Monday, September 29, 2014

Sept. 22nd, 2014 - Learning, Adjusting, Serving

I hope everyone's going well and doing good. So from the whole pictures thing this may end up a little shorter than normal. Well as usual it seems we had some more trials this week. Isn't that a great part of life? We went to the one family that I said I loved a lot (with corn) and the first thing there little kid Stanly says is "dad has a sin. He drank. He needs to repent." A little bold for a 7 year old. This dad has been teaching his kids right though. They know the difference between right and wrong. This kid points out that it's a mistake to drink. Other kids go out and buy the beer for their dad. We shared just real quick about overcoming trials. I think he was kind of shy about it still so they didn't come to church. We went to bring them some tinapay (bakery goods) and just have a good spiritual thought with them on Thursday, but they weren't home. So we took it to another returning less-active and her recent convert father. Turns out that was the last time we would see her because she left for Manila on Saturday to be trained and then go to Singapore. It warms my heart that she has a desire to go to the temple and she's been preparing herself to go someday or at least live worthy of it so she can experience those blessings.

Ah I forgot to explain the whole trials. So I don't remember what I've said about this area and fellowshippers. I'm sure I've said it's awesome. The BML and one branch missionary literally worked almost everyday last transfer. Then a couple other Branch missionaries came back and we started working with another couple recent converts more to give the two a break. Well we were getting super high numbers of member present lessons thanks to all of their work especially since a lot of our investigators from far areas are sisters and we can't teach without a male fellowshipper. Well they all for some reason just started not wanting to work. It's just a lot of drama and somewhat sad. I would explain but it's just ugly and long to explain. Let's just say a lot less member present lessons and sometimes we don't get to teach. We only get to say "sorry, no fellowshipper. Can't teach." At least there have been some opportunities to serve when we weren't able to teach. It's still a lot better than my last areas, it's just sad that instead of progressing, they digressed.

So we taught the Talang family (THE family) and had an FHE with them. They loved it and were so grateful to us for teaching them. They really want to be baptized and go to church, but they won't really commit all that solidly because brother wants to get a new job first so they can always go. Brother said "don't give up on us." I won't, I can't. But sometimes I feel like giving up. They didn't go to church again. Just breaks my heart. We have a good plan for this week to help them though.

We taught Denver's family as well on Saturday. It was great and we have some good ideas to help them save money to go to church. We thought we would get them to come to church this time...only the youngest came again. I need to write a novel on their family too because of how the gospel is changing them. Ever surely and steadily they are moving forward. Had FHE on Sunday and did it about temples and eternal families. They loved it. They prayed to be able to go to church next week. Now it's up to them to work for it. Makes me want to cry when they say that and never end up coming.

Well we're learning a lot, adjusting to the trials, and keeping on serving the Lord. I'm learning to be more happy even when it seems like there are a lot of problems (I don't know how this email sounds, if it's negative or positive). Trying to find those that are ready, but we keep finding more in farther areas (not on purpose, it just happens that way). The finding in the closest areas for us (which are still far) just hasn't led to any success so far. The far areas are where we're seeing some hope. If that's what God wants right now, so be it. Maybe he's trying to test some families so they can be well rooted in the gospel and be the ones to open the way for the more people in order to progress in the far areas. We just gotta keep on doing our best and I know the Lord will provide the way. 

-Elder Egan

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15-All Is Well After Typhoon Luis

Well mom commented on the typhoon that hit or area. It was a signal 3 warning for us so President told us to go in early on Saturday (bummer) and then all of Sunday we couldn't go out (huge bummer). So it was pretty windy and a little rainy until about 4 and all of the sudden it got really calm. THEN, about 7 o'clock... the power went out. That was annoying! So then we got a text from President around 9:45 saying it was close and that we could go to sleep. So we did and it was super hot without the fans. And THEN..............................................................................We woke up and absolutely nothing happened. It was like back in my first area where we had a warning and we were told to stay in and it ended up being way far from us. We didn't even get touched. The power was out though until 3:30 which stunk pretty badly. But we can email now! Yay! :)

