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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thank you everyone!

AJ with Elder and Sister Shaner
As AJ makes his way home these next 36 hours, we just want to thank those that have helped our son in any way over the last two years. As a former missionary, I know what a difference a friendly face, some homemade cooking or even a hug can make in an Elder's life.
We will be eternally grateful to people like Pres. and Sis. Carlos, Elder and Sis. Shaner, Elder Ducky, Elder Weaver, Elder valdez and the countless members and non-members that had positive influences on our son. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

From the Shaners blog:
"This week we bade a fond farewell to Elder Griffin...he was our Zone Leader in Roxas for many months and we came to love him like one of ours. He reminds both of us so much of our youngest son and that probably strengthened the ties we had with him. As I type this, he is in Manila making his last minute preparations, repacking his suitcase and will fly out tomorrow morning to return to St George to his loving family who will greet him with open arms. We will miss this mighty warrior..."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

St. George Airport -- long awaited arrival!

Aj arrived safe and sound and even a wee bit ahead of schedule!  I got my long awaited mama hug and AJ looked healthy and happy.  Says he is about 23 pounds lighter (but it looks like more to me!)

One of his bags didn't make it back but the airline delivered it 24 hours later.  I don't think he even missed it!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week 105: The final letter...Aj's coming home!

Dear Family,

Well this is it. I can't describe my feeling right now and how very grateful to be a part of what has just happened over the last two years. I have been thinking a lot about what really has happened and about all the people my companions and I have come to know. It absolutely amazes me what things have happened and I really feel like Ammon felt for his mission and his converts.  I really could have never comprehended how much could happen as a result of the mission. I love the people and will never forget them. I have seen how what the general authorities have said about mission being a life changing performance, sacred ground and lessons that will be needed for all life.  I've really seen it fulfilled  I also know and have seen with my own eyes that the Prophet and mission president have really placed me in the right place and that I have met the right people. 

So we had a great week of work and last Monday we had an FHE with the Sarzon family and President and Sister Carlos also the AP's. Tatay Sadiri presided and conducted the Home evening (we have been training him to be a super awesome dad and priesthood holder) and he also gave a part of the lesson it was awesome. 

By the way this week he finished all of Alma and is in Helaman by now what a stud. So on Saturday we had a fantastic baptism and I got to dunk tatay Sadiri and also an investigator of the the sisters (we had our baptism combined). President and Sister Carlos also came to the baptism and it was great.

It was a perfect last Saturday of a mission. 

Well I love you tons. This is has truly been the best two years and I'll never be the same. I will never forget the miracles I have seen as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Lots of people say to serve a mission is a sacrifice but it really is a privilege. I am blessed to have been given the chance to serve a mission. President Carlos always teaches us that who we become is a lot more important that what we do or have done. I think it's a miracle that as we have this life changing experience that the Lord blesses us with miracles.  I have so many eternal friends here in the Philippines. It really is true like that song that talks about our finding our friends from pre-earth life. (song: I'll Find you my Friend, by Linda Hartmann)

Love you and SEE YOU ON FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Week 104: Baby Drinking Coke from a Baby Bottle and BYU!!!!

Sister Cathlene being tempted by
 chocolate during FHE lesson
Hey family!
Well the time is far spent! I am really stoked to hear about BYU and I am excited for this last week. Gonna leave it all on the field! So we had another awesome week so let me tell you about it! 

So Brother Sadiri Salarsen past his interview this week and, by the way, we found out this week he is already in Alma in his reading from the start. This past week one of the things we shared about was tithing. I really think tithing is one of my favorite things to teach about, especially in the Philippines, where people are so poor. I really, really believe in the law of tithing. It's so amazing to be able to tell people about the blessing the Lord will pour out if they will live this law. I also feel this is a lesson where I especially feel the spirit. I am very thankful to you mom and dad for teaching me the law of tithing from a young age. 

So with the Salarsen family, brother Sadiri and a few of his grandchildren are the only ones who come to church so far. His wife either has a concern or isn't quite ready but she always listens with the family and is really nice. So anyway we had stake conference yesterday (which had some great speakers including the Carlos couple).  The president, in his talk, talked about some families in the past that had the husband or wife ready to be baptized but their spouse not quite ready.  What happened was that the President talked to them and they were able to help them be baptized as a family. After conference I took brother Sadiri to meet the President and I also told the President about their situation and he said alright I'll come work with you what tomorrow.  I told him we actually had FHE at their house scheduled and he said that would be great -- so its gonna be great. Sister Carlos said she is making cupcakes.  I am way excited. 

Also super funny, we were walking to the palengke (the market) earlier today and there was a mom holding a baby about a year old or so and the baby was drinking a coke in a glass bottle like a baby bottle. Only in the Philippines, ha-ha.

We are teaching this family with the last name, Go. So they have been really interested and read everything we give them and accept almost everything we have been teaching them. The last time or two they told us about their church (some kind of born again) and that they want to be baptized here but they they are gonna tell their pastor and ask if it's alright if they can get baptized. Anyway we didn't really know what to tell him because of course the pastor isn't going to say that's ok. I felt inspired to share the story of Abinidi and we just read Mos. chapter 17. It seemed to be the perfect thing to share with them and we just talked about doing the right thing because its true even in spite of opposition and we talked about how Abindi gave his life because he refused to deny his testimony. 

