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.