Landon with local farmers

Landon with local farmers

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Quick prayer for help and guidance

Hello all!

So this week was really wet. I am not sure if we had a storm or not because we don't have a radio or TV so.... ya. It was so rainy though! Holy smokes. I got really muddy a few times, and have had to wash my pants like 5 times already because they were so dirty.

Mickey Mouse in Asia

Also, a few other funny things, so a member in my branch just got back from DISNEYLAND, HONG KONG. --Hong Kong?? I will be honest. I had no idea that even existed. So he comes back and says "I have a gift for you!" and he hands me a High School Musical 1 shirt. My size. Hahahaha. Man I love that guy. He’s also our Elders Quorum President, too. It’s going be a sweet shirt to wear around when I get home! Haha it’s the thought that counts though. Maybe I will wear it when I feel like being weird or something. Who knows!  

Anyway, so this week was kind of slow, but fast. It’s so weird how that works here in the field. A lot of good things happened though! Where to start...

So we found another family of investigators that are willing to listen to us. The B family. Here’s the funny thing... the dad is a leader in the local Baptist Church and the mom is a leader in the local Catholic Church and the rest of the kids are Catholic, too.  Odd, right? I am not really sure how they are so happy. We will make them even happier! So it’s a family of 6: mom, dad, 3 girls, and one son. All of them listen except the mother. We taught them 2 times this last week and she wouldn’t listen either time. We will see as time goes on though. Anyways so we got through lesson one and as far as commitments go, we committed them to pray about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. They said they would, and if they believed in those two things, they will gladly get baptized! So... as long as they pray no worries right? We follow up with them tomorrow so I will let you know more about that next week. As for the other two investigator families, they all came to church again yesterday. Both the P Family, and the DR family. They all have a baptism date for February 3rd too! So as long as they all keep coming to church, and the P couple gets married, we will have 8 baptisms on that day. 8! Haha now I am not saying it will happen for sure, but it’s just a cool thought that’s all. 

We did have an Area Broadcast this past Saturday as well. The Philippines Area President and two members of the Quorum of the 70 spoke on the goals for this year. They really want to focus on getting more temple marriages this year, with an increased number of temple recommend holders as well. Also, they want each member family to have their own set of scriptures and each member pay his or her own tithing.  And as far as missionaries go, the branch is supposed to give the missionaries 15 Less Active Family names that we need to visit.

Yesterday - funny story. So I am in the church bathroom just washing my hands, and the branch president comes in and tells me I am the concluding speaker and I say "what?" then he leave.   So, I have all of 45 minutes to put something together, in a language I am still  trying to learn. I mean if this was in English, I would have no problems at all doing this. Piece of cake. flash... haha…can’t do that. So I sit on the stand and begin looking through my Book of Mormon. I was having no success at all. Zero. I couldn’t think straight at all... so I said a quick prayer for help and guidance. Next thing I know, I find Moroni 7:16-19. Light of Christ. Perfect. I then spoke on that for 15 minutes, in the language!  I could totally tell that the Spirit was guiding me too. Best feeling in the world right there! After sacrament some members came up and told me that in the past when new missionaries were assigned here in this area as their first area, they would have spoken in English. They were really impressed with me.  That feels good to hear! 

That was my week! A lot of good things and a lot of thinking and pondering. Thank you all for all you do for me. I love you all so very much. Until next week!

Love From The Philippines!

-Elder Garner

Tender Mercy

Hey everyone!

This week was pretty eventful to say the least! No transfer for me by the way. Same area. Same Comp. Elder Ellis and I will remain in the same district yet again.

Celebrating the New Year
-- your friendly 'Filipino neighbor style'
New Years was kind of lame.  We can't do anything.  It's fine, I mean it is only 2 New Years... I celebrated New Years by myself… I couldn’t bring myself to go to sleep at 10:30. It’s New Years for crying out loud. My comp went to bed at 10 sharp. I stayed up and read the Book of Mormon until 11:55. That’s the mission life I guess! It was kind of hard though because our neighbors got a new stereo for Christmas. It is so loud. They blasted music past midnight. And they had fireworks.  I almost went outside to tell them that they are disturbing us, and as missionaries we can't listen to that type music or use fireworks. Then, I realized I don't know how to say that yet. Haha! So I got some cotton and stuffed it in my ears. That was my New Years! 

