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,
P.S. Hi Mia, love and miss you too!