Sunday, October 24, 2010

Josh's 10-18-10 e-mail

This week I was reading about Alma the Elder and the Younger. If you look closely, their lives before the gospel didn´t look very great. Alma the Elder was a priest for wicked King Noah who broke many commandments. It took Abinadi until the second try to convert Alma. Afterwards he became a prophet and very loved person by the people. Alma the Younger as we know enjoyed on the weekends to try to get members to fall away from the church. He was touched by an angel and also like his father became a prophet, a chief judge, and a respected person. One of Alma the Younger's sons didn´t do the greatest things ether. As a missionary he committed a serious sin. During these chapters I was thinking about how they repented, not what sins they did. I believe the same applies for us. We don´t look at these men with guilt or vengeance, we look at them with honor and respect. We look at what they did afterwards, not what they did before. They repented and I know God forgot their sins. We need to live without guilt in our lives. If we repent, the only thing we need to worry about is not to do it again, not that we did it. If God forgets, should we? How we need forgiveness in this days of trouble! Forgiveness for others, but also for ourselves. One of the hardest trials we can have in our life, is finding the courage to forgive ourselves.

Josh's distaste for flan

This week a kid thought it would funny if he threw flan on me. Flan is a dessert in Argentina, but I don´t like it very much. We weren´t close to the pension so I smelled like Flan the entire day!!!! Yummy! Hahaahhaha.

Melanie's comment: When Josh e-mailed this picture, he said he thought the pig really liked him due to the smell of the flan.

Megan's reflection of General Conference

Just like President Monson said,something to this fact..."The human race has an incalculable ability to take things for granted.." We DO not realize what is around us! How we have been blessed literally beyond our own comprehension. I challenge you this week, to write down 500 blessings you have received during this week...and then tell me about how the experience went. It's amazing!!!! The Lord is so kind. Just like President Monson said, "He taught us how to live, he taught us how to pray," and then he taught us something else, that when President Monson said it went straight to my heart- "he taught us how to die." I heard once that if "we prepare ourselves to die, we prepare ourselves to live." He taught us that you die, giving everything you have, having given everything you've got. There's a term in the mission that when you're done with your service, you've died. I want to die like that! I want to die here having given everything I have for these precious people! Having done everything I can to help them on their long, but possible way back to Heavenly Father.

Megan's love for temple square

We watched conference this past weekend and it was like an old familiar blanket. the church is so true. How could you watch conference and not think it was true? How could you not walk away a better person- being uplifted and strengthened in every aspect of your life? It was so good. I have to say that it was a bit torturous at times. Not only just now, but for quite some time on my mission, I have LONGED for temple square. It's very strange, of all places, but I want to be there like I can't describe. Please, if you are within reach...GO!!! for me!!! There are moments that I am particularly longing for, and one of them is to walk into the conference center doors.

Philippine Home Construction

About the people that live in the houses that you saw getting built. Yes, they cook outside just with wood- no fuel. They go to the bathroom outside and yes, they all sleep in there on the floor.

Melanie's comment: We received a CD in the mail a couple of weeks ago that contained many pictures and a few videos of life in the Tacloban, Philippines Mission. I tried to upload one of the videos but it didn't work. This picture shows them installing the 'floor' of a typical house which is barely big enough for 2 people to lay down.

Megan's 10-18-10 e-mail

We may get to attend church in the new chapel this Sunday, and have a baptism inside this Saturday. The attendance is about the same...we'll see about when we are all going to have to for sure go to the new chapel..its takes 20 or so minutes on motor and there's no buses on Sunday so that's all you'll take. There were people that couldn't make it last Sunday-we watched general conference in the meeting house in Cabucgayan and there were a lot from our area that didn't make it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Megan's rejection

