Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Elder Pettit's Homecoming Talk Invite

Elder Samuel Pettit
will return from his 2-year mission
in the Philippines
for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on June 27, 2012.

He will report in Sacrament Meeting
on July 8th at 1:00 p.m.
Highland 16th Ward
10962 N 6400 W
Highland, UT

A light dinner and refreshments will be served at his home after the block at 4:00 p.m.
10629 N 6250 W
Highland, Utah

We would love to have you join us for whatever part of the day you are able!

Excerpts from Elder Pettit's Last Email!

The fact that I'll be home soon has been slowly setting in, especially this morning as I arranged my suitcases in preparation to pack, but it still hasn't quite hit me all the way. I can hardly believe this is my last week of missionary work in the mission field... Better make it a good one! We probably won't be emailing next Monday, I might shoot off a small one if I have time, but we'll be busy traveling to Iloilo and then having interviews and maybe stopping by a few stores for souvenirs before sleeping for the night. I'm excited to be back in Iloilo so I can say "hi" to some of the members from my last area. We have a dinner set up with one of the ladies there that I'll miss very much. 

My camera has lasted the whole mission! Surprising indeed if you compare it with the average missionary. My comp is only about 6 months and is already considering getting a new one because his is having some problems. I've been trying to take a lot more pictures lately, so it will be fun to be able to show them all to you when I get back and to tell all the stories related to them.

The week was another trying one! I don't mean to be negative or anything when I say it, but this sure has been one of the most difficult areas I've been in. But we are really working hard and still have the faith that the Lord will help us. I liked what Elder Neilson said a few weeks ago when he quoted the Lord in the scriptures "I can do my own work" or something was the line. It is comforting to know that He is on our side!

Monday, May 21, 2012

So my new comp is Elder Naylor, from Kaysville Utah. He graduated 2011. He was into wrestling. We have many common interests and finding ourselves having to return from random tangents of conversation during our studies and planning etc :) He actually came from being companions with Elder Petersen, my to-be-companion on the plane ride home. Aside from slight frustration due to the change of language, he seems to be happy with the area and I know we'll accomplish great things together.

As hard as it was, the past week was successful. If nothing else, we were thrilled to see a less active RM and his non member wife at church yesterday, after having met and visited with them last week and encouraging them to be faithful in order to receive all the blessings our Heavenly Father has in store for them. Other than that, we had a few great lessons with some newer investigators we are working with, and the home teaching was even organized yesterday! We are grateful for the desire of the men in the group to serve their fellow members and fulfill their responsibilities as priesthood holders. As for today, we went to Pandan, a very distant part of our area (actually in Antique, not Aklan) where many of our members live, and went on a hike near our branch mission leader's house. The culture here is funny: upon arrival, about 9 30, they rushed to make "merienda", or "snack" before we took our hike. I was a little confused and said "I thought we were going to have lunch after the hike?" And they said "of course! This is just a snack!" So they cooked some scout-camp like meat/potato/egg topping for our rice, and a few fish and shrimp. I was feeling pretty full after our little "snack." Then we hiked up in the mountains behind their house for about 30 to 45 minutes, arriving at a small pool of water with little water fall flowing into it. The members (the one family, the Angeles family from here, and a few other members) enjoyed the chilly water while us 4 Elders (including the 2 from Tangalan) watched on the dry land and took pictures :) After hiking out around 12, they had a large lunch prepared for us: another big batch of rice, a few more rice toppings, with mangos and bananas on the side. After eating, we talked for a few minutes, and then told them we'd have to be leaving soon. Brother Miague (the branch mission leader) says "we have to have a snack first!" Another snack! So they mixed up fresh "buko juice" made from coconut water, and flesh, mixed with milk and sugar. Mmmmm... We finally got out of there and came straight here to email before the day is over! It was a fun activity, and we were glad to be able to bond with the members more. Unfortunately, I think I am going to feel the results of the hike tomorrow on my legs...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Update on Elder Pettit's New Area

