BJ's District at Stake Center for General Conference
Hey Hey Hey!
So..... Yup! General Conference was awesome as usual! I enjoyed so many talks it's hard to pick a favorite. The ones that come to mind right now that have affected me are Elder Perry and President Monson's from Sunday Morning. They gave awesome talks about obedience. Throughout my mission I've strived to be obedient but sometimes I've complained about having too many rules and feeling like there were too many restrictions. Elder Perry said that "Obedience to the law brings liberty" and emphasized that one of Satan's greatest tools is giving the opposite perspective that ignoring rules brings freedom. By following rules and the commandments, and through the atonement and grace of Jesus Christ we can be blessed with Eternal liberty and freedom. Disobedience to God's commandments may bring a feeling of temporary escape or indulgence, but as Alma said, "Wickedness never was happiness." Following God's laws will always bring lasting happiness and in the end, disobedience will bring misery and captivity.
I'm glad that even though I often mess up that our Savior's always there to lift me up. We don't have to be perfect today. We just need to keep our heart in the right place while enduring and enjoying to the end.
Elder B, Elder J, BJ, Elder H
Haha, sorry to start all preachy but I really liked it :) We watched conference at our stake center about 30 minutes away with all the members and missionaries in our Stake. We had a whole Less Active family and there non-member father come to church for the first time in maybe 4 years. The members said we raised them from the dead haha :o) Our first week here there were only about 60-70 people but since then they say we've had an average of about 150.
Glad you enjoyed my email last week, things are going well here. We weren't able to visit Sister L this week because she was busy but she said she's excited to see us tomorrow.
Yup, Transfer day's next week but we'll see what happens. It'd be cool if both of us stayed here to harvest our planting. Thanks for praying for Montalban haha :)
I haven't had any contact with Sister E or G or L since leaving Minuyan but hopefuly I'll send those bookmarks tomorrow.
Pretty crazy that Marcelo and Matt are already getting home! Time flies eh? Glad you got my letter haha. Sorry again that I'm terrible at sending them.
I love ya tons and hope things continue to go well for y'all there!
PS-Finally got ya a couple pics :)
My "PacMan" hat. It's a logo for the Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao. He's basically every Filipino's favorite person on the face of the planet haha.
Our apartment. Brand new, in a new nice subdivision that has..... a swimming pool. Sooooooooo tempting :P
(BJ has an awesome group of friends from High School that are all out serving their missions in many different Countries at the same time. One of the friends put together this list of ?'s for them all to answer. It will be fun to get all of their answers back since they are in such different areas. Here are the ?'s and BJ's answers that he sent back this morning. Enjoy!)
"Hello Elders! Listed below are 14 questions we will compile and send back out to you as a 3rd and final newsletter. You are amazing missionaries with valiant testimonies. Thanks for all you've added to the newsletters!"
1. How many companions have you had so far and how many have been native speakers to your country?
I am with my 9th companinon in my 6th area and transfer day is close. I've had 4 Filipino companions but none of them speak Tagalog at home, there are nearly 100 languages spoken here.
2. What is the biggest differences in your mission from your home town?Ummmmmmmm........ EVERYTHING!!! But the biggest difference? The cities are so big and loud here. The population density here is WAY higher than good 'ol PG.
3. What is the grossest thing you have eaten? Not sure... There's nothing I've tried that was too gross. Probably Chicken intestines.
4. What is your favorite food from your mission experience so far? Favorite food is either Bicol Express(Pork with hot chili peppers cooked in coconut milk) or Sinigang Baboy(Style of Pork)... On a mountain of rice of course :)
5. Is there any foods that you couldn't stand at first but now you crave them? Hahahaha, hmmmmmmmmmm........ RICE! Didn't like it all before the mission but it's become a staple in my diet here haha.
6. What is your main mode of travel (bicycle, buss...)? Main mode of travel is my feet haha. Our area's really small because it's heavily populated. When we go somewhere far we use a jeepney: An elongated World War II jeep.
Cool Jeepney they had painted the story of Abinadi on.
7. What is the weather like most of the time?
HOT and HUMID! nuff said.
