Monday, November 28, 2016

Sister Fatima's Wedding and Baptism

Magandang Umaga!

This week really flew by! Time is super weird on the mission honestly haha. The days are starting to go by faster and faster. This week lots happened so I'll just get right into things!

So as I said last week, the past month or so things started slowing down in our area with Elder Cibuco, like how many lessons we were teaching, how many progressing investigators we had, etc. We couldn't really figure out why and we seemed to hit a low point with my new companion as I tried to lead the area haha. Basically tons of our investigators we thought had potential started "hiding" from us and we had to do lots of finding the last two weeks. This week we didn't have a "third lalaki" much at all so it was hard to be able to teach lots of people. If we don't have a third male over 18 we can't be in their house.. so things get tricky because the dad's are often working or not around anymore. Two days in a row we worked from 12 to 9 and everyone we planned the night before didn't end up getting taught. And also all appointments we had fell through as well haha. So we spent tons of time again knocking on doors (you don't knock here technically, you say tao po), which my companion says most missionaries say is scary, including him, so not many do it. Most missionaries apparently just talk to people on the street and don't go door to door. I don't know why he gets nervous though because he literally always knows what to say and does a good job haha. But anyways in my mind the chances of getting into a house when they're already in their house is alot higher than if they're chillin out on the streets, so door to door is the way to go. Wednesday we were having a hard time finding people who would let us teach, even when it was just a ten minute overview. BUT we had the classic mission experience. It was like 100 degrees, nobody would listen, things were a little hard, but we just kept it goin anyways haha. We were talking about how sometimes God wants to see how hard we'll work, He needs to test our dilligence at times. We then turned onto a new street and I told my companion, "Elder we're getting a lesson on this street right here no matter what." We went to every little house where people were and introduced the gospel. Sometimes we actually end up teaching them for 5 minutes or more from outside, just giving them an overview, but not getting actual lessons. Sure enough by the end of the street we had 6 new investigators- it was sick! It was a cool experience for me, we know people are ready for the message we just need to always be finding and ready to open our mouth and talk.

Things are going super well with my new companion. He's got about 6 months left on his mission and decided he wants to get really good at English because it will help give him many opportunities after his mission. My mission president told me in my last interview that my Filipino companions learning English is more important than my Tagalog. So since then I've been pretty strict with my comps as far as helping them and making them speak more. Super hard language by the way haha. Plus I'm realizing that the way I worded things before my mission and the dumb "lingo" i used with friends basically makes no sense technically haha! But anyways he's super awesome! He always speaks English to me and I speak full Tagalog to him. We ask each other tons of questions about our languages and correct each other if grammer or accent is wrong. I noticed alot of progress over this past week as a result. He is just a super genuine, funny and nice companion, always praising me and always patient with others. He knows his weaknesses but doesn't let them worry him too much. This week I started understanding his Tagalog accent a ton more so I wasn't as lost in lessons and trying to talk to him on the streets. Good week with him, he's teaching me tons and it will be a good transfer or two with him!

The wedding and baptism of sister gloria fattima herrera went well on Saturday! She has been waiting and preparing for that day for two years and it was super cool to be a part of it. She had tons of family and friends there to support them. And of course, her husband rocked my tie haha! Her husband is super funny, when they were pronounced married he turned around and gave a huge fist pump to all of us. The whole service went smoothly which was good because us missionaries basically planned and organized the whole thing haha. Organizing activities and services in the church is actually harder than I realized before my mission. It makes me super thankful for the cool camps, activities, etc I got to be apart of before growing up in Utah. Trying to create a baptism program and making calls to find speakers was definately a new experience for me, and I'm learning alot of good random stuff out here.

