Monday, March 24, 2014

"[My heart] is full of peace, joy, humility, and happiness."

Kumusta mga kaibigan at pamilya (kumusta dagiti gayyem ken pamilya, So maybe to change things up a bit I'll start by asking a couple questions. I can't remember if Cam ever told me or if he did basta I can't remember, where was he called to in the Philippines? Next thing I have to ask for the other uncle Cam, do you think you could send some Korean stuff like just a letter/email in Korean (if you can still). It would be really cool for the Korean family here.

Anyway, my heart is full as I write this email. Full of peace, joy, humility, and happiness. This last Saturday we were able to have a baptism for sister Aiko and Bro. Rommel. I feel very blessed to have been able to witness and be a part of that. They are so great. Aiko has one of the greatest testimonies and her story of conversion is just sweet. Rommel is one of the coolest 12 year olds ever. He has been prepared for a long time. He reads the Book of Mormon better than I did for sure. He just got confirmed yesterday and had an interview for becoming a Deacon. He's starting on his Duty to God already too. He's a great example for his parents who aren't members and for his less-active uncle. Aiko is leaving (maybe) to Claveria this Friday to stay with her family for her summer vacation. I know the Sisters and Elders that are assigned there will take great care of her and she will be a great tool for helping the rest of her family learn about the gospel.

I bet the Philippines is a lot like Brazil and not much has changed probably except for the technology available. Batac is interesting though, it sort of feels like being back home because there is a more wealthy side to it and the people here are actually pretty well off compared to the other places I've been assigned in. There's another family I want to talk about a little bit though. The Acoba family. I was on exchanges with the Zone leaders so Elder Larson and one of our Zone leaders went to teach Acoba last Friday. They taught him the word of wisdom. Elder Larson told me that Acoba wasn't too sure if that could really be a commandment from God but they told him to read about it and then pray and ask God. On Sunday we were worried because he wasn't at church when it started. 15 min. later he walked through the sacrament doors with his two kids dressed in their Sunday best and they had the biggest smiles I'd ever seen. We talked with him after sacrament and he said he read and prayed. He believes it's a commandment from God and he committed to give up coffee and alcohol and start living the word of wisdom. What a great experience!

We have some really great people here, but I know there's still more we haven't found that are just waiting to hear the truth, but don't know yet where to find it. This gospel is true. This is the plan of God for our families that everyone needs to hear. I love and miss you all and I'm so grateful for all of you. This is such marvelous work that we're a part of. Ingat!

Mahal ko kayong lahat,
-Elder Egan

 Tell Mia hi and tell Corby that's freaking sweet that he gets to go to New Zealand to teach skiing.

New digs in Batac

 zone activity we had last week at the sand dunes

pictures from Aiko and Rommel's baptism!

Transfer to Batac

Well hello there family. I think I told you I was being transferred, but now I'm actually here in Batac. So Batac is actually a city and a big one and most of the people here are pretty well off. It's the home town of President Marcos and he dumped a lot of money into it so the economical and business side of Batac boomed. It's pretty much the exact opposite of Pagudpud. It was hard to say goodbye to our investigators there. We said last goodbyes on Tuesday morning and then left. I'll miss a lot of those people, but I know they've accepted the gospel and now it's just a matter of them sorting out some of their problems so they can be baptized.

Well here in Batac they actually have a ward. Bishop and everything. The first day we went out and met some members. We work with less-active young men and it's been pretty effective with helping them get back to church and helping the members get better relationships with the missionaries. So I'll just name some of the people off here that we teach. There's the Sungga family who are actually preparing a new apartment for us to live in that's way nice. The one now is pretty nice (better than the old one I was at) and it has an oven! That's right. We made cookies!! The new apartment has a grill too! :D We taught their son Dave (well his dad calls him Adam) about Duty to God and we are hoping that he invites a less-active to the next YM activity. Then we met Aiko and Romel. So Aiko and Romel have been taught for around 9 months now, first by Sisters and then the Elders. Well Romel stopped coming to church awhile ago (he's 12) because he had nobody to go with. Well Aiko is his neighbor (she's 18) and as soon as the Elder's started teaching her they resolved her concern and Aiko and Romel have come to church for 4 weeks straight (well Aiko missed yesterday because she was taking care of her sick grandma). Well Aiko had never accepted baptism but she texted the Elders the day before I got here that she found her answer and she wants to be baptized!! :D They have an interview for baptism on Wednesday and the baptism will be this Saturday. There are some less-actives that we visited the next day and we have a lot of fun with their families to try and show them how great it is to be with your family and how we can be them forever through the gospel. We teach another group of college students in their dorm room (it's like the house at Pagudpud for quality). One of them knows the Church is true and is just working to give up cigarettes so he can be baptized. The way we found these guys though is through a recent convert from Dingras (Elder Ramsay's old area) named Jomary Dominggo. This guy is a golden RC and fellowshipper. We asked him last minute to help fellowship another family and he was all over that business. The Acoba family is the one we went to with him. Acoba is a man that had a live-in (not married but lived in the same house) and two kids. His "wife" went to Hong Kong and he hasn't heard from her in two years. He basically found the missionaries and after the first two lessons with them he went to Church, asked for a copy of gospel principles, and said he wanted to be baptized. Wow! April 12th is his scheduled date and that's not all. Jomary was helping us teach when a couple of Lola's came in. They're somehow related to Bro. Acoba and Jomary started talking to them and got them really interested. One of them really wants to change because her life has had so many problems. So we gave them a restoration pamphlet and a copy of the Book of Mormon and we're going to start teaching them.

