Just earlier Elder Labrador was like, "Wow, we're in our 3rd week now" and I was like, "holy smokes, for real!", but a little different because it was in Tagalog haha. It's crazy that I've been in Bambang for almost a full 3 weeks already! Time. It's too quick. You guys already know this but.....I hit my one year mark on Friday! It's a really sweet feeling, but also super bitter haha. I don't like the thought that I'll be gone from the Philippines in less than a year. Many RMs and missionaries told me "It all goes downhill from here" but in my head I'm like "It's been going downhill from the start" haha. Time-wise. The learning and growth only continues to go up haha. But anyway!
The baptisms were a success! Thank you guys for the prayers! I was privileged to baptize April and Elder Labrador baptized Rona. The Spirit was strong as they entered the waters of baptism and bore their testimonies afterwards. They are so great! Apparently our Branch President, Pres. Butay, also brought up the thought of serving a mission to Rona, and she's interested! Things may get a little hard since they're making an unexpected trip to Cavite and will be gone until around Christmas time. I'm not worried about Rona staying strong in the church; I know she'll do her part. We'll just miss her and seeing her progress in the church. As for April, it was pretty interesting that she mentioned while bearing her testimony that she still has some tiny doubts even though she's gone this far. That's what faith means though, right? It's not having a perfect knowledge of things, but believing enough to act upon it. She has acted upon her faith in Christ in so many ways, and only continues to do so by following His commandments and doing what she feels is right. She and Rona are such great examples! I'll send some pictures so you can see them!
On Thursday we went to Santiago for a quick zone conference in order to meet President & Sister Hiatt. They are super awesome! They actually finished serving as couple missionaries in the Philippines, Manila Mission not even a full year before being called to serve as Mission President & wife for this mission. Right off the bat they threw out the Tagalog they know and cracked a lot of jokes. They then shared great, powerful messages on missionary work and doing the Lord's will. Something President Hiatt said was, "When you fear, you fall", and that is so true. Too many times do I pass opportunities to do missionary work because of my fear of man. Sometimes fear is inevitable, but it's totally up to us whether we'll face it or shrink. Like Aunty Jo's song goes, "Courage is doing what's right in the presence of fear....courage is my way of saying 'I will follow Thee when the world walks out on me'". It's a big goal for me to become more courageous, physically and spiritually.
We had another crazy experience happen on Saturday. Elder Kane them had a CSP in their area so we and the rest of our district attended. The work was fun and it was great watching Elder Warren not know how to use a handsaw, but that wasn't the crazy experience haha. It happened on our way home from the CSP. Eventually a van came through and we got in. There was a white guy inside! That's not super common here haha, especially in an area like Elder Kane's. His name is Jaren (pronounced Jah-rone) and he's actually from the Netherlands. He fell in love with a Filipina and now lives with her and her family. His father-in-law is the owner of the van. But anyway, so we talked with him for a bit and eventually the topic of religion came up. Man, there I saw the Lord's hand again. He is so prepared to hear the Gospel! He already knows a lot about Joseph Smith and asked us about the Book of Mormon, it's connection to the Bible, the tribes of Israel, stuff like that! He said he really wants to learn more about our religion to have a better understanding of it, and even said himself that, "Who knows, maybe I'll become a member some day". How crazy is that! He lives in an area that Elder Kane them don't work in because it's so far, so any other chances of him coming in contact with missionaries are very slim. He gave us his email and we gave him ours. He's going back to the Netherlands soon for a couple months so we're praying he'll get the chance to meet with missionaries there.
Alright I'll end here since we're a little over time now. I love you guys! I love this work. Thank you guys for the great emails and pictures! I'm so grateful for the leaders of our church and the opportunities to receive personal revelation through them. And that's crazy that 'Ohu will be serving in Colorado for a little while! Definitely a bittersweet experience, but in the long run I'm sure he'll be more grateful for it than anything. Alright love you guys! Have a great week!
Thought about burning a polo in celebration of my one year mark, but an RM told me he gave away a polo instead of burning one. So I decided to be nice and burn an old shirt instead, and I'll give a polo to someone who needs one later. Elder Labrador threw in some puka-socks in celebration of his "5 months left" mark on Thursday.
Still can't get over the view from our apartment.
Elder Antenorcruz & Elder Higgins. Legends of PCM!
Sister April Dangilan on the left and Rona Bitagan on the right :)