Happy new year! This week was packed with lots of cool experiences. New years eve was insane here they had tons of fireworks that were more like bombs than fireworks to be honest haha. They have these dumb little things they light up and they just blow up making a super super loud noise with no light. There were a few "normal" fireworks as well tho. All the craziness woke me up at around 12:30 and thought the world was ending or something because there were so many things exploding outside haha. On top of that everyone BLASTED their music sooo loud it was unreal. Basically everyone competes to have more random lights, loud music, and firework bombs haha. Fun to experience new years here.
So Monday Elder Jervoso called his fam and found out his mom is in the hospital with some pretty bad diabetic problems. His family doesn't email so it's the first time he'd heard! Ah i felt so bad but he's taking it super well, he really trusts God so much it's pretty awesome. On top of that Monday night him and Elder Baier were messing around and he got pushed into the bed pole, hurt his back, and it took us an hour to get him up into his bed. Soo Tuesday we didn't work because he couldn't get out of bed so I just literally sat around all day cooking some pro foods for him, reading church talks and the scriptures, studying the lang, updating the area book, reading more, etc. It was pretty lame haha. We found out I'm staying here in Tondo along with Elder Jervoso and Elder Panugao, while Elder Baier is off to Brook's Point, Palawan after one transfer here in Tondo.
The new Elder is Elder Sumaoang and Elder Panugao is training him. He's actually a visa waiter and didn't even go to the MTC! He will be here in the Manila mish for a transfer then will fly over to the Provo MTC. AND guess where he's serving!??? El Salv, San Salv East!! He's gonna be a comp with Elder Christensen AND Elder Steffensen! Calling it right now. Ha it's a super crazy mission for a Filipino, normally they stay here in the Philippines and he's the first I've heard of learning spanish. Haha i couldn't believe it tho when i heard him tell me that! I was in shock and was laughing so hard. So yes, I'm the only American here in our district and in the other Tondo district. New experience but it's been good! I actually went on exchanges with him Saturday and it was cool for me to see Heavenly Father has helped me grow a little more than I thought here in the mission. We taught lots of lessons and I was able to lead a missionary around who hasn't been to the mtc. It was cool to see my language held up alright, haha i still don't understand tons to be honest but the spirit has helped me know what I need to say.
Earlier this week we went to the Jamboy's house (members) to try to help Sister Mechelle print off a family name on family history so she can be considered "fully activated" by mission standards. We've been over there once a week for quite a while now and have made progress little by little. We went over and she still didn't have the birth dates of her grandparents so I decided to help out her husband, Edward instead. I helped him log in and we spent some time putting in names of his giant fam haha. Normally here in the Philippines when you hit "search" the church doesn't have any records of the name so you have to "create new." This is how it was for him as well until we put in his grandpa. He forgot the date of birth/death so I said we'd just put in the name for that time and later we'd go back and add the dates if he could find them. BUT for the first time in my mission, we hit search and there WAS a record of him coming from a list of Philippines marriages. He started reading the dates, saw the name of his grandpa's dad and got a huge smile on his face and yelled "tumpak!" (exactly!) haha it was like the first time in my life family history work was exciting! Sure enough from that one name a HUGE chain of his ancestors came up, generations and generations. We were able to see that actually quite a bit of his family history work has been done by his some of his cousins, which he didn't even know if they are still active or not. So that was a cool experience, he found lots of work he can do for his ancestors while finding out lots of his family he hasn't talked to in years are active members of the church!
Some other cool lessons: we went to teach a less active grandma who lives alone and when we got there her grandson was there. We've only taught her once so we didn't know she had a grandson who lived in our area. His name is Jade and is 18 years old. He's less active now as well, he dropped out of school, his mom died a few years ago (which made him go inactive and drop out), and his 14 year old sister died earlier this week. At first he didn't want to listen but after talking about the nba for a few minutes he decided it was ok for us to share haha. It ended up being one of the coolest lessons of my mission, we taught the whole plan of salvation and the spirit was super strong. By the end he agreed it was time for him to come back to church and said we could teach his immediate family tomorrow on Tuesday. Second, we went to reteach Danny Santos and his wife was there this time! She's been to church quite a bit but is never there when we go teach Danny. We focused the lesson on her, taught the Restoration, and she agreed on a baptism date for February 11!! I'm praying I'll get to see Danny baptize her, it would be the coolest thing ever! She was at church yesterday again, reads the Book of Mormon with Danny, and says she doesn't like coffee anymore! I think she's ready now, hopefully now is the time!
Rovie Perez has her baptism date set for February 4 and was at church too yesterday. She was sick earlier this week and we were able to give her a priesthood blessing. I'm still surprised how many blessings we give here, it's a cool opportunity and it's good for me to remember to always be ready if someone asks and always be willing to offer as well.
Sunday right before sacrament meeting started I was shaking hands with people and bishop Altre came up to me and told me he needed me to speak because the speakers didn't show up! Haha as Elder Odom and i would always say, "i keep gettin thrown under the bus!" but it was a good opportunity. I just talked about missionary work and the gospel blesses us so much more than we realize lots of the time.
I'm excited for a new year! I've been trying lately in the mission to try to understand people. To try to put myself in their shoes and to just really learn to love them the best I can. To understand why they are the way they are and to find the good in every person. Everyone here on earth has their different weaknesses, challenges and problems but I'm realizing it all comes down to the fact we're all trying our best. Some of us are on different parts of the mountain than others, some are more experienced in some aspects while some are growing in other ways. I'm realizing the best thing we can do is literally just help everyone around you. Build them up and don't tear them down. Even the most confident or spiritual people still have their hard times. I like D&C 122:7-9 which basically says: "All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all... Therefore, hold on thy way." All we can do is hold on and continue to trust in Him. I'm now becoming grateful for my weaknesses and am learning it's okay to not be perfect! There's a reason God has given us these weaknesses so we shouldn't beat ourselves up! I'm happy for the opportunity to learn and become better and find happiness knowing that Jesus Christ knows exactly where I'm at at all times. He felt our pains and much more in a way we can't quite comprehend. I'm happy to know we can one day overcome these trials and weaknesses, whether in this life or the next! I know we can make our lives alot easier by following the Gospel and letting God take control. How we make these small decisions and how we use our time will determine what type of people we become. Hopefully this next year we can grow a little stronger, become better people, and make the most of every experience that will come our way. Hopefully we will learn to understand others as well and find joy here in life!
I love this mission experience and I'm thankful to be out here. The people here are great, this past week people literally fed us a snack at every appointment I was stuffed haha. We had a dinner at Bishop Altre's house for New Year's Eve and had an awesome discussion with his family. Thx to all of you for your examples and friendships, enjoy life over in the States!
Much love! Elder Reber :)
Much love! Elder Reber :)