Monday, December 28, 2009
Sorry this email maybe short I spent sometime emailing other people.
It was such a pleasure to talk to you on the phone the other day--unfortunately I was not able to call NaNa-- :/ because we had curfew and had to go to Lipa before 6 and I ran out of Load on the Phone Card--sorry!
My companionship is "Interesting" for lack of a better word. Another good word is trying or Tsiyaga which is Patience in Tagalog. Elder Casuga is a good person don't get me wrong--but he's also different. The way he approaches work is different. We are polar opposites but I'm glad for the opportunity when I face opposition and hard times I look as it as a time for growth and this immature 20 year old kid that is your son needs as much growth as I can get. I'm trying hard but it seems the responsibility has fallen in my lap--I've become the senior or in other words I'm leading this companionship--which sucks because sometimes I don't do the things I should sometimes I slack off sometimes I dont want to work. It seems I've forgotten this week why I'm here, why I'm even in the Philippines---I suppose because I became trunky from calling home. but I havent working as hard as I should be. Someone once told me in the MTC--you should work so hard every single day that you come home and pass out from exhaustion and cry because you worked so hard that day--frankly I haven't lived up to my calling and what I should be. I really don't know who I am--I doubt I'll ever truly know--but I know who i've been and who I want to be or who I should be---this week has been very reflective for me. I received letters from friends that really made me happy, I see their goals and aspirations to pursue what they want to do and it's pleased me so much! I'm just as excited for them as if it was myself--I've grown up here it's true but at the same time I haven't grown up enough- the tremendous load is on me it's true and I'm not living up to what I want to be--You can't make everyone happy--but you should at least try and make yourself happy right? Well I'm not happy with myself so I shall change and work harder next week i haven't done anything "Wrong" just not enough if that makes sense?
I write this letter with sorrow in my heart, because I miss a land that is far away, friends that are soon forgetting me, a loving family that is the best thing that's happened to me and I'm so happy that they are well, and I'm not content with who I am ---but my eye is set on who I should be
stay tuned it's time for me to obtain self perfection or at least try---with God anything is possible.
I love you all very much my beloved family and friends
Monday, December 14, 2009
sa aking buhay, nararamadaman ko mashadaw malungkot, kasi si elder bondoc ay magtratransfered sa ibang area, sa palagay ko siguro sa Lucena, and magtatangapp ako ng isang bagong kasama at may autism siya, sinabi ni presidente sa akin na "kailangan ko sa iyo para sa isang mahalagang trabahjo"
Haha I guess that's just proof that I can speak Tagalog now, This weeks been interesting. We had zone interviews with President this week, oh how I've learned to love him, and he told me who my new companion would be. I thought that was interesting since he usually NEVER Tells you. But he also had something else to say. He said I've been praying and praying about this decision I'm going to ask you to do and I felt impressed that you were the answer so I really need you to take on this challenge. You're going to receive Elder Casulga as your next companion, he's a great missionary...but he's what they call "Autistic" so he's very shy and doesn't really mingle with the members or investigators so I need you to be excited like you always are and I'm sure you'll do great Elder! Can you do that for me? I appreciate you so much" The dialogue went something like that. Of course I agreed to whatever he wants, he's my mission president and holds the priesthood keys of this mission. But now I'm beginning to realize how hard this might be. I told Elder Bondoc, and of course he was upset we are really great friends, so tracting this week he pretended to be an "Elder Casulga" and I tried to teach and tract, I am able to but it's so uncomfortable and difficult, oh course because it's in Tagalog and I'm still a new missionary I don't know what I'm doing haha! But then I received an email from my MTC teacher, talking about our trials in the mission, he says that we're his "Kapatid" (children) which I'm grateful for the man has inspired me so much. He said " Don't allow yourself the comfortability of Doubt and Self-Pity in this work" So as I sit here, scared confused uncertain and homesick my mind often wonders to the scene in Gethsamane nearly 2000 years ago, when Christ took on that bitter cup of the sins of this world, was he scared? of course! was he unsure? I'm certain. was it uncomfortable? More than anyone could imagine. So I'm inspired and my heart is high as I anxiously await Friday the 18th when we go to transfer day and I get my new companion and bid farewell to Bondoc maybe for the last time.
I love you so much thank you so much for loving me and taking care of me and teaching me morals and values that have shaped me into what I should be...I haven't reached it yet. This email will be short because I'm going to try and include a bunch of pictures! know that I love you and care for you all like you wouldn't imagine. and I love Todd haha I need to write him! THE HOUSE LOOKS GREAT! my rooms blue! cool haha
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Sorry for taking forever we got up early cleaned the house and went to lipa to find out that Elder Park is no longer zone leader in Lipa :( He became Assistant to President (or Aso Ni Presidente/Presidents Dog) and we went to blueRoze with sister Niro because it is her last P-day here and then she will return home to Baguio. It was so much fun, I can't really describe it it's like a zoo/playground/bike riding area? It's really great and beautiful butttt I forgot my camera!!! AHHH But i felt like a normal human being again, when Bondoc and I rented mountain bikes and were riding around down hills, and then we went and picked on the monkeys it was really fun. Regarding the Massacre in Magindanoa, don't worry I'm over 12hrs+ away from there, and as I said before you have to be an IDIOT to go to Mindanao or Magindanao especially as an american. I guess they kidnapped the Governer and his wife and killed him in order to be elected Gov. Thats pretty intense huh? Yeah the politics here are beyond me, however all is well in Sto. Tomas. Regarding Tiffany's dream HAHAHA Yeah that wouldn't happen, every filipino is in LOVE with me here and they are obsessed with Americans, it's actually kind of sad and annoying...however I'm safe and Sto. Tomas is great! Atleast it's not Marinduque haha that place is as about as Rural as you can get...and I hope I get sent there ;) So about the Charges today, I bought my self a Christmas Present today, I'm taking upon myself to teach myself Piano here, so I bought an electric piano! :( shouldn't be too hard...So I've become like Curt I now wake up at 4:30, work out, think, look at myself in the mirror, then listen to music, and go jogging at 6:00. However now instead of thinking and looking at myself haha I'm going to practice Piano! This week has been so good to me, We had Christmas Zone Cone and we all got together with president and the AP's and the 3 other zones (Batangas,Lipa, and Mindoro) and played games hung out and FEASTED! We also bought presents and had a secret santa, I unfortunately got 4 bath towels :( Elder Bondoc got an electric Tennis Raquet fly killer? Yeah I'm not sure, but I've shocked him with it already ahha. I'm truly going to miss him, I love him so much and we're like best friends here. He's going to be transfered on Dec. 18 and I'll recieve my follow up trainer, but I'll be staying in Sto. Tomas WAAAAHHH haha it's okay it's just we've tracted EVERYWHERE and it's getting old, But sister Jolly does my laundry and the members love us so I suppose it's okay!
Haaa Regarding the Starbucks controversy! Yes there is a Starbucks in Lipa and I frequently visit it, I get Hot Chocolate with a shot of Carmel and sit and remenisne about home and christmas here and you guys...before district meeting...it's actually REALLY nice and I bought you a present for Curt there, a really cool coffee mug...however I need to find the time to send you all your gifts!
I'm okay on jeans, I buy clothes here occasionally I brought those jeans in the picture, I'm really into buying extremely ugly shorts and outrageous t-shirts and basketball jerseys haha but they are amazing and CHEAP!
I indeed go to KFC and it was DELICIOUS, I was forunate to be put in a City or near one atleast so there is KFC,Mcdonalds,Starbucks, and Chowking. I'm proud of myself, last saturday we went to Chowking because it was fast sunday the following day and I walked in Determined and Inspired. I ordered the SUlit Para Sa 3 or this meal for 3 people. It was OUTRAGEOUS, however it took some time and Bondoc had to encourage my by saying "Kaya Mo JOE!" but I finished it and wanted to throw up after! But it lasted me for over 30hours without food haha so all was well!
You mentioned in your last letter, if KFC is the only safe place, I wouldn't know what is safe or what isn't I really eat anything that looks good, and unfortunately that usually isn't the best idea I can't believe some of the stuff they eat here haha but I really try anything and it ends up in me spitting it on the ground and regretting it:), but I've yet to get sick! :):) I really abstain from blood and liver that is bawal to me in my opinion.
WAH ZACH IS MAGIGING Varsity Runningback? That's so amazing! I bet he's huge, I'm so proud of him and think of him quite often I love you man and I can't wait to see you when I get back. Since you're so strong and tough now, let's see if you can do my workout that I do each morning.
75 Russian Twists
75 Reverse Leg Crunches
I'm sure it's easy for you but I regret it each morning as I rise to the Song from the movie "goofy movie" titled "EYE TO EYE"--there is fear in my heart when I hear it come on haha.
Ugh I miss you guys so much! and think about you all the time I love you so much, I'm sorry this letter is boring I'm just excited and greatful to be your son and here in the Philipines! I LOVE IT HERE. and I have to keep an eye on the Piano I bought that's behind me
Jessica,I'm so happy you recieved your promotion and your still Masipag(hardworking) I love you very much haha those pictures were hilarious of Guinness and I'm glad you're still animal crazy, speaking of which I have a new HATE for puppies, so the Prostitutes that live next door to us have boughten 3 puppies and they run wild, cry at night until 3 in the morning, and when we open our front door they run inside and we have to chase them, and they also eat our trash...which leads to my next question...did you happen to give KiKi a cellphone or something to reach these insane animals? It's like Kiki x 3, you wouldn't believe it
Tiffany: I thought about you this week and all that you've done! I'm so proud of you! going to asu and going to china that's so great!!!! Honestly I know you'll have an amazing time!!! I'm proud that you've worked so hard to get where you are at and are experiences the world with all it's complexities and problems!
