitude about everything, and I remembered that a bit when he emailed me. About how at first times are rough a bit, but when it comes down to it, "this missionary work is awesome!" It's fun, and it's good, and there really are miracles to be seen every day. So this week I've been trying to follow Mori's example. I've been trying to be more upbeat and happy about things, and it has had a good effect. Our new Zone Leader also said something to that effect, a saying that's gone around the mission that exact obedience + positive attitude = pure happiness. So I'll start really trying that out, because I've been needing something to try.
I love you always.
Elder Dunford

Thursday, October 23, 2014

October 22, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

Waiting for a ride
Good Day! From the tropical paradise of Negros Oriental.

Walking from Cebu
So it is transfer groundhog week, and the good news is 6 more weeks of Ayungon! The work here in Ayungon is so interesting to do. Mainly because we have an entire municipality to work in, and it can be hard to find where to focus. But this is one thing that President McCurdy has focused on anew, a way to give us focus. There has been instituted a goal of "ONE (1)" converted person baptised every month, every companionship. President McCurdy made it so very clear that this is about focusing and finding the one, helping someone to follow the gospel of Christ. And I have to say that this is something that is good. It can really pushed us to give us a focus on our work, how we go about our day.

This is what our house looks like. We all sleep in the right side, ayungon studies in the left, and we have a nice little courtyard.

Bindoy house. Elder Nadado transfered out this morning to Dumaguete, and Elder Rowley is going to Cebu to pick up his new companion, because he's training! So we're having brand new missionary out here this transfer. Elder Pascua and I are staying strong in Ayungon.
Elder Nadado leaving Bindoy. :(  This is his first area, and he's been here now for 3 transfers. But he is one of the happiest people ever, he's always juts smiling or having something to be happy about. He is a good friend of mine.

I want to talk about to you about the Pastors. Tatay Satornino and Nanay Pelarita Pastor are some of my favorite people. They had been visited by the missionaries for the last year, but when I got here, the missionaries hadn't been for months. Still, they came to church every week, though they had never been baptised. So the first day we visited their house, they received us with very open arms, "kalooy sa Ginoo, bintaha jud mi nga nakaabot mo diri." (The grace of the Lord, we are blessed that you got here!" And I've told you a bit about them, buit htis last few weeks, we've really seen a change. Before, their testimony and belief seemed to be rather "Whatever you tell us, we believe, because we know you're true." Which is nice, but this last few weeks, we have taught very simply the doctrines of the lessons. Of the Restoration. Of the Plan of the Father, and of the atonement of Christ, and how they can receive an answer from God. And we have seen a true change in them. Their faith in Christ is no longer based on what they've learned in their time in all their different religions before, it's a personal faith. And My favorite thing, one of the first things they said when we really saw this change was "Elders, how do we help others do this? Our daughter's family was taught before, and they want you to visit them too." Their minds immediately went to missionary work, and we had never taught that yet. Nanay and Tatay Pastor can sometimes be a bit long winded in their talking about how "bulahan ug bintaha" (different words for blessed) they are to have us at their house, but they know the know this gospel is true, and they will do anything to follow the will of their loving Heavenly Father.

The other day, we were having a very hot, sunny day, when we got in a tricycle to ride to the next barangay over, when it started pouring rain. Like it was coming down, out of nowhere. And the house we were going to was a way away from the highway, so this was me taking solace under a banana plant.

Yesterday, we worked with Elders Quorum President Sobredo and Brother Cajigas in a "half-day mission" activity. Brother Cajigas is really interesting to talk to. He lived in Chicago for most of his life (he said when he went to high school in the 70's, a little new local band called Styx would play at their dances), and his kids and wife are mainly Tagalog, so when we visit them, it's a mix of English, Tagalog and Cebuano that's being spoken. But they're a really fun family, and they've recently been sealed, so they're good. But Brother Cajigas always reminds me of the Chief.

Us eating at the house of the Branch Mission leader, Brother Mondred. It was his birthday, too, so we had a little party. 


Elder Dunford.

