Monday, 22 February 2016

Transfer Week - I'm leaving Gumaca!

Week 65
22nd February 2016

I never have really liked the week leading up to transfer calls. I'm always questioning to myself "Am I going?" and sometimes it can throw me off. This time though was a little bit different. I thought about the question still, but my attitude more was "Might as well go hard if this is going to be my last full week", and it changed everything! Usually, week 5 of the transfer is the longest week for me in the whole transfer, but this cycle, it was faster.

I'm really thankful for the opportunity I had to serve in Gumaca for the last 6 months. I really have grown to love this area, and it will be hard to say goodbye, but I leave this area happy for the ward, and I feel that I have left it better than when I came into the area, which has been my goal for every area. The love that I have for this area has only deepened, and especially this last transfer, I have been able to witness a lot of progress and miracles, albeit little ones, in the work, in the ward, and everywhere.

However, I look forward to the new challenge of going to Nasugbu, Batangas. I believe I have been sent far away again for a reason, and there is something I need to do there, and I hope that I will once again be able to leave the area stronger than when I came in. 

President has sent to every corner of the mission now...... 1st are was the furthermost north zone, then to the furthermost area in Mindoro, on another island, then the furthermost south zone, and now the most west you can get in our mission. I'm assuming I won't get there until dark, so maybe 8-11 hours - will take four buses and whatever transport is at the end of that for the last leg of the journey. I might not even get into Nasugbu until Friday because it's so far. Might end up just sleeping in Batangas city. Elder Hapi is in my zone again, so I'm pretty happy.

My new companion will be Elder Mesias  ... only my 2nd pinoy comp in my whole mission! Just so you know Pinoy is a short version of Philippino..... Pinoy is a male and Pinay is a female.

Once again, our church attendance was above 50, and it has been really cool to see a lot of the seats taken up by members of the church, partaking of the sacrament to renew their baptismal covenants. I really hope that the next missionary coming in will continue to help the ward progress, because the progress is really picking up speed, and things are happening. The monthly average sacrament attendance has gotten higher in each of the last 3 months, and I couldn't be happier for the ward.

One thing I don't like about being transferred is leaving progressing investigators and not being able to see them baptized. But, I guess I have done my part, and either way, I am happy for investigators to be baptized, whether I'm there or not.  My joy only comes from the work of the Lord, and there are always times the joy comes from humbly submitting to the will of the Lord, and the timing of the Lord. Definitely not upset I'm leaving some investigators, just as long as they continue on the path to eternal life, my joy for them is full.

The challenge this week is definitely continuing to work up until I leave, and not just marching around and doing a farewell tour of Gumaca, and then adjusting to my new area. I look forward to it all.

Another cool thing that is happening in the mission, is that we have a Samoan AP! It's been at least 5-10 years apparently since a Polynesian Elder was an Assistant in this mission, and when I came in there was maybe 1 Polynesian Zone Leader. 

Not looking forward to the travel this week that's for sure. Looking forward to the new challenge though!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Week of Blessings!

Week 64
15th February 2015

This week was definitely a week full of blessings, and  definitely a week where I was able to find out my weaknesses that I have, and I plan on working on them this week to make them become strengths.

Well, our week was spent in catch up mode, as we weren't able to work in the area on Tuesday. We had exchanges, and my companion for the day, Elder Sison, was sick with a high fever, so he was told to rest. As a result, we weren't able to return to Gumaca, or work at all. However, I do believe we were able to catch up a fair bit, but I felt so unsatisfied with not being able to work on Tuesday.

I really enjoyed the Worldwide missionary broadcast on Wednesday. So much was learned, and it really pointed out my job as a missionary here in the field. "Teach Repentance, and Baptize Converts", I don't think there could be any other phrase, title, or name that could state that clearly, what I am to do as a missionary. I especially liked the part that Elder Bednar shared about bringing the gospel "unto the hearts". When I heard that, I clicked! Of course, if we brought the message into the hearts of investigators, our mission would be baptizing a lot higher than it is now, because I believe we all have strong testimonies of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. But of course, in order to exercise their free agency, I can only bring the message unto the hearts, and it's up to the investigators whether or not they will accept the message. 

Knowing that gives me new energy, as I thought that I was unsuccessful in my work with the amount of dropped baptisms, but it renewed my testimony of people's agency. All I can do is persuade people to come unto Christ with all my heart, might, mind, and soul.

With the 2nd PMG class that we had yesterday, the youth/YSA are starting to get really into missionary work. The church always says that people around my age are the leaders of the future, but I believe that here in Gumaca, the youth will give the rest of the ward a boost through their efforts, which will just ripple through the whole ward. 

I have learned that becoming close with the leaders of the ward is a big help with the work. My Ward Mission Leader challenged me for next Sunday, to see who can get the most lessons and OYM's. Looking forward to beating him in the work, and sharing the gospel at the same time!

We also hit a new high in attendance since I've been here! We had 60 people at church! When there is a lot of people at church, I feel like us, and the ward are being blessed. The ward is also starting to progress a lot faster now too.

This week, we are trying to blitz the area. This could be my last full week here in Gumaca, as much as I don't want it to be, so I just want to drop a bomb on the area! I've actually requested to President that I stay for another transfer here in Gumaca, and I've done it for two weeks in a row. I've prayed and asked to stay one more cycle. I have hopes to stay, but if not, I'll go where I'm needed. I will miss this area though.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The work is rolling forth!

