Monday, August 29, 2016

TONDO with Elder Cibuco

Wow things have been crazy!! I've been having a blast here in the field so far. Yes the rumors are true. I got to see Elder Odom for like 20 seconds at the Provo mtc right before I left for the airport. It was pretty sweet to see him. But anyways, I was in the Philippines MTC for 6 days or something and it was pretty fun. It's way different from the Provo MTC and i'm pretty glad i went to provo haha;) The mtc here is alot smaller and we ate rice every single meal. I've actually had rice every meal here so far except for once haha! But anyways, in the philippines mtc we got to leave once to go practice proselyting which was fun. The Filipino missionaries were all super nice and loved seeing all of us americans haha.

Last Wednesday morning I finally started the real mish. The traffic and driving here is totally insane. It's hilarious. There will be like 3 lanes but 5 cars will be packed next to each other. They have no driving rules here. If you stop at a stop sign people will think you're crazy haha. On the way to the mission home one sister threw up because they drive so funny here. Cars get within inches of each other kinda like in Mexico but they never hit. When we are proselyting I always feel like I'm going to be hit haha they just get soo close!

When we got to the mission home we met the mission president and his wife. They're both super nice. We got to go to a cemetary in Manila that has 1700 people burried and over 36000 names on big marble walls. It was super pretty and nice there. We happened to run into the first Philippines missionary, Ray Goodson which was funny because I golfed with him over at Willow right before I left. He said he played with dad the other day??

I'm serving in the Tondo area!! It's the poorest and most dangerous area in my mission. The sisters are actually not allowed here. Haha it has certainly been an eye opener! I can't really explain how poor it is. Most houses are around 8 feet by 6 feet or something. It's sooo dirty here and smells really bad haha! I'm constantly stepping over trash. It's totally packed with people too. There are tons of houses right next to each other and stacked on top of each other. It's basically a big maze. A house in Utah could fit 30 houses here haha! Haha maybe google Tondo Riverside to get an idea. No way we will ever run out of people to try to talk to. I haven't seen a white guy yet except for one of my roomates. His name is Elder Lambert and he went to Herriman. He's been really helpful and can teach me alot of words and explain things well because he knows English haha.

My companion is super awesome. His name is Elder Cibuco. He is a native and spoke Cibuano growing up. But his Tagalog is really good. He has only been out 3 months so we are both pretty new! He doesn't really speak English but we somehow communicate super well and get along great. He's a stud. He's really hard working and is completely obedient. Haha I'm always so tired by the end of the day. He's the perfect companion for me and we've been getting alot done here! He only went to three years of school because he needed to work to help out his family. Being with him and being here in Tondo has made me soo thankful for my lucky life. I tried to not take things for granted but I think I took alot more for granted than I was even realizing!

The Tagalog has been pretty hard. They talk SO FAST here and really quiet. I feel like I'm not able to help as much as I want so sometimes it's kinda frustrating. He's been having me start all of the conversations with people which has been a blast! We talk to everyone even if they have tons of tattoos and sitting there with a cigarette. But I do all that I can to help out in lessons and contacting. I read a scripture that has helped me a ton this week. It's Mosiah 4:27 and it basically says "it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength." It just constantly reminds me that I can't just expect to show up at a country and be able to speak a crazy language right away. I'm starting to understand a little better every day. 

It's super hot here and my fan is my best friend. I have to put it on my bed or I'd probably die at night. It rains alot right now but Friday was insane. I couldn't believe how much it rained haha! They don't have any drainage here so there were literally rivers throughout the streets. This place is just so crazy haha!

I'm so thankful for my mission call! Hope you all have a great week. Remember to be thankful for all of your blessings and focus on the good! Ingat mga kaibigan at pamilya!

Love Elder Reber
Saying hello and goodbye to Elder Odom. So glad these two got to see each other one last time. Parker waited for him at the entrance of the MTC. They only had a few moments together-so glad it happened!

See you in two Elder Cheney!
Free McDonalds?? Almost like he hit the jackpot!

Reminded him of a cute sister back home!

Rice for every meal! 

A favorite mission friend from the Provo MTC now at the Manila MTC
We aren't even sure who this cute Elder is but we loved this photo!!

