Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Jenson Got Baptized!


Astig talaga ang linggo na ito! I don't know why but Heavenly Father has really been blessing our area these past few weeks. I feel like my faith is growing alot as I've seen so many cool little things happen. Even on the hardest days of the mish I feel like my comp and I still see God's hand in the work in so many ways. I think one thing I've learned this week is God sees each of our sacrifices and will bless us in His time for the small things we do to try to be a better instrument in His hands.

I guess i'll start with updating you on our investigators. Yesterday, Jenson Mark Cruz was married and baptized! His wife is a member and it's something they've been working towards for quite some time now. He's 23 years old and taller than me! He's 6'3 which is HUGE for a filipino! Tallest person i've ever baptized and it was a blessing it only took one shot to get him fully immersed! I love Jenson though he's just simply a kind person. He works at a buffet called Vikings which is one of the fanciest places you can eat at in the Philippines. We've gotten pretty close over the past few weeks since I've been here and i've learned how being nice can really lift people's days! He always wants to know things like what's it's like for an American to be here, how is life as a missionary, what did I like to do before my mission, etc. Being genuinelly interested in someone's life is something I've been working on in my mission and hope to continue to develop throughout my life. Just his simple efforts to listen really lifts me up when we visit him. After he was baptized he bore his testimony and as he turned around to face all of us he had the biggest smile ever. After his testimony bishop Flores (he's a stud by the way) gave his closing remarks and mentioned how Jenson's countenance was soo bright. It was a cool moment for me, he really did look truly happy and the spirit was really there! That image of his big smile has been stuck in my head ever since. His non member family i could tell was really hit with the spirit. The spirit testifies of truth and throughout each of the speakers, testimonies, and the baptism itself i could really tell the spirit was helping them realize that this is all true.

James Borrero Monilla (10 year old, mom was baptized last year), passed his baptism interview and will be good to go this saturday! Even though he's only ten i've really seen a ton of change in him. Missionaries have been trying to help him be baptized for a year and he seriously didn't want to at all. Even a month ago when i was new he refused to pray when we went to visit him. Even though his mom, aunt, cousins, etc were baptized he still never wanted to! Now when we go there he always volunteers right away to pray and he's super excited when we come. His mom even told us he was fasted the whole day for his baptismal interview! How cool is that??

Teaching him this week was different though. Their family opened up a new tindahan (little family-owned shop that's part of their house) so we were teaching him over there. He has tons of friends/classmate neighbors over there and when we went there Monday he invited two of them to join. Tuesday there were about 5, and each day there was a little more until friday there was 12 of them! We would follow up on what they had learned in the past lesson and they would go crazy answering us! We ended up giving almost all of them Book of Mormons with little maps they color in as they read the chapters. One of them is 11 years old and read all of first nephi! After our lesson we play games for a few minutes and it's honestly just so fun. For me it's cool to see how the kids here have lots of similarities as my bros and sisters as they grew up, even though their circumstances here are alot different. Although lots of these kids probably won't be baptized, it's cool to be able to teach them correct principles that will help them out a little in their lives! Even the fact they're reading the Book of Mormon is just awesome to me. Definately a miracle! Hopefully pictures will finally work this week haha` I got a few good ones of all of them.

When we teach all of these kids upstairs I always feel bad for this little 12 year old downstairs because he watches over the little store as his job. He's always super nice to us when we come down and we could tell he wished he could come up and listen. We gave him a pamphlet and as we were leaving he was already readin through it. Friday we were finding on the other side of our area and this kid out of nowhere answered the door! We found his house and met his family. They're living circumstances are tough it was super sad to see. Him and his family are soo nice though and we have an appointment with them this week. It was cool we were guided right to their home in a tiny little alley.

Joy finally accepted a baptism date for sept 16! She has already been to church 4 times which qualifies her for baptism. We just need to finish teaching the lessons now. She's awesome though and another cool thing is 3 of her kids listened to our message this week. We invite them every time we're there but they've never listened til now. We taught word of wisom to Joy and the kids accepted to live it too. We then showed them a picture of the Manilla temple and told them that the real goal is not only to be baptized but to one day be sealed as a family. It was a cool lesson with all of them and 2 of the kids showed up to church sunday!

