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Monday, April 30, 2012

Week 79: Rattlesnakes and Jimmer

Email conversation between AJ and his dad Sunday night through
AJ: Hey pops, we just watched the BYU dvd.
Dad: Cool, fun stuff, eh? So ur in Cauayan?
AJ: Now we are here in Ilagan. We got a ride with President Carlos from Cauayan to Ilagan. He had some stuff to do. We are working in Gamu tonight then tomorrow ending splits.
Dad: So who ya splitting with? Hey did you ever get your package?
AJ: I am with Elder Needs from Michagan. The lame part is he was in America all last basketball season so he knew all about Jimmer-mania. That's all right though, it was awesome. Got the package yesterday after church. The Reese's are awesome. And I had just run out of shave oil last week so it was perfect timing. Thanks for the package – it was awesome also.
Dad: Glad you liked it. Let us know if you need anything else.
AJ: Jimmer is such a stud. Did you watch that dvd before you sent it?
Dad: Oh yeah, we watched it. The best game was the San Diego State game on national TV. He was amazing.
AJ: That was funny what everyone was saying to that one lady that was bad-talking Jimmer-mania. They tore her up – haha
Dad: Wish he had gotten more playing time this year in Sacramento, but maybe next season.
AJ: It's weird to think I've already missed 2 entire basketball seasons. So what are y'all up to?
Dad: Everyone is sleeping except me. Did you get our letter?
AJ: Yep. That's pretty exciting you had a rattlesnake chillin under your car.
Dad: Right there on the street. I think he got away, too.
AJ: By the way, I am pretty sure there are more cockroaches at our house in the summer than there have been in any of my apartments until now. Also, I've only seen like 2 snakes my whole stay here in the Philippines and they were already road rash. Oh, hey, is there any money in my account? I might get money out this week.
Dad: Yeah, Mom left plenty of money in your account. No snakes, but you got lots of lizards though, right?
AJ: Yeah, lizards chill all over our house on the ceilings and stuff and eat bugs and hang out.
Beyawak (or monitor) lizard
Dad: Seen any like that big one they cooked up?
AJ: No, but I ate some of that lizard. Elder Katoa gave me some. It was good. Beyawak adobe.
Dad: Beyawak adobe? In English please...
AJ: Adobe is the most popular dish with rice. They can make it with chicken, pork, whatever. It's basically fried with onions and garlic, with lots of soy sauce and cooking oil. Beyawak is the name of that lizard you saw. The giant one. So, Mother's day is on the 13th. The Shaners invited us to skype at their house. Um, they asked if you have Facetime or something like that, some Apple thing. They said that might be better. Also, you should see if it works that you can skype with them.
Dad: Yeah, I think I have Facetime on my Mac. I think Skype is better, but either way. See if you can find out their user name for both.
AJ: OK, I'll ask. You have their Facebook right? You could find out there as well.
Dad: Elder Shaner was on Facebook, couldn't find Sister Shaner.
AJ: Alrighty, Ill get it before next week.
Dad: How are your shoes holding up?
AJ: They are doing good. I am pretty sure they will last till the end. We are headed out. LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
Dad: K, love you too

That's beyawak adobe (Adobe flavored lizard meat), usually served over rice. Yum!

Dearest Family,
So earlier today we went to Cauayan and got to watch the BYU basketball DVD. It was amazing. Jimmer is a stud. We feel motivated. So, not that anyone's counting, but I just hit the 18 month point in my mission this last week and the 4th quarter is started right? I like sports analogies anyhow. So the mission has been amazing – Everything I dreamed it would be and more. It's been the hardest, most challenging, most happy and funniest and greatest/most rewarding 18 months of my life. Like in the 4th quarter, it's time to leave it all out on the field (or court or we could say bukid) right? So yeah, this week has been great.

I am trying to work as hard as I can and to love my companion and to love the people and make every day count. In the past couple months, I've kind of felt the speed of the mission and how precious every day is. I still am excited to go out and work everyday and it's still a thrill and a pleasure, like when I was new. These past few weeks I've really noticed how great the Filipino people are. They are awesome. They are so kind and receptive to the gospel. I don't know how well I would have done as a missionary in those European countries or Russia or even America where there is so much rejection. I am so blessed to have been called to a place with such humble, wonderful people.