Last Tuesday I worked in Elder Gunnell's area (my district leader) where we hiked into the mountains, crossed a river 3 or 4 times, and passed by a plant called huya-huya ("shy-shy" because it curls up to hide from you when you touch it) just to get to a member's house. The member walks that distance and more each Sunday to attend church and other days to attend other meetings, and there are other members close by, and investigators there being taught! Pretty crazy. All in all my area is not quite as adventurous. We have pavement/cement roads nearly everywhere we go. But nonetheless it is still an adventure. At least I can say that, while the Tangalan Elders (Elder Gunnell and his comp) go home to a luxurious beach-house (right on the beach, wind and a beautiful view), we are currently having the adventure by walking home (around 30 minute walk from the main part of town) to a somewhat dungeon of a home--unpainted cement walls and rough cement floor, with ceiling only in the bedroom, bathroom, and study room, (the rest being open to the trusses that hold up the tin roof) and the bathroom/kitchen counter not even tiled... (But don't worry, the owner of the house stopped by this morning to let us know he is putting the tiles in the bathroom/kitchen like he promised he would last September :)) But we will not complain!!! Because it is just part of the work. And we enjoy ourselves all the same. We ARE however looking for a new house to move into. But not much luck because lots of people are looking for houses here currently people say. The language is coming along. I can speak Tagalog quite well, my only downfall is the limited vocabulary that I know. But I gave a talk yesterday in church about the Book of Mormon, all in tagalog, and it went pretty well! So I can get my words around, its mostly just understanding because of my small vocab. The crazy language of Aklanon is also coming a little bit. The hardest things are still the strange throat noises, but I can kinda do a few of them :) I'm excited to give you an example when I call in a few weeks. The people are very willing to help with the language so things are working out ok. They say I have a pretty good filipino accent now! I was able to meet most of the members in our group yesterday, which was a great experience. Our group leader is a great man. He has a strong concern for the wellfare of each of the members, and a great desire to help the unit to progress. We have a few other wonderful strong families, and some slightly newer members that are making their way to becoming very firm in their testimonies as well. The entire group is looking forward to becoming a branch in the near future, and I am happy to be able to be a part of that progression. We have some very strong SA/Youth that are thrilled to be able to help in the finding and teaching of investigators and less actives as well and I can see the current members are going to be a great part in the church progressing rapidly here. I really feel like we have been guided by the Lord in all of our efforts the few days we have been able to work. It seems wherever we go, or whoever we teach, we are able to run into new people and open new doors to getting new investigators etc. I feel like our companionship and the members here are really qualifying for the companionship of the Spirit and that is what is going to be the best help in strengthening the members and seeking out new people that are ready to hear the gospel. I am loving these days. Being able to focus all of my time and efforts on the members and investigators is a great feeling, and I am looking forward to these last weeks I will be spending in the mission field. I'd prefer it no other way!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter and a Transfer!

Sam has finished his assignment as the AP and is now in the furthest mission area from the mission home!  Here is an excerpt from his email at Easter:

Elder McClellan (my new companion, actually trained by Elder Burton) and I have great plans for the area to help it progress. I haven't quite yet experienced a full day of proselyting here yet because of transfers and then conference, but in the next few days I sure will. And I'm excited for it!