Yesterday as we were walking out of our gate to go to church, there seemed to be a great hustle and bustle around...I looked down at the road and to our surprise were written and drawn messages scribbled in white chalk that offended our spirit. Earlier that morning I had seen one of our investigators outside writing with chalk, but didn't realize until the time I saw it what he was doing. Later on that day, as we were trying to hold ourselves together in one piece, one of our other investigators who I don't have words to describe my love for, wouldn't get close to us because he heard from he said many people that it was not allowed... I just kept telling myself, Breath in breath out...!!
In all of this,I had the thought, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do.."They don't realize who we are..! Right across from our house for the past 2 weeks, they have been doing construction...Apparently every time we'd walk by or go inside or outside, talk to somebody that they could see, when we'd leave, their speech was far from appropriate and in that experience I rememebered the quote that had been said at one of our zone conferences..."If they accept you, they are accepting the Savior. IF they reject you, put you down, or talk bad about you, they are doing the same to the Savior." One day they will realize who we were, and what we were trying to do, and they'll know why we lived amongst them. I haven't felt very accepted lately, or even really treated nicely. We're too happy for them. seriously. We have been a little bit frustrated too because they don't realize that we have a hard life too! Our investigator's older sister still thinks that we are here so that we can get a promotion in school whenever we come home to the states. bah. It's ok! I just hope that someday they will remember what we said to them, and that we tried to show them the right way. I miss you! Things will get better! "There is great purpose in our struggle in life."

Megan's 10-11-10

Our recent convert family has been doing very well-they have been blessed financially in refection of their much that the mother of the family has been lending out money to a number of people, families, on their hill that promise to pay them back. Of course, they are not paying her back...Many people in turn of knowing about this have asked them...Where are you getting all this money that's allowing you to lend to so many people? They tell them that of course, it's from the Lord! But they don't believe them...they are convinced that it's from US!! I was shocked and hurt when I found this out.

Josh's investigator

Paola is gaining a testimony. She was one of the young women that went to conference and came to church this Sunday. We taught the Word of Wisdom to her, Daniela, and Abigail, knowing that some of them had problems in the past. The next day was the birthday of Paola´s older brother and there was alcohol, she didn´t drink because she wanted to be obedient. Some of the other people in the group of investigators decided to drink, saying it is only a little and it won´t hurt. Paola is gaining a testimony and it is changing her life. I love to see miracles and I am grateful to know we can change and others with our Savior.

John the Baptist

During our Elders' quorum class, I learned something new. Well, not new, but something I need to be more grateful. We ask who gave Joseph Smith the Aaronic Priesthood? John the a boring voice. I know I have done it. But this is JOHN THE BAPTIST!!!!!!!!!!!! He was born to prepare the people for Jesus Christ. He ate locust and honey! (That doesn´t sound very good:( ) He wore camel skin. Not very many people in the history of the world have been born with such a purpose like John. The thing I learned is when we aren't graateful for the little things we aren´t very grateful for the big things. It´s easy to say we are grateful, but do we show that we are grateful? Actions speak louder than words. I believe if we don´t show our gratitude that it can even lead down that we don´t feel grateful for Jesus Christ. Do you believe it is possible? I do because it happened with one of Christ's apostles. I hope this day we can be grateful for John the Baptist, other things, and more than anything our Savior Jesus Christ.

Josh's 10-11-10 E-mail

I woke up Thursday morning with a 100 degree fever. I wanted to work, but didn´t know what medicine to take so just went to District Meeting believing the fever would pass by. Well, Surprise! It didn´t! hahahhaa. That night we passed a member family who had me sit down for about two hours, fed me, cared for me, gave me medicine, and sent me to the pension to sleep. The next day I still had a fever, but I wanted to work, so I took Ibuprofen and left to work. During the day, I kept wondering, ¨Should I go back and rest? I´m sure tired....¨ But I kept telling myself no, you only have a couple of hours go. At this time I said a prayer in my heart asking for the help of Heavenly Father to help go on. Throughout the day, I was still weak, I was still very tired, but I felt somebody was lifting me up. I believe if I had different eyes, I would be surprised to find angels next to me. I know Angels exist today. I am re-cooperating still from the fever, but it is getting lower and lower every day. Thank you for being angels to me.

Melanie's comment: This story doesn't surprise me. On the rare occasions that Josh has actually been sick in his life, he has never wanted to stop. I would have to absolutely insist that he stay home from school because he would not ever give in to being 'sick'.

Megan's 10-11-10 E-mail

Last Thursday a horrible thing happened! I got my "trunky letter." !!! 6 months. So I need some info: What is your contact number? And what is the name of the Stake President, his email, and contact number? 3 months before my departure date, no changes can be made to our plans.

Melanie's comment: Someone asked me what 'trunky' means to a missionary. When Rick (and previous generations) went on a mission they didn't take suitcases, they took a trunk to pack all their belongings in. So, being 'trunky' means they are packed and sitting on their 'trunk' waiting to go home. Obviously, not a compliment. I know everyone says that the time has gone so fast. Not so for me! It seems like she's been gone for years! I am so happy that she said this was a 'terrible thing' though. I am glad she is not anticipating coming home. She has expressed a desire for us to come there to meet the wonderful people she has met.