Manila Temple
Elder Reber in front of the Manila Temple
Manila American Cemetery

Another cemetary view

This is Ray Goodson. One of the first missionaries in the Philippines who eventually returned to be a mission president there with his family.  He continues to do so much for the church in this part of the world. Thankful Parker got to meet him before he left and run into him there. 

We are assuming this is the view from Parkers new home.  He says he is lucky to live in the nice part of the neighborhood.

Another neighborhood view

His companion Elder Cibuco and parts of the other two Elders he lives with. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Manila Mission Home Welcome

We were so thrilled to find actual pictures of our missionary at the Manila Mission home!! He looks great, not sure if he is in the same clothes or not, but is looking good regardless! The president and his wife have posted these on their blog, We don't have many details but from what we can gather, he is not traveling to Palowan but staying in the city. We will soon have ourselves a city slicker!
Hope you enjoy the fun pics as much as we did! Thanks for your support and prayers!! Sure love our Philippino Parker and look forward to hearing from him!!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Made it to the Manila MTC


Well I'm finally here in the Philippines! The traveling to get here was pretty intense but I made it! 4 of us Elders got kicked off our first flight because it was overbooked, then they couldn't get us on then next flight to LA. We almost had to stay in a hotel in Salt Lake but they got us onto a third flight last minute. The airlines felt bad and gave us a free voucher for dinner. Of course we hit Mcdonalds! Free mcdons has got to be a miracle amiright? We got to LA and the flight there got delayed as well. We were able to place a Book of Mormon which was pretty sweet. We made it to Hong Kong and booked it across the airport to catch our flight to Manila. It took 34 hours total to get from one mtc to the next.

The first step off the plane here at the Philippines resulted in my glasses fogging up haha! It's sooo humid here and super hot. Just like what I've heard. We went down to pick up bags and of course both of my bags didn't make it. Haha yep that's right! I'll be livin with what I have on me for the next few days or however long it takes for them to find my bags haha! I guess it's a good way to jump right into the Filipino culture ;)

Well this is about all of the time I've got this week! Not sure when my pday will be over here yet. It was super fun to talk to the fam while at the airport. I get to go proselyting tomorrow for five hours with Quezon City missionaries!! I'm so excited even though I probably won't understand anything. It's all becoming more real now and it's super exciting!

Have a good week! Sorry I didn't have much time.

Elder Reber

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Last week in the US

6 days til I leave!!

We got our flight plans this week which was pretty exciting. We fly to LA, then Hong Kong, then Manila. I've loved the mtc but I'm so ready to go meet the Filipino people! We skyped a Filipino member and taught for thirty minutes a few days ago and it made me even more pumped. It also scared me a bit because she talked sooo fast haha. I just know the first few months will be pretty tough but will be quite the adventure at the same time!  My district is starting to go crazy a little bit, it's pretty funny to see how weird they all really are haha. We've come up with some pretty dumb things to keep things rollin here ;)

Soo this week was a pretty spiritual one so I'll just jump into it!

We had two sweet devotionals this week. The first one was Elder Holland's son, Matthew Holland. He talked to us about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. There's alot I could say but the thing that stood out the most was how faithful Joseph Smith was throughout all of his trials. His life before he even became a prophet was full of hardships. His dad was supposed to be pretty wealthy, but after many unlucky events, the family was broke and had to move up to New York. Before they moved, Joseph started having problems with his leg and had to have a big surgery on it without anesthesia. The family then walked to New York with a large group and Joseph was somehow left behind stranded with his bad leg. As he was laying there, an unknown man picked him up and carried him the rest of the way! Holland then asked us, why did his life have to be so hard? Surely, God could make the prophets life easy. But he was preparing Joseph for the future. Through those hard times he gained tons of experience that helped him become the awesome guy that he was. As a prophet, he obviously went through many more trials but he remained faithful and persistent in doing what was right. 

