Friday, February 14, 2014

The Work is Progressing...

Naimbag a aldaw!  Or in other words, good day!  I loved hearing all sorts of great stuff from the fam.  So thanks for all the things that you've written and thanks for the thoughts and prayers.  Sounds like you had a great trip in Cancun.  That's sweet you got to see all of the Nephite/Lamanite temples in Cancun.  Helaman sounds like an awesome guy.  I'd really like to see the temples in Southern America from sinaunang Amerika (that's ancient America in Tagalog book of Mormon speak).  So who won the Super Bowl??  Who was even playing in it??  I voted for the 49ers just so you all know.  So it sounds like Kolsen did a good job even if I didn't get to give him any super neato experiences.  Good job bro.  I never had Bro. Petersen, but I know him a little bit from seminary.  Emma, Emma, Emma.  She'll be fine at driving, just keep practicing.  Good old Mia.  I'll have to take a look at that moment once we're in heaven.  Olympics are going on?  Well there hasn't been much talk about that at all, it's not like the Phillipines is known for outstanding athletes though.  They have a gay olympics here in Pagudpud... there are plenty of them to participate.  Bawal na manood.  (bawal to watch t.v.).  It's super sunny and hot here, trust me you'd get tired of it (it beats the cold though).  That sounds like the Danny I know, kudos to him.

It's true about taking generations to establish a good foundation for the Church to grow and for children to grow in the gospel.  I was talking with the Second counselor in the Branch Presidency and he talked about how when he first moved here there were about 30 members that would attend sacrament.  50 was a miracle.  Now there's around 80.  It's definitely grown and there's people who are now starting their families and giving their children the gospel from when they are born.  Missionary efforts may seem slow sometimes, but every moment of it counts!  Thanks for the words about the setting apart.  I forgot a lot of that, but it brings back a lot of things that I felt and thought at that time.

Hey that was really nice to get an email forwarded from Elder Snow.  That's a pretty neat experience, there's been some experiences like that here...but more just crazy things.  Russians and Filipinos think alike when it comes to what church you should go to.  There's people here that say they know the Book of Mormon is true, but they say they believe the same thing in their old church and God won't mind if they just stick with that.  It's like a lot of people don't understand the Apostasy even though in history we can see this time of the world known as the Dark Ages which correlates pretty much exactly with the Apostasy time period.  But yeah there's a lot of Jehovah witnesses here too and about a billion different versions of the Bible (each one more and more messed up than the first). A lot of people actually understand that there's a whole lot of different translations of the Bible and not each one says the same things about certain points, what they don't get is the part about God giving us the Book of Mormon so we could know the fulness of His Gospel.

Quick story on that.  We went out to Caparispisan (it's a pretty far out area that looks like Jurassic park) and when we went to teach a couple of our investigators, we found out one was in the hospital and another went to Vigan (that's basically my old area) to work and left his wife and four kids here and they have to use credit to buy all of their food now.  We were exhausted because we had been walking around a long ways and we were starting to wonder if there was anyone that even wanted to listen to us.  We decided to try one house that we had previously had a bad experience at.  Well this time we found the tatay there and he's never at home because he works as a security guard nearly 24/7.  Strangely enough, this man wanted to know who of all the churches was right (sort of like a young boy named Joseph Smith).  He knew the Bible was different for every religion, but he didn't know how to find out for himself.  So we introduced him to the Book of Mormon and told him he could ask God to tell him which church is true.  So we committed him to read and pray and hopefully we can find times to teach him again.  Then we got to teach another guy we hadn't been able to visit in a while and a couple of his friends were pretty interested.  And then (lots of and thens) a guy offered us a ride in a van back to sentro.  He talked a little about religion and asked if it was alright to visit our church during our meetings.  We said of course he could.  Unfortunately he didn't come, but the free ride was still nice.  

