Report On Our Skype Session with Alex:
The connection was amazing! In the past, Alex has had to Skype at an Internet café 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!