So I am in awe at how fast God answers prayers. On Saturday we attended the baptism of the Burgos Elders (south of roxas) and had to go to San Pedro (north of roxas) and there were no jeeps and not really any rides. We were already late as well. So I said a quick prayer and less than 5 minutes later a rice truck pulls up and they call for us to ride with them to Roxas. As it turns out, they were all active members of a different branch in Roxas Zone and have a son on a mission, too. So we not only got a ride to Roxas, but it was with members and a lot faster and free. As a missionary, I have had prayers answered so powerfully and so quickly.

Today the letter from President Carlos was about loving one another and also about how it's not enough to just assume that those you love know it. So I would like to say I Love ya all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One of our investigators right now is the grandmother of E.J. (the convert kid that always wants to work with us). Anyway, she is pretty cool and has been to church a lot of times. She had a stroke a couple years ago and is partially paralyzed. They are really poor. Her husband is a tryce driver and always listens and is a nice guy but is really not interested and doesn't really participate. She is doing pretty good and has a goal date on May 19th.

We are also teaching the parents of E.J. They are really awesome, always read what we leave them and love to listen to our message. We haven't been able to get them to church. Not sure what's holding them back. They have a tryce and are close to the church and don't have commitments on Sunday and they have people they could go to church with – neighbors, their son, their mom – lots of people. If ya can think of anything let us know.

Well, I know that the church is true and that our Savior lives. I know that God answers prayers and listens to each and every one. I know that families are forever and I am thankful to be a part of one. I am thankful for all the things I have learned on my mission and I am thankful for a loving family and for your prayers.

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Week 78: Diamonds and Brownouts

Elders Velez and Griffin and new convert Sister Fema.
AJ: Hey pops!
DAD: Hey, just about to send you some pix from my phone. The deal with the ring is that Mom's diamond got lost and I have been wanting to get her a bigger one for a long time. I finally had an excuse and got her a much bigger and nicer one to go on her original wedding ring. I proposed to her again on the front lawn at Wash City and she said yes again. YEY!!
AJ: Way to go stud! And she accepted on the first proposal this time?! :)
DAD: Yeah, well I proposed that she STAY married to me, so it was a much easier question this time.
AJ: That sounds pretty sweet. That's a pretty rock you got Mom. So this kid in our branch is telling me that the Jazz got Brandon Roy and Gilbert Arenas and that the Clippers are loading up on superstars to help out Blake Griffin. Does that have any truth in it?
DAD: NO truth to any of that. Roy retired from chronic injuries. And there are no stars for the Clips to get until the next offseason, although they do have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
AJ: What a toolbox! He said the Jazz traded Millsap for Roy == haha
DAD: Yeah, he was yanking your chain.
AJ: Baptism was awesome this Saturday. President came too, bought us dinner afterward, as well.
DAD: Sweet! Baptism AND free food! Life is goooood! AJ: On Monday Elder Needs (the one who made sloppy joes, BYU lacrosse player) and I will go to Cauayan and watch the Jimmer movie, too.
DAD: Next Monday? Hard to believe BYU has had another season since then. By the way, Jon Oglesby, as it turns out, is not a BYU fan. We should have some interesting conversations come Fall.
AJ: There are a lot more BYU fans than haters in St. George.

DAD: Hey, by the way, Jazz are playing well and looks like they will be in the playoffs. They aren't as good as the D-Will and Boozer years, but are way more fun to watch. Gordon Hayward just keeps getting better and Al Jefferson is money. I like Derek Favors, too. He came over in the D-Will trade, just a second year guy. Great dunker!
They play Phoenix Tuesday with the winner in playoffs for sure.
AJ: How is the Jimmer doing? I forgot basketball was still going on.

DAD: Well, Jimmer's playing time hasn't been great since they fired Westphal two months ago, but he's going to end up the season averaging 8 points in 18 minutes a game. He also has averaged 36 percent from beyond the arc and had about two assists a game. He really struggled on defense, though. They have two games left.
AJ: Pretty good for a rookie white boy from BYU, eh?