This week in personal study I read Ether 12:6 which says we receive an answer AFTER a trial of our faith. This is something I've heard my whole life but I thought about it a little extra this week. I've realized the importance of being exactly obedient as a missionary. We as missionaries have many weaknesses, stresses, etc and we really do need the spirit as much as possible. I've learned there's a lot of opportunities to take the "easier way" in the mission, but those who learn to do things they don't like, and find joy while doing so, are the super successful people here on earth. We recieve blessings of obedience after we take that first step, even if it's hard. If I'm not willing to work hard now on the mission, why would I suddenly be willing to work hard in college or later on in life? We can't just change over a course of a day, it takes time. I'm realizing making good habits is super important for us while here on earth. If we have a habit to get out the door on time as a missionary, or read the Book of Mormon every day, it becomes easier over time. If we're always loving, it will slowly over time become our nature and we'll be nice without even realizing it. I'm learning that we truly become what we hear, see, think, and do. I challenge ya guys to take a step back often and reevaluate how you're doing. For me during nightly prayer and sacrament meeting is where I try my best to take a step back. And of course the best place is the temple haha. But yanno, just keep that in mind, remember to use your free agency the best you can so you can become a better person every day.

That's about all I've got haha. It was a good week honestly. A new favorite thing is to give the Law of Chastity pamphlet to the many gays/trans people who come to talk to us haha. The commandments we're asked to keep are really for our happiness and for us to reach our full potential, not to hold us back. One other awesome thing was Danni Santos went and did baptisms for the dead! He said he had a really good experience so that was super cool to hear. Many great experiences here that make me know without a doubt this is where I should be and all of this is true. I'm thankful for all of you and your support and good examples. Have a great week!

Love Elder Reber :)

My New Comp

Hello mga tao,

So I'm emailing today because we didn't have P day yesterday! Today we had temple day and it was awesome. I love the temple it's the best thing ever. It always helps me step back and think of the big picture of things. The Manila temple just reopened up last month and it's super pretty. So that was awesome earlier today-probs a highlight of the mission so far.

Well Wednesday I said goodbye to my trainer, Elder Cibuco, who is off to Palawan. Elder Lambert is actually going back to Palawan again to follow up with my MTC companion, Elder Carter! Haha that was super crazy to hear, I'm excited they're going to be together. I'll miss my comp a little but hopefully I'll see him sometime down the road. We had a lot of cool experiences together and helped me grow a lot as a missionary and as a person.

My new companion is Elder Jervoso. He's from Tacloban and has 14 siblings haha! His parents are separated so there's lots of siblings on both his mom's side and his dad's side. He's actually the ONLY MEMBER out of all of them! He said he had absolutely no support heading out on his mission and they wouldn't pay a single peso to help him. Wow that made me thankful. I've had two companions in a row with very different ways of growing up than me, that's for sure. This one however had the opportunity to go to school so he knows a little more English, but not that much. He's pretty nice it's been good so far really. I'm learning tons from him as far as new ways of OYMing people and new ways of doing missionary work. He's a little older in the mission so has lots of good ideas. His accent is different so we're still working on being able to understand each other haha. That's been a little hard honestly, but I'm glad for change and the opportunity to grow more. Also, he is a prooo chef! Haha it's awesome. My last comp didn't really cook so I did lots of the cooking, and i guess you could say the "menu" of the food we ate was pretty small haha. But now I'm learning how to be a better chef, even though earlier before my mission I thought i was the best chef in the world;)

Our area has been slowing down the last few weeks so we did a lot of dirty work (finding) this week haha. We talked to tons of people but honestly didn't really find anyone. I know there's people out there ready (like Danni Santos haha), we just have to keep looking. My new companion is super good at introducing the gospel and like I said I'm learning lots of new ways of doing that. He's pretty determined to share the gospel like my last companion so I think we'll get alot done. Hopefully we can start getting more people to teach this next week to increase our teaching pool. Apparently my comp has a brother he's never met who lives here in Tondo so we're definately keeping a look out for him!

Some cool things for the week. Sister Fattima passed her baptism interview on Saturday and will be married and baptized this Saturday! She's been meeting with missionaries for quite a while and my last companion and I were to get her back to church. We really stressed the importance of baptism and marriage. We just focused on the blessings of baptism and being a member of the church, and here she is now, ready to go! She's really really nice and I'm super pumped for Saturday. Also, I got to pass the sacrament with Danni Santos on Sunday, that really hit me hard for some reason. I guess I can't really explain how cool it was, I guess i just realized how much the gospel can really help people. Last thing, I guess not a cool thing but I broke up a crazy fight between two 11 year old kids. It was actually pretty scary how hard they were hitting each other so I being some tall white guy just went up and separated them. I think I startled both of them a little haha. That followed up by one of their moms running up screaming at her kid. We just quickly left after that haha.

