Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fw: What on earth is Boxing Day?

Maligayang Bagong Taon!  :D :D :D

Sorry about the sudden end to our phone call the other day.  ;P  The phone ran out of load in the middle, and it was like, "...Ma?  Ma?!  MAAAAAAA!!!!!"  D:  ...Well, no, not exactly like that... ^^''  Actually, I ended up eating up that P300 load card that I bought and the P700 or so of load that was already on the cell phone.  Elder Hopkins wasn't real happy with me about that... Whoooops... ^^'' But I paid him back for the load that was already on the cell phone.  All the cell phones here are pre-paid, so every once in a while you have to run to a store to "load up" a cell phone before you can text or call.  It confused me at first ("Sorry, I don't have any load.." "...You don't have any what?"), but I kinda figured it out after awhile.

Anyway, I'll be spending this New Year's hanging out in the apartment with my apartmentmates.  We're not allowed to go outside the apartment after six o'clock for any reason, because here in the Philippines, New Year's Eve is a traditional opportunity for everyone in the country to gather together, go outside, get drunk, and light off fireworks!  :D  So... just so nobody dies, President's told us not to go outside at all after 6.  So, yeah.  I'll be hanging out partying in the apartment on New Year's.  New Year's Day probably won't be so successful, either, because that's when everyone in the country will wake up with a hangover.  :D

Yesterday we got transfer announcements.  I'm a rather sticky missionary, I guess...  ^^'  I tend to get stuck in areas for long periods of time (the only exception so far is Pasig).  I'll be staying in Molino 1st ward another transfer.  My new companion is Elder Magbanua, from Negros Occidental (Southern Philippines).  I think he said his native language is some sort of mixed dialect between Ilonggo and Bisaya.  o.o  Which doesn't help me much, because I don't know either of them.  ^^'  But he does speak pretty good English, and like everyone else here, he speaks Tagalog, too.  Yaaaaay. ^^''

The other area, Molino 2nd, on the other hand, got shotgunned, so I'll be doing my best to help them find everything in their area (this is the second time in my mission where everyone else in my apartment has transferred out, and I alone remain to tell the sad story of the destruction of my people... or... well... the transferring of the other missionaries, anyway...  The first time was after my first transfer, when Elder Curammeng left, and the other area got shotgunned, too).  I'll do the best I can... I'll basically be more-or-less leading two areas, for a few days at least, one of which I don't know very well... D:

This year really is a new year for me.  I'll be hitting my one year mark on January 6th.  Has it seemed fast for you guys?  There have been hard times, which have seemed to stretch on a bit, and there have been fun times as well.  It's like it felt like when I climbed Mt. St. Helens last July.  I would trudge on and on, climbing over rocks and sand and things, and then look back every once and a while and realize just how far I'd come.  "Woah... We're pretty far up here now..."  It's the same sort of feeling now.  I've just about reached the top of the mountain now, and now it's time to start heading back down (Well, actually, on that particular trip, I hung out and rested on the top of the mountain for about 2 hours before heading back down, but there's not really any time for that... ^^' ). From what I've heard, it's all just a roller coaster ride from here.  I'll be back home before you know it.  o.o  And I'll be speaking a language you guys won't understand.  Fun, huh?  :D

On Christmas, after our zone activity, we went and ate dinner at one of our investigators' houses, the Surigao family.  Though most of them aren't progressing much, except for their daughter, Mexi, who has a baptismal date for Jan. 15th, they really are a nice family, and we've been getting pretty close with them lately (They were all really sad when Elder Sanz told them he was leaving yesterday.  He will be missed by many).  Tatay Max impressed me that night (when they fed us on Christmas).  After we were all done eating, he suddenly called us outside (I'm pretty sure he was drunk...).  Tatay has always been really nice to us, and has always respected our service as missionaries, but he so far hadn't really been showing many signs of progression.  But anyway, he called us over that night and introduced us to his niece, saying that she's been confused with her life.  He introduced us to her and told her that we would teach her the right path to go, that we could help end the confusion in her life.  He then surprised me by sharing with her the story of Joseph Smith.  We've only taught him like... once or twice, a long time ago... and I'm pretty sure he was drunk when we shared with him the story of Joseph Smith.  But he remembered it!  He was like, "Joseph Smith was really confused in his life, too; he wasn't sure where he should go to find happiness.  But then he went and prayed and God appeared to him and told him where to find the truth."  I was stunned.  We then bore testimony to what Tatay said, and then gave her a pamphlet and told her to find the missionaries in her area (she doesn't actually live here; she lives someplace else).  So far, only Mexi and her friend, Jury, have gone to church in that family, but I'm hoping that they'll all be able to start coming to church as well.  It's amazing the work the Spirit does for you while you're not looking...