Curt: I miss you so very much,there are times when I wish you were near so that I could ask you questions about the world and it's peoples you always seemed to give good advice and know what to say to help me understand. and you lived in an area kind of like this place or perhaps you ate as much rice as I have when you were in Vietnam haa
Dad: I miss you so so so much, I haven't heard from you since I got here, maybe jessica didn't reply the message I hope you're doing well and I miss you're optimism and hardworking attitude you gave me. I thought of you this week, we were doing a service project with Elder Park and Cabatuando in Lipa cutting grass with Machetes again haha, and Park was sooo MAsipag he just kept cutting and doing it, and said something to the effect of "If you're gonna do something make sure you do it right" you've always taught me that principle and I'm thankful for that, this world is plagued with a overwhelming curse of laziness, which results in selfishness and taking advantage of people it's sad but I'm slowing learned to kill that curse.
Mom: PLEASE RELAX! I hope your happy about the home IT LOOKS GREAT! I miss you so much and there are so many nights I wish I was home so I could vent or cry or even just hold you, I miss you so much and am so proud to have a mother of your status you're my hero and greatest influence
REGARDING ME FALLINg IN LOVE HERE!
HAHA NEVER!!! I would walk to manilla and fly home before I'd marry out here haha, I mean Pilipinas are great and nice but I personally think it's embarressing to meet your wife on your mission haha that's just me. speaking of which! we met this security guard on the street and he told us to teach his family of 6 sometime early in the morning so Bondoc and I finally decided to go ovethere at 7 we get there and he keeps making Jokes about me being able to marry his 16 daughter and says I trust you, LIKE CONTINUALLY and I just laugh and look around scared with raised eyebrows. then when he lefted for work he said "Goodbye my future son in law" --let's just say we aren't returning there haha it's akward when people offer me there daughters to marry aishaaaa
anyways this letter is boring but just know I'm safe, happy, and I love you and the Lord so much
may he continue to bless you with all that you have. I love you so much!!
Monday, November 30, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
It's been quite an interesting week and to respond to the email that I got from you, yeah the world is getting crazy I've especially seen it here, really no respect for woman it drives me mad and I usually say something to the men who disrespect them, and really no respect for their bodies it's disgusting but all is well I suppose. In regards to what I need..I don't need anything the Lord has blessed me with so much...but I would like Cliff Bars or some kind of protein bar to eat during lunch time or dinner to avoid over eating, banana chips would be amazing, deodorant/shampoo/college (honestly anything would work) toothpast, I know it's cheap here but I know you get it free there. Also my mission president told me this week regarding packages that if you declare that it's under 50$ they don't charge you anything? Yeah I don't really understand that but he told me to tell you to just do that. He was suppose to send you a picture the other day or shoot an email at you I'm not sure if he did. I miss you all very much, Yeah I am planning on sending a recording home and my pictures sorry I wasn't able to send em they are too big I've taken probably 500 since the MTC so get ready for scrapbooking haha I'll try to include one in this email. So news, my diet is still going well I guess :/ haha I kind of slip when we go to members houses, but I've lossed 25lbs since the mtc so that makes me feel good, I've also switched over to brown rice whenever I eat rice which is usually never. The reason the email took so long today is because early this morning we went over to the Patriarchs house he's a really good artist and hung out with them it was nice and then we went shopping in Lipa which is merely an hour away from Santo Tomas and we have to take a bus. Speaking of buses I've had some interesting experiences the last 2 days. So on sunday we went to lipa for stake conference. Elder Bondoc and I take the No AIrcon bus because we are cheap so the rule on that is "you can always fit one more" so we stuff inside this really hot tour bus and it's like 3 to a seat sometimes. Well on the way back this man fell asleep on me over and over again of course I didn't say anything because whenever I got annoyed the verse kept popping into my head "I am my brothers Keeper" so oh well he eventually moved haha, But today was horrible. I must have really look good because everyone seems to love me here girls and boys the same...or i'm american one of the two. I'd rahter go with the 1st because it makes me feel good ;) So going to Lipa today I had my headphones on and was just zoning out thinking about you guys and this guy probably 21 years old keeps moving close to me and I keep looking at him and kind of giving him like uhh? looks. Then he starts talking to me and I feel bad because I thought he just wanted to talk so I take my headphones out, we chat for 15 minutes then he gets really touchy and I'm basically hanging out of the window and slapping his hand away from me, and then he gives me his # haha when that happened I yelled "BONDOC, KAILANGAN NAMING MAG-PlANO Para Sa Araw Ngayon" or in other words BONDOC WE NEED TO PLAN TODAY!! and I jump up and run to him, meanwhile I see him cracking up the whole time, the man is wrong. Hopefully that may cheer you up or scare you as much as it did me.
On a more serious note, it's very interesting how the Lord's plans work out, it seems we are at the right place at the right time. Time and time again we run into people who need help or they say oh I want a book of mormon or I want you to teach my family it's odd. But the event that happened this week was weird. So we were walking home 1:15pm for lunch which is odd because usually we are never late for lunch EVER haha, but we decided to teach one more person before we left. So right as we are leaving we walk by a members house, and we can see people are panicking so we ask what's wrong, to which was replied "One of your members is having a heart attack" Woah that was quite a reply so Elder Bondoc and I run over and we give her a priesthood blessing, as I said the words in the blessing and as I laid my hands upon her head I could feel the spirit of the Lord within me and the words flew it was a very interesting experience. After which she got rushed to the Hospital, we visited her yesteday expressed our love and it turns out she now has diabetes, so wasn't really a heart attack really I don't know what it was. But it was my first time in a Filipino Hospital....hahaha Not pretty. Ants on the wall, Hot and humid, no Aircon just 1 fan per room, and no soap in the bathroom ahah.
About last week we got Bro. Zalito baptized, I was the one to do it because our Ward Mission Leader is basically inactive now. I decided to give all my baptisms to the ward because they will be the one who stay in the area and grow to know this person, but i don't mind doing it every now and then. Anyways this week has been fairly good to me. But a lot of crazy things have happened this week, some that I can never forget, some I wish I never saw, some I don't want to retell, and some that has brought so much joy to my soul it's invigorating. Just know your Son is happy and safe here in the Philippines this backwards and confused nation.
I got your letters this week so thank you so much I'm going to answer Zach's question. What do I do on an average day but I'll do a week for you all.
Monday: P-day! I usually wake up at 5:30am Jog/Work out then 6:30 Shower 7:00 eat 7:30 we usually just hang in the appartment for awhile email shop just hang out for P-day. and we usually go to work for a while at 7-8 and then return and go to sleep:
Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday: wake up 5:30-7:30 same schedudle work out jog eat shower at 8:00 I have Personal study where I study the Bible/Book of Mormon and right now I'm in the Old testament trying desperately to finish it because it's rather dry sometimes, I've finished the New Testament/Book of Mormon back in the MTC then 9:00 I Have language study--Vocab/Grammar book/ etc 10:00 we have Companion study basically I teach Bondoc the lessons we'll teach today.
11:00 we go tracting or go from house to house and find people to teach which usually results in 1 or 2 lessons if we are lucky if not it usually leads me to being angry ahah.
1:00 we return for lunch, I usually just eat some kind of bar/crackers+peanut butter and sleep for an hour :)
2:00-8:00 we either tract or have lessons schedule
8:00-8:30 we return and I usually write letters hang out with bondoc, eat food until 10:30 then we go to sleep and repeat it.
Wednesday: wake up 5:30 repeat the cycle until 9:00--then we take a bus to Lipa for District meeting where we meet the other Elders in the Zone have meetings express concerns about our investigators etc. that starts at 10:00 goes till 11:30 Then we all go to the mall eat and hang out till 1:00 or 2:00 then take the bus home and work starts at 3:00
Sunday: I sleep in till 6:30 :) wake up eat food shower leave at 8:30 for church! after church at 12:00 we have PEC a meeting with the bishop and ward to talk about missionary work and what they can do to help us, but they never help us so it's pointless! haha we get home at 1:00 have lunch/sleep till 2:00 then after 2:00 we WORK!
WORK WORK WORK THAT IS THE SECRET!
I love you so much guys and miss you terrible, I hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving I'll be going to KFC and stuffing my face, so expect a charge from the Card.
A quick question how do you want me to send your stuff home? C.O.D. Or pay for it here?
Hope you have a wonderful time I love you all so much!