One thing I really learned this week is how important it is to be thankful. I was being a loser earlier this week and was pretty unhappy for a few days. I was getting frustrated with myself for about everything- my teaching, my language skillz, my interacting with the people, etc. We were also disappointed with some investigators as well as having a hard time finding people. But I read a talk from that package you sent that helped me a ton. One thing it said was "the more often we see the things around us the more they become invisible to us." I realized that it's very simple, we can choose to be happy or choose to be sad. We can look for good or just complain. But all in all external conditions don't necessarily make a person happy. You can have all the earthly things in the world and not be happy. I realized I needed to stop focusing on what I don't have, what things are diffiicult, and what I'm not good at. I needed enjoy the sunlight and stop seaking out the storms. D&C 78:19 is pretty solid too. All things we go through in this life are for our benefit. I'm thankful for God's plan for all of us, and i challenge you all to search for the good in all things. Always lift others and you'll truly be happy.

That's about all this week. I taught piano again without a "translater" and it actually went pretty well haha. It's cool to see how excited some of these kids are to learn. All of them take notes and pictures of the board so they can practice at home. We kinda have a lack of teaching supplies like flash cards, beginner books, etc but we're doing our best haha. They're starting to bring friends so we shared a short spiritual message at the end too. I'm lovin the mission, even when it's hard at times with now leading the area, trying to understand my new companion, etc I'm glad I can rely on God to help qualify me for the work. I'm thankful for Jesus Christ and his Atonement as well. He has a perfect love for each of us and felt all things for us. He's the only way we can truly be happy here on earth and return back to God's kingdom. Trying to help people know this truth is a pretty cool job haha. I'm super thankful for this true church and for my many blessings in my life. Take it easy everyone:)
Love Elder Reber

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mga Pagpapabinyah--The Baptisms

Hello friends and fam,

This week I'd say was probably the best week of my mission. It was just awesome. Being a missionary is pretty sweet. Lots of things happened so I'll just start with P day.

Last P day was probably my favorite so far. We got permission to go as a district to the Jose Rizal monument in Pasay. Jose Rizal is kinda the national hero here in the Philippines, I'd compare him to Martin Luther King. It's basically a huge park with lakes, gardens, statues, and history stuff. We got to see exactly where he was shot and where he's buried now. There were huge statues to portray the scene. It was nice because Tondo doesn't really have much nature haha, it was a good breather. We met a guy from Korea who studied at the University of Utah and talked to him (in English) about what exactly we do as missionaries. That was pretty cool. After we went across the street to the boardwalk and got to look out at the ocean. We met a less active there and got to talk to him for awhile, it's crazy how many times God just throws people right in our paths.

Wednesday morning right before studies we got a text from a member saying there was an emergency and we need to go to their house right away. We texted back what the problem was and he said their dog had died and it needs a blessing immediately! Haha everyone in our house was laughing so hard. I mean it's sad for the member or whatever but it was just pretty funny. Sadly we didn't go resurrect the dog and it remains in a better place at this time.

We had zone meeting on Thursday. One interesting thing our mission is trying is switching the OYM (open your mouth) standard from 190 a week to 105! Haha i was shocked. I guess President Ostler is looking for better quality OYM's now where we really give people a shot to listen to our message. In my area though I think we'll still be getting over 200 because there are tons of people here haha. The highlight of that was one of our zone leaders, Elder Jim, baring his final testimony to us. He told us about his conversion story which was awesome. Lots of missionaries have super cool conversion stories and makes me feel like my life was so easy haha. He was Catholic and worked on a farm in Ponpeii or something. He was the oldest of seven kids and was always getting into trouble. He met two white missionaries right after his dad died and to his surprise they spoke to him in his native language. This sparked an interest and eventually he got baptized. The only one in his family though. His family didn't support his decision at all, his grandpa said he wanted to chop of his head. Exactly one year later he was in the MTC, still being the only  member of this church in his family. He didn't receive a single email from his family for the first six months. But he prayed for them every night and fasted for them often. He finally got an email from his mom, a picture of her in baptismal clothes with two missionaries. Now all of his siblings are baptized except one, who will be baptized next week actually. He is going to the temple to baptize, confirm, and be endowed for his dad in the Manila temple right before he heads home. Wow it was a cool story, he talked about how God knows each of us and will help us if we ask him. The spirit was super powerful and our zone will miss him.

