Landon with local farmers

Landon with local farmers

Sunday, January 13, 2013

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

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