So I received your package this week! They received it over a week ago but it took the Assistants a while to drop it off and yes the 100$ i took out to pay for the charge they put on to Fedex companies, I really don't know why, it's the way of the world I suppose. And I talked to the Office Elders they said it was fine if you put $ in the package, they just freak out because they go to San Pablo to pick it up and they demand like 4000 pesos, so if you can just through 100$ or 80$ into the package and I can pay them right when they deliver it, or talk with Fedex and ask why they rip people off? In other news, Gas companies went on strike in the Philippines and the President is pissed so in December it's predicted there will be no gas, we'll see how that goes. Pacman beat Cotto but in the coming months he wont stand a chance against Mayweather;) I can't wait to see the broken heart of every Filipino when he's beaten by an American haha. I was kind of upset I received you're package a few days before I got it, I started a diet and working out so when all the food came I've had to avoid it, however I've been good and haven't cheated! So if you would so kindly in the next package, just send like peanut butter, power bars,crackers, beef jerky, and dried fruit? (bananas) I really cannot think of anything I need just yet.... but I will let you know in the coming months. I love you and miss you so much, I eagerly await "P-Days Eve" or sunday because that means the following day I get to email. One of your Coworkers, emailed me name was Bill he left a very polite letter of encouragement, I thought I'd let you know and how impressed I was by it, So thank him in person for me when you get to see him, maybe give him a big hug. I already sent you the pictures of my other friends in the email and will omit their names here...frankly because I'm embarrassed for them. It really hurts to see some of these guys who I grew up with and love more then you could know, They don't even look like they used to and they look strung out and pathetic. However I still love them and hope there situation will change, it's just sad wasn't a good email to be honest. We baptized a 16 year old girl last friday her name was Dharly Ilagot, she's way nice and me and elder bondoc have a lot of fun when we visit her. Her sisters active in the church, her Mom doesn't go to church anymore but we are working on her to get her back she says she'll return and always cries when we teach her, Father is a truck driver in Mindanao so we never see him, and younger brother who is 12 we may start teaching, it was overall good I just need to remember this isn't america and people are different here, espeically baptisms, Bishop doesn't dress up, the Elder Quoroms president wears a T-shirt and flip flops, it's strange and upsetting but what can you do? That's kind of the attitude Elder Bondoc and I have about Sto Tomas now, our ward has really been horrible to us this week and let me tell you why. I'm really sorry this letters haven't been too fun the last few weeks, I prefer to be completely honest with you opposed to repeating the same thing "foods good, people are good, blah blah blah" But just know whatever happens I've happy here and I love these people, and the food for some reason i've grown to like salted fried fish, when I first got here I almost threw it up, but now I'm eating the head and eyes and all. but I'm sticking to sky flakes, Oatmeal, pop tarts, and cereal for my diet, it's not delicious but my goal after this transfer is to fit into a Philippino Medium sized shirt ahah wish me luck and I'll send a christmas card
So this week none the less has been trying and I suppose I'll explain it through a verse taken from the 20th chapter of acts, written by the hand of Paul the apostle my favorite:)
"Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations"
Humility is such a funny little attribute and I continually learn it over and over again, that and I suppose patience. The continually battle of Humility and Pride not only plagues this land and world alone, but fills the stories of the scriptures, It's the reason why Pharaoh would not free the Children of Israel, Why Aaron the brother of Moses built a Golden Calf for the Children of Israel to worship, Judas betrayed Christ, Why Paul the Apostle was beheaded by Nehor, Why Alma and Amulek had to witness the believers burnt before their eyes, and why the great civilizations of nations have fallen throughout the history of the world. Haha Don't think for a second it's not in missionary work. So i told you about Bro. Zolito the man who cried when we interviewed him well we had an interesting experience with him and his wife. Last monday we had scheduled an appointment with them a Family Home Evening, last Monday was a difficult day for me which resulted in me getting angry, hitting a concrete wall, Elder Bondoc and I arguing, and then crying together for an hour. So I did not feel like going to their home, of course we should have let them know but we did not. So then before Monday was told them his baptism would probably be on friday, complications came because the Philippines is the only nation in the world without Divorce, so the wife has had 4 marriages before or other words she commmited adultery 4 3 times now, and then we get the word from our Zone Leaders that we cannot baptism him yet until he is interviewed by president, So theres no baptism for him we don't have a cell phone or time to tell them it's not going on. so we go to their house she starts yelling and screaming at us and saying all these things like "Your job is to save souls why arent you doing it?" "he's been inglesia for several years so if he goes back to his church what does it matter" and basically scolding us. I just bit my tongue apologized and sat there in silence. So i called president we arranged the baptism for this week, Do I think they deserve it...I don't know there seems to be no repentance process for them he commited fornication she committed adultery...but does he have a testimony oh yes, is he dedicated oh yes! And the bishop is just rushing all this so he can get a chapel built in Sto. Tomas does he deserve one...NO not at all he's late all the time, does the ward deserve one ? No Not at all, they don't support missionaries or missionary work, and now that Elder Bondoc and I have done something "BAD" everyone in the world is Tsismising about us or in other words They are gossiping about us, for instance a woman who i've never talked to turned around and started chastising us in Sacrament meeting for not going to Bro. Zolito's house on Monday, then I hear it from at least 8 members on Sunday. Well to be honest, Elder Bondoc has helped this ward grow from 50 members to over 100 in 3 months and since we've been here it's grown about 7. but I suppose that's life salvation and pride. So I'll continue to humble myself and bite the bullet, these people don't realize the evil they work. However we all do this, I am by no means perfect, it's just hard to work for a ward who doesn't support you. However I love it and the Lord alone I will obey. and continue to swallow my pride and repent. and tell president not to extend them a chapel they don't need one they are too underdeveloped
more next week I have no time I love you all so much.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Thank you for the email Curt, it's really great to hear from you and thank you guys so much for supporting me out here. You are right about the Rain here, it gets crazy out here! and I'm always waking up around 3:30 am and open the window looking at all the rain and wind and my mind or heart or whatever turns to home and I stay up thinking about you guys, what problems your facing, what new battles mom is fighting, what zach's doing with his friends, what new crazy idea tiffany has come up with, and what new thing the dog's have chewed up. I miss you and love you guys.
So I was thinking about home this week during my personal study and decided to reread the letter mom wrote for me before I left, I never really had the chance to thank you guys for that it's given me much strength in hard times, and I remember a portion you wrote about whenever you feel the mist hit your face think of me, it's been rainy this week so indeed I have been thinking you quite often when it gets rainy or depressing here. But just know that I am happy and healthy and absolutely love this place. I've grown to love this country, this people, and I've come to know who I am or who I really want to be. I've come to know the goodness and wickedness of people in a foreign nation and foreign tongue, and more importantly I've come to know the God I serve more than I could have asked for. All is well here. In the words of the Psalmist from the Bible: "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, who's hope is in the Lord his God"
This week I was riding in a jeep after we had been punted or stood up on lessons going to the other side of town to teach another family, I looked at my soaked clothes, my tired companion, my muddy shoes, the old seats we were sitting on, and then I looked out into the horizon, where I saw a miraculous sight...sunlight breaking through the clouds making a glorious sight in the setting horizon with rain dancing about the rays of sun. It was at that moment I came to love this place. It was when I sat in homes the size of my room, with familes of 15 in front of us and see a 50 year old woman cry because of my humble testimony about how great God has been in my life and how her family can be together after this life through the ordinances of the temple. I came to love these people. It was when I was on my knees and crying for faith, when God had comfortable my soul then I came to know how wonderful he his. It was when I saw the hand of God in this work by seeing those hearts of the people softened or indescribable coincidences take place that I knew this work is the most important thing I could be doing now.
I love you all so much, Hope all is well
Love Your Son,
p.s. I've been thinking about Zach quite a bit this week hope he is doing well! oh by the way about your dream mom, I kept thinking about it and there is a Sister Warnick here she's american I told her about your dream she said that's odd, yeah our house flooded and now my mattress is destroyed and on halloween there was a drunk guy who wouldn't stop knocking on our front door for 20 minutes, I asked if she needed anything and she said she is fine, she's a great girl from Idaho, so perhaps you had her in mind.
Really quick about Feddex, Mission president asked us not to send it because they really screw us over here. They charge about 5000P to pick up any package sent from fedex so it roughly translates to 100-150$ extra when it gets here and the office elders have to front the $$ don't ask me why just another way to screw over american's because I suppose there mind set is well you have money! so gives us it! I've ran into that a lot over here. To which I reply in my head, well If you didn't drink all day or gamble and had a job at your age 20-45 then things would be different, it's hard to think that but it's also hard to see these horrible parents ruin their children because they don't want to work and sleep all afternoon and drink daily. It's a testament to me that in life if you want success: WORK, STUDY, and Take care of what's important which is family don't be a lazy slob and in the words move on with your life...values you have instilled in me since I was young so thank you again. So they asked to send through the post office because it's only 35P to pick up? Don't know how much that is to send from home, perhaps you can put 100$ in the package or something and maybe the Elders won't care. Who knows well love you again!
Tell Zach, Tiffany, Jessica, Jason, Michaela, Madison, Chance, TK, Malaki that I love them. and Zach to respect woman don't do anything with them that would bring shame to our family name, don't be stupid and drink, and don't be stupid and do drugs, and don't hang around with kids that give mom and curt worries.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Ok, For those of you I did not tell.. I had a dream about Josh him telling me he was safe and happy but that his companion was struggling..
Still not sure if he got his Birthday Box or not... geez there is some good stuff in there..
