Sunday, October 23, 2011

frogs, forgiveness, and flickering

Monday, October 17, 2011
Sibunag, Guimaras Island, The Philippines

To protect privacy, the names of most people in this blog have been changed.

Our district leader, Elder Matthews, is from New Zealand.  He's pretty cool.  In most districts, meetings are just reading Preach My Gospel and then practicing teaching.  He’s done them differently. He (when he's here) gives the best lessons.  Last week was no different.  It was a good week, and I think it started at last district meeting.  I left that meeting super pumped to work, and that's what we did.

I got my shoes fixed, too.  The guy who fixed them was pretty much crazy.  He speaks crazy English at us.  He has long hair, and sits on a stool in a crowded, third-world pool hall.  I like him though.  A lot of missionaries have gone to him through the years, and he calls us "his friends."  He fixed them for 250 pesos (about $6.25). (I got the "friend" discount.)  They look brand new, but feel a little funky - not too bad though.  I got to watch him fix them.  By watching him tear it apart, I got to see how close to torn apart they already were.

Elder Workman and I are running in the morning, we're doing pushups and weight lifting and crunches in the evening.  I've been sore, but sleeping well.  I outrun Workman, he out-muscles me. 

I've started reading the Book of Mormon again.  I'm taking it super slow.  It's kind of fun taking it this slow.  In a week's worth of personal studies, I'm only in 1st Nephi 15. 

A couple of days this week, I've found frogs in my running shoes.  I'm paranoid about even putting on sandals now. 

We have a member, Sister Maria, who was formerly less active.  She just recently got active, and this week we went and shared with her about sharing the gospel with others.  We talked about the tree of life, and how Lehi wanted others to eat it too.  It was a good lesson, and afterwards she came with us to some neighbors of hers.  We got punted, but it was way cool that she came with us to work. 

We did a CSP at Rosario’s on Friday.  We helped her weave stuff.  It took three hours to do half a piece of weaving.  She's way cool, and we kept up conversation for about two hours.  The last hour she cooked us some stuff.  It was a very relaxing CSP, and I really got a greater understanding of how hard her life is.  After we did service, we got to eat at her house.  She and her husband had cooked us pork and boney fish.  We ate it and loved it. 

On Friday, Sister Merced joined us for a few lessons. We got punted pretty hard, so we decided to go tracting.  It's really effective to go tracting with a member because the people feel more comfortable letting us in.  Plus, Merced is pretty well known in the community.  Our tracting went so bad!  We first contacted a crazy Baptist old man who made no sense.  We tried to find common ground with him and explain the restoration, but he would just yell out bible verses at us that had nothing to do with what we were talking about, then he’d recite them from memory.  We were happy to leave that lesson. 

Then we tracted into two old, senile ladies.  One had previously tried to poison me with her version of "candy."  I recognized her, and realized we were in for a treat.  It was one of the funniest lessons ever.  When sister Merced went to pray, one of the old ladies went and sat by her.  I didn't realize why at first.  But when Sister Merced started the prayer, the old lady said every word that she said.  We tried to explain to her that she didn't need to do that.  Then Sister Merced tried again.  The old lady followed again.  We were dying, laughing so hard.  We pretty much bore our testimonies and left a pamphlet with them.  We didn't think much would come of it.

We taught Sister Johnson tithing on Saturday.  Sister Merced met us there.  Ann, Sister Johnson’s daughter, was there again.  We went over some things we had previously taught her, and she remembered them very well.  We then moved onto tithing.  We did it by an object lesson.  That seemed to go very well.  Sister Merced’s testimony about it sealed the deal.  It was an amazing lesson.  Sister Johnson was so excited when she learned that the money didn't go to any pastor or somebody.  When she read what tithing was used for in the pamphlet, she said something like "well of course, you need that."  We also explained about if you don't pay tithing, you're not in trouble, but you just forfeit blessings.  She was surprised at that remark.  It was such new idea for her, I think.  You don't account to man, you account to God.  So many people here have been to church their entire life but never thought that way.

We taught Sister Belinda later that evening.  We taught her about repentance.  We mentioned a little bit about forgiving someone and she looked like she had a question.  Elder Workman asked her if she had a question.  She said no, so we went on, but we could tell she had a question.  It really seemed to be on her mind.  So we asked her what her question was.  She said "no, no, go on."  We did, and finally we said "Sister, what's on your mind?"  The spirit was telling us that we had to get that question out of her.  She finally asked.  "Do I have to forgive my husband?"  Elder said "Let’s turn to Matthew."  I knew exactly where he was going.  I said "It's in the sermon on the mount."  We turned to Matthew 5:44.  As soon as we read it, that spirit came in like a tidal wave.  She was almost in tears.

Sunday at Chruch
So that brings us to Sunday.  Let me say this.  I had no idea what was going to happen.  The highest number of investigators that I've seen at church here in Sibunag is two.  That was, until yesterday.  There were seven investigators there!  Belinda and her two kids, Rosario, Sister Johnson, and get this - those two old senile ladies!  WHAT THE HECK!?!?  There were 20 people there!!!  More than a third were investigators!  Our minds were blown.  All the members more or less panicked, but we managed to get through it.  Sacrament meeting was just about worthless - it was super hot, and the speakers weren't prepared, and they spoke in slow, soft voices.  Sunday school was way good though.  Some lady from the stake was there.  Her lesson was "perfecting the saints," but for the sake of the 7 investigators changed it to "perfecting the families."  She saved the day.  

Something funnyhappened.  Brother John still hasn't fixed the wiring in the church, and the wire to the one light started smoking, and the light started flickering.  It was one of the moments that you will either cry or laugh.  I chose laugh. 

I got some way good news from Tangalan, my last area.  Fred, gay Fred, got baptized!  That makes me so happy.  I got so much grief about wanting to teach him.  Also, that family we were teaching before I left got baptized, plus a few other people I knew.  Pretty cool. 

It's been a cool week.  Sister Johnson is getting baptized this Thursday!  She wants to do it down at the beach.  We went down yesterday to talk with the owner of a resort to make sure it was okay to do it there.  He was more than supportive.  We also messed around a little too long down there, but I've got some great pictures.  We have four others with baptismal dates.  We may give Sister Rosario one as well.

P-day at the Beach
This morning we went down to a prime beach.  We had a good time.  We got star fish, and played ultimate frisbee with a ball on the beach.  We ate delicious shrimp, and went exploring in the shallow water and sand.  It was one of the best P-days of my mission.  It was also probably my last P-day with Elder Light.  He'll most likely be transferred this week.  It's possible I am too, but I don't think so.

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