DAD: Yeah, I don't think he will ever be a star, but there is definitely a place for him in the league with the way he can shoot.
AJ: Like Kyle Korver, but smaller?

DAD: Exactly, and a little more range. Jimmer goes out to about 30 feet. Korver is an on the line guy.
AJ: We're headed out Pops. LOVE YOU! Drink some chocolate milk for me.

DAD: Will do. Love you!

Dear Family,

So this week Sister Fema was baptized and it was fantastic. President came and the baptism was very cool. So she shared in her testimony a little about her conversion. When we first started teaching her she was very confused and had a ton questions on her mind and she had been taught by other religions, too, but had not joined any of them. Anyway, the first few times we taught her she didn't want to accept what we taught her and after we taught about Joseph Smith, we just challenged her to just prayer and ask God if its true. So this is the part she shared with us Saturday night. After that she had been reading the Book of Mormon and comparing it to the Bible and just trying to answer all her questions. She said every time she would open up the Book of Mormon it would answer her questions. So it was getting late and she wanted to go to sleep. She said it was about 1 a.m., but she couldn't sleep. She said then it was like someone just told her to open it and read (the Book of Mormon) so she did. She said almost all night she was reading the Book of Mormon and then at a certain point she was prompted to pray about it. She did and she felt the spirit and all the crazy questions and stuff she had in her mind didn't matter anymore ... Because SHE KNEW it was true and that this was true church. She is definitely one of the coolest people I've met here in the Philippines.

This week we went on splits with the San Pedro Elders. I was here in Roxas with Elder Oliva. It was a good split and we found a couple of cool less active families that we were able to teach and that seem really nice. I hope we can bring them back.

After we were done teaching in that area, the sisters called us and had us bless someone in branch 1. I was voice for the blessing and after we had been pronouncing the blessing for a minute or so, I went just completely blank. Like literally, I've never been so blank in my life. So I just waited for about 30 seconds or so. It was humbling. But the words did come after awhile.

This week we have been teaching a new family. They have been staying with some members and they are really amazing. Their name is the Casto family. Sister has been to church 3 times now and brother has been once. They have a two year old kid. Sister has been reading everything we have given her and more and brother is starting to open up. The only problem we might have is that they are from a little town in between Roxas and Tuguegarao that doesn't yet have missionaries and they aren't sure how long they will be there. Sister really wants to be baptized. They are a really cool family.

So one day we were teaching the Miguel Family and while we were teaching them it browned out. Anyway after the lesson, we prayed that the power would come back. So we had one more lesson before going home and we went to it while the power was still out. We got there and the old couple we have been teaching there was there as well as their daughter. They said they were hoping to leave and go to the fiesta, but the power went out and they were just waiting with nothing to do. We were able to teach and it was a really great lesson. Their daughter is from Santiago, but we were able to get her address and she said she would like to hear the lessons. It couldn't have been more than 2 minutes after we left their house that the power came back. It definitely wasn't a coincidence.

So this week I have learned the Lord just wants all we can give and then He will make up for the rest. Just end the days in prayer, just exhausted, begging the Lord to accept the work and to multiply it. I just love the mission! Every day you just go to bed spent and then you wake up and do it all over again. I remember how hard getting up at 6:30 and how exhausting it was in the MTC and earlier in my mission. But now it's definitely still exhausting, but it's enjoyable and isn't as hard and stuff. Just normal. I don't know, I can't explain it.

I know that the Atonement is real. President shared a quote with us in his letter earlier. "Do Not Look Back. You Are Not Going There!” I am thankful that the Savior made this possible. Whatever has happened can be done and we don't need to dwell on our shortcomings or weaknesses.

I love you so much and again time is unbelievably fast!
Love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 77: Duck, Duck, Goose!