We met a couple of members this week that have been inactive and have joined another particular church that is known for not having very polite members. Both of the guys were kind of saying yeah, where ever you go to church is the same and we'll all be saved.  The second we met this guy my first instinct was getting irritated that someone could have made the decision to be member and than have this attitude. I wanted to get mad or condemn him or something but for some reason I didn't. A new idea popped into my head and what ended up happening was that he invited us to come and teach him and his wife. He seemed genuinely interested in listening to missionaries again. (He is in another area so I grabbed his address and name and availability and gave his info to the other missionaries) but after getting off the tryce (all this happened on a tryce) I really felt like I learned a  lesson about the atonement and about how the spirit works. 

So I have a million more things I want to tell you about but we gotta be heading out soon. We have a a really awesome investigator that came to church for the second time this week named Jason (I sent a pic last week at church).  We gave him a date this week and he has all kinds of questions about serving a mission.  He really wants to go on a mission.  He is super golden. 

Speaking of which President shared with us that in the last 2 weeks since conference the missionary department has received 8000 applications for missionaries (they usually only get 500-800 in the same period). So the Lord is really hastening his work and needs everyone to help gather his sheep. That's gonna help the missions out a ton and open lots of areas and really help the work move even faster. 

I love you tons and we literally see miracles every week. We are gonna have a great week this week and I love you tons!!!


FHE at Salarsen's home

Monday, October 15, 2012

Week 103: Zone Conference, General Conference and more miracles

Tatay Sadri Salarsen and his 3 grandchildren (from left to right Majorie, Princess and Diane) at general conference. Tatay Sadri will be baptized on October 27.
 His grandchildren and wife and the girls parents have a goal date on the 24th of November.

Dear family,

Wow what a great week. We had zone conferences and general conference and it was a really quick week. So I am really grateful to be serving as a missionary. I really know that this work is true and we see miracles everyday. 

So one of the coolest things that happened to us was this, we were going to a LA (less active) family and on the way saw a young father and mother and their two little kids. We felt inspired to talk to them but we went to the LA first and they weren't home so we went right back to that family. We started talking to him and it turned out to be a tryce driver that had given me and Elder Mclauglhin a ride my first week in this area. We were going really far and hadn't negotiated the price before so I thought we were gonna get charged a ton. We asked him how much when we got there and he only charged us the minimum. We were shocked because everyone always tries to rip us off especially when it's 2 Americans.  So being inspired or because he was just so nice we gave him a Book of Mormon but weren't able to get his address or anything. 

When we met him again this week he invited us in and we were able to share with him. I guess he has read a bit of the Book of Mormon and is interested but his sister that lives in their house has been reading all the time in the Book of Mormon she took with her that day when we visited. (We didn't meet her yet but will be going later tonight). They are really humble family. His wive's business of selling stuff actually all got burned last week (all at a loss, there is no fire insurance at least not for small business here in the Philippines) (A big departments store and like half the Santiago palengke caught fire and burned destroying everything like 2 weeks ago). We are excited for them and we go back later today.

So I think I mentioned Brother Harry a few ago. I guess he talked to parents and his parents don't want him to become a Mormon but he can still be taught and go to church for the time being. His cousin and grandpa have been listening as well. His cousin is like 17 and she is in college. We taught them the Law of Chasity last week and this week she told us that she had a debate class thingy at school about whether unmarried couples should have sex. She told us that she went against it and explained what we had shared to her and used the Law of Chasity pamphlet as a source and that she also won the debate. I thought that was pretty cool. The weird things is she hasn't really been reading assignments and has yet to come to church but it sounds like she is more bold than most members about that.

So Jason (see the pics) came to general conference this week. We actually went to him on Saturday but he was gone but his mom said he had bought a polo and had it all ready for Sunday. So far we have only taught him that first time but we were able to share the story of the Prophet Joesph Smith and It was really powerful discussion. He seemed to enjoy conference on Sunday and he actually knows quite a few people at church and was sitting with friends. His mother seemed very nice too and said she would listen next time we come. 

So the Salarsen family is doing very well. Tatay has come to church 5 times now and is really excited to be baptized. He is being interviewed on Saturday and will probably be the last baptism of my mission. His wife always listens and promised to go to church before I go home but doesn't seem quite as ready. She did however accept a goal date on Nov 24. The 3 girls you saw in the picture have goal dates on the 24th as well as their parents. (They all accepted but the girls and tatay are the only ones to come to church so far)

I can't remember if I told you how we found Tatay Salarsen but maybe I'll tell it again because I don't think we have yet. 

AJ broke Elder Valdez -- He doesn't eat rice anymore.
He packed a giant ham and egg sandwich for general conference.
So E. Mclauglhin and I had got kicked from our appointments and were just walking trying to figure out where to go and we saw a Tatay chillin' in a hammock.  So I said, hey, lets try him. We talked to him and he invited us to sit down and to share with him. We were just talking to him and asking about his family and he told us that one of his children had died.  We asked what happened. He said that when one of his daughters was 7 she was coming home from school and got hit by a car and was killed. 

