Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Final Week

Hellooo friends and fam!

Looks like this will be the final email. Still haven't really wrapped my head around the fact that i'll be headin back next week. It's been pretty busy here but i'm sure the airplane ride will be enough time to get mentally prepared haha. I'm super excited to see you all that's for sure. It will be so tough leaving the Philippines though. I'm excited for the new experiences that lie ahead of me and for the new things i'll be able to learn moving forward. I trust God that He will continue to lead my paths.

Well this week here was another classic week on the island. Teaching all day and enjoying the company of the Filipino people. This area has been a big blur but i'm pretty sure we could count how many people have rejected us from entering their house on two hands.

This week we did a few more things to get the marriages ready- that included some more crazy boat rides and getting drenched haha. We got to check out a new Barangay called Tumarbong which was cool. The main focus however was getting people ready to be baptized on Sunday! We got permission from President to have two of us going around interviewing rather than just me doing them all. Even with Elder Somosa also interviewing it took two full days of visiting people and interviewing/preparing them for baptism. Elder Somosa and I were together for most of the week and ate each day at 9am and again at 9:30pm haha. Although it was lots of work it was surely worth it!

Sunday we had the baptisms at 3pm. It was tricky planning everything as well as controling the service since so much was going on haha. Lots of members, including the Bishopric from Roxas ward came to support the investigators which was super cool. Many of them knew some of the investigators being baptized. They were a huge help in bringing baptism clothes from 4 different chapels haha! Through the funny moments of trying to take decent pictures there were kids dressed in white jumping off fishing boats into the ocean as well as full grown men taking a quick swim i guess to warm up for their baptism. Many of them put on big orange life jackets as a joke haha. Can't forget the multiple karate fights that went down. With all this happening a 10 year old kid ran home since he's scared of water so his baptism will probably be next week haha! Another kid my age had an emergency come up in Roxas and had to leave about 30 minutes before we started the baptisms. It was just such a fun day that i'll never forget.

The baptisms were done in the ocean but the problem here on the island is the ocean is super shallow for about an hour walk. Yes, you can walk for an hour and the water will only be up to your waist haha! As the time went on the low tide started coming in and we gradually walked further and further out looking for dips in the sand where we could get them under the water easier.

I'll leave the names of the baptisms at the bottom of the email and wish i had time to explain each of their stories. They all come from different situations and had their own trials preceding their baptisms. With all the great that has been happening on the island I can surely say Satan has definitely been trying to shake things up. I'll have to tell you about each of them one by one when i return!

Very hard to put my feelings of my mission into an email. My weak words will never do it justice haha! I'm thankful for the things i've been able to learn over the past months. My mission continued to surprise me with new experiences that continued to stretch me. Whenever I thought I had seen it all or began to feel comfortable changes came right away. Never thought that my mission would consist of areas as humble as Tondo, cities like Makati and Bonifacio Global City, tourist areas like Puerto Princesa, subdivisions like Las Pinas, and an island lacking running water and electricity like here on Green Island. There were days where I'd be in squatters with dim lights, cement box homes, and dirty streets then within a few steps cross a street into a modern city with LED lights, skyscrapers, palm tree lined sidewalks, and giant billboards. I never thought my mission would consist of over 20 flights and working hard but often losing the battle of learning a language i hadn't heard of growing up. It was defintely a sweet surprise working with such fun and humble filipino people.

Some areas didn't have results like here in my last 4 weeks but I can say that I worked just as hard in those areas. I have learned that none of our efforts are wasted as we try to come unto Christ. God sees it all. We will always reap what we sow- sometimes we see results quickly but some won't be seen until the other side. I've strived to find joy in quitely working hard rather than looking for praises of men and quick results. To love living the Celestial law and not just doing so because I have to or because I want others to see me doing so. I still have such a long ways to go that's for sure haha. I'm glad to see a small change in myself but more importantly in my companions and people i've met out here.

I know that God is loving. He knows each of us by name. He has power to do all things. He reaches out to us often and gives us opportunities to come closer to Him. I know that by exercising our agency correctly and keeping His commandments we can better know and understand His higher ways. I know Jesus Christ died for each of us. He descended below all things and because He did so He can strengthen us and help us become clean. I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. He became a prophet of God and restored Christ's perfect church on earth again. I know that God's authority and power is now here with us and that it is real. The Book of Mormon is true. We can receive revelations daily through reading that great book and will become unshaken. It will lead and guide us and help us reach our potential. Our disposition to do evil will diminish line upon line. I've seen obedience allows missionaries to serve, exact obedience brings blessings, and courageous extra sacrifices brings miracles of change in oneself and in others.

Excited for this next week! We're working to get a few more in the waters of baptism before I leave Green Island.

Thx guys for being examples to me throughout my life. Excited to see you soon!