October 15, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

My batch at Zone Conference in Dumaguete last week. (We've spent quite a bit of time in Dumaguete the last two weeks.)
This week was very big, a lot of things happened. On Friday, we had splits with the zone leaders, I was with Elder Young this time. Elder Young is so good. He is pretty close now to the end of the mission, and he is one of those super kind, loving kind of people. They really helped us out. But they also gave us some stupid riddle games like that "I'm going around the world to (blank), where are you going? blank. Oh, you can't come." I don't like those games. 

Some of the original Escalante Zone, at Zone Interviews in Dumaguete on Monday.

This Monday, we went to Dumaguete for Zone Interviews, with President McCurdy. We had just gone to Dumaguete last week, but it was nice to be back in the big city. But as we hopped on the bus, I was standing in the back when I heard a familiar voice call "Elder Dun!" It was Sister Cristina, the recent convert who was supposed to go to Quezon a few weeks ago. She ended up not going, which I knew, but on Monday, she was moving to Cebu for work. So I was incredibly lucky that I was able to talk to her on the bus for a while. She has just such an incredible and sincere testimony. She said that as she was waiting for the bus, she was praying for a way that she would be able to see us, because she never was able to say a proper goodbye, and she was so happy that Heavenly Father answered her prayer. I know that that truly was simply an answer to her prayer. 
The Zone at conference

 Elder Pascua I and the Austin's and Anderson's at Tanjay for Saturday session of Conference. It was Elder Pascua's birthday! Guess how old he is.
At Zone Interviews, I wasn't feeling too great, but it was such a great rest to me to hear the words of my leader and to talk with them personally. I really just know that President and Sister McCurdy have been called of God.
Us and Sister McCurdy
Some of the Bindoy saints at Sunday Conference.

And Conference, day! On Saturday, we ended up going to Tanjay, because in Bindoy, they only had it in Cebuano! But of course, it was incredible. On Sunday, we just watched it in Cebuano na lang, which was interesting. As I really focused, I really could understand everything. However, if I didn't really focus, it was hard to keep in there. But I really loved the message of Pres. Eyring. I love that man. He is so humbly a man of God, and I love how he always talks about his roots in NJ. I downloaded the sunday sessions, so I'll listento them properly later.
I love you all.
Elder Adam Dunford

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 8, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

Because last transfer, the whole mission went to Cebu to hear from Elder Bowen of the Seventy, we had no zone conference. So this was President McCurdy's first zone conference that he's had as our president. And it was a great meeting, for one because all four of my MTC batch elders were there, including Elder Ioane, who I haven't seen since I went out to Escalante. But of course the teachings of President McCurdy was the highlight.

 One thing he really focused on is individuality. First of all, President McCurdy is one of the most absolutely loving, lovable people. He's a little old, and a little odd. In contrast to President Schmutz, who was always very proper and refined, Pres McCurdy can be a little bit of a goofball, in a very personable way. He introduced this by his "personality tie" he was wearing, which from the pulpit, looked like a red and yellow patterned tie, but the pattern, he showed, was tiny tessalated Winnie the Pooh's. He didn't expound much on that, but to say that we have a responsibility to serve the Lord on the mission. People may be different and have different way of going about their lives, different ways of fulfilling their responsibilities, but we need to fulfill that responsibility. He said something to the effect of "I may not be what people might expect of a mission president, but I'm going to keep wearing my Pooh Bear tie." The main part of his teaching was about repentance, and it was all very connected, but I really just want to say how wonderful of people the McCurdy's are. And we still have interviews with him this transfer! yay!

Transfers were when I got Elder Pascua, I just forgot to write it the day before the transfer happened. So I still have two more weeks to this transfer, though I'll be here in Ayungon for a while longer, hopefully! I truly love this area, and these people. We've had a few different opportunities this week where we have just tracted around areas, looking for people. And they are here. I know we are guided by the Lord, and that he prepares people. And I am so thankful for Elder Pascua. He is a great missionary. The other day, as we were coming home from Dumaguete, He was standing in the middle of the bus and teaching some people about things, while the rest of the missionaries were all sitting in the back. They were all talking about how good he is, "ooh, who's his companion?" Not really. I am really just grateful for him. I am able to learn so much from him, and I love him.


