I think I'll skip straight to the questions today (answers to Barry's questions):
- March madness is going on over here. With the love of basketball that seems to be in the Philippines are people following the NCAA basketball tournament. Here in Cagayan there isn't really anyone following March Madness. The Filipinos don't really follow college ball. More on the NBA.
- How do the Filipino people watch conference? Conference in the Philippines is always done the week after it is held live. So on Saturday and Sunday everyone will go to the Stake/District Centers to watch conference. It is held in basically the same schedule as in America, just a week late.
- We will be doing some golf on our spring break trip this week. Do people golf in the Philippines? There isn't a lot of golf here. Closer to Manila I hear that there are some more courses, but here in the Laoag mission I only know of one driving range and that's all. I miss playing golf though. (:
- What is the weirdest animal that you have seen in the Philippines? The weirdest animal I've seen here was a chicken with three legs. That was weird. Other than that, it would probably be the spiders. We sometimes have spiders that are 6+ inches in diameter in our house. They're kind of scary, but they eat the cockroaches so thats good (:
- What is your faith promoting story this week?
For a faith promoting story, I think we'll go to the home of one of our Recent Converts.
They live in a small home. Dirt floor, no glass in the windows, holes in the roof, and a door that doesn't close tightly. They scrape out a living by doing odd jobs here and there and get just enough money to feed themselves and their two small boys. But despite all of this, there is something interesting about the wife of this family. Her name is Maricel.
Last Saturday we went and visited Sister Maricel and through the course of our conversation, she opened up with us about the opposition she is feeling from her family, especially her mother, because she is a member of the church. Her mother is a pure catholic, and is very against the idea that any of her children would be anything else. As we talked, me and my companion felt prompted to speak with her about Lehi's vision in 1 Nephi Chapter 8. We spoke of how sometimes, we feel that we are stuck in the mist of darkness, that we can't see where we are going, or why we even continue walking. When it is like this, we often feel hopeless. Much like Sister Maricel was feeling at the time. But we then talked about what the reward was at the end of the path. That fruit. The glorious, pure, sweet, white fruit, which symbolizes the Love of our dear Heavenly Father. Every once and a while, the mists of darkness in our life will break and we will see the light of this fruit, and gain hope to go on.
There is only one way to feel the lasting peace and joy that comes from this fruit and it is to grab on to that solid rod of iron, and start walking. Pull hand over hand, step by step. Fight the despair. Fight the temptations. Fight the exhaustion. Ignore the other paths, ignore those who laugh, and just keep going. Push and push and push. And one day, after all of this, we will find ourselves basking in the light of this glorious tree, and we will be able to reach up and touch it, Taste the long awaited and much anticipated reward. Finally feel the peace that comes from experiencing the love of God.
For sister Maricel, she was in the mists, and she was hurting. But as we spoke of this journey, the spirit spoke peace to her heart. I believe that for her, those thick mists of darkness were parted for a moment, and she caught a view, and felt just a little bit of that love. As we ended that lesson, there was a light in her face, that wasn't there at the start, and as we left, we felt that same joy and peace. I know that the spirit was there to lift and inspire sister Maricel that day.
Tomorrow my companion Elder Pamaran will be heading to Manila to get some surgery taken care of. He developed a hernia about a month ago, and so he needs to have surgery to get that all taken care of. In about a month he should be back in the mission saving souls. I'm sad to see him go. We still aren't sure what I'm going to do in the meantime. To me it seems that there are two options. I will either have a new companion emergency transfered in, or I will just become a trisome with the other two elders here in Lal-lo. We will know what is going to happen either later this evening or next week. We'll see!
We also have some investigators that have done their preparation and are getting ready to be baptized in the coming weeks. Hopefully they will all be able to be baptized this April. The investigators that are closest are Shella Mendez, Ireneo Galla, and Maylene and Remalyn Clavero. Pray for them that they will be able to be baptized in the coming weeks!