From: Joshua Gonzalez [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, November 01, 2009 6:13 PM
To: Debbie Hicks
Subject: Re: Happy Birthday Josh
I've been honestly waiting for Monday since Friday ha-ha I was really excited to hear from you and I love to hear from you..So Friday came and a Level 3 Typhoon hit Santo Tomas the area I am in, we got woken up around 3:30 because it was really loud outside the weather was incredible, but we've been in level 4 and level 5, before we were perfectly okay nothing happened to us because the Church has us staying in San Miguel Brgy. which is a really nice area and an awesome 2 story house! So everything was okay with us, and the prophet a few years ago recieved revelation to store water and 72 hour kits, so if anything were to happy we have enough food and water for 3 days alone, and president would come rescue us we are only 20 minutes away from mission office, so we are beyond safe. But seeing the effects of the Typhoon on our investigators was really sad and some have been killed. The Busa family lost as two of their family members, they were killed, we have been teaching the whole family since my arrival here.. It will be so hard to go back with the Mom and Grandma now gone. For instance the Busa families house got flooded maybe 5 feet and the surrounding areas there and the water was just sweeping people away, a Jeepney which is roughly the size of my truck got throw into a river and this man jumped in after it, it's sad to see people through away their lives for material possession. He was killed, they got a crane and pulled it out, but he was crushed from the water pressure. I got a picture, not the outcome I was expecting while I had my camera in hand. . I have a sad story to tell, when the typhoon hit , it was raining pretty hard, whenever it rains bad they tell us to go home so we stay in our fort haha. But it was in the Brgy. of San Miguel, and this little child got swept under this bridge, and down the river so this Lolo or grandpa jumped in after him, needless to say neither of them made it. Mom you would have been proud of me as we were crossing the same bridge at the exact time, and although it hurt tremendously,, I knew there was nothing I could do, to save the child or the grandfather.. We stopped and prayed for them, but it was obvious that they would not survive the ordeal. ( I remembered what you told me at the airport, help the living and pray for the dead, and to be aware of my surroundings and not to try and be a Hero ) We were told the next day that they also did not survive. It's sad but it's very preventable. The typhoon also knocked down a few walls in my brgy. Imperial because they were made out of cheap Cement I asked my companion Elder Bondoc why Philipinos don't make things to last and he says "Because we've cheap! :)" SO i suppose that is the philosophy here. Don't worry about us mom here, honestly I've never felt safer in my life the President is always wearry of us and constantly text the members around us to tell us if there is a storm coming and tell us to go home. About your dream, I haven't gotten your box yet it is probably at the Mission Home I suppose we'll travel over there today to see if it's there if we are able to get out and the roads are not destroyed. But you are a bit right about my companion. Rumors were that he was going to be transfered and I saw him and he got really upset, last night I was messing with him and told him I think i'm being transferred and although he tried to show it I could see him crying. He means a lot to me and I love Elder Bondoc, but life is like that, I'm pretty use to being upset and the large and small sacrifices out here...but there's always a new horizon and something if not better just different. We didn't get emails today so we don't know if I'm transferred, if not then all will be well...if so then Ganoon Buhay or life is like that.
Mom, you were correct, I have seen things and witnessed things here that no one should have to see or witness and so much of it is preventable, I guess I never realized how precious and fragile life really is and how very quickly your life can be lost.
It hurt me to think that Zach lost and he was upset, I hate those feelings and hope he is feeling better, whether they cheated or not doens't really matter, they got to the finals and they played their hearts out I suppose that's all that really matters what can you do? and if the game did get reversed would you really feel any better knowing you won because you complained? I'm as proud as him as I would be if he won. By the way I made him a REALLY cool jersey so expect that in a few weeks when ever I mail it, I'm still looking for some more gifts for you guys. It was weird waking up in our apartment and saying oh it's halloween oh it's my birthday, we woke up went for a jog I did crunches and Elder Bondoc said "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE!" Joe is the name for American's here Don't ask me why haha.
About the priest who is kidnapped don't worry about me mom That's in Southern Mindonah and you are an IDIOT if you are an american and go to Southern Philippines and expect to live or not be kidnapped, A lot of the terrorist travel from Indonesia and stay there and raise hell, the Philippino Gov. has been fighting them for years, and They are ususally really nice to their prisoners, because They are Visayans and Visayans are amazing people! Don't worry about North Philippines it's say here and everyone is afraid of me because of my size haha.
Speaking of Visayans we met a family this week called the Bagyo family, and it's interesting the miracles that happen in missions, I say a big sign that was for boyscouts so I walked over to the thing and peeked over and at that exact time I saw the brother of Julies Bagyo our investigator, he is the manager of the Chicken Farm or Texas farm it's for COck fighting they imporart chickens from Hawaii and train them to fight in Manila in internation competitions each chicken cost like 30,000 pesos or roughly 600$it's crazy. Julies after seeing us decided to invite us in, he thanked us very much for teaching him and fed us pork chops he was beyond polite he also told us. That if we are ever in danger or need somewhere to hide this is the safest place i n STO Thomas to come, since there are armed guards 24/7 and they are pretty well armed with M16's he also told us if we get in trouble with the police to tell him his name and we'll be free to go, and that if we need him to rough someone up on the street to tell him their name nad consider it done haha. That last offer was very tempting but this man is so imcredible nice, and had said "I beleive it's possible you are sent form God, usually I just ignore Missionaries because I don't really trust them but then I say you in your shirt and ties and felt that I should invite you in, and what you've taught me and my family I am so greatful for" I'm not saying his baptized yet but we taught them twice already and we're playing basketball with them later tonight they are so nice. He used to fight Taekwando so he is teaching me alittle here and there haha its so great here. I really love his family and they invited us to their Christmas party on the 23rd. All is well here I am safe and the lord provides for us. Pray for me that I may find success here I love you all very much!
So excited for Tiffany going to PAris/Germany/England that's so sweet!
OKAY running out of time love you very much.
Elder Wallace means nothing to me
oh can you send an American Umbrella they are cheap and break here consistantly Love you all so much
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It's been so great to hear from you and the Orange "Halloweeny" colored background was great haha I'll think about it this coming saturday when we have to go home at 6:00 PM because they're is a curfew on Halloween and then the next day which is All Souls Day, it's kind of creepy all the Filipinos go to graves and eat food and cry? but then Monday is my birthday! woo haha who would have thought 8 years ago that I would be spending my 20th and 21st birthday in the Philippines, it's nothing more than I could ask for, I've come to love these people already... well most of them however some still get on my nerves;) But, I'm continually praying for love and charity for those I serve here, Let me relate a story to you. We have been teaching a family they are the Busa family, they have 6 kids, and live in a tiny house but Nanay and Tatay are amazing, they are really great. At any rate we've been teaching them quite a bit and it's getting to the point where it's you need to come to church or we have to stop: so the last two lessons have been serious, about the Law of Chastity and Sacrafice. In the LoC lesson, Elder Bondoc kind of skipped over it because he get's shy sometimes, so I said "Teka, Kuyah anoong inisip tunksal sa law of chastity" which translates into, Wait, Brother what do you think about the law of chastity--I was talking to the Boyfriend of a Daughter of the Busa who is pregnaunt. Well it got really silent and i'll admit...EXTREMELY AWKWARD. At anyrate we bore testimony that the Lord delights in the chastity of his children and commited them to come to church and talk to the bishop about getting married so all was well! Until the following sunday only 2 of our 10 investigators came to Sacrament...well that was a bit annoying SO we returned to the Busa families house. Shared a video on the Restoration (about Joseph Smith) and Bondoc and I were very serious, he basically said...you need to decide if we are going to continue the lessons or what. I replied, and keep in mind I love these people. "You have a responsibility, God has given you an opportunity to know if this is true, so you need to act on it and pray and ask, it's not about reason, intelligence, or debating, pray and God will answer and yes it is a sacrafice to for go working sunday mornings, but you need to sacrafice it all for God. I have given EVERYTHING, I struggled through a language for 3 months and still am, left my family, left everything I had, payed a lot of money...and it's all for you because I love you and I love God and we know this is true, I tesify that we are called of God and we have recieved authority from the laying on of hands in order to preach and administer the ordinances of Salvation."--- It was kind of sad because it was a very intense lesson, but I said all this out of love and I felt the spirit, very strongly. Nanay Busa started crying and told us she really wants to know if it's true so she is going to continue to pray and go to church. It's very difficult to grow to love these people, offer them the thing that makes you the most happy and have them forsake it...I just pray that they will accept it and enter the waters of baptism.
I'll be honest with you, and I think a lot of missionaries/Returned missionaries will agree, I didn't know what I was getting myself into, this is HARD and extremely lonely, walking down the street and have people run from you and kids yell curse words at you in english, struggling to speak a language that you can't make logical sense because people speak straight slang, exhausted because you've been rejected for 3 hours, and then people hide from you in their houses when you scheduled an appointment
But I say this now and I stand behind it till the day I return from my mission and into the eternities, these last 3 months of Hell, I would never trade for one single thing, I have given and I will continue to give all that I have for this cause, this cause being the Salvation of Human souls. I was talking to an RM here in the Philippines and he was telling me about the day when he had to remove his "Nametag" or missionary badge he started crying, I began to think about it and think about it and I got really upset to think my mission would be over I love it here, yes it's difficult yes it's hard, but I have an amazing family supporting me, I have great friends whom I love making huge changes in their lives for this cause, and I've never been this close to my God. Another interesting story I was thinking about all this and getting sad or in missionary terms "Trunky" --meaning wanting/thinking about home and I listened to a talk from Gordon B. Hinckley the last prophet entitled the Loneliness of Leadership, he began to say I guess that’s the experience of almost every missionary who has been there three months. There is scarcely a young man or woman who is called to go into the world in a position of great responsibility to represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who does not feel much of the time, I am sure, in the early months of his or her mission, the terrible loneliness of that responsibility. But he also comes to know, as he works in the service of the Lord, the sweet and marvelous companionship of the Holy Spirit which softens and takes from him that feeling of loneliness.” ---that is 100% true, of course there are times of sorrow...of course there are hours of concern and anxiety the gospel is a thing of joy it provides us with a reason for gladness, so I become optimistic and happy here and ako ay magiging Filipino sa wakas!