Elder Dunford

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 1 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

That graphic quote actually follows something we kind of focused on in a lesson yesterday. We were teaching a part-less active couple, the Sablans, Tatay Puro and Nanay Gamay (Their nicknames together, "Puro Gamay", means "all of them are small." It's kind of hard to explain the translation in English, but it's funny in Visayan). The Sablans are formerly empty-nesters, as one of their grandchildren lives with them. But Sister Sablan recently went to the temple with the Bindoy Branch temple trip, while tatay Sablan used to be very active in the church, he has recently returned to his mga viscio (vices) and has been rather not-active. Just yesterday we were able to visit them after a couple of weeks where we weren't able to visit them. It was a really interesting lesson. I have really seen in our lessons with him the doctrine that when one rejects the word of God, the portion of knowledge that is given them is taken away. He has forgotten many simple things. He said he prayed often that he may be far from temptation, but he's still weak. But yesterday's lesson was really interesting, because I said to him something like unto that quote, that it is a true doctrine of Christ that when we follow his commandments, we gain his power. Brother Sablan answered "I used to know all about that. About the doctrine, about the gospel." The started talking all about this, how he used to be active in the church, and how he was able to lose the drinking and the chew before by actively staying away from it, how he used to work with the missionaries. He really reminisced about all this, how this was good. He said that it couldn't be the same now, he couldn't work with the missionaries because he has high blood (pressure), that things were a bit different now. But we told him that if he follows the commandments of God, he can gain the power of God. The specific commandment we gave them was that they pray in their family daily. If they follow this, they will have help. They will have hope.

So this last monday at District meeting, it was announced to us that President McCurdy has had a revelation, and that all of Negros Island would have conference on Thursday (tomorrow) in Dumaguete. We are anxiously awaiting that, as well as Gen Con. First of all, I can't believe it's already been 6 months' time, and Second, I am so excited. We aren't watching conference until next week, it gets reshowed a week later around these parts (since we're ahead in time.) But last conference was so good. It was so refreshing, (makahupay, is the word I want to use, which means it can bring rest.) I just love the testimony that conference is that we have the Spirit of God, the spirit of prophecy on earth.

Thank you always for your help. I know I pretty much only talked about the Sablans, but I love them. I love the people here. I know that this is a true work. I can't imagine what it would be like to leave this place.  I know that what I am doing here is not for myself. I am not here to learn for myself, but to teach.


Elder Adam

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September 17 & 24, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

Yesterday was a rather good day.
Things are good in Bindoy, which is about as much news as comes up around these parts. Our work in Bindoy branch is a lot of less active and part member families. 

Elder Castro has been transfered to Cebu!  My new companion is Elder Pascua. He is from Cavite, and he is an incredibly good missionary.  I really want to say that Elder Pascua is a great missionary. You know how I said last transfer that this branch really needs someone to really flame the fire, it's really happening now, and this is something we saw yesterday.
 we went jogging down at the sea at our normal place to watch the sunrise and look at the freaky things in the sea that are forms of life. It's fun to do.

So first, yesterday, we started off the day going to Ayungon Proper, to the house of Sister Cheryl Pastor. Sister Pastor is a fairly new member, and she just last week joined with the Bindoy Branch temple trip, but as of yet, she is the only member of her family. We went to her house yesterday to set an appointment, but we weren't able to teach her. But we found out that her husband is a architect/civil engineer who works for the province. I got really kind of excited, and really want to meet her husband now, and though she wasn't horribly confident that he'd accept our teaching, I am still excited to meet him.
We then walked around the area by Negros College, in Ayungon. We talked to some students who called us over, using the benefits of being white to make a teaching opportunity. We then when to Anibong and taught a18 year old kid and his mom who we had taught a couple of days ago. He has a lot of questions, all the right questions which we know that this gospel answers, and I know that he has been prepared to receive us.