Love Elder Reber :)

Zaldy Alacri Salazar
Analyn Salazar
Adrian Anoingo Salazar

Jomar Alegri Savellino

Alexander Mata Pacelona
Joana Cabatingan Pacelona
Kent Thomas Pacelona
John Steven Cabatingan Pacelona

Harshel Gutaya Setenta

Mylene Humao-as Rosales
Mark Humao-as Rosales
Mareil Humao-as Rosales

Aiko Abayon Florentino

Norma Buhatin Malabunga
Kimberly Malabunga Neri

Junrey Demigillo Areglo
Vergil Demigillo Areglo

Jay Lord Mercader Anoingo

Willy Oponda Moreno Sr.
Virgie Porcales Moreno
Renei Porcales Moreno
John Paul Porcales Dela Pena
Retchie Martinito Rosales

Felipe Pampanga Torrejos
Sofia Senangote Anoingo Torrejos
Mark Justin Anoingo Torrejos
Merry Jane Anoingo Torrejos

Maria Fe Bon Ruiz
Liza Mae Bon Ruiz

Wilfredo Narciso Demegillo Jr.
Jayson Narciso Demegillo

Richard Senangote Humao-as
Rosemarie Penaranda Humao-as
Charmaine Rose Penaranda Humao-as
Christian Jay Penaranda Humao-as
Camille Penaranda Humao-as
Criselle May Penaranda Humao-as

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Baptism Day on Green Island

We didn't receive a letter yet this week from Parker but was thrilled to see this picture posted by Sister Fermanis. She commented that the Manila Missionaries were busy this Saturday on Green Island. I will say they were busy! We also found additional pictures of this amazing experience that were posted by a member of the Roxas ward. So fun to get a peek into what Park is up to during his last weeks on his mision. We can't wait to hear all about it!! 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Mission-to-marry Work

Hello hello!
Another solid week on the island! We were able to see lots of progress in many different people as they have started making those little sacrifices to come closer to God. Lots of these men have been total studs- getting rid of all Word of Wisdom problems almost immediately. It’s been a blessing to see. Their families are super important to them and it’s cool to see the friendships of the men help and strengthen each other to follow Christ. Their wives are even better haha they make sure the family reads the book of mormon and gets to church on time.
Since the first two weeks here was just Elder Pichay and I for the most part we were busy teaching lessons from morning to evening but having Elder Somosa and Constantino has opened up some new opportunities. This week we were able to focus in on who is closest to baptism as well as doing a lot more service and getting to know others on the island in a new setting other than a teaching setting. We played basketball at 4pm about every day with investigators (the Elders are still undefeated) , ate dinner with the Rosales family one evening, visited the high school looking for service opportunities, played night games with kids, etc. It was a super fun week!
I mentioned we visited the high school. We got there when all the kids were getting let out for lunch (they all go to their homes to eat lunch here) and a giant crowd came and surrounded us haha. I’ve had loads of high fives in other areas but I think in the 10 minutes after their class I think I set my new ten minute record haha! The teachers are actually in their early twenties here haha so meeting them was like talking to friends. They said we could do whatever we want at the elementary school every day from 4-5pm- whether that be english class, games, whatever we want to do. It’s gonna be a sweet opportunity to meet kids and gain the trust of the island a little more!
One morning the other elders went out to buy some water and they came back with a shark haha! Apparently some nice guy just gave it to them! The members we are staying with were gone at the time but a neighbor came over and cooked it up for us while we were out proselyting in the morning. I guess just right there you can see the kindness of the people here. Most of them are willing to do literally anything to help us out and help us feel part of their island.
A funny thing as well I’ve noticed is that people will listen in to our conversations. In America, you’d do this secretly but here they listen in and don’t even hide it. It’s just totally normal to jump into a conversation here even if you’ve never met them. The other night we were eating some nice octopus with the Canonigo fam for dinner and one of us said a joke and we all laughed. I noticed that we weren’t the only ones laughing though- Sister Hodi (an investigator next door) was also laughing. Later on brother Tata asked a question but none of us new the answer- out of nowhere the other neighbor yelled from her house the answer haha! Had no idea she was even there. It’s so cool seeing how they live their lives out here.
Friday we left the island with two couples to head all the way to Puerto Princesa to get some marriage papers figured out. We woke up early and spent much of the day traveling. It was super fun to spend more time with them and get to know them more. We even ate at the Philippines’ favorite/ most popular restaurant, Mang Inasal. President said that all the fares and food would be reimbursed so that was a big help for these two couples. It took a day from the island but it was well worth it seeing how strong these two couples will be as members. They should be married here pretty soon here!!
On the boat ride from green island to roxas a storm really picked up and the waves were HUGE!! It was super fun haha we were all dying laughing and just getting soaked. We thought it was the craziest experience but it was even crazier going back to the island the next morning. Once again, a storm about the same size came in but this time we were on a TINY little boat since it was leaving before the others. It was only us four elders and a grandpa who owned the little boat. He came in clutch and kept us safe but we were drenched head to toe along with all of our bags. It was super funny though we’ve been talking about it all week.
Each time it rains here our room upstairs gets pretty flooded. One day we were able to put some tarps over some of the cracks so things are holding up better now!
Sunday was great again!! We had 27 in the morning then 53 in the evening which is the most we’ve had thus far! 63 were nonmembers and the others were just us elders and the canonigo family who attended twice. I gave a talk on the Book of Mormon since we just got a new box in from manila. We keep going through them really fast and there’s been a slight problem getting enough supply here in our mission right now. But we were able to pass out some more to any other families who didn’t have one after the sacrament. I mainly focused in my talk on how the book of mormon can help us come closer to God, better know who Christ is and what He did, and also feel the Holy Ghost more abundantly in our lives.
Anyways I’m happy as ever and have been loving these experiences out here on my mission. Next week we will have some baptisms so we’re really excited!
Love Elder Reber
Parker promises more pics next week which will probably be the last email we get from him!!! Wahoo!

