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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!

Week 95: Following Promptings Blesses Lives of Others

We had a family home evening at the gabaldon family last monday.
Dear Family,

Wow this was one of the quickest and coolest weeks of my mission. We have seen the Lord's hand in our work this week and we felt that we have truly been on the Lord's errand. We have seen some great things with our investigators and we have met some great new investigators. Elder Mclaughlin is awesome and we have been working hard.

So one of the most like definite promptings we received this week happened on friday night. We had just finished our last appointment and it was a little after 8. The whole night I had this family in my mind that was a family a little bit less active that I just felt like we really really needed to visit. So we decided to go visit them on the way home. We got there and the mother was the only one home. We talked to her for a minute and everything seemed pretty normal and her husband wasn't home so we left after a minute. So I little confused as to why I felt that we needed to visit her and we started to go home and we remembered another family that was right close to there that was less active. We went by and we invited in. We talked to the brother and soon found out that his wife had been sick for over a week and was not feeling well at all and we were able to give her a priesthood blessing and Elder Mclaughlin was voice for the blessing and did a great job. It just reminded me of what Pres. Monson said about receiving a prompting and the great feeling of following it and seeing  it bless the lives of others.

Another amazing experience we had was a family we found. This last week we have been looking for stuff to do productively instead of just tracting so we have been looking for recent converts that we dont know and less actives as well as former investigators that have potential so we were looking for some former investigators on friday afternoon and we asked people where a certain name was and ended up going down an alley. We met a group of people and asked them about the person and they told us where their house was and then asked if we had any more names and asked if their name was in there. It wasnt but they said they have been taught before and then We asked them if they want to listen to the missionaries again and they expressed that they did. Then one of the ladies there lead us to her house that was in a little ways and Wow there whole family was just there waiting for us!! The dad was really cool as well and said he doesnt have any vices either like beer or smoking or gambling or things like unto it.... Anyway we are excited for that family we shared about the Book of Mormon and gave them a Book of Mormon and the spirit was very strong in that lesson.

By the way our Elder Quorum President is this guy from Pennsylvania that lives like a few block from us. He served a mission in Chile back in the day and married a philipina lady here. Anyways he worked with us this week and took us to this place that has ridiculously huge hamburgers.(next time I get a burger there again I'll take a picture) and he is pretty cool. He actually knows quite a bit of tagalog. Speaking of white people we have an investigator that also lives just a few blocks a way from us(strangly enough both our elder quorum president and this Canadian guy live in apartments about as nice or a little bit nice than our missionary apartments, I was surprised because I would of though they would have really nice houses and all. ) anyway Elder Valdez and Williamson talked to this guy in the market, he is a 71 year old Canadian dude(his wife is also a philipina) he has jewish blood in him and is a jew but he believes in the bible and new testament including about Jesus Christ being a God and our Savior and everything(I thought jews dont believe that Jesus has come yet??) anyway he said he wants to listen and so his house is in our area and we went to to him and he invited us in and he asked if we were jews, I said no and he said "yeah you are! isnt that lehi guy from Jerusalem??" So yeah he said back in the day he read a bit of the Book of Mormon and is interested in it.. Anyway so we taught him about the apostacy and he said that it totally true and we taught him the Joesph Smith story and he said it was also true and that he had seen Jesus as well!! So his story went something like this. When he was in his 20's he wanted to know if the bible was true and he wanted to get forgiven of his sins. So he kept praying but he said he didnt pray sincerely and it was repetitive prayers. He said one day he came home from swim team practice and was really tired and alone. He said he opened the door and that Jesus was standing there in his room. Then he said that Jesus said to him if you don't mean it dont pray at all. And he said he felt really super scared and bad and he got on his knees and begged forgiveness and when he opened his eyes that Jesus was gone. So anyway that was his story. After we shared our testimonies about how Joesph Smith restored the gospel and how we came to know it was true. We challenged him to read the Book of Mormon and to pray and ask if it was a true book. It was a very interesting experience. Anyway we go back to him on Friday so I hope and pray has been reading the Book of Mormon.