Week 63
08 February 2016

Never in my whole life have I felt the way I have in the last week. It's amazing! The spirit has been so strong inside me, and I notice it when it starts going, and I can't restrain it when there is something I need to say.

There are so many experiences I want to share, but that might make me look like I'm boasting, so it's best not. All I can say is, ALL GLORY TO OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. I'm eternally grateful that He gave me a chance to change from what I was, to what I want to become. As I finished the Book of Mormon, one thing that I noticed was the gifts of the Spirit.Before, I wasn't too sure what they were, but from this week, I can testify they are all real. First hand experiences always make people grow stronger in faith, as well as gaining a stronger testimony. It really is true what the Book of Mormon says over and over again, that signs follow those who have faith.

Our week has been great though. The amount of blessings we have been showered with is amazing. I feel like I'm getting spoiled sometimes, like a little child with all of his favorite toys, I too feel that way.

We had only my 2nd MCM since I have been in Gumaca, but because of the way things are going here, it definitely won't be the last. In our PEC meeting last Sunday, we discussed so many things, and many of these things are coming into effect already. The Bishopric and Ward Mission Leader are really getting on it, and I can really see the effort they are putting in to fixing the ward, and trying to make it a strong, fully functioning ward. I'm really grateful that my prayers are being answered in that part, because I really want to make this area one of the most desirable areas to be assigned in, not just in Lopez Zone, but in the whole mission.

Yesterday we had a little Mission Prep class for the YSA, and those youth who want to attend. It was a great class. I was blessed with the opportunity to teach them about how to do some effective BRT. The class really liked it, and asked me to do this every Sunday. I graciously accepted, and the biggest blessing from this class is that straight after the classes on Sunday afternoon, is that we are able to go on splits with the members! Oh how long have I prayed for this time to come, and it finally has come, I can testify of the power of prayer and fasting.

Another great thing that came from yesterday's class was from one of my investigators. He participated in the class as if he was a member, and he bore his testimony of the blessings he has received from church attendance in his practice teaching. As I listened to his testimony, I found out his desire to become a member is so strong! He loves the church, and him and his brother tell me that they can't wait to be baptised.

This coming week, we area really hoping to build off the momentum we have from these last two weeks. The way I feel right now, I feel that it will continue to only get better.

Its a holiday here for Chinese New Year - funny thing is no one celebrates it - just an excuse for a holiday.. haha.

We have exchanges to go get ready for later today. Super busy.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Time is flying!

Week 62
01 February 2016

This week was super busy. Monday night the Assistants came over, as we had exchanges with them in our area on Tuesday. Woke up on Tuesday, and got into the vibe straight away. My companion for the day was Elder Tumanguil, and it was good because he was actually assigned in this area of Gumaca for 3 months way back near the beginning of his mission. To put in perspective, he goes home at the end of this transfer.

Working with him was great. I haven't had a Philippino companion in almost a year now, and actually haven't had a companion that's been really fluent in the language since I was trained, so I was able to use so much more Tagalog than I normally do. I learned so much about teaching, language, finding, and many other things. We visited his recent converts that he has in the area, and they were so excited to see him again after so long! The members we saw along the way, they were also happy to see him. Elder Tumanguil and his companion Elder Kaifoto are the most talked about missionaries in Gumaca, along with a couple of other Polynesian missionaries.

The funny thing about the area, is that they've only had Tongan missionaries, so when I came in and said I was a Polynesian too, they automatically assumed I was Tongan. Even now, people forget that I've said I'm Samoan and say I'm Tongan, and then I correct them for the 10th time. Just feel a little offended sometimes when I hear that haha. No offence to the Tongan people though, love them still. Ofa lahi atu, hahaha.

Friday we had our zone interviews with President Mangum, and that was good to talk to him and Sister Mangum about the mission. We were last companionship of the zone, besides the Zone Leaders, so we were there for ages! 

The Zone Leaders gave a good workshop about weekly planning, and the practice teaching was the drama game "Freeze" while implementing weekly planning into it.

The week was a rough one, but full of miracles, so I have nothing to be upset about, or disappointed about either. Sunday was rough for me at the beginning, with disappointment due to un-kept commitments to come to church, but life goes on.

We had a PEC though, and the idea that the PEC came up with, along with us, was to have me and my companion give workshops every Sunday at 2pm about basic missionary skills, then they'll go out and work. Sort of like a missionary weekly District Meeting, complete with reporting and an area book to be kept. It will take a lot of time, but it should get traction and move forward really well. It will definitely boost missionary efforts, and we would hope a lot of members return to church when this happen. Gotta love having four RMs in P.E.C.

As I close in on my last 9 months, I realize now is the time to roll up and roll out the hard work, as I feel like I'm in my peak of my missionary life. I requested to President if I could have Elder Nikau be my next companion. He requested me to be his next companion too, because we talk a lot, and we feel like the bond that we have as brothers, and both of us ready to roll out the work, we really feel that we could go into any area and blow it up. I've been praying about it, and I feel that it would be a really good idea, so hopefully President Mangum feels inspired and agree with us.

Life is great, time is flying, and 2016 is the year.

Elder Crichton and his companion Elder Rasmussen


With Elder Tumanguil

Emu we saw on the way

The Christmas tree you sent with some of the decorations!