We had another wonderful departure meeting on Tuesday. They have been possibly the most spiritual experience I have had on my mission so far, and this last one was no exception. Seeing the seasoned missionaries say their goodbyes and bear their testimonies is a very powerful experience that I am very much grateful for. It is hard to see them go, but I am sure that they will continue to live excellent lives as they apply the things that they have learned on their missions to their every day. The rest of the week was as busy as ever. Picking up the 6 missionaries from the US was fun. 2 Elders and 4 Sisters. The Sisters were fireballs! They were chatting and laughing the whole day. Their excitement was very much felt, until the exhaustion caught up with them and they all passed out on the couches in the lobby of the office. Haha. Then Thursday we picked up the one local missionary, an Elder, and had lunch and then the orientation meeting. Friday was as hectic as ever with transfers, not to mention it was good Friday, which meant that we found out on Thursday afternoon that the transportation would not be having a regular day of work, and so we had to change the time of transfer meeting on the spot to be an hour early, and we were scrambling to get everybody off to their terminals immediately after the meeting was over. But at last we made it, and the jeep I was in made its way out of the parking lot of Arevalo chapel, the last time I'll probably see it until I am there for my departure! It was hard leaving the area, just like it always is, being so close to the members and investigators and missionaries I have been able to work with. But I'm ready for another adventure! And I am definitely in for one!

I'm now writing from Ibajay, Aklan. I don't know if I mentioned it was where I was going, but here I am! I went from President's ward to being the farthest area from him! We arrived Friday afternoon (arriving about two hours earlier than expected due to no traffic because of holy week) and visited a few members in the area. Ibajay is a group attached to the Tangalan branch, which is just on the other side of the mountain. We are the closes area to Boracay, but sadly it is prohibited, and President even told me once when I joked with him, "I wouldn't hesitate to send someone home if I found out they went to Boracay." So we won't do that. Haha. But lots of people here work there, and at least it can be seen from the beach! The language here is Aklanon. I think I described it once before, but it is pretty much a mix of the other two languages on the island, ilongo and karay-a, plus some of their own crazy twists, like not using the letter 'L' but replacing it with a strange noise made at the back of the throat that is a beast to learn! A lot of them speak Tagalog, but in our area they don't seem to speak it very well. I have been having a debate with myself if I will just stick with Tagalog or try to learn their language, or both. I feel inclined to just go for their language, because I feel like I could be a lot closer with them if I could speak their native language, but I'll let you know how that's going over the next few weeks. They don't really understand Ilongo, but they are very willing to help me learn their language. Saturday we went to Kalibo City for general conference, which was great! I really enjoyed the theme of fulfilling priesthood responsibilities in the priesthood session, and then the family theme in the rest of the conference. Sunday we headed back to Kalibo for the last 2 sessions, and were able to do some tracting in the afternoon when we got home, making a few good contacts and finding some potential investigators. I am very excited to be a part in strengthening the Church in the area, hopefully helping them make their way to becoming a branch soon, and finding more people that are ready for the gospel. We're ready to work hard this week!

Holy week was about as crazy as expected. Friday, after visiting a few members, we got trapped by the procession that was circling the catholic church, and had to find ways around their crowds to get back home. It is incredible how many people join the procession. They carry candles and
walk around, pulling around their "revolto," or statues of Jesus and Mary etc, on carts. Some were even pulling small generators behind them to have electricity to light up their statues! It was pretty crazy. People get really into their traditions during times like this and seem to be a little more closed to our message, but the work goes on all the same.

I continue to love every day of the mission. I look forward to being able to focus all of my thoughts and efforts on the area I am assigned it. It will be a great few months.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

February News!

Sam continues to love his mission and keep very busy!  Here is an excerpt from his latest email:

"We had a great lesson Friday night with one of our investigators, Julian, and a neighboring family that came over to listen. Milky, 15, and Karl, 13, were the two kids, and they and their mom were very interested in our lesson. We had planned to teach Julian the Word of Wisdom, since he has a baptismal date and needs to start preparing for it, and when the neighbors came over I thought we might change the lesson so we wouldn't scare them with a commandment like that the first time that they listened to us. But we decided on sharing it anyways, and they really enjoyed discussing it. We are excited to be able to go back to them and explain the Restoration as well. Milky and Karl were excited when we invited them to church, but said they wouldn't be able to come because they didn't have money to ride there. Stories of missionaries walking with their investigators to church came into my mind, and we offered to pick them up and walk all the way with them. They were a little unsure, but agreed, and Sunday morning we got to their house by 7:45 and started the 30 minute walk at about 8:15, arriving a little bit before sacrament meeting started, without too much sweat because it was slightly overcast on the way over. They met some people they knew from school, and had a great time in all of the meetings. We are anxious to go back to their family and continue teaching them about the restored gospel.