8. How do you eat..meaning do you cook at home with your companion or do you have a cook or do you live with members and they cook for you? We usually cook for ourselves.
9. How do you do your laundry...rubbing it against a rock, a maid does it for you, or in a plastic small laundry machine that pretty much just spins your clothes around or is it a regular laundry machine like at home? We wash our garments by hand. And because I'm lazy I have my clothes washed at a shop for 50 cents per kilo.
10. In your apartments do you live with just your companion, or usually with another set of Elders or with members?Sometimes it's just me and my comp, and sometimes we have another companionship with us but no members.
11. What do you like most about the area that you are in and what reminds you of home about your area or a previous area and what have you missed most about home?
The best thing about here is how awesome and kind the people are. Something that reminded me most about home was after being in this country for 4 months and not seeing any malls or grocery stores or anything like that, walking into my first Hypermarket and it looked just like WalMart or Maceys back home haha. Something I miss most about home is probably.... feeling cold :) and wrapping up in a nice warm blanket to go to sleep instead of using an electric fan.
12. What do you find the hardest thing you have had to do on your mission has been so far? My first time being a Senior Comp was very hard cuz I felt I didn't know the language yet and had to get used to being in charge of organizing all our work.
13. Share an experience that has strengthened your testimony. The greatest moments on my mission have been the times where I have felt the Spirit testify to those we have taught and testify to me as I have taught. The one that sticks out to me was a time when we were teaching the Gospel of Christ to an investigator. She was scared to enter into the covenant of baptism because she knew that doing so was a very large commitment to God to follow His commandments throughout life and she knew that she would break that promise. A problem I often face myself is being a perfectionist and feeling down on myself when I mess up. I felt the Spirit very strongly as I testified that our Heavenly Father's plan is not that we will become perfect tomorrow or even in a year. He knows that we'll mess up, it's expected. His plan is that we strive our best and when we mess up we turn to His Son, Jesus Christ and are lifted by His grace. We shared 2 Nephi 31:20 to her and it became her favorite scripture and driving force for her until her baptism and still is now as a recent convert.
14. Share a funny experience you have had with the language or with seeking out investigators.
We often find new investigators because they enjoy talking to to Americans. As we walk down the street they yell "Hey Joe!" or "What's your name?". Most of the time they're just being friendly but sometimes they're trying to make fun of us or try to look cool in front of their friends. I love seeing the surprised and embarrassed looks on their faces when we walk up to them and speak in their own language haha. Most of the time they're pretty accepting to the message.
Things are still going pretty well with our teaching. More and more people just seem to be getting placed in our path that are ready to hear the Gospel. The good thing about this week is that most of the people we were able to meet came from referrals given by members.
Right now we have 6 Progressing Investigators that we believe will be baptized in either May or this month. Woot! :) Three of them are kids from Less-Active families but their families are making progress as well in returning to church. It's been a long time since I've taught children haha, it's actually kinda tough because you have to SUPER simplify things for them.
One family is the F family. They have 3 kids that hope to be baptized: C-C-16, E-12, and R-9. We haven't met C-C yet because she works all day every day at Jollibee(a gross Filipino rip-off of McDonalds haha). They haven't been to church for about 6 years but Sister came last week with the kids and the Relief Society sisters helped her feel welcome. Brother is really nice and wants to come back to church too but he always has work. Hopefully they'll continue to progress, the kids have a baptismal date for the 27th... 2 days after transfer day haha.
Another Investigator that's doing well is Sister L L. She's super nice, in her late 50s and is Born Again. Her next neighbors are members and one of them is a Sister that just got back from serving a mission on Temple Square in Salt Lake. Pretty cool eh? Her name's I and she referred Sister L to us and helps with the lessons. Sister L was Catholic her whole life but was baptized into the Born Again church 2 years ago. She has a lot of great questions and she's really been enjoying our lessons with her. Yesterday we taught about the Apostasy and Restoration and the Spirit was really strong. We talked about Priesthood authority and all that Apostasy and Restoration stuff. It seemed like it answered questions she's had for a long time about Christ's church and I could tell she could feel the Spirit. At the end in the prayer she gave she asked Heavenly Father to help her to be baptized into our church! :D We'll give her a baptismal date on Tuesday when we watch the Restoration Video with her. Cool Beans :)
Another is A M and his family. This is the family of 9 that we met making Palm leaf decorations for Palm Sunday. A is 20 years old and has had awesome questions and is the one that's understood what we're teaching most and is most excited about it. He wants to be baptized but he just got a new job that makes him work on Sundays. I shared my experience at BYU when I rejected a Sunday job 1 day and the next day found the janitorial job and we committed him to find a way to pray and find a way to get work off Sunday. We prayed for him too and came back Saturday. Turns out his boss walked up to him and told him there was no work Sunday. Woot! :D But he got sick on Saturday and was super tired from work so he wasn't able to come to church. Bummer. But he's made great progress.