AJ was in and out at the computer store this week, plus had some sending probs, but here is the short conversation we had:
AJ: Hey, how's it going? Are you still awake? (about 1 a.m. In Utah)
DAD: Yeah, still up, how ya been? Seems like my email is screwed up, u there?
AJ: I am pretty sure it's our email that is not working very good.
DAD: Mine seems pretty funky too. Anyway, the Shaners wrote some nice stuff about you on their blog.
AJ: Do you have any pics?
DAD: (Sent some family pix) Didn't know you remembered Duck Duck Goose!
AJ: Yeah, I taught it to the Filipinos – they didn't know that game, but they loved IT!
DAD: Cracks me up to think about you trying to chase down those short fast little Philippine dudes ;{)
AJ: Surprisingly, they aren't that good at Duck Duck Goose. They always wear flip-flops, too, hehe. I gotta go though!!!
DAD: K, love you son!
AJ is the Goose!
[Excerpt from Elder and Sister Shaner's blogs – Sis. Shaner is doing the writing]
Duck, Duck, many of us remember this game??? I remember playing it in the snow on the playground during recesses in Nebraska in the 50' THAT was a lifetime ago! I bet most of my grandchildren and children have never played, but Elder Griffin must have picked up the rules somewhere along the line because at our Branch Farewell Party last week, he got the whole group involved! It was so fun to watch these people learn a new game and enjoy themselves so much – they are game people for sure! The party was in honor of our beloved Zone Leader Elder Rausa, who headed home after serving an honorable two year mission, and two young men, Elder Emerson Ulep and Elder Mark Prince Munoz, who left last week for the MTC in Manila to start their two year missions.

Roxas Zone Leaders Elder Velez and Elder Griffin
[Excerpt No. 2 from Shaners blog]
With Elder Rausa's release and his return home, we had a transfer meeting last week and Elder Velez joins Elder Griffin as our new Zone Leader. I teased Elder Griffin that 'this one won't fit in your pocket as well as Elder Rausa did!' Elder Griffin is VERY tall and most Filipinos are not, so the height difference is always noticeable with his companions. I think you all remember the pictures I have posted in the past of Elder Griffin and Elder Rausa. Elder Velez is a little taller in body and equally tall in spirit. We are very lucky to have his leadership in our district and look forward to learning from him for the next few months.


Dear Family,
Wow, it was a Scorcher this week!!! The sun has been cooking us. It was definitely the hottest week of my mission since Tuguegarao – might have been hotter than this back in the day in Tug.

So this week we had our zone meeting. It was about the divine companionship and we also had quarterly interviews with President Carlos.

AJ's shot of a Philippine sunset.

The interview with President was good as always and we just talked about how whenever we do something especially for the Lord it's always JUST about the Savior, not about us or anything else. Example: it's not really important how many baptisms a missionary has or what he has done in the mission, but it's a lot more important who he has become and for sure if he/she was converted.

So this week our investigator Sister Feyma passed her interview and is excited to be baptized on the 21st. We have really seen a huge conversion in her life (and really fast too) as after she got the answer to her prayer she has been different ever since. And awesome as well. Her brother Brian has been working with us and is fairly newly returned after being inactive for a long time – just got his mission call to Cagayan De Oro (Rausa's hometown) and he leaves on May 19!!!

We had a day or two this week where everything just seemed to keep falling through, even though we thought we had made the right plans. We were led to where we needed to be, though. Sometimes days here in the mission just go like that and all the people you want to teach are not there or for whatever reason you can't teach them, but we almost always are led to something else – and it is amazing.

Well today, is gonna be kind of a short letter, but I love you. I was just thinking about how awesome you are Mom and Dad (and of course my brothers and sisters). I am so thankful to have been born of goodly parents. A lot of people in the world were not. I know the gospel. I know my Savior lives and I am so grateful to have been called to the Philippines Cauayan Mission. I love the people here!!!

LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Week 76: New comps in Roxas Zone

Email conversation between AJ and his dad through Sunday night (Monday
in the Philippines)
Cousin Jonny and newborn Luke Griffin.
DAD: Hey AJ, here is a picture of Jonny and his new son, Luke Griffin! He was born this evening (about a month early) to Jonny and Demas. He is healthy and strong. So how are you?
AJ: Use the force eh? I didn't even know they were expecting. Tell them congrats!
DAD: Oops. sorry, I thought I told ya. You had to know he would use a Star Wars name. I'm a little surprised it's not Anakin. After all, he turned back in the end ;-) So how's the new comp?
AJ: He is cool. Elder Velez from Northern Samar. He was the zone leader in Tuguegarao. We both go home in October.
DAD: Velez ... seems like you have mentioned his name before, yes?
AJ: Nope, I've never talked to him until this week.
DAD: Ah well, you guys gonna get along good you think?
AJ: Yeah no problem. He is a little quiet but he is hard-working and obedient. No problem.
Elder Griffin and the other ZLs at Zone Leader Conference in Cauayan.
DAD: Cool. Hey, did ya ever watch the Jimmer video?
AJ: Not yet. I was hoping to go today but my comp had lots of laundry to do. Next week we have house inspections so we might be cleaning all day. President reminded me again to come and watch it. I need to hurry!
DAD: Thought you had ur own DVD player now. Can't you just get it and watch it on p-day whenever?
AJ: I don't know – he just told us to come to the mission home on P-day. But yeah, we do have a DVD player. Probably a good thing I don't have it because I would probably watch it every p-day the rest of my mission if he gave it to me.
DAD: Ha, that's funny. When did you get Velez? Thursday? Has he met all your investigators and families?
AJ: Yeah Thursday I got him. Yeah, he has met most of them. Sat and Sunday we watched conference.
DAD: In English? Do they do Tagalog conference? Is your comp a native Tagalog speaker?
AJ: Yeah, he is Tagalog speaker, he is really from Manila, but when he was 20 his family moved islands. He learned waray waray and met the missionaries and was baptized. Yeah, they have Tagalog and English. I just went to English. My comp went to Tagalog on Saturday, but didn't like it, and Sunday went to English. A lot of the members say they don't really like the Tagalog version because it's deep Tagalog and they don't like listening to the translator – they want to hear the real voices.
DAD: Did you ever listen to the MASH DVDs in another language? It was funny, but they had some really weasel sounding guy as Hawkeye's voice in French ... it was hilarious!
AJ: Not really.. That is funny though. Did you ever send the shaving oil back in the day?
DAD: No, Mom forgot to put it in the envelope we sent. We will send it tomorrow with some Easter candy. Need anything else?
AJ: Nope, that's it. I guess Elder Teh from the Quorum of the 70 is touring the mission next month. Supposedly he will interview all the zone leaders
DAD: That will be cool. Make sure your conscience is clear. Those G.A.s can see right through you...
AJ: Yeah, he seems a little intimidating too, from the talks I've seen him give. Great ...
DAD: You'll be fine – just wink at him and smile. That'll take him by surprise!
AJ: Yeah, that might work. I enjoyed your pictures. Everyone looks good. Time is really unbelievably fast.
DAD: Growing up, aren't they? Hey, I gotta hit the sack. It's 12:46 and I have a show in 6 hours. Look forward to your letter.
AJ: Oh alrighty. Tell Eddie and Wendy thanks for the financial contribution. That was really nice of them. Have a good night! Love you!!!
DAD: K, love ya son, a package is off tomorrow! Keep on OYMing!

Aaron Dickie.
Grandma and Mom look Easter-ey.
The hunt is on.
Holly, Katie and friend Jayden at Wash City egg hunt.
Dear Family,
So it was a busy week as Elder Rausa went home, we had Zone Leader Conference and then we had transfer day, plus Saturday and Sunday we watched conference. It was a really good week.

By the way I loved all the pictures you sent me. Looks like Easter was pretty great. Tell congrats to the new dad Jonny and also the picture of Wendy's baby is really cute.

On Tuesday we announced transfers and in our zone there are 22 missionaries and all companionships except 1 had changes. So our zone has a really new look.
Wednesday we had ZLC – it was kind of weird because we didn't know who our companions were yet and I didn't have a companion anymore. So on splits, I went with Elder Oliver to Cauayan and there we found out he was ZL and then we found out who our new companions were. Later that day was the farewell fireside and the people going home bore their last testimony. Sister Martinez went home … Kind of weird, it doesn't feel like its been that long (17-plus months). Then again, I can't really remember being home either. The mission does something really weird to time.

