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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Week 91: Teachings from the leaders

Zone Conference trust issues.

Dear Family,

So we had a great week and learned a ton from Elder Teh as he visited this last wednesday.

So first off I want to share some of the things Elder Teh taught us. One thing he talked about was the story of Joshua in Josh chapter 3 about how he probably felt very inadequete and very humbled to be the replacement of Moses in leading the israelites but the Lord promised to magnify him and let the people know that the same God that magnified moses would magnify him. So their first you could say problem arose and they had to cross a big river and the Lord promised to stop the river but he told josh. that those carrying the ark of the covanent would have to first get their feet wet(no its not just a cliche) but that once they showed their faith the Lord would help them get accross. So the walked into the river and the Lord magnifyied the words of Joshua and stopped the river. So as the missionaries or priesthood holders or members of the church, the first thing we need to know is that we are NOT sufficient for the job but it is not impossible. The Lord will magnify those that are humble and obiedient and seek his help.

The next thing I wanted to share was our discussion on John chapter 10. What I thought was really cool was that Elder Teh and President Carlos applied it not just to missionaries or mission life but to becoming a good father and priesthood holder for life. It talks about the sheep following the good Shepard but if we are not living what we teach we become as strangers to the sheep and they listen no more. It also talks about the hireling who cares not for the sheep and is watching them just for payment, and when trouble(wolves) come around they flee and care not for the sheep. Anyway read john 10 its bomb.

President shared again with us the great story of Alma and him being totally rejected spit upon and despised and then being commaned by the angel to go back and then finding Amulek. So he talked about always remeber to look for the amuleks and to keep going always go for one more try and stuff.

One of the coolest things Elder Teh shared was about the PNC(Puede na Current)(the Good enough Current) So he talked about how in Finding Nemo, nemo's dad and dore run into the turtles that are waiting to ride the East Australian current(EAC) so they can get to sidney, Well eventually they all get on it and some of the turtles are just chillin hangin back and stuff and its real easy. Once your in the current you just go with flow. Eventually they get to sidney and find nemo. So anyway he said in the Mission there is a current called the good enough current. If you are really disobiedient then the president and the district and zone leaders will be after you and if your 100 % obiedient then it really hard to keep up that pursuit of excellence. He said the really dangerous spot it in the middle because you can pretty much just chill and be halfway somewhat diligent and still get baptisms. He said though that you get exactly what you put into your mission nothing more and nothing less. So I was just thinking for life there is also a PNC where we can not be to terrible obiedient to the commandments of God and it will appear that we are doing just fine. Any way we need to stay out of there and get on top. The cool part about the PNC, elder teh said whenever you want to you can get out of the PNC and strive for excellence at the top. 

Also check out Alma 49, Elder Teh talked about in his fireside in roxas how in this story we can see that adversary learns and changes up his attack plan so we need to have better defenses than those in the past. He talked about how in his family they never had scrip. study and he turned out ok but that for our families we need to have better defenses if we are going to be ok because the adversary makes more effective attack plans on the family.

Also Check out D&C 31 as well and read about all the cool blessing missionaries get especially blessing that their family will receive.

Finally president talked about how we need to serve with all our heart might mind and strength and then it is the lords prerogative if he chooses to bless us with success.

I also feel very grateful this week. I have been kind of reflecting on my mission this week and all the miracles that I've seen. I was also thinking about what president said and I feel very humbled and grateful at all the success he has given us. All the amazing unthinkable unpredictable things that have happened especially my change of heart personally and seeing literally and very quickly the change of heart in investigators. Its amazing.

So update on the Gabaldon family. They are doing great and their dad and alision(14) got the priesthood yesterday. They really enjoyed the Fireside with elder Teh on wednesday and in priesthood yesterday they talked about calling and they are really excited to get a calling wanted to know how or when new members get callings. We were talking with President Munoz about it and he is thinking and praying about what calling would be great for them.

This last saturday we had a great experience. So I am pretty sure I told you about the Havana family. The house that had crazy cow by it and then as we walked by the mom called us and asked if we had anything we could give to here about the church. Anyway over the past few months the husband hasnt been there much but the sister is very interested and has come to church a few times over the past few months. So especially in the last 2 weeks every time we come by brother hasnt been home. Well last sunday they just totally shocked us and showed up as family to church and stayed the whole block and loved it. In Priesthood brother shared with the quarem that ever since we have been visiting that his relationship with his wife has improved and they never fight anymore and that it has been great. Well this this week we were able to visit them twice and on Saturday we gave them a baptismal date on the 25th of august and they are super excited. They came to church again yesterday as family and stayed the whole time and really enjoyed it. Brother June is a waiter for catering company and Sister stays at home and takes care of their 7 year old boy.(he is very energetic and loud so lessons are hard sometimes though)

The sister I told you about named Karen hasnt left yet and probably wont leave now to laguna so we gave her a baptismal date on September 15 and she is super golden.

