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
|A Valentine for Christopher from a recent young convert|