Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 20, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

This is the view across the street outside our house every day as we wait for a tricycle (called pedicabs here, because they're basically a full-sized can built on a motorcycle) to Ayungon.

We had a baby tuko get inside our house the other day. If I haven't told you about tukos, just look them up on youtube. There's pretty much everywhere, even if you don't see them, you can always hear them.

This week, a lot happened. Last Thursday, the Zone Leaders came and worked with us in Ayungon. Elder Young worked with Elder Castro, and I worked with Elder Gama! Wow, my tatay is now my zone leader! So yeah, I was able to work with Elder Gama again, who, being my first training companion, is my tatay (dad). I was really super glad to be able to learn more from him again. I was able to see so much growth in myself as we worked together again, because I really felt I could see the changes in me from the last time we were companions, and I was a much more able to learn from him and his teaching. I was also able to see how his style of teaching had really influenced how I teach and live the missionary life. I was just so grateful for that opportunity to see what I had learned and to learn even more. And the thing I really saw so clearly, which was probably obscured in my time in Lawa-an by something like unto shellshock, was just how keenly he follows the Spirit. He truly knows the scriptures, and he knows how to teach to the needs of a person, and he teaches with authority. I was really excited to be able to learn how to refine this skill in my own work. We were also able to go through Ayungon proper to try to find a house for us, so that we could live closer to our center. We found something that they were going to follow up on, but we also found a lot of people, we even found members who were active until they moved out to Ayungon, but they said they would totally go to church if it were closer than Bindoy. It was good to be in my real town.

We walked the other day from an area on one side of a valley to the place where Johnny and Rose live, which took us on a little trek through Mango groves and some pretty old-growth looking forest.

The next big thing that happened this week was on Sunday, after church in Bindoy, the Andersons came and held temple recommend interviews. The Andersons are the couple missionaries in San Carlos and Escalante Zones, so we got to know each other pretty well while I was up there, but now Elder Anderson is also in the Mission presidency, so he was able to hold interviews, and I was able to be his interpreter for several of the members in the interviews. This was a very cool experience. For most of the questions, the members didn't need any translations, but for some of the questions Elder Anderson really wanted me to clarify some of the points and make sure that they were fully understood. Elder Anderson really took the opportunity to teach me a bit about the interviewing process, and it was very interesting to see an interview from a somewhat-outside perspective, but also in a very included perspective as well as interpreter, just to see the spirit that testifies and the power in the questions that are given. One thing Elder Anderson told me was that the interviewing process gives us as members the opportunity to report on our doings, to show our accountability to our actions. I was really able to see again the love Elder and Sister Anderson have for this people, even if there's not a whole lot of understanding vocally. They were both converts to the church after they were married, and I really just love their testimony of Christ. They really have a strong testimony of the power of the Atonement to make us better people. 

And this upcoming week, we are going to Cebu for a conference with Elder Bowen of the Philippines Area Presidency. He has asked us to study beforehand the Abrahamic Covenant, the House of Israel, the Baptismal Covenant, and the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. I am excited to see what we are to learn, but what I have learned is just how wonderful the promises of God are for us. He has promised us that we can all receive his Glory through these covenants. We can be a part of that, as infinite as the stars of heaven. I know that this is true.

This is the view from the Romano house. This was the place last week where we watched the super moon rising over Cebu. The Romanos are so good. Ely was baptized the week before I got here, and his wife and daughter are recent converts, too, though they have three youth-age sons who are going to be baptized by Ely in September. The thing I always find so amazing about Ely is he truly understands how important the unity of his family is in the gospel, and he knows the significance that he is able to baptize his sons. It is just incredible how truth rings to all the world.


Elder Adam Dunford

August 13, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

The moon has been super this week. I didn't know that it was a super moon, but Grandma told me it was, and I would believe it. This last week, when we walk around at night, we haven't needed flashlights or anything, the earth has just had a secondary degree of glory. The tide has also been super strong this week, the difference between high and low, and the speed with which it changes is really cool. It's also really cool that I know all about tides now, because one of our areas is literally built on the water, and everyone's a fisherman.

But our house is fun. It is actually a little compound, we have two houses and a little court between. In the back of the court, we have our water tank, which is a big, open tank of water for showering, cleaning dishes, and anything but drinking, really. That's actually only new here as of last transfer, before the elders here in Bindoy would either shower at the public water tank off the highway, or down at the river. So I'm a little sad I missed out on that experience. So we have hot water if the sun is shining, the water gets pretty warm. And there is AC in our apartment, but we just use fans for the electric bill. But right outside of our house, there's just corn fields and coconut trees.

