Monday, June 11, 2012

baptism week

Monday, June 11, 2012
Bugasong, Panay Island, Philippines

(Most names in this blog have been changed to protect privacy.  Italicized, purple text are comments from the editor.)

Some weeks are legendary. This was one of them.

The baptism was great.  We were super excited for it, and could hardly study on Saturday.  Well, maybe Elder Sefeti could, but I couldn’t.  We ended up singing hymns for the better part of an hour because the Bible just wasn’t holding my attention.

Every Saturday, the Holts (a retired couple from the US, serving a mission in the Philippines) come up to Bugasong, where she offers piano lessons.  We invited them to have lunch with us.  We didn’t have much to eat, but the company was nice.  They told us about their kids’ missions back in the day.  We talked about how crazy Sister Pagaduan is about apartment checks, and talked about the branch.  The Holts are down to earth and listen to concerns.  I made some lemonade from some not-quite oranges that our investigators gave us.  Would you call that orange juice?  That makes sense, but I’m not sure you add water and sugar to orange juice.  Anyway, it was nice and the Holts complimented us on it.

Then we went out to work for three hours or so.  The Holts went with our Branch’s first counselor to make much needed visits to some less-active members.  Our work went well, and we were able to focus.  We got to Sister Rabe’s house about 4pm.  Her house is a prime location right on the beach.  The Holts had brought some chairs and hymn books, and had already set things up.

on the beach for the baptism
Elder Sefeti and I changed into our white clothes and waited for some people to arrive.  The Balgos family wasn’t there yet.  That was a little bad, seeing as they were the ones getting baptized.  They showed up about 30 minutes later and also changed their clothes.  We have an army of young woman and single adult females in the branch.  A few of them came, and were super helpful getting the Balgos family changed.  The program went great.  The speakers were prepared.  Elder Sefeti and I sang “Lead, Kindly Light.”

Sister Holt brought an electric keyboard and kept the hymns on key.  The actual baptisms were sick.  The afternoon sun was super strong, making the white suits really shine.  The water had cleared a bit after the recent heavy rain had muddied the water.  We took some pictures, so the water proof camera came in handy.  We also had three investigators at the baptism.

Elder Sefeti baptized the mom and the oldest daughter, and I baptized the two youngest.  On the first baptism, I twice messed up the prayer.  Both times, I added an extra phrase from another ordinance.  With the youngest, I got it right the first time.

After the baptisms, the branch members sang hymns while the Balgos family and we changed back into our regular clothes.  Then the Balgos family bore their testimonies.  We sang another hymn, said the prayer, and ate.  Sister Rabe had prepared the food and overspent a bit, so the food was great.  The branch members were wonderful in fellowshipping both the new family and our investigators.

Most of the week, we were concerned about the weather for the baptism because it looked like it wouldn’t stop raining.  Friday the rain let up, and the ocean calmed down and cleared up.  God came through.  He always seems to.  By the way, before the rain stopped, I had quite a pile of muddy socks outside the front door.  

This week Elder Sefeti and I spoke only Kinaray-a.  The past couple of weeks, I noticed when he taught that his Kinaray-a was regressing.  He had been forgetting some rules of the language that we’d had covered, so we made the switch.  He’s doing well now, and it was time to make the switch anyway.

We taught the grandma of Alajandro Rabe this week. The lesson went ok, but it wasn’t a great environment.  Just as we were getting to the closing prayer, Grandma Rabe’s grandchild who she was holding pooped on her really badly.  Any spirit we felt was forgotten immediately.  I got a little grossed out, but not too bad.  She cleaned up and then came back, and we said the closing prayer.

I struck up a conversation with a guy in the town and told him we’d go out to see him later in the week.  He said that it was fine.  We visited him and his whole family was there.  I was happy for that.  We stared getting to know their religious background.  That’s when we find out his wife is a “healer” for a miracle crusade faction of the Catholic Church.  So we didn’t get very far.  We did introduce the restoration, and we’ll try again sometime this week.

The branch has gotten comfortable with us, so they are giving us referrals. The work is going well because of it.  I’m probably out of here in two weeks so that’s a bummer.  I hope the elder who replaces me knows what he’s doing because this area has a lot going on.

Earlier in the week we received a referral from the missionary couple in Guimaras.  A family from near here had gone there on vacation and met the couple there.  They live in our area, but way out in the boonies out in Valderama.  We literally don’t have the time to go out there.  Our time is super booked.  I told the office that I was sorry, but given the instructions we’ve received to work in a center of strength, it’s too far away.  They understood, and I figured that was that.  Elder Sefeti kept on bringing it up.  He thought we should go visit them.

Well, Sunday morning they came to church.  They found it on their own, and it had taken them a lot of time and money to get there.  It was a mom and three kids.  We talked with them for about 20 minutes after church.  We then grabbed a member and taught them outside our apartment in the shade.  We agreed to do that every week.  They are going to come every week.

It turns out that they don’t want us to go out to Valderama anyway, because the lady’s mom is a diehard Catholic and wouldn’t approve. 

We had a speaker from the stake in church.  He was over the top.  He talked about the law of chastity, and was too bold.  It’s good to be bold but he was too much.  He threw in some unnecessary American slang.  He literally said this “if you have sex before you are married you are easy. I am sorry to say this but it is true, you are easy.”  I groaned within myself.  He was pretty good at English and I wish he hadn’t been.  I like listening to the Twelve and the Prophet because they keep the sin and the sinner separated.  This guy did not do that.  I’ve been thinking about it since.  I have to just laugh about it.  It’s the Philippines. 

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