We then joined with the Elder's quorum President, Pres. Sobredo, and we visited a part-member/less-active family. Brother Del Rosario is the only not-member of his family, and though at first it was kind of tough to get through to Tatay because of other people who were being  problematic, but we were really able to break through to him. There are a lot of people in this world, and there are a lot of problems. But I know there is one answer for every single one of these problems, and it is always much simpler than the answer we may try to make up ourselves. 

 we went to one area where we have met some people before, which is up the hill a little ways. This was right in the middle of one of the bagyos (storms) that has come through recently, and so it had been raining all day, and when we crossed this stream, we had to get a picture.
Yesterday ended as we taught to the Romano family with Branch President Anhao, Prs. Sobredo, and Brother Francis.  We were able to work yesterday with these great members of the branch, and we were able to see a bit of the Work of Salvation really start to unfold yesterday. The missionaries and members, working side by side in one big cookie. I know that this is the Plan of God, and this is where we see an answer to some of our problems.
I loved working yesterday with Elder Pascua. He is a great missionary. I've loved working for this whole transfer, and the whole mission, of course, but yesterday was just a really good day. We met a lot of people. We got seeds sown, and I feel like a good fire was started to be fanned. 
This is what I wrote to President McCurdy today: 

I have learned a bit this week of how we all have individual strengths that we can use to Help each other. I like what I read in the Red handbook the other day, from the Savior's teachings to Peter, that when ye are converted, strengthen thy brethren. Peter was such an imperfect man, who did many things he regretted. But he accepted the help of the Savior. He received His cleansing, and he was given what he needed to become a rock against which the gates of hell could not destroy. I really like the lesson we learn from the life of Simon Peter.
I know that this is true. I know that there is one who is perfect and true, and He is the one who has been with us from the beginning.
Elder Adam

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 9, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

Elder Nadado took this picture of the Bindoy Chapel from above, I thought it was really cool.

On Saturday, we had the baptism of Elemar, Elmer, and Elecito Romano. Their father was supposed to baptise them, but a week before he fell out of the heights of a mango tree while he was spraying pesticides, and got his leg beat up pretty well, and though he can't really stand for any period of time for now, he's still working and providing for his family. But the baptism of his sons was going to happen, when we found that there was no water in the church, and hasn't been running for days. But luckily, we live on an island. This was an incredible experience.

The beach where we had the baptism

Elder Castro and I in Anibong, going to the Silvano family. In Anibong, there's four sisters (as in actual sisters) who all have families of their own now, who are all members, and it's really interesting to see how each of them are in different stages of life, trial, and conversion. The Silvano family are just wonderfully kind people, and it is just good, but heartbreaking to hear the testimony of Sister Silvano. She wants to go to church, they just can't because of the plete (fare), the money is the problem. But they sent their daughter to church every week, so that their kids stay strong, even if their father may not be. The Aplicano family is actually in Cebu right now, being sealed in the temple. We have visited them a bit in the last few weeks, mainly because they asked for help. They have truly experienced the trials a family faces even in that last few days before receiving those blessings, and I can really say that they will become a great family, with a unfailing testimony of the strength received. The Aspacios are the most solid family of them all, and one of the most solid families in the branch. They were sealed in 2011, and they have a son who is 16 now, but right on track to go on a mission, and we've visited them a couple of times and they've told us how they've really felt like they have the responsibility as a light among their neighbors. Brother Aspacio told us that a friend of him congratulated him because he was the only man in Anibong who can get his whole family out to church on Sunday, and we've seen Sister Aspacio really take it on herself to help some of the people we're teaching, and it is really amazing to see the members who have been able to rise through challenges turn back and help others, including her sister's families and the Romano's. It is really incredible to see the Lord working in people, that we are not our workers for ourselves, but for Him.

Elder Castro and Brother Jerwin. Brother Jerwin has been through a lot to get to where he is, but he is being baptised later today. He is incredibly knowledgeable and I know he will grow so much from the gospel.