So we have been teaching this sister Helen Lopez that is in her 60s now for about 6 months. It has gone kind of long because her husband isnt really happy about it and we wanted to focus on her reading. Anyway she always comes to church but would always go home after sacrament meeting. So it was cool this last week we shared D&C 88:77-78 and talked about why they have those classes and then on sunday she was totally cool with going there. We had been trying to get her to go to sunday school and relief society for like 6 months and just sharing the WHY had a way bigger effect on her then anything else it was cool. She will be getting interviewed for baptism this saturday and things are looking good and she is looking ready and her husband said she could get baptised. Her husband always sits in with the lessons but doesn't participate. Hopefully he is listening somewhere insided. Sister helen really loves here husband and want him to join her at church and eventually in the temple. It should also be an intrestying baptism because she had a stroke back in the day and is kind of weak. She also cant go in cold water or its supposed to be all painful so we are going to have to boil a bunch of water when she is baptized.

Well I got a million more things I want to tell you about but there is not time. I guess at the end I just want to say I know this work is true and that the Lord directs it. I know that he loves us and knows us and knows what we are going though and is happy with every single sacrifice we make for our family or for the church or for the kingdom. I love you tons!

Love you!!!!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Week 90: Baptism and persistence

Elders with the Gabaldon family

 Wow whatta week!

So we had a great week and on this coming Wednesday we will have a training with Elder Teh of the Seventy/area presidency, then that evening he will being doing a fireside in the Rojas chapel so we are trying to get all our investigators excited about because it should be awesome. Elder Teh is also planning on doing lots of interviews and also visiting a bunch of missionary apartments so the mission is on red alert to clean up and play straight this week haha.

And just earlier when we opened our email we got a big surprise that in august that Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Bishop Dean M. Davies of the Presiding Bishopric and Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Seventy and Area Presidency will be visiting and doing special training with us in august. President said and hey you thought you were an isolated mission. I was pretty surprised about that so that's awesome.

So about the Gabaldon family, I haven't really been talking about them lately because I was super sad as they had only come to church a few times since they were baptized and have been super busy so we could never teach them anymore but this week we had a huge success with them and it has answered months of fasting and prayer. So this is what happened.

After their baptism they just got way super busy with work and they another house in mallig so we had the mallig elders go and teach them a few times but mostly they were just way busy. In the period of the last couple months they've only been to church a few times. So we kept trying to set times to teach them and they were busy and wouldn't really give us a time and some of the other times we set and they just forget or weren't there and just overall being kind of flaky. So I was really way bummed about them and was like thinking if we should've postponed their baptism back in the day or if there was something else we should have done but these last few months we have just been persistent in going by there house when we had extra time and saying hi and looking for time when we could teach them.  Finally this last week we were able to find them at their shop and we were able to share with them and then we set a FHE with them this last Monday and it was great. We talked about faith in Alma 32 and we planted really mustard seeds of faith:).

Then we were able to teach them again on Friday about Eternal Families. They were really repentant and sorry about not continuing to be active in the church right after they were baptized and they said that the Eternal Families is what really helped them to be interested in the church at the beginning and then they promised us and Heavenly Father in their prayer to change and to go to church, read their scriptures and pray as a family more diligently. Then this Sunday they came to church and came early! They had a great time in gospel principle and Father had a great time in priesthood. They were also interviewed by President Munoz for the Priesthood and Satay promised president to change and that he would diligently be at church from here on out.
I have really just been just depressed the past few months about the Gabaldon family and have been thinking maybe we should of postponed the baptism or maybe their was something different we could have done but its been a huge testimony builder to see months of praying and fasting answered. They are such a great family and I want so bad for them to be an eternal family. I cant describe how happy I am this week with the progress they've made.

We also had a baptism this week. Mark Deiter is really good kid. We have been teaching him the past couple weeks and  Mark Deiter has quit selling ice cream on Sunday, been reading diligently and going to church and was baptized this last Saturday by his cousin Dominic. It was a cool baptism . Another cool note, his uncle who is less active and is his employer with the ice cream and all followed Mark Deiter's example yesterday and didn't sell ice cream either and went to church with his family. It was cool.