So we are teaching a really cool family. The Paz Family is a part member family, they were baptized by Elder Reiner and those guys back in the day(I was probably in ramon about that time so we were in the same district) anyway the Parents and some of their kids are already baptized and we are teaching one of their kids named Perry and his wife Emily. They got married a few months ago and should have been baptized like a few weeks ago but Sister Emily got a job on Sunday so their baptism is kind of on hold for now. They are really cool though and yesterday they were able to come to church but than had to go to work after so its an improvement but thier not quite there yet. They are really awesome. I am really impressed with Perry he totally gets the gospel and lives it. Last night his wife came in and she had C2 bottle(its like this iced tea little kid juice stuff that members apparently dont know is against the WOW because they give it to their kids all the time) And he was like "HEY THATS C2 Why do you have C2 thats not allowed!!!" And she said oh it just has water in it.(I dont how she had the bottle in the first place but whatever ) I was impressed with him though it was great. He is a really good guy. If they can step up and take care of the little problem with working on sunday they will be great members.

So I know this work is so true and One thing I've learned that as we do the right thing and are in the right place at the time(like being on task and doing your best to be diligent) the Lord uses us to bless the lives of those around us and its so amazing to be a part of it. I know more than ever that the church is true and that gospel will always bring happiness and eternal life. I love you tons and I am so thankful for all you do and all you are. Hope you have a great week and good luck with all the deadlines and moving in and stuff!!!



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Week 94: AJ says goodbye to his beloved Roxas

Pizza at Greenwich with the Shaners

Dear Family,

So first of all, I've been transferred to what will probably be my last area. I have been assigned here in Santiago 3rd ward and we live here in the city itself. My companion is Elder Mclaughlin from Alpine, Utah. He has been in the mission for 3 months and his trainer just got transferred. We also share an apartment with the ZL's here in Santiago. The ZL's here are Elder Valdez (my companion in Alicia, the one you talked to on Skype last Christmas, btw I am stoked about that he is my homie) and Elder Williamson. It's pretty cool. We are like a 15 min walk or 2 min tryke ride away from Macdonalds. Our area is cool. Our whole area is kind of the outskirts of Santiago and most of our investigators and stuff are kinda far away. We have a couple really cool investigators and things are looking good. 

So next I wanted to talk about Roxas a little bit. We saw so many miracles and I truly feel like Ammon in that I never imagined what great things could happen and what the Lord had in store for my companions and I in Roxas. I've truly made friendships there that will be eternal there. I still am amazed about how many wonderful miracles I saw there. I've seen lives changed and my life has been changed during the last 7 and a half months in Roxas.

A really sweet moment happened as we were teaching the Torres family on Tuesday. So we found them tracting and their whole family has a baptismal date on September 22 in Roxas. The mother said that some people had told her she was just joining the church because it is a rich church or that they might get help from the church but she said that she bore her testimony that the church was really true and that she knew it and that she was joining the church because she knew it was the way to follow Jesus Christ. It was a great testimony that warmed our hearts. 

So I do know that it is true, the Lord directs this work. I've learned things from every companion and every area I've had and I've met people that I needed to meet in every area. I know that the callings president makes are inspired of God. I also said goodbyes on Tuesday and Wednesday to some of those amazing people like the Antiolyn family (the ones that got married), the Tan Family (Fema and her family) The Torres, President Munoz (branch president, class act), Sister Helen and Brother Mark Dieter.

On Wednesday there was a farewell fireside and afterward the Shaners took us for pizza at Greenwich. It was very good and the first time I've had pizza in like 10 months. I will miss the Shaners. I at least get to see them at meetings and stuff, but the Shaners are awesome. 

So it's been a good few days with Elder Mclaughlin. He is a good Elder and we have some great people to teach. We have been working hard and we have already had some great success. We had a cool experience as we felt prompted to stop at a house we passed and we were let in the door. Two young men (brothers) in their 20's invited us in and gave us chairs. As we talked to them, what Elder Holland said about listening is really true. As we got them to open up, we found out that their sister had died when she was 18 and we asked them if they knew where she was. We felt inspired to share with them in Alma 40 and about the resurrection and the glorious news of celestial kingdom and eternal families. I also realized this week that we really aren't perfect in the language and teaching and also that that is really important. The Lord just wants our hearts. So as we shared our heartfelt testimonies with those two young men, we felt they were really comforted and for the first time in their lives they knew where their sister is. The gospel is so true and I feel so humbled to share this with the people. It's one of the sweetest feelings ever when you can see someone understand a part of the gospel for the very first time.

Well I  can't think of much else to say right now but I Iove you tons and good luck moving in the new house. Hope you have a good week!



Elder Griffin and his new companion, Elder Mclaughlin

Monday, August 6, 2012

Week 93: Meeting the 'Golden' family

Elder Griffin and his companion "crashed" a Relief Society luncheon.

