Landon with local farmers

Landon with local farmers

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Don't allow Satan to make you his meal...

Hello to all who may read this! How is everyone this fine day? Good I hope!

Garrison 'pinching out' the last candle!
First off, I would just like to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BRO BACK HOME THIS COMING WEDNESDAY! HAPPY BIRHDAY GARRISON!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have a great day lil' bro. I love you. On top of that, your birthday is on our transfer day. Congratulations!  Your birthday is on the most suspenseful day of each six week period of time.

Speaking of transfer day, We will find out tomorrow who stays and who goes. I think I told you all that President Lopez told me that I will stay and so will Elder Delos Santos, but he used the words "most likely" and "I don't expect a change" so...... maybe he could have received new revelation since then? Haha who knows? You all will find out next week!

Ok, so an update on our two investigator families… two major things happened this week that will be a major setback. It is kind of frustrating. One major thing happened with each family. First, the P family. The ones who need to be married. Umm, so we went to their house to teach them last week and when we got there, the dad wasn't home. We asked his "live in partner" where he is and she said he will be back in 10 minutes… so, we waited for him. So this is where I got irritated. He showed up...... DRUNK! Hammered. He couldn't have walked in a straight line even if he had been holding onto a rod. This is the same dad that we have already taught the Word Of Wisdom to. He totally knows better. He tells us that he wants to get married in the temple and stuff but then he goes and does that... goodness. We haven’t seen them since that night. We go back on Wednesday if none of us transfer. But, one of us will be here for sure.

Now onto the D family, the rule in this misson, and the rest of the missions in the Philippines is you need to make sure your investigators are confirmed the following week after their baptism or they need to be baptized again. I am not sure how it is in the rest of the world, but that is how it is here. And... ya you guessed it. They didn't make it to church on the Sunday after they were baptized. We went and visited them on Saturday and before we left we made sure to tell them what would happen if they didn't make it to sacrament meeting on Sunday. So they did know!  But something happened and they didn't come... who knows what will happen. I will let you know how it goes in my email next week. I am quite sad about it....

So other than that, this week was great. I had a few experiences that I want to share quickly. First, remember that RM that just came home in our Branch this last week? He worked with us a few days back. That was cool! He is still like way fresh off the mission boat for sure!  You could tell he was still new to being home too. His name is RM by the way. In our teachings though, he like made me nervous in a way.  I had not ever taught with someone like him before so it kind of threw me off the first few lessons but I finally just put it behind me and did what I needed to do. I think it was just harder at first because he spoke different languages in his mission so he was struggling to speak Ilonggo that day. So a lot of the words that he said I had no clue what they were. It wasn't until more than halfway through the day that I realized he was speaking words from another dialect. That whole time I thought it was Ilonggo and I didn't know any of the words.. it was discouraging at first, until I realized that it wasn't our language here! It was such a relief. So with that, everyone we taught understood him except for me. Talk about being the odd man out -- totally unfair. But it's all good. J  

Second! Oddly, this happened at the same house where RM lives. We were eating with his family for lunch and randomly his mom is like "Elder Garner how many temples can you see from your house?" My first thought was "they don’t even have a temple on this whole island.... when I tell them, they might tell me to leave…" I replied by telling them that I have been to the temple more times from the time I got my mission call, to when I entered the MTC, than these members have been in their entire lives. It is really sad actually. It is so expensive for them to take a trip to Cebu as well so that is why I feel bad. But, I continued and said "There are 7 temples close enough to my house that I can go to..." and they all looked at me and yelled "lucky!!!"  Our branch is trying to go on a temple trip this April so hopefully they can go! 