Wings to fly...(Josh)

We had transfers or changes and I am staying with my same companion! This is now the longest area that I´ll be in. I´ll be here in this area for six months! I am excited and I feel blessed. This is where the Lord wants me and need´s me. We planning for Paola, Daniela, and Abigail to be baptized. They are a tender mercy of the Lord. They love church, they love prayer, they love the Book of Mormon. I guess we will just have to say what happens, but I know whatever happens it is the Lord´s will. From when I first got here until now, I am one of the few to stay. I have the longest time in the same area and in the entire zone! This morning we went to the terminal to say goodbye to the leaving elders and sisters. As we stood in line to help the missionaries load their things on the collectivo ( the bus). I was surprised to find about 30 missionaries in line to say goodbye. I was watching some missionaries crying and saying goodbye, others smiling and laughing because they are excited to stay. I thought of a parable. In life we often don´t want to leave our comfort zone. It´s where we are safe and we know everything is great there. We don´t want to go. But, we have to leave the nest. We aren´t meant to stay in one spot. The Lord wants us to fly. So fly we will and we have to learn. Growing is part of life. Leaving the nest is part of life. Missionaries grow comfortable in one spot in their area. They know they are safe and that they don´t have to leave, but at one time or another they have to leave. They need to learn how to fly. Don´t be afraid to leave the nest because you were given wings to fly, not just to sit in the nest.

Josh's 10-4-10 E-mail

Conference was wonderful! I listened in English, until the final session of Sunday because we had investigators come and I wanted to sit with them. Paola and Danielle came and listened. It was really fun to sit next to them because they were so focused! They kept asking, ¨Is he the prophet?¨ No, he´s an apostle! When they heard President Monson´s voice, they were focused and listening. I know that they know that he is a prophet and that his word´s are God´s words. We had another investigator come, his name is Ramon. Ramon usually says that he´ll come, but doesn´t show up. Well he surprised us on Sunday! He came and he loved it.

Filipino excuses for not attending church

Our very promising investigator and another older man who we committed didn't come to church because one was playing billiards and the other had to skin a dog he was gonna eat later. Obviously not good reasons to not attend sacrament. I told them last Friday before Sunday that because they had decided this that Satan would try them and so they needed to continue to pray and that they would be able to overcome all that was to be set before them. And then look-they both didn't come to church!!! I spoke too soon! bah!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Josh's encounter with the 'giant'

So this week I almost got killed! Not really, but I thought I was going to be punched in the face. I knocked a door and a great giant tall man came out. I asked if he had talked to missionaries before. He didn´t say anything, just came over, touched plaque and stared down at me. By this time my face described by my companion was pure terror and ready to flee at any moment. Afterwards the giant man said in a low deep voice. I have children your age and I have talked to you. We drank milk. Tea and Coffee you don´t drink. He was doing hand motions at this time, believing that I didn´t understand. Luckily he didn´t punch me and I didn´t run away. He was big though! hahahaha

Josh's 9-27 E-mail

We found three young women. Their older brother was recently baptized and I guess he is trying to share it with his entire family. Great missionary, huh? Their names are Paola, Danielle, and Abigail. Our second lesson was really neat. I shared my expierience about prayer. I have always known the church was true, but at the age or 14 I needed to know more profoundly that these things were true. After reading Joseph Smith´s experience I said a prayer, and afterwards I felt that these things were true. I could not deny the feeling I felt, only truth. The spirit filled our room and it was beautiful. I looked at the faces of Paola, Danielle, and Abigail and you could tell they were feeling something different, but a good different. They went to church and we are planning for their baptism the 23 of October. They seem excited and ready to learn. Truly the gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives.