Dear Family,

Wow, we have seen miracles this week. We met a husband and wife last night that are among the elect Wow! It was a really hard, but such a rewarding week. Last night was one of the greatest days of my mission. Here is what happened:

Friday we were visiting a less active family and they had a friend over, a nice lady in her mid 30's named Nanita. Elder Delector OYM'ed her and we taught the family with her there as well, about eternal families and the temple. She was very receptive and invited us over to teach her and her husband on Sunday. So last night our last appointment of the day we went to their house and the less active couple came with us. They are so amazing. We asked them if they had met missionaries and what they expected from us. Sister Anita said that she had never met missionaries but had always seen them walking by cheerfully in hot weather and rainy weather and she said that we are matapat (faithful, true) to who we are and that that is what interests her. Her husband said that his cousins are members and that they are super nice and he wants to know about it. They also said that they feel like they have been prompted to listen to us and that why else would God send us to their house. Last night we felt like we met a couple that fits the D&C 123 "… and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it."

We felt inspired to share about the Book of Mormon and I've never seen the Book of Mormon received so sincerely and excitedly. We read together Moroni 10:3-5 and they so sincerely want to know the truth. They have been in Roxas for not quite a year and already have a ton of friends that are good members and they invited us back next Sunday (she already told us that Sunday is for the Lord and that they don't work and that Sunday is family day – Cool!!!). They also shared how they felt at the end and what they described was that they felt the spirit! That is the most amazing first visit to an investigator of my entire mission. When we left the house we felt so excited and humbled that the Lord led us to the elect!

It was worth all the sacrifices and all the trials and everything hard just to feel the spirit that was in that humble home and seeing those that are honestly and truly looking for the truth feel the spirit. It was amazing.

This week we also had a baptism! We have been teaching Sister Helen Lopez for about 6 months. It was kind of long as we felt she needed some more time to prepare but these past few weeks we felt she was ready. She had a stroke a few years ago, so we were a little worried about how the baptism was going to go down. She needed at least room temperature water so we had to get a water heater (in the Philippines there is no heated water unless you're really rich). The branch was really helpful and bought some electric water heaters. We had a few problems though. First we hooked them up to an extension cord and learned some stuff about electricity. Apparently the power needed was more than the extension cord could handle. After a few minutes we smelled something funny and the extension cord was melting. After trying to figure out what to do, we were able to talk to our district president who is an electrician and he was able to hook us up and he did some quick electric work and added to the cord. Anyway, by that time it's about 1:30 and the baptism was at 3. At about 3, the water was warming up but Sister wasn't quite comfortable with the water temp. President Carlos also came and he interviewed one of our investigators who has a special case, but passed to be baptized next week as well. After waiting 15 mins or so. we got another bucket of water and nanay felt it and said it was good enough.

So after the program, we got to the baptism. I was elected to do the baptism so she wouldn't have trouble, being half crippled and all. I went first and it wasn't too terribly warm, so I was kind of worried if she was going to be ok. Anyway she got in and later she told us that at first it was kind of cold but then she didn't notice it anymore and the baptism was a success. She kind of had trouble finding her footing after she was baptized, but I was able to just hold her up until she got her feet stable. It's a good thing I am big, hehe. It was a great baptism.

This week we also went to Tabuk (about 1 and half hours away) and worked with the Elders there. It was pretty cool and we had some good experiences as well. We met a guy who was headed in the same direction as us that said he used to be an investigator and that he wanted to hear more. It was pretty cool. I can totally see how God can guide us as the missionaries to where we need to be or he can guide those that need to meet us to the missionaries. Also while in Tabuk all the appointments they had set up fell through and so we just started talking to people and one of the very first houses we went to dropped everything they were doing (laundry, house work) and invited us in. They are apparently from some tribe in Tabuk and aren't very good at Tagalog, so they didn't really understand what we taught them, but they did feel the spirit. The Philippines is truly the modern day Tower of Babel. There are so many different languages here. It still blows my mind all time.

By the way, this week is transfer day and I am not sure what's going to happen but I've been in Roxas for 7 and 1/2 months and might be transferred. I would also love to stay here in Roxas. We have amazing investigators. Whatever happens I'm down. :)

We are also teaching an old lady in her 70's who is a widow named Trinidad. She is very nice and is truly looking for the truth. It was really cool to see her faith. We taught her about the Word of Wisdom and the blessings and then we asked if she used any of those things we talked about. And she said "Not anymore!!" We didn't even have to challenge her and she already said she is done with coffee and tea (she didn't use the other ones).

