Kumusta Family! Sorry that I'm sending this so late. I'm actually in Balibago right now in Angeles. We went to the mission home in Angeles City so that Elder Batingal could take the CLS English Test to become a certified English speaker. He said it was really hard, but I think he'll get a good score on it. It took us awhile to get there, but it was nice to spend some time in the air-conditioned mission office for a bit. We went to lunch at SM Clark, the mall, and I've never seen so many Joes here in the Philippines that weren't missionaries. (A “Joe” is what they call an American male here, like: G.I. Joe. So, as I walk along down a street, it is not uncommon to hear: “Hey, Joe! What you know?”) I suppose that it has something to do with being so close to what was once Clark Air Force Base. Anyway, it was kind of surprising to see. We didn't really stop and talk to them, but it was really strange to hear an American accent again from a guy ordering in front of me. It's also very hot here. What else is new, right?
|Jordan here with Sister Sharp and Elder Palmer from his MTC district - in Angeles City for a leadership conference|
Well, just like last week, we taught a lot of lessons, but when it came to Sunday....nothing. The attendance was only 97 this week, when it was over 200 just last month. I really don't know what's happening here. We're doing everything we can right now to get the work progressing, but the members seem to be struggling to work along side us. A big part of that problem is the failure of so many to come to church. Mahirap. Grrr. The bishopric told us that everything related to gospel teaching (investigators, recent converts, and less actives) is our sole responsibility, which is frustrating because we are here to teach with them, not for them. It seems that too many members are waiting for the chapel renovation to be completed before returning to church. We are told that the construction work may be done by the end of this month, but it will more likely be mid to late November. At least we have one really cool investigator, Mak-Mak, who will have his baptismal interview this week (knock on wood).
We did not get to see General Conference yet. That does not happen for us until this coming weekend. So, President Monson announced that the missionary ages have changed to 18 for young men and 19 young women? I totally thought that was some baseless rumor until this morning, when a sister returned missionary bore her testimony saying that her former mission president sent out an announcement about that. We were really shocked by it, because that was the first we had heard of it. Then, a bunch of future sister missionaries got up and expressed gratitude and joy for this latest revelation, something that we didn't even know was true at the time. Man. We were thinking, "What if it's just a rumor? What will they do?" But, thanks to all the spoilers of Conference (including your letters today), Sister Martino confirmed it this morning. I guess that's cool, but I would think 18 year old Elders would have to be really mature to serve a mission, because I do not think I would have been as ready at 18. (Of course, had I known I could go at 18, I may have focused more on mission preparation at an earlier point, so it may not have been a big deal.) I am interested to see what kind of a difference this makes in the number of missionaries in the field.
|Jordan with Elder Batingal at the mission office in Angeles|
I attended my first ZL/DLC (Zone Leader's/District Leader's Conference) on Wednesday, and it was great! It's pretty much just like zone conference, except the zone leaders talk about the previous month's goals and the goals for the coming month, and the rest of the mission isn't invited. Our main focus for this month is teaching the Book of Mormon. Sister Martino gave brand new copies to all the missionaries in the mission and invited us to read it from cover to cover by Christmas Conference in December. At first, I really didn't want to do it, because I was almost done reading through it again and did not want to start over. But, but after thinking about it and watching Elder Holland's awesome talk back in '09 at conference about the Book of Mormon, I decided to start over. Sister Martino wants us to focus on getting closer to the Savior by reading the Book of Mormon. She gave all the missionaries two colored pens, red and blue. We are to use the red marker to highlight every reference to Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. With the blue marker, we are to make specific note of the Savior's words. It reminded me of when we did this as a family back in the day. I've already circled all of that in my scriptures, too. I started over on Thursday (with the Introduction and Testimonies) and now I'm in 2 Nephi! :) Once I started, I didn't want to stop. I just love reading the Book of Mormon, and even learned a few more things in 1st Nephi that I hadn't noticed before (and I thought I knew everything about 1st Nephi after reading it so many times).
|Jordan outside the mission office in Angeles City|
Elder Batingal and I are still doing good and having fun. I'm learning a lot from him everyday. I'm also glad to be getting my friend's mission emails and stuff. (Thanks for forwarding all of that, Dad.) It sounds like they're loving it. It figures that Dallin would be driving a car in his fist area and eating steak. Man, American missionaries are so spoiled (haha), but I guess we are spoiled a bit here, too - especially in Victoria. Just like Kalikid, we have dinner appointments almost every night, so I hope to gain some weight back. Both of the Steven's (Elder Olson and Elder Jex) sound like they are doing well, and Steven Olson sounds like he's been making a lot of improvement in the Sao Paulo MTC (or whatever that's called there) since the first time he wrote. Seth and I are serving directly below each other in the Philippines. I can confirm that yes, the bread is reaaaallllly masarap here. I laugh every time I read Brennen Marshal's letters (haha). He really knows how to write interesting emails home. I am excited to hear about Chelsea’s mission call. My guess is that she will come to the Philippines Angeles Mission, of course (the best). Or, my second guess would be a historical sites mission in New York (which she would be great at). I forgot to tell you guys that I met Sister Tesch (Garth Tesch’s daughter) on Wednesday and we talked a bit about the Church History trip and stuff. Pretty cool. (If you can let Bro. Tesch know his daughter is doing well, that would be great. I’m sure he would love to know that through another source.) Oh, and thanks, Mom, for getting me new shoes at the Missionary Mall. (Thank goodness for that free replacement guarantee if you buy shoes there. Hint, hint to future missionaries looking to purchase shoes.)
I think I'm going to end here. I hope that you had a great week and that this week will be even better! Mom, I don't know what packages I was carrying in those pictures Sister Martino sent you, but it is very cool that she sent them. The Martinos are wonderful people. Ight. Mahal ko kayo. Ingat!
Elder Jordan "Psyched to Watch General Conference" Royal