Monday, December 26, 2016

Maligayang Pasko

Maligayang Pasko!!

Best time of the year no doubt. It doesn't get better than Christmas for me honestly. We had a fun week here and I'm thankful I was able to spend this Christmas being a missionary. Different from past years but I know it's an experience I'll remember throughout my life.

As far as the work goes this week not as much got done because of our mission Christmas party on Wednesday and people in general just being so busy. We were however able to get some new investigators and gave out tons of pass along cards and pamphlets. Some of our investigators lately haven't been great keeping commitments so we're doing our best to find those who are really interested. A highlight was being able to attend a baptism for the other companionship. Minutes before it started, I was asked to give a talk on the Holy Ghost. It actually went well and it helped me realize my language is a little better than I sometimes think. 

Anyways Wednesday we had the mission Christmas party which was super fun. It's always good to get to know new Elders and talk to the others i've met so far. We just played some games, made projects for the mission to give to kids, watched a nativity, ate super good food (and real ice cream) and watched "the fourth wiseman" which was funny and had a really good message. It talks about a wise man who tried to go find Jesus the night he was born, got lost in the wilderness, but found a group of people in which he ended up helping serve for years and years. Most people didn't really like him either. This whole time however he still wanted to meet Jesus Christ, and at the end of the movie after all of this time serving and getting no recognition he finally got to see Him. Jesus said "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me." It just reminded me that the best service is when others don't see and we aren't looking for personal recognition. We need to remember to worry about what God thinks of us, not others. We will be blessed so much and truly grow if we can show this pure love for God and His children.

Christmas day itself was a good one. Fun to talk to the fam for sure. Right after i finished we ate lunch and just got back to work. The streets were loaded with people, parties, food, and "babylonian music" haha. People were extra nice too since it was Christmas and i guess also because most of them were drunk. We just talked to as many people as possible and tried to get a few return appointments. One experience though for me on Christmas was when I woke up i went out to our little deck and looked down at the street and saw an old man cleaning up trash on the street. This is a job that literally pays nothing and it just hit me super hard that morning seeing him walking along alone on Christmas morning cleaning the dirty streets of Tondo. It made me really thankful, once again, for everything I've been blessed with. I'm glad that I have a knowledge of this gospel as well, and for the peace and purpose it brings to my life. Not sure why some of us are blessed with more than others, but I know God is the master architect over all things and we need to trust in His ways. I'm sure He's got a great plan for all people. 

I read a cool scripture the other day, Moroni 7:41 "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise." I'm thankful for God's perfect love for us and for Him sending His son Jesus Christ here to the earth. It must've been hard for Christ for sure, but I'm sure it was just as hard for God. But they both knew that it had to be done so we could all return back to God. I'm thankful we can have hope of being worthy in God's eyes as we continue to do our best. Through the atonement we can all make it. We all have our hard times, but it's to help us grow and become like Him. The atonement reminds me that my problems and stresses are literally so small, especially in an eternal perspective. When I think something doesn't make sense or something isn't fair I can always fall back on Christ's example. He lived a perfect life and did nothing but tried to help people, yet he was still rejected and crucified. I hope you will all take some time to realize your strengths, and think of how God must be proud of you. Think of small ways you can change to continue to grow and become more like Him. Always try to follow his example and look for positives in everyone and everything around you. Be anxiously engaged in a good cause and always lift where you stand :) I hope we will accept the Atonement in our lives and stretch our hand out to his waiting arms. He wants to help us but we must let him.

Have a good week. Love you all! There's a slight chance of me being transferred the 28th, but probably not. Basically all missionaries in this mission stay in their first area for 6 months, we'll have to see though!

Mahal ko po kayo! Elder Reber

Ward Christmas Party

Mission Christmas Party 

This sweet sister is so good to the missionaries!

Monday, December 19, 2016

#MagingIlawSaSanglibutan--#Light the World

Hello fam,

We've got millions of kids running around house to house with plastic drums they made. They are Christmas caroling and trying to make a few pesos here. Haha it's always so loud, jeepneys and trikes blaring, kids running around bangin their drums, etc. It's kinda sad to see how people will literally do about anything around here for a peso. Another example tons of people go around searching through trash for pieces of metal to sell, but anyways it's been pretty fun here lately.