So, there is this area in Roxas about a ten peso ride away from the city and then about a 30 min walk down a farm road. There are some members there (including a really cool convert that left on his mission about 2 months ago). When we go visit them, we have talked to all the other houses (there are only about 20 or 25 other houses) and one of them is the Torres family (see the pictures). Anyway at first only the dad was there and we came back a few times – finally we went there a few times and the whole family was there and the mom is really really receptive. The mom and the kids have come to church 6 times or so and they really love it. The dad is a really nice guy and is super shy and shy to come to church still, but he is cool as well. The only hard thing is the dad doesn't know how to read, but the mother reads to them. They have a goal date in September, so we are praying that the dad can come to church as well. They are an amazing family and their kids are dang cute.

Man, I have a million more things to share with you, but I am running out of time. I am so grateful to be on a mission and it is the experience of a lifetime. I've never been tested and tried and stretched so ,far but I've never been so happy and blessed and seen so many miracles. I've never loved so much and felt the Savior's love so much. I know the mission is the greatest experience a young man could have and I am so glad I was able to be called on a mission.


For my little brothers, I just want to say this is greatest 2 years and that it's more important than anything else! So live everyday starting now to be worthy and prepared to serve your own missions. I know that you will see miracles in the service of the Lord on your missions and I know that there are eternal friends waiting to hear your testimonies.

Love you tons!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Week 92: Rainy days and Monson quotes

Roxas Zone with the Carloses (seated, left) and the Tehs (seated, center). The Shaners are seated on the right.

Dear Family,

Well this week we had interviews with President, it was kind of a weird interview as it was kind of, "Well, your almost done any last requests. I didnt request anything though....I'm down with whatever the Lord has in mind. Yeah that was basically the jist of the interview. We had a good week of work though we are little sad that people we were hoping on didnt make it to church this week.

One of our successes though is that Sister Helen Lopez, passed her interview this week and will be baptized on the 4th of august. So we have been teaching Sister Helen for 6 months now and she is a great lady. She is in her mid 60's and a few years ago had a stroke that paralyzed half the left side of her body. Every time we teach her, her husband is there but isn't interested yet and doesn't seem to enjoy us being there. When we try to involve him in the lesson he just says that it's alright for his wife but he isn't ready yet. At least he listens and someday the spirit will soften his heart.  Sister Lopez is really excited about being baptized and it should be interesting because she can't go in cold water so we will have to boil a bunch of water or the branch is trying to get some appliance from ilagan that you put in water and it is supposed to make it work. She is kind of a big lady So I have been elected to baptize her to make sure everything goes down without any problems (of course because I am a giant here).
So it's been a rainy week here. The other day coming from our furthest area and getting scorched on the way there with it being so hot, after visiting a recent convert family we had like a 30 min walk back to the highway and about 20 mins of it it rained cats and dogs. I didn't have an umbrella, but my companion did, but he got just as wet as I did. We were soaked. Somedays on the mission I just laugh and I did that day. We were just soaked head to toe in shirt and tie. I don't know why either but I was totally fine with it. I was just like oh well. I am sure in 20 years I'll have really great memories of days like that. The Philippine weather is just so unpredictable. It's funny.

We are teaching a cool family we found in the area book. A few weeks ago we were trying to figure out what to do in those afternoon hours and we found a family that had been taught by the sisters back in the day as well as by E. Daq and I think bayles (both friends of mine in the mission from back in the day) Anyway that day we contacted them and have taught them a few times. The parents aren't married yet but want to get married and we talked about eternal families last night and what they need to do to become an eternal family. Anyway it was a really great lesson and their kids are so cute and they are good people. Anyway I think it's the coolest contact I've made from the former investigators.

I have two random President Monson quotes that are not connected in anyway...but that are equally awesome

"If you ever find yourself in a place you shouldn't be, get out!"
"You cant be doing right by doing wrong, you cant be doing wrong by doing right"

Also Sister Fema's Mom, who we have been teaching for about 6 months and has been going to church all the time with us finally this week stopped going to the iglesia ni cristo and really l seems to have a sincere desire to be baptized. She has goal date on aug 25.

Well I love you so much and I am so thankful to be part of an eternal family. I never realized... REALLY how blessed we are to have this gospel and especially to have great parents that love the Lord. It is so awesome that we can be a family forever. Love you tons!!!