I was reading in 3rd Nephi when Christ visits the people in the Americas. As I was reading I started to wonder why lots of these chapters are also in Matthew. About a month ago I was reading these very words in the new testament. Why are they in both? I got my answer when i read in 3 nephi 13:25. it says "And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Remember the words which I have spoken." Such a simple phrase but for some reason it really stood out to me. Christ was pleading to his disciples to simply remember. To remember the things he had spoken. In the Book of Mormon we see that people are often quick to forget their God. We get caught up in small things in our lives and too often forget the purpose of our lives on earth! I felt like I needed to do a better job remembering the things I learn in personal study. I think we often have spiritual experiences but after it ends we sometimes quickly forget. In my planner now I write down the main thing i learned in personal study so when things are a little tough out in the area I can pull it out real quick to remember what I learned and regain that courage and spirit that i had felt earlier. Christ then says, "For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people." It was just a good reminder that we are each put in certain situations for a reason. For me right now, I'm very thankful for the area I'm in and I know I need to be here. So yeah, that was a little thing i learned this week. I think that's the reason the prophets and apostles have said to read the Book of Mormon every single day, so we can continually remember the Savior and strive to be more like Him.

That's all my friends. Hope all is well. Thanks for your support and love! Have a solid week! I invite you to read the Book of Mormon every day:)

Love Elder Reber

Ps. Justine from my last area got baptized on Saturday! The stake president heard about her and apparently went to meet her. She told him she wants to serve a mission and I guess he told her he'd pay for the whole thing! Super cool! I'll try to stay updated on how that goes!

Birthday Shenanigans

Elder Moster

It is pretty amazing they were lead exactly to this home. 

JB's Baptism :)

Love the interaction Parker gets to have with these cutest kids!

Book of Mormon Maps

So glad to hear they got this super tall Filipino baptized on the first try!

Monday, August 21, 2017

JB's Baptism


Had an awesome week!! The highlight was definitely Jansen Belonias' baptism!! He's 10 years old and lives in a part member family. His mom was less active for about 10 years after being heartbroken by a few RM's haha but after visiting them over the past little while she's active again. Jansen is awesome I've never seen a kid focus in lessons so well my whole mission! Every time we teach him I feel we were teaching someone who was around 16 yrs old. The night before his baptism we shared Helaman 5:12 with him and talked about the amazing blessings that come when we focus our lives on Christ and stay faithful in the church throughout our lives. No matter what trials come we can overcome them and grow so much as a result. It was a cool lesson, he was super excited to be baptized. The service was really spiritual and there was good support from the ward. He gave an awesome testimony after and his mom did as well. It just reminded me really that everything we do as missionaries is worth it and that no effort is wasted. Next step now is trying to teach his dad!

I had to give a talk at the baptism on the Restoration and I mainly focused my talk on the sacrifices Joseph Smith made. I'm so thankful for him and for the restored gospel. As I've learned more and more about his life throughout my mission my testimony has really grown and trials seem so little. Joseph Smith REALLY faced alot of opposition and Satan was doing all he could to stop such a marvelous work. Joseph Smith knew that he had seen a vision, and he knew that God knew it, and he couldn't deny it. It's cool he was able to keep that perspective through the hard times and never stopped trying. God even reminded him he wasn't yet to what Job had to go through. When facing a trial we need to always have a wider perspective and remember those who came before us!

Speaking of the restoration, that was our focus for our zone conference on Wednesday! As a mission we now have a new focus, every time we meet someone and every time we teach the first lesson we are going to focus on the Restoration. We are now practicing teaching the whole thing in 4 minutes so they can feel the spirit of the restoration and especially the first vision. This is something we were doing while i was new, then the focus shifted to inspired questions and their needs/concerns, but now it's returning back the restoration. It just feels right and I'm excited to see the miracles that will come from focusing on the restoration.

