Monday, July 18, 2011

Woah, I did not have that planned

Monday, July 18, 2011
Sibunag, Guimaras Island, the Philippines

Last Wednesday we had mission conference.  Elder Teh of the Seventy was there.  It was really good.  It’s amazing to see how well he hit the nail on the head.  He doesn’t work exclusively with missionaries, but man he was right on.  He spoke about being a missionary always, not just while out working.  He also addressed being kind to everyone.  Some missionaries <struggle with that concept.>  I don't understand how they can be like that.  It was a really good experience.  It was actually pretty upbeat, but still, yeah, we got called to repentance.  Sure, I need to straighten up a little bit, but what he talked about was something I had been hoping that other leaders would talk about.  I was wondering why that aspect of “being a missionary” was being overlooked, and finally Elder Teh talked about it.  It was really cool.

At one point he had this cool object lesson.  Our zone leader, Elder Andrews, volunteered.  Elder Teh tried to tempt Elder Andrews with candy.  It was pretty funny because Elder Andrews didn’t know whether to go along with the example, or if Elder Teh was testing him.  Eventually, Elder Andrews just took the candy once he realized that he was holding up the point of the lesson by resisting the temptation.

Before mission conference, we were asked to fast and to prepare three 2-minute talks.  The three topics were “companionship unity,” “preparing to teach with the spirit,” and “teaching through the Book of Mormon.”  The first to were pretty easy for me.  I prepared them on Tuesday in about thirty minutes while sitting our front porch area.  However, with the Book of Mormon one, I couldn’t decide what I really wanted to say.  I wrote down some things I could say, but I wasn’t very impressed with what I’d written down.  

Wednesday morning. I was sitting on some couches at the mission office and decided to pull it out one more time.  I got some more thoughts together and I at that point I could give an okay talk about it, but it was still nothing great.  The idea was that everyone was supposed to prepare the talks, and then get called on randomly to give them.  

Later that day, I got called on.  You’ll never guess which one I was asked to talk about . . . the Book of Mormon one.  But something unusual happened.  I got up there and offered some insights that I hadn’t even thought of before.  I talked about how the Book of Mormon helps investigators to progress without us pushing them along.  I talked about reading the Book of Mormon as if you were one of your investigators during personal study.  I offered some other good thoughts, too.  When I finished, I was thinking “Woah, I did not have that planned.”

We also sang in Mission Conference.  It went well enough.  We did it a capella.  The first verse was kind of shaky, but we got it all together for the second and third verses.  I don’t think we scared away the spirit, so that’s good.

I received the package.  It was really awesome.  The strings were too thick for my guitar.  Sorry, I had no way of knowing.  When you get around to it, maybe try the high E string at a 10 gauge.  Try real thin gauge strings.  It was too rough on the guitar.  Thanks for the root beer barrels, too.  I got to give them away to people I knew in the MTC.  I was the root beer barrel king in the MTC.  It was cool to share them again.  Elder Conjelado thought it was Christmas when I gave him those jolly ranchers.  He was really happy.  Thanks guys.

I filled another journal.  I’m on journal 3 by the way.

The language is coming along well.  I’m now as good in Hiligaynon as I was in Aklanon.  Now I’m earning words in Hiligaynon that I never knew in Aklanon.  It’s going well.  Elder Conjelado quizzes me nightly.  I’ve had a couple of Filipinos tell me that I’m “sagas sa Hiligaynon.”  Maybe they are just be being kind, Pinoy missionaries have said that too.  Maybe I’m good at it.  I still have a long ways to go there before I can really rock teaching, though.  It’s actually kind of fun to learn this language.  I seem to hear every word I learn the same day I learn it.  It’s nice.

We had a very cool lesson the other day.  We were teaching a former investigator and her kids were so wild.  We had started the lesson with the kids being really rowdy.  Five minutes into the lesson the kids were putting Seattle’s teenage anarchists to shame.  So, I got down off my chair and took a picture of Jesus out of my bag, and kneeled down in front of the kids.  It was a picture of Jesus holding a sheep.  I explained to them in really simple terms about how Jesus loves all people, even if they don’t know him.  The kids listened, and I went on for about three minutes.  When I finished, the mom was listening too and the kids were calm.  Then we were able to have a good lesson about family prayer.  It’s not that cool of story, but it was cool to see how the lesson changed into something good.

Yesterday Elder Buluran came and helped us in our area.  We don’t have enough priesthood to go on splits, we only have one.  Elder Buluran’s companion had to work with the zone leaders, and he was without a home.  I worked with Buluran, and Elder Conjelado worked with the priesthood guy.  Elder Buluran and I got punted like a pigskin, but we had a pretty good lesson.  It was a follow-up lesson on “pray to know.”  At first she claimed to be too busy, but we just started teaching.  It went so well.  At one point I asked her “if she knew that the Book of Mormon was true, would she come to church - the true Church of Jesus Christ.”  I wanted to ask her to be baptized, but I hesitated.  I was afraid to scare her away because of how hard it is to find new investigators here in Sibunag.  Elder Buluran didn’t hesitate.  He asked her, and he was following the Spirit.  She said yes. That’s two with a baptismal date in my area!  How cool is that!?

I want to improve this area in this transfer, not over my entire time here.  I want it to be good while I’m still here.  My companion is often frustrated with me because I don’t like to take it easy in the mornings.
This area is difficult because of how spread out everything is.  If we get punted at one place, it’s at least a thirty minute walk to the next.  Even if we don’t get punted, we are looking at a maximum of seven appointments we can go to.  So, if we get punted at four of the seven, that’s just three lessons in a day.  Plus, we’ve had a lot of distractions in our work with Elder Conjelado being sick and having mission conference.  So our numbers have been real low.  We’ve taught just twenty lessons in two weeks.  This week looks like it’ll have distractions too.  It’s killing me because I want to work.
(In response to a question)  It takes about forty minutes to get Alibhon.  The road is a piece of work.  I usually ride on top of the van because it is way too crowded inside.  I don't have leg room to slump down, and it's too short for me to sit up.  Also, it is way hot, and there’s no air.  I’m like Gandolf in Hobbiton.  Because of the road, sitting on top is like riding a bull.  I hold on top, and I'm never scared about falling off, but it’s always a fun ride.  It's so dusty that I wear a bandana over my face.  It's not mean looking because it's what everyone does out there.

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