Earlier today during transfer meeting, I heard some amazingly good news and some sad news... The sad news is that one of my recent converts from my first area, Sister Amy Galang, just passed away this last Monday.  She'd already been experiencing health problems regarding cancer back when we were still teaching her, and I guess she finally gave in.  I'll probably attend her funeral service sometime next week or so, whenever the Boni 4 Elders let me know when it is.  It's amazing the comfort the Plan of Salvation gives in times like this (it also helped a lot when I heard about Bro. Ellis a few months ago).  She's at peace now, awaiting the Resurrection in the Spirit World.  She was a good person in this life, and so I'm sure she awaits a good reward in the life to come.  The 4th verse of "Come, Come Ye Saints" becomes more and more real to me as life goes on.

Then there was the amazingly good news.  I talked to the Elders serving in my second area, Pasig 1st.  This conversation was also reassuring, because there was part of me that thought that all of our work back in Pasig had all been pretty fruitless.  I'd heard a few weeks ago that Brother Ivan Olivar, who we'd taught a few times and had gone to church a few times with his family, was being baptized on the 25th, and was (while really happy for him, of course), a little bit sad at the same time because I wouldn't be able to attend.  But in addition, they told me that another family we'd taught, the Rebota family, had also been baptized the same day.  I was again amazed (much like with Tatay Surigao).  The Rebota family was one that we'd kept coming back to again and again, but I always felt like every time we went back there, nothing ever happened.  They would never commit to anything, saying, "Yeah, sure, when we have time," which usually means, "no," and I never really felt like they understood the importance of what we were teaching them.  I felt like we were banging our heads on the wall every time we went there.  It was frustrating.  I had just about lost all patience with that family.  But then, apparently, after we left, Tatay eventually stopped smoking, a habit he'd held on to for years and years.  They both quit drinking coffee, something they both said would be impossible for them to do.  They started coming back to church.  And on the 25th, they were baptized.  It's always good to have a reminder every once in a while that no effort is wasted.  Also, another investigator we taught a few times, Tatay Saycon, has a baptismal date for the 22nd of January.  The Lord works in small ways to plant seeds in people's hearts, to be harvested at later times.  Again, it was a good reassurance that, all in all, none of my work was wasted back in Pasig 1st.

I'm attaching a few pictures this time (for the first time in forever. :D )

1.  My new apartment-mates.  Elder Magbanua is the one standing next to me.  I haven't quite learned the other ones' names yet... ^^'' (It shouldn't be that hard, they're written on their nametags!!! :P ).

2.  Elder Sanz and I, in front of the Manila Temple.

3.  The Surigao family, being blinded by the flash of my camera... ^^'' They don't have electricity, so we were going mostly by candle-light.  And camera-flash-light...  I don't know the name of the little guy, but from the left is Jury, Tatay Max, Nanay, whose name I can't remember off the top of my head (mostly we just call her Nanay... it's a Filipino cultural thing...), May Anne, and Mexi.  That's not all of them, and Jury and May Anne aren't actually part of the same family, but they all pretty much live in the same place...

Anyway, I'm about out of time now.  Happy New Year everyone!!! :D :D :D  Try not to get killed by fireworks!  I'll try to do the same.  ^^''

Love you!

Elder David Jones

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