President Fermanis really taught us alot during conference too. His huge focus continues to be the Book of Mormon and is doing everything he can to make our personal study more exciting. When our study is good we'll have more faith and energy to go out and share the gospel. He said how there are days where he reads something and feels like he could easily go out and knock doors for 10 hours so it's something we're trying to experience too as a mission! He pointed out to us that the Book of Mormon was published before the church was even established. What does that show about the importance of the Book of Mormon? That was super cool for me to realize and I've been thinking about it all week. It's the only way to be truly converted to the restored church of Jesus Christ and to know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet. This is done by knowing the Book of Mormon is true by the Holy Ghost. The church couldn't even be established until this great book was available. President answers almost all questions using the Book of Mormon it's really cool to see. My testimony is growing that you truly can read it your whole life and still find new things to learn. My companion and I taught a class on answering questions of investigators through the Book of Mormon. Preparing for that just reminded me of how grateful I am for the Book of Mormon in my life. It has answered my questions throughout my mission and I've seen miraculous changes in others as they've read it.

Thursday I went on exchanges with Elder Rushton. He's from Magna and goes home in 3 weeks! We worked in our area and had a great time. We focused on finding new people and "tao po"ing doors even when as President put it "you feel like your trying to push water up a hill with a rake." We got a few good return appointments and taught some fun lessons. We went back to Jaymar (the 17 year old with the huge infection on his back) and found out he actually had passed away the night before! It was super sad i couldn't believe it. They said though the hospital finally let him in eventually so he wasn't in quite as much pain as when we met him at their home. He was a cool kid though all of his neighbors loved him because he was always helping them try to fix up their little houses and doing other acts of service. We taught his brother the plan of salvation and plan to visit his family this week again.

We have a few other investigators that are progressing pretty well. Jenson Cruz will be married to his girlfriend (member) Aug 28 then will be baptized right after! He's a super cool kid and is actually as tall as I am!! James Borrero is 10 years old and his mom was baptized about a year ago. A few weeks ago he finally decided to let us teach him more and he now has a desire to be baptized! He got rid of his tea a little bit ago so now his goal date is Sept. 2 if we get the lessons done by then. Our other main investigator is Joy. She went to church again yesterday and we had some cool lessons with her this week. She still hasn't accepted a baptismal date yet but her faith is growing lots!

One quick story is we got permission to teach Jenson Cruz at 8am since it's the only time he's available. We happened to run into a less active as a result of being out so early in the morning! He is a trike driver and we may have never met him. God knows His children though and put him right in our path! Rodrigo was at church yesterday so that was a cool little miracle.

In the Book of Mormon this week I read about one of my favorite characters in the Book of Mormon- Nephi, the son of Helaman. It's crazy for me to read about the miracles that happened while he was serving with unweariness. Even after all of these miracles however, only "some" of the people believed he was a prophet of God. it's a reminder to me that the Holy Ghost is really the way for someone to know of truth. The Holy Ghost is more powerful than the 5 senses and can testify to someone better than a sign. The people in this time saw lots of "signs" and miracles from Nephi but still refused to accept. I'm glad to know this because sometimes it's not fun getting rejected! Over time sometimes I catch myself thinking "man i must not be powerful and convincing enough" but I can always remember that if I have the Holy Ghost with me it will be enough for the person to accept or deny the message.

That's about all for this week! We were a little busy with some stake reporting and zone conference but it still went pretty well! Loving the work a ton and am thankful to be out here in the Philippines.

Love you all!
elder reber

This weeks pics are compliments of the great Siser Fermanis, Parker's new mission presidents wife. I love seeing a full view of some of the experiences she is having. Many of which for the first time!  She shares not only pictures of our missionaries and fun facts like their Zone Conference program, but many pictures of the world around them. It has been such a blessing to have this wonderful family come to serve the people in the Philippines. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Be an example of the believers

Hello fam and friends

Hope you all had a nice week! This week the Sisters' area in our ward closed down and they were both transferred out. Since our area is next to it, we took over the whole thing! So this week has been super crazy trying to meet their investigators and recent converts in their area. We've had a little trouble finding everything but luckily it went pretty smoothly since the mission just had a huge map project not long ago. We got their area book and big map with pins marking where people live and it's all worked out alright! They didn't have too much going on though so we still spent most of the week in our original area. It will be hard for me to get this area memorized now that it's bigger. I still have no idea where we're walking when we're over in our area in Brgy CAA haha there are literally hundreds of streets and buildings. Hard to explain it haha you'd have to be here to see!

