Sunday, December 25, 2016

December 25!

Report On Our Skype Session with Alex:

The connection was amazing!  In the past, Alex has had to Skype at an Internet cafĂ© and the picture has not been very clear, it was dark, he was wearing great big headphones, and there was a lot of background noise. This time, he was at a member's house. The service was great and we could see him clearly. He was sitting on a porch with a breeze gently swaying the abundant foliage in the background.  The setting was perfect for our visit.  We loved the cute orange house, and he said yes, most of the houses in the Philippines are very colorful.  Alex has developed quite an accent over the last few month.  It was so fun to listen to him!

We began by talking about how Christmas was, what everyone got, how the search for a new car was going, etc. It was good. But then we started asking him questions about missionary work and it became great. He became very animated as he talked.  We asked him to tell us about how the work was going in Santo Domingo. He said there are so many very prepared people there. He told us first about an older couple. They began working with the husband first and now they are working with the wife too.  The husband struggles (as do most men in the Philippines) with alcohol and tobacco use.  Alex says it is a very social thing.  The men get off work and get together to smoke and drink for a while in the evening.  He asked us to pray that this investigator might be able to give these thing up so he can be baptized, then said, "He can do it!  He just needs to believe that he can!"   He also said that not only are they finding people, but people are finding them too.  Just a couple of days ago a man came along while they were talking to some people and this man has such a complete knowledge of the Bible.  Alex said he has never met anyone who knows the Bible as well as this man does.  AND, he was interested in finding out more about our church.  They will be meeting with him soon.

Ever since Alex has been with his current companion, Elder Roche, he has said what a great missionary Elder Roche is.  We asked him what makes him such a great missionary.  He said that it is teaching people according to what they need, not just teaching lessons.  He said Elder Roche is great at discerning the needs of individuals and preparing lessons just for them.  He also said that he is great at studies, has a hunger to learn and know more all the time, is trying to finish reading "Jesus the Christ" before he goes home in 3 months, etc.  Alex has really enjoyed learning from Elder Roche and is sad that yesterday was transfer day and Elder Roche is heading off to finish his mission as a trainer in another area.  Alex's new companion in Santo Domingo will be Elder Jones from Utah...his first American Companion since he has been out.

Alex encouraged all of us to be involved in missionary work.  We asked him what he would do if he were the girls...or better, what he would do if he was in high school again knowing and feeling then what he knows and feels now.  He said that as a high schooler, he didn't think of others much.  He only thought of himself.  That is the first thing he would do...get really good at thinking of others.  The second thing he would do would be to pray to always have the spirit to be with him so that when he was walking around at school he would be able to discern who around him needed a smile or an encouraging word, or a friend, etc.  He encouraged the girls to do this and promised that if they would, they would have opportunities to share the light of the gospel with members and non-members alike.  We asked what his advice would be for those of us who know nonmembers, but the nonmembers seem know as much as they want to about our church and don't have an interest.  He suggested after some thought that we should follow Elder Holland's advice, which is to listen more than we talk.  Find out what THEY care about, what THEY love about their church, what is on THEIR minds, and as we listen, we will have opportunities to share what we love about the gospel and help them to see how it might add to what they already know and believe.  Great advice for all of us!

Alex wanted to know before he hung up what each of loves most about the gospel.  It was a tender and sweet moment as each of us was able to share our testimonies and how the gospel blesses our lives.

At the end of our conversation, Alex wanted us to speak to Elder Roche, who is practicing his English.  We were able to speak with him for a few minutes.  He told us Alex is a great missionary, and it was fun to see the camaraderie between them.

We also spoke a little with the Sisters that are serving in the same area with Alex and Elder Roche.

 We encouraged Alex to finish strong...keep being a good missionary, and he said, yes, he would do that so he could have a pretty wife.  We were clueless, but he explained that that is a missionary joke...that if they are good missionaries, Heavenly Father will bless them when they get home by sending them a pretty wife, which was met with eye rolls all around.

As we said goodbye we charged the missionaries with keeping  Elder Childs from being too crazy.  Without missing a beat, one of the sisters (who is from Perth, Australia) said  "Too late!" which made us all laugh.

It was fun to see him in his element and have a good visit with him.  It's like you fall in love with your missionary all over again every time you talk with him.  Letters just aren't the same, but they will have to suffice until Mother's Day!

Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19

I have had a good week, but we don't have tons of time today. We're back in Laoag today for a Christmas party with all the missionaries.  Earlier we had some games and then later this evening we will have a dinner.  Its fun!  Tomorrow we will have a Mission Conference, and it is only once a year that we actually get all of the missionaries together in one place, so it's good times.

We have had some success as well in the field.  We found some really nice new people.  One day we were finding, and we were guided to a lot of people that were really ready for the Gospel.  We actually found a lot of people who had a lot of good experiences with the missionaries or other members of the church, and they seemed like they were ready to accept the invitation to learn more about the church.  Hopefully we will see some progression in them in the next couple of weeks.

There was also some big changes in the mission this last week.  Until now, the schedule for the mission was work in the morning, studies from 1 until 4 and then work again, but starting this last week we all changed back to the normal schedule.  So studies in the morning and then work from 12 until 9.  It was good, but a little bit hard on some investigators.  A lot of them were clear in the morning or in the evening, but when it was around lunchtime, a lot of our investigators were not around.  So we did lots of finding!  So it was a blessing as well.