I had just listened to the Holland talk about how we need to listen and teach to others' needs. He told a story about how a widow in the 50's got tracted by missionaries. What happened was she slammed the door in their face and but the Elders didn't give up, and knocked again. She said, "you're ministers right?" 

The elders said yes and she said that's enough get lost.  The elders got a foot in the door and said we are just innocent young men we have message.  Why don't you like ministers? 

She then told a story about how her child died at a young age.  She went to a minister of a church and the minister told her that her baby was in hell and she was going to hell too because she didn't have her baby baptized.  The Elders than asked her if she wanted to know where her child was.
She said more than anything she wanted to know. The Elders then opened up to Moroni 8 and were able to share their testimony and win her heart over.  The lady said that was the first she had ever felt the spirit. 

Then years later in the Czech Republic she was a legend because her and sister kept the church alive in Croatia, keeping their tithing in glass jars for decades during the world war II.

Elder Holland said it all started because of a missionary that had the sense to know what was in Moroni 8 and he also said it might not be Moroni 8 --  any given day or investiagtor --  but that if we are obiedient, giving our all and being worthy of the spirit we are entiteled to know what that investigator needs. 

So returning to Tatay Sadri,  I had listened to that talk like just a few days later and it really was Moroni 8. So we asked him if he wanted to know where she was and then read the words of Mormon in the 8th chapter on Moroni. Tatay shared with us afterwords the peace and joy he felt because he knew where his child was. So that's where it has started and he has been amazing ever since. You'll have to listen to that talk by Holland when I get home.  It's on my SD card

I am so grateful for everything that has happened. I am near the end of what has been a faith building, life changing experience and we see miracles everyday. I know that the Lord works though small and simple things and also through the weak and unlearned people. I am excited to be coming home soon but I will definitely miss the wonderful people here and a part of me will be missing as I have really come to love being a missionary and using all my time to invite others to come unto the savior. I love the savior and have come to know him more in these last 23 months. I will never be the same and I will never forget the people I have met here especially those that changed everything to forsake their old lives and follow the savior.

Nanay Ester, on the left -- She is 73 and a widow and is really golden.
She came to general conference as well and this was her 2nd week at church
I love you tons!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Week 102: We all have eternal potential

Dear Family,

We had a really good week and a lot of success. This week a family we have been teaching came to church for the first time and also a 70+ year old lady came to church for the first time. We found both of them tracting and we have so many great investigators right now. I really love the people and they all have such great potential. I realized that if you are obedient and prepare yourself in those important hours in the morning, when you go out to work you can expect miracles and even if your plan doesn't go though if you apply yourself you can find what the lord really had in store for you to do as a full time missionary. And I also realized that the lord really has miracles in store for all times of the day even in times that it is hard to fine people to teach and that we are definitely not alone as we push through those times when its discouraging, being rejected, hot, rainy, tiring etc. 

So whenever president is told about how there are mean people or people don't want to accept the truth he was says they are ALL good people and it really is true. Even if there are people that don't accept the message we can look at the big picture and they all have eternal potential, they all have time sometime in the future when they might accept the gospel. 
Family night with the Deguzman family

So Brother Sadri, the tatay that has been doing awesome is doing really great. He has a date one 27 and is really ready. I really love his attitude he is like Nephi where there is will there is a way. Its funny he always scolds his children and grandchildren when we ask if they read and they haven't yet and about church and stuff. He is like hey you promised to go to church by didn't you keep your promise? And then if they have an excuse then he is always like get ur done: there is a way if you want to. He is great.

We also found a really great investigator. On like Wednesday morning we had a plan and like a back up plan and triple back up plan and they all fell through and we after that we tried one more house of someone we had talked to before and they weren't there but their neighbor we met who is an 18 year old kid named Jason and we were able to share to him. He really seems golden and everything kind of clicked with him. He wanted to go to church this week but had a college field trip in Baguio city but promised he would come next week. So next week as well is conference. You can put your money on the prophet.

So we met this really humble and receptive tatay this week and when we first talked to him he told us about how one if his children died while still a baby and we were able to share Moroni 8 and tell him where his baby was he afterward described feeling that is the spirit and said they he was really happy to know that truth of where is child. We went back once and he is doing great. 

We have a bunch of really great families that we have been teaching. One is the Garcia family. So the dad sells peanuts around the town and the wife cooks them and they have a bunch of other side jobs as well. So the last few time we went there is seems like they have been kind of losing interest and I think on Wednesday they were cooking peanuts and said to just come back another day so we were kind of losing hope but on Saturday we were able to share again and it was really great lesson and then they said they would try to come to church(like 95 percent of the time try here means no) so we were super surprised to see them at church. In gospel principles the lesson was eternal families so i think they had a good experience. 