We got a text from Bishop one night asking us to go visit a less active the next morning. This less active is named Kimberly, she's 17 years old and was baptized in the province a few years ago. The crazy thing though is she got in a big motorcycle accident with her brother a few months ago and forgot everything about her life! Her name, family, schooling, and everything about the church. Now after a few months she's doing better and started going back to school. We showed up and started from the beginning, teaching about God and Jesus Christ. She showed us a picture of her baptism and couldn't remember why they were wearing white! We then decided to watch the 20 minute Restoration Video. It ended up being a super cool experience I won't forget. Throughout the whole thing she was watching it intently but still all of it was new- until it got to the first vision! She got a big smile and looked over and told us "I remember this!!" It was a cool thing for me to see. Someone who literally forgot everything but when the first vision came, the spirit was powerful and she recognized it. I know that Joseph Smith saw our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that the fulness of the gospel was restored through Him. Even though he was young and unlearned, God works by small means to furthur His work and bless His children here on earth.

We had exchanges this week and I got to work with Elder Dequito here in our area. He is from Davao and goes home in about 2 months. Our focus was on finding and different things we can do in order to find. We didn't have many appointments set so we had plenty of time to just go around meeting people. I'm not super pro with directions so lots of the time we weren't exactly sure where we were at but we had a fun exchange and I learned alot.

There's a homeless man who is always on the side of the road that we walk on to get to our area. Every single day so far when he sees me he gets a huge smile on his face and says "Hey Joe!!" He then laughs the exact same laugh every time and for some reason it gets even funnier for me every time he does it. When the other Elders pass by he always asks where I'm at i guess haha. I love the people here.

We had Stake Conference this week and it was a really cool. The theme or focus was on conversion and the main scripture was Luke 22:31-32. Conversion for me is something that we will be working on throughout our whole lives. It's continuous and consistent effort doing our part to change and become more Christlike. It happens through our small choices that we make every day. By doing what God would have us do, we are strengthened and when we strengthen ourselves we actually are automatically strengthening others around us! I think of people in my life who are trying hard to become fully converted and I know their influence and example has affected me. In my personal study later on Sunday I was reading in Alma 60 and verse 23 stuck out to me. "Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also." This is Captain Moroni speaking to Pahoran about the government needing to be clean in order for everyone else in the land to be the same. But I think it also can apply to our personal conversion. Once we are converted we can lift up those around us. But, if we are struggling with our own conversion we won't be able to focus on helping others and plus we can't give what we don't have! As we become more converted we will have a brighter countenance that people will start to notice.

So, this week I challenge you all to do those small things to become converted! Be an example of the believers especially in your conversation! The words we use and conversations we have shows the person that we are. It shows what we value and what's is important in our eyes. It shows where our heart is. If we start with good thoughts, everything else will fall together for the good.

Take care!!
Love Elder Reber

**Park didn't send any pictures this week so I decided to share a few from our recent day at the Provo, Utah MTC open house. We had a great time touring through parts of the old and new MTC buildings. It was so fun to get a glimpse into where Parker began this journey and where many more will end up through the years. It was a beautiful building with an even better spirit. We loved the windows, bright hallways and especially the amazing artwork. What an amazing place to start a wonderful experience. 
I have seen this map so many times throughout my life. It was fun to see it with my own eyes with some of my favorite people. Sadly Rick was at work and had to miss out on all the fun. 

They change out the many flags each day to represent each one on a rotating basis. 
Where the Beanboozled fun took place. 

Love this future Elder Reber

Again, the artwork was breathtaking. Such a beautiful place to learn. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Another successful week!