The Romano family. We had something of a farewell FHE, and they cooked up some real good home-cooking meals. This was a great time of rejoicing. I taught the lesson for FHE, and I really just wanted to reflect on how great it is to see this family take these great steps, even if it is step by step, to truly coming together as one. How great it is that all of them in this home now have followed the gospel, and have entered into the way. I felt I should share from 4 Nephi, how great the happiness was of the people as they followed after Christ, only this time, for us, and for this family, it would never pass away into darkness. But their family, this gospel will only grow and spread herself abroad. Also in that trend, Escalante District is becoming a Stake this week. I am so honored and happy to have been able to have served there, and hope that they will grow and learn in this great time. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

August 27, 2014 - September 3, 2014 Ayungon, Negros Oriental

First of all, in 4 days I'm going to be 8 months in the mission. wow. I didn't even remember my 7 months, because it was all on top of transfers.

So last week, we went to Cebu. We took a ferry from Dumaguete, which is just abut 20 minutes across to Cebu, then took a Ceres bus all the way up the eastern shore of Cebu. Grabe (wow), that is some incredible piece of earth in southern Cebu. The water is the clearest, bluest thing I've ever seen, and I got a picture of the island of Siquijor where it looks like the Second Coming is happening right over it, the clouds and light were so clear. But that's the place to go resorting it seems. I also got to meet up with my batch (my MTC-mates) Elder Job and Sisters Poteki and Mataipule, and I saw Elder Crandall in Cebu. It was super cool to be able to meet up with them again. This was the first time I've been able to talk to my Elders-batch since I got here in the mission, and it was so cool to hear about all they've got going on. We've got a really solid group of missionaries, that's one thing that I've really seen.
Me and Elder Crandall at the Temple

Sister Poteki, Sister Mataipule, and Elder Job and I on the barge to Cebu.

But as for my day to day work, I've really been loving it. Elder Castro is by far the most fun companion I've had. He's fun to talk to, and he's fun to work with.  I've learned so much from him, just about how to help people and to show our love. But I know we have the help of the Lord. That we can seek his help. That when Jezebel sends her messengers that she'll have your head, that the Lord will tell us exactly what to do. How to gain His strength, no matter what the world would have.

I have seen great blessings in our work this week. We've had a few people we've visited who as we talk to them and as we share of the restored gospel, we can just see the light of it in their eyes. We can just see the truth of it, the spirit testifying that it's true, just in how they receive it. The other day, we taught a little on-the-spot lesson to a guy who is the neighbor of someone we were looking for, and at the end of just a short message, we were saying "we'd be glad to return" When he asked for something to read, so that he could have questions and answers of his own to our teaching. I gave him a Book of Mormon, and I have no doubt that he's reading it.

That causeway, looking toward Anibong. The Romano's house can be seen to the left, that shiny tin roof on the water.
On the road to Canluto. Along this road we have a little place with some families we've visited a few times. They are just great examples of people who have a desire to receive the gospel and truly do understand the word. 
We have a couple who we've recently returned to. The missionaries taught Tatay and Nanay Pastor back in the day, and they've been coming to church pretty solidly ever since, but for some reason the missionaries stopped visiting them, and they were never we went over to their house, and oh, the welcome we received. They have a child in Amlan who's a member, sealed in the temple, and a grandkid on a mission in Angeles (near Manila), and they are super receptive, they're just that "they might as well be members" kind of deal. The only reason I could see troubles is that Tatay has had problems giving up smoking, but they say they're clean and all ready to go. But whenever we go and teach them, Nanay Pastor is really excited just to talk with us, especially that "nagpasalamat jud mi sa Ginoo, nga naa mo diri, kay kami, wala mi nakaskuela, wala mi kaalam kabahin ani, etc." She always says that, "We thank the Lord you're here, because we are poor, we aren't learned about the gospel, but you always come here and teach us about this, even in Visaya, which we thank you for, because we don't know english..." She always goes on and on about how thankful she is we're here and how thankful she is for the gospel, for this truth. Her husband always tells her "Don't interrupt, they're trying to teach," and Elder Castro always tell her "Nay, if you want to learn, you have to listen to us now, ah?" But I feel like she really is just that thankful. I feel like that's one of my strengths, is being patient while someone's talking a ton, and being able to base a gospel truth off of what they said. Because there always is truth behind the beliefs of people, that's something I've really seen, and it helps them if they can express that, too. I don't want a teaching visit to be just me talking, anyways. 