Saturday we had four baptisms for our kabahay (the four elders who I live with)! For Elder Cibuco and I we baptized Dannilo Abucay Santos and Rhei Anne Padua Dela Cerna. It was the coolest thing ever. Those two are my first baptisms and I'm super thankful we were able to find them. The area I'm in has actually only had 2 baptized since 2015 so it was kinda nice to break the curse i guess! The baptism all went smoothly and it was a super powerful meeting. Danni Santos is just awesome. He hasn't had a drink since the Book of Mormon has entered his house. He's the only member in his family as of now, but he has assured us he won't ever quit on his family. His wife and daughter actually came to support him, and they both were crying as he was baptized and also as he bore his testimony. The spirit was so strong, there was absolutely no denying it. His daughter is now interested in taking missionary discussions, it really just showed me how real the Holy Ghost is and how true the church is. Danni Santos got up to bear his testimony and it was the first time i've seen him cry. He bore like the best testimony I've ever heard and pointed right at Elder Cibuco and I and kept saying thank you, it was really cool. I have a cool relationship with him, because I don't understand all he says because he speaks super deep Tagalog, and he knows i can't quite say as much as I'd like. But every time we leave his house he shakes my hand with his two hands, looks me right in the eyes and says "salamat!" Haha he also calls me his best friend. The baptism was a great success. Danni now has the priesthood and a calling to greet people at the front door. He was already doing it yesterday, whatta man.

We were also able to fully activate sister Merra. She was a less active and is really cool. Her husband left her the first week I was in the mission if you remember that whole story. We have some other investigators working towards baptism later this month, hopefully things keep progressing there.

It was a good final week (most likely) with Elder Cibuco. I've learned a lot from him and all in all he was a pretty sweet comp. This next week will be super interesting, first time seeing big change in my mission. Wish me luck! Get out of your comfort zone this week and share your testimony! You will always say something someone needs to hear. Have a solid week.

Love Elder Reber

 A bit from moms letter....
One thing i didn't say in the email was the info about the first time we gave Danni his Book of Mormon. He had tons of beer under his table that night and we were pretty bummed out. We didn't know he had that problem so we thought wow it's gonna be that much harder to convert him now. He told elder C and I a super cool story about that. After we left he just had the BOM on his table and pulled out a beer. He walked over to grab a cup, turned around, and his beer had somehow spilled! He said he had absolutely no idea how! Super cool. He then decided to pick up the book and read that night. Hasn't had a drink since. I also knew he would be baptized, my first prayer with them in his house I just felt he would. I can't really explain it I guess but it was super cool!

Our p day was awesome haha! I felt like i was on a nice vacation for just a few hours. It was an awesome breath of fresh air haha. We even ate BURRITOS which were awesome. And of course they had buy one get one free for fries that day which was great.
Danni's cute family

Parkers first Kabahay

Field Trip to Jose Rizal monument in Pasay

Fun pics of the piano lesson day!

What a great group of piano students! 
You can see a favorite piano book of Parker's on the piano. Marshall McDonald's arrangements are some of Parker's favorites. So fun to see them being shared all the way in the Philippines.
Question of the week....what will Park do without Elder Lambert's selfie stick?? :)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Elder Reber the Piano Teacher

Hello Everyone,

Hope you had a good week! It was awesome here in Tondo. My training ends in like 9 days which is insane. I'm pretty anxious to see who my new companion is and stuff. Elder Cibuco has been pretty awesome and will be missed. I've learned alot from him and I know I needed to have him as a companion. Awesome eld.