Megan's 9-27 E-mail

This week has been better. Our less actives are doing better and I had an experMMnce last Monday I'll never forget. We asked one of our less actives that wants to go on a mission if we could teach him. He said yes. At this point, we knew and he knew that we knew that he was drinking again. He knew that we knew who he was with and that it happened to be 3 of our INVEstigators!! He had come with us to teach and we had shared our concerns and feelings about it to him. We knew what was going on, and he knew that, but we had never talked about it to him. (Did I mention that he knew that we knew?) He had been coming back to church, to meetings, activities, and he had come a few times working with us to gain experience teaching and to fellowship our investigators, and yet was still struggling with this problem that we had only found out about recently. It broke our hearts! But we wanted to show him our love and that we knew that he could do anything if he Let God help him. So we came inside, sat down and asked him if before we started we could sing a hymn?? He agreed and so we sat there for a moment trying to pick which one. We decided on 'I stand all amazed'. We only had one hymn book, so me and sister blonquist sang a duet. We sang the first verse and finished the chorus when there was somebody at the door, somebody wanting to buy something at the tindahan, and so he had to get up and the spirit was broken a little bit. There seeemed to be a lot going on outside and it was just busy sounding. but he came back and we started the second verse over and everything went quiet. the spirit truly was like a fire burning, and he felt it too. The tears started and they only got more abundant as we kept singing. By the time we sang the last time through the chorus, his face was wet and his face distorted. I gave the prayer and he continued. After the prayer he expressed his feelings that at that time he was fasting for 2 days so that he could show God he was sorry for what he did. He still went to work even though he was weak and hungry. I can't explain the love that I was filled with for him at that time. I truly felt as if I was possessed by something higher that myself. We explained to him about repentance and God's love. He gave thanks for us for visiting him and teaching him. We expressed to him that we loved him and that we were here to help him if we could in any way. I know that he will go on a mission. He'll go to the temple. He will raise his family in the gospel. I have an unwavering belief in the power of faith. God will grant his missionaries their wishes for those they teach if they remain faithful. I love this work!!

Philippine transportation?

This picture is a picture I take in my head every day here!!!!! I have to admit that I have not yet quite seen the actual baby in the bucket but it's been that level of 5 o'clock traffic badness!
Melanie's comment: this picture was in an e-mail sent by my parents. When I forwarded it to Josh and Megan they both commented that they had seen very similar transportation styles in their respective countries!

Computer parable-Josh

Another story they shared is in computers they have many signals to send to other computers. One signal a computer sends is that he sends the sign and waits for the other computer to accept, and keeps waiting, and waiting, until the computer accepts. Another signal sends the message without waiting, he just sends it. The Lord works in this way. He´ll send a message and wait until we accept the message. Others he just sends, not because he is mean, but because he loves us. My coach in cross country at the beginning of summer practices had us run twice a day for good reasons. It was one of the fastest ways to get used to running fast. We need to learn from the Lord.

Josh's 9-20-10 E-mail

This week we had district conference and there was one story I greatly enjoyed. Penguins live in one of the coldest places on earth, but they have developed a tactic to survive. Millions of penguins huddle in a circle and rotate to keep everyone warm. The ones on the outside have their back to the wind and the ones in the center are the warmest. They rotate so everyone can have a turn against the wind and have a turn in the warm center. We as members of the church have to be united. Another lesson we learn is the Lord permits the cold wind to blow against us and allows to also rest in the center. We are meant to grow, but grow closer to the Lord.

Melanie's note: I think I will have to rent that movie (documentary about penguins) when Josh gets home. I think he would really enjoy it!

The Monument

Today we went to the monument: the Indian. It´s where the original jujenos fought against the Spaniards for their freedom. It was a pretty big monument and pretty neat trip. Once again there was people from the United States visiting Argentina. Crazy huh? I never thought it would be such a big tourist spot.

Megan's 9-20-10 E-mail

This week was hard. It seems like the harder we try to get help these people, whom I love more than I think I've ever loved, they choose to not follow our teachings. It's truly a heartbreaking experience. We have been trying to fellowship a less active that wants to serve a mission. It's been such a struggle but I know that he'll come around SOME day. I love him so much and I want so much for him and his life! We keep seeing him smoke when he tells us he's not and we heard yesterday that he started drinking again. baaah! We don't know for sure but one of our investigators who's 12 may have joined them. I think that something happened to my tear ducts on the mission... because I can't cry! Maybe I was so depressed that my body just forgot that that's what you do when you're sad. We've been applying these trainings that weve been taught from the First Presidency these past few weeks, but our work has not improved!...There must be something were forgetting. We are sad to see the digression of some of our investigators, but Heavenly Father knows me so well, that when something like that happens, when that has happened, and we are so down, he puts someone in my path that is happy to see us or that does come to church, and all becomes well.