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
I am so happy knowing that what I am doing out here is for the good of the Filipino peopIe. I have seen how people take upon themselves a new way of life and living in order to change for the better. This work is so amazing! I cannot wait for my brothers to take their part in this. Garrison, you are up next. Start preparing buddy! Time flies quickly. All in all, I am so glad to be here, doing what I am doing. This truly is the work of God and it will change the world completely someday soon enough. Each person that is baptized is another soul, a brother or sister, and another son or daughter of God that is being added to His Kingdom. And I am so happy to be a part of it. I love this work with all my heart and soul. Despite it being hard and trying at times, it truly is worth it when you help others come unto Christ.
|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!