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.