Another cool thing was how he described how the Book of Mormon came to be. There's no way that this book could've came to be without God's help. It was translated in 85 days into a new language by men who weren't super educated. During this time, they spent tons of time translating the book but they were still doing many other things like moving to a new place, receiving the priesthood, and spending some time with their families. Emma Smith said that Joseph wouldn't even reread a page to make sure it was correct, because he already knew that it was good. And last of all, the book is 100% perfect. I love Jsmith and the Book of Mormon so much. Holland said the more time we take to study Joseph Smith's life, the more we will love him and know that this church is true. 

The other devotional was by Elder Anderson, one of the twelve apostles! He talked about missionary work not being complex, but not being easy. He just whipped out tons of scriptures the whole time and focused on miracles. It's crazy how smart the apostles are haha. He brought in a great spirit and it was pretty sweet.

Over my mtc experience I've learned a ton. It's crazy how much my testimony has grown in five weeks, can't imagine the things I'll learn by the time my mish is over! One thing that really sticks out is the power of prayer! We pray like 20 times a day here. It truly makes a difference. I encourage you all to have more sincere prayers! Believe that God is actually listening and that he can truly bless you if knock and ask.

Have a good week! Enjoy summer for me. I know this church is true! Next time i email ill be in crazy Manila! Mahal ko po kayo!

Elder Parker Reber

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Be Yourself

Hello friends and fam!

This week was pretty solid. Just continuing to learn about the gospel and improving the Tagalog. Thanks everyone for the birthday emails, letters, packages, etc! I'm so lucky to know so many awesome people who are so supportive. Can't believe I'm 19.. I'm officially a tang (old man) now haha :)

Haha the bday was definately different here but it was pretty great! My district all surprised me with funny gifts including a journal that says "they call me sister" on the front. Haha we all get teased so much it kinda reminds me of my friends back at home. Nearly 50 people piled into my room to sing happy birthday haha. I'm pretty close to all of the samoan elders and they made sure to hunt down the whole zone to embarass me haha! Doesn't beat my birthdays at scout camp tho ;)

This week I heard a super cool story. There was a missionary from Australia that had a pretty rough life but decided there's got to be a better way to live. He worked super hard to save money and made lots of life changes to be able to go on a mission. He got called to the Philippines. The whole mission he struggled with the language. He worked really hard at it but it just wouldn't click. On top of that he got sick allll the time. He started to lose hope as he got to the last six months and wondered if God even wanted him on a mission. He kept working hard and stayed obedient and tried to be positive. Things then got harder as he got transferred to the hardest area in the mission that hadn't had a baptism in months. One day in this area he knocked on a door and a big family answered. Every single family member except one was deaf. He then got permission to learn sign language which he miraculously learned in about a month. Faster than anyone could possibly imagine! He went on to baptize the entire family as well as dozens of other deaf people the family referred in the most unsuccessful area in the mission!

Isn't that just so cool?? It taught me a few things. We should never give up. We are given challenges so we can grow. You don't grow in your comfort zone. You grow when things are difficult and when you're working hard. Next, God knows each of His children. He won't give up on any of us! He just wants us to be happy and return to live with Him. He wants us to reach our full potential and he does that by giving us experiences both good and bad. Lastly, it taught me that we are all different and we all play a part in God's plan. This Elder from Samoa just couldn't learn Tagalog to save his life, but he could learn sign language crazy fast. One thing that has really stood out to me here at the mtc is how there are so many DIFFERENT people. So many different cultures, interests, humor, families, and talents. You can easily look at the negatives in people, but if you just focus on the good you will realize how great people are in their own little way. We shouldn't try to act like others, but if we can learn to see the good in others, we will notice what we like in a person and can try to apply that to our own lives.

We had a fireside tuesday night. He talked alot about seeing our investigators with our "spiritual eyes." We need to be able to look at people and see them by their potential, not by where they're currently at. I love that through the atonement, anyone can have a change of heart and begin to find happiness in their life. He then pointed out that we will be "blind" if we are looking inward. We need to be able to turn outward if we want to be successful in life. Being selfless doesn't make your life easier but it will make your life better!

It was fun to see both Elder Fife and Elder Briggs yesterday! They look like such amateurs haha jk. I know that they will be such great missionaries. I'm so grateful for my friends and I know they will all do awesome.

Have a great week!

Elder Reber