Mount Timpanogos Temple
Provo Temple
Jordan River Temple
Draper Temple
Salt Lake City Temple
Bountiful Temple
Oquirrh Mountain Temple
Illustration of the 'Fox and the Bird'
OK, to end, I just want to share a story that RM shared to a less active family as we taught them. It goes like this. "In this story there is a bird, and a fox. Both looking for food before the winter comes. As the bird is flying, he sees the fox on the ground and decides to ask if there is anything that he has found.  The fox replies 'no I have nothing, but I tell you what. You give me two of your feathers every day, and I will look for you’. The bird gets excited and replies 'ok!' So every day this goes on. The bird finds the fox, and gives him two of his feathers. This pattern continues until the bird has no feathers left.  He cannot fly anymore-- making him the fox’ meal.”  In the end, who is the fox? Who is the bird?  Open up to 2 Nephi 28:21.  You will see that the fox is Satan. And the bird represents the people that are willing to listen to him, and fall slowly but surely off the path that would have eventually led back to the kingdom of God. In your lives everyone, be careful of what you do and say. It is so important to realize and think about what you are doing before you do it. As members of this great church, we know what is right and wrong. Just remember that Satan doesn't want you to return to our Heavenly Father and obtain eternal life. "Satan does not have the power to take a life, that is one of the many things he cannot do. But apparently he will take down with him as many as he can to the pit of endless woe." - Jeffery R. Holland

Know how much I love you all. Until next week everyone! Thanks for all you do for me.

Love From The Philippines!
-Elder Garner

Changing the World Completely...


Hello all! 

How is everyone doing? I hope all is fantastic back in the great U.S of A. I will just get onto my week. 

So first off, I just want to make a few things clear if any of you come to the Philippines, don't ever give a Filipino gum. Both my parents and Nana and Papa send it to me, and we aren't allowed to chew it because it "takes away from our image as representatives of Jesus Christ". So, I have been giving it all away to our Branch Missionaries. Can I just say big mistake? I should have known right off the bat to not do that, but what else was I supposed to do with it? --can't waste it! They all chew with their mouths wide open. Like a cow chewing on grass... it’s bad. I can't tell them to not do that because I don't want to offend them so I am just going to have to deal. 

Next, I don't remember if I have mentioned this before but the legal drinking age here in the Philippines is 16. I have seen and witnessed kids that look like they are 12 walk up to the register, and purchase beer. All the time! So, I have made up my mind that I need to carry with me the "Ang Pulong Sang Ka-alum" or "The Word of Wisdom" pamphlet with me all the time. I actually have like 5 with me right now as I type. Now I just have to gather up the courage to give them out. It's scary trying to talk to a drunk person!  I have a hard enough time trying understand SOBER Ilonggo, but when they are drunk??? Oh man. So much harder. And don't worry mom, they all here are "funny drunks" not "angry" ones. --Always tripping over themselves and slurring their words. Not all of the island of Negros is like this though. There are just a ton of them here in my current area.

Elder Garner, Michael and Elder Delos Santos
(look closely at the grass line)
Lastly, in our Branch we had a missionary come home! He left on February 26th 2011. That date has a special meaning to me as well. Sweet Heart’s my Junior year in High School! Anyway, his name is RR. So because he came home, we were invited over to his house for dinner. We had a good conversation! He told us all about his mission. I asked him how many languages he knows now, and he said 6.....6!? Holy smokes! The main language in his mission (Alongapo Philippines) was Tagalog, then Cebuano, Vissaias, English, and guess what else? Broken Spanish! That was kind of funny to hear. Anyways, he just got released yesterday. So lets just put it this way, he came to church with his Nametag on, and left with it off.. 

So, two major things happened this week that I didn’t include in my email last week, due to the fact that I didn’t know about them until we had already left the computer shop. So one, we had exchanges last Tuesday!  I stayed in my area, and basically Elder Ellis and I swapped companions. So his companion (the district leader) came and worked with me in my area. It was a good day! I have known him since the day I got here 4 months ago so we had some fun. We taught the D family about Covenants (since their baptism was coming up at the time, and I will get onto that later), and the Dad told us he will do his best to make it to church to be interviewed on Sunday. Which didn't happen. Dang it! It's weird.... he made it to church 3 weeks in a row, then randomly, when he has an interview, he can't make it. Hopefully he opens up to us if he has any concerns. We want to help him! I guess only time will tell. Anyway, we also found a new investigator family too! The R Family. It's a family of 5, and the Mom just died like a week ago due to cancer.  She was 44. So the first thing we taught them was God’s plan for families. We have been back one other time and taught them about the Restoration. We would have gone back another time, but when we did, they were all drinking and gambling --at the mother’s funeral. I didn’t know what to say or think. We will go back tomorrow most likely. So ya, fun day!