There's a member family here, the De Leon family, that's really strong. One of the daughters in the family is married to a Korean, but she lives here with her two sons. Her youngest son is JJ who only speaks English and Korean so we teach them in English. JJ's favorite sport is soccer!!! We're playing soccer for an activity sometime soon for sure. Then there's sister Jella (we teach her in English too). She's pretty stinking rich. I mean most of the people we teach are pretty well off. Most people are middle class here (just the Philippines version) but Jella's family has it really good. So when Elder Larson and Elder Topham started teaching her, she said she wouldn't change religion. But then she understood the apostasy and wanted to know where the true Church was. So they gave here a Book of Mormon. Well we taught her last night and talked only about how to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. We had a really powerful lesson and Jella said that the idea of a new book is amazing to her and she feels like she'll receive a lot of personal revelation. She said she would make time to read it and she would pray about it to know if it's the word of God.

Well that's basically everything for now. Elder Larson and I are super excited to be working here and the area is progressing!! I feel like this place was perfect for me. I fit in here so well. I've already become good friends with all of the people I talked about and Elder Larson and I get along pretty well already. We're going to get things going even more here with some more finding.

Well it was Stake Conference (yep it's a Stake) yesterday and the Stake center is American style quality. It was carpeted with nice seats, air con and everything. It's nice here. It has it's problems like everywhere else, but we're really going to have success here. Thanks everyone for the prayers and support. This is the Lord's work that I'm doing and it's the true Gospel that I have the privilege to share.

Mahal ko kayong lahat!
-Elder Egan

 P.S. we had a zone activity and the schedule got messed up so long story short, I don't have the card reader for my camera right now. So next week na lang (it basically translates to "you'll just have to wait for next week now") for pictures!

So here's the last memories of Pagudpud.  That's the Ramos family.  Lola, tatay, nanay, and Sherwin. (Lawrence was too shy to get in the picture.)

Great news!

Well it's come to the end of another transfer already. That one snuck up on us real fast. So as it is transfers I guess I should share the news about who is transferring. Elder Ramsay is going to Aparri in Cagayan. I'm going to Batac (just below Laoag) and my new companion will be Elder Larson. He kind of reminds me of brother Larsen from our home ward from when we met him once in Laoag. So yeah, I'll be getting a new apartment and then Sister missionaries will be coming in to our old apartment here. Everything is going good here in the Philippines. I'm doing good and the Philippines is still as beautiful as ever. Oh and I have some great news! Jimmy and Lilibeth's family from Cabugao just got baptized a couple weeks ago! I was getting a little worried about them, but it was so good to hear that. I'm so excited for them. It took almost 4 transfers for them to be prepared for baptism and almost 2 full transfers after I left it happens. Some people just need more time, but eventually they are ready to enter into the covenant of baptism. Great news!

