Kumusta pamilya at mga kaibigan ko! Well it was a busy week for Ligao. Our district was reorganized and the man that was called as the District President is from our branch. He is incredible and I am predicting big things for him as far as church callings go because he is so dedicated to the Lord and is very good at speaking English. Elder Lawhorn (the couple missionary that lives next to us) was called to be his second counselor. Elder Lawhorn is from St. George Utah and knows about 5 words in Tagalog. I am pretty sure that he never imagined he would be given this kind of responsibility when he put his mission papers in. But like I always say there are no comfort zones on the mission, and that rule of thumb does not discriminate.
This was also a difficult week for a lot of our members. More difficult than usual. It seemed like many of those we visited were in great need. We are teaching two little boys whose mother has been a member for many years but just recently came back to activity due to a visit from her visiting teacher. This woman’s husband is not a member. He is a ‘born again Christian.’ Aka he calls himself religious and does not associate with any sort of religious characteristics or activitiesr. He is okay with us teaching his children though so that is a blessing. I guess he was getting upset with his with and the fact that she was spending 3 hours at church on Sundays when there was a lot that needed to be done around the house. When we visited her this week she had giant scabs on her left arm. She told us she had spent the whole day doing all of their laundry so that he wouldn't be mad about her and the kids going to church. She has been very sick and even though her body looks very week her countenance was bright as she bore a testimony of gratitude about her Father in Heaven.
The Llamas family whom I was telling you about... who’s home flooded a few weeks ago... well we visit them weekly because there daughter is an investigator. While we were there this week the father told us he was so sorry they hadn’t been to church but that he hasn’t been able to work because he inhaled pesticide a few days before and has been very sick. Because he hasn’t been able to work they don’t have money to buy rice, let alone pay 20 pesos per person and go to church. We asked if we could buy some egg plant from him. When we tried to give him the money he wouldn’t take it insisting that we take it for free. Good one – we have more than enough and they cant even buy rice. We handed 100 pesos (which is around 2 dollars or something) to the 3 year old girl and told her to give it to her mom. She nodded her head and we ran so that her dad could not give it back to us. He followed us to the street but just smiled and waved and kept running! I am glad we were able to help them even though it wasn’t very much.
Nanay Datoon, her daughter is Rona and was the first baptism for me, asked if we would buy jewelry for her so that she would have money. We came to find out that the set of jewelry she was selling was a gift from her late husband who just died in February. She said she didn’t know what else to do because she really needed money.
I have never known the feeling of going to bed hungry. I have never known the anxiety of trying to find any way to feed my family. I can't say that I can have a historical reference for so many of the struggles that my brothers and sisters face every day. But I can say that I love them and know that the gospel will and does bless their lives. I have been surprised about how deeply I love these people in the Ligao 1st Branch. My heart aches and worries for them each night when I kneel down in prayer. I hope they are saying their prayers. I hope they are reading their scriptures. This is my wish because I know that by doing these simple things they will open the windows and doors of heaven and allow our Father to bless them.
This week at district conference Elder Collado of the Area 70 spoke at the various meetings throughout the weekend. There was a large emphasis on the importance of family home evening. One of the area goals is to strengthen families in the church. I am realizing why FHE was implemented by the first presidency. One of the first principles we teach in nearly every lesson is that families are central to the gospel and to God’s plan. If the family unit is central then I suppose it better be strong. I have also gained gratitude to you mom and dad for your desire to have family night once a week, even though many times you have had to drag us possibly kicking and screaming. Steve Jobs once said that it is looking backwards not forwards that we connect the dots of our lives. How true this is. Looking back I am so grateful for the early mornings you would make us have scripture study before elementary and junior high. I am grateful that family prayer was a regular thing in our home. I am grateful for the gospel discussions that we have had about church talks and the scriptures. These basic things are what have strengthened me. It is now looking back that I can see what a positive effect these things have had on my life. Now that I am living alone in a country that I don’t know anyone, or the language or the food I look back and am grateful for the foundation I have to lean on that is built upon the basic things we did as a family.
I only ate one strange thing this week…. Well as far as I know: Deep fried pig fat. I didn’t know what it was there was an extremely chewy deep fried object rolling around in my mouth so I waited until I was able to swallow and then asked Sister Cabanag what I just ate. Pig fat indeed. So if you have a little excess pig fat lying around and don’t know what to do with it, I have a great recipe: hot oil.
Well I love you all and as always am grateful for your emails and love and support. Keep on being great! Mahal ko kayo!Sweaty but so happy,