Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Searching for the Lost Sheep

Hello everyone.  I wish that I could express my feelings about this past week.  Despite walking in circles for days,  Sister Mafi and I have since begun to receive an outpouring of blessings  from the Lord.  Because our area is smaller than it was when I was serving with Sister Abuel, we started last week with very few people to teach.  When you are a missionary with no one to teach about the gospel, you walk around until you find someone to teach.  And we found people!  Jayjay and Jobel have committed to become married and then get baptized.  Their friends, another young couple with a baby also, are attending the lessons too.  We are praying for a double wedding in November.  Yesterday, we taught Aubrey.  Her husband is already a member and she is open to hearing the gospel.  I am so thankful that the Lord has put these individuals in our path.
Now that I am senior companion, I am trying to do everything that I can to make our area successful.  Since our area has been made smaller, we lost all of the inactives that we previously taught to other sister missionaries.  Our ward directory has about 700 people on it.  Only about 100 people come to church each Sunday, but Sister Mafi and I are going to change that.  This week,  I spent about 5 hours pouring over this directory, pulling out the names in our area.  There are about 150 or so individuals that I discovered, people that no one in our ward knows.  Since pulling out all of the names,  Sister Mafi and I have begun the painstaking search for these people, people who are lost who will be found.  And we found many!  My Tagalog and Ilocano have improved greatly as we talk to people on the street, tricycle drivers, and baranggay captains as we look for these people.  And we found a lot of them.  And we are going to teach them and welcome them back into the fold.  But the best part of my week was yesterday.  Sister Mafi and I assigned Macmac and Bryan to help us look for these people.  And last night, while Sister Mafi and I were walking towards a member’s home, we not only see Macmac and Bryan, but the Ward Mission Leader and the Ward Missionaries working together in this search for lost souls.  I am grateful to each of them.  They are busy and normally they are unable to help us, but they are dedicated to the salvation of souls. 
On a lighter note, some funny things happened this week!  For example, our bathroom flooded and the talented plumber that I am fixed it.  I also fixed our toilet, but you do not need the details on that one.  In the process of these apartment nightmares, we made friends with a worker at the hardware store.   Like many Filipinos here, he is openly gay, yet we have begun to build our friendship with him and show him that Mormons are open and loving.  We have plans to teach him this week! 
Do you want to learn some culture, now?  In the Philippines, (when you are Tagalog, more so than Ilocano) you respect the food.  Translation: if you go to someone’s home and they are eating, you cannot wait for them to finish and they will not leave their food.  You have to return later when they are not eating.  Food here is like a special guest in need of its own attention. It is not acceptable to stop eating and return later.  Interesting, di ba?
And I want to make a shout-out to the seminary class of Sister Thompson!  I have heard through the grapevine that you share missionary experiences in class and then dedicate a star to a missionary serving from the ward.  And rumor has it that I have like way more stars than any other missionary.  I love you all and am so proud of you!  Many of you will soon serve missions just like me, not only helping others come unto Christ, but also putting yourself into the refiner’s fire.
I am grateful for the great work that Sister Mafi and I are putting forth together.  Sister Mafi has been so strong as she has left her family to come here and serve the Lord.  I am grateful to make some minor sacrifices in my life now to later reap great eternal blessings from the Savior.  Ito po ang trabaho ng Diyos at sa pamamatigan ng pananampalataya ko, tatanggapin ko po yung mga biyaya sa Diyos.  Ang hirap po dito talaga pero mapagmahal po ang Diyos.  In the words of Elder Holland, “Salvation is not a cheap experience.”  
Mahal na mahal kita!

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