Monday, June 4, 2018

We've got back-up!!

Another amazing week over hear in Palawan! On Tuesday we got a call telling us that President is sending another companionship over here to green island! It’s official now, I’ve lived with at least 4 missionaries in all of my houses now as a missionary haha. Elder Constantino (from Ilo Ilo) and Elder Somosa (Southern Leite) are now here helping things continue to roll!! They got in Friday at about noon with all of their luggage and a few more supplies.They’re both super hilarious haha it’s been good to have them around. Elder Somosa was in the office when I was there so we’re already really close friends. I haven’t seen him since last transfer so it’s been good catching up with him! He will actually be headin back into the office next transfer to replace elder Mitchell but doesn’t yet know that- haha!
Well we continued to try to teach all those we found last week as well as continue to introduce the gospel to other new people. We found 62 new investigators to start teaching this week so we’re even busier now haha! It’s hard to remember everyone we’re working with- we actually use a notebook along with our planners so there’s enough space to write down people’s names haha. This week we tried to filter who we’re working with and try to focus on who’s the most progressing towards baptism. As I said last week, there are tons of great people here but the main problem is still marriage. I would compare getting papers sorted here to be married to climbing Mt Everest. It’s a huge project and lots of of them don’t really want to start trying to tackle it. We will keep working  with them though and will probably see them baptized in a few months.
Looks like June 16 we will have some baptisms. We had a few set for this Saturday but they asked for an extra week to prepare. We’re trying to get lots of people to commit for the 16th so they have the support of others who are also being baptized. Some families we are focusing on are the Salazar, Restificar, Humao-as, Dimegello, Rosales, Moreno, and Poligrates families. Today school is starting here in the Philippines and sadly quite a few of the people we met last week left for Roxas to study in high school and college. It will be a little more quiet outside these next few weeks with school going but I’ve always liked giving hi fives to kids walking home from school in their uniforms haha.
We introduced “Old Maid” to a few families with kids this week haha. Thanks for sendin that mom it’s been super funny to watch these people play it. Doesn’t take more than two seconds to know where the Old Maid is here haha.
A few days it rained like CRAZY! It was super fun walking thorugh puddles and trying to find paths to get to people’s houses haha. Yes you guessed it there isn’t any type of drainage system here haha. There actually isn’t even in the city now that I think about it. I’ve always loved rain though as a missionary because it’s not as hot and people are quick to let you into their homes.
I’m pretty sure the whole island is related in some way. Not only do they all know each other, but they all are somehow tied together we’ve noticed. We found 3 families this week who were related but we had no idea until we met a fourth family who told us of some of their brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, and uncles. By the end of the convo we found out all four of those families were related.
The people keep me smiling and laughing. I haven’t met anyone here who has left the Philippines yet. Things are pretty remote and they don’t really know much of what’s happening in the world around them. They’re just really chill over here haha. Nanay Banching, the member we stay with, won’t let us leave the house without drinking milo- she says we’ll get sick without it. Many people here also believe in ghosts- we had to walk home an 18 and 16 yr old boys back since they were truly scared to do so alone.
Sacrament was super fun again this week! We had 22 attend in the morning service and 52 in the evening. 57 of those being non members. Like I said, we had quite a few people leave for roxas but we were able to see some new faces show up yesterday. I spoke again yesterday about why we partake the sacrament and I gotta admit I felt like a Baptist preacher or something. Since there’s no pulpit we just stand in front of the group holding a book of Mormon speaking loudly so all can hear what’s being said. Thought I heard a “hallelujah!!” but I think it was just my imagination haha.
Have a great week everyone! Thanks for the support!
Elder Reber