This past week we had zone conference here in Manila! It was a great experience this time around. Elder Mitchell and I normally choose what we want to teach and teach separately but this time President Fermanis gave us a topic and asked us to work together to teach it. We talked about obedience and more specifically reporting disobedience. It’s been an issue that has come up a few times over the past month or so. Missionaries often see others braking rules but don’t have courage to speak up to the missionary and the faith to report that to their leaders and/or President. One part of the message we all read a few passages from a talk by Elder Lynn G. Robbins called “Which Way Do You Face?” Here are a few lines I really love from this talk.
-“Which way do you face?” President Boyd K. Packer surprised me with this puzzling question while we were traveling together on my very first assignment as a new Seventy. Without an explanation to put the question in context, I was baffled. “A Seventy,” he continued, “does not represent the people to the prophet but the prophet to the people. Never forget which way you face!” It was a powerful lesson.
-Trying to please others before pleasing God is inverting the first and second great commandments (see Matthew 22:37–39). It is forgetting which way we face. And yet, we have all made that mistake because of the fear of men. In Isaiah the Lord warns us, “Fear ye not the reproach of men” (Isaiah 51:7; see also 2 Nephi 8:7). In Lehi’s dream, this fear was triggered by the finger of scorn pointed from the great and spacious building, causing many to forget which way they faced and to leave the tree “ashamed” (see 1 Nephi 8:25–28).
-Now listen to some inspiring examples:
• First, Mormon: “Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear” (Moroni 8:16; emphasis added).
• Nephi: “Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world” (1 Nephi 6:5).
• Captain Moroni: “Behold, I am Moroni, your chief captain. I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country” (Alma 60:36).
-Between 3 Nephi chapter 11 and 3 Nephi chapter 28, the Savior used the title Father at least 150 times, making it very clear to the Nephites that He was there representing His Father. And from John chapters 14 through 17, the Savior refers to the Father at least 50 times. In every way possible, He was His Father’s perfect disciple. He was so perfect in representing His Father that to know the Savior was also to know the Father. To see the Son was to see the Father (see John 14:9). To hear the Son was to hear the Father (see John 5:36). He had, in essence, become indistinguishable from His Father. His Father and He were one (see John 17:21–22). He flawlessly knew which way He faced.
Coolest thing happened after zone conference! My trainer elder cibuco had flown in from busuanga for conference and he’s in his last transfer right now. We got permission from President to go to Tondo, my first area, that night to see people we had met in our time there since it would be Elder Cibuco’s only chance. I felt like I was walking on clouds that whole night- It was soo awesome!!! We saw our recent converts Danny and Rose Marie Santos first and as we walked in we could see tons of pictures of the two of us at the entrance of their house. When the temple opens Rose Marie will be endowed then they will both be sealed! We found out Danny is now in the Bishopric and Rose Marie is the secretary of the Relief Society. Haha I feel bad the church put them right to work but they seem to be growing a lot with their new callings. Two of their four kids and their spouses/kids have been baptized since- one of those families here in tondo 2nd and the other in pangasinan province. We also got to see Nanay Fransisco, bishop and his family, our recent convert Sister Fattima (just got called this month as Relief Society President), Erica Yambao and her fam, and Mera’s family. Because of shortage on time, we literally ran from house to house so we could fit in as many people as we could in the few hours we had. Throughout our night it was cool being able to fully understand everything and especially being alongside with my trainer again. Elder Cibuco will never be forgotten in our mission- I’m super thankful I was able to work with him. I really know that none of our efforts as members of the church are wasted. At times when I was working there in the past it felt like things weren’t progressing the way I wanted. Now being able to go back and see what the Lord did in His timetable was quite a humbling experience for me. Had to be a highlight night of my mission despite the fact that we forgot our apartment key and the elders were all asleep when we got home. We set up camp in a room in the chapel but luckily one of the elders somehow woke up and unlocked the door for us before we fell asleep down there haha!
This week we were able to continue working with Jun and JR. Jun came to church by himself and for the first time in over 10 years he went a whole day without smoking a cigarette. He’s in his late 20’s and has been trying to fight his way out of his way of living for quite some time but never knew where to start. He never graduated school and he’s just followed what he’s seen his family do since day one- drink, smoke, sleep. So proud of that guy though. He always has the biggest smile on his face. JR passed his baptism interview and will be baptized this upcoming Sunday! He got a new job and started work this past Monday. He leaves his house at 5:30 and doesn’t get home til 8pm I feel bad for him. We were able to meet him each morning before he went to work to drink milo with him so he would continue to avoid coffee. He told us yesterday though that he no longer has any desire to drink coffee which was cool to hear. With his work though he was sad because he’d have to start working Sundays but Wednesday he was able to talk to his boss and get his “rest day” switched to Sunday which was a huge miracle for here in the philippines :) He always has us laughing super hard it’s been sweet working with him.
Sunday Sister May of the Boni 3rd ward was baptized (we share a chapel with them.) She has been an investigator for 1 yr and 7 months and I’ve seen her weekly at the chapel since I’ve been assigned here. She went to President’s fireside and President pulled her aside, talked to her for about a minute, and next thing we knew she was excited to be baptized that next week haha! I’ll send pictures of that service next week- it was fun especially watching people’s reactions when President and Sister Fermanis walked in to attend the service. They all called him “Mr. President” and you would’ve thought the President of the Philippines had walked in by the way the behaved haha!
I read this week in D&C 93 and I liked verses 24-28. In 28 it says “He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.” I was thinking of the encounters I’ve had with living day apostles throughout my mission and each time I’m shocked by how much they seem to know. This verse helped me realize their knowledge didn’t only come from lots of studying, but also because of their obedience. If we want our minds to open up to better understand God’s truth and light, we must be obedient to His commandments. He will qualify us to know these things if we do so.
Love ya all! Elder Reber :)
|Love this companionship|
|So apparently Park isn't known for eating quickly :)|
|A boy just enjoying his meal.|
|Elder Cibuco, Mera and Parker|
|Park said the girls started to scream as they walked in :)|
|The Tondo wards bishop and wife. They were such a help while working in his first area.|