Also one of the coolest things that happened to us this week was that we have this investigator, Karen(about 22) that is a friend of Sister Fema Tan and we have been teaching here for a while now. At first she was being taught with Fema and she got a really cool answer to here prayer but then she went to Manila for like a month and then we found out she was back so we started teaching her again. She has been doing way awesome and has been coming to church and keeping all the commitments and this last Sunday she didn't come to church and she texted one of the members and said her dad forbade her to become aMormon and for us to not visit anymore. So since it was texted to a member we decided to go visit it her and have her tell us what was going on. Anyway we got there and she told us that she really wants to be baptized but her dad forbade her. So after talking to her for a while we felt prompted to challenge her to get on her knees pray and then go and tell her dad what was in her heart. Over those few days we prayed fervently for her dad's heart to be softened and for the spirit to be with her as she did this. And it was awesome because on Sunday she came to church said she did what we challenged her to do and that her dad said that if that's what she wants to do that it is all right! At the end though she said that she got a job in Sta. Rosa, Laguna (like 12 hours away which also happens to be the hometown of Elders Valdez and Fantony) and is going to start Tuesday and won't be back for 2 months (UUGH!!!) She said she will go to church in Laguna and that she will find the missionaries when she gets there. She also isn't sure exactly where she is going so we can't send the missionaries after her. I really do think she has the desire and the testimony to go to church there and find the missionaries. I just wish she was staying here because it was such a huge breakthrough!

By the way Sister Fema Tan is doing awesome, she is teaching seminary and is thinking about applying for a mission or to BYU Hawaii. Cool.

We ate at the district president's house last night. It's pretty funny, they are both RMs and their kids are named Mohonri, Moriancumer  and Jared... Do you get it?

Also very cool this week we were coming back to Rojas from an area a few miles out of the town and oddly there were no rides back for a good ten minutes(there are usually rides back within a minute or so) Then a car came down the road with 2 old Americans in it haha. It was a Couple! Elder and Sister Gottfriedson (spelling -- they are pretty new, last weds is the first time I've really talked to them) were headed to Rojas to help sister Fema with BYU Hawaii application so we were able to show them the way and after they did their business with sister fema they shared really great testimonies with Fema and her sister in law(our investigator as well) about the great blessing of forever families. (by the way Elder Gotfiedson is a former Mission President and was serving as patriarch when he was called on a mission) This whole week it seems like what our investigators and less active families that we are teaching have just needed to hear about eternal families.

So if there is one thing I learned this week is what a great blessing it is to be sealed as a family. Thanks mom and dad for living the gospel and being married in the temple. I know that families can be together forever. I love you all tons. My love for each of you has especially grown as I have been away from you and I am so grateful to be in such an awesome family.

I love you tons. Have a great week and good luck with the house!


Mark Dieter (right one in white) was baptized last week by his cousin Dominic.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Week 89: P-day football and cotton volleyball

Roxas Zone Leaders Elder Delector and Elder Griffin
Dearest Family,

Wow what a great week. Hope you had a great 4th of July and Go America!

So it's been a quick week.  First of all, my new comp is a stud.  Elder Delector is 27 by the way. He is a convert to the church and before his mission had been an elementary school teacher (he is already finished college). He is such a nice guy -- very obedient and hard working. We had a great week here in Roxas. One thing I've learned from my mission is that whether you use time wisely or poorly and whether you have an attitude to be happy or sad, the time still flies by at an unbelievable rate. So it's a lot better to use time wisely and be happy no matter what your situation is because it goes by so fast. 

For about 4 months or so we have been teaching Mark Deiter, 15-years-old, that lives with a member family here in Roxas. At first he was having a hard time getting what we were teaching (he has a hard time with Tagalog, he is Ibanug), but has been doing great and we really feel he is prepared now for baptism. He is the one I told you about selling ice cream on Sunday thing. If things go right this week he will be baptized by his cousin (a priest) this Saturday. 

Also, the couple that got married like a month ago is doing really well. Brother Mobydick has been like 2 and half weeks without drinking and has been doing great. I really have come to have a great friendship with their family and also with other families as well. Eternal Friendships. Anyway if he can keep it up he will be baptized on Aug 4th. 