So for this week: well it was really rough lessons wise. 17. That was super low. On Monday we didn't get to teach because we were about to go and all of the sudden we got a text from a member asking us to bless their father-in-law so we went all the way out to there house and by the time we got back it was time to go back to the apartment. I would still count it as a successful day though. Then we had a really rough time getting lessons in one of our areas. Even when finding there was a lot of rejection. On Friday we had no fellowshipper and in all of our lessons the mother was home and the father was out working or had some other thing they were gone doing. The help of the members is crucial and we felt the negative effects of having a lack of member support this week. Literally almost everyone was home, but no male so we couldn't teach. Saturday would have been good except for having to go in early. We went to a far area and only got to teach one lesson before having to go back because of the travel time. So after all this struggle and disappointment we went to Church on Sunday and only 58 people came. Half of what it was last week. It was raining a little bit so nobody came. No less-active members and not even the recent converts from our areas came. Then we had the miracle, a small but very real miracle. Denver's sister came to church! The youngest in their family came for the first time here in Sta. Teresita. She said everyone else didn't have money to come (we have an idea to help with that). I'm seeing the change in this family. They are reading the scriptures and learning new things. They are praying daily and recognizing God's hand helping them to change their lives. They accepted to live the Word of Wisdom (even though it's the less-active parents that have the real problem there. They all accepted though). Church is the only thing they're lacking. If they all tried once to go as a family, that would seal the deal. They really need to exercise that faith and trust that God will help them as they obey His commandments. Please pray for them. I feel like we're about to have a really good week.

That's it for this week. I'm very well (actually feeling a little lazy since we just stayed in doing nothing yesterday). Love you all a ton and miss you just as much (it's really a shame you can't all be experiencing what I get to experience daily).

-Elder Egan

P.S. Mom that sound's perfect for a Christmas package. Just load it up with American goods. Maybe a couple ties (some of mine are really old/dirty now).

Here's the Filipinos in our apartment.  Elder Molleno and my companion Elder Saragoza.

I'm proud to say I made these.  It looks like Christmas time again to me.  I actually messed up these little rice flour ball thingys at first.  It was great fun.  They're a part of this dessert called ginataan.  It's delicious and I wish you could have all tasted it.  Maybe I'll learn how to make it

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8th-Patience.

Well hello family and friends of all sorts! Sounds like you've all had a great week. Congrats to the champions. (referring to Kolsen and Mia's Mayor's cup wins).

Philippines is treating me like it treats everyone. I got a haircut from an American that lives here (for free :) ) and I can relate to some things that he misses from America, but it's still pretty amazing here. It's supposed to be getting cooler but so far it's still hot. Yes I got the package! Just like I said, got it on Tuesday along with some mail. Thank you so much! It was wonderful. Now maybe I failed to clear this up but it would probably be better to send things that are individually wrapped. That way you just freeze all the things individually and it's easy to eat one when you want. The unwrapped things just melt together and then all the apartment mates have a rough time trying to split it into equal parts. For me whatever is fine; for everyone else though they say sharing would be easier if it was individually wrapped :) I guess I might have forgot to mention that I'm out of the clear care contact solution. I can get the other saline stuff here so it's not a huge deal. Just for future reference.

What to say about this was somewhat rough. We taught a ton of investigator lessons this week. We really ended up focusing on that since we haven't seen very much progression in our investigators yet. We committed a lot of people to church and we had a lot of people say they were coming. Sunday came around and no investigators came. That's right, none. Absolutely no progression for our investigators because none of the formerly progressing investigators have come in at least 3 weeks. We worked so hard, we prayed, we fasted, we had faith, hope, charity, and love with an eye single to the glory of God. But it seemed like nothing came from it. I hate to admit it, but I was really discouraged and feeling really down about it. I love these people so much and I know that the Gospel will help them. I want so badly for them to be able to be baptized in order "to open the doors of the Celestial Kingdom to the sons and daughters of God." This area is so different. Everything is really far and there's only 1 or 2 members in 4 of the 5 areas we go to. In the 5th area there's a lot of members, but we mainly focus on teaching the less-actives out there. It's hard for the investigators to get to church when they don't really know anyone else that's a member and they live so far away. So I guess we just keep going.