Pres. Lopez teaching the missionaries
We also had Zone Training on Thursday! President Lopez came and trained us in our Stake Center in Cadiz (like 15 minutes north of my area). We were expected to be able to return back to our areas by 2pm but that didn't happen. We started at 9 am sharp and President took the first hour and a half to explain to us how he wants district meetings to go from now on (starting tomorrow). It is only supposed to last 1 hour and a half. So 1 hour is spent on discussing needs of investigators and 1 less active family within the district from each companionship. Just give each other ideas on how to help that person the most, you know? There are 8 of us in the district so this could actually be useful. The next 10 minutes is for the district leader to give us a lesson on whatever he thinks will help us this week, then the last 20 minutes are for practice teaching. So that was that.

Then from 10:30 to 12:30, President Lopez trained us on "finding" new investigators through our own efforts. Since members here in the Philippines aren't all that active in helping us and giving us referrals, we have to take it into our own hands. Meaning, OYMing (open your mouth --like talking to random people on the bus, street, or whatever. That is what the pamphlets are for), holding missionary firesides and have members bring their non member friends or simply just ask members for them. We will give some of these a shot this week.

After, President and his wife brought home made sandwiches! Like I am talking ham, turkey, and egg salad!  Man… so good! First meal I have had without rice in who knows how long... Then President Lopez took 15 minutes for each missionary to interview us. In my interview, he told me that he "doesn't think any changes will take place in my companionship for this next transfer".... Meaning I will most likely be with DLS for another transfer it sounds like! Then he told me I will most likely train after that. So come March 27th, I should be on a bus to Bacolod, to pick up my trainee! President took us all home after that. Pretty nice of him!

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013. Baptism! Can I just say how much that I love these days? It is so cool to see people completely change themselves for the better, take upon themselves the name of Christ forever, and enter into the waters of baptism. Nanay, and her two oldest children were baptized. Elder DLS baptized them and I had the opportunity to do something that I hadn't done yet. I was asked by our Branch President if I could "witness" it! So, I was part of it in a way. That was so amazing! After baptism, the new members are asked if they would like to share their testimony. Nanay got up and bore a beautiful testimony. In it she could hardly speak due to the fact that she was crying so hard.  She told everyone that she felt this overwhelming feeling as she opened the door to the bathroom after she was baptized that she can't describe. And, for all the members that were there, we all knew what that meant. It was very special to say the least! 

Elder Garner and Elder Delos Santos with
Cadiz Branch young adults

Elder Garner with local friends in Cadiz

That’s all for this week! Have a great day everyone. Until next week! Be smart! Be safe! Pray! Read the Scripts! I love you all so much! 

Love From The Philippines!

-Elder Garner

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Killin' it in the Philippines"

This week has been great to say the least! 

Typical medical convoy vehicle in the Philippines
I want to start out by telling of a few funny but cool experiences that I had this week. First off, Elder DLS and I were waiting for a bus to come by after we got done teaching the D Family (I will get to them later), and no buses were coming at all... it was either keep waiting or walk for 3 hours. That is how far away from any living being we were. Then out of the blue, a car flies by us, stops, turns around, and comes up next to us. An AMERICAN MAN in the front seat asks, and I quote "Elders do you need a ride somewhere?" and I was like "oh ya we do!" The car that they were driving was like some kind of medical convoy thing you would see in a movie. So we get in the back of this car, and my first thought is "he's an American, he called us ELDERS... he has to be a member of our church back in the states. Has to be." So we rode for like 15 minutes in complete silence, then when we told them to stop, I got out, shook this man’s hand and asked him "OK, I've got to know, where are you from?" And he says, "I am a member of the Church. I am out here doing medical training at local hospitals here. And to answer your question, I am from Boise Idaho."-- I knew he had to be a member of our church-- knew it. Not one person on this entire island would call us that unless they were a member. Haha. 