This week as well we had a meeting in Cauayan on the 4th of July. To be honest, I totally forgot it was the 4th of July until lunch when Elder Valdez (my companion last Christmas) said "Hey, isn't America's birthday right now?" I was like, holy cow it is! Luckily the Carlos had our back and made awesome Sloppy Joes to make the 4th of July complete. By the way, Elder Wooden become Zone Leader this last cycle and Elder Valdez has been a ZL for a couple months now. They are studs.

Earlier today we went to Ilagan and played football and had Macdos. It was awesome of course. We got to see and play ball with a lot our buddies in the mish and even though it was super hot, we got to play some awesome pigskin action. Then we topped it off with Macdonalds and shopping at the huge Savemore in Ilagan. One of the best P-days ever. 

So this week we had some fantastic lessons and new commitments with some of the investigators that are interested, but have not gone to church yet and 3 investigators promised they would go to church. On Sunday we were just so convinced that this was the week they would take the big step, but we were just crushed waiting at the church and they never came. Its a weird feeling, like we just want them to find true happiness because we love them. Sometimes I get frustrated with some people we teach and as A.J. Griffin I want to just say let's not go to them anymore or drop them, they dont deserve any more chances. But then I think about the Savior and what he would do. The Savior would never give up on them, the Savior would always give them another chance. The Savior would love them. 

I am so grateful and humbled to wear the Savior's name and share the Savior's great news to the world. I have so many weaknesses and I am so lacking for the job. It's amazing and a miracle to imagine that the Lord calls upon the weak and unlearned to do his work.

I know the prophet Joseph Smith really received an answer to his prayer and I know that God does answer prayers. I know that the Savior did do the atonement because he loves us so much. I know that the atonement fixes everything that is unfair in life. I know that the Lord is a lord of forgiveness and mercy and how humbled I am to share that with the people here in the Cauayan Mission.

Love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
These next few pix are from Elder and Sister Shaner's website. The above photo
is Sis. Shaner and a new member of their branch.

Working the rice fields.
Elder Griffin and Elder Shaner go head-to-head in cotton ball volleyball
at zone conference.
Rumor has it Elder Shaner won the match despite AJ's best efforts.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Week 88: Wildfires and Katie's duck friend

AJ's sister, Katie, and a friend.
 Email exchange between AJ and his dad Sunday night:

Evacuations in Colorado Springs.

AJ: Hey pops, u awake still?
DAD: Hey man, I just sent you some stuff a few minutes ago. You get it?
AJ: Yeah of the house? By they way I got a "trunky letter" this last Tuesday. I leave the mission on October 31st. I also got a new comp and I am still here in Roxas.
DAD: Wow, the trunky letter!!! Focus Elder!! hahaha

New comp eh? Another Filipino? Who and where from? Are you disappointed ur not moving?
AJ: A new Philippino comp. He is from Bucolod City, down south on some island. He is a stud and super nice guy, hard-working, too. He is pretty tall (for a Philippino) -- he is like 5-8 and yeah he is cool. I am fine, we have lots of cool investigators here in Roxas so I'm good staying here still. Thats a pretty crazy fire in New Harmony.
DAD: Yeah, that fire was psycho. Only feet from my Mom and Dad's house. The whole state was practically on fire cause it's so dry. Herriman (up by SLC) Oak City (by Delta), Midway (by Manti) all had evacuations and had homes burn and stuff. Biggest fire is in Colorado. Practically the whole city of Colorado Springs went up. I think I have a pic of their evacuations ...
AJ: By the way, is there anything we all need to do if I were to go to BYU in winter? The other missionaries say we are supposed to get on it early. I am still not sure, but just to see if it's a possibility
DAD: I will have Mom check into it. I might be able to get you a job working for my cousins at BYU if you want.
AJ: Yeah see what you can do. That sounds good. By the way what is the name of the St. George Airport? Is is just that or something else. I will see if I can fly right into St Geezy in November.
DAD: Yeah, I think there is a connection flight through L.A. so you should be able to. Officially it is St. George Municipal. The airport code is SGU. Mon thru Fri. it has a flight arrive from LAX at 7:20 p.m.

