Sunday, June 25, 2017

June 25

Hello Everyone!

We have had another good week here in Santa Ana!  We have seen God's help in our lives again.  Even when things don't always turn out the way I thought that they would, they still turn out right, and in God's way.  The biggest news is that we will be having a baptism this saturday!  His name is JM, and he really was supposed to be baptized a couple of months ago, but his father (already a member) stopped coming to church right before we were supposed to have his baptism, and so we haven't been able to continue the baptism for a long time. But recently he and his father have started coming to church again, and so we will have his baptism.  I'll make sure to send pictures next week.

This week we also had zone conference and interviews with President Andrada.  It was really good.  I always feel blessed when we get to meet with President Andrada and be blessed by his spirit and knowledge.  We learned lots and lots that will help us be better missionaries.

As for our other investigators, we have been feeling God's hand in our efforts to help our current investigators, and in our efforts to find new investigators.  One that stands out in particular is Rolly Galope.  We found him the first week that I was in the area.  He is seventeen years old, and was always interested in listening, but he always had a hard time understanding the lessons, and he never followed through on his commitments.  But this last week while we were on exchanges, Elder Murillo felt that it was time to visit him again. So they went by his home and taught him.  He promised to read and to come to church, and when sunday morning came around, he was there!  He came with one of his neighbors that is a member.  Then in the afternoon we went by his home to teach him again, and it turned out that he had read in the Book of Mormon as well!  Then the biggest miracle (for me) was when we were sharing with him.  We talked about faith, and had him read from Alma 32:21.  One thing that was always hard for Rolly was explaining the scriptures after he had read them.  We after he read in Alma with us, without being prompted by us, he gave a wonderful explanation of the meaning of faith, and then went on to add a little more of his own.  It was so cool to see that as he read from the Book of Mormon, his understanding really was opened up.  It is so wonderful to see him really start to progress in the Gospel.

I know that this is the true church, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that if we follow the principles taught therein, we will find happiness.  Not some fake happiness that will leave us after a short time, but real true happiness that will continue through this life, and into the eternities.

Have a wonderful week.

Elder Childs

Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 18

Hello Everyone!

We have had a really good week this week.   We did a lot of praying, and it came out with a lot of miracles!  The biggest day that we saw the miracles was on Friday.

In the morning, one of the members had invited us to eat breakfast with them.  This particular member is a less active, and for a job, he fishes.  These last three weeks almost no one had been able to catch any fish.  As in the most they would catch was 3 or 4 kilos, which is obviously not enough for all the expenses of a family.  But brother was insistent, so Friday morning we went down to the river where they dock their boat.  When we got there, it turned out that they had caught over 200 kilos of fish!!  But the weird thing was, they were the only ones who had caught anything.  They were very kind about it though.  They gave some fish away to some of the other fishermen who hadn't been able to catch anything, and then we barbecued some fish there at the riverside.  We ate lots of fish, and had a great time.  I'm not sure why they were able to catch fish on that day, but I believe it was help from our Heavenly Father.

Then after that in the afternoon came the second miracle.  As we were planning for the day, we felt that we should go visit a man that we've been teaching sometimes.  So we did go and visit him, but when we got to his house, he wasn't home.  So we thought for a little bit where we should go, and we decided to go to the house of a less active family that we knew was there, but still hadn't been able to teach.  Well what happened is as we were walking towards their house, the children were coming home from school, and one of them walked up to us and said, "Are you guys going to visit the Areola family?"  And that was the exact family that we were going to!  He turned out to be their youngest son.  So he walked with us to their house, and when we got there, the parents weren't home, but one of their daughters, Vanessa, was there.  Vanessa hadn't actually ever been baptized.  She had been taught, and gone to church multiple times, but for whatever reason, she hadn't ever been baptized.  She was super receptive though.  She will hopefully be baptized in the next month or two.

The third miracle was when we went to visit a different less active member.  Her name is Lobell.  When I first got into the area we were teaching two of Lobell's nieces, and we were sure that they were going to be baptized.  They were so receptive and excited to learn and go to church, but they had moved outside of our mission boundaries, to an area where there aren't any missionaries yet.  Well what happened is that when we got to Lobell's home, she said that those two were moving back to Santa Ana!  So we were able to teach them again, and hopefully their progress will continue!

There were lots more miracles, but those were the ones that really stood out to me.  It was a really good week, and at the end of the week, president Andrada came and attended church with us here in Santa Ana.  It was really good to have him here.  He gave a talk in sacrament meeting that was perfect for the members, and then he gave a training to all of the auxiliary leaders after the church services that was really good.  Hopefully they all take it to heart and apply it in their life.