One thing we did this week was hand out tons of Christmas pass along cards. We would actually go into internet cafes and give people cards to visit to watch the church Christmas video. We would quickly talk about Christ and how the video as well as this church in general can help them and their families find happiness and light in this life. We had quite a few actually go and find the video so that was cool. It's crazy how many people don't really know what Christ did for us, and why He's actually so important. Christmas is the perfect opportunity to find so we're spending a little more time finding people while their hearts are softened over this Christmas season.

Sister Rovie Perez (not Ruby, we had the wrong spelling haha, the b's and v's here sound the same) is now our best progressing investigator! We met her last Sunday and taught her three days in a row this week! It's so easy to teach her because she understands and has good questions. We invited her to be baptized on January 7 and she said yes before we even finished giving the invitation haha! Here in the Philippines you have to go to church 4 times without missing twice in a row before being baptized, but she's already been twice. Her family actually won't let us in so we teach at a member's house (Nanay Fransisco) who is the bishop's mother in law. I think the reason she's accepting the gospel so fast is because bishop's wife has also been there at lessons to help her feel more welcome and one of her best friends at school is LDS. It just shows me the importance of having a friend and fellowshippers for new investigators. It's so much easier to go to church with some good friends, especially when you're still new and finding your testimony. We're trying to help the ward talk to investigators to help them feel welcome, and have a desire to share the gospel but it's a little hard no matter how much we have tried haha. But anyways hopefully i'll still be here in Tondo for her baptism!

We went to help a less active with her family history down in the Vitas area and as we were leaving gI looked over at their computer and saw Brother Lomu! (a previous seminary teacher) One of the members was watching some Christmas music video and he was the actor! Ha it was so weird. Family history is super hard here btw haha. Luckily our ward in ut focused on it so I know how to do it because not many missionaries or members know how. Every time I ask them to put in their email they start typing in the facebook username.. we end up having to make them an email hah! It's literally the longest proccess but it's all worth it, these are real people we're trying to help out!

We went to a place called Happyland in my area for the first time to try to visit Tatay Clore (a member) and his less active wife. It's actually off limits after five oclock haha but it was crazy how many people were piled in that area and their living conditions. Look it up maybe there are pics online. It was another eye opener in my mission for sure. We did some finding and didn't have much success but hopefully we can go back and try again since it's basically an ant farm there are so many people.

We had the Tondo 2nd Christmas party Saturday! The four Elders of the ward were the MC's/hosts for it haha. It was pretty fun and some of the youth brought their friends so we got to meet tons of people. We invited lots of the kids we see on the streets every day and some of them came too! Free food will get people to activities here as well. Some things don't really change I guess no matter where you're at in the world. The party itself was pretty wild and noisy but lots of fun. Some members even gave us Elders a few gifts which was super nice.

A few other quick things, every time i get on a jeepney someone takes a pic of my whiteness. Filipinos think they're super sneaky but they really aren't to be honest. My comp and I joke about it and always casually look around waiting to see who it is that will take a pic. AND Danni Santos finished the Book of Mormon! Ha he's such a stud. He reads for hours every day and highlights verses and everything. Every time we go to reteach him he's reading the Book of Mormon and all the pamphlets are always in sight. Crazy to see first hand the change the gospel can make on someone. Saturday he was over at the church setting up for hours even though he had a different family Christmas party that night, so he didn't even attend the party he spent hours helping plan and set up! The more i've learned this mission isn't about me, the happier I've become. I trust God and hope to gain his trust in me more every day. All of us as members can be a light for the world if we will let God shape us into what He wants. Accept challenges in life as an opportunity to grow. I know that through Christ's Atonement we can all find joy in this life and return to His kingdom. It can literally transform us. His plan is really a perfect plan, and i'm thankful for that.
Much love! Elder Reber

**We didn't get any pics from Parker this week so I decided to add a few of my own:)
Our family is so grateful for the opportunity we have been given to have a missionary out in the field. He is a wonderful example to his siblings, cousins, friends, and so many. We appreciate the love and support we feel daily. We are grateful for the Gospel and all of the many blessings it brings into our lives and hope that others will choose to learn to know of Him. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope that as you celebrate the season you can feel our Saviors love for you. 

We can't wait to see this cute face on Christmas Eve. 