We were also able to extend a baptismal date to one of the young women age girls we are working with, Mary Anne. When we asked her if she'd be baptized, it was like she had been waiting for it for days! She smiled big and said yes as the question was still coming out of my mouth! Her member friend, Rica, seemed to be waiting for that moment as well as she cheered and clapped her hands a little when we asked. It was like she just got told that she was accepted to a prestigous university! One of the best responses I have seen to a baptismal commitment so far. We are eager to help her continue to prepare for her baptism, and to hopefully be able to work a little more with her family at the same time."

One funny thing that happened to Sam is that one of the departing missionaries was accidentally sent home with Sam's suit!  They only wear their suits on the way over there and when they depart.  They are stored at the mission home until they leave, then the mission president's wife hands them out.  Well, this much "larger" missionary than Sam sent him an email saying that he was given Sam's suit.  He did not realize it until they got to Manila and he tried to put it on before getting on their next flight--and it did NOT fit!   It was very funny! They are making arrangements to exchange the suits.  Sam doesn't need it for 4 more months--hopefully plenty of time to get it back!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An excerpt from a January Email:

This past week we held interviews with President for half of the zones, here in Iloilo for Iloilo Zone, in Lapaz (just a 15 minute drive or so away) for Iloilo North Zone, and lastly in San Jose, Antique for the Antique Zone. Antique is about a 2 hour drive from Iloilo, and it is the most mountainous area of Panay Island, which meant a good hour of driving through windy canyon-like roads. But the scenery was terrific. As well as being in the mountains, it borders the West part of the Island, right up next to the ocean, which extends out to the horizon. So it was terrific seeing the foresty mountains on the one side, then open sea on the other. The District Center is the most city area, San Jose, where we held the interviews. I do not enjoy interviews in the fact that they are very long, and not extremely entertaining, but it was great to be able to see and talk with lots of the missionaries that I haven't seen in a long time, and to get to know those who I wasn't so familiar with. After the interviews we went on exchanges with the zone leaders in Hamtic, just a few minutes out of the city. The hardest thing about it was the language again. People in Antique speak Karay-a, which has some similarities to Ilongo and to Aklanon, but is a complete language of its own. One of the first ladies we visited asked me "buhay ka run ridia?" (sounds something like: boo-high ka roon rid-ja) and after a few moments of me just looking at her baffled asked Elder Arrieta "oh, he doesn't know how to speak karay-a?" "Just ilongo," Elder answered. I found out later that what she said is equivilent to "dugay ka na di?" (doo-guy ka na dee). So, I know that probably doesn't make much sense, but lets just say that it was a big difference! Luckily a lot of people from there come here to the city because it isn't too far away, so they understand a little bit and can speak a little bit of ilongo. I won't lie, it made me a little jealous that I haven't been assigned in any other areas besides ilongo speaking, because i think it would be a blast to be able to learn another dialect! Once the first one is learned, it is a lot easier to learn a new one, the biggest change is vocabulary, because I can know hear all of the words that people say, I just don't know the meaning of a lot of them. But anyways, I'll be happy with what I have been given!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas Phone Call!