Elder Castro is really fun. He is by far the most talkative person I've met on the mission, which is very good. I've tried a great deal to learn a bit from him. But he's super friendly and talkative with anyone. He can always make people smile, and is really good at getting close to people in that way. He is from Mindanao, from Zamboanga del Sur, which is in the heart of Muslim Mindanao. Apparently it's in a semi-constant state of warfare, so it's pretty different here in quiet little Ayungon for him. But the thing that I have really seen is that he loves the people here. He has done a ton to help our investigator couple, Johnny and Rosie, that they can get married (and baptized!) and get all the legalities dealt with, which I have seen means the world to them. And I have just seen the love that he has for the people. I have seen so much that I can learn from him, with how to really show the love of Christ to the people here, and to everyone.

This last sunday was the Special Sacrament meeting in Ayungon, in Anibong. Once a month, they hold a sacrament meeting behind the house of Sister Melatuna for the members in the Ayungon area. The meetingplace is a little concrete platform that sits above a bay lined with mangrove trees, that looks out to the sea and Cebu. We were asked to bless the sacrament, because there weren't enough priesthood holders present. As I participated in the administration of the sacrament, and as I looked out over this 30-strong little congregation, sitting out in the shade from the sun, I really felt that God was with us in that meeting. That he recognized, and accepted this ordinance, no matter how humble. I saw this in the light that was there. There was the Glory of the Lord in this place, where the incredible tropical creation of God was the chapel. It reminded me of the early saints of the church, whose humble meetings preceded the greatness that the Church of God would become. But I really saw last Sunday, that no matter how great the meeting, by the measure of man, the glory of God is what truly is important. I have seen this glory. This is the light of Christ, which shines with perfect light. We can see a bit of that perfect light today. We don't just have to wait for that perfect, millennial day. I know that that perfect light shines today on this earth.  It is comforting, that our God dwells in perfect light. There is no guessing, there is a surety in this. 

I feel your help and prayers every day. I have seen the help of the Lord in this work. I have seen his help, even if I feel I have not done enough of my own part. I know he lives always. I know he loves all. Even if we feel we have not done enough, he accepts what we have done. He works with that. And he draws us closer to Him. He brings others closer to Him through us. Thank you for everything you have done for me. Thank you for everything you do for me.


Elder Dunford

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 6, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

(Adam informed us that his camera is broken.  Pictures this week from some of the other missionaries! - trina)
This has been an exciting week. So the Ayungon area is actually part of Bindoy branch. So our house is in Bindoy and we live with the Bindoy elders, Elders Samon and Nadado, and we go to the Bindoy branch at the Bindoy chapel. To get to our area of Ayungon, we take a pedicab (which are big, car-like versions of tricycles that are more comfortable but less exciting than the tricycles in Escalante), by which we can get to Tiguib, the closest area in our jurisdiction in about 5 minutes' ride. To get to Ayungon proper is 11 kilometers from our house, but I'm not sure how long it takes to get there yet because I haven't gotten there yet.

This is actually from Sister Dolly a Branch Missionary in Escalante, she gave me a bunch of pictures from my time there. There was a large field and a need for perspective.
One family we have visited is the Galleonon family. Johnny and Rosie are a couple with two kids, Johnny gamay (little johnny) and Marc Anthony. They have been investigators for about 3 months, but grabe jud, truly wow on their testimonies. They have not yet been able to be baptised because they are not married. Johnny was married before, and the whole situation here makes that difficult. But they are close to being able to be married, and close to being baptised. They are really just wonderful people. Elder Castro has gotten particularly close with them, and he truly loves them and they love us. Little Johnny is hilarious, he's a super talkative 4 year old, but he is super cute, and rolls his 'r's incredibly well. And Johnny, even though he's still an investigator,has worked with the missionaries on several occasions, and they're at church every week. 

Me outside the Romano balay. Their house is in Anibong, which is a little community built on the side of a mountain falling into the sea, so all of the houses are either on the side of a mountain or built on the water. To get to the Romanos' house, you need to walk on a path they built part out of coral, part of bamboo into the bay to their house. Sister Elizabeth and her husband Ellie Romano are recent converts, and their testimony is simply strong. Ellie was only baptized last week, but the plan is that he can receive the Aaronic priesthood so he can baptize his sons as well. I talked a bit about this with him, and he just understands why this is important. It truly is important to him to be able to do this.

This week has been very good. I'm starting to learn everything it is I need to learn, and I'm trying to do all I can here. This is a super exciting place. Ayungon is trying to have a separate group, but they need a bit more to get there. I know that this branch needs workers here who will truly do all they can to help here. I want to be able to give this help. 

View of the mountains from the sugarcane below.

So this sunday is Special Sacrament in Ayungon. Apparently they have a sacrament meeting by the sea. This is a really cool place to be. Thank you for all that you have given to help me here.  I want to be able to add more than the little verses in between. (as in the book of Omni in the Book of Mormon.  I talked about this in my letter to him this week.)  Ayungon needs an Amaleki.


Elder Dunford