Perfection is an interesting concept.  There's something that somebody told me once and I've pondered on it a lot.  People always say here that we aren't perfect.  Everyone knows that (or should).  When we think about mistakes we've made it would be easy just to say "well I'm not perfect" and give up.  But the thing that's interesting is the Jesus Christ commands us to be perfect like our Father in Heaven.  He always provides a way for us to fulfill his commandments.  That way is the Atonement.  When we are using the Atonement and looking at the mistakes we've made saying "well I'm not perfect, but how can I get better" it's called repentance.  Through true repentance we are becoming more like the Savior (a.k.a. perfect).  Perfecting ourselves a little bit each day is part of repentance.  We can perfect things in our own personal capabilities and capacities, but we can't be completely perfect because we have a mortal body subject to physical and spiritual death, but because of the Atonement we will have a perfect body due to the resurrection and on conditions of our repentance we will be made perfect through the grace of the Redeemer.  It's interesting to look at that in terms of the Atonement and the Plan of Happiness.  Beautiful isn't it?

Well that may or may not have seemed like a bunch of blabbering on.  Hopefully the latter.  Work has been progressing along here.  We have reached a record high of lessons taught this week.  We still fall short of our goals sometimes, but they're helping us stretch ourselves and improve.  Little by little we will have success.  The Lord has plans for all these people and we just need to make sure we're worthy instruments to help bring about those plans.

So on a note about service that Kolsen mentioned... people here are kind of selfish about letting you serve them.  I'm pretty sure there's actually only been one time here where we've actually been able to help someone and we really had to persist before they let us.  Every time we offer to help they say "huwag na, kaya ko." (Don't, I can do it).  But that's a great way to try and find people to teach.  Even if you don't get the chance to serve, people appreciate the offer and it can open up a conversation where you can bring up the gospel.  

So I guess I'll wrap this up now.  When I'm homeless I think I'll come live in the Philippines ;) That one's for you bud.  If the car wash isn't available you might as well use a bucket for your shower like I do.  Love you bud.

Mahal ko kayo
-Elder Egan

A Valentine for Christopher from a recent young convert

Lessons to Learn...

Helo to all family and friends, kumusta?
Well it's been a somewhat crazy week due to the hospital trip and such, I feel like I was just emailing the other day.  So I forgot to mention some interesting news about transfers.  We have a new Zone Leader here and his name is....Elder Lynn!  I can't believe he followed me all the way up to Pagudpud just to be my Zone Leader. What a great guy.  We'll have a lot of fun catching up about Cabugao.  One more exciting bit; remember the pictures of the apartment? (the rather pangit (ugly) one).  Well we're moving out soon!  All the missionaries are moving out either this week or next into a new apartment.  It'll be like being in Cabugao again!

Enough about that, let's talk about the good stuff.  We went to Caunayan again and first off we gave a guy a copy of the Book of Mormon.  He told us thank you like a million times for giving him something to read.  I hope his whole family is that excited about it.  Then we went to the Lagalo's again and they were excited to see us and asked why we didn't come the other day.  We said sorry because Elder Ramsay had to go to the hospital and it messed up our schedule and we felt bummed because they invited a whole bunch of people over to hear us and we never showed up.  Sayan! (what a waste).  Tomorrow we're going back for sure though.  Tons of people out there are willing to listen.

We had a District meeting about helping people overcome addictions.  It was really good and then the thought occurred to me that we can use a lot of that to help people overcome the addiction of missing church.  It's become a huge problem lately and yesterday for the first time in a while we had 0 investigators at church.  It's heartbreaking.  Well while we're on the sad stuff I might as well mention this next experience.  One of the coolest guys that lived a lot of the gospel (including the Word of Wisdom) told us he hadn't read and he didn't want us to come back anymore because he was more interested in focusing on being a born again Christian.  I really appreciate that he was being honest with us instead of hiding or trying to make excuses to avoid us, but at the same time it was sad becuase he hadn't done his part in trying to know.  We bore strong testimony that he needs to read it and ponder it in order to know it's true.  We left him with the Book of Mormon and I sincerely hope and pray that he reads it, for now he isn't ready yet.