Elder Garner and some of his preacher posse'
Last Sunday, we had a "Missionary and Branch Missionary" meeting. 6 Branch Missionaries were called. So, on Tuesday this past week, 5 of them worked with us! 5! Meaning there was 7 of us at every meeting we went to. In America, I am sure if 7 missionaries showed up at someone’s house to proclaim the gospel, the person answering the door would probably either slam the door, or be super intimidated. So as we left to teach that day, I was a little worried. But I guess here, the more the merrier  -- which is so funny to me. Here we are, 6 pinoy's, and one American, going around and teaching the Restored Gospel. Man.  Can you picture that?? I would have taken a picture of us, but... it was raining hard that day so I didn't bring my camera with me. I am scared to get it ruined. I want to take good care of it! I need it to last me. I will have other opportunities to take pictures so do not fret a hair on your head.

Of all the Branch Missionaries, the hardest worker is by far MR, my recent convert. He worked with us 5 days this past week. 5 out of 7. He even came over at 6:30 am sharp 2 days in a row to "live the missionary life". He studied with us, ate with us, practiced teaching with us, and taught with us all day long. Wow, right? He is pretty dedicated. He has only been a member for 2 months now but he has a huge testimony for sure. He definitely is an asset to us when we teach investigators. He used to be Catholic and more recently a Baptist…so, there isn't a person on this island he cannot relate to. I have developed a deep appreciation for him.

As for my language, I am getting better and better. The members all speak slowly for me so I catch every single word. But, awhile ago, Elder Garlick told me that once you can communicate with people on your own, you will feel like this place is your new home. It's like your own personal acceptance. And its so true! I can tell it's getting easier, slowly but surely. 

On Wednesday, we had a tender mercy of the Lord fall into our hands. We were walking to a less active members house, and they live so far away by the way. On our way, a man on a motorcycle stopped us and blatantly asked us to teach him and his family. The DL family. Without having to say anything at all, he asked us. Right then and there. I asked him where his house was and he gave us directions. His house, is so FAR AWAY. It is on the edge of our area and takes 2 hours to walk there. Goodness. We went there immediately. When we arrived, they already had chairs ready for us.. it was sooooo odd. I almost asked where the nearest river was so we could just baptize them already. Honestly. They were almost like begging us. Anyway. We taught them about the Restoration. And mainly focused on how much God loves us and our families. I can tell this father loves his family more than anything... we asked him if he had any questions at the end and he couldn't even answer us. He left the room because he began to cry so hard... it truly is amazing what the spirit can do to people. The mother asked me personally if I really believed that this was true.  Want to know what I said? I told her that "I am from Utah, I left my family, loved ones, friends, and my whole life behind me for two years…all for this purpose. I am learning a new language that is still so hard so that I can help families like yours feel and have what we have. I believe in the Church with all my heart." and then... she too left the room to cry. Leaving us with the father and the kids. We have been back 2 times since then, taught all of the Restoration, and gave the Mom, Dad, and the oldest child a Book of Mormon (he is the only child old enough to get baptized). So yes, GREAT  week. 

Random picture of a kicked in door.  
Yesterday on Sunday, we had a very special day indeed. Before Church, as we are leaving the house, I left the key inside the house.  We were locked out of the house, and locked inside the gate.. hahah bit  of a problem right? I watched my companion try to kick the door down for 5 minutes. Nothing. So he told me to take a turn. I took 1 kick and the door swung right open. Haha I broke the lock like right off the wall that keeps the door locked (kind of like a bathroom stall). The owner of the house is in our branch and I told him what happened, he laughed hard and told me to not worry about it. Maybe I will be a police officer after all. Kicking down doors is fun! 

Anyways, We had 3 less active families come to church! None of them have been to church in almost 5 years! How about that, right? It was way cool to see them there. Guess who else came? The DL family! They stayed for all 3 hours and they loved it! We have an appointment with them on Tuesday so I will update you on that next week. After church we went and visited all three of those less active families that came to church earlier to check up on them and follow up. They all told us sorry that they haven't come in so long and that they hope that Heavenly Father will forgive them.. So what did we do in response? We taught them the start of lesson 1. That God is our loving Heavenly Father!  

Oh, and by the way. We had 2 young men leave on missions from our Branch- both to missions in the Philippines. Both of them come from families who have next to nothing. Each of them has worn the same tie every week since I have been here.  And because I have 24 ties, I gave them each one of my ties. As rememberance and thank you's to them. I will miss J and C for sure!

To end the night last night, we went and taught the P Family (the yet to be married ones). This week we taught the commandments, tithing, and fasting. They have no problems with any of them, they come to church every Sunday, and they love it. So.... the only problem is marriage. Oh well. Over time I guess? I will continue to let you know about that as time goes on. But, as we left, we decided to stop at a member’s house. Sister I. She had family over too! --A lot of them. I asked them where they are from, and IN PERFECT ENGLISH, they responded with "you can speak English to us Elder. We are from Australia." and ya I about died!  I asked why they live there and I guess the Dad works in Perth, as a welder. So ya, I haven't met any Filipinos that speak English that well. I don't speak English unless I am with Elder EIlis really. My comp doesn't know it well enough. Plus he doesn't like to speak English.. and since I dont know ANY Tagalog, we speak Ilonggo. I do my best! Let’s just say I had a good conversation with that family. It was nice for sure. 