We got to watch conference this weekend. It was very inspiring and we loved it, had prayers answered and saw our investigators meet and listen to the prophet, which was really cool and seemed to be a big spiritual step. I really loved Elder Holland's talk about workers in the vineyard and Elder Bednar's talk in priesthood was great. And yeah, it was geared to the family and helping people come back.

Conference has gotten me thinking about the Atonement some more and I know that the Atonement really happened. Its amazing how God has provided a way that whatever has happened in the past can be left in the past as soon as we can, like Elder Holland said last conference, "It can be over as soon as you can say sorry and REALLY mean it." I am very thankful for the Atonement. I love being able to share it with others.

The Tan family has been doing good, although Sister Femma and Brian were the only ones who came to conference. It was very cool though, as they came to all the sessions and really enjoyed and felt the spirit of the messages given. Sister Femma is doing great and her baptism will be on the 21st. She is really excited

The church is true and I know the Savior lives.
I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Elder AJ
Howdy y'all?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Week 75: Beautiful Baptisms

Elders Griffin and Rausa with the Gabaldon family.
Email conversation between AJ and his dad through Sunday night (Utah)/Monday morning (Philippines).

AJ: Hey Pops we are a bit early today
DAD: Oh, we just got home. How are ya AJ?
AJ: Doing great, how you doing? I am listening to Elder Holland right now.
Our General Conference is still a week away.
DAD: Is transfers and Elder Rausa going home this week?
AJ: Ya, Elder Rausa goes home Wednesday. Cool pictures. The girls must be thrilled to have their cousins back in town.
DAD: Yep, so you're listening to a little conference online?
AJ: Yeah, Holland's talk was awesome as always. I am listening to Edler Uchtdorf's
priesthood talk right now. Teach the WHY then roll up their sleeves and go to work.
DAD: Any idea what will happen on transfers. You gonna stay ZL?
AJ: Ya I am not going anywhere. I'll grab a new comp on Thursday.
DAD: So you'll be training a new ZL? Is it fun at all being ZL, or just a pain in the butt?
AJ: It might be a new ZL or someone who has already been a ZL. I don't know.
The good part about being ZL: The food is awesome at ZLC. It's cool to interview other missionary's converts and I feel like I know all the missionaries whereas in the past I didn't know that many people. I've seen all the different areas and worked in a lot of them and worked with some really cool missionaries. It's kind of a pain because we have little errands to run all the time that interrupt proselyting. Plus I don't like knowing all the stuff that goes on in the zone. Yeah, that's about the bottom line.
DAD: You get all the dirt on everyone eh? That's kinda like being in the Bishopric ... and I don't like it either. How can you run all these errands without a car or something? Seems like it would take forever.
AJ: Yeah, it's pretty much like that to a point. People always tell on other people to me and stuff. I don't like it. And yeah, it does take forever sometimes to run the errands.
DAD: So you're like the daddy, everyone tattling ... that's funny! BTW, I guess Katie Watkins is going home this month, Martinez soon, too.
AJ: Yeah Sis. Martinez will be on the bus to Manila with Rausa and the others going home on Wednesday. I think that means I have 6 months left.
DAD: I guess Martinez's parents pick her up April 6 in LA. She's coming via Hong Kong. She must be leaving a little early, cause you have SEVEN months left. AJ: Yeah, I don't know – basta, she is going home in two days. By the way, mission president must be one of the hardest callings ever.
DAD: Hey man, I just drafted a fantasy baseball team with Neal and friends and they will still be playing when you come home. How about that eh?AJ: Fantasy baseball, hehe, you must be bored.
DAD: Neal asked me. It will also help me follow baseball for the radio stuff. Astros are going to be terrible.AJ: Yeah, that doesn't surprise me. Ever since that one dude (Brad Lidge) cursed the Astros and went to the Phillies and kicked butt it was over.
DAD: They do have a new owner and have brought up a bunch of really young guys. With any luck, they will be good in a couple of years.
Tyler Haws
AJ: Hey Dad, check this out: I am pretty sure we were at the game were he dunked it. BYU had the pink breast cancer awareness trim and were playing the Utes.
DAD: Yeah, that's the first thing I said when the video started: "Hey, we were there for that game!"
AJ: Yeah, that's a great shot. He dunked it so easy in traffic too.
DAD: His dad, Marty Haws, is my age.
AJ: Haha yeah. Haws should be back pretty soon from his mission. Pres. Carlos said he was AP down there a while back.
DAD: Yeah, seems like he was a few months ahead of you. His bro, the one crying at the MTC, has been tearing it up at Lone Peak, averaged 20 a game as a sophomore.
AJ: They'll probably be teammates when Tyler is a senior. Little brother will be a freshman at the Y?
DAD: Yeah, I think so. Right now, Jackson Emery's bro Nick is even better. He will be a senior next year at Lone Peak. They won't lose a game next year. By the way, you look good in those baptism whites! So, you think you'll be AP?
AJ: No way, don't even think about that!
DAD: I dunno, hard worker, good relationship with Pres., tall white guy ... You have all the makings ... hahahahaha
AJ: Apparently there is a dude from Switzerland sitting next to me here at the computer shop. He is reading German stuff, has a Filipina wife.
DAD: Whoa, Switzerland! Usually Swiss people know English, German, French and Spanish. Wonder if he speaks Tagalog, too?
AJ: Yeah, I gave his wife a pamphlet and told her to go to church. She said she has friends in Switzerland that are Mormon and they said they have seen the temple. Cool eh?
DAD: That is cool. Hey, good luck with transfers!! Shoulder to the wheel and all will be well. I promise you that.
AJ: Hey, I haven't watched a single game the whole season and I tied for second with my bracket, right?
DAD: Yeah, nice job. I'll buy you a hamburger in October!
AJ: Haha, alright, love you!
DAD: Love you too!!!