Christmas here in the Philippines is mostly just family time!  There are a lot of Catholic traditions, but the other than that there isn't a ton.  They just do family stuff.  We will probably have to be in the house at 6 oclock because sometimes Christmas can get a little crazy in the Philippines.  Especially with all of the alchohol.

Other than that it was a good week!  There isn't much else to say.

Elder Childs

Sunday Lunch with Some Members

Saturday, December 17, 2016

December 11

Questions and Answers:

We want to know about your new area!

o Tell us about your apartment

My apartment is set back from the road, and its a nice apartment.  The water all comes from a well (but has an automatic pump so we still have running water) which means that we don't have any water bills, and the water is pretty clean too.  Its a good apartment.  It has 3 rooms, a kitchen and a living room.  I like it.

o Tell us about where you do your shopping

We usually do our shopping at the Market, which is just where everyone goes to sell vegetables or fruit or meat or whatever kind of thing they want to sell.  Its really fun, and really cheap too.  We also do some shopping at  a supermarket called two brothers.  Its basically walmart a tenth of the size (:

o Tell us about where you do chores like laundry

There is actually a member here that does my laundry for me. She picks it up every monday and then brings it back on tuesday.  She is really nice.

o Where do you typically eat?

We usually eat at the house, but if we're going to eat out, its usually at places called carenderias.  Its basically just homemade Filipino food.  I like it more than any fast food there is.  And its cheap which is always a bonus.

Hey Everyone!

I have had a good week.  We were busy, but it was good.  We had our monthly Zone Training Meeting on Thursday and it was good.  We talked about a lot of good stuff that will hopefully help us become even better missionaries.  Me and Elder Roche also had exchanges with the APs after the ZTM.  It was really good.  I got to be with Elder Earnest, who is one the best missionaries in the mission (Makes sense he's and AP (:) It was fun I learned a lot.

We had one cool experience. Me and Elder Earnest were walking.  It was already past dark, but as we passed one house, we both just looked at it was we walked by, and even a little after we had passed it.  We both felt something, and so Elder Earnest said, "lets go talk to those people."  So we did!

They were super nice!  Both the Father and Wife came out, which is a rarity here in the Philippines.  The men usually take  a little more warming up.  They seem really excited to learn about the Gospel, and accepted our invitation to let us come back to their home.  It will be fun to see where they go.  Listening to the Spirit really does work!  It was a really good exchanges.  I really love being a missionary.

That's about all I've got for this week.  I have felt a need to have better goals.  I don't always do the best job of looking forward to see what God wants me to be in one month, or one year or however long.  I want to be better at that.  Its my new focus this year.

I love you all!

Elder Childs

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 6

Hello Everyone!

I have really enjoyed this last week. There were two great things that happened this week.  The first was that Jerome and Lydia both got baptized!  They had their baptism Saturday evening and it was a wonderful experience.  There is nothing like getting to see someone cleaned of all their sins, and then hearing their testimony afterwards.  They always amaze me with the heavenly things they say.  

The second was that we had interviews with President Andrada.  He really is an inspired man.  He always knows just how to help me be a better missionary.  For these interviews he had prepared a little slideshow with some questions entitled "Becoming a lighthouse missionary."  It was really good.  He asked a lot of questions about my efficiency as a missionary, and gave me a lot of good suggestions on how to improve.  One of my favorite things that he said was about magnifying callings.  He said that magnifying your calling means doing things that are not written in the manual.  If you want to magnify your calling, you need to do those things that are written in the manual or handbook, or whatever sort of guide is given, and then you need to find other ways to serve those you are called to.  Find more things that you can do to make the world a better place.  We need to remember the counsel that the Lord has given that  "He who is compelled in all things... is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore, he receiveth no reward."

If we stop at what the leaders of the church have given us, we can't yet say that we are being wise servants.  The Lord has entrusted us with our agency and he expects us to use it to make this kingdom a better place.

I'm not saying that we need to devote our whole day to doing things for our calling.  The Lord knows that each one of us has a busy life.  He does expect that we do put a little bit of extra effort into our callings.  They don't have to be that difficult.  I have a couple of examples to help express some things that can be done.

The first example is of a stake leader who decided to memorize the names of every youth ages 12 to 18 in his stake.  He made little cards with their names and faces on them, and carried them with him to work and other places.  He quickly memorized all of their names.  He was magnifying his calling.

The second is of a sister who was called to serve teaching a class every sunday.  Instead of limiting her studies to the material in the teachers manual, she sought out other materials that would compliment those given by the leaders of the church and help impart increased understanding to those in her class.  She was magnifying her calling.

The third is that of a home teaching companionship.  Under the leadership of the Senior companion they would make the monthly visit to each of their assigned family, but would also remain in contact with the family throughout the whole month.  Following up their needs and offering help.  Often times visits would be repeated within the same month to help these family with needs ranging from fixing a DVD player to helping with landscaping.  They were magnifying their calling.

The last is of a man called to be the Secretary of a young mens presidency.  He fulfilled all of his assignments and also made himself available to his brethren in the Presidency and found little ways to make their loads lighter.  He was magnifying his calling.

My brothers and sisters, Magnifying your calling need not be difficult, but I promise each and every one of you that as you try and expand your service to the Lord, every small deed of goodness that you do will be noticed by the Lord and will be returned unto you ten fold.  It was once said, "You cannot give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf in return"  I want to leave this as my testimony to you.  I love you all.

Elder Childs