Well as usual, the last week of the transfer happened to be one of our best weeks. We have 8 people with baptismal dates (albeit a little ways down the road since marriage is a problem for most of them). In July I'm expecting to hear a lot about the baptisms of some of our investigators here. We had 7 investigators from our area come to church yesterday. One was from Caunayan (15 minute bus ride) that hadn't even been taught by us yet. We gave him a Book of Mormon and a pamphlet and he said he'd read almost all of Moroni 10 and it was really beautiful. He was interested so he rode his mountain bike from Cauanayan to the church. That's some pretty crazy miraculous stuff. Another person that we had been teaching in Caunayan came too. (she took the bus though). And we had almost all of the Ramirez family and Sheilla. That was awesome! Looking back from the first transfer to this one, we made some improvements and we've experienced a lot of growth. We've learned so much and you can see the results after a long period of time. We found a lot of people these last couple weeks and there are some good potentials that I feel will accept baptism after being taught the lessons. We've left the area in pretty good shape for the Elders and Sisters that will be teaching here. Pagudpud will be a really great place for progression.

So here's a story that I can share that was a negative turned into positive experience. We teach a family and one of the daughters is a tour guide and it so happened that a white tourist was staying at the house as part of the tour. He is an older American and as soon as he walks out he refuses to shake our hands and asks us where the gold plates are and how many wives John Smith had (he was talking about Joseph Smith but he didn't know his name). We handled it pretty calmly and told him that the record from the gold plates was now known as the Book of Mormon and he could read it if he'd like to and find out for himself if Joseph Smith was a prophet. He wouldn't have any of it and any attempt to be kind to him just ended up with him ignoring us. So we were about to teach the family now and he asks everyone if they want a beer or a whiskey. People drink here, it's natural to them. So of course they said sure and he says "well you don't want to be a Mormon then because they can't drink." So he walks off to get the beer and the Philipinos ask us why we can't drink. So we took the wonderful opportunity that our friend gave us and talked about the Word of Wisdom. Crazily enough, the tour guide thought that was great and is really interested now and wants to learn more about the gospel. The nanay that we teach talked about how her husband and two brothers died early because they had drinking problems and they understand now that it's not good for us. So when the guy comes back with the whiskey the nanay says just go put it in the fridge, we aren't drinking it now. The daughter said she's going to try not drinking and not having coffee. The experience turned out great even though it started out with a guy attacking our religion and telling us all sorts of pleasant things. Just keep positive! Or as mother Teresa would say, be positive anyway. 

Those Sunday Stations sound really good. Mia told me last week ;) It's great to hear from you all and here's a big "hello" and "Mahal kayo" to the Richins family. You should send some pictures *cough* *hint, hint*. Anyway, love you all and miss you so much. I'm sure you'll all just move along with life in the Americas. I still have no idea what's going on over there. The Gospel is true. The Book of Mormon is true. Jesus is the savior and through His Atonement we can come closer to God and find true happiness in life. Share the gospel with all those who don't have it yet because it truly helps.

Drying octopus skin
 Mahal ko kayong lahat!
-Elder Egan

Here's the Tagumdin family.  Boy will I miss them.  So poor, but the kids are so happy.  The gospel will bless them so much.

Fun with the machete

"this week has been yet another week full of challenges and trials, but also full of blessings."

Kumusta kayo? Well it's been yet another week and this is the beginning of the last week of the transfer. That's still crazy to me. Congrats to Danny. That'll be great for him. I got that letter from Chase. Sounds pretty hectic to me. Here people just live in really poor conditions; they don't have a lot of protests against the government though. So to get married Sheilla needs a birth certificate which was destroyed when the municipal hall of her hometown was burned. So she can do late registration, but she needs a paper from the NSO in Laoag. So we stopped by to see if we could get that for her since they have absolutely no money and found out that you actually need ID (duh) to get the paper. So we're going to have to wait still for the marriage. I wouldn't be surprised though if they waited until July because they have free weddings in July for an anniversary celebration in Pagudpud. That's good for them though and we're getting things started for them.

So this week has been yet another week full of challenges and trials, but also full of blessings. We're doing a lot of finding to try and find those diamonds and gold (investigator versions) here in Pagudpud. We found some families that we think could be very ready to accept the gospel and we had some really good lessons (albeit few in number). We were really excited to see if people would actually follow through with their commitment to come to church. We set a pretty high goal and had really strong commitments for church. Sunday came and only Sister Ramirez came. Disappointing? Yes. Sad? A little bit. And what's even more sad is that only we had an investigator show up. The area is really hard right now. It's been really hard and it's been a trial and a test for all of us. But we are NOT disappointed in our efforts.

We've just been getting better and working harder. Instead of 110%, we give 120%. The Lord is hastening his work so we just need to trust in him that we'll find those people whose hearts have been opened. The thing with hastening of the work is that Satan tries even harder as well. All the people who are ready and prepared for the gospel have the greatest trials to deal with. So many problems have come for the Ramirez family, Rex and Sheilla, even our recent converts. We're finding those ways to succeed, we just might have to be patient and wait to see the results of our success.