Rural Filipino Bus
Second experience. Yesterday we were riding on a bus to an appointment and this girl gets on the bus and sits next to me. She was like 21, if that. We started talking and she asked me for a donation for her church while handing me a flier. I told her no, that we cannot give away money to anyone. I explained to her that the money we have is the Lords money and it is for mission purposes.  I was expecting a mature response and her to leave it be. But she persisted, big time --like flattering me for money. Compliments like "you're so handsome" and all this load of crap. Too funny. Guess what I did? I told her "I can’t give you money, but I do have something that will bless your life much more than any amount of money will." And she asked what it was, then I pulled a Restoration Pamphlet and told her "I can give you this and we would love to visit you sometime and teach you all about this.”  She then said no thanks, got up, and moved seats. That was funny. Oh man. Some people’s children...

Elder Ellis and Elder Garner
"Killin' it in the Philippines"
Third experience. This happened in District Meeting on Tuesday last week. So what happens, usually, is we open with song and prayer, we account and report our successes for the week to the district, then we get a lesson from our District Leader. Then whatever we were taught, we apply that into practice teaching. So one Elder becomes the investigator, and two other Elders become companions, and they teach. The one Elder who is left out, becomes the "coach" and writes what went well and what to improve. SO… our lesson was on how to react when an investigator doesn't read your assignment or isn't reading the scriptures at all. Elder DLS was the investigator and guess who became my companion?  Elder Ellis! Haha! They stuck the two greenies together. At first, I was thinking "we are so toast here..."  Wrong! We killed it!  I was the senior companion and I started the lesson, taught out of 2 Nephi 32:3. Then I bore testimony of it.  Then Elder Ellis came in, testified, added his feelings, then I added a personal experience, then we ended. The district leader was like "uhhh...... you two are American, right? I could have sworn you were..." meaning we did awesome! Ya that’s right. 

Now, onto our two investigator families.. The D family is all ready to go! We only had one minor setback. So here in our mission (I am not sure what it is like in other missions), investigators have to come to church 4 weeks in a row in order to be interviewed for baptism. In their family, all of them have come three weeks in a row, even Tat, who has a job and works every Sunday. He has been able to find a replacement every Sunday................................................................................................................................................................................ Except yesterday! Dang it! He couldn't find anyone to cover his shift yesterday so, he has to wait until next Saturday. But, as for now, the mother, and two oldest children will be baptized this Saturday, February 2nd. He will be the following week if everything works out next time. It wasn't his fault that he couldn't come. He still has that desire.  The P family finally found birth certificates though!  So, in two weeks, they will be interviewed and baptized as well. They have come to church every Sunday since the first week of December so it’s pretty safe to say that they are well on their way. Every week we ask them how their experience was at church that day and they always reply "namit gid!" This means freaking sweet! That's how I see it. 

Thank you for all you do!
Until next week.
I love each and every one of you!  :)

Elder Garner

Obi-Wan, the Lord and patience

Hey all!

I can't believe that I am already writing you all again! Where does the time go? For crying out loud... well, here I am again! 

Elder Garner's Christmas Package in Utah
6 weeks before he received it in the Philippines
First off, I just want to say that I did get your package finally! All was safe, and sound. Thank you for all the stuff. Now all I need to do is find a place to exchange that money in our area. I think there is one in Victorias (where we email and do p-day stuff), I just need to find out where it is. The candy is all gone by the way. Haha it didn't last very long at all. Elder DLS and I love our new ties! Thank you so much. 

A few things that I did find this past week, and some small things that happened, first... guess what I found when I was grocery shopping last week, I found MOTT'S APPLE JUICE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Imported straight from USA my friends! Haha I bought the big container. I drink mostly water and Gatorade still, just apple juice is my favorite as you all know.  I had to have it. Weakness!

On another note, I give a big thanks to the music industry in America. Because of them, almost every kid in Philippines high school thinks the ‘F word’ is acceptable. Let’s just say I got sworn at a few times this past week. Ya not fun for me. I just kept walking and tried to ignore it. I need to figure out how to explain to them that in English that is an awful word. It’s quite amazing to me at how much influence  America has on the Philippines -- in everything.  

