Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 21, 2015 - Transfer from Ayungon, Negros Oriental to Talisay, Cebu

Report: My 40 years (9 months) in the wilderness (Negros) have ended. I have crossed the river Jordan (Tanon Strait) on dry land (a ferry). I have returned to the promised land (Talisay). Have began marching around the walls, but have not yet sounded trumpets, but am preparing for such. Thus far is my report. (Joshua 1-5)

 Last time at the tangke, where we used to bathe every night when we had no water at the house in Bindoy.

Waiting for a ceres. With far too much luggage.

So last thursday, I got on a Ceres bus with Elder Rowley heading North, headed for San Carlos. We were able to ride with some other missionaries going from Negros Oriental headed for Occidental, including my batch, Elder Ioane, and a missionary headed for Escalante Ward. Me and Elder Rowley were just going with them till SC, where we split off from the group and headed on a ferry for Toledo, Cebu. (We did not see Klinger.) We were met in Toledo by Elder Rowley's new Companion and ZL's. Elder Rowley was staying in Toledo, whereas I was headed for the other side. I got on a GTexpress (a 12 passenger van turned public transport) alone! For about 2 hours, I was without missionary companion. That was exciting. So I talked to the guy next to me. He imports bulad (dried fish) from Masbate. I was about to give him a Basahon ni Mormon, but he got off and ran away. So I got to Cebu City, to the bus terminal, where I expected to meet my new companion. But they were not there. So I talked to some people who thought my nose is rather large. Then I met my Zone LEaders, Elders Faasootauloa and Knutson, and my companion Elder Tolentino! We two got thrown in a taxi headed for Talisay, we dropped off things at the house and went to buy food because we were afraid of another bagio, then planned and slept. That was Thursday.

Elder Tolentino is so great. He is such a diligent and energetic missionary. He loves talking to people, carrying the gospel to all. And that's another great part of the area, in the city. There's so many different walks of people to talk to. There's just so many people! That's something I don't think I really saw when I was here before, is just how accessible to people are here, and how much we can do to help them come unto Christ.

Elder Tolentino with a tricycle.

The Tricycle came to church!  A member owns the tricycle. They are very commonly covered with psalms and other religious themes, so it's really not all that out of place.

I love having the opportunity to come back to Talisay. There's so much here I did not appreciate, and now that I am a bit more experienced, I feel like I really can do better work here. It really kind of feels like the House of Israel, who came out of the promised land, then broke out of bondage, worked in the wilderness to be able to come back to the Promised land. Not that I'm saying that Escalante was bondage in Egypt or that Ayungon was 40 years wandering in the wilderness. There was a lot of good that happened there. It's just hard not to see the parallels. :)

One thing that really makes this the promised land really is that we can attend the temple. I am so excited for this. I am so excited to be in this place. Linao ward was only formed in July out of Lawaan, and they're looking for a lot of growth here. I am so humbled to be able to help the saints here do that.

I love you, family. Rachel, Mom and Dad. And Grandma, Tricia, Nathan, and everyone else. I've met a lot of people named Rachel in the last week. It's generally pronounced Rashel, but still. We worked with the WML yesterday, and he reminded me a lot of Jeff. It was kind of weird I'm so glad to hear good of you all. I am so glad to be here doing this work.


Elder Dunford

January 14, 2015 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

 Riding home from District meeting. Going to district meeting, it took us 3 different forms of transportation to get to Bais.

Elder Pascua on the Romano Road.
It's transfer week, and I'm going home!

Home to Talisay City, Cebu! My first ward, Lawaan, was split in two in the time I've been on Negros, and I'm serving now in the opposite side of the ward, in Linao. My companion will be Elder Tolentino, who I do not yet know. But I'm so excited to be able to fulfill my purpose in Talisay!