Another successful week in the mission field! This place is super fun. Our area is only one barangay.. but it's the most-populated barangay in the whole Philippines!! It's called CAA. The school here has more students than anywhere else from what I've heard and I'd be surprised if anywhere had more haha. They have morning session, afternoon session, and evening session and when school is let out hundreds of kids come flooding out of the school. They all walk down this main road and it's hilarious when we're walking down that same road. Since I'm "amerikano" I hear hundreds of kids yell "aphir!" to me. Aphir is a tagalog word actually coming from the phrase "up here" haha. I've gotten more hi fives this week than any other week in my mission haha! Even in a lesson we were teaching out of nowhere this high school kid outside yelled, "hey wassup man!" through the window. I really love these fun people.

We got some sweet new investigators this week. We started to "tao po" some doors and met a 17 year old named Kenneth. After explaining our purpose as missionaries we asked him if Jesus Christ were in the room and he could ask one question, what would he ask Him? He had a golden question! "why are we here?? I've just always wondered why we're here on earth." It was awesome we went into the Plan of Salvation and he was all into it. I love the messages we have to share as missionaries. Just from talking with someone for a few minutes the spirit always tells us what we need to teach. Sometimes I don't even know what I'm going to say but as I start talking it always works out. I'm thankful for the holy ghost! As missionaries we can't do anything to offend the holy ghost, the work would be impossible and useless without it. We also met a family who was having a very sad day. There was a 17 year old sitting on a rocking chair moaning and we asked what his sickness was. They then pulled up his shirt and there was  a HUGE lump seriously a little bigger than a basketball covering his side as well as his back. They had been to the hospital the night before and apparently the doctors had no clue what to do so didn't let him in. I felt so bad for this kid.. Elder Moster actually said he remembered talking to him in the past. He's pretty tall and I learned he LOVES basketball. Super sad to see him in that condition. We quickly gave a little overview of the plan of salvation then talked about how we have authority and power from God to bless the sick. We gave him a blessing then left. We'll return later this week to check up on him and his fam.

We have a baptism coming up on Aug 19! His name is Jansen Belonias and he's 10 years old. His mom was less active but is now active again. Jansen is awesome though! He's one of my favorite buds I've met my whole mission. He is super smart and calm and really understands what we teach. He even asks really good questions like for example he asked if in the next life we'd still remember what happened on earth and if we'd remember family members. You can tell he's really thinking things through while we teach. We have a sweet handshake too. I'm excited for him to be interviewed this Saturday!

This ward is awesome. We have an RM who served in the Laoag mission who works with us nearly every night. There's also a recent convert named Julius who is 22 and preparing to serve. He's with us a ton as well. They're both awesome! Our ward mission leader Nephi gives out reading assignments to the ward missionaries and full time missionaries every week then texts spiritual thoughts to all of us every day. He also got everyone involved in a ward mission fast! We all closed our fast Sunday after church and then had a huge feast! They also all committed to one day every week where they'd be able to work just 2 hours or so- they got to choose. It helps a ton when the ward is super organized!

Also yesterday we taught Gospel Principles class again. It's cool though because the last time I had to teach that was in my first area and the language has gotten lots better since then haha! I'm thankful that I can now comminicate what I feel and get things across better. Kinda cool to have something like that where I really can notice I've improved a little! I think every day in lessons it seems the language is about the same so having these last two weeks to teach gospel principles has been good!

We had MLC thursday! It's fun seein how our new President does things. Lots is actually being changed already. His big focus is the Book of Mormon and doctrine. We were discussing things to make district meetings more productive and he had the idea of having one person in the district get up and share what they've learned the past week in their 10 pages a day in the Book of Mormon. He said it would be cool for them to break down a few verses with the district then bare their testimony. He then said "well let's try this out right now and see if it's worth doing! Elder Reber, get up here!" Haha it was so out of nowhere! The spirit helped me pull something out of nowhere haha. It was a super spiritual meeting though.

That's about all from me this week! Thanks for all the bday wishes. The people here are so kind and would give us merienda (snack) when they heard it was my bday haha. We also set up some decorations that you sent in that package and the four of us chugged some rootbeer. So that was good!

Love Elder Reber
Parker back at the mission home for Zone Conference