We were able to have a Skype session with Sam Christmas evening.  It was Monday morning in the Philippines.  We loved being able to see him as well as talk with him.  We love modern technology!  They were in an internet cafe, and several times little children would come and stand behind him and watch us.  He said they often do that on Mondays when they are doing their weekly emails.  They are darling children!  We could hear him speaking Ilongo to his companion and others in the internet cafe, which was a treat.  Several times he had to search for an English word--and we had to help him out a couple of times!  When he said he gets up at 5 a.m. on Mondays to do his laundry, I knew for sure he has changed!  Sam is loving his mission--every day of it!  A new thing he is doing is a weekly radio broadcast at a member's radio station.  They go over on Sunday evenings and broadcast a discussion about a gospel topic.  Then they let people call in and ask questions and, of course, get referrals.  He did a broadcast about Christ on Christmas.  Another thing he is doing is traveling around to the different areas of the mission and going on splits with the zone leaders.  He is enjoying going back to his former areas, and also going to new places.  Several of the Elders that went out with him from the MTC are zone leaders so he enjoys getting to see them and work with them.  Even though he spends a good deal of time in the mission home, he also gets to go out and proselyte every day they are there.  He is enjoying that, of course.  He says they have shifted to working with less active members because the activity rate is only about 30%.  They have some part member and less active families they are having success with.  Sam says he hates to think about the fact that he has only 6 months left.  He said he can't imagine how different it will be back home--he can't imagine eating a meal without rice, having hot showers, or experiencing cold weather!  He hopes that when this AP assignment is over he will have a month or so to go back to the mountains to work one last time.  He really looks forward to doing that.  The time is going as fast for him as it is for us!  Several people have asked us about the typhoons that have hit the Philippines.  Fortunately, they have not hit in his area, and he says they are in a very protected area where it rains, of course, and occasionally floods a little.  We feel very blessed he has been healthy, safe, and very, very happy!

December in the Philippines

Ah! The busy week is finally over! The stress has lessened.  It is fun to see all the people here doing everything they can to decorate for Christmas as well. They are very creative with their stars etc. This last week we had 2 out of 3 of the Zone Conferences. Even though they were a little stressful, they turned out very good. There were some good messages from the Stake Presidents, and from the area health representatives, and then President gave a good training about us helping all people, investigators and members, to endure to the end and to have an enduring conversion. After the messages, we had our Christmas portion, which consisted of 10 minute presentations from each district, then a gift exchange, and some games. It was good to be able to have a little fun like that. I think at the beginning of the mission, President and Sister wouldn't say that it was an effective way of helping us accomplish our purpose as missionaries, but they have become a little more lax and decided that it is ok every few months (or just once a year) to do something a little fun haha. I love President and Sister, they make the mission amazing. Our last Zone Conference is this Wednesday, and then it shouldn't be too busy until January, when we have a bunch of things coming up, including a new batch of 10 Elders! We're way excited for that, because the last few months more missionaries have been going home then have been coming in, so it has made things a little stressful. Elder Murdoch, who I kinda know, is going to be coming in then.

We had a very successful weekend! On Saturday we visited an area with many less active members and got to know a few of them and shared messages with them. We invited a family to church that hadn't been for a year or so, and a girl that has been on and off for the past few months. Yesterday, the one whole family, and the girl from the other family all showed up! It was just as gratifying to see them at church as it was to see a new investigator there. The one girl even brought a non member friend, who we have an appointment to visit on Wednesday.

We are also teaching a great young couple w/ two little kids who are very interested, they are just having a hard time coming to church. But, they have amazing questions every time we teach, understand things well, and seem to be very sincere about learning more. They are going to be starting their work soon though, which is mixing powders to create explosives for fireworks, which is probably going to make it hard to teach them. But we will keep trying!

I'm trying hard with the journal, but it still could use improvement. I'll make that a goal, again, but this time I'll really work for it.

We were able to watch the Christmas devotional last night, which was very inspiring. Good reminder about the true spirit of Christmas, and that we need to help others here feel that as well. 

The Christmas package arrived! I hope you won't be angry that I opened the presents... I just couldn't wait! Thank you so much for the scrap book, and the shirt, and the chulula sauce, and the tie, and the cheese cake :) Elder Ordeniza was also very grateful for the tie and stocking you provided for him.

I love this time of the year, especially in the mission field. It is a great reminder of the center of all we are doing, which is Jesus Christ.