Friday, January 24, 2014

"this week has been...a test and trial"

Hello po pamilia!  I loved reading the emails from everyone. That's what I'm talking about!  So the soccer tournaments in Vegas will be fun and I'm sure Mia will just terrorize the Snow cousins. Speaking of which, how is their new house??  That's good that you get to enjoy some time in Cancun and take a little break from the rest of the kids.  Sounds like the normal Egan family to me, just a little shift due to me being in the Philippines.  Dad gets to go to Florida for a conference after Cancun!?  How much more tropical can you get?  Well I guess you could come to the Philippines ;)

Sige (ok), help the missionaries as much as possible even if that help means you're doing home/ visiting teaching to a less-active family.  It might be that dad goes out with them for 1 or 2 hours. Basta just help them.  The work progresses so much faster with member help.  In our branch we just got classes organized the way they're supposed to be (primary and Sunday school for kids are pretty much just squished into a big class) and just barely got a branch mission leader called.  We have a really good fellowshipper named Bro. Carlo that works with us every huewbes and that guarantees us a lesson if people are home.  That's it right now for our fellowshippers though; could easily double the lessons if more people would work with us.  Even if it's a small contribution (1 or 2 hours) if 50% of the members gave just that, there would be a fellowshipper at every lesson that's in our closest area meaning we would have about 16 more lessons a week.  By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

Emma, Emma, Emma.  The whole 18 thing was serious; that way I can make sure she doesn't get some punk of a boyfriend a week after she turns 16.  You may most definitely send the songs on a thumb drive, however if you're sending them for us to listen to in our apartment, I would highly recommend a cheap little ipod/mp3 ($20) because that will work with the speaker we got for me.  Unfortunately I don't hear anything from my high school friends, and I don't know if they hear anything from me...I get to hear from the ward missionaries though which is great.  

Sige na, this week has been...a test and trial.  The work here is hard and tiring.  It's sad to say, but our area is the hardest probably in the zone I'm in and we get the least lessons by far.  We have a lot of strengths though, for example our church attendance is very good because we have some golden investigators (it's just that there are only so many times in a week you can visit them).  It somewhat goes back to the fellowshipper issue.  We actually have the second highest number of other lessons, but our member present lessons are single digits for one month.  We find a lot of new investigators but there's always one thing lacking: a person of the male gender.  Now I'm not trying to blame anyone or anything for how hard it is, it's just the situation we're in is hard.

We give 110% everyday, we're literally working every minute of every day.  We can't seem to find enough time to do everything that we need to do in the day.  It's been pretty crazy for both of us.  But we had a really good Zone Training on Thursday about using our time wisely.  Using the Area Book and really organizing the work here.  That seemed like a perfect fit for us.  We ended up spending 2 and half hours extra on weekly planning to try and organize everything.  We're still going to give 110% and we're still going to be tired everyday, but the area here will start to progress.

We have had a lot of problems with investigators that we thought were progressing too. We have just one that's actually progressing now (Sister Ramirez).  I'm not sure how we can help people see the need for going to church.  It is tough walking around all day and getting punted for most of it.  1-3 lessons a day seems to be our average now.  It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life by far and it seems like a lot of it goes nowhere.  My companion asked "does anyone even care?"

I'm so glad that I was able to be there for him just like he is for me.  I told him that truly we're giving our all and a lot of it goes unnoticed and sometimes it's hard to see why we're doing this.  But I also told him that there's one person who knows and cares about every individual second of our lives.  That person is the Savior.  I've come to appreciate even deeper the Atonement.  He suffered below all things.  He knows every single hardship and problem that we face.  He will be so proud of my companion for the way he has worked his hardest to fulfill his responsibilities even if we didn't get to teach another lesson for our entire mission.  He knows us better.

