We tried to find a short cut across the river Sunday morning; it ended differently than we originally planned.
In Tagalog the word “mga” indicates a plural. The ‘s’ at the end of a word doesn’t mean anything. So earlier this week we were teaching a 9 year old boy, he is from a part member family. All of a sudden we heard “good evening mga Mormons!” come from out side the house. Both Sister C and I were preparing for a neighbor to taunt us or something, when in walked our 65 year old no read, no write investigator, Nanay Gorgonia. She can’t read, can’t write and the only part of praying she can remember is the Amen which she declares with immense authority. Even though she has little education, she loves God and works hard all week to earn enough money to make the long trek to church. Her entrance into our lesson was comical and ever so welcome!
I recognize that transfers are not that exciting for anyone that will be reading this, but it is all anyone is talking about in the Naga Mission. I did not anticipate how excited everyone would get over ‘mission drama.’ Who is being transferred where, who steps down from senior to junior, who are the new leaders, on and on. I am anxiously waiting to find out if I will stay in Ligao or be transferred. My three month training period has gone by very quickly and I am grateful for the time I have had with Sister Cabanag. She is a very talented missionary and I have learned a lot from her and have come to love her dearly. It will be difficult to say good-bye but I am grateful for the relationship we have been able to create during our time together.
Every transfer the Zone Leaders inspect each apartment in their zone. The zone with the cleanest apartments wins an activity the p-day before transfers. Our zone won this time! We went up to some hills that sit near the base of the Myon Volcano and played games and had relays, heard a wonderful message from President, and of course ate snacks. The area was beautiful and green with banana trees and pineapple plants everywhere. We had a wonderful time.
Sundays are no longer a day of rest. Not on the mission. Yesterday, Sister Cabanag was assigned to be one of the speakers in sacrament meeting. I was excited about that fact that I could support her from my seat in the audience. Well at one o clock she was the only speaker present out of the assigned four. Our Branch President followed the wonderful council of Elder Nelson from conference and “asked the missionaries.” I suddenly became the opening speaker. My confidence in giving a 15-20 minute talk in Tagalog is about a whopping 20 percent. But I closed my eyes said a prayer and faked a smile replying, ‘of course I can speak!’ Have I ever mentioned that there are no comfort zones on the mission? I talked about the runner, Cliff Young and the power our desires can have. I am not really sure what I said…. Hopefully a little bit of it made sense. After sacrament meeting we became the primary teachers because the primary was without an adviser. The primary is all in one class and it is hard to entertain kids from age 3 to age 12. Kudos to parents and primary teachers alike!
This coming Saturday is the baptism of 4 investigators! Three boys: Venicer 9, Jared 9 and Karl 12 and one girl Hannah 9. It will be a neat day to see these little bodies begin a new life as members of the church. Karl and Venicer are brothers and their mom is a member but has been inactive for over 13 years. The boys are a blessing to my life and an inspiration of the level of conversion I want to achieve. They got home from a school event very late on Saturday night and come Sunday morning they were not hesitant about going to church. We learned from their mom that Venicer was persistent that they attend because he knew they had their baptismal interview. They are focused on the Lord and following His commandments with exactness, they are incredible missionaries in the making.
We were at church late last night preparing for the branch activity we planned this coming weekend. (We are having a branch FHE and everyone is to bring 1 kilogram of food and 1 non member or less active friend! Hopefully it is successful.) As we were leaving I noticed the branch clerk was still in the building. He is a slender man in his early 40’s, his wife is quiet but kind and they have 4 young children. His job only provides about 2000 pesos a month. As missionaries our tight budget provides nearly double this and twice a month. We learned yesterday that they are struggling for food. This family is at church every single week. As we left the church last night I watched this man dutifully fulfill his calling. Many times a week we hear different excuses about why someone was not able to come to church and here was a man that doesn't have enough money to buy food and is the last to leave the church. Each Sunday morning this father piles as many of his family members that can fit onto his bicycle and pedals the long distance to the church building. He doesn’t question his calling, or make excuses; he simply and quietly does his duty. I believe he understands consecration. He knows that if he gives to the Lord the Lord will give back to him.
Earlier this week a woman told us she doesn’t want a calling at church because she is a teacher and is busy all week and by Sunday “she needs a break.” I have realized that our loving heavenly father asks a lot of us as members of the church. It is not always easy to be an active member, actually I think most of the time it isn’t easy. However, I have gained a strong testimony that as we make God our priority, serve in our families first and then in our church callings, God will make up for the rest. When we are willing to be inconvenienced and make sacrifices, the blessings of heaven do come.
We find out about transfers on Saturday and then the musical chairs begin on Tuesday. I will pray for white envelopes to come in the mail for Meg and Speen. I love you and pray for you. I am ever grateful for your support!
As always - Love from the Pines,