AJ: I think I will be leaving Cauyan on like a Wednesday and then leave Manila early Thursday morning philippines time then I get a day back or something so we might make it. I am not sure.
DAD: There is only one flight from LA each day. There are like eight from SLC every day.
AJ: Someone was telling me there is like direct flights from Manila or Hong Kong to SLC but I don't know. I guess it doesn't really matter though. They'll figure it out.
DAD: Yeah, Delta does a direct from Honk Kong (Paris too). Talk about a long flight! But then you would just be an hour from home. Or we could meet you in SLC.
AJ: I'll see if they can do STG but SLC is just fine too.
DAD: Friday might be bad during football season ... but we'll make it work.
AJ: So I guess down in Nueva Viscaya, some missionaries were involved in a serious accident earlier this week.

From President Carlos:
“Miracles come to our mission in various ways. To many missionaries, miracles come when they find an investigator who is ready to be taught. To others the miracle happens when an investigator starts keeping commitments and has a change of heart. On Tuesday June 26, another type of miracle came to our mission.

Elder Romano Valdez was doing a companion exchange with Elder Tadena. A fellowshipper was working with them. The three of them walking abreast on the busy road. Elder Valdez suddenly felt impressed to step behind Elder Tadena and move over closer to the side of the road. Just as he stepped over he felt something whiz past him and ruffle his pant leg. He looked up to see a motorcycle speeding ahead and plow right into Elder Tadena and the fellowshipper. The motorcyclist continued on down the road, hitting two students before flipping over the cycle. In the end the two students, the driver of the motorcycle and his passenger were all killed in the accident.”

Elder Tadena was bruised from head to toe, had a severe broken leg which required surgery but is expected to eventually fully recover. The fellowshipper received lacerations and a broken collarbone. Elder Valdez was unhurt. Yes, on Tuesday our mission experienced the miracle of protection. Praise the Lord for watching out for his missionaries!

Colorado Springs fire.
AJ: I guess this Elder Tadena was in pretty bad shape and almost lost his leg, but they said he will be able to walk again. I think they will be sending him to Manila this week. I don't really know him, but I know Elder Valdez. Pretty crazy though. They said the dude on the motorcycle was drunk.
DAD: Wow, lots of miracles this week. Here are a couple more Colorado Springs pix. Very sad and scary.
AJ: Did people die in Colorado Springs? Did it literally take out that city?
DAD: A couple of people died, but most got evacuated before the fire hit homes. Nearly 400 homes were destroyed. This last pic shows it. It's been 72 days since we had any measurable rain here. AJ: Wow, that looks like something out the movies.
By the way Balaich wrote me a letter he said the only time he gets to use Tagalog is on Facebook and he is at the Y.
DAD: Oh, that's too bad. Well I know we have three or four RMs in the ward that went Philippines, but don't know where. Bro. Miller knows Tagalog.
AJ: I am still shocked all the time at how many stinking languages there are in the Philippines. In our little town there is Tagalog, Ilakano and Ibanang and others as well. My comp speaks Cebuano, Illongo, Tagalog. And there are tons of tribes and if you go 30 mins down the road you can find even more different dialects. And it's like that all the way through the Philippines.
Anyway gotta run love you!!!!!!!!

Dear Family,

Wow so what a week. First of all, on Tuesday I got the infamous "trunky letter" and am now considered to be "Pauwi na" or "on the way home" (people have already been doggin me for like 6 months that my mission is almost over).

Second of all, we had transfers on Thursday and Elder Velez was transferred and I am staying here in Roxas for at least another cycle (I am now 6 months in Roxas) and my new companion is Elder Delector from Bacolod City in southernish Philippines. He is 13 months or so in the mission and was the ZL is Bambang (we used to go to district meeting there when I was assigned in Aritao). He is a stud. Super hard working, kind and obedient. He is awesome. It is cool to be with someone fairly young in the mission as well.

Anyway, work has been great and we have awesome investigators here in Roxas. One young man named Mark Deiter, 15, that we have been teaching will be getting interviewed this weekend and baptized on 14th. He lives with a member family and this last Sunday was really cool. Last week we taught him about the Sabbath and keeping it holy and then Sunday at church I was talking to him and asked him what time we could go and teach him later that day and he said that he probably couldn't listen until late because his uncle (member, but inactive) was going to make him sell ice cream after church. So I asked him if he could try to get out of working and he said he would probably get scolded for it. But I said he should try and I thought he was going to be too shy to do it. But when we went to his house later that day he was just chillin at and I asked him why he wasn't selling ice cream and he said that he told his uncle that he doesn't want to work on Sundays anymore. I was so proud of him!

Well I got a bunch more to tell you, but we gotta get going. Love you tons!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love y'all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Griffin property in New Harmony.