Also This old lady i think 74? that we met tracting maybe a month ago came to church for the first time yesterday. So this lady is named Ester and the first few times we came by she has been really interested. Everything we left her she has been reading and she would tell us everything about the pamphlet and was really awesome. The last few weeks whenever we went by she hasn't been there and then yesterday she came to church early and by herself so I think she has been reading the Book of Mormon. 

So I know this work is true and it is really the Lords work. We see miracles everyday and this has definitely been the happiest time of my life. I am really excited to hear about the mission age and I am excited for Dallas and Bryce.  They will also feel the happiness of helping people hear and accept the gospel. I am excited to see you in a few weeks but sad to leave here and the people that have become a part of my life. 

Love you!!!!!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Week 101: Continuing to find humbled and prepared people

I made tacos this week yummmm. I found taco sauce at the store last week -- first time I ever saw it in the Philippines except at the mission home. 

Dear Family,

Wow it's October already!  So today I opened up the Cauayan mission newsletter and found my name on the people that will be going home next. It was quite alarming I kept trying to find the typo but I guess it really will end someday. It definitely doesn't feel like its been 23 months. So we had a great week finding and teaching and we have a lot of great investigators right now.

So first of we met a guy and really seemed to be looking for some hope in life. So a few weeks ago we talked to this tryce driver and felt prompted to give him a Book of Mormon.  So fast forward a few weeks and was talking to a tryce driver again and we set up a appointment but we didn't know it was the same guy. So we go to the appointment a few days later and he wasn't there. So we went back again a week later which was last Wednesday and the guy was there. So we starting talking to him and it turns out he was the guy we had oymed twice and gave a Book of Mormon. So he opened up and told us his life story about how he had major regrets with some things that have happened in his life and how he had contemplated suicide and really humbled guy. We were able to share to him the miracle of forgiveness and about repentance. He also said that us talking to him had been answers to his prayers. Well we will go back on Wednesday but he really seems like a person who has been humbled and prepared and seems to be someone that was really looking for hope in life.

So Harry the 15 year old that has been reading like crazy in the Book of Mormon has been doing really good. We had a couple really great lessons with them this week. They really hard up for money right now and sometimes they don't have enough money to go to school. So he hasn't been going to school some days. Anyways he has been wanting to go to church and has the same problem no money. So on Friday we had some time after one of our appointment with harry we went to this member of the Stake presidency  on that street and just asked for a referral, he showed us his neighbor that is member. We shared with them and they said they have been wanting to come back to for a while and they I think they have a great potential of being returned. So we were walking to our next appointment and just getting soaked in rain(we got soaked like 2 or 3 days in a row I think :). The member of the stake presidency guy has a truck and I was thinking as we walked "man wouldn't be great to just have our investigators that are hard for money just ride with him" and the the spirit connected the dots in my head and we turned around went to Harry's house and had him met the member and the member was more than happy to take him to church and harry went to church for the first time on Sunday. We had a really great lesson yesterday with harry and his cousin. They asked us why we would want to give all our time and stuff to be a missionary and we were able to tell our stories about how we ended up on a mission and why we want to be there. The spirit was really strong and we feel harry(and hopefully) the other people in his house will be baptized. (by the way harry already quit smoking and his cousin quit drinking coffee and they have been doing great)

Brother Salarsen is still amazing. He came to church again this week and brought his son and one of his granddaughters. On Saturday we taught him about the Sabbath and he said that after church he usually goes and checks on his farm and stuff but after we read the commandment he said I guess that is wrong, I wont do that anymore. It was great to be able to promise him that the Lord will take care of his crops for him if he will follow the Sabbath day. He uses some of the things with the word of wisdom but the day we taught him the word of wisdom like a week and a half ago he has not touched any of it. We still have lots of people listen every time we go there with all his children and grandchildren and stuff. 

We have been teaching this one guy who was a former iglesia ni cristo but was excommed(in the iglesia if you dont go to church for like a month u get excommed) and anyway he has lots of questions and doesn't agree with some of the stuff but is teach able. Anyway he is kind of funny. He was so surprised about the book of Mormon and stuff what he calls a "there is a third testament!!??!?" after we taught him about Joesph Smith he didn't agree with the Father having a a body and Elder Cuartel told him about the creation and forming them in our image and we was like hey your right. All of our lessons have been going back to the pray about and he said he would read the book of Mormon and pray about it. 

Brother Agasid, the guy who hadn't been to church in 15 years came to church again and we are having a Family Home Evening later tonight at their house. 

We have had the privilege of teaching a lot of new investigators that are families. Its the greatest feeling to teach a complete breakfast and of course devastating if they don't come through but its really great knowing that they could be the family that is prepared. 

Well I love you tons. I know the church is true and that Jesus really did the infinite and eternal atonement. I know he loves and knows us. I know that the Lord does call prophets and apostles in our time. I know that Thomas S. Monson is really a the living senior apostle on the earth today. By the way I have been studying revelations this last week. They are awesome.