Sloppy Joes with Elder Needs
Dear Family,

This Saturday the Gabaldon family was baptized! I got to baptize Tatay (the dad) and then the branch baptized their two kids and it was awesome. Sister Carlos and The Shaners and Lakers (new couple) and Sister Breese also came too. Sister Feyma came and watched the baptism and her sister and her sister's friend came to church as well. So all the people we are teaching in their house are coming to church, which is awesome. Sister Feyma will be baptized on April 21 and we will probably give dates to her mother and sister this week.

So a little more about the baptism: The Gabaldon family was baptized along with Mallig's baptism this and it was great. The baptisms were awesome and quick. All the converts bore really great testimonies and Tatay Gabaldon's testimony was really awesome. Tatay talked about how last year their family was traveling from Manila to Roxas and he was driving their van. They got in a really bad wreck and the vehicle was totaled. The people on the scene were sure their were fatalities, but not one of them got injured. Tatay said he understands now that the Lord had something for them to still do and he knows now that becoming a member is part of that. WOW! That's all I can say. The mission is amazing. The district here also has youth conference in Nueva Viscya this week. so Alyssa and Alison (the Gabaldon kids) will be able to go to youth conference right away. The temple trip is supposed to be soon, too.

On Thursday we went on splits. I worked in Gamu with Elder Needs from Michigan. Elder Needs has been in the Philippines about 7 months. He is a stud. He is really amazing at Tagalog. He is a lot better than I was back in the day and a very powerful teacher of the gospel. I learned a lot from working with him and we also made sloppy joes so that was great. Whenever you go on splits with another American, it's just like super fun. Work hard, eat good food, tell cool stories, talk about all the weird stuff in the Philippines. Anyway, I was just really impressed with him. I guess he is a BYU lacrosse player. Anyway Elder Needs = Stud.

So this week Elder Rausa goes home. To be honest at times we really had a hard time seeing eye-to-eye, but I think the miracle of it is that despite our different views and different cultures, we made it work. And we saw miracles these past two cycles. We had a good talk the other day in companionship study about what had happened and about our 2 cycles together and we both talked about how at times it was really hard, but overall we both learned a ton and that great things had happened. Anyway yeah. This Thursday we will have transfers and I will get a new companion.

We have a ton of cool investigators right now and things are going awesome. I know the church is true and I love my mission so much. I know the atonement of Jesus Christ is real and that Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet. I'll let ya know my feedback on conference as we have yet to watch it.