I finally made it to my first area. It is super hot here and I am in the beginning of the cold season here. Even though the Illocos region got hit really hard by the typhoon, my area doesn't seem like it got hit really hard, however I'm more southern than other missions and the north got hit the hardest. I arrived last Saturday and met my companion in the mission home on Friday. His name is Elder De Leon. He is a Filipino. My first area is Sinait. It's a decent sized place with a lot of farms. It's really beautiful here. I'll try to send pictures but I'm not sure how well it will work. My apartment is really small. The shower isn't even a shower, it's a bucket with really cold water. There are at least 12 giant spiders that are visible in the apartment, there may be more that I can't see. It's pretty great here though.
My first day here I got to attend a baptism for one of the members. I was asked to speak about the baptism and then I got to be a witness at the baptism. It was a really cool experience. I talked to some of the members that where there. We ate dinner at one of the branch presidency's house and talked to a recent convert that is his neighbor, his name is Jerom. The members here are really cool. Then on Sunday I spoke in church, said the opening prayer in priesthood and the closing prayer in sacrament meeting, I taught young mens, needed to answer half of the questions in Sunday school where I was helping. It was also the branch president's birthday so we celebrated with this jello kind of cake that had cheese on top of it, pieces or corn inside of it as well as some pieces of carrots. I didn't like it, but everyone else loved it. We also ate spaghetti to celebrate. After that Elder De Leon, the Sisters, and I went to a members house to give a baby a blessing. Elder De Leon anointed the oil for the blessing and then I was asked to give the blessing. It was a really amazing experience. I was lead by the Holy Ghost to say certain things, which I needed because I didn't know anything about the family. It was really amazing being able to give that blessing. After that we went back and did our study's and then went back to teach Jerom. We were fed again and I ate dried fish for the first time. Apparently every American that trys it hates it, I thought, however, that it was pretty good. The food and the culture here are so different but I'm slowly starting to pick it up. They don't use utensils most the time, they mostly eat with their hands. It's different but I don't mind it. I'm not as good at Tagalog as I thought I was. I'm an extremely slow speaker and it's hard for me to understand what they are saying because they speak so fast. I know though that in time I'll understand it and be able to speak to them fluently. It says in 1 Nephi 3:7 that, "the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that thing which he commandeth them." So I know that there is a reason I am in Sinait and that Heavenly Father will give me challenges because He wishes to see me grow. I know He does the same thing for all of you.
I made it to Laoag safely. Our second flight got canceled so we took a 8 hour bus ride. Someone took my luggage and so I prayed and they found it and I'll be getting it tomorrow. I find it as a tender mercy. I'm safe, I find out who my companion/trainer is in a little bit.
Its really beautiful here, I wish you guys could see it.
Hey everyone, so it's been a while since i last emailed. The flight from home to the Philippines was really long and totally exhausting, but being in the Philippines is absolutely amazing. It is unbelievably hot here and it's their winter! The driving here is the craziest thing I have ever seen! On a four lane road they will drive like its a six lane road and the coolest part is no one gets into car accidents. On Monday Elder Ossola and I went out proselyting in the Quezon City North mission with some other missionaries that were from there. It was fun, we went to a members house, Brother Sherman, and shared some scriptures with him it was a lot of fun! We road jeepneys there and back, and that is just a completely different experience! Its a lot of fun though! On Tuesday we went and got our visa and immigration paperwork done and after that we went to the American Cemetery from World War Two that's here in Manila. It was so cool there and you could actually feel the spirit there. After we went to the cemetery we had the opportunity to go to the Manila Temple. It's such an amazing and beautiful temple. The architecture is amazing both inside and outside.
Today, Wednesday we went to the airport so that we could fly out to Laoag. Unfortunately out flight got canceled because there was a level four typhoon there. It has dropped down to level one but the flight company didn't want to take any risks. I honestly believe that everything happens for a reason. Our flight getting canceled might have happened for a specific reason that no one yet knows about. Elder Jones actually said it best, he said, "It doesn't matter where I'm at, I'm here for two years so there is no reason for me to be stressed." He is so right. Right now I am here to serve the Lord and if that means that I don't go to Laoag until tomorrow then that is fine. I am just grateful for the opportunity I have to serve. While we were at the airport we were teaching people and spreading the gospel and the people were very receptive of it. We handed out all of our pass along cards and all of our pamphlets. It was great and it felt great, we could tell that they felt the spirit. I only hope and pray that they will search for the church now.
I can't wait to get to Laoag. I know that there will be a lot of service once I get there but I can't wait. Service is a great way to spread the gospel, it allows us to be examples to those around us. I would like to extend a challenge to all of you. Find a way to serve those around you everyday. Alam ko na sa pamamagitan ng maglingkod, magiging sobrung saya tayo. Alam ko na sa pamamagitan ng kapinyarihan ng Diyos, pwede gagawa tayo ng lahat ng bagay.
Dylan's arrival into the Philippines became a faith building experience for those of us here. We received an email from Dylan last Friday night - his Saturday morning - that he had arrived safely in Manila and would be heading out to Laoag. He wasn't exactly sure when he would leave or be able to email us again. That was hours before Typhoon Koppu (or Lando as it is called in the Philippines) made landfall.
We saw story after story of devastation in the Philippines. Every total climbed; rainfall, the missing count, the death toll, and the number of Filipinos that had been evacuated coming in at over 100,000. Dylan should have been traveling in the path of the typhoon; however, we know that the Lord and all of his servants look over the missionaries. So, while we believed he was safe - there was no word from Dylan. We weren't sure where he even was.