I can't thank all of you enough for the prayers, love, and support for me and for the people here. The mission experience is helping me learn and grow a lot, but I hope I've been able to touch at least one of the people here and helped them to feel the truth of this gospel. The Spirit is so strong on a mission and it's always there testifying of truth, now it's up to our investigators to decide whether or not to act. This is God's work on the earth.
 Mahal ko kayong lahat,
 -Elder Egan
We were walking through our area and found a family that had a pet monkey

Here's a family that we've been visiting in one of our far areas called Caparispisan.  As you might be able to tell from the pictures, they are extremely poor.  There's 4 kids and their mom is pregnant.  They're dad went to Vigan (my old area had Zone meetings there) to work.  So they buy food off credit and live with next to nothing.  They're one of the happiest families I've seen though; very humble.  The tatay gets back next week so we can start teaching again and hopefully they can start coming to church.  Nanay reads the Book of Mormon nearly every day and in about 6 weeks time she's made it up to half way through 2 Nep.  They're incredible and I pray they will acquire the means to come to church.

"we were reassured that there's diamonds and gold deep down in Pagudpud."

Hello again to family and friends. As usual I can't believe it's been another week and I get to email again already. Yep, trying to help people understand that they not only need to change their behavior, but that it will ultimately be for their good in every way is pretty hard. That pretty much describes perfectly what it's been like on the mission. People don't even know what their missing and most of the time they really don't have a desire to experience anything else. But there are those people out there that have already had their hearts opened by the Lord (just like mom and President Barrientos said) so those are the people we need to find. That's awesome for Nick, Danny, Ryan, and Jacob. They're all going to be great missionaries. Tell 'em congrats and good luck if you can for me. That's an awesome story about Mia. Two thumbs up for her. Keep the piano up Kol, it'll be worth it. Well I'm sure the world is still changing at a rapid pace and I probably won't have a clue about some of the newest and greatest things in America, but I'm sure the stuff that's new right now will make it's way to the Philippines by the time I'm coming home.

So this week...we had exchanges on Wednesday and I got to show Elder Jones (guess what! He's from Utah! go figure) around our area. We found some new people to teach and hopefully we they turn into people that really want to know about the gospel. It was a long day with a lot of walking and we ran into a preacher from a different religion called dating daan (it means old path/way) that Elder Jones had met before and he decided he was going to try and tear down some of the beliefs we have. I just feel bad for him because he said we wouldn't even ask God to know the truth. It's shocking how many people won't do that. Elder Jones is a really great guy and we had a good time on exchanges even though it was a really long day full of walking.

On Thursday we had interviews with President and trainings from the APs about finding those people whose hearts are open and being strictly obedient to be able to do that. When we find these people, the APs encouraged us to give them a baptismal invitation and date if possible and then to help them know the importance of the Restored gospel, the sacrament, and the blessings that come from the sacrament. That way we can find out who are wheat and who are tares. It seems like right now there are a lot of tares in the area, but we were reassured that there's diamonds and gold deep down in Pagudpud.

Friday we had a really thorough weekly planning session and a good companionship inventory. Time is a huge struggle when there's only two missionaries in an apartment. We have so much to do that I honestly haven't had even a second to spare for writing in my journal for over a week now. We realized that we weren't having as much fun with missionary work and we weren't having as much success. I feel like we can do what President says and be strictly obedient, but Elder Ramsay isn't so sure about taking that literally. So we compromise some of the things we want to do to try and get in all of the things we need to do. I feel like a lot of things are sacrificed to help our investigators. It's still slow though. So we're going to try getting in all of the things we need to. Elder Ramsay and I work really good together and we've gone through a lot together. It's going to be interesting to see what happens with transfers next weekend.

We've set a long term goal with the Ramirez family for baptism. Jun. 28th for nanay, Jhesir, Jellamaica, and Jomar. Tatay wasn't there when we taught so we plan on setting the date with him when we can teach him next. It's going to be really hard to try and figure out work schedule with tatay since he's always gone on Sundays. Nanay and Jellamiaca came to church on Sunday even though nanay was sick. They're so prepared to accept the gospel and Satan throws a trial at them with tatay's work. It's always the hardest for the ones that are honestly striving to do what's right.