Young Obi-Wan aka Elder Garner

Another thing, I got cold this last week, like super cold. I was cold enough that when I got out of my bed in the morning, I took my blanket with me, and draped it over my shoulders as I wrote in my journal. My companion called me Obi-Wan Kenobi... Haha. But yes, there was no sun, and it was windy and rainy all week long. I will admit, again, I froze in the mornings but I finally got smart and boiled hot water to use when I shower. I have been here for almost 4 months, and I just started doing it... It is such a smart idea! So I just boil the water while I iron my shirt in the morning, and by the time I am finished ironing, I have hot water to use! Genius. Proud of me? 

Oh! I also found a tailor in our area! She lives way close to us, and she is way good at what she does. She did a few of my companions shirts, and it looks way good. So I gave her 3 of my pants to work on. I will get them back this week. Guess what the price was? 70 pesos for three pairs of pants. That’s $1.50. Dirt cheap! How about them apples?   

I forgot to mention this a long time ago, but I started collecting things from other religions that get handed to me on buses. For instance, this last week, we met a Muslim Filipino! It was way cool. He didn't have any intentions of bashing with us, he knows a lot about our church actually.  We had a nice little chat. I told him all our beliefs and he told me his. I shook his hand as he handed me a pamphlet.  That pamphlet is now in my suitcase. I will just add it to my mission box when I get home. Kind of cool! 

As for my companionship with Elder DLS, it was a better week than last week. I figured out a few things. He is just quiet because he doesn't know how to express himself in English. I mean as much as I wish I could speak fluent Hilagaynon, I just can't yet. So on Friday, in our companionship inventory, I asked that he has patience with me and my language. In return, I would do the same for him.  I will do the best I can to help him express himself, in whatever language. We kind of have a system now. So I am not as frustrated. We just need to have more patience with each other in every aspect of the word.  

I came to the conclusion that the Lord wants me to learn more patience. Seeing as I came into my mission with a past of not having much -- always in a rush, always wanting something done now --that kind of stuff. So all in all, my mission will teach me more than just the gospel, more than just another language, but it will also help me develop better Christ-like attributes that I can apply to my own life, use in my own life, and my future family’s life someday. 

never thought about that before I came here. I know now, that I will learn something new from each companion that I have. I started a list in the back of my planner of "things I learned from my companion this transfer"-- so I will do that every transfer and learn as much as I can. These next two years will do more for me out here than whatever I would have done if I chose not to serve. And for that, I am so glad. I love this work!I

So out of our two investigator families, the P family, and D family, the D family will get baptized on February 2nd, if they come to Church next week. They have their interview next Sunday, too. They have been taught all of the lessons they need.  All that's left is to refresh their minds. And we need to get their baptism records finished too... for 4 of them; Dad, Mom, 11 year old son, and 8 year old daughter. February 2nd though! I couldn't think of a better way to spend the day, than helping a family come that much closer by making that first covenant with our Heavenly Father, to entering his kingdom again. As for the P family, they have been taught every lesson possible -- all of it. They just need to get married now. That is all that is left. Our branch President is going to go try to get them their birth certificates today so... I will let you know next week how that ends up going and what the finalized plans are.

Filipino man working in a rice field 

Speaking of investigators, we got 2 more this past week! They are the parents of our Elders Quorum President. The only problem is, they live out in the middle of nowhere, and it takes like 20 minutes to get to, by motorcycle. 20 minutes! My comp wanted to walk at first, but the Elders Quorum President said he's crazy and it would take you all day just to get there -- Which is true. Also, the father works like day every day in the rice fields and he is only available on weekends after 8 pm. So the plan is we go there on Saturday and Sunday at 8 pm. That will just be our last appointment we have those days. We did go there last night, and the spirit prompted us to teach about families then go right into baptism… it sounds kind of weird I know but after  we invited them to be baptized and they both accepted!  How about that? So right now, we have 10 investigators that can be baptized in the next month or so. They all have the desire to follow our Savior and his example! So great! 

That was my week folks. It has been a pleasure writing you all at this time. Let’s do it again sometime. How about next week? Same day, same time, same place? Sound good? Sweet! I'll pick you up at about 11:45 am my time (I think my sense of humor is still intact). 

love you all so much! Thank you so much for all your love and support. Until next week! 
Elder Garner