Well once again, I'm grateful for the chance I have to write you all. I'm in Palayan right now with Elder McCormack from Australia. He's older than the average missionary (27 will be 28 next week), but he's such a great guy. He's our new Zone Leader who replaced Elder Villareal. He's a college graduate with an engineering degree, so he's mas matalino. We're in the same computer shop as last week with the same kids next to me watching Tom and Jerry on You Tube. It's kind of a temptation to look at their screen, because it's a pretty great show (ha). Anyway, so yesterday afternoon, the Zone Leaders came by our house for a companionship exchange. I went with Elder McCormack and Elder Manalo stayed with Elder Declaro in Kalikid. I was pretty happy to spend time with a foreigner like me whose been out for a year and a half and knows Tagalog. I've only heard of Elder McCormack a little bit before he became our Zone Leader. We got to talk a lot and got to know each other quite a bit in just a couple of hours. Being with him gave me a taste of what it would be like if I were here with Brad right now. Mostly because of the age, but also because it gave me an image of what Brad must've been like here. We taught a lesson to one of their investigators about enduring to the end, and grabi sobrang astig. During that lesson, I understood every word that was said and all of the concerns that were shared, and I was able to teach the lesson in probably the best Tagalog that I've ever been able to speak since I became a missionary. It was like that for the rest of the lessons during the rest of the night as well. I have no idea where it all came from, but I'm so grateful for the Gift of Tongues. Even though I'm not even close to having perfect Tagalog, I was able to get my point across in understandable Tagalog. My testimony of this spiritual gift was definitely strengthened. Elder McCormack was also there to correct me and teach me a lot more words and phrases that make so much more sense to me now. Overall, it was a pretty great day yesterday.
|We love pictures of Elder Royal from any angle . . . even the back of his pretty little head at a baptism|
Segi, so now that I've said all of that, I guess I can tell you what else happened this week. Right now, we have about 12 investigators in just one area, thanks to Nanay Rosa. Sometimes I just can't believe her love and dedication to wanting to share the gospel with EVERYONE. Elder Declaro and I just laugh at how bold she can be sometimes. When we go to someone's house where it looks like no one is home, she just walks into the house anyway and finds the people, and then we have our lesson (haha). We're focusing on a woman right now who's just really into our lessons, but it's so hard to get in contact with her or teach her. Whenever she is there, her husband is usually passed out drunk and she tells us to come back later. When we do teach her, her husband doesn't want anything to do with us, even though we try to include him or just say hi, but he just runs into the house. We always have good experiences and lessons though when we do teach her. She knows that our message is true, but the only problem seems to be the husband's never sober. She's progressing though, which is good. Other than that, we really didn't teach as much as we would like, because they're always busy. It's ok though; there's always next week.
|Elders Royal and Declaro prepare to enjoy another awesome Filipino meal|
Our main focus all over the Philippines is the Rescue Program. There are over 600,000 members here in the Philippines, which is awesome, but just a little over 100,000 of them are active. That’s a problem. We attended a special broadcast from the Philippines Area Presidency. They compared the Philippines to the Allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5. The tree has many leaves and branches (members) but not a strong trunk (Priesthood holders) or deep roots (doctrine). If the branches get bigger and bigger with no support, the tree will topple over when the storms come. So, this rescue program is all about bringing back the less actives and getting more priesthood holders (leadership) here in the Philippines. Right now in Kalikid, Elder Declaro and I have had some success with our less actives. Whenever we can’t teach our investigators, we go to our less actives and teach them and encourage them to come to church. Some of the families and other less actives have now been to church two weeks in a row, but they need to come two more times in a row in order to count them as active members once again. I believe that the Area Presidency was truly inspired by Heavenly Father, because He knows that this is a big problem here in the Philippines. Hopefully, the Rescue Program will get all of the members and missionaries excited to bring back the less actives here. I know I am! :)
|Elders Royal and Declaro share a lethargic moment|
I think that's it for me for now. I can't think of anything else that really happened this week. The area is doing great. Oh, Elder Agrabio from our Zone transfered and we now have Elder Nunn brand new from the Provo MTC. He was there when I was about six weeks in the MTC. He's a really nice guy from St. Louis. So that makes our zone ALL new missionaries pretty much. Every companionship besides the Zone Leaders are trainers/trainees. So that's pretty interesting. Bongabon Zone has become the new training grounds for brand new missionaries (haha).
Dad, I would like also to receive the mission letters from my friends at BYU (Michael Neff and Tanner Johns). They're in the MTC right now. You can find them on my Facebook. I don't know how else you would do that or if you can, but if you can't it's alright. Mom, I really don't know what you could send in my package. Just to let you know, I love peanut butter now. Weird right? I got some Jiff from the store a few weeks ago, so that's lasting me. Gatorade would be fine and maybe some cough drops or something. I love you all very much!
Mahal Ko Kayo. You're in my prayers everyday :).
Elder Jordan "Search and Rescue Fanatic" Royal