Love you!!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 100: It's officially the last cycle of mission

This is my new Comp Elder Cuartel (spanish for prison)
Alrighty so first off we had transfer day and I just got my last companion. He is from Negros Occidental (southern islands) and is a convert to the church. He actually is really from Manilla and was disowned when is parents found out he was taking the discussions (by the way his dad has 3 wives).  So after that he on his own ended up living in the southern islands and is a stud. He is just over a year in the mission and he is really hard working and down for anything. He reminds me a lot of Elder Daquioug. Our roomates Elder Williamson and Valdez didn't have any changes so we should have a great last cycle. Also this cycle 14 new missionaries came into the mission(only 5 went home) so a bunch of areas got opened up and also the BYU's closer in baseball arrived last Thursday and he is a stud. We played football earlier and yes he can also throw a football very fast and accurately.

Also super cool on thursday, I saw Brother Mobydick from Roxas as he has a van and Roxas rented his van so we got to talk to him and he is doing awesome. (I was transferred a week before he was baptized). Also super cool he brought me 2 Dr. Peppers that they got in Roxas. (I guess back in the day they were all talking about their favorite soft drinks I was telling them how great Dr. Pepper was) Also on Sunday, His wife went to church in the other ward here in Santiago(she has family in santiago) and she gave me 2 more Dr. Peppers, this time Cherry Dr. Pepper. I felt very loved and they are super awesome eh?

We had a really good week and our biggest success of the week was that yesterday a LA tatay came to church for the first time in almost 16 years and that in itself is great miracle. So this guy we had received his name from his brother who is an active member. And so we gave him a try. And over the last cycle we have been teaching them a few times a week. So President has been telling us to not push that we need to get those Less actives to church but to not mention it and just focus on teaching the doctrine and then president said that if they understand the doctrine that they will go to church without us even telling them and they will come back for good. So we haven't even mention or pushed them to come back to church but that we could share with them and we were super surprised yesterday as he came to church and stayed for the whole block. The last he went to church was 1996! Anyway we helped him meet the bishop and stuff and he said that now he really wants to come back for good. What a miracle!
We had a FHE at Recent converts house Valdez last monday 

So update on brother Harry the 16 year old kid we have been teaching with his cousin and uncle. So he has gotten answers to prayers and has almost finished reading 1 nephi and is doing really great. He wasn't able to go to church this week but he is doing really good and we just taught him the word of wisdom, apparently he smokes cigarettes but he promised to stop and follow the word of wisdom.

Also update on the Sadri Salarsen family that we have been teaching. They are doing really awesome as well and they accepted a baptismal date on oct 27th. The grandpa and his granddaughter came to church yesterday and they are solid. His wife and some of his kids aren't sure yet but they always listen and are reading and praying as well and I feel they will follow grandpa's example. Brother Sadri is really stoked about being baptized

Also found on Thursday that a ton of people that we had found and been teaching have been baptized or are doing really great and are close to be baptized. Also on Saturday night we were walking home from last appoitment of the day on the highway and then someone drove by and called my name and then pulled to the side. It was the branch president from aritao and he said that the Calica family(the really old couple we baptized in aritao, the Grandpa that read almost the whole Book of Mormon before he was baptized) are doing really active and are taking temple prep and will be going on the temple trip on Dec. 11 to get endowed and sealed!!! 

This week we also met a Mother at her house and gave her something to read and when we went back we found out that one of her relatives had just died a few days before after all of the sudden getting sick and going into a coma. We felt the spirit very strongly as we were able to tell her where her loved one is and we were able to testify of the plan of salvation. I dont know if she is interested in the church or if anything will result of it but it was humbling to be put in the position to testify and help this lady in her time of need. 

Elder Cuartel enjoying his first cherry Dr. Pepper of his life 
So its really crazy. I am now in my last planner and last cycle of my mission. I really miss home and y'all but I dont want to go home. The people here are so amazing. They so humble and kind and generous and so receptive to the gospel. It amazing that we can go tracting and can't go more than 2 or 3 houses without getting accepted. It really is true that in the pre earth life that we had friends that are waiting here and that we had promises to find them. And I am so grateful to have met the people here. I have made friendships that are truly eternal. I know that the call to come on a mission is really from a prophet of God and It blows my mind that the prophet and mission president can put us in the right spots with the right companions to met the right people that are ready to give it all to know Christ. I know that the mission is the greatest thing a young man can do and I've never been happier. I know that as Dallas and Bryce prepare themselves to give everything up for 2 years that they will see miracles and learn lesson and make friendships that will change their lives forever.

I know that this work is so true and I have come to know as well that the Lord really knows us and really does bless us with his tender mercies every day so keep your eyes open and think about what the Lord has blessed us with at the end of the day. It still amazes me that the as we prepare ourselves the Lord will really use us as instrments every minute we are out of the apartments to talk to his children that are ready to receive the gospel, that need answers to prayers, that need hope. The missionary expericience of a lifetime is waiting for your dallas bryce prepare now.

I love you tons!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Week 99: Baptism scheduled for last Saturday in the mission!