We are also so grateful that Parker was able to grow up with such an outstanding group of young men. These boys helped to make each other better and we are so proud of the men they are becoming. Many of them are out serving missions all over the world and as much as we miss having them hanging around, we could not be more proud of all the good things they are doing!!!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Zone Conference and Erica's Baptism

Hello everyone,

First off happy bday Graden! We totally got to baptize someone here to celebrate your day haha. Weird to think you're 17 honestly, hopefully your driving is a little better by now and "my" car is getting the respect it deserves:)

We had zone conference this week so I guess I'll start off with that. It was super awesome. Elder Haynie from the 70 was there and the first thing he did was meet every missionary who was at the meeting! It took 50 minutes but it was really cool. President Ostler shared about habits and sacrifice which is what I have been kinda learning and thinking about the past 2 weeks! Ha it was cool and he shared some good things about that. I liked the scripture he shared in 1 Nephi 11:17, Nephi didn't know the meaning of all things, but he knows with a surety that God loves us. Therefore all experiences given to us here on earth are for our benefit. He also talked about how we first have to obey and show our faith, then the blessings will follow. Elder Haynie talked about how it's sometimes hard for us to know if it's the Holy Ghost speaking to us our just our own thoughts. His council was to ALWAYS trust your first impression and ACT. All of us have had moments where we feel we should do something but we justify why we shouldn't or why we can't. Example, earlier this week we were on a short jeepney ride and I'm realizing I had an impression to talk to someone who was sitting diagonal from me. But I justified the situation and told myself "ah well I'm getting off in a minute anyways, plus it's too loud, plus there's lots of other people packed in around us, etc." So yep I ended up not talking and sharing the gospel when I should've! That happens to all of us but he said the more you trust your first impression and act, the better you'll get at it, and the Holy Ghost will trust you more and will put more people in your path or give you more opportunities to do good throughout your life.

We had lots of training and the main focus was on finding scattered Israel. So finding those who are really ready to hear the gospel. Elder Haney had tons of good ideas. He talked about how we shouldn't give up on people, but we also need to know when it's time to drop someone. In John 10 it says "my sheep hear my voice." They should be easy to teach and they will accept the gospel. We shouldn't have to keep trying to force it at them. He talked about how "scattered Israel hangs around gathered Israel" and went on to talk about finding through members, less actives, part members, and recent converts. He closed his testimony saying "Don't get discouraged. I promise God's plan will work out for your benefit and happiness." Zone conferences are always super good and give us missionaries a spiritual boost to help us keep a strong desire and to remember how important and great this work really is. Literally it's so cool for me to see the results the gospel has on people. It just blows my mind how smart and powerful people can get by submitting to God's will and serving Him their whole lives. Listening to Elder Haney and my mission pres speak alone tells me this church is true. There's literally no way they could speak with the power they do without the Holy Ghost and there's no way they'd be so sharp without the gospel. Pretty cool, hopefully I can grow over my time here as well and become more like the pro examples i've seen in my life.

SO YES we had a baptism for Erica Yambao! It was pretty crazy trying to plan it but it all worked out. We once again planned the speakers, program, time, cleaned and filled the font, and had to text each bishopric member trying to get one to preside. Ha the day of the baptism we went early and set up chairs and prepared the font. The bishopric member showed up 45 minutes late and an hour passed by and Erica still wasn't there! What on earth haha. We took a jeepney back to their house and got there right as they were leaving. Anyways it all worked out, the speakers totally winged it but it was good haha. Gotta love it! :)

This week was super busy but awesome. Elder Baier in our district was sick so Elder Panugao worked both areas going to appointments and walked a million miles haha. It's way better being outside than chilling in the house all day so I called going out instead of Elder Jervoso. I'm realizing the days I'm happier are the days we're busy and working hard. We're seeing lots of miracles every day in our area and I'm super grateful for the opportunity to represent Jesus Christ. One miracle this week was on Sunday morning we got a text from the Tondo 1st missionaries saying some 18 yr old named Ruby who lives in our area went to their church. "She's of the scattered Israel! You guys are so lucky!" -Elder Pedotera. Haha we hauled over to the church to meet her, she asked for a Book of Mormon and told us she wants to go in the temple. We are teaching her tonight so I'm excited.

Have a great week everyone. I know this church is the true church on earth. I'm thankful for Jesus Christ, his example, and his atonement for all of us. We can overcome all things if we humble ourselves and follow him. He's waiting and wants us to simply accept Him and follow Him the best we can. He's the only way for us to find real happiness in this life and joy in the next. Always remember Him, especially during this Christmas season!