I just feel that I am rambling right now haha, but it's good for me I just want you to all know that I love you so much and I've come to know how much I really love you while I've been away that's a bit weird huh? haha but honestly I miss the little things the most, playing Fable with Zach, listening to the dreams and anspirations of tiffany from her crazy view on the world ;), hanging out with jessica and making her buy panda express, destroying Jason in EVERY Video Game that he has EVER owned, helping curt with the car sometimes, and having life talk with you mom and curt on occasion, Nana and Papa coming over every weekend was so nice, even just taking naps in dad's house on sundays, I'll even admit I miss the dogs---EVEN Michaela, I don't want to use the word "KIKI" because I found out this week that's an inapropriate word in Tagalog hahaha-----I miss you all terribly, and I regret the time I didn't spend with you.
I have unfortunate news for you.. I'm becoming more Filipino and it's annoying haha besides the tagalog that comes out of my mouth that I didn't know I knew, whenever I don't hear someone I open my mouth wide and open my eyes. haha it's a good sight i'm sure you will have fun with it when I return.
We had zone conference or in normal terms, we all got together with President Anderson and his wife and 3 other zones in the mission and had a FEAST and gave talks! I gave an interesting testimony and this won't sound at all like me.
Well, I walked up to the stand, related a story in the 14th chapter of Mark where Christ is in Gethsamene completing the atonement, and wakes up his apostles, Peter James and John 3 times and on the 3rd times says rest now for the son of man is betrayed, and then Judas shows up with the guards. I related that experience back to 2 Thessalonians where Paul the Apostles says " Let us not sleep as do the others, but be sober and watchful"---and said to all the missionaries in the conference "WAKE UP, if you are disobedient here, you willfully forfeit the privelage to participate in the salvation of a human soul and that's pathetic"...see there is a huge problem here in San Pablo Mission, not to mention it's been the joke of the Philippines for the last few years it's getting better. A lot of the missionaries have the notion that the mission rules don't mean anything, I mean there is everything here, Drinking, Sex, Gambling, Leaving companions, and not really working at all. Elder Mace and I have been talking quite a bit and it's our goal to change this mission so although the other missionaries may not be obedient to mission rules, I'm striving my best...keep in mind I'm being reasonable and not too hard...yes on occasion I sleep into 6:40 or spend 1 1/2 hours on email..I just avoid the big stuff and try my best...but a big thing I'm trying not to do is find faults in other missionaries, besides my testimony I'm not going to Tsismis or gossip or rebuke elders, only when it makes me disobedient, and some quote that stuck with me from the MTC which I'm not sure why is "Be the kind of missionary that you're mission president can trust" and that's my goal! In my arrival interview, I looked president in the eye and said "I have one thing I want you to know...I will do ANYTHING you ask me to do and I will try my personal best to follow all the mission rules"--he thanked me after I had said this and we have such an amazing relationship I really love this man and his Wife, they've become my mission parents seriously it's such a pleasure to get to know them, you should email them they'd love to get to know you..they told me they would be emailing you a pitcure when I arrived.
WELL Deleted my email again! good thing I remembered to Copy before it deleted it...at any rate I just explained about Elder Bondoc how much I love this kid and we get along our apartment is great, excpet our neighbors are loud at night because they try to sing Kaoriako!
I love you and tell my friends to email me I'd love to hear from them
Please Write a thank you Note to PRes. Rowe at MTC for me and maybe include a gift and give my upmost respect and thanks to Joanne, Marty, and Rowe.
and please Forward, Todd+Brett's emails! Love you so much!
Friday, October 23, 2009
So because the computer shut off I lost my long letter that I wrote to you so this short one will have to suffice I have no time
I live in Santo Tomas outside of Tanauan
Baptism last week had 4: No ward support it was difficult
I'm going nuts in this internet cafe, so many lil kids yelling about a video game
Where are you ? SANTO TOMAS OUTSIDE LIPA
Give me your address to write you too. MISSION HOME
Have you worked with the victims of the flooding, mudslides deaths ec. no
Do you need anything ?
Do you really need toilet paper ? no
Do you have a freezer yes
Do you have a microwave no
How is your foot doing
Are you driving or walking
how is your asthma doing.
havent had problem
I will be mailing you a box by mid week.
dont send if its that expensive
I'll email next week I'm sorry I went hiking today.
THANK YOU ALL FOR THE PRAYERS.. THE LETTER BELOW IS FROM JOSH.
APPARENTLY HE WROTE IT Sunday NIGHT, It did not arrive in Mexico until this afternoon.
There is no mention of the horrible weather, so he may have continued on into the San Pablo Mission
area where he was originally suppose to be serving.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD, TIFFANY I LOVE YOU
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY NANA AND PAPA--50 Years WOOOO!
First of I love you all dearly, and you have no idea how much I care about you and think about you and how much you take up my prayers. This does not only apply to my family, I'm thinking dearly of my beloved friends and acquaintances. So my first full week in the Philippines has been quite an experience, and a bit of a culture shock I'll admit. I miss you Mom, Curt, Dad, Zach, Tiffany, Jessica, Jason, Nana, Papa, Drew, Jax, Eamon, Elder Rodgers, Scott, Sharon, Grandma Grandpa Maw, Andrew, Teresa, Caroline, Lil Steve, Max, Eric, Lakewood Ward, the Allens, Cory, Geoff, Jonny, Erma, Carlos, Adrian, and all those who I mistakenly forgot, and especially American's and English. But I've never been happier, excited, depressed, intimidated, and Loved of God than I have in the last few months and especially this last week. I've seen the hand of God in this work and I know that it is good and righteous. Every tear, drop of sweat, and feeble prayer is a concentrated gift to my Lord and God, which I wouldn't trade for the world. But, I'm going to be honest this is hard. Its unfortunately really hot right now in the Philippines and AirCon doesn't exist here, just fans...but it's nothing I would change. I love the experience I've had so far, and I pray for struggles and trials every night as well as deliverance from them. Let me try and explain what has happened this week.
Well, Elder Bondoc and I have been becoming really great friends, and I thank the Lord that he is my trainer he really gives me a lot of say in things and helps me teach, while at the same time serves me and pushes me like you wouldn't believe. We've been teaching a lot this week and proselyting (which is basically walking up to people and introducing yourself) to an either "I'm not interested", or don't even acknowledge you're presence, which I am fine with it doesn't effect me if they turn me down, when I get upset I usually sing a hymn and realize how lucky I am to be here. It only gets to me when we get "punted" or other words blown off when we go to their house and they either hide or aren't there. Which again doesn't bother me too much, if they truly do not want to listen to what I have to say, I feel compassion for them...because every good thing I have, every hope that has ever existed in my conscious, every aspiration, every tear, every fear, every dream, and every blessing that has come to me has been comforted through and because of God. And we don't expect people to take a HUGE leap of faith and trust an American and a Filipino they will feel in their heart that this message is true, all they have to do is pray..I've not a car sales men, I'm a servant of the Most High God. So on a lighter note, let me tell you about an experience that happened me yesterday that will end in a PLEA for something...
Elder Bondoc and I had some amazing food yesterday, eggs, fried chicken, and rice with Coke! it was truly amazing and tasted grace my taste buds and esophogus loved it....but when it reached my stomach it had a different opinion...that was a few hours later and we were walking by the rice fields with no bathrooms for miles...and THEN IT HIT ME. My stomach began to cringe...and cry for relief. I knew it was coming....I tried to push through it and i'll be a honest I prayed a few times for my stomach to subside...however it finally came and I had to find shelter! haha Luckly Elder Bondoc and I walked by an abandoned house...so I went in, gritted my teeth, and used my Wilderness Survival Techniques that I learned in Boy Scouts...while Elder Bondoc ran back and forth across the street picking Damo (leaves) for toilet paper.. haha. The people around there were really confused as to why a short Filipino dressed in a shirt and tie kept running back and forth and throwing Damos through a hole in an old concrete building laughing hysterically...that was until I came out drenched in sweat and but a big smile on my face..Let's just say I was VERY THANKFUL for the hand sanitizer that you gave me! :) So my Plea!!! PLEASE IF YOU HAVE EVER LOVED ME!!! Send More Hand Sanitizer, Toilet paper! (A LOT) and maybe some American food in a package here! I would love it so much!! anything that wouldn't melt or get old quick! :) :) :) :) PLEASE! and perhaps peanut butter the peanut butter here is HORRBILE!!!
So news on the baptisms,
everything got pushed back because of General Conference...it was yesterday because we got to watch the Rebroad cast...and Todd was correct! Elder hollands was truly amazing! it also gave some really good tips for fathers and sons and how to have a better stronger relationship..it's so great to see the Leaders of the Church cry and spend numerous hours trying to help the family...because they are most important thing in this world and world to come.