Thursday we got to work with the best (well really the only one too, but still the best) fellowshipper in the branch. Bro. Carlo!  He's such a hard working and gospel loving guy.  We had a really good lesson with one of our investigators with a baptismal date and then another girl that has lots of questions about the gospel.  Two of the greatest lessons this week by far.

And then things got hard again.  The next day we had a lesson where the Spirit just wasn't strong at all and the nanay refused to show any interest.  So we cut it short to go find a way to teach where we could have the Spirit. The next lesson was much better.  We were dropped by that investigator on Saturday, but before his lesson we were having amazing finding and teaching opportunities in one of our weakest areas.  We got a lesson to people that we hadn't been able to teach since I'd been here.  Then we found a guy who had no religion and he wanted to know if we believed in the Bible or something else.  We got to share to him about Joseph Smith's experience and the restored Church of Jesus Christ on the earth and how the Book of Mormon is the additional word of God that helps us know that this gospel is true.  I thought that was a great lesson.  Then on Sunday after we had been dropped by the investigator the previous day, had 0 investigators at church, and then ended up breaking our fast early because the branch brought food for a baptismal service we had (that was a really great baptism though), Elder Ramsay got frustrated because none of the branch was doing anything to help clean up after the lunch and one of the branch presidency was telling him he broke the sabbath since he was sweeping the church.  Elder Ramsay made a smart comment to him and you could feel the spirit...the spirit of contention.  So we tried to learn from that and try to handle things more like Jesus so we have the Spirit of Truth with us.  And then I screwed up in the lesson we had and tried being a little too aggressive in saying that this is the only true church. I try too hard sometimes to say that not all churches are right.  Jesus only taught one faith, one baptism but people tend to think that means whatever you do as long as you had faith and baptism Jesus will be alright with that.  I just don't want to lose these investigators like we lost the other one on Saturday.  Unfortunately I was a little too bold and less loving than I should have been and the Spirit in consequence was not strong during the lesson.  

Well I hope we've learned everything that we need to so we can keep growing and progressing.  It's still hard and tiring, but every time a child smiles and someone's life is made a little brighter by the missionaries it's all worth it. I imagine Jesus smiling right alongside the kids every time and I can't help but desire to be more like him and to help others receive his saving grace.  Love the mission, every day is the great day.
Mahal ko kayo lahat
-Elder Egan

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Hospital Adventure

Hello pamiliya!!
So there's been some concern about why I didn't send an email last week (and yesterday).  Let me explain, no, there is too much.  Let me sum up.  So last week we went to do emailing and the computers were really slow.  It took forever just to load the email page and then we couldn't read any of the emails, just see that we had some.  So we left and tried every other computer shop in Pagudpud.  Turns out we lost internet connection right as we were trying to email.  Bummer naman! (naman pretty much = !).  So we didn't get a chance last week.  Now to explain why we couldn't yesterday is going to take some more time.

Friday after lunch Elder R said his stomach felt bloated.  We thought he just ate a lot.  So we went out to teach and coming back he said it still felt that way.  Little blessing that I'm just realizing now, a truck driver gave us a ride from where we were teaching which happened to be really far out in the bundok (mountain) and we would have had to walk a long way.  But we went to a members for MCM/FHE/dinner.  Well Elder R. said he felt a little hot and dizzy and needed some air.  So we waited outside a bit and then went back in to eat, but Elder R's stomach was hurting again.  So he had just a little bit of energen (it's like hot chocolate packets but with oatmeal and protein stuff) and then lied down.  The members said he might have an ulcer so we were about to go get some hyoscine pills for him, but Elder R couldn't walk very far without his stomach hurting really bad.  So the member went and got some and he just lied down while we cleaned up dinner and started FHE.  Well he decided he'd better go home because of how he was feeling and we got about 50 yds down the road when he said he couldn't walk anymore and we had to get a tricey back to the apartment.  We told President and he sort of freaked out (since Sister Barrientos usually takes care of that but she left to go visit her sick father).  So Elder R just rested and we were both pretty exhausted and just fell asleep.