One thing that I really liked from his training though was about our callings.  He based it on D&C 107:99, 100.  He talked about how there are only two reasons why people don't magnify their callings.  The first is that they are slothful.  They are too lazy to do what they are supposed to.  The second is that they haven't learned their calling, and so they don't know what they should do to fulfill their calling. So us as members of God's church, need to make sure that we first know what we are supposed to do.  We can find help in the church manuals, and from our leaders.  Then once we know what we should do, just go out and do it!  Don't be lazy.  All callings come from God, and we have something to learn from it, if we do our best to do the calling.  

Another thing that he said that I liked was about magnifying your calling.  He said that the way to magnify your calling is to do things that aren't written in the handbook.  We aren't supposed to just do the bare minimum.  God wants us to find ways to help those under our responsibility, and when we do that, that is when we will really see the miracles happening in our lives.  I know that that is true because I have seen it in my mission.  When I try to just get by on the littlest amount of work that I can do, we seem to run into barrier after barrier, but when I try and do more, do everything I can, everything just seems to work out perfectly.

Thanks for all the prayers and support, I hope you have another wonderful week!


Elder Childs

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12

Hello Everyone!

We have had another good week.  We have just been trying to catch up on time lost to travels.  It has been a lot of fun though.  We have continued to work with sister Jessabelle.  She is doing really good.  She is growing ever stronger in her testimony.  We have been trying to help her just become a lifelong student of the Gospel, so that even if we are gone, she will remain strong in her testimony.  Jessabelle's mother did talk to her father about being baptized, but her father's first reaction was that he didn't want her to be baptized.  But to be honest, I think that the biggest problem is that her father doesn't have any background on the church.  He has never met missionaries before, and he said that he doesn't have any friends that are Mormon, or at least that he knows of, so he may just be a little afraid.  But as me and Elder Murillo talked, we decided that we ought to try and talk with her father, and give him some time to ask us any questions that he wants to.  Jessabelle asked him before if it would be alright if we shared with him, and he said that it was, so hopefully this week we will be able to meet him.  And then obviously, our goal is that sooner rather than later, the whole family will be baptized.  It should be fun to work on.

Other than that, we have been working with a part member/less active family.  The first is the Ebuenga family.  Sister Ebuenga is 23 years old, and is a member.  She was baptized way back in 2006, but went less active shortly after that.  She recently came into contact with the missionaries again, and now she is returning to activity.  She is really good, she has been trying her best to come closer to Christ, and has done a lot to make it back onto the covenant path.  Her husband is also really nice, but sometimes is a little bit shy to talk about religion with us.  But we are working on building a relationship with him so that we can eventually share with him about the Gospel.  We are also working with Sister Ebuenga to help her help her husband.  Last Saturday we brought a copy of 'The Family: A Proclamation to the World' and read that with her.  It was a really good lesson.  I love that family so much, they are so very kind, and their two little daughters are so cute.  Hopefully they can be sealed in the temple in the coming years.

On Sunday we had a special broadcast for the Philippines area.  We traveled to Gonzaga to hear the words of our area president, Elder Bowen, Sister Oscarson, the general young women's president, Elder Ardern of the Seventy, and Elder Bednar, of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles.  I really loved Elder Bednar's message.  It really hit home with a problem that is common here in the Philippines, and in the whole world.  He talked about how there are many people who are baptized and confirmed, but fail to live up to the covenant that they made when they were baptized.  The answer that he gave was 3 simple things that we can do on a daily basis.  The first is faith.  When we have faith, we believe in Christ, and we are moved to action.  We don't just merely believe that following the commandments is the right thing to do, but we live the commandments, because we know the blessings that come because of it.  The second thing, that naturally follows real faith, is sacrifice.  Sacrifice is giving up things that we want, for things that God wants.  When we sacrifice, we align our will with God's will.  We should always pray, as the Savior did in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Not my will, but thine be done".  Elder Bednar taught that sacrifice, in and of itself is still not complete, but sacrifice is only preparatory for a higher law, consecration.  If sacrifice is being willing to lose your life for God, then consecration is being willing to live your life for God.  When we are consecrated, we build up our talents, we follow perfectly and willingly.  When we are consecrated, we do everything in our power to build up the kingdom of God here on the earth.