We had two investigators pass their baptismal interviews and will be baptized this Saturday! Reyan is 8 years old and is from a part member family. We've taught her basically since I've been here so that will be good. The other is DANNI SANTOS! haha i love that guy. We talked to him about baptism again and he said he wanted to wait until next year. I promised him he was ready and that he can continue to show his faith through being baptized. He agreed and knew it was time. He says he knows without a doubt that everything is true. Elder Lambert interviewed him and said he's never seen anyone so ready to be baptized. Apparently Danni Santos has let in many missionaries from other churches and when he opened the door to us he just let us in because he thought it would be fun to have the foreigner in the bahay haha. But he said "I felt something different and I wanted them back." His whole experience has been a huge testimony builder for me. His faith is so awesome, whenever we give him a commitment he always says "I wont try, I will!" I'm glad we were blessed to meet him after a long day of rejection and watch him progress. The Book of Mormon is true and soo important in conversion that's all I can say. His wife is super supportive but has been Catholic her whole life. She's slowly gaining interest though and hopefully he can help her be converted. She normally listens to us and apparently Danni shares insights with her about the BOM all the time.

Elder Cibuco taught me a few phrases in Cebuano so I've tried it on a few OYM's. We met 6 kids in high school and I spoke 4 languages to them by the time we left! Haha funny things like that just keep things rollin and help people know we Mormons aren't weird. I've also learned that sharing a simple testimony as soon as possible is always powerful. We are thinking of better ways to get into houses and to share the message, just line upon line we become a little better every day.

President Ostler sent an email to all the missionaries a few weeks ago that was pretty cool. He talked about him going into his first mission years ago and how he thought he would be a great, powerful, awesome companion. He quickly realized that his testimony wasn't as strong as he thought, he couldn't teach as well as he thought he could, and he wasn't as fearless as he was expecting to be. I kinda felt the same coming into this mission, I thought I could come in and be pretty good at all of it. I quickly learned things are alot easier said than done. I'm just not a perfect missionary haha. Quickly humbled and realized there's alot I can do to improve. He reminded us that God can use all of us, even if we aren't perfect in all aspects. He knows us and knows how to use us for His work. Same goes to life too, I'm grateful for God's love and plan for me. He gives us weaknesses so we can be humble and grow. If we didn't have weaknesses or life here on earth wouldn't have much of a purpose. So I thought it was a cool reminder for us to forgive ourselves, be patient, and continue to improve each day of our lives.

Soo yes the day has come, I'm now the official piano teacher of Tondo. Bishop Altre asked me to help teach because his daughter is the only one who can play in the whole ward and she will be leaving on a mission sometime soon. We had a pretty good turnout on Saturday, I'll try to send pics from Elder Lambert's camera. It was just two hours and Elder Lambert came to help translate anything I couldn't quite explain completely. Haha it went alright though, new experience but I taught them some good basic things about music and stuff. Everyone was super excited and happy to learn. We're hoping to get referrals out of it in the future and hopefully have some people be able to play a few simplified hymns.

Here in Tondo there are tons and tons of little restaurants everywhere. Most of them just sell "silog" which is rice, egg, and an "ulam" of your choice. But anyways Elder Lambert and I went and ate at one and it was hilarious how nervous/excited the workers were to have two Americanos eating at their place. They were literally all gathering every few seconds and just talking about us. We acted like we knew no Tagalog so they just kinda said whatever they wanted. we understood lots of what they said tho haha. As we got our food I could see out of the corner of my eye like 6 workers looking through the window to their little kitchen to watch us take the first bite. Haha it's fun having stuff like that happen every day here. Whenever I go with Elder Cibuco to a new area there will be literally 30 kids gathered around me before I know it. Ha good times here in Tondo!

Have a good week! We are working hard here and I'm finding lots of joy in the work. Definitely not always easy but staying positive is something I try my best with. A scripture I kinda like for the week is 3 Nephi 13:19-21. Real happiness only comes from focusing on things that are eternal, or of the Celestial kingdom. I'm realizing really fast out here that submitting to God's will, always being obedient, and focusing on these eternal truths is the best way for someone to be happy here on earth as well as the next life. Make sure your heart is set and focused on the right things! Treasure things that will last.

Love you all! Elder Reber
You can see part of Parkers music lesson on the whiteboard :)

Love to see this boy's smile

Elder Lambert and Elder Reber
Glad Elder Lambert is sharing some of his pics so we have some to post!!