Elder Griffin completed his career workshop.  The end is in sight!
Dear Family,

What a great week. It was even faster and greater than last week. Its been a pretty hot week here but last night we got poured on again :). Last wednesday was the trunky meeting (career workshop) I went on splits with someone on their way home in October and for half the day Elder Mclaughlin was left here in santiago with his comp. It was a weird meeting.  Usually the meetings in cauyan are all so inspiring and about missionary work and stuff and it was like about what your gonna do when you get home. It was weird. I did however learn a lot and it was very good. Its just an unusual feeling cuz it feels like the mission is all I can remember and it doesn't feel like it's gonna end. It felt like we left our nets like Peter and James and now they are teaching us how to fish again... I cant explain it...

So on the other hand we had great week of work. And everyday we get up study and then as soon as we leave the house the day flies by! So we had a really cool success this week. A couple of weeks ago we felt prompted to talk this older man as we went by his house.  He was out front in a hammock and we talked to him. We have been back a few times and on Saturday we taught about baptism and how through Joesph Smith the authority was restored. He has since gotten answers to his prayers and yesterday he came to church for the first time and he beat most of the members -- he was 30 mins early! He really enjoyed church and he seems really like an honest seeker of truth. His name is Sadri Salarsen.  His family is the one we talked about last week where tons of them listened to us -- like all his children and their families and his grandchildren. He is the grandpa of all of them and he is doing awesome.

This week we also have been teaching a young couple and they told us as we came by for the 3rd visit that when we came by and felt prompted to talk to them they had been having a hard day and had been praying for some kind of hope and it wasn't long until we came by! As we were talking to them we explained that we weren't planning on visiting them but as we walked by we felt prompted and that we believed it wasn't just an accident that we met.  The wife told us that when we said that she thought the same thing as well. We have been back a few times since and the sister has a kid that went to church with her neighbors and the husband is really interested as well and they have great potential.

So a few weeks ago on the bus we met this guy named Paul and he was intrested in listening to us. So we got his address and visited him a few days later. With him and his nephews(about 18 or so) and his daughter. We had a good lesson and we gave them a Book of Mormon. We went back a week later and only the nephew Harry was there and he seems really interested. So we taught about the restoration and told him to pray about it. So on Wednesday we were coming back from Cauayun on a bus and this Harry kid gets on the bus and he sees me and he's like, hey, I read all of what you asked me to read and a bunch more and then he got an answer to his prayer. So we went back again this Sunday (they all have jobs and stuff and school so Sunday is their only day together) and they were all there. So we ended up reading 3 Nephi 11 with them and it was so awesome.  They totally understood it and wanted to be baptized we tied it up to how Joesph Smith recieved that same authority and that Elder Mclaughlin gave them all baptismal goal dates on the 27th of October (by the way that's my last Saturday in the mission!)  They are very cool and I hope they can make the date. 

One the couples that has a baptismal date has been struggling reading and really getting into the Book of Mormon. Well anyway this Saturday they got sick and weren't able to come to church, which may have actually been a blessing in disguise, as they read a ton of the Book of Mormon and seem to be gaining a greater understanding and love for the Book of Mormon.

Alrighty so we gotta run but I know the church is true and I am amazed at how many miracles really do happen everyday. I love you!!!!



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Week 98: Alma preaching by the waters of Mormon

Dear Family,

Wow time is unbelievable I feel like i just barely got down emailing yesterday and its already Monday again.  So the work is good. 

Elder Griffin enjoying chicken on a stick
So that young mother I was talking about last week is doing great. Her name is Edith an so she has really been golden right from the beginning and when we first started teaching her we got a referal from an investigator that turned out to be her sister. So last week Sister edith and her one child came to church and this week she brought all her kids and her sister that we have been teaching as well(she also has 3 kids and her husband is abroad) and her sisters kids to church. The ward seemed really excited to see new investigators and did a good job fellowshipping. In gospel principles the ward mission leader taught about tithing and right after they went to the bishops office and paid their tithing. It was cool to see their faith and their following it right after they learned about it. It seems like heavenly father really has a plan for their family it was crazy that we got refereed to her sister by someone else at the same time we were teaching her sister. I'm pretty sure it wasn't a coincidence. 

So we are still teaching the Paz couple. They are doing all right. So this week they havent been able to all the things they needed to do to be ready for baptism and we really felt that we needed to give them few more weeks to get ready. So we explained it on friday and they were kind of upset and it was really hard and I tried to to explain with love and stuff and also explain what it was they need to do to be ready in a few more weeks and it was overall just hard but we felt like we really had to move it back a few weeks. But last night when we went back the husband really opened up that he wasnt quite ready and that he really needed a few more weeks and that he didnt feel worthy yet to be baptized but in the coming weeks he would do all he needed to do to be ready. He also said that somehow God made a way to give him a few more weeks to prepare and that he really needed the preparation. It was really hard to move back their dates but on sunday night it seemed God really showed us why and I think it will be so much more better for them to be baptized after giving a special effort to be ready and I learned that we need to really follow the promptings that we get. 

So we have few areas we work in and whenever we have extra time we go and talk to people and stuff. So in this one area we found this family and when we taught them for the first time they called all their cousins and grandma's and grandpas and stuff(in the philippines people related often live in a group of homes) until there is a good 20 or so people from ages 8 to 88 listening. So we have been back like 3 times or so and whenever we go they all listen and are really interested. Its really crazy feeling, we honestly feel like we are like alma preaching to the people by the waters of Mormon or something like that. I dont know how to explain it but they are really cool and have great potential. 

