This week was quite delightful and I want to get right into it! Let's begin with a miracle moment! So since this is my third week in my new area, I have really been feeling pressure to be familiar with the area and the people and just be surrounded by the work rather than being an outside party observing the work being done. Haha as I write this it's kind of like "duh, you're the missionary of course you need to get started working as soon as you get to your area." But this has honestly been quite the struggle for me. One of the hardest things has been that the former companion of my companion seemed to only scratch the surface when it came to visiting the people in our area and building strong relationships with the members in our area so it almost feels like Sis Quiban and I are opening an area. We both are confused when we look at our area book and we both only know about half of the memebers/recent converts/less actives/investigators who live in our area haha. I am definitely learning that in a situation like this, you have the option to get upset and frustrated, or you can just laugh about it and get to work. I think I was choosing the first option in my first week or so here. But thankfully I have now chosen the latter. Better late than never right? :) and my goodness have we started to see improvements!
The main experience that I really want to share is with a less active family. They were baptized in 2003 and I think they went less active in either 2004 or 2005. So it's been a while haha. Their father was dead when the whole family (5 children and the mother) was baptized but they even went to the temple and the oldest son did baptisms for the dead for their father. The reason they went less active, has remained a mystery. So fast forward to today, 2014, and all that Sis Quiban and I know is that the three oldest children live away from home and they have all left the church, the youngest two are twins and their names are Peter and Paul. They are now 22 years old. Peter is already a college teacher and is getting his Masters and Paul is a nurse. They are very smart and very good at english. Sis Quiban and her former companion have visited them multiple times. They tried focusing on the priesthood and teaching whatever they thought these young men needed to hear. But every time we have tried to visit since I have been here, they turned us away because they had something else that they needed to be doing. And the mother is now a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo church (which by the way was started by a man who was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and he wanted to become an apostle so he wrote a letter to church headquarters and when they told him that it doesn't really work that way, he got offended and started this church. It is quite similar to the mormon church and they are specifically told not to interact with mormons or let mormon missionaries visit them or do anything having to do with mormons hah. I wonder why?)
Anyway so from these bits and pieces that I have learned about this family, all I really knew was that these people did not want us visiting them. And to be honest, I was okay with the idea of just letting them be. But we decided to visit them one more time because it was Paul's day off and we had a good chance of catching them. After much praying over the lesson we decided to teach them from the beginning about the restoration. We got to their home and success, they let us in! It was Peter, Paul, and their older brother who was home from Manila for the weekend. The mom stayed far away from us in the back rooms of the house. They are pretty sassy men and they were really good at making it known that they didn't want us in their home. But we knew that we needed to share this lesson. I was reminded of a scripture that I read in Alma of an epistle that Moroni was sending to Pahoran the Chief Judge of the land. Moroni was very bold in this epistle letting Pahoran know the needs of him and his armies and how upset he was that they hadn't recieved these things earlier. He lets Pahoran know at the end of his epistle that the reason for him being so bold was because he was not afraid of the position that Pahoran held in their land. Who he feared was God, and he knew that fulfilling God's purposes came first above anything else.
It was clear that with this chance we had been given, to finally sit down and share with them, we could not be afraid to teach these young men no matter how well educated they were or how much they didn't want us there. I sat down on the couch, got comfy, and just started going off asking questions. I did all I could to get to know these guys. We opened the lesson with a prayer and I just kept asking questions. What they thought about church, the Book of Mormon, prophets, and slowly with each question, they started to open up. The miracle began to take place. By the end of the lesson, Peter had told us the reason they left the church when they were 13 was because their titas (aunts) were threatening them saying they wouldn't consider them family anymore unless they joined their Church of Christ that they had started in the community. Then eventually they left that church and just went to their own denominations. Ken, the older brother admitted that he never really understood the idea of a living prophet and now wants to know if we have one. And Paul let us know that it had been so long since they were baptized, that they really didn't know the doctrines of our church and that he has a genuine interest to know what exactly we believe. Peter even asked for us to come back at a specific time to ensure that he would be home for our next visit!
I learned quite the lesson from that visit. If we choose to fear God more than we fear man, miracles will come forth. Our Heavenly Father needs to see our commitment to Him before he will bless us. The thing that Heavenly Father blessed us with this time was the spirit to be with us during that lesson. The spirit is what brought these 3 young men from uninterested to excited for the next visit. After this lesson I was so overwhelmed with gratitude to my Heavenly Father and gratitude for the opportunity to be so actively involved in the spiritual progression of His children here in Baguio.
Wow well it looks like this is all I am going to have time to share :( sorry that was way long but that was seriously one of the greatest things that has happened to me! I literally felt like an instrument in God's hands and now all I want is for everyone else to feel the same. So this week I hope you all look for an opportunity to choose to fear God more than Man. When you do so, you will see miracles happen.
I love you all! Hope you had a great week and hope there is a great week to come! Take care! Bye!!