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Monday, January 9, 2012

Week 63: Great success and dead mice

Elder AJ "Blake" Griffin
Elder Derrick Rose Valdez
Holy junk food!
Hoops at the Paddad ward party
Cooking up some stew (?) at the ward party.
The Elders at the mission home on New Year's.
Griffin and Valdez in the back of a rice truck.
AJ with the Parungao family.

Dear Family,
So life is good and time still doesn't slow down! I am glad to hear about Holly's baptism.  That is awesome!
So this week we had District conference (same as stake conference, but Alicia isn't a stake yet). It was really cool as we are teaching this family that we found tracting and the wife and her sister and law (Delacruz family) came to church for the very first time. The dad isn't quite there yet, but he always listens and has questions. He is working on quitting smoking.
So Elder Misalucha of the Seventy came and spoke as well as President and Sister Carlos. Elder Misalucha talked about being really converted and he also chastised everyone as he told a story about how Boyd K. Packer told people to come fill the seats of a chapel in the front before a meeting he was speaking in. He asked them to do it 3 times, but only a few people went up and when the meeting started Packer said, "If you can't follow the suggestion of a 70 of the Lord when he asks you three times to do something as simple as move to front, then you can't learn anything from me today," and then he ended the meeting. Then Elder Misalucha said he asked people to move to the front before the meeting but only a few did. (oops, but hey we were busy helping investigators). At least he had compassion on us and still spoke. Sister Carlos gave a cool talk about making our homes into mini MTC's and apparently there are 22,000 missionary age members in the church last year and only 2000 left on missions, so she talked about just opening your heart and forgetting your self and doing what the Lord wants you do to.
President Carlos talked about the healing power of the Atonement and particularly about forgiving others and getting rid of that burden. He told a story about how when he was an Elder in Hawaii, his companion just really hated him and the Zone leaders played a prank and told them Elder Carlos was being trasferred and he said his companion was just so happy and said "Yes, finally Carlos is transferred." Then they came right back like 10 mins later and said April Fools. He said his companion was just so angry because he had to be with Elder Carlos a few more weeks and he just made life miserable. Then he said almost 35 years later that companion called him and apologized and asked for forgiveness. President Carlos was happy to forgive him and was just sad that his companion carried that burden for 35 years before he let it go. He talked about we shouldn't wait a year or or a day or or even 1 hour to get rid of those kind of things so we can feel the spirit again fully.
All in all it was pretty cool conference. The only problem was the speaker system was really bad and it was super hard to understand. No one could really understand the first hour but the second hour was better. Maybe the spirit was just stronger since it was mission president, his wife and a 70.
So we have been really humbled with a less active family we are teaching. Their last name is the Visparse family. We heard they were members, at least part, so one day when we had time we visited them and the mom was really nice and they have just 2 kids that still live in the house. One of them is 9 and sincerely wants to be baptized so much. So we have been teaching them as a whole family and we found out that a few years ago their six year old daughter was raped and killed. It's heartbreaking. So we have been teaching the Atonement, about what Alma and Amuleck had to witness and everything, but it's so hard to even imagine what they must feel and what they went through. I can't even imagine what I would do if that happened to my sibling or my future child. We have been trying to teach them how much they are loved of God and how that their daughter is for sure going to the Celestial Kindgom.

It's tough to teach when we don't know how they feel, but we are just trying to teach them that there is one who does and that Christ can heal it. I just read earlier today in Jesus the Christ about the Atonement and about all that Christ experienced and that it was all done completely submissive and voluntary.
I had my first baptismal interview Saturday as the sisters had a 10-year old kid and 11-year old kid getting baptized. It was cool. There really wasn't any problem. I have 3 interviews next week and a baptism to go to and one of our investigators is getting interviewed by the zone leaders and we have a special meeting at 6 that night announcing the Philippines area plan for ward and missionary work and stuff. It's going to be a busy. Oh, and it might all change if we have transfers, which is on Thursday. We haven't heard anything either way if we will be transferred or not.
So we had a cool experience on Wednesday. I was here in Paddad on splits with Elder Ballentos(new missionary from Negros Occidental) and we were working in this brgy called Manois Core, and it's like a goverment donated place for people who lost their homes in the typhoon last year or something. So anyway, all the houses look the same and everything is close toegther. There are tons of members and we have lots of investigators there too. So we had an appointment at 530ish with the Delacruz family and we went there about 6 and the dad still wasn't home from work. So we decided to go try a few more people and then go back there. The other people we wanted to teach weren't there, so we didn't really know what to do. Then I thought we could try the very last part of the brgy that we hadn't tracted and we walked over there and all the houses were closed until the very last house and we tao po'ed (kind of like saying anyone home) and then there was a dad, a mom and 4 kids I think. The mom said come in before we even explained who we were (YES!). We talked to them and their dad is actually a member but they themselves don't really know about the church. We kept talking to them and they told us how their young daughter, maybe 3 years old, had died with leukemia. It was super sad, but really cool to be able to share the gospel with them about the Atonement and about how children are automatic to Celestial Kingdom. We just felt really guided that we were able to run into that family and it totally was exactly what Elder Holland says in Preach My Gospel about listening. He said if you listen they will ALWAYS say something that if we're sensitive we will be able to know how exactly to tie it to gospel truth and tesify about how this will help their lives. 
Later that night after our dinner appointment we had about 40 mins till curfew so we went tried to follow up on a few more people we had taught in the past. The first family we wanted to teach was there, but were busy or didn't want to be taught, so we figured we would try one more before calling it a day. When we got to the house I started to get a bad feeling and I ignored it for a sec and tao po'ed. Right after, it was even stronger and I knew we needed to go home. I asked Elder Ballentos if he felt it too and he said he did. As we were walking I felt like we should take a different way home. So we did and we got home just fine. It was wierd though. I don't know what would have happened, but we just followed the prompting. I think that's the first time I have gotten that kind of a prompting especially that strong. So yeah.
Wow, I wrote a lot this week. Hopefully I can write this much every week. Well. Love ya a ton!!!!!!!

Holly and Dad right before baptism.

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