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Monday, October 31, 2011

Week 53: Moving the work forward ... and mailing a cow?

 AJ: Kamusta, como esta?
DAD: Namaste? So, what's shaking my boy? Your mom is actually still awake. Can you believe it?
AJ: What is it, like, 10:30 in Utah? Things are good. Time won't slow down.
DAD: Tell me about it, seems like yesterday we were bringing you home from the hospital. BTW, it is 10 o'clock. I wanted to tell you, everyone here absolutely LOVES your blog. I get people all the time telling me that it is so cool and they are enjoying many of your mission experiences by going online and reading and looking at the pix. People love it and relate to your life and what you are doing.
(sent AJ some pix of his brothers and sisters)
AJ: Gosh Katie is tall now. She is about to pass up mom. She is still 9, right?

AJ's sister, Katie.

DAD: She'll be 10 in December. I am not sure how tall she is. Probably right at 5 feet. Measured Bryce Saturday and he was 6-1-ish. Dallas is still shorter than him. He hates that. People always think he's the younger one lately, except for the cool mustache. Katie is taller than just about everyone in the school. She is in the 4th grade and one of the older kids at Washington Elementary now. Did we tell you about when she was in the talent competition and sang a solo up on stage? It was amazing. I would never have done that.
AJ: Not yet. What did she sing?
DAD: Some Carrie Underwood song (American Girl). She did really good, but she actually sang along with the actual singer so it didn't sound as good as if she had done karaoke style. We sure were proud of her up on stage all by herself. She is so funny, because we can't get her to do anything on command for a few people and then she'll go do a song and dance for the whole school.
AJ: Yeah, I would never do it either. Are you training her to be a star basketball player?
DAD: Well, here's the thing about her. I told her she could get a scholarship in basketball some day if she would practice at least 1 hour each day. I will go out and help her if she wants me to, but she has to show some initiative on her own by practicing. I really do think she will be tall and could play in high school if she wants to.
AJ: Ah, I see. How is Holly-dolly doing?
DAD: She is a very happy girl. Enjoying 2nd grade. She scored 97% on an assessment test and scored highest in her whole class. Her teacher adores her. She has a really bad sweet tooth though and she is picky about other foods. She won't eat meat on her sandwiches and she doesn't like potatoes. But she sure loves her mommy.
AJ: Every time she doesn't like food you give her, you should give her rice – haha – just kidding. How are my bros. doing?
Halloween outfits from the Griffin girls
DAD: Dallas is good. He is very proud of his mustache and said it is way better than Landry Jones's 'stache. Haha. He is a super guy with a big heart. Bryce really loves to hang out with his Dad and chauffeur his mom around. We will spare you the terror of those experience right now. He is an excellent student. He hasn't gotten below a B+ in years. And they both love to eat, eat, eat.
AJ: Do they play ball and watch football all the time like they should be? By the way, I think Katie would be taller than like 75 percent of girls here already. At least it seems like it.
DAD: Yeah, your brothers mostly watch BYU and the Cowboys. They don't very often turn on a game themselves – usually just what I am watching. I think they enjoy playing in the pep band way more than watching football and doing stats and stuff. I usually buy them dinner and stuff so they are usually pretty happy. I think Bryce really likes football more than he lets on because he almost always comes and watches where Dallas will play X-box or guitar or something. But if it is Cowboys or BYU, they will both watch.
AJ: That's cool.
DAD: Did you read what I wrote about Mike McGary? Pretty scary stuff. That's weird to think that an ambulance came and hauled him off from a football game.
AJ: Wow, from the game?! I thought he was just at his house and called in sick first. That's super scary. Is he doing all right now?
DAD: Still in the hospital. I talked to his wife today. She said he is improving and he may come home. He is still in Salt Lake.
AJ: Oh man, he was in Salt Lake, too. I guess I need to read better. What kind of infection? How did it happen? Just all of the sudden he just got sick at the game or did he feel lousy all day?
DAD: I guess he was O.K. on the drive up. Then he just started feeling really sick an hour before the game. He told Robert to be ready to do it by himself. A little while later he kind of collapsed, I guess. By the way, did we tell you about Adam Buatte? He met and fell in love with Sam Stevens' sister. Do you remember Sam, the big Samoan that moved in the Bennett's old house? They are getting married later this month. She has him back at church and everything. He's a heckuva nice kid.
AJ: That's awesome.
DAD: By the way, take care of your valuables. Sister Watkins and her companion were robbed, while they were at home sleeping, on her last night in her previous area. You will get that letter by in a couple of weeks. She was pretty freaked out and her and her comp got to stay at the mission home over night after it happened. They took stuff from the nightstand next to their bed while they slept. Did you ever get your magazines and chocolate?
AJ: Not yet. Elder Wooden and I haven't got squat the last two times the mail came. A whole month now, we haven't gotten anything – haha.
DAD: What do you want for Christmas?
AJ: I am good. I have everything I need, except milk, and you can't help me there.
DAD: I wonder if a cow would fit in a pre-paid box. I know, that's udderly ridiculous!
AJ: HAHAHAHA. That was so cheezy!
DAD: Good one AJ. What are you trying to do, butter me up? Probably ought to wrap it up. Another week is lurking … and I am falling asleep. Congrats on hitting the 1 year mark, you big stud.
AJ: Sige (OK), sleep tight. Don't let the bed-bugs bite! Love ya!
DAD: Love you, too, son. Have a good week!

Happy Halloween!