That's my week! I will write again next week. :) I love you all so much! I am doing much better by the way. No cough! Yes! I am drinking tons of water too by the way. Thank you for all you do for me!

I love you all,

Elder Garner

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Spirit filled hut

Hello all!

First off, I did send a family letter for Christmas that had I think like 20 pictures in it, like the one that Heather got in the mail recently. I sent that one before I sent the one that Mom and Dad just got so.... It might be lost. Dang it. Hopefully it comes soon! But just know that I sent one.

Skype was great! I thought for sure I would be so out of it after and I kind of was for a few hours. Of course though, right?  First time I had seen any of you in 5 months almost. Ya, it was the highlight of my week for sure.

Rain in the Philippines
Considering... and this is funny. So you all got pounded with snow right? Well we had a typhoon hit us hard on Wednesday morning -like it rained for 9 hours straight. Honestly. It was so much! It just made me laugh because I am getting almost the exact opposite that you all are.

We kind of had a tough week to say the least though. Let me explain why. Our area is pigado gid - meaning very poor. But, they all have family in richer areas like Escalante, Bacolod, and Talisay. SO... what do you think they did for Christmas? They went to be with their families in other areas… our area was pretty empty. We did see some members that decided to stay though. They live in a place called Sambag. There are like 4 different families, and they are all related. It’s like our family, Corey’s family, Casey’s family, and Neno’s family all living within 5 feet of each other. They love having us over though! Actually we are going over there for 4 dinner appointments for New Years Eve later tonight... haha I am gonna die. But, they're all super nice to us, especially me. So I won't complain. Even though I don't know what I am eating most of the time. Honestly I never do. But this is what I get for being sort of picky back home right? Ya I never ask "what is this?" I just eat it to be polite. Even though I feel like Kaolipoki did on ‘The Other Side of Heaven’ and he drank whatever that was when he arrived in his mission in Tonga and almost threw up... Sometimes I almost gag but my reflexes are getting better!  All the members understand though cause they ask ‘ara sa inyo’?  Which means in English do you have this where you live? And I ALWAYS say wala…meaning ‘none’. It’s ok though! 

I will tell you though about two days where something actually happened. First Thursday, we had exchanges! I again got to work with the District Leader. His name is Elder B. Can I just say that that day was awesome! He is the first Pinoy missionary I have met that has a sense of humor. Reminded me a little of Neal in a way. Always cracking jokes (appropriately), and just getting along well with the members that he had never met yet. He is a total people person. I'm learning that if you relax and open up its easier to talk to people…duh, right?  Still kind of hard though because I speak missionary Illongo, meaning in regular conversation, I don't understand a lot cause I am still learning new words. Slowly but surely though! 

Anyways, we taught our last lesson at the Branch Presidents house. He has a son actually, his oldest, who served a mission in Tacoloban Philippines, about 7 years ago. And he hasn't been to church in 4 years almost. That's a ton. He says that he doesn't feel worthy I guess? I am not sure. But, we taught him about our purpose on earth. Can I just say wow? Elder B and I clicked instantly and blew the room away. 

Typical of a Filipino hut
in Elder Garner's current area of Cadiz
That little hut couldn't possibly hold the amount of Spirit that we brought in. That was the first time in a long time that I have cried in a lesson. And the first time I had when I was speaking their native language. Not English... so ya. Good day. 

We then ended the day at the Certicio's (members) house for a dinner appointment! Tasty! More rice, eggs, and fish. Good thing I love eggs or this would be harder than it needs to be…

Then lastly, we have an investigator family. The P family: mom, dad, and daughter. They have 3 younger boys too but they are like 6 and under so we don't focus on teaching them since they aren’t of baptism age. That family is so receptive though! They love to learn from us and they seem to get it. We always ask frequently in lessons if they are getting what we are teaching (especially after I teach...) just to be sure we aren't leaving them in the dust of the Gospel you know?  But they never have any problems! Well, with learning that is. They do have 2 issues though. 1- The parents both have work on Sundays. So they are unable to attend Sacrament Meeting. They did commit to finding other jobs though so that is good!  And 2- they aren't married! This whole time we thought they were married. Turns out they are only live ins with 4 children. So we talked about it in Branch Council yesterday and we are trying to set a date for them to get married. Later that night we asked if they would still be willing to get married so they could be baptized together instead of having one of them move out and they said yes! So right now, we are all trying to get that all sorted out. Meaning, we could have a wedding / baptism! How cool would that be? I'll give you more details on that later, when there is more to tell.