Much love, Elder Reber
Erica's Baptism Day
Park loves his companion, Elder Jervoso

My favorite thing about this pic is the bag of Parker's fav mint milano cookies we sent :) 

Can't quite shake the smolder :)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Finished the Book of Mormon

Hello fam and friends,

How's it goin over in cold Ut? Christmas is in full swing here and has been for about two months haha! They love Christmas here and don't have Halloween or Thanksgiving so it's pretty important. They have these stars made out of mountain dew plastic bottles that are hung up on lots of the streets. Haha we always see Nanays sitting around making them. But yeah Christmas has always been my favorite so it's fun to see how they celebrate here. Also since Trump has become pres the filipino peso value has decreased so 50 pesos is now equal to a dollar instead of 47 haha.

It was a pretty fast week. Things have picked up in our area and we did alot of contacting, we have more people to teach now. We're focusing on part member families, recent converts, and less actives alot as well. Funny thing is before my mission I didn't realize we'd be working with less actives so much. I thought it would be always finding perfectly ready families who have no idea about the Plan of Salvation haha. But a big part of missionary work is strengthening members, less actives, part member families, and recent converts. For example, Danny Santos was baptized a few weeks ago and now as missionaries it's our job to reteach the lessons to him, fill out his family history and print out a name for the temple, make sure he gets a calling/home teachers, continues to go to church and learn in gospel principles class, and goes to do baptisms for the dead. In about a year he will be in temple prep class and will hopefully be able to go through the temple. It's cool because baptism is just the gateway or beginning, there's alot more happiness that follows if we continue to endure to the end.

So on Thursday we had exchanges and I worked with Elder Panugao in his area. Elder Baier and Elder Jervoso worked in my area. Apparently when they went to visit Katherine, an investigator we've been helping out since I've been here, they found out she's moving and going to a new college! It's kinda lame because she was going to be baptized on December 17, but as long as she is baptized over in her new area it's not a big deal. She's currently renting a room by Nanay Fransisco, a member who has helped her a ton so I'm hoping her new area will have a fellowshipper to help her out as well.
Erica Yambao is also someone we've been teaching since I got here. She's in a part member family and passed her baptism interview on Saturday and will be baptized this week! She's 12 years old. Should be good and hopefully the service will spark an interest for her sister to also follow Christ's example.

This week I finished the Book of Mormon and True to the Faith! I started the BOM my first day in the mtc and read super slowly and took lots of notes. I would definately recommend taking notes while reading it helps a ton. Also, just taking a few notes when hearing talks, sitting in seminary, whatever it might be will really help. I wish I would've started doing this earlier haha. It helps me stay focused and it's good to look back at the end and see the main things I learned. But anyways I'm super thankful for the Book of Mormon. Personal study is my favorite time of the day. Without it a mission would be nearly impossible! It's funny how such a little thing can make such a big difference in how you go about your day. This week I learned alot about sacrifice and have thought about it quite a bit. When we sacrifice something we value we can have peace in knowing it's for the sake of something of greater worth in the future. The mission has some hard times but all experiences here are for my benefit and opportunity to grow and become a better person. We can't grow in our comfort zone. Sometimes we ask "why?", but we always need to remember that God knows all things and we need to trust in His plan for us. The scriptures have tons of solid examples of people before us who truly had their will submitted to God's will. One of my favorites is Abraham, he was willing to sacrifice his son because he was commanded to do so. He didn't ask any questions, he just did what he was told. Sometimes I feel pretty inadequate and can't believe I'm out here being a missionary. But I know that God really does qualify all of his servants and works by small and simple things. We just need to always give it our all and be an instrument in His mga kamay.

I played some piano at a wedding Saturday haha. Two hymns I've never played before but it went alright;) We were able to fully activate Joshua Dela Cruz, a nice 14 year old kid who works with us missionaries quite a bit now. I'm enjoyin the mission and am super thankful for the opportunity i have to be here. Have a good week my friends, and hit the dab for me a few times:)
Elder Reber

I have no idea- one day we hope he will explain some of these pictures.

For the record, this picture contains more vegetables than I have ever seen Parker consume in his lifetime! 

Can't wait to taste Chef Parkers cooking!

Quite the feast!

Hot Donalds- Parker's favorite

Seriously a whole pig???  Yum?