Things are great and Christmassy here in the Philippines. Another great week has gone by. It definitely doesn't feel like winter here, but the work is awesome. Every day we are meeting and teaching people that are ready and excited to hear what we say and are prepared by the Lord.

One of the interesting new investigators we have been teaching is an 18-year old kid named Mark Anthony, who we met in the side of the bukid (fields) and irrigation canal, just chillin. We talked to him for a minute and asked if we could share about the Restoration to him. He said yes and seemed really interested. We actually taught him standing up for about eight minutes or so and at the end we prayed and committed him to pray about Joseph Smith.

We came back a few days later and he had read the whole pamphlet and prayed about Joseph Smith. He said he wasn't sure if he got an answer, but he was feeling good about what he was reading and stuff. Then here is where it gets interesting. He is from Illocos (far away) and living with this family that is Iglesia ni Cristo. By the way, the Iglesia, for lack of better words, are the most unfriendly people I've encountered here in the Philippines. And that's putting it lightly. So anyway, we came up to his house and they were like, “Oh it's all right, we are Iglesia.” I said “Ok, lang – Thats OK).” And then we asked for the kid and he comes out and they're like, “He is already Iglesia and he is getting baptized next month. Its OK if you share, but we are really Iglesia.” The kid just kind of rolls his eyes.

So we teach the kid and then his uncle or something is like “What's bawal (not allowed at your church)?” So I tell him and he starts going off about how blood should be bawal because it's dirty and all this stuff (by the way, the blood dishes like dinuganan are really popular). And I am like “Well we don't eat it anyway.” The real answer as it says in “True to the Faith” is that blood was bawal in the Old Testament under the law of Moses, but when Christ came, he fufilled the Law of Moses. Basta (end of story).

The one dude when we came to teach Mark was like “Everyone gets to choose, right.” (like trying to tell us we cant teach him). And I am like “Exactly, and that's why we are giving him a Book of Mormon and asking him to ask God what he should do.”

So we gave the kid a Book of Mormon. BTW, the Iglesias aren't allowed to own a Bible, I think). We went back yesterday and this different lady was there and we asked for the kid again and she was said he wasn't there the first time we asked. But the second time we asked, she sent a little kid to get him. Then she is like, “He is already Iglesia. And I said very quietly (probably a good thing she didn't hear) “Not yet.”

And I just said “OK-lang,” like that' all right even if he is Iglesia. And then I said "Wala naman masama, di ba?" – basically like nothing bad about us sharing, right? Filipinos say that all the time. Often they say that when we ask if we can share and it's not usually an answer I like to hear that much because they usually aren't too interested when they say that. But I was able to use it for me – haha. And then she said, “Oo naman,” like “Ya, you're right!” And then we were able to teach Mark. He read the assignment and prayed again about the BOM and Joseph Smith and really was interested in the plan of salvation. At the end, he asked what time church was and gladly asked us to come back. They will be so mad if he comes to church with us. I think they make him go to church at the Iglesia.

Anyway, things are also going awesome with the Ania family. The dad still is staying away from alcohol and they came to church 2 weeks in a row and stayed the whole block. They are really excited about their missionary in Baguio mission. Their son left like 2 months ago on a mission. He writes them every week and he really is responsible for opening his father's heart to the gospel. Pretty cool to see. He is a super quiet guy, but he is super nice and is progressing toward baptism on the 26th.

Also Mac-Mac is doing really great. The young men are doing the sickest fellowshipping job I've ever seen. He is playing church ball with them and hangs out with them 24/7 and they are teaching him about the BOM and stuff too. They already gave him pants and a shirt and tie and he is loving it. They are doing awesome. He is progressing toward November 26th as well.
We have a couple more people that are doing way good, too. There is this young couple and the husband is doing really great. They are the Claudio family. The first week or two after we taught restoration and praying about it, he wasn't getting answers to his prayers, but he always read the BOM assignments and continued to pray. And then last Friday we went and he said he had a dream about Joseph Smith and the BOM and he said he knows they're true! We then gave the baptismal commitment and he took it, but his wife hasn't been doing as well.

He asked if he could be baptized if it was only him. We said he could, but it would be better if they both did. Then we told them both to pray and ask if they should be baptized on Dec 17. Brother Claudio is totally ready and sister said she would pray and ask. They are really cool. He really bad wanted to go to church this week but had to work and he said next time he would leave work and could go to church.

Then, in same Brgy, there is this old guy named Fortunato and we have been teaching him for a couple weeks. He has been reading up everything we have been giving him and he also said he received answer to his prayer that the BOM is true. We gave him a date on the 17th as well. He was a little confused about baptism and Holy Ghost, but it was super cool to be able to show him in the Book of Mormon what the baptism by fire actually is and that through Joseph Smith, we can get the Spirit. He is close to going to church, too. That seems to be the hardest thing here is getting people to go to church, but when they do they almost always love it and get baptized after that.

Well this has been a great week. I feel truly privileged to be a missionary in this great cause. I have had the greatest experiences of my life and have seen so miracles all the time! Its amazing. I know this work and church and gospel are absolutely and unequivocally TRUE! I am so happy to know about it and know without a doubt where the truth is. Here is a lot different from Utah, where sometimes I think I might have taken it for granted. But I am so grateful for all the things that I have experienced here in the Philippines and all the people I have met and am so glad I came.

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and I am so happy to help him as his missionary. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's prophet here on earth. It's so great. Sometimes I just feel like Ammon in Alma 26. Amazing things have happened and are still happening every day. I wouldn't trade this time here on a mission for anything.

I love you!!!!!

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