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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week 105: The final letter...Aj's coming home!

Dear Family,

Well this is it. I can't describe my feeling right now and how very grateful to be a part of what has just happened over the last two years. I have been thinking a lot about what really has happened and about all the people my companions and I have come to know. It absolutely amazes me what things have happened and I really feel like Ammon felt for his mission and his converts.  I really could have never comprehended how much could happen as a result of the mission. I love the people and will never forget them. I have seen how what the general authorities have said about mission being a life changing performance, sacred ground and lessons that will be needed for all life.  I've really seen it fulfilled  I also know and have seen with my own eyes that the Prophet and mission president have really placed me in the right place and that I have met the right people. 

So we had a great week of work and last Monday we had an FHE with the Sarzon family and President and Sister Carlos also the AP's. Tatay Sadiri presided and conducted the Home evening (we have been training him to be a super awesome dad and priesthood holder) and he also gave a part of the lesson it was awesome. 

By the way this week he finished all of Alma and is in Helaman by now what a stud. So on Saturday we had a fantastic baptism and I got to dunk tatay Sadiri and also an investigator of the the sisters (we had our baptism combined). President and Sister Carlos also came to the baptism and it was great.

It was a perfect last Saturday of a mission. 

Well I love you tons. This is has truly been the best two years and I'll never be the same. I will never forget the miracles I have seen as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Lots of people say to serve a mission is a sacrifice but it really is a privilege. I am blessed to have been given the chance to serve a mission. President Carlos always teaches us that who we become is a lot more important that what we do or have done. I think it's a miracle that as we have this life changing experience that the Lord blesses us with miracles.  I have so many eternal friends here in the Philippines. It really is true like that song that talks about our finding our friends from pre-earth life. (song: I'll Find you my Friend, by Linda Hartmann)

Love you and SEE YOU ON FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Week 104: Baby Drinking Coke from a Baby Bottle and BYU!!!!

Sister Cathlene being tempted by
 chocolate during FHE lesson
Hey family!
Well the time is far spent! I am really stoked to hear about BYU and I am excited for this last week. Gonna leave it all on the field! So we had another awesome week so let me tell you about it! 

So Brother Sadiri Salarsen past his interview this week and, by the way, we found out this week he is already in Alma in his reading from the start. This past week one of the things we shared about was tithing. I really think tithing is one of my favorite things to teach about, especially in the Philippines, where people are so poor. I really, really believe in the law of tithing. It's so amazing to be able to tell people about the blessing the Lord will pour out if they will live this law. I also feel this is a lesson where I especially feel the spirit. I am very thankful to you mom and dad for teaching me the law of tithing from a young age. 

So with the Salarsen family, brother Sadiri and a few of his grandchildren are the only ones who come to church so far. His wife either has a concern or isn't quite ready but she always listens with the family and is really nice. So anyway we had stake conference yesterday (which had some great speakers including the Carlos couple).  The president, in his talk, talked about some families in the past that had the husband or wife ready to be baptized but their spouse not quite ready.  What happened was that the President talked to them and they were able to help them be baptized as a family. After conference I took brother Sadiri to meet the President and I also told the President about their situation and he said alright I'll come work with you what tomorrow.  I told him we actually had FHE at their house scheduled and he said that would be great -- so its gonna be great. Sister Carlos said she is making cupcakes.  I am way excited. 

Also super funny, we were walking to the palengke (the market) earlier today and there was a mom holding a baby about a year old or so and the baby was drinking a coke in a glass bottle like a baby bottle. Only in the Philippines, ha-ha.

We are teaching this family with the last name, Go. So they have been really interested and read everything we give them and accept almost everything we have been teaching them. The last time or two they told us about their church (some kind of born again) and that they want to be baptized here but they they are gonna tell their pastor and ask if it's alright if they can get baptized. Anyway we didn't really know what to tell him because of course the pastor isn't going to say that's ok. I felt inspired to share the story of Abinidi and we just read Mos. chapter 17. It seemed to be the perfect thing to share with them and we just talked about doing the right thing because its true even in spite of opposition and we talked about how Abindi gave his life because he refused to deny his testimony. 

We met a couple of members this week that have been inactive and have joined another particular church that is known for not having very polite members. Both of the guys were kind of saying yeah, where ever you go to church is the same and we'll all be saved.  The second we met this guy my first instinct was getting irritated that someone could have made the decision to be member and than have this attitude. I wanted to get mad or condemn him or something but for some reason I didn't. A new idea popped into my head and what ended up happening was that he invited us to come and teach him and his wife. He seemed genuinely interested in listening to missionaries again. (He is in another area so I grabbed his address and name and availability and gave his info to the other missionaries) but after getting off the tryce (all this happened on a tryce) I really felt like I learned a  lesson about the atonement and about how the spirit works. 