No matter what happens, I'm going to keep doing everything I can and working my hardest. We're going to fix any problems that we find and keep improving everyday. More work, more prayers, more fasting, more faith, hope, charity and love with an eye single to the glory of God. More diligence, patience. Perhaps that's what the Lord wants me to learn. I'm sure there are many things I can learn from this and I'll make sure I come out of these hard times better than I was before. I really want to keep a positive and optimistic attitude all the time. Love the Lord's work 24/7. We are being successful missionaries even if we can't immediately see the success. We had 9 less-active members attend church. A family and some other returning less-actives. I don't know why some of them decided to come to church this week and not other weeks. We didn't focus a ton on less-active lessons, very few actually, yet the Lord knew what they needed to hear and His Spirit was able to help guide the less-active members to make the right choice and come to Church. We'll keep working hard and if I end up leaving here, the next missionaries will get to continue to have success. There are some families that are truly ready for the Gospel, but they are taking a little longer than I want to actually take the steps of faith necessary to prepare for baptism. Patience. I know the Lord is still a Lord of miracles and he will have everything done in His time and His way.

Here's kind of an example. Denver's family. They love us so much and they so want to come to church, but they're really poor and think they need to work on Sunday to survive. So I have them wash my clothes and I'm able to give them enough money that would cover half of the cost of going to church and the rest is up to them. Well they were really set on going this week, but for whatever reason they decided to wash my clothes on Sunday instead of Saturday. That's what we call a palpak (fail). So I'll have to give them my clothes a whole week in advance and tell them not to wash on Sunday. Pick any other day but Sunday. They're still reading the Book of Mormon and praying, they really are just lacking in going to church. Next week. For sure! The Golden family. They're really awesome. They want to be baptized, but brother knows he needs to find a new job so they can go to church and so he isn't tempted to drink (it's a pretty bad situation). So we need to keep praying for him and we know that they would be so blessed if they took every opportunity to go to church. There's just a little lack of faith right now.

Thank you for everything. The encouragement and advice is just what I need every time. It really helps me to keep going. I'm at a year now and I think I've got the hang of everything now. I need to increase the fire a little bit more and climb that next step. I'm always striving to be a better missionary and that will ultimately help me be a better person. The mission is so great!

Mahal at mamiss din,
-Elder Egan

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September 1, 2014 - We'll Keep Pressing On"

(Happy birthday Mia!!) Well that's the second birthday of yours I've missed and I don't know if I'll miss another (part of me just really wants to stay in the Philippines, but I'm pretty sure I won't).

So for the week...well unfortunately Denver, Jeremy and Edison didn't make it to church again. Denver went to Sta. Anna (very northern part of the Philippines) to give a medical paper to his uncle on Sunday and the other two are a little shy without him going. But we taught again on Sunday and we're seeing some progression! Denver doesn't smoke more than one cigarette a day and he goes a few days without smoking, but then gives in. He's close though. He can definitely do it. Edison really has a desire to get rid of smoking to and he himself said he could and would do it. Their awesome. Edison really has respect for the missionaries. He heard that a punk teenager said "F U" to us and he said he was going to beat that kid up. We said don't do that, the guy just doesn't understand what he's saying.

In some other good news, we had two more investigators from Buyun come (where Denver and Edison are from). The YM president's daughters invited them so they came! Great missionary effort from the members. The new companionship is so-far-so good. He has his weaknesses like every other missionary, but I haven't seen anything that's overwhelmingly terrible about him. He's a great person. He just turned 25 which makes me feel really young.

Good luck to all the soccer players in the family. No car huh? (for Emma) I still want to see a picture of the new car. HINT HINT. and of the Ogden temple HINT HINT Congrats to the parents of my newest baby cousin!! They get cuter and cuter every time. No package yet. Tomorrow the APs are coming up for a special training so I'll probably get it then.

Well if I sound up beat and happy that's good. I'm working on always being optimistic, hopeful, patient. Honestly, yesterday just about killed me when Denver didn't come to church let alone anyone else that said they would come. To top that off, I started feeling awful when we were teaching and everyone commented that I looked bad and felt hot and had no energy. That's what a fever will do to you. I'm doing fine now though. God helps his missionaries out pretty quickly. But we'll keep pressing on. Yeah I don't know what you would call fluent. (Mom asked if he felt like he was fluent in the language yet) I'm always learning new stuff, but I can understand like 98% of what people say and I can say anything I want to. Fluent...sure I'm fluent (I guess), perfect: Heck no! Well here in Cagayan there are more pure Ilokano speakers and I've had to teach in Ilokano so I've been learning a lot more of that here. Gift of tongues is still real even when it isn't your mission language :)

That's it everyone. Have a wonderful week. Love and miss you all!
-Elder Egan
Here's a cool pond in an area called Aridowen.  It was literally blue.
These are baby least we found them as babies and not as giant rats like in Pagudpud.