Yesterday I decided to read in the Libro Ni Mormon while the sacrament was being passed. I read the sacrament prayers in the language and can I just say wow?  It’s so different but so cool. I wish I could come home and show you all real fast and bless the sacrament in the language…but that won’t ever happen so oh well! Still very cool none the less.

Our transfer day is the Wednesday…so I will find out soon if I am leaving or staying. Guess you all will find out next week! I will know what’s going on tomorrow. I wish I could tell you all now but I don't know yet!

Hey mom and dad, in your next package that you send whenever (no rush) I need a few things: black or brown towels (my white ones are pretty dead... I am not sure what we were thinking). Next: new belts. The ones I have don't have enough holes in them. So my pants are having a hard time staying up and keeping my shirt tucked in cause I dropped 3 new born babies worth of weight... hahah. And last, my retainers: mainly the bottom ones. Don't laugh please. But yes I want them. Thank you!

Thank you all for all you do for me! This Christmas wasn't too bad I guess being away from home, but it wasn't the same. That is for sure. It’s ok though! Thank you for all your prayers and love. Until next week!

-Elder Garner

Skype 1.0

Our conversation on our Christmas Eve with Elder Landon Garner was magnificent.  Nana and Papa (Cammi's parents) were here for the Christmas holiday and were able to speak with him as well.  

My heart overflowed with love and awe at the sight of him.  He is amazing.  In a foreign country, learning their language and surviving in their a mother, any words I know are inadequate to describe the emotions of my heart.

I am humbled and eternally grateful that our Father in Heaven has blessed us so abundantly.  

Thank you for your love and support of our son and missionary to the Philippines, Elder Landon Garner.

--Cammi Garner

P.S.  Our Ipad wouldn't pick up the Skype call.  Our family was all huddled around Tom's Iphone.  
P.S.S. The camera height in the Internet Cafe is set for 'Filipino' height.  Thus, the video picures of Landon were cut off at his forehead!

Merry Christmas...I love this Gospel

Caption on Elder Garner's Christmas Letter to his family

Hello everyone! 
Elder Garner and President Lopez
during the Christmas Conference at the mission home
(Elder Garner's ear pulling is a sign of a
very serious conversation).

Well for starters, I did get Nana and Papas package! Just yesterday actually. Man! They sent me enough sanitary stuff to last me my whole mission! Good grief! I am grateful for it so thank you. :) I will thoroughly enjoy all of the candy and food too! How did they know I love Nutella?? That stuff wont last long I can promise that!  
Elders Garner & Ellis reading
Christmas letters at mission home

We did have mission conference this past week and I bet you saw all those pictures! President Lopez pulled Elder Ellis aside and told the both of us that our moms are his number one Facebook congrats mom! He loves that you are so into the mission like I am.  :)  

Because of the new age change for missionaries  we are expecting 250 new missionaries coming by February. Meaning... I should be training! I am not sure how I feel about that yet since I am still kinda learning myself...I love mission conferences though! I love getting together with all the missionaries like that. I am not sure what it is but being with a whole bunch of missionaries, but sometimes I feel like I am in a dream you know? Its like "whoa... I am in the Philippines! On a mission!"  It still kind of shocks me sometimes with what I am doing all day everyday. I love what I am doing out here though! I love this Gospel. 

This week was an awful week for me though personally. I caught some kind of bug. I am not sure what but I came home from mission conference on Tuesday just feeling bad. I started to have back aches, a head ache, and just felt all weak inside you know? Usually with all the walking we do, I get tired sure, but not bad. But I honestly could barely walk. I was like dragging myself all night to appointments... ugh. Then I woke up on Wednesday morning with a cough. A bad one. I still have it now actually. I got on the phone with the mission doctor and he told me what to buy to help it. Its called Guaifenesin or something like that. I have never heard of it but it sort of does the trick. The Dayquil I have does nothing so I gave up on that. The doctor called again last night and checked up on me and I told him nothing has changed and that I still feel kinda sick. He gave me another thing to go buy so I will be doing that later today. I am doing a little better everyday, I just cough all night long and have a hard time sleeping. Hopefully it dies soon!  

Anyway, other than that nothing happened this week. Except the Manapla Elders (the other companionship that lived with us) moved out the other day. So its just me and my companion now. Its a lot nicer! We have more room to work with! 

This email is going to be shorter because most of the stuff I want to talk about I want to do over Skype .. sorry! I do have exciting and kinda funny news regarding my weight though... so remind me tomorrow!  

I love you all so much!

 I look forward to tomorrow! Have a great day.  :)