Monday, September 26, 2011

Hey all, This week has been pretty good. Our work has improved, and we have more investigators, and things are going pretty smoothly. The best part of the week, is that our investigators, the Requirons, had successful baptismal interviews and will be baptized this saturday! We're pretty excited for that. They are so full of faith and amaze me by their example and make me want to be a better person. They have had so much opposition from other people telling them all sorts of lies about the church and other things, but they didn't listen to them because they fear God more than man. Something I envy, and am constantly trying to work on.  We just went out this week doing our best to talk to people, and be happy and positive no matter what happened. And things turned out pretty well. We taught this family that are actually former investigators. The husband of the family is actually half cuban. He lived in America for twelve years, but then he got deported and so now lives here. He said he was not a very good guy back in America. He got into drugs and stuff, eventually getting beaten up by a Mexican with a baseball bat, and thrown into prison for two years. I found it funny, that although he was in America for twelve years, he still couldn't really speak English very well. How does that work? He said he misses the food in America. McDonalds, Burger King, Denny's, etc.. We could relate with him on that one. So we're hoping for the best with them, that they will progress. We also taught this 21 year old guy who is a part member. His mom is one of the pioneers of this branch, but is inactive, and has been for who knows how long. All because she married a nonmember. Time and time again that is the reason I see here for people going inactive. Because they marry those who are not of our faith, and then what? Their life is ruined. They slowly go inactive and rarely come back. They can't receive the ordinances of the temple, and therefore, cannot have eternal families. One of the sadder things I see here. We talked to the stake president here about really grinding that into the youth, that they need to marry members if they want to experience the blessings of an eternal family. The problem here is that usually even the leaders' families are just like that. All of the stake president's siblings are inactive. His father, a former stake president is inactive. But anyway, we talked to a lot of other people this week that we weren't able to teach, but will go back to this next week. Transfer announcements are tomorrow. I probably won't transfer since I just got here, but my companion might. We'll see what happens. We're hearing Christmas music here now. After all, it is September! Today we went bowling! I don't know why, but for some reason in little Manapla, they have this big resort place that has a bowling alley in it! The electronic score wasn't working so we had to just write it on a paper. We only had to pay about $4 for an hour, and got through about 4 games. I broke 100 every game except for the last one(I was bowling right handed, behind my back, through my legs, etc..) I think my high score was only like 125 or something. But hey not too bad for not having bowled for over a year! It was pretty fun.It's really rainy now. There are low pressure systems and a baguio rollin in, so yeah. Lots of rain! If you can't have a white Christmas, might as well have a wet one! Well I hope you are all enjoying yourselves at family reunions and baby blessings and everything else! You should just make a giant cardboard cutout of me and take it with you everywhere so it's just like I'm there! All right, well I suppose I better get going now, duty calls. But I love you all and thank you for the prayers, concern, love, and everything else on my behalf. The Church is true. Love, Greg