I want to tell a story real quick about some of the recent converts we have that were baptized before I got here.  Sherwin is 13 and she is the oldest child in her family.  Her brother Lawrence is 11 and he's the youngest.  Their father died and their mother has since remarried a less-active member.  Sherwin and Lawrence have gone to church every week since I've been here while their parents have never been.  Their mom hasn't been baptized for that very reason, she works on Sundays whether it's at the house or at a job.  She has to work though because her husband is a drunk that right now seems to be drinking all their money away.  Ever since Christmas we have found that the less-active is drinking every night, expensive alcoholic beverages too.  We were able to teach them once and he said that their family hadn't eaten for 3 times that week and he had just drank a bottle of gin.  Sherwin and Lawrence read scriptures every night, but their parents don't.  They are setting the example for their parents.  They both deserve much better than that and I wonder if they ever feel like the Lord isn't blessing them for their efforts.  They're an example to me too.  Whenever you feel let down in life and you feel like it isn't fair, this might be a good story to read again.  Think of these two Filipinos that live in a very poor house with a father that drinks their money away, and then think of how much you have.  These are some of the happiest kids I've ever seen as well.  They have the gospel and they love it.  I know that they're family will be so blessed when their mom and dad decide to start living all of the gospel.  

Well it's been fun to write about this and even though it's hard, this is the best experience I've ever had.  I've already had enough joy to make up for any more hardships I could face the rest of my mission.  I love you all and miss you very much.  I would hope you would pray for this family specifically as well, the Ramos family.  

Mahal ko kayo lahat,
-Elder Egan

P.S. Hi Mia, love and miss you too! 


" keeps on keeping on"

Well happy new year uli (again)!  It's been crazy and I have about half an hour to try and write this from figuring pictures and my ipod out.  Speaking of which, I seem to have run out of room on mine so I can't put any new music on it.  Bummer naman!  So if you're feeling like sending a happy new year package, a new one (maybe with some appropriate songs) would be awesome, if there isn't a package coming soon then I'm perfectly content with what we've got.  Oh and maybe send one of those electrical plugs that you can put a usb cord into because the thing I got back in America doesn't work.  

Sounds like life keeps on keeping on just like it does here.  That's really sad to hear, Bro. Carling is a great guy. With pictures, I would like hard copies if that's possible, but they have printers here and it's cheap to print things so that works really well too.  Nope, no piano playing unfortunately; there's just not enough time to try and coordinate that.  So we managed to get through and withdraw money for the month today and we have 380 pesos from my emergency fund to spare!!! It's about 40 (some people say 42 some 43) pesos to a dollar.  Buying power is huge here.  You can get a weeks worth of groceries comfortably with 1000 pesos per person and then extra expenses for food puts you at about $25 US per week with food.  It's dirt cheap to get some things, I bought 3 pens for around 50 cents earlier.

So this week has been stressful with the money situation, but Elder Ramsay is a really good and caring guy and he's making sure that we're taken care of and we've put all that aside and just gone about missionary work and it's been a very good week.  We didn't really party on New Year's Eve because it isn't exactly pwede and we were just too exhausted anyway.  We had a lunch and dinner given to us on New Year's day which was a huge blessing for us.  We got some haircuts too and a lot of the little kids have been saying I look like Spiderman now. I'm still waiting for the spider senses to kick in though.  One more cool thing, I had a dream this last week and I said one word of Tagalog: Dagat!  It means sea and it would take too long to explain why that was the word I said in my dream, basta (can't really translate that because there is no real English word for that) I count it as somewhat dreaming in Tagalog.

So an update with the work.  We had a baptism for Jenny Ann Ramirez.  She's 11 and definitely knows that the gospel is true.  The other Elders had a baptism too so it was double the spiritual goodness.  Jenny Ann is from a family that's pretty big, but at home is tatay, nanay, Gesser, her, and Jemima.  Gesser is going to be baptized on the 25th of January as long as he doesn't miss church for two weeks.  Tatay works in Cabugao (my old area!) but he's really far from the chapel so he can't go to church when he's working.  Nanay always comes without fail.  This family knows it's  true and they've been prepared.  Tatay still needs to work a little on the Word of Wisdom and hopefully we can figure out a job situation so he and his wife can be baptized together.  One of our most committed investigators named Sheilla leaves for Manila today and won't be back until May.  It's sad that she'll be gone for that long, but when she comes back she's going to get married to her live in and then be baptized, that's a goal she set for herself.   I wouldn't be surprised a bit if she finished reading the Book of Mormon  and started into Doctrine and Covenants maybe by the time she comes back.  John Paul and Menchy are the neighbors of the Ramirez family and they have shown a lot of faith and interest in the gospel as well.  We just finished up the last lesson we had for them: tithing.  They had no problems with that whatsoever and are willing to pay when they get baptized.  The hard part about that is they need to get married as well and it's expensive, so we're trying to figure that out as well.  It's a lot of fun to work with and teach these people.  You can really see a change in people's lives and I look forward to more experiences like the baptism last Saturday.