So I have a million more things I want to tell you about but we gotta be heading out soon. We have a a really awesome investigator that came to church for the second time this week named Jason (I sent a pic last week at church).  We gave him a date this week and he has all kinds of questions about serving a mission.  He really wants to go on a mission.  He is super golden. 

Speaking of which President shared with us that in the last 2 weeks since conference the missionary department has received 8000 applications for missionaries (they usually only get 500-800 in the same period). So the Lord is really hastening his work and needs everyone to help gather his sheep. That's gonna help the missions out a ton and open lots of areas and really help the work move even faster. 

I love you tons and we literally see miracles every week. We are gonna have a great week this week and I love you tons!!!


FHE at Salarsen's home

Monday, October 15, 2012

Week 103: Zone Conference, General Conference and more miracles

Tatay Sadri Salarsen and his 3 grandchildren (from left to right Majorie, Princess and Diane) at general conference. Tatay Sadri will be baptized on October 27.
 His grandchildren and wife and the girls parents have a goal date on the 24th of November.

Dear family,

Wow what a great week. We had zone conferences and general conference and it was a really quick week. So I am really grateful to be serving as a missionary. I really know that this work is true and we see miracles everyday. 

So one of the coolest things that happened to us was this, we were going to a LA (less active) family and on the way saw a young father and mother and their two little kids. We felt inspired to talk to them but we went to the LA first and they weren't home so we went right back to that family. We started talking to him and it turned out to be a tryce driver that had given me and Elder Mclauglhin a ride my first week in this area. We were going really far and hadn't negotiated the price before so I thought we were gonna get charged a ton. We asked him how much when we got there and he only charged us the minimum. We were shocked because everyone always tries to rip us off especially when it's 2 Americans.  So being inspired or because he was just so nice we gave him a Book of Mormon but weren't able to get his address or anything. 

When we met him again this week he invited us in and we were able to share with him. I guess he has read a bit of the Book of Mormon and is interested but his sister that lives in their house has been reading all the time in the Book of Mormon she took with her that day when we visited. (We didn't meet her yet but will be going later tonight). They are really humble family. His wive's business of selling stuff actually all got burned last week (all at a loss, there is no fire insurance at least not for small business here in the Philippines) (A big departments store and like half the Santiago palengke caught fire and burned destroying everything like 2 weeks ago). We are excited for them and we go back later today.

So I think I mentioned Brother Harry a few ago. I guess he talked to parents and his parents don't want him to become a Mormon but he can still be taught and go to church for the time being. His cousin and grandpa have been listening as well. His cousin is like 17 and she is in college. We taught them the Law of Chasity last week and this week she told us that she had a debate class thingy at school about whether unmarried couples should have sex. She told us that she went against it and explained what we had shared to her and used the Law of Chasity pamphlet as a source and that she also won the debate. I thought that was pretty cool. The weird things is she hasn't really been reading assignments and has yet to come to church but it sounds like she is more bold than most members about that.

So Jason (see the pics) came to general conference this week. We actually went to him on Saturday but he was gone but his mom said he had bought a polo and had it all ready for Sunday. So far we have only taught him that first time but we were able to share the story of the Prophet Joesph Smith and It was really powerful discussion. He seemed to enjoy conference on Sunday and he actually knows quite a few people at church and was sitting with friends. His mother seemed very nice too and said she would listen next time we come. 

So the Salarsen family is doing very well. Tatay has come to church 5 times now and is really excited to be baptized. He is being interviewed on Saturday and will probably be the last baptism of my mission. His wife always listens and promised to go to church before I go home but doesn't seem quite as ready. She did however accept a goal date on Nov 24. The 3 girls you saw in the picture have goal dates on the 24th as well as their parents. (They all accepted but the girls and tatay are the only ones to come to church so far)

I can't remember if I told you how we found Tatay Salarsen but maybe I'll tell it again because I don't think we have yet. 

AJ broke Elder Valdez -- He doesn't eat rice anymore.
He packed a giant ham and egg sandwich for general conference.
So E. Mclauglhin and I had got kicked from our appointments and were just walking trying to figure out where to go and we saw a Tatay chillin' in a hammock.  So I said, hey, lets try him. We talked to him and he invited us to sit down and to share with him. We were just talking to him and asking about his family and he told us that one of his children had died.  We asked what happened. He said that when one of his daughters was 7 she was coming home from school and got hit by a car and was killed. 

I had just listened to the Holland talk about how we need to listen and teach to others' needs. He told a story about how a widow in the 50's got tracted by missionaries. What happened was she slammed the door in their face and but the Elders didn't give up, and knocked again. She said, "you're ministers right?" 