But just last night, we went to their house and set a date for their baptism. Nanay had always been asking about when they could be baptised since the beginning, and we had members asking all about them, too, so we set them for the 27th to be baptised. But last night, as we asked them how they felt, after we taught about the pakigsaad (which is literally the definition of a covenant, a two-way promise. I like visayan words.) We asked them if they felt ready to make this promise with God. They answered with a resounding yes. That this is what they wanted, because this is what is true. They were so happy to here there was no bayad, that the baptism was free. I think just as I've been able to really listen and understand where a person comes from, that I have no problem being patient and just trying to hear their questions and trying to help them. That these people have been searching all their life for the truth, and they know now they've found it. I know that even though Nay and Tay Pastor are just couple little old folks down the road who make their living by gathering fruits and coconuts in the hills and cleaning the streets in the city, that they know that this is the truth. And they deserve to receive it.
 When the branch gets together to help someone move their house, it has a bit of a different meaning here. 

We had a CSP last saturday in Amlan, the Elder Gama's area. All we knew beforehand was that we were moving a house, so we had no idea where we were going to be trucking this thing. But it turned out they juts needed to move it about 20 feet, because where it was before was not the person's land. It took all in all about 5 minutes with all the help we had (and all the tanduay rum that being passed around the various workers), but it was a good activity and we had some good time to chase kids and get to know people.

I had a kind of fun conversation the other day with my house mates about history, because Magellan is a big part of history here because 1. he started the colonization here, and 2. he was killed in battle by Lapu Lapu in Cebu, and Lapu Lapu is kind of a legend around here. But I was telling them how in our schools we learn all about how Magellan was the first to circumnavigate the earth, and started all this trade, and oh yeah, he died in the Philippines. It's just funny how history works sometimes. 

So Elder Bowen's (Philippines Area Presidency) teaching to us was really good.  For the first hour, he kind of yelled at us lovingly (not really) he taught about obedience to specific rules, and how we need to not forget these things. It was a good portion, even if it was a bit chastise-y. But then he switched gears and started teaching about the covenant people of the Lord, his real topic. But he said something that I really liked.  He said that he felt that we had gotten to the point that he doesn't just have to teach and focus on exact obedience, that we are solid enough on that that he can really teach more precious points of the Gospel. Because that's true, if we can't follow that which our God specifically gives us to do, we cannot expect to be able to learn about the finer points of His teachings. But before Elder Bowen got to the chapel, we were sitting and studying, and I had an impression to read Alma 13, which I've recently come across as being a really strong testament on why we have the priesthood. But I focused on verses 3-5, which in his workshop, Elder Bowen also focused on. This is a really interesting piece of scripture. Alma teaches that the great elect of God, prophets and whatnot, were called to that calling before this life, and they were able to achieve it through obedience to his word in this life. But Alma says that all of the children of God were called and were ordained to be able to achieve greatness in the gospel in this life. That each and every one of us, if we follow the will of God for us, can become the very elect of God. I love this and this is something that I've both felt so strongly to be true, and that I need so badly to work on. I have seen so clearly here that we truly are childern of God. We all have his light of goodness inside. It is up to us to learn and follow his Word.  If we grow in this goodness, and sometimes we can draw away from this, but if we do what is right, we have a great blessing in store. I say I need to work on this because I have seen lately that I really need to work on talking to people, talking to everyone, and sharing this glad message with all. We are the hands of God here, and We are the ones to share His word to His children.

Pictures of Siquijor from Cebu. Siquijor is legendary among the Visayas for the witchcraft and oddities that happen there, and legendary for missionaries because of the lack thereof (and there's only been missionaries there for a bit more than a year now. But Elder Crandall, my batch, is there now.