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