So I know that this work is true and I am so humbled to share this great message of hope and love. It is hard when people don't accept the message but how great is the joy when we are privleged to be given success and when we get to see people use their agency to do the right. So I love you tons and I know the mission is the best experience a young man could have a part in and I know the work is so true!

Love you tons! Have a great week!!!


Week 97: AJ Celebrates 21st Birthday and Finds 1-star pizza joint

Dear Family

Wow so last week I said it was one of the coolest/quickest weeks of my misison. Well this week was even cooler and even faster!!

So one cool tender mercy of the Lord was that the last couple of weeks the store was out of our favorite hotdogs and I wanted to BBQ hotdogs on my birthday and on Monday they had tons and tons of hotdogs of all different kinds!! I also used some of the money you and grandma gave me to buy vanilla ice cream and soda for floats!(vanilla ice cream is pretty hard to find here as well so that was a miracle!)

So on Tuesday it was my birthday and it was awesome. In the morning Elder Mclaughlin surpised me and made pancakes he got from home, Chocalate chip and Funfetti pancakes! Elder Valdez got me reeses pieces and It was awesome. Then for district meeting we brought the floats and it was great. Then for lunch we went to mcdonalds and then went to work. We had really great day teaching. We are teaching this mother of a recent convert here in santiago and she always until this week has never seem very intrested but on Tuesday we somehow connected with her and she opened up to us about what problems she had in her life and what she wants in her life to happen. She cried. On tuesday as well we found the house of a tryce driver that we talked to and we shared with him he is very cool as well.So this last week we also met a really interested single mother. We met her at that same house of the recent convert and she was very receptive. So she had some questions about the plan of salvation and we shared it with and challenged her to ask God if it was true. When we went back she had recieved and answer and we shared about the restoration and she got an answer as well that it is true ans she said she felt like she really needs to got to church. Which she did yesterday! On like tuesday we gave her a word of wisdom pamphlet and when we came back and asked her about she said it was good and that she already stopped drinking coffee and iced tea and doesn't use the other things pertaining to the word of wisdom! She has some great faith. We really feel she will be baptized! So after a really great night working we got back and BBQed the hot dogs had rootbeer floats and cake! It was great birthday. 

On wednesday was great as well. We looked up a few former investigators and they are some great families that we are now teaching. We also met another family that we ran into while looking for the former investigators. The young man there in his 20's is really intrested and we have been back a few time and he has read everything we have left him. We just taught about the restoration and left a Book of Mormon and will be going back this week. Also a few weeks ago we met this lady while we were looking for a recent convert. She is really old and maybe a little teeny bit crazy but she is so cool. Her name is Ester. Everything we have left her so far she has read and then explained to us perfectly when we went back. She seems really cool and has great potential as well.\

On thursday president invited our whole district to lunch so in the morning we had an appoitment. When we got there the people we were hoping to teach were not there, so we figured there must be some reason we came to that area. We went to a home we talked to in the past and there were only young mothers there so we left them something else to read and tryed talking to some other houses. We were on our way out and felt impressed to try one more house before going to lunch. And another miracle happened! We got invited in and it was young couple and their child. The mom had gone to church with niebors a ton when she was a little kid and had friends that were members. The couple was very receptive and we shared and left a Book of Mormon and we were invited to come back! After that we went to MangInasal(by the way its this place that has BBQ chicken and all you can eat rice for 99 pesos) And president bought our district lunch. After that I went on splits with the companion of our district leader, Elder Allen(from mapleton) in ramon and the AP's also gave us mail. As we were headed back to ramon I read the mail and I got a birthday card from Sister Betty Delacuesta in Aritao. She is a widow that we baptized last May 2011. She is one my favorite people we taught. She is the one who read the Book of Mormon 3 times before she was baptized and in the Birthday Card she said that on August 22nd she was endowed!!! How awesome is that!!! As awesome as my birthday was that Birthday card and the news that she was endowed was the greatest birthday present of all. I was so stoked to hear that!! I can't describe how happy it was to hear that!!!

So it was cool to go back to ramon. We visited some of the people we taught and we went back to an investigator that we taught that hadn't continued. As we went back to them we found they didn't live there anymore but we met there dad and he invited in and we gave him Book of Mormon and he was very receptive and they got a return appointment to teach him and his wife. We also had a dinner appoitment in ramon(ramon has dinner appt. every night) and It was cool to see that family again. They are the Gajes family. When I was there they brother got home right before I was tranferred and now he has been home for almost a year. Time is so fast. So after that we left and it was raining and pouring. I wanted to try and visit Mac-mac( he was about 16 when we baptized him) and it was pouring. So I was like, well we are gonna get soaked. You down? And Elder Allen said he was down. It was like a 20 min walk each way and we got absolutely drenched. When we got there we found out he went back to manilla but it was alright because no effort is wasted! On the way back we took a different way and it was starting to flood the streets and we just got drenched head to toe. Also the next 3 days in a row we got drenched by rain. It was great! (our umbrellas are broken and some days it doesnt matter even if you do have one you'll get drenched anyways) 