Mahal mahal ko po kayo lahat!  Thanks for the prayers and thoughts.
-Elder Egan

Ramirez Family

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Work Goes On...

Hello pamilya! Naragsak nga baro a tawen!  It's New Year's Eve tomorrow and things are bound to get crazy.  We have a curfew of 5:00 p.m. and we think the celebration is going to be crazier than Christmas was. Speaking of Christmas, I was so glad I got to call and give a belated Merry Christmas finally. It was pretty stressful this week trying to manage that and time for our investigators as well as all our personal needs.  Well in a nutshell it's been crazy trying to settle into the new area and to top it off, we haven't budgeted very good so it'll be interesting to see if we even have money left over at all. (just to give you an idea I had a 3000 peso emergency fund that's half way gone now after paying for food. As long as we have enough money to get to District meeting in Claveria we should be fine.)  It's still a great day though and always a great week!

Speaking of great days, Saturday and Sunday ended up really nice especially in light of how Christmas went (to put it euphemistically it was wet and we didn't get to teach any lessons, but it was still a great day too!). We had a lesson with Bro. Gladwin who is a really intelligent Filipino that doesn't really have a religious affiliation but he reads the Bible everyday and believes in personal revelation from the scriptures.  We talked about the Apostasy and Joseph Smith and somehow we got talking about how he wants to strengthen his relationship with God and a little about the Plan of Salvation. We encouraged him to read and pray and if he does he'll get personal revelation. Great lesson.  Then we taught John Paul and Menchy. They're getting married today (they have two little kids already) and they both came to church yesterday which means they can be baptized in three weeks!!!! (assuming they keep coming to church).  I'll also talk about the Ramirez family. They live right next door to JP and Menchy and both of their families are really poor the only difference is that the Ramirez family has a ton of kids and grandkids.  Nanay and Tatay ate really fast to they could come over and listen to us talk with JP and Menchy. That's a pretty good indication of how much they love us and love hearing our message.  The Ramirez family can be baptized in two weeks if they come to church as well, but their daughter Jenny Ann really wanted to be baptized and she has been to church every week since before I've been here so we decided she could.  

On Sunday we got to teach to another really great couple that wants to get married soon and then baptized.  Their names are Rex and Shella.  They came to church as well and Shella really has a desire to be baptized.  She read all the way into Alma in only 8 weeks!  She loves the gospel.  I taught the gospel principles class since the Branch is so small here and our lesson was on tithing.  After class Shella asked Elder Ramsay to get her a tithing slip so she could make a donation even though she's not a member yet!  That's some serious faith in the Lord.

Well I'm looking forward to some exciting things in this area and the work is progressing even though it's been the hardest this past week and probably just as hard this week.  Thanks for the emails, those were perfect.  Thanks for the support, prayers and love ibinibigay ninyo sa akin (you give to me).

Mahal ko kayo lahat
Happy New Year!
-Elder Egan

P.S. I can't believe you're doing another high school get together and going to Cancun.  Sounds like Christmas was good and simple.  So I feel fine on my own, I hardly ever cook because everyone I've been with has been better than me, but I made French toast this morning :) I would say make Kolsen wash the dishes by hand more often because I really wish I would've just jumped in and done it sometimes.  It's pretty much what I do when my companion is cooking.  Learn how to budget money and time...better to learn that one earlier.  Basically like dad says, learn to work hard.

P.P.S. Everyone here that has seen a picture of Kolsen with long hair thinks he's a skater punk. Girls like shorter hair on guys. I hope he likes girls more than I did in whatever grade he's in now, they're more fun.  Emma can't date until she's 18 though, sorry.  It's good she's friends with Carlee again now stay like that! And be friends with Mikalyn and Kaden's sister (freak I'm already forgetting people's names).  Mia has always been a little bit of a diva, but she's a cutie...maybe you should send a little picture of her being cute to me because I bet the kids here would love to see a little American girl. (and I want more pictures, old ones too).

The new digs in Pagupud

Elder Egan sleeps on the bottom
Hmm...could be worse??