So this Friday! We'll have the Baptism for Alfredo (14 boy) who reminds me of Zach so it's so great to hang out with him, we are also teaching his Father at this point in time I'll explain more later on him Zolito Domo. Mac Mac(15 boy) and May May (10 girl) They will be baptized as well on this day...I haven't spend much time with them but they are cool kids kind of reminds me of myself it's weird...Then we have Judylynne(16) some of her family are members so that's great
the other 8 that we had either declined our baptismal interview, punted us, or are moving out of the area...it's a little sad however Elder Bondoc told me that I'll be baptizing this Kids! so that makes me so excited! :)
We found a really awesome family called the Bunsa Family, there are a Tatay (father) and Nanay(mother) with like 9 kids and the oldest being married with the husband we are teaching too! they are way receptive and very nice! we invited them to be baptized! and they said they would...after they've been to church a few times...Nanay has cried almost every lesson..it's so interesting to see their reaction when we teach that familes can be eternal and forever after this life through the ordinances in the temple...because the love we feel in homes is not temporal but holy and eternal that we can keep forever and ever if we act our part and live in a way that we need to. I really love this family and am so excited for them! When I first got to their house I was a little shocked...Honestly Mom and Dad it's insane here...I thought people were kidding when they told stories about people living in homes no bigger than our living room...however it's worse than that I've been and taught in homes where there are bugs everywhere, it's extremely hot and humid because no air/fans, dirt floors, and no bigger that 6feet by 6 feet, with families that are bigger than ours, honestly like 8 kids. But these people are the happiest and kindest people I've EVER MET. They are willing to feed us when they cannot even feed themselves...this is the epitome of Charity and Pure Love of Christ. It's truly inspiring but depressing at the same time. These people have nothing but give all things. I don't want to admit it...but this mission has changed me so much already you have no idea and I am so thankful that you have always supported me in my endeavors in the Church and on my mission. Saturday when Elder Mace and I went to the mall, after General Conference we were just reminiscing about pre-mission life and hanging out I came to know something. I wasted so much time before my mission...just being in the Philippines for the last week, I've wasted 19 years of my life, playing video games and doing nothing! There is so much to experience in other cultures, serving others, and having a passion in life. I'm so extremely excited for my mission and when I learn Tagalog, but at the same time I'm equally excited to see who I am in 2 years. This mission is not a waste...for anyone to think so is a complete and pathetic thought, for any to suppose that going to college for 2 years would be more beneficial is terribly confused. I've learned more, experienced more, done more, seen more, felt more, grown closer to my God, cried more, rejoiced more, realized more than I have EVER in my entire life and this is just the first week...this will truly be the great experience of my life...after it is the greatest challenge.
Before I go I just want to share the experience we had while teaching Zolita Domo. We met him at church when his "wife" (they are not yet married, it seems to be a reoccurring theme in the Philippines not marrying...I hear it's because when you get married you are suppose to invite EVERYONE you know and if you forget someone they will get offended and stop being your friend..which I imagine would get pretty expensive) who has been a long time member said she wanted him to take the discussions because he's been to church for quite sometime but not progressing. So as we were teaching...I asked..."sa palagy po ninyo, ano ang iniisip ninyo tunkal sa Simbahan dito" or in other words... in your opinion what do you think about this church...he quickly replied "Totoo" or True...I really wasn't satisified with that response so I replied...How much does it mean to you...and something I wont forget happened.
It became real silent he looked away, and as I stared at him I saw this 46 year old man, wearing dirty old dress pants, old shoes, and a old grey dress shirt with no tie..is all he had. He looked back at me with tears in his eyes and replied "This church means everything...I wanted to know it was true for myself not because my wife is in it...I know that it is true it means everything." I couldn't explain my thoughts at that moment and I really still can't I just remember his tear-ridden face and the feeling I have when I relive this experience in my mind..and the sweet spirit that I feel that I know is from God. I am so greatful for the Living Christ and this church and that I can be his servant. I love you all very much and miss you and pray for you...I'm happy when I hear that Zach is killing it in football and everyone is well! I'd like to hear from Jessy/Jason have them shoot an email my way or maybe Nana and Papa or Dad.
I also had another request. I am going go to the Palenke which is the market and buy everyone Christmas gifts, I hope that's okay...I'll probably be taking 100$ out of the bank and it should be a lot less than that but I'll put back what I don't use...I'm also planning on sending Todd a Christmas gift, it is these really cool belts here, they are made from Carabell Horns.. anyways hope you enjoy PV...Relax and Enjoy yourself.
I love you more than anything.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sorry this letter isn't too fun or exciting.
I'm amazed at how fast the Holy Ghost was able to each me Tagalog
So information about flight stuff, I got cleared today to leave...I went in Tuesday and told him I felt fine and told me to wait till monday so that means they haven't talked to travel yet. I went in there early morning and they are getting things settled I should know when I'm leaving sometime tonight. I don't really know why they had me wait, but I know not save the Lord commands, thats the kind of attitude you must have on a mission..and humility and that's a tought one. However, I am hopeful, faithful, and true. This week has had a lot of great events. So this last week basically I had a lot of 1 on 1 time with Brother Hyde who is a teacher but didn't have a class so we just taught a lot this week and street contacted other missionaries in Tagalog, and I can say that it is becoming easier and easier. I begin to feel the Spirit in Tagalog and I can usually say whatever I want...If I can't I'll have a companion! Haven't really got any mail this week, As in I don't know if you sent it or if my "New District Leader" hasn't given it to me. He's a bit frustrating and we got into an argument. However, I've been nicer to him and we get a long better I just cannot "mesh" with his personality..which is self-righteous. I got placed into a district with a lot of obedience problems so that has been fun(sarcasm). It's truly interesting and I know the Lord wants me to learn how to stand up and say things to people when it's wrong...however I'm not too good at that.
My new companion for 1 week was Elder Derosia, I really started liking him we get a long well and he tries to work hard, but his companions (he was in a threesome) were horrible and would sleep during study time and really are wasting their mtc time. Other than that I'm really just anxious and anxious to leave..Here comes that Patience thing again...d' ba? or right? It was truly a blessing to be here for another week, but it's time to go! The days almost here and I will be ready to serve and teach, I'm pretty fired up but I need to try my best to stay diligent here it's tough! I hope you guys have been doing well...like I said before haven't really heard from you on a ccount of my mailbox being moved from 264--->314 probably because I guess they throw Dear Elders away when the Elder "isn't here" I've already got into a few conversations with the mailstaff and they aren't happy people. Patience Patience Patience Patience, Humility, and Pride I've learned this week. Oh and a TON of Tagalog. But's it's been good to me. I don't really know whatelse to say I'll probably be calling you tonight or tomorrow to let you know when I am leaving for sure so expect one soon until then I'll relay a story about the RC.
It was about a lady named Nicole, she had been chatting with me for a few minutes and then wanted to talk on the phone to explain her problem. So I went downstairs to the calling center. It was a really good experience, I taught a lesson in 3rd Nephi--Which is when Christ appeared to the first time to the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. It was a powerful lesson and I could truly feel the happiness that this lady radianted when she spoke about her testimony of the Gospel. I bore testimony to her and asked her if she would be baptized. And In fact she was already planning on it! It was a very spiritual, and the Respect she had for me was a little strange, I suppose I don't quite understand the influence I have when I teach with the Holy Ghost. But after this weeks trials and frustrations I'm looking toward the future in faith and hope, in a matter of hours I should be in the Philippines or on my way, I have an amazing family, great and numerous friends, I hold the keys to preach the gospel and administer ordinances of salvation, got out of the temple a few hours ago, and I am apart of the Lords church.
Congratulations Zach on your Football game! and thank you for the dedication however I don't deserve it! Next game dedicate it to Curt he has been to every single game and practice! But love you Lil' Bro and miss you good job! Mom keeps me updated on all your games! Tiffany hope you're doing well in school. Jessica I meant to right you last week however had no time because I had to move rooms and I have to go pack after this! Sometime sOON! Mom hope your feeling better, I have been praying for you. Curt hope your still happy and making bad jokes ;)
Mahal Ko Kayo!--Talaga!
speaks about before the 2nd coming of the Lord, he will send his people to teach those in the Isles of the Sea and gather the tribes of Israel for one last time.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Kumusta po Kayo? I miss you badly. This week has been trying... however, it's also been interesting and a good experience. I guess I'll start off 4 days ago. When I got called down to the President's office he told me that I would not be leaving with my District this week but would be staying behind on account of my foot, at the time I had been walking on it for 2-3 days, and there is virtually no pain. This was at first really upsetting and I was really mad, I thought I'm going to miss my districts farewell I love these people, It's going to be so lonely blah blah blah. I was mad for about a half an hour. Then I felt an impression that sad this: Who was with you when you joined the Church? I was Who was with you when you studied those nights and truely asked me for faith? I was and Who will be with you when we fly to the Phillippines and through out your mission? I will be.
Then a Hymn came into mind :How Firm a Foundation: which says which I'm sure I quoted her before
Fear Not I am with thee oh be not dismayed.
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen, Help thee, and cause thee to stand.
Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.
and then I felt peace and order, I still don't know exactly why I'm here but I kind see that it's a blessing from God. I have another week to study the language or maybe help the district that is struggling here. I'm really thankful that I got to call you it was nice to hear your voice, and the letter was great.