There's more stories I could share but I'll share em next week when we find out how well those newer people are doing. Work's going great right now. It's been REALLY tiring because we're making it a point to get out of the house at 12 and not come back till 9 but I can definitely see that it's paid off. The area has made HUGE progression. When we first got here we had nearly no one to teach but now we've got a bunch of people that are making great progression and the referrals from members for investigators and Less-Active families are pouring in. This may only be a planting transfer since the transfer ends on April 25th, but whether we're here or not next transfer there's gonna be TONS of fruit to harvest. Pretty great stuff :)
Pretty excited for General Conference. Can't believe it's already that time again, the last 6 months have absolutely flown past. We're going to have it available in both English and Tagalog, but it's at the Stake Center which is about 20 minutes out of our area so it might be tough for our people to get there. Help us pray for them like you always do! :)
Sounds like y'all had a pretty eventful Spring Break eh? I'm glad you didn't hurt Scout for sneaking into the house mom haha. Sounds like Ashlyn's training that dog too well haha. You're definitely right about Filipino Zoos being WAY more interactive. The main thing is that you're the only people at the zoo here and no one really cares what you're doing mwahaha :o) When we went to Avilon Zoo we got to play in a guinea pig pit(their were like 50 of them!!). :o) So yup.... WAY more interactive haha
Sorry I've been TERRIBLE with pictures. I didn't think about y'all not knowing what the dirty stinky HOT city looks like. I'll take some pictures for ya, just know you're not missing much haha. That's terrible that the camera bag ran away! Hope you find it! Let me know how the search and rescue goes.
Hahahahahaha! That definitely sounds like a Powell family dinner discussion. I don't think I've had worms yet but if Gpa would like I can try and catch one for him. I'll start drinking unfiltered water, eating bbqued chicken intestines from the street vendors, eating more balot, and all those nice unhealthy things :o) I could even buy some dinuguan(baked pig's blood), and caldaretang aso(a style of cooking dog) if you really want me to! :o) As far as pills I've heard rumors that they give us "The BIG One" a week or two before we leave and that it cleans us out pretty well.
Hmmmm..... As far as bugs/rodents/etc. this place isn't too bad. Right now I'm thinkin the Philippines summer is too hot for anything bugs/rodents/people to survive haha. We've been having mid to high 90s for the last couple weeks. Nice and cozy warm. Our house is SUPER hot. It's also really small. We just rearranged our room today to make more space but it's still pretty small. It's a nice house though and really new. The whole Subdivision we live in is probably only 1 or 2 years old. If you wanna find it here's the address to search on Google Maps: The Bellefonte, Cypress Grove - Camarin, Camarin Road, Caloocan City North, Philippines.
I'll make sure and get ya some good city pics this week. Hope y'all have a good one and know how much I love ya! :D
We had a pretty good Easter. We were able to go to a member's for dinner but it was for a birthday not Easter. Didn't see any parades or anything like last year, I think my area is too deep city for stuff like that. But everything was shut down for Friday and Saturday..... and then most of it opened back up on Sunday haha. Whoops! Sounds backwards eh? It was abnormally quiet on Friday and Saturday though, pretty interesting. Most everyone was inside their house and the tindahans(street stores) were all closed. In the middle of the day Saturday I realized that every Sunday is like that back home haha. Pretty neat place we call home eh?
