Thanks for the updates dad! Keep me updated on Kala'i & Lehia and their sports. I already know Kala'i's gonna kill it at pole vaulting.Tell Pretty Girl I love and miss her. And tell Makana I said congratulations and I love him for being worthy to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood! I wish I understood how real and powerful this priesthood is before I received it. It's actually a huge responsibility to stay worthy of it and such a testimony builder when given the opportunity to use it, like the time I was asked to bless one of my best mission friends who almost went home because of his sickness. Tell Siaosi and Anjo I'm proud of and love them as well!
This past week was definitely an unforgettable one. It was filled with so many blessings I'm not sure I'll be able to share it all before we head out, but I'll go over as much as I can. On Tuesday we had a zone conference in Ilagan and received great counsel from President & Sister Hiatt. They taught us about effective scripture study and frequent self-evaluations as teachers. I learned from them and through experience that frequent evaluation (ex. ask yourself after each lesson: how did I do? what worked? how did they react to my teaching? what can I do better? etc.) leads to quicker improvement and growth.
On Wednesday we worked in Simimbaan, where the Imasa family lives. We had great lessons with everyone we shared with, although we encountered a problem. Almost each house we visited had their tv on. Usually I'll do my best to not watch and focus on other things, but this day we were too weak to overcome the temptation. I felt the difference. Not too much during each lesson, but at the end of the day. Knowing that I broke a rule that should be so easy to follow, I felt horrible that night and repented for it. The blessing that came from this experience was that we made it a companionship goal to never watch tv again as missionaries and will help each other to keep that promise.
I had a cool opportunity on Thursday to work with a brother from Las Vegas, brother Stephenson, who served here when it was still the Ilagan Mission. He worked with me and Elder Caviness on Thursday and was a huge blessing. He helped Elder Caviness big time with Tagalog (E. Caviness is still fairly new) and taught powerfully in our lessons. What's crazy is he's the one who taught & baptized the Esquivel family (Roxas 1 Branch President) and also played a role in bringing brother Tan back to church (who became District President later on). And something crazier, Mikael came to church!! I think I've already told you guys about him. He hasn't entered any church in years because of some past things. We have been inviting him for weeks and weeks and nothing happened, although he continued to read and pray about the things we shared. We were shocked and so excited when we got to church yesterday and a member said that he was inside! I can't help but feel that bro. Stephenson had something to do with it. Obviously we're nothing without the Spirit and the Lord, but I believe that we're all blessed with certain gifts. Maybe getting people to take the next step is one of his spiritual gifts. I also thought it was interesting that our last lesson with Mika before Sunday was a pretty bold one. His usual reason for not attending church is that he takes his young, "special" niece to a rehab center each Sunday. I remember telling him that knowing the truthfulness of our message through going to church is more important than anything, even his family. Once we know that this gospel is God's true gospel, we learn how to truly help our families, in a way that lasts forever.
On Friday we were visited by Elder David A. Bednar. Unfortunately we didn't get to shake his hand, but it was the coolest thing to be in his presence and learn from him. Our meeting was interesting. Instead of talking the whole time, he shared a few things and then we spent the rest of the time asking him questions and he would answer them. It was not what I expected at all would happen (I thought he'd chastise us for days and maybe send a couple elders home), but it was better and so edifying even though I didn't ask any questions myself.
On Saturday we returned to Simimbaan. The Imasa family is unreal. Not only do they totally soak in everything we teach them, but they themselves are doing missionary work! Their son, "JR", took us to his older sister's house and even bore a small testimony on the things he feels as he reads the scriptures and listens to us! It was such a cool thing to see, especially since he's not even baptized yet.
Man, there are more things that happened but we're heading out now. Of all though, the greatest blessing that I received was getting a letter sent from the Solano District President (lives in Lamut, my first area) and his family, the Dulnuans. This letter is called "The Ricciardi Letter". It's the coolest thing I ever read so far and took immediate effect on me as a missionary. Please read it. I suggest that you don't read it before being a full-time missionary, but get it and read it on the mission when you're somewhat accustomed to being a missionary or when you're having a rough time. It's nothing short of amazing. If you haven't read it yet dad, read it.
Mahal ko po kayong lahat! Maraming salamat ulit sa lahat!
Elder Flores, my first companion in Alicia. The tie I'm wearing, our zone necktie for this cycle, was also made by the member who made our last ones. Sick right? His brother even made skirts for the sisters with the same design
Brother Stephenson & Elder Caviness
Just a cool spider we saw the other day