So the question that each of us must ask ourselves is this, "Am I fully honoring the covenants that I have made to God?"  If we can look at our lives and say that every day, and every hour, we are honoring the sacred covenants that we have made, then we can be assured that we will one day return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.  But I believe that most of us, if we are truly honest with ourselves and listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we will see things that we are doing that do not measure up to what God expects of us.  In order to fix those lapses in faithfulness, I would advise that each of us go back to the basics.  We go back to these three simple things that Elder Bednar taught.  Do things that will build your faith, sacrifice worldly things for things that are of much greater worth, and consecrate your every day to building God's kingdom.  When we do that, we will see that we are slowly coming closer to the person that God wants us to be.  We will see that our lives are full and meaningful.

I love you all!  Thanks for all the prayers and support!

Elder Childs

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 6

Hello Everyone!

We have had a really good week this week.  Its been a busy one as well.  We did taught a lot of lessons this week.  I don't know how it goes in other missions, but here, we rarely run out of people to teach.  We have our focus investigators, and then we have some back up investigators (ones that aren't really progressing yet) and then if both of those fall through, you can basically talk to anyone you see and they will let you share with them.  I am blessed with my mission.

This last week we have been focusing on a sister named Jessabelle.  She is doing really well in her testimony of the Gospel, and her baptism should be this next week, hopefully.  She just needs to get up the courage to ask her father if she can be baptized, and then she should be all set!  Pray that she can speak with him.

We also had exchanges with a couple of elders this last week, which makes time go by quick.  I always enjoy exchanges because there is so much that I learn from the missionaries we get to work with.  It is always a pleasure.  We were also able to help find a lot of new investigators with some real potential.  One thing we have been focusing on this week was a challenge from Elder Bowen.  He challenged us to have 30 of what he called 'testifying contacts' every day.  Testifying contacts means that we talk with someone new, and bear testimony of the truths of the gospel with them.  Getting thirty is kind of difficult between all of the teaching appointments and such, but we have been doing our best to give time to just talk with people as we go from one lesson to another.  It is fun!  I have really grown in my testimony of the Lord's hand in this work as we have been doing this. I'll give a quick example.

We had exchanges with a couple of Elders in Laoag yesterday, but before we went out to work, we stopped by macdonalds first for lunch.  As we were waiting in line, one of the Elders we were with, Elder Basa, began to talk with one of the workers there.  As we talked with her, it turned out that the worker's father was a member of the church, and that she had been taught by the missionaries before, and she was more than willing to be taught again.  She was very kind, and for me, I think that the Lord has been preparing her, and placed her in Elder Basa's path because He knew that Elder Basa would talk to her.  We see stuff like that again and again.  I have a testimony that as we show that we are ready to share the Gospel, God will place people in our path that are ready to hear the Gospel as well.

So that was the highlights of our week.  But I have been thinking a lot about one thing this week.  Faith.  It all started with Elder Maroket sometime last week. I don't remember what day.  Elder Maroket is still a trainee, and is a very good missionary, but was having some doubts.  He was wondering if he could really every become the kind of missionary that God wants him to be, and if he could really achieve some of the goals that he has set.  So we were talking and as we were talking, we came up with the answer to everything.  This is what we decided it is: 'just have more faith'.  No matter what we are feeling, what we are going through, if we increase our faith, we will also increase in peace, joy, and every other good thing.

When we increase our faith, we will begin to see the grand scheme of things.  Through our faith we will see past our limited, mortal view of life, and understand what God's plan really is for us.  Our doubts and fears will flow away as we realize that with God, we really can do all things.  We will grow in our motivation to do our best, because we will understand that that is all our Heavenly Father wants, is that we do our best.  Through our faith, we will come closer to God, and that is the greatest blessing.

So for anyone who ever wonders how they can grow in faith, the words of Alma the younger in Alma 32:27 are the key.

    But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea,               even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a       portion of my words.

All we have to do is try it out.  Repeatedly God has invited His children to try Him, to test Him to see if He really will follow through on His promises.  I testify that He will.  He is reliable.  He will pull through and give us the blessings we need right when we need it.  I have seen His blessings repeatedly in my life, and I know that every time that each one of us follows His commandments, if we watch with eyes of faith and humility, we will see so many blessings that come as a direct result of our faith and obedience.  And wouldn't that increase our faith?

I know that God lives and that He loves us perfectly.  I know that He speaks to us through the words of the scriptures, and through the words of our living prophet, Thomas S Monson. I know that this is God's church that was restored through Joseph Smith, and that if we abide by the precepts taught in this church, we will find hapiness and peace in this life, and exaltation in the life to come. I love you all!

-Elder Childs