We had a MUCH larger amount of people attend church this week. Last week we only counted 60ish but this week the leaders reported 150 people at church! Pretty great. Last week we had 0 investigators at church and 1 Less-Active we're teaching attend. This week we had 5 Investigators and 5 L.A.s. Woot!! :) Part of it is that it's Easter Sunday but a BIG part of it is that we were able to contact a LOT of new people this week. We got the most New Investigators I've ever had: 16! :) We were also able to find a bunch of new Less-Actives to teach so I'm pretty excited. We've seen the area progress a TON even though we've only been here about 2 weeks. When we got here we didn't have hardly anyone to teach but now we almost don't have time to visit everyone we want to! Again I say WooT! :)
Glad to hear y'all had some fun with 'da fam. Not too long and I'll be there at Gma/pa Slater's with y'all celebrating Labor Day :) Crazy how time flies when you're working hard and havin fun. Make sure and tell everyone 'HI' from me and that I love them all. Looking forward to the pics. Sorry I haven't sent many pics lately. I'm getting lazy on taking them and....... There's not much great stuff to take pictures of in this area haha. Just deep dirty city :o) But the people are great and it's not as bad as my first area Panghulo haha so I'm enjoying it.
Man! My little brother is a STUD!!! I'm glad he's taking my advice and taking it to the hole. Tell him to keep it up and practice his free-throws so that he can be an unstoppable machine! :) Also mention to him that most of Michael Jordan and Jimmer Freddette's points came from swishing free-throws, that should give him some motivation ;o)
Teaching's going pretty good with the people we're finding. They're all SOOOO nice. We even found a family the other day that's Iglesia ni Cristo(church that's kind of an enemy to our church here) that's been SUPER kind to us. They said they can't listen to our teachings but gave us something to drink and a snack anyways. We'll keep goin back and see if they'll listen to us haha.
The family of 9(M Fam) is doing ok. It's kinda chaotic trying to teach there since there's so many of them and they have 2 young rowdy boys haha. They committed to go to church yesterday but we only ended up getting their 20-yr. old son, A, and 1 other to come with us. A's awesome and has lots of great questions whereas the rest of the family just seems happy to have us there. Hope things continue to get better and better with them.
The family of 5(P Fam) is super kind and likes listening to us as well. The kids are 11, 9, and 8 but super smart and they all seem excited to listen to us. We were expecting them to come to church yesterday too but they weren't able to make it for some reason. We'll follow-up with them on it tomorrow.
So........... Yup. Life's pretty good at the mo' for da Beej :) P-days have been kinda boring but not too bad at all. We played bball this morning(it's a need on P-days), got a haircut, went shopping, rested, and emailed. Nothing too exciting. I have started working out though(finally:o). We're doing a workout called P90X and I'm hopin it'll help me put on some weight so I don't look so much like a twig haha :)
Well I better take off. Love ya tons! Tell Jason "maligayang kaarawan' for me on Wednesday :)
Had a pretty good week here, having fun meeting new people and trying to get this area going right now. At the moment we're in finding and organizing mode. At first we had almost no one to teach but now we're starting to find more out here and I'm pretty excited to see what we can do for them.
One thing we did a couple days ago was pretty awesome haha. Whenever people see us here they always yell "Hey JOE!" or any tiny bit of English they can possibly think up, kinda like what Becca said in her email. It kinda makes you feel like a superstar but at times it gets old. So the other day instead of letting it be annoying we walked up to a lot of the people that yelled at us. They seemed pretty surprised most of the time but for the most part they were kind and accepted pamphlets and we'll try and follow-up on them over the next week :)
As far as life and stuff things are pretty fun here in Camarin 1st Ward. There are 4 of us in the apartment. Me, my comp, and 2 Americans. The Apartment's kinda small but super nice and pretty new. Elder B is pretty funny and hard working so hopefully things will just keep getting better and better with the work.
Hahaha, you guys are crazy with Hunter's sports but that's awesome! He's probably the happiest kid on earth with all those games he gets to play. Tell him to keep up the good work and keep driving! :)
I'm pretty excited for Easter this year. After reading the Jesus the Christ I feel that I understand it's importance and the things that went on so much better and it had more meaning for me. Here in the Philippines they celebrate "Holy Week" which sounds weird, and some of the traditions they have for it are skewed, but the last week of Christ's life, and His entire life for that matter, was pretty amazing.