The elders said yes and she said that's enough get lost.  The elders got a foot in the door and said we are just innocent young men we have message.  Why don't you like ministers? 

She then told a story about how her child died at a young age.  She went to a minister of a church and the minister told her that her baby was in hell and she was going to hell too because she didn't have her baby baptized.  The Elders than asked her if she wanted to know where her child was.
She said more than anything she wanted to know. The Elders then opened up to Moroni 8 and were able to share their testimony and win her heart over.  The lady said that was the first she had ever felt the spirit. 

Then years later in the Czech Republic she was a legend because her and sister kept the church alive in Croatia, keeping their tithing in glass jars for decades during the world war II.

Elder Holland said it all started because of a missionary that had the sense to know what was in Moroni 8 and he also said it might not be Moroni 8 --  any given day or investiagtor --  but that if we are obiedient, giving our all and being worthy of the spirit we are entiteled to know what that investigator needs. 

So returning to Tatay Sadri,  I had listened to that talk like just a few days later and it really was Moroni 8. So we asked him if he wanted to know where she was and then read the words of Mormon in the 8th chapter on Moroni. Tatay shared with us afterwords the peace and joy he felt because he knew where his child was. So that's where it has started and he has been amazing ever since. You'll have to listen to that talk by Holland when I get home.  It's on my SD card

I am so grateful for everything that has happened. I am near the end of what has been a faith building, life changing experience and we see miracles everyday. I know that the Lord works though small and simple things and also through the weak and unlearned people. I am excited to be coming home soon but I will definitely miss the wonderful people here and a part of me will be missing as I have really come to love being a missionary and using all my time to invite others to come unto the savior. I love the savior and have come to know him more in these last 23 months. I will never be the same and I will never forget the people I have met here especially those that changed everything to forsake their old lives and follow the savior.

Nanay Ester, on the left -- She is 73 and a widow and is really golden.
She came to general conference as well and this was her 2nd week at church
I love you tons!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Week 102: We all have eternal potential

Dear Family,

We had a really good week and a lot of success. This week a family we have been teaching came to church for the first time and also a 70+ year old lady came to church for the first time. We found both of them tracting and we have so many great investigators right now. I really love the people and they all have such great potential. I realized that if you are obedient and prepare yourself in those important hours in the morning, when you go out to work you can expect miracles and even if your plan doesn't go though if you apply yourself you can find what the lord really had in store for you to do as a full time missionary. And I also realized that the lord really has miracles in store for all times of the day even in times that it is hard to fine people to teach and that we are definitely not alone as we push through those times when its discouraging, being rejected, hot, rainy, tiring etc. 

So whenever president is told about how there are mean people or people don't want to accept the truth he was says they are ALL good people and it really is true. Even if there are people that don't accept the message we can look at the big picture and they all have eternal potential, they all have time sometime in the future when they might accept the gospel. 
Family night with the Deguzman family

So Brother Sadri, the tatay that has been doing awesome is doing really great. He has a date one 27 and is really ready. I really love his attitude he is like Nephi where there is will there is a way. Its funny he always scolds his children and grandchildren when we ask if they read and they haven't yet and about church and stuff. He is like hey you promised to go to church by didn't you keep your promise? And then if they have an excuse then he is always like get ur done: there is a way if you want to. He is great.

We also found a really great investigator. On like Wednesday morning we had a plan and like a back up plan and triple back up plan and they all fell through and we after that we tried one more house of someone we had talked to before and they weren't there but their neighbor we met who is an 18 year old kid named Jason and we were able to share to him. He really seems golden and everything kind of clicked with him. He wanted to go to church this week but had a college field trip in Baguio city but promised he would come next week. So next week as well is conference. You can put your money on the prophet.

So we met this really humble and receptive tatay this week and when we first talked to him he told us about how one if his children died while still a baby and we were able to share Moroni 8 and tell him where his baby was he afterward described feeling that is the spirit and said they he was really happy to know that truth of where is child. We went back once and he is doing great. 

We have a bunch of really great families that we have been teaching. One is the Garcia family. So the dad sells peanuts around the town and the wife cooks them and they have a bunch of other side jobs as well. So the last few time we went there is seems like they have been kind of losing interest and I think on Wednesday they were cooking peanuts and said to just come back another day so we were kind of losing hope but on Saturday we were able to share again and it was really great lesson and then they said they would try to come to church(like 95 percent of the time try here means no) so we were super surprised to see them at church. In gospel principles the lesson was eternal families so i think they had a good experience. 

Also This old lady i think 74? that we met tracting maybe a month ago came to church for the first time yesterday. So this lady is named Ester and the first few times we came by she has been really interested. Everything we left her she has been reading and she would tell us everything about the pamphlet and was really awesome. The last few weeks whenever we went by she hasn't been there and then yesterday she came to church early and by herself so I think she has been reading the Book of Mormon. 