Also a funny story when we got back from splits in ramon the house was just like empty and It was like there was noone home which was weird because Elder's Valdez and Williamson should have been studying at that time so we were surprised. Well I went outside and was washing my feet because I had just worn shoes that were still wet from the night before. Anyway I saw them go and hide in the house so I figured something was up. Well I thought about what I could do and I decided to get I nice glass of cold water and I turned the corner and they tackled me but before they were able tackle me I soaked Elder williamson with the glass of cold water. So I trumped them hehe. I still did get tag team tackled into the mattresses but I went down fighting. It was great. (by they we just do silly stuff like tackling and wrestling and stuff at the apartment)

So the Paz couple we are teaching hasnt been able to get work off on sundays and we fasted as a companionship for a way to help them follow the sabbath day. It was a tough week as everytime we went to their house they have been gone. So on sunday they came to church and we were super excited and surprised. So after sacrament we asked how the sister got off work and they said sister got fired from her job and they came to church. They didnt seem to upset about and it was really cool they came. I guess right before church they didnt have any money to get to church but then someone came to their mom and said they she wanted her to make food for them in a few weeks but that she just wanted to give her the money for it right now. So they were able to go to church!  We also had a great lesson last night about the sabbath day and how the Lord will prepare a way for them to follow the sabbath and find a job as long as they are courageous and dont accept a job unless they can get the sabbath day off! They really understood it and they also understood why we dont by on sunday as we explained that they can help others to keep the sabbath day by choosing not to use their stores or businesses! They are such a great family and I feel that God will bless them with a better job.

Also on like friday we talked to this guy on a bus and he said we could share to him and his family. So on Sunday we got to the area of his house and for like 30 mins we are looking for this guys house and asking people if they know this guy and it was pouring rain. Finally after like half an hour of asking and getting soaked we find the house and him and his family had been waiting for us. He said he almost thought we werent going to come so I am glad we stuck to it and we found it! He was very interested as well and we taught them about the Book of Mormon

Well gotta run but I know the church is so true! I know these are the best greatest two years ever and this was one of the greatest weeks of my life. I feel we are being guided by the Lord and shown people that are really ready to recieve the gospel! I love you tons!!!



P.s. I attached a picture of the pizza me and Elder Mclaughlin got. This is " The worst pizza he ever had in his entire life" It may have been an overstatement but it would be a stretch to call it a 1 star pizza joint hhaha

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Week 96: Hard times and happy times...the mission is amazing!

Grandma sent birthday money and AJ bought PB&J!
Dear Family,

Glad to hear you got into the house although it sounds like it was a lot more complicated than it should have been... Now Dallas' and Bryce also can terrorize the highways at the same time with having another vehicle? Man lots of stuff changes... I still never met Jonny's wife or kid or Marcus' kid either...

A really big burger!
So we had a great week and there were times that were hard and times that were really happy and fun and we are happy to say we gave it all we could this week and it doesn't even matter what happens or what the result was because we gave it our all and it feels great to have done so and continue to do so. We continue to see miracles. So this week we taught fasting to a couple we are teaching that has a baptismal date in September. So one of their problems is that the wife works on sunday and the past couple weeks she was able to get off for sacrament but had to go right back to church. So we taught them that they can fast in order to get closer to God and ask for special blessings in their lives so they were excited to do a fast and we all decided to do a fast on friday in order to help them get a job or soften the heart of her boss so that she could keep the sabbath day holy. So on friday we fasted and we got to their house and apparently the couple got in a fight and the wife went to manilla. We had a really really discouraging day and in our last appointment the husbands parents said that stuff up we found that happened and we were so sad for them. We continued our fasting though and on Sunday they both came together to church. When we taught them sunday night everything seemed normal and we read 3 nephi 14 together with their family. I dont know what really went down but we were way surprised when they came to church so it was good. We just need to work with them still to get them the next little way to be ready for baptism. 

So this one day we just looking for former investigators and generally looking for people to teach and we met this white philippino. When we first saw him we thought he was american and We didnt know whether to speak tagalog to him or english. So what happened we found a member we were looking for and then she took us to him and when he first saw us hey said "hey, Do you speak the english?" And then we are all confused cuz he thought he was some american dude but his English was all wrong. Anyway it turns out he is totally philippino he just somehow was born white.... He is like an engineer dude and we taught his once so far and he is intrested and really smart. He totally gets what we share to him.

So we had a good week. We had a couple days that were hard and nothing we tried seemed to work but the greatest part of it is that if you do your best you dont need to worry about what happens even if we have no success if we did our best the Lord accepts the sacrifice. There is a really a great feeling at the end of the day to be exhausted and totally satisfied that you did your best for the best cause of all mankind!

And we also had tons of great things happen as well this week and Every week I've seen miracles. The mission is so amazing to see the lives of being changed and at the same time be changed and never be the same as a result of it. I Love you tons!!!

Have a great week!!!

Oh yeah!