Next day he said it was still like that and he felt like his intestine was all blocked up.  So that Elder J. gave President some instructions and told us we should go to Laoag hospital if his pain still persisted by .  Well it did and miraculously the office elders were up in Pagudpud looking at a new apartment for the missionaries here when we decided we needed to go to the hospital.  So we packed some clothes and left and when we got there the doctor's first observation was appendicitis. So he was admitted into the hospital and hooked up to an IV and told not to eat or drink for a day.  So thus began our wait in the hospital.  3rd world hospitals are exactly like they sound: 3rd world.  So the food they gave him was very measly and we were basically trapped in prison cell for 2 days (well it was a prison cell with tiles and a nice bathroom).  President came and checked on us Saturday and Sunday night (he brought McDonalds when Elder R. couldn't eat so it was all for me :) ) and the sister that works at the mission home came and brought us better meals every day. Sunday morning they said it wasn't appendicitis because the appendix was softer and not swollen.  So he had to stay there on Sunday and they said he could be released on Monday if the pain went down.  

We got a lot of studies on Sunday.  I read a good deal of the Bible Dictionary.  It's fascinating.  Most of the time we were bored out of our minds though.  (I did write a letter so look out for that!).  Monday they said he could go, but none of the office Elders were in Laoag to pay for the bill and as such we had to wait in the prison until 3:00.  He had a UTI and we needed to go buy some drugs for him and by the time we got on the bus it was 5:00 and arrived in Pagudpud around 7:00.  So today is our P-day instead of yesterday.  And what's more fun is that we're really poor from that adventure until the mission can reimburse us.

So there you have the last few adventurous days.  It's been fun.  What else... well it's been a whole two weeks so there's plenty to say.  So last Sunday we went out to Hannah's resort and had a Zone activity.  It was really fun and I would send pictures, but I can't exactly do that because my pictures from that and a lot of other ones are all missing now.  That sucks...

We went out to Caunayan this last week and that was interesting.  It's way far, but there's a ton of people that were willing to let us in and listen to our message.  I have a feeling that it will become a very good place to go and work.  We had exchanges on Wednesday and I went with Elder D. We had a lot of fun, but it was stinking cold and that's why I'm wearing a jacket in the picture.  He's a really good missionary.  We were going to go to District meeting the next day and exchange back, but there was a landslide that blocked the passage through to Claveria so we just cancelled District meeting.  That was a bummer too because it's nice to go and learn from our leaders and have spiritual meetings with other missionaries in the District.

Well that's about all that I think I have time for, but I'll tell you a quick bit about a guy named R. He's S.'s mister right now (they aren't married yet).  He has problems with the Word of Wisdom and he drinks about every night.  Before I got here he was smoking everyday, but now he's down to about 10 pesos a week.  We taught him the Word of Wisdom straight up and told him he needs to start coming to church again and give it up.  He said it's hard since he works everyday from about 8 to 8, but he said he would.  Well we were in the hospital and the Zone Leaders told us he came to church!!  That's pretty huge and we'll follow up with the Word of Wisdom when we can teach him again.  Our work has been paying off.  We increased our lessons by 20 from lat transfer and we have been finding a lot of new investigators.  It's funny though, the lessons go up and then baptismal dates and church attendance goes down.  We'll just have to work harder to fix that!  Quick update with Sh. and L's family.  Their parents said by April they can start coming to church because their jobs won't be as busy.  We told them that's good, but not good enough.  We encouraged them to try now to get work off.  We don't think tatay's drinking as much anymore and they just seem happier right now.  Thank you for your prayers and keep it up.

I got that scripture email and that was awesome.  Soccer sounds like it was fun.  I like hearing stuff like that.  Keep me updated and have fun in Cancun.

Mahal ko kayo lahat!
Welcome to the Jungle!

The "prison cell" at the hospital. There may have been boredom, but at least the bathroom was a welcome change!

Zone activity at Harrah's resort
-Elder Egan