Monday, September 19, 2011

family! Well this week has been about the same as last week, but things continue to improve. Our investigators, although few in number, are doing great! I guess I should say progressing investigators. We teach lots of people, but there are a lot that don't progress at all, or just don't want us to come back. So thats that. The Lord himself in D&C said, "For mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts." Lots of people harden their hearts, but I know the Lord is constantly preparing people for us, we just have to find them. But everything is going well. Hard to believe how fast the time flies here. It feels like just a couple of days ago I was sitting here emailing you all. Anyway, we had planned on going bowling today, but that was a no go, we  were busy most of the day cleaning the apartment, and it was needed for sure.Especially in the bathroom, but that wasn't completely our fault, Ithink a cat peed in there.I guess I'll explain how a cat got into the house to pee in the bathroom. And really, it can all be blamed on dried fish. Disgusting, rank, dried fish. People here seem to think it's delicious, but even after eating it time and time again it I'm not so sure. Give me dog any day over that stuff!  But the whole story is that Elder Anac and Elder Lloyd (The other two elders in our apartment) brought home some of the stuff, and left in in the kitchen. We came back home later that night, and one of them was passed out on the couch and the other on a woven mat on the floor (guess which one the Filipino was on). We don't want to bother them, so we leave them there, finish our stuff, and go into the bedroom. We're woken up at around midnight to banging sounds from the kitchen, so we go to see what's up. We find that a cat had managed to sneak by them when they were sleeping, and had been munching on some dried fish (after a trip to the bathroom, I guess). They chased it for a bit, until it got stuck between the glass shutter/windows and the screen, and it doesn't want to leave. So we spend half an hour trying to chase it out, but when it finally does it flees to the top of the cabinets. So I  mentioned how animal control people use those poles with the rope, (all those good times spent watching the exterminator show on t.v) so we decide to try that. We get a loop over its head, and Elder Anac gets on the other end and drags it outside. He ties the other end of the rope to the security bars over our windows, and wecall it a night. But that's not the end of the story, because I heard a weird sound a few minutes later when I in the bathroom: the sound of rushing water. We go to investigate, and we see that somehow the cat managed to wrap his rope around a water spigot and break a water line, and now he's wet and even angrier. We cut him loose, promise to kill him the next time we see him, and spend another half hour trying to stop the leak. We got it stopped most of the way, but ended up just killing the water to the house for the night. And that's the story of
the cat in the apartment. A quick story about the importance of continuing our learning in the Church. We were working with some investigators, and we were teaching them the Law of Chastity. During the lesson, one of the principles we teach is that homosexuality is a great sin in God's eyes. At the end of the lesson, none of the investigators had any questions but one of the members that had come with us did. She asked for confirmation that homosexuality is a sin, which honestly concerned us a bit. She explained that she'd never learned that (it's really commonly accepted here), and that it was a good thing she learned it now. She said that her plan was to dress her youngest son in girl's clothes and try and make him gay, because she wanted a little girl but only had boys. So we explained to her that it would be best to avoid that. No matter how many years we've attended church of read the scriptures, there's always something new to learn. So our investigators are still doing well. Especially the Requirons, we're still waiting for the four church attendance limit to roll around for them to be baptized, they had no problems with the Word of Wisdom or the Law of Chastity which speeds things up. I'll put a little thing here about the requirements for baptism here in the Philippines. The requirements given to us by the area presidency is that investigators need to come to church four consecutive weeks (one week missed is excusable, but four total, and the count starts again if two weeks are missed in a
row)., they need to be free from any problems with the Word of Wisdom for four weeks (one brief slip-up is also permitted), they need to be free from problems with the Law of Chastity for four weeks (especially living in without being married, also a big problem here, but with a
good explanation), fast once before baptism (a struggle for a lot of people) and pay a fast offering, and a couple others. The requirements here for baptism are slightly stricter than other places, but it ensures that converts are truly converted, not just temporally or
temporarily converted. The reason living in is a problem here is because there's no divorce in the Philippines. Once you marry someone, it's for life, except under very exceptional circumstances. So a lot of people either shy away from marriage because it's such a
long-term commitment or have been married previously, separated, and are now living with someone else. So this is a problem, except for people that are married not just for life but all eternity and have an eternal perspective on marriage. So yeah. I suppose that is it for me for this week. But I know the Church is true and we should never be too comfortable with our current situations. If you're not growing, you're stagnant. Something none of us should be. Again, and as always, thanks for all the love and support. Love you all, Greg