So I know this work is true and it is really the Lords work. We see miracles everyday and this has definitely been the happiest time of my life. I am really excited to hear about the mission age and I am excited for Dallas and Bryce.  They will also feel the happiness of helping people hear and accept the gospel. I am excited to see you in a few weeks but sad to leave here and the people that have become a part of my life. 

Love you!!!!!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Week 101: Continuing to find humbled and prepared people

I made tacos this week yummmm. I found taco sauce at the store last week -- first time I ever saw it in the Philippines except at the mission home. 

Dear Family,

Wow it's October already!  So today I opened up the Cauayan mission newsletter and found my name on the people that will be going home next. It was quite alarming I kept trying to find the typo but I guess it really will end someday. It definitely doesn't feel like its been 23 months. So we had a great week finding and teaching and we have a lot of great investigators right now.

So first of we met a guy and really seemed to be looking for some hope in life. So a few weeks ago we talked to this tryce driver and felt prompted to give him a Book of Mormon.  So fast forward a few weeks and was talking to a tryce driver again and we set up a appointment but we didn't know it was the same guy. So we go to the appointment a few days later and he wasn't there. So we went back again a week later which was last Wednesday and the guy was there. So we starting talking to him and it turns out he was the guy we had oymed twice and gave a Book of Mormon. So he opened up and told us his life story about how he had major regrets with some things that have happened in his life and how he had contemplated suicide and really humbled guy. We were able to share to him the miracle of forgiveness and about repentance. He also said that us talking to him had been answers to his prayers. Well we will go back on Wednesday but he really seems like a person who has been humbled and prepared and seems to be someone that was really looking for hope in life.

So Harry the 15 year old that has been reading like crazy in the Book of Mormon has been doing really good. We had a couple really great lessons with them this week. They really hard up for money right now and sometimes they don't have enough money to go to school. So he hasn't been going to school some days. Anyways he has been wanting to go to church and has the same problem no money. So on Friday we had some time after one of our appointment with harry we went to this member of the Stake presidency  on that street and just asked for a referral, he showed us his neighbor that is member. We shared with them and they said they have been wanting to come back to for a while and they I think they have a great potential of being returned. So we were walking to our next appointment and just getting soaked in rain(we got soaked like 2 or 3 days in a row I think :). The member of the stake presidency guy has a truck and I was thinking as we walked "man wouldn't be great to just have our investigators that are hard for money just ride with him" and the the spirit connected the dots in my head and we turned around went to Harry's house and had him met the member and the member was more than happy to take him to church and harry went to church for the first time on Sunday. We had a really great lesson yesterday with harry and his cousin. They asked us why we would want to give all our time and stuff to be a missionary and we were able to tell our stories about how we ended up on a mission and why we want to be there. The spirit was really strong and we feel harry(and hopefully) the other people in his house will be baptized. (by the way harry already quit smoking and his cousin quit drinking coffee and they have been doing great)

Brother Salarsen is still amazing. He came to church again this week and brought his son and one of his granddaughters. On Saturday we taught him about the Sabbath and he said that after church he usually goes and checks on his farm and stuff but after we read the commandment he said I guess that is wrong, I wont do that anymore. It was great to be able to promise him that the Lord will take care of his crops for him if he will follow the Sabbath day. He uses some of the things with the word of wisdom but the day we taught him the word of wisdom like a week and a half ago he has not touched any of it. We still have lots of people listen every time we go there with all his children and grandchildren and stuff. 

We have been teaching this one guy who was a former iglesia ni cristo but was excommed(in the iglesia if you dont go to church for like a month u get excommed) and anyway he has lots of questions and doesn't agree with some of the stuff but is teach able. Anyway he is kind of funny. He was so surprised about the book of Mormon and stuff what he calls a "there is a third testament!!??!?" after we taught him about Joesph Smith he didn't agree with the Father having a a body and Elder Cuartel told him about the creation and forming them in our image and we was like hey your right. All of our lessons have been going back to the pray about and he said he would read the book of Mormon and pray about it. 

Brother Agasid, the guy who hadn't been to church in 15 years came to church again and we are having a Family Home Evening later tonight at their house. 

We have had the privilege of teaching a lot of new investigators that are families. Its the greatest feeling to teach a complete breakfast and of course devastating if they don't come through but its really great knowing that they could be the family that is prepared. 

Well I love you tons. I know the church is true and that Jesus really did the infinite and eternal atonement. I know he loves and knows us. I know that the Lord does call prophets and apostles in our time. I know that Thomas S. Monson is really a the living senior apostle on the earth today. By the way I have been studying revelations this last week. They are awesome.

Love you!!!!