Something I realized this week: People can say they believe in God and have all faith and would do anything for him, but I noticed this week especially with myself, when the times does come when a tribulation or infirminity comes along, it really lets you know where you are at. Are you on the line pushing back to hold that faith you so dearly love, or are you in the stands buying popcorn. I'm glad I had this experience at first I was really troubled as to why God would have this happen to me, but I'm thankful he reasurred me in that hour that I needed let me know that he still loves me. I was a little bit ashamed for a day or so I walked around with a temper and just overall sadness, that really put me in place. I don't like or have the faith to Suffer the Will of the Father, and now I know I need to. I need to face whatever comes to me and look toward the horizon and know that God is there. It's sadden me that it's true but I also rejoice because now I can fix this problem, pray for faith and diligence in this work that it so dearly needs. One thing I am greatful for is that there is a God who's arm is extended to anyone who will lift up and grab it, it's available to all. The best decision I have made in my life was to open my eyes and see it, and that was because of great friends and loving neighbors. And I was able to see it because I was raised in a wonderful home with extradinary parents and siblings! So thanks again!!! It's so great to here about Zach's games and how well he is doing it's amazing! It's good to hear about Tiffany and how well she is doing. I hope jess is doing well with her new job and Jason I'm going to try and write them today. I hope nanny and papa, Curt and dad, and you are great as well. You sound to have had a pretty tough week at work, I hope the world is treating you well.
Oh! I forgot to mention Elder Holland<-- another apostles came and spoke to us, he is one of my favorites, incredible intelligent man. He is so enthusiastic about missionary work and loves every single one of us he really pumped me up for my mission he said he has thought about his mission everyday for the past 49 years, and every good thing that is in his life is a result of it. I hope that I may serve and learn to love the people, forget my culture, and self and serve unselfishly to have that same experience. although the MTC experience is coming to an end these are days never to be forgotten. I've grown so close to my district, God, and even though we are far away family. I'm sorry for not always being around I realized the important of family here, and I cannot wait to see you again.
I'm not worried about Tagalog, I have a lot of studying time this week. This week I think is just really for self reflection and studying Christ life. I have 100pages left in the New Testament and I already finished the Book of Mormon. I think I'm just going to read over the book of Job and see his strength and faith and then read about Christ... I believe that's what this dark and sad world needs hope in something that is eternal and loving, opposed to temporal satisfactiorial things. and even if they don't listen to my message or slam the door in my face I'm just going to try to have the attitude and countenance of Christ so that the Love of God for his people will be shown through me and that maybe my smile can bring happiness to one person.---Sorry for this Rant, it's how I feel though.
I'm overly excited to get to the Philippines, I want to help those people badly and I want to lose my culture so that I can "Makisama" and so that they may know I speak words of Truth and Eternal Life. Everything that brings me hope in my life is my family and God himself. That is why I am here, that is my purpose, that is my eternal identity.
Wish me luck and keep up with the letters I truly love them they inspire me and help me through out the day. I'm changing districts so when you dear elder just put my name Elder Gonzalez Philippines and they will find me, I'll write you later this week to let you know my address.
Wish me luck, I pray for you nightly and love you.
It's time for me to make my clap that will sound throughout all eternity and serve and love so that those people who see me will know that I stand with the Lord, that I am his servent, and I will be his servent forever. And If I happen to die there it will be a testament to Heaven that I will stand with the Lord forever and held nothing back.
With all my love and wishes
Monday, September 14, 2009
Thanks for the update about Zach and the games. I'm really proud of him for not given in to peer pressure he is a heck of a kid. Yeah it seems as soon as you hit high schools its cool to smoke and drink now, and I've seen some of my friends ruin their lives because of it, even some people here in my district used to be in the garbage and it's the thing they regret the most. So Zach I'm proud of you man "Piling Ang Tama" or choose the right ahha Love you and have a good birthday this week, what are you getting for your birthday?
This week has been very good to me. An experience happened this week that I don't really have time to explain but basically Tuesday we see if my companion has to go home for 6 months to be put on medication or if he can go to the Phillipines with us. It was a really sad night, Brother Leslie and I gave him a priesthood blessing and I knew then that I had always loved my companion and it hurt me to see him troubled. Weird huh? He is suffering from OCD-like depression. me and Brother Leslie had a teary conversation about it. I guess it was good for me because I learned never to forsake my companion but truly see if he is alright, I don't know theres more tothe story but for sake of time.
Other than that I got my flight plans and I will be able to call you from SLC or LAX. so expect a call around 7:35-10pm? I'm most likely going to call from LAX.
21st of September
Our flight leaves SLC at like 835 or something
We get to LAX at 9-10 4 hour delay here (I'll be able to place some BoM woooo!)
Our flight to Taiwan is like 1:50
we have a 3 hour delay in Taiwan
Then I'll arrive in Manila and meet my mission president at 11:40am at the airport.
then a 2 hour busride to San Pablo. and I should be working around 4:00pm in my new area! weird huh?
---My whole District is flying on the same plan together so we are together till Manila then we go our separate ways it's so great!
It's amazing how fast the MTC has gone by and how much I've changed I guess. I don't really feel it to much, but my district leader says so. I've learned a lot here pertaining to my place and identity in the world. And yeah it's been hard, VERY HARD i've been frustrated, sad, i've cried tears of joy and pain but it's the best thing to ever happen to me. I'm trying to think if anything really exciting has happened this week and I can't really think. We had a Teacher Appointment and we taught lesson 2 in Tagalog and I basically could follow the whole conversation so that made me feel really good and confident, I'm exciting to call you guys again and hear Jax since he has YET to write me!I'm actually becoming sad that I'm leaving the MTC, but I'm anxious to get out into the field. I love everyone in my district and the spirit that is here, but It's "time to get out of the desert and into the Sun, Even if it's alone" I've been taking a TON of pictures for you at the MTC and I'll make another CD this week and send them to you.
I was very happy to recieve a dear elder from Nana and Papa I'm going to try and write them back this week it's just really hard please understand, I've personally stepped it up this week to review basically everything we've learned....and ITS A LOT. So my days are packed and the only time I really have to write is Monday and that's once a week. So next week I'll write and remind you of my intinarary?
I love you guys so much and miss you terribly, I love you Zach, Jessica, Tiffany, Mom, Curt, Dad, Jason, Nana, Papa, Aunt Saundy--speaking of which I never recieved her letters with the kids in her sunday school class? not sure but who knows. and I love anyone else who read these things, I honestly pray for my friends and family everynight.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Written by Debbie: For those of you who are not aware, there was a 47 year old man, who ended his life on Wednesday evening here in Awatukee. He hung himself in a tree right by a grade school.
My friend was arriving officer and had given me the information that day and warned me to stay off Pecos Road that day because of the ongoing investigation, his physical body was there until late morning and the site was horrendous.
I was writing Josh an email at the time and asked Josh to pray for him and his family, as he is/was married with 3 children and a wife with mental issues..
I was later given the man's name and information and am selfishly relieved it was not anyone we knew personally.
Letter from Josh:
I hope everything is going well for you this labor day. We don't get to go to the Temple this morning :( so that's why I am emailing so early. I just got some of your email's again about the note, could you send the whole thing to me while i'm here. I honestly have no idea who that is and that doesn't even sound like me, but my God am I greatful that he could work through me and touch that persons life. This week has been relatively good, I was a bit upset last week when I fired off the email about my companion Elder Saunders. Well much hasn't changed with that haha but he seems to just lose his sense and reason to be a missionary. For example we had scheduled a TE where we were to teach in Tagalog. And instead he wanted to cancel it and just sit in the room so we did that. Then on Sunday during the 4hours we had to study, he just sat there. It's very frustrating to me when I see people waste the Lord's time. It's like GET OVER YOURSELF! you aren't here for you! You know what I mean?
Well we had an amazing lesson by Brother Leslie, I honestly love him he has helped me so much in my Tagalog study and I really learned my purpose as a missionary and learned so much about the gospel through him.
So I'll explain, I was really frustrated in class becuase I was annoyed with the language that day and this week was tought stressed filled, but however. Elder Leblanc (French Canadian) and Elder Simmons were singing a church hymn like really loud in the middle of class when our new teacher Sister Rather was writing on the chalk board so I was like "Elder Leblanc Huwag! which means stop in tagalog and i was like why are you singing that's just distracting" and then he lossed it and like through his books on the floor stormed out of the classroom and punched the door. Everyone was super confused. He came back and Sister hawkes the District Coordinater over the Tagalog branches was like "Can I talk to you Elder Leblanc" and he refused to leave the room and then yelled at her and it was an awkward mess. At any rate he later calmed down and I apologized and he said no it really wasn't me he just builds up anger. So later that night in Brother Leslie's class. He told us to all write down our frustrations on posted notes and put them on the chalk board he then would read them aloud and we would try and find the reason for these frustrations. It was such a stress reliever.