We truly have seen conversion in the Gospel. Our IBD, sister Sheila, is such a choice spirit of our Heavenly Father. She is waiting for her daughter to call, so that she can tell her straight that she's being baptised, and yesterday, she shared with us that she doesn't care if her daughter doesn't support her. If she stops sending money. Sheila said, she was able to work and support herself and a family before in her life, and she can do it now if she has to. But whether her daughter gives permission or not, she will be baptised, she told us. That being said, her date has been pushed back until February14, because she really feels more comfortable that she can talk to her daughter. 

Brother Francis, our companion every day visiting sister Sheila, Sister Sheila, me and Elder Pascua. Sheila's baptismal date has been set for next month. But she is so incredibly prepared to receive a new birth.

Pastor and Fabillar family.

This week, we had some great things happen. We have seen a huge improvement in the work of the members with us. The Branch missionaries are seeking out their chances to do New Member Lessons, which is great, because we've seen some struggles with our recent convert families. But one Branch Missionary couple, the Aspacios, have worked with us with several of their neighbors, both member and not, and they have such a great spirit! I have felt so great their love for the Lord.

I am so haapy for the time I've had to serve in Ayungon. To serve the people here. I have met so many true saints of God. People who have seen a mighty change of heart and only wish to help others come closer to Christ. I talked to a few little old ladies sitting along the Highway in Anibong a few weeks ago, and I loved what They said. They said the Lord love Barangay Anibong. I know this is true. Ayungon is a paradise.

On the top of Ayungon. We got a referral of a member who lives up the hill a ways, and we gladly took the opportunity to go visit him.

January 7, 2015 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

 Edrich, a youth of Anibong who's birthday is March 25
This week was super wild. On Thursday afternoon, we went to Sheila's house and found that she was having serious doubts about being baptised. She had received a call from her daughter who lives in the US and her daughter told her "you can go to church with the Mormons and stuff, but don't get baptised." Sister Sheila told us the variety of reasons given to her why she shouldn't magpabunyag (Be baptised,) but on Thursday evening, Sis was really distraught about this. But by the next day, she had decided what she was going to do. She was going to wait for her daughter to call again (this week) and tell her that she is being baptised, no matter what her daughter says. She feels she just needs to justify her decision by telling her daughter herself, "I am being baptised." So her date has been moved to January 17, and we've been seeing a lot of support for her from the branch. And what's more, we've seen her testimony and her surety of these things grow tremendously.
Then on Sunday, we had a really neat thing happen. We visited the house of the Mojillo family in Tayasan. Look that up on the map. The Mojillo family have been members since the early 2000's, including the mother and father (being grandparents), and all the siblings and the families of the siblings. The Grandfather was the first to investigate and to go to church, which he went to in Sibulan for a few months, because he thought that was the closest church. Look that up on the map. That is very very far. After a time, he and his family went to church and were baptised in Bindoy. Lolo (Grandpa) Mojillo passed away a few years ago and last month, his wife passed away. The rest of the family has been as active as they can be, considering the distance and difficulty of coming to church. But just this last Sunday, we visited their house and got to know this family. I had met them all before at church, but this was our first chance to get to know them. We came to find that they truly are saints. They read and love their scriptures, they have people they know who ask them about the church and they invite them to come to church with them! One sister of the family lives in Jimalalud, the next municipality after Tayasan,and is closer to Guihulngan (where there's a church) than to Bindoy, but she still comes to church regularly and has neighbors who want to join them! We found on Sunday the foundation of the church in Tayasan, Jimalalud, and the rest of the outlying areas of Negros Oriental, and with that a family, whose faith is praiseably strong, but who simply needs help. I felt so strongly when we visited them the strength of the Lord in us as missionaries to hep them.