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kamusta pamilya ko. This week was........... difficult I guess you could say. Something of an emotional roller coaster really. We had some really good things happen, but also some not so good things happen. The Reqirons are still doing great, and I really love teaching them. We also have some other new investigators that are all right too, but it's hard to tell after just one lesson. Well you know brother Noel Tulipaz I told you about? Well he is refusing to listen to us right now cause his wife won't buy him cigarettes. He doesn't have any work right now, cause right now is the really poor season, the locals call it tigporaot. It just means like extreme poverty. They call it that during this time cause there is no work in the sugar cane fields. No planting and no harvesting for a couple months. It's really hard on the people who just work in them and nothing else. So anyway, Sister Tulipaz has been the one earning the money for the family by washing clothes and other things like that, and she talked to him and told him they didn't have enough money to keep buying him cigarettes, so he got upset and won't listen to us now. We figured out he was kind of just listening to us to get what he wants, cause he knows his wife wants him to become a member so bad, so yeah, he won't listen to us. But he has a really good fellowshipper that I am confident can really bring him around and humble himself. So hopefully, if not this week, sometime, we can start teaching him again. The other disappointments are from pretty much everyone else we have taught. We had a lot of people express sincere interest in listening to us and everything, but because of negative comments of other people they said they don't want us to come back. One of the ones that hurt the most was this one family we taught. The Spirit was way strong and it was a really good lesson. The mom and the daughter had listened to us a couple times when we taught the Reqirons, and we gave the daughter a Book of Mormon. Finally the dad consented to let us teach them, and we did and had a great lesson. The daughter had already read up to Words of Mormon! Then the dads extended family, who are all very "die hard" Catholics came and talked to him and said a bunch of untrue stuff about the Church and us, (the same person actually who told the Reqirons we were gold hunters) and discouraged them from listening. The mom and the daughter still listen, but the dad won't let them come to church.. But the wife said he reads the Book of Mormon and said when we taught them he couldn't understand what he was feeling. So we are praying his heart will be softened and will again listen to us no matter what people say to them, just like the Reqirons. There were more disappointments too. There is this one place with tons of members, inactive, and active. Lots of part member families etc.. you think the place would be a gold mine. But it's not. It's like a diamond mine. In the sense that it is the hardest mineral in the world. All the part members hide when we come, the inactives just say they don't have time and don't really care. It is definitely true in the Book of Mormon where it says that after people receive the gospel and then go inactive, they become more hardened and it would be better for them that they had never known these things. So yeah kind of a bummer. But don't get me wrong I love the work! We had 7 investigators at church! That was awesome! And in the mission, even though there are disappointments in other people, you're not disappointed in yourself if you know you did everything you could. Of course you feel way sad for the people who just choose not to listen to you and everything, but that's the way it has to be. So this next week we're just going to do our best to really find some different places to focus, and find the people the Lord is preparing for us to find. It'll be like a treasure hunt! uh....... haha. Sorry I didn't really comment about you folks this week. I'll try to do better. Forgive me? Well I love you all and truly appreciate all you do for me. If it weren't for all you guys I probably wouldn't be here! Ok, welp, better go! Love you! Love, Elder Andersen

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hey there family. Well sounds like you all have had a good week. Well all you who I actually heard about. Which isn't very many, so I'll just assume the rest of you are great as well. I'm glad Lara decided to do cross country. I'm sure she'll like it. I wasn't very good until my senior year, but I still liked it. I wasn't even that good my senior year actually haha. Ah, coach Snell is still there? Thats good, he's a really good guy, I like him a lot. Tell him hello for me. This week has been a good one for me as well. I really love our investigators and look forward to teaching and finding new ones each day, and I can't think of a cooler place to do it than here! The Reqiron family I told you about last week is still doing great, although we're not sure when they can be baptized cause brother needs to be interviewed by President Tobias because of some past issues, but other than that they are doing great, and have great faith. They walked a good 2 1/2 miles to church yesterday, even with their little kids. They are the kind of people you know won't go inactive. This week while we were teaching them we asked them if they had any questions, and we could tell they wanted to ask one but were kinda shy, but we finally got it out of them. They said they were talking to some of their neighbors and they told them that we are here in the Philippines looking for treasure hahaha. I just busted up laughing. I don't know why, but I have actually heard that a lot. For some reason people think the "Mormons" are here looking for secret treasure! I guess it's kinda the same thing that we all have horns and stuff like that. It's just funny though. We are also teaching this guy named Noel Tulipaz, and his son, who is 9. His wife, Sister Tulipaz, is a very active member, and actually referred the Reqirons to us. So one day we were at her house, and I started talking to brother and asked if we could teach him. He said ok, and we've been teaching him since. He is really good and has a real desire to be with his family forever. I feel like he is one of those people that has always had an interest in the church/ wants to become a member, they just need an invitation. He is doing great as well. He just has a problem with smoking cigarettes, but he can stop that. Anybody can. When I was back in Kabankalan we taught a guy the word of wisdom, and he was smoking 20 sticks a day. We went back 2 days later and he was down to 1 stick a day! It's amazing what faith can do! We're also teaching some other part member families and other people too and they're doing all right. I'm really enjoying my time here and trying to make the most of it. It's September already! Today was fun, we went to this part in our area, and it's right next to the beach. It was way pretty and we just went exploring for a good 3 miles or so. Really pretty. I'll try and send some of the pictures. All right well thanks for all the love, prayers, and everything else. Love you all. Love, Greg