Then I realized I missed the point of a mission completely. I got so stressed out in the language and with my companion, and my district that I forgot to be happy I forgot to enjoy myself so after that day It's been so wonderful in the MTC--I think John 16:22 Jesus says "In the world you will have afflictions, but be of good cheer, because I overcame the world"
I absolutely LOVE being a missionary and working day and night. I cannot wait for 2 more weeks to be in the Philippines serving Heavenly Father's children. I just hope that I can live up to his expectation but I know through him and my faith I'll be able to truly love those I serve like I do my family.
by the way another miracle happened this week! BYU beat Oklahoma 14-13 haha! It's been the talk of the town in Provo infact my Branch President skipped Mission Conference and meeting the New Missionaries because he flew to Oklahoma for a "Culteral Event" hahaha
I got your letter this week and your package however the package I can't get till tuesday because everything is closed and I forgot to pick it up on friday I hope everything isn't gross when I get it!!
I read your letter about the man who hung himself, I think that's so incredibly disturbing and sad. Have you guys found out who it is yet? I hope that it's no one we know and I pray for the family, that's such a selfish decision that has eternal consequences.
By the way I never thanked you for your Tagalog letter haha you said it took you hours to write? That's amazing!! you're crazy mom!! Umm I understood a little of it. Haha let me try and explain Tagalog in a few paragraphs.
So basically the layout of sentances is Verb Actor Object Location/Recipiant (so it's Yoda talk)
You have to mark every verb,actor,object,location,recipiant with a ANG NG or SA marker and there are 6 markers for each for different people. for example the ang set is Ako-1st person me, Ka-you but in the sentence. Ekaw-you if it's in the begining of a sentence, Sila-Him/Her,Kami-Us EXCLUSIVE,Tayo-Us INCLUSIVE,Kayo-You plural or you use it when you want to speak with respect to someone(you also use PO in every sentence when you are being respectful) and Sila-them
The really cool thing I like about Tagalog is that it's a root based languange that basically means that every word is made up of some kind of root, and you add on prefixxes and suffixs so change it to a noun,verb,adjective for example
Buhay means Life
Mabuhay means full of life/or live long
makabuhay- means ability to live
mabubuhay means able to live in the future?
and the list goes on and on! it's kind of fun though because you can make up words that make sense? haha I don't know I'm kind of nerding out!
anyway my foot is okay, it should be 2 weeks or something I go back to the Dr. everyweek until I leave, I wrote a letter better explaining it so that you will understand.
I love you guys so much and miss you! I hope everyone is doing well! I want to hear from you all this week! and I will try and respond we are just SUPER busy!
oh and tiffany starting a club that's hilarious! But i know she can do it!
ps. one of my favorite hymns right now
Brightly beam our fathers mercy, from his light house evermore
but to us he gives the keeping of the lights along the shore
let the lower lights be burning send a gleam across the wave
some poor fainting struggling seaman, you may rescue you may save
I pray to God that I can rescue the struggle seaman, I met the Elder you were emailing he's a great kid! I write more in letters I had NO TIME! Because i had to read some other emails I love you all very much and pray for you daily.
Give Zach a break he's just going through the motions of being in High SChool and thank him for sending a card, I'll be sure to send one back!
Monday, August 31, 2009
haha I don't have time to translate that last letter if what's you sent was from email...it's easier for me if you just dear elder them! Sorry if I've been distant lately I've never been this busy in my life we have something to do EVER hour of the day and I feel bad because I haven't been able to write my friends too much. At any rate I really enjoyed the packages I got this week haha especially the Shock Pen, It was very clever of you to take the packaging off so that I would shock myself! My district thinks you are the coolest mom now haha.
Any rate so I sent the pictures home, the guy you posted on line is actually Brother Ward my teacher haha, my Companion is Elder Saunders I can't really explain what he looks like he has brown hair and biglips, in the picture with us 4 in our room, the blonde tall one is Elder PErry and the short chubby with dark hair and glasses is Elder Westwood.
The week has been absoultely crazy and I can't believe it's monday. Well we taught Tagalog this week and it didn't go too well. We didn't get to teach a tagalog teacher but other missionaries so it was kind of pointless I hope that we can get it together this week. Things are kind of slacking in my companionship and it's really hard to get Elder Saunders motivated for the work. It seems that I'm doing all the work signing up for Teacher Evaluations, Classes, Workshops. who knows, perhaps the Lord is testing me. Oh well as long as I work my hardest the Lord will provide. The MTC is shortly coming to an end I have about 21 days left and a lot more Tagalog to learn haah but all is well I basically feel comfortable speaking with people for the most part.
Tuesday was amazing! Elder Richard G. Scott came, he is an Apostle in the church. Basically one of the leaders like in the old times with Christ he had 12 apostles, the church is set up the same way with Christ leading it. He spoke with so much power and authority it was very invigorating. And something that may set you at ease was that he said "I invoke a blessing upon you all here by the mantle of apostleship which I hold, I invoke upon you the Gift of Tongues that your tongues may be loosed and you can spread the Lord's gospel with boldness in a foreign tongue in the name of our Lord Jesus christ amen" When he said those words I felt the spirit fill my body and I felt so great about the language, So I'm not too worried if I truely study and work hard. Another thing which I think you will appreciate the most is that he also "invoked a special blessing of protection upon you, that their shall be a shield around you that will protect you from harm, as long as you are faithful, obedient, and have good judgement when you listen to the Spirit, In the name of Jesus Christ Amen." Honestly after he said that he shared a few examples in his life when he listened closely to the Holy Ghost and it reminded him or told him things to avoid and he shortly found out that it saved his life. The Holy Ghost has worked with me here it's hard to explain but it's this still small voice in the back of your head that comes with a burning in the bossom sensation. A warm peaceful orderly feeling that pours out throughout your body.---Sorry it's hard to explain sometimes, But you guys are entitled to feel it aswell! you may feel it when I'm doing something in the field, and it reminds you how amazing you are and how happy the Lord is because you let me serve a mission. And how much he loves you because you are his Children.
At any rate I'll share his story with you.
So he was serving a mission in Bolvia some years ago, and he was traveling with his missionaries to meet with someone to buy food so that the people in Bolvia where he was serving could get good protein or something. but they had to meet this man at the Airport before he left and they were running late. (yeah that's right an APOSTLE of the Lord runs late too, just like me) They were driving down the road at night and the 2 Elders with him told him "Hey President let's go down this shortcut so that we can actually get to the airport on time" and then he almost agreed until he felt the spirit whisper to him "Don't go down that Road" he wanted badly to do it because he knew he would miss the guy at the airport if he didn't take it. But at any rate he decided to follow the Spirit. And fortunately he met the guy at the airport and all was well. He later found out a few weeks later that during that night, Che Guevarra the Revolutionist was smuggling guns through that same shortcut and if they caught up with him it wouldn't have been good.
Sorry I'm bad at telling stories but just so you get the just of it. The Lord takes care of his servents so don't worry about me :)
Now to the letters that I recieved this week:
What the heck! Zach hurt himself again? and he is out 2 weeks? what is going on? And Mom broke her toe at the park...unfortunately I laughed when I read it but I didn't mean too! GOOD JOB TOBY! haha I'm kidding! I hope you guys are feeling better! It seems that we are all cripples! This morning I put your names on the Prayer Roll list at the Provo Temple, so Hundrends of Saints will be praying for you every hour of the day for 3 weeks, But i hope you feel better. I miss you guys..badly.
I hope Curt is doing well,
(HAPPY BIRTHDAY )
Did you get my package that had Zach's, Curt's, and Mom's gift in it. I send some cool stuff from the Philippines if I can afford it for the rest of your birthdays.
How is Jessica/Jason?
How is Tiffany and school?
How is Dad?
MOM Don't worry about the boot haha! they gave me a NEW walking boot and didn't charge me a dime. The church takes good care of it's missionaries I mean they gave me Oxycodine for a sprained ankle!
I forgot all the questions you asked me through out the week because the days are long but the weeks fly by, so maybe next time on saturday or friday send me a list of questions you want to know about the MTC and I'll write a letter or email based on that. I'm really bad at explaining what happens here so please ask if you want to know! I'd love to tell you!
I really cannot believe that tomorrow is September 1. and I got 21 days till I'm in the Philippines I can't wait! i don't think I'll be delayed but I go to the Dr. Next week, Today in the temple I walked without the boot on and it didn't really hurt I was just slow. So that's a GREAT SIGN!
Tell me what's been going on at home, I really have no idea what you guys have been doing. Tell PaPa and NaNa I love them..I haven't had time to write them but I will in the coming days or today. Just to stress again it's so ridiculous here! It's really hard, but I love it I love every day I'm here. And it's sad sometimes because I miss home I miss my family and my friends and life would be so much easier if I lived a normal life. But I would give anything up to be on a mission. The experience and knowledge and Amazing people I meet is changing me forever and I can only thank the Lord for that. I'm so happy right now and haven't been happier, although I am a little stressed. I know once I get into the Philippines and get to WORK i'll be at my lowest lows and highest highs.
I want to invite you guys to do something this week: I remember how hot is was in arizona last summer and how much riding a bike outside would be brutal. Invite the Missionaries over for dinner one night this week and talk to them about the MTC and mission life/ etc I know that it will help you better understand where I'm coming from:) And the Elders at Lakewood are AWESOME! I hung out with them a few times before I left, you'll love them! Ask the Rodgers for their numbers they're good kids!
Thanks again for all your love and support, I miss you terribly and love you all very much, Each time I go to the Celestrial room of the temple I pray that God may bless each and everyone of you. I love you Jessica, Tiffany, Zach, Jason, Nana, Papa, Curt, Mom, Dad.
PS what is case's address?!?!