The Silvano Family at Church! 
This morning in my personal study, I read about a portion of our Savior's Earthly Ministry that I always knew about, but I feel I appreciate a little better now, thanks to the pagpasabut (explanation) of Elder Talmage in Jesus the Christ. Every once in a while I'll read in Jesus the Christ about, of course, the life of Christ, and I've been reading about the last few months of his Life. Through his ministry, he kept going between Galilee and Judea and Samaria and other lands, but there was always a pressure from others, saying "You should go to Jerusalem, because you'll be accepted there" or "Stay away from Jerusalem, because they want to kill you there." But Christ did not follow the counsel of others whose desires were questionable, and he feared not the will of man, because he his time had not yet come. But in Matthew 20:17, we read that he said to his disciples, "We are now going to Jerusalem and this is going to be the last time I go. The prophecies are going to be fulfilled, and I'm going to be judged, killed, and rise on the third day." And to start this entrance, we read that he rode in to the city, surrounded by great multitudes, crying and rejoicing "Hosanna to the Son of David, to He who comes in the name of the Lord." And all the city of Jerusalem stopped to see who this was, this prophet of Nazareth. In the explanation of Elder Talmage, he says that this was Christ's triumphal entry, meaning that he was by this accepted as the King of Kings, as the Messiah, by his people. This this wasn't just Jesus taking on all this glory of Himself, but that this was necessary that He was accepted by his people as their King.

I ended my study this morning by reading Alma 42:30-31. Alma is teaching his son about the great plan of God, and he says here "ye should deny the justice of God no more." Take no excuse for your sins. Don't try to hide from the plan of God. But accept it. Let it bring you into humility, and from there, go up. Improve through the plan. Become yourself. "And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them." And help others on their way. I know that Because Christ, the King of Kings, was chosen from the beginning, and he fulfilled the plan of God, because of this, We can be made clean. We can follow a perfect plan. And That's why we're here. It may hurt sometimes it may be humilifying, but it's perfect.
I love you, family. I thank you for your love. And I love Ayungon. I love Elder Pascua. The work of God is so great here.
Elder Dunford

Thursday, January 1, 2015

December 31, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

So this week has been another odd week! I thoroughly enjoy the holiday season and all, but I'll be glad to have things going back to a nice mission-appropriate level of normalness. From last Wednesday until now, I feel like I've hardly been in Ayungon! Last wednesday we were in Tanjay Caroling. I've got some good pictures from that. On thursday was the call. That was nice. i REALLY LIKED THE OPPORTUNITY TO TALK TO YOU ALL, AND EVEN THOUGH IT WAS ALL EMOTIONAL AND THINGS, I really liked it.
The caps lock got turned on, but I don't feel like typing that again. Besides, I think it matches.

On Saturday, We had a baptismal interview for Sheila. She is being baptised on Saturday! I told you about her in the call. We just knocked on the door of Sister Sheila in October, looking for someone else's house, and we found someone who needed the gospel. Looking back on it now, she keeps saying "Oh, when you showed up at my door, I though 'here's more people to preach at me' I didn't want to listen, but when I learned about this, I understand it. All my life I'm gone to other churches, but here I understand it." On this is built her testimony, and it is a strong rock. She's received some flak about being baptised, and received a bit of opposition from a sort of sources, but this she knows, that this gospel is true. And now, even before being baptised, she's always the first one there at church in the morning, she shakes everyone's hands and comes to events, everyone's thought she was already a member. I love sister Sheila, and I know she will help many souls come closer to the love of Jesus Christ.
On Monday, we worked in Amlan with the Zone Leaders. That was fun. I worked with Elder Martinez, from Spanish Fork. He's super cool, and we're going to be utah valley buddies after the mission.
And Yesterday, we were in Amlan again, at the Austin's house! There we watched Frozen with all of Tanjay and Valencia Zones. We ate pancakes, had a gift exchange, in which I put in a bag of peanuts, and slept in Tanjay last night. Tanjay was fun, there were plenty of fireworks and noise. It was very loud, rather than your New Year's eve, dad. 

And Today, I am now one year in the mission. Wow.
I love you, family. I loved being able to call you and see you. I loved hearing your testimonies and feeling the love you truly have. I know that you are blessed for your faith. And if we need more blessings, we can always trust in the Lord. Take a little bigger leap of faith. If we do that, He will not just catch us, but raise us up.

Elder Dunford

December 23, 2014 - Ayungon, Negros Oriental

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.

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. 

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