Well this week is going to be the best week yet I'm sure, and then next week will be even better!!! It's always great to hear from everyone. I love and miss you all. Thanks for everything.

Mahal ko kayong lahat!
-Elder Egan
Here's the house of Sheilla and Rex.  They came to church!!! We're helping them get marriage sorted out so they can be baptized on the 22nd next month!  Rex lost his job though and it might be pretty rough for them so prayers would be appreciated.

On Saturday there was an activity for the Priesthood in the Branch and we went to Dampig to do a workshop on Priesthood responsibilities.  The turnout wasn't too great and unfortunately the Branch is struggling and has a few problems right now...It's a good thing the leaders here are very good though.

"It's been 6 months already since I entered the MTC!!"

Hello again from the Philippines.  Well it's been plenty hot here for the last 3 weeks or so.  We'd say high 80s to 90s.  Good job Kolsen, keep up the good work in soccer and keep taking those piano lessons.  Well, congratulations to Cassie Howard whatever new last name she has.  Emma, you don't have to worry about dating because it's bawal until I get back.

Well what can I say about this week...we haven't moved into a new apartment yet.  March na lang! (In March now!).  We're busy every hour of every day still, but we had some good insights about planning and evaluating that will hopefully help us get the most out of our time.  So when Kolsen asked about doing service to help people I decided to look for opportunities.  Well on Wednesday we were talking with some guy who was weeding and I just started pulling along side him.  We were able to finish the little section he was doing and he let us speak to him.  He didn't seem too interested at first, but then he asked us why there were so many churches on earth.  The Apostasy pretty much sums that up.  We started talking a little about Jesus Christ establishing His church though, and then the guy told us he had to go somewhere.  So the lesson there is to teach to the people's needs especially when you get an opportunity like that to teach someone (pretty sure the Spirit put that question in his mind).  Hopefully we can meet him again to answer that question.  Sheilla came back from Manila!!!!! We're really excited about that and got to teach her on Thursday.  She's still as ready for the gospel. We taught a family with our fellowshipper and extended a baptismal invitation.  They accepted, but they want to study the Book of Mormon a little more first before we set a date.  

We had ZTM and we got pumped about our purpose and how we can touch the hearts of our investigators to help them come closer to Christ.  Valentines was an interesting day because I realized something on that day...It's been 6 months already since I entered the MTC!!  Time is flying way too fast.  I don't feel like I've learned enough for it to have been 6 months already.  And to top it all off, I must've eaten a bad mango or something because I got lbm.  Happy 6 months!!!  We taught the Ramirez family and were able to teach tatay the Word of Wisdom.  He committed to quit smoking, but said he needed to do it gradually because it's hard to stop cold turkey.  So we said 1 a day this week and next week none.  He was a little surprised at that, but we know he can do it.  Great Sabbath day.  All our Recent converts came (they always do) and Sister Ramirez came with her daughter Jellamaica (that's a first for her).  It was only them, but it was great to see investigators that truly have a desire to be a part of the Church.  Sunday we were able to work with a recent convert named Bro. Calibuyot.  His daughter in law is the daughter of one of our investigators named tatay Norberte and he insists that we have an Ilokano fellowshipper.  It was pretty stinking awesome all of the things Bro. Calibuyot said (like savoring the experience of the true Church of Jesus Christ and if he came one time he would get to feel what that's like.)  Afterward he said he felt really invigorated and filled with the Spirit so he's going to come with us every Sunday now!  Rani and Janette Ramos are doing a lot better with the Word of Wisdom, but Rani complains a lot about his body feeling different  and it being hard to sleep now and he wants the alcohol because it's like his medicine now.  We told him he's got to overcome the addiction if he ever wants to feel good physically and spiritually.

So it's still really hard out here, but we're trucking along everyday.  There's progression going on here, just more slowly than I want.  Well that's all I've got for this week.  Oh quick little insert.  We just had an earthquake here that shook the computer shop.  It was pretty cool to feel one actually, I wonder where it originated and how strong it was.  Well have a good week everyone.

Mahal ko kayo lahat!
-Elder Egan
Here's a family (yep they're all family and they live in this little complex of houses) that we teach.  We don't teach them all, but there's quite a few that sit in and listen to us talk about the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation.  We have a lot of people here asking for a copy of the Book of Mormon, especially in Ilokano.  They love hearing our message and they all had a picnic lunch and fed us just before this picture.  The only problem is that they don't understand that there's only one true church on the earth so they don't see a need to come to our church.  We're still working on how to handle that one.