Part of the typhoon's destruction included the country's infrastructure. Some provinces were left with no way to communicate, including Ilocos - where Laoag is located. And not knowing where Dylan was - we had no idea when he would be able to communicate. We were left with one line of communication, fortunately it is the best one.
And we prayed - we didn't stop praying. We haven't stopped praying.
I was left with the knowledge that no one can take better care of Dylan than the Lord - not even me. That he was in the best hands. We continued to pray.
We received an email from Dylan in the middle of night on Wednesday. He is safe. He and his companion have been staying with missionaries from Quezon City North. He also can't wait to get to Laoag and begin serving the people of his mission as they recover from the typhoon.
Prayers are answered. Our faith continues to grow. We would ask that our friends and family include the missionaries and the people of the Philippines in their prayers.
Before I start I want to wish my brother Aidan a very happy birthday, and wish that the next year for him will be amazing!
This week has flown by! The next time I email you all I'll be in the Philippines! I feel so ready, so excited and so nervous! My lessons have been going well and the devotionals were amazing! Conference was so great to watch. My favorite talk was by Holland when he talked about mothers. It really hit home. I absolutely loved that talk and I also loved when the primary kids sang for conference, it was amazing! The spirit last weekend was amazing it was so uplifting here at the MTC. After conference we had our usual Sunday night devotional which was given by Vocal Point. They really brought the spirit especially when they sang Nearer My God to Thee, it was the last song they sang and by far the most powerful. Monday was an average day with teaching and class. We lost another amazing teacher here because he was needed elsewhere. Tuesday we had our devotional and it was given by the Relief Society President for the whole church Sister Rosemary Wixom. She gave an awesome devotional. Wednesday and Thursday were average but on friday we had in field orientation. We got to teach in English so that was fun and after teaching everything in Tagalog, teaching in English is so easy. We went over different ways to teach people like if we are in the airport or on a bus or in a park, it was a lot of fun. Today so far has been great to, we got to do our temple trip first thing in the morning and I can't thing of a better way to start the day off, it's like I'm on a spiritual high and I don't want it to stop.
I said this earlier, the next time you hear from me will be when I'm in the Philippines. It weird how its been a month and a half. There are days when I wake up and expect to wake up in my own bed back in Lehi. However, I am so glad I am a missionary and that I have the opportunity to serve my Heavenly Father and His son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The best part of waking up as a missionary is being able to grab my name tag that has Jesus Christ's name on it and put it on. I am so excited to go to the Philippines and teach the people in Laoag. I know that I am needed there and that there are people there that have been prepared for me to teach them and that i will have the opportunity to help prepare others for other missionaries that will come later. I know that this is the true church and that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ and he received revelation to restart Christ Church. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. I know that everything that happens is for a reason. I know that because of Christ we always have another chance, and that death isn't the end. One of my favorite scriptures this week that I have been ponderizing is Helaman 14:17. It talks about the redeeming power of Christ. I know that because of Christ all things are possible. I love this church and this gospel, and I am so excited for the next part of my mission. Sa pangalan ni Jesucristo, Amen.
It has been a crazy awesome week! We have been teaching a lot lately and have gone over every kind of sentence structure that is in the book we have for Tagalog! Now its just review. Our teacher Brother Broadhead left on Wednesday because he wasn't able to work at the MTC anymore because he was over whelmed with school and he couldn't ever be with his wife. It was tough saying goodbye to him. He has helped me and my whole district learn so much. We also had four district leave for the field on Wednesday. Saying goodbye to them was also difficult, over the last month they have become like family. Our branch is now only half the size it was.
On Tuesday we got to hear from Claudio R.M. Costa, he is the president of the Quorum of the Seventy. He gave a killer talk about being missionaries. When he bore his testimony The room was filled with the spirit, it was amazing! The spirit here is so amazing. Being constantly surrounded by the spirit and having my day filled with that is one of the greatest things I have ever experienced. While I have been here I have been able to see how Heavenly Father has blessed me and everyday I feel like I am coming closer to the Savior. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that because of Him I can make it back to our Heavenly Father. I know that He lives and "because He lives I can live again." (Because of Him, mormon message video) I am so thankful for what my Savior has done for me. I challenge all of you to pray and thank Him and our Heavenly Father for what the have done for you. I know that as you do that you will be able to notice all the little things in your life. I also extend the challenge to all of you to go and watch the video Because of Him, its on lds.org and you can just search for it there. Its a truly amazing video and brings the spirit so powerfully.
Elder Ossola and I got to witness a small miracle on Thursday. We were able to skype members in the Philippines then and give them a little lesson and bear testimony to them. The member we had was Sister Rafada. She was born in Laoag but now lives with her husband and three children in Bacolod. We gave a lesson on faith and it went really well but the miracle came at the end of the lesson. Her father-in-law was a bishop for a long time but is now not active in the church. She bore testimony to us that she knew meeting us wasn't a coincidence that we are meant to go and help reactivate him. The spirit when she told us that was absolutely amazing and just talking about it, thinking about it or writing about it gets me emotional. I too know that it wasn't a coincidence that me and Elder Ossola met her. I am absolutely excited to go to the Philippines so I can hopefully find him and also bring others unto Christ. I know without a doubt that this church is true.