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Monday, September 24, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Thursday, September 20, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Week 98: Alma preaching by the waters of Mormon

Dear Family,

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

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

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

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

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

Love you tons! Have a great week!!!


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

Dear Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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