A couple weird traditions they have here are they often have people that ask others to nail them to a cross so they can suffer as Christ did. Pretty different. They have a few traditions like that, including the parades on Good Friday. I still remember getting stuck behind one with Elder Montemayor last year haha.
Another tradition they do is on Palm Sunday (Sunday before Easter) they make crafts out of Palm leaves and hang them on their doors to commemorate Christ's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. It's actually a cool tradition even though many may not understand it.
We were walking home the night before Palm Sunday when we walked past a very small house.... filled with palm tree leaves. It was 8 and we were just gonna walk home but I decided I wanted to find out more about what they were doing and share with them. We walked up to the door and the brother was super nice and they invited us in. Turns out it's a family of 9 and they all seemed somewhat interested and we'll follow-up with them tonight or later this week. Hope things work out with them :)
Found another family too. We were walking down the street and instead of shouting "Hey JOE!" a guy with his wife yelled "Hey Elders!" as they walked past. We were about to keep walking, when I asked him how he knew us. He said he was taught waaaaaaaay back in 1992. He said we could come visit them at home sometime and now we're going to teach his family of 5. Woot! :)
So yup... Pretty excited to see how the work keeps going here. Sorry to cut this a bit short but Elder B's waiting on me.
Looks like we were exactly the same on our transfer guesses Ma. And of course we were right! I'm in the Novaliches Zone now, back to the city. My new companion is From Ilocos Norte(Northern 'Pines) and his name is Elder B. He's been on the mission almost as long as I have so we've got a pretty experienced companionship and I'm excited to see what we can do. We're opening an area... again! That means neither of us was in this area last transfer and neither of us really know how to get around or who the people are in the ward yet. But we're catching on pretty quick and enjoying it so far. That's 4 out of my 6 areas that I've opened haha.
Wow! Congratulations Heather!!! That's pretty exciting stuff that she gets to go to the New England area, she'll probably get to see all sorts of historical sites and stuff. Cool beans! Awww man! Looks like I'll miss her by a couple months won't I? That's a bummer but I'm pretty excited for her. Congrats again! (Heather got her call to the Boston, Massachusetts mission, and enters the MTC July 3rd. BJ comes home August 29th.)
Yup, it was pretty sad leaving the Sister E family, and S G. I'll definitely try to keep in touch with them, they're pretty amazing people and I'll miss em. Pretty sad leaving Elder J too haha, I had a blast with him. I keep quoting movies and saying stupid things we used to say and then remember that I've got new companions and housemates haha. He's gonna be a great trainer. He ended up getting an American which made him nervous as far as the language goes, but he'll do awesome
Wow wow wow!!! Sounds like my little bro's turning into an All-Star eh? Averaging double-digits, hitting game-winners, subbing in for more advanced leagues. That's awesome!!! Setting picks, picking up charges, scoring 14 points on undefeated teams. Woot! Don't let it get to his head but that's awesome! Tell him to work on his dribble so he can drive it in like a boss haha. Pretty excited to get back and see for myself :)
Becca O got here back on Wednesday! But I didn't get to see her because the airplane didn't get here in time for transfer meeting. She's in the Valenzuela Zone with an American companion. Their area is right next to Meycauayan. Pretty excited to see her haha, should be fun. (BJ graduated from High School with Becca, and she was recently called to his mission.)
Glad to hear Gma Miller's doing better, hope she heals up pretty quickly. Tell her I'm really looking forward to seeing her in a few months :)
Pretty exciting with setting up classes and picking out apartments already. Can't believe it's that time already. Rooming with Aaron in University Villas sounds great. I actually had a friend that lived there before the mission, the apartments are great. I guess it's 4 of us in the apartment? Did he mention how much the rent is? Pretty stoked, it's gonna be a fun semester :)
The First Presidency just came out with a new rule allowing missionaries to email their friends as well as family. Could you get me Aaron, Michael, and Marcelo's email addresses? That'd be great :) And go ahead and stick my email address on the blog if you'd like. Thanks! :) (BJ's email address:firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanks for the great description of Hunter's games, loved it :)