Friday, November 11, 2016

Mashed Potatoes and Teaching a Treasure Hunter!

Hello Family and Everyone!

It was a good week here in Cauayan! Elder Schmootz and his wife came and had a mission tour in our mission.  Elder Schmootz gave us a lot of great advice that I will take with me through the mission.  Throughout the meeting I could feel the spirit soo strongly and I couldn't help but smile.  

I feel like since I have been in the office i haven't smiled as much because I am always so busy and don't really have anyone else to talk to in my small cubicle, but I still find ways to have fun every once in a while.  Elder Schmootz taught us the importance of our calling and told us about how we need to review the commitments we made as a missionary and renew our vigor in the work. I felt more joy enter my life as I remembered again the most important reasons why I went on a mission.  

Another favorite part of the meeting was having mashed potatoes and pasta but that is another matter entirely ;).  It was quite a busy week in the office!  I had to do many reimbursements for missionaries as well as order some stuff for the mission, but I always have fun while I am there! I also believe that I am an addict to burgers now.  Any burger joint I see, I try and get my hands on a burger.  I may be at a point in my mission where rice won't do it anymore!!!! Haha. 

On a sadder note, I think my American investigator may pass away soon.  His health hasn't been doing well and he has started to rely on other sources to relieve his pain.  I have been praying and fasting that he may get well soon.  He was a great man to have discussions with. I could always tell he had a desire to change, he just never knew what path he should take.  

We have been reteaching our Recent Convert and she is awesome!  She is really helping the family she is staying with.  They have been less active at times, but now they are becoming more and more active as she comes closer to Her Savior! Its amazing to see the change that has gone within the family.  Every time we come over they seem more genuinely happy and just a little more silly! Hahaha. I love them and hope that they continue to grow in the gospel together.  

We have our other American investigator and his family who we are really trying to start pushing to come to church.  We hope that we will start seeing them.  He has a very strong background in religion and has a good understanding of who is Savior is and the importance of him.  On top of that, he is a treasure hunter!  How many Americans do you meet in the Philippines that are treasure hunters?!? He told me a little bit about it but basically he is hunting Spanish bullions that the Japanese hid all over during World War II I believe.   I may have already said this but its just soo cool!  Now I just gotta get his family to church!  

Well I love you all, and btw I have now been here 16 months in 3 days!  Remember to show your love to others and be of service to all of those around you!  Oh how great is the work!!!!

Much love,

Elder Warren

Finding Charity

Hello All!

So this week was busy busy busy!  I was stuck in the office for a long part of the week.  Sister Zeena, the newest member in our branch is doing well.  She has some great influences around her.  She has been accepted into an active member family who has been a great example to her.  I love seeing them every week and being able to teach them.  I have to say they may be one of my favorite families, like every family I meet in the field!  Haha.  

It was a little bit of a stressful week this week.  We received over a hundred boxes of supplies at the office yesterday!  We were just about to go out to work when we were bombarded with the shipment and it took an additional two hours just to stock half of the new supplies we got.  Some of the stuff we didn't even order, actually I mean a lot of it haha.  It was a moment though where all you could do was laugh it all.  I mean somehow we ordered over 300 White Handbooks!  For those of you who don't know, a missionary usually only needs one handbook their entire mission, and we just got around 400 of those... 

One of the greatest things I have had the opportunity to study while I have been in the mission are the attributes of Jesus Christ.  Any one who knows me knows that my attitude at times throughout my life hasn't been the greatest.  My favorite area to study in while I have been in the mission field is charity.  I feel like I have talked about this before but thats because it is such an important concept to understand.  

If we have charity, we have everything.  If we don't have charity, we are nothing.  Charity is the pure love of Christ.  In it, all things are made perfect.  It is impossible for a man to achieve perfect charity while we are in this life, because it is the PURE love of Christ.  In order to obtain more charity, we must think more like Our Savior.  This requires understanding where another person is coming from.  Not judging them, but trying to understand there past, who they are as a person, and the struggles that they have gone through.  Doing this takes A LOT of work.  It is so easy to judge someone instead of actually trying to understand them as a person.  Understand there thoughts, feelings, and actions.  But one thing I have noticed is that when we view someone as a child of God, our ability to have charity increases exponentially.  

If we see everyone as a child of God, then we understand what our Heavenly Father ultimately wants for them and their families. Eternal life.  We understand that they need to know the plan that their Father in Heaven has created JUST FOR THEM.  Charity, is by far on of the most interesting concepts to understand.  But it is also one of the greatest.  

As I continue to work daily on having more charity, I continue to become more happy, more friendly, and less angry, less frustrated, and less judgemental.  Let us all become more charitable this week.  Lets try to think of someone else for a change and do something kind for a random stranger.  Because I know its what Christ would do.  

I love you all, and I will inform you next week of how the mission tour with Elder Schmootz was!  

Love you,

Elder Warren

Typhoons, Car Accidents and First Baptism!!

Hello Family and Everyone Else!

So you would not have any idea how crazy of a week I have had.  The week started off like any other.  I knew I wouldn't be having a preparation day, so I just got into my work schedule.  Everything was all fine and dandy, until out of nowhere, Typhoon 2 in a row appears on my screen!!  

One of my duties in the office is to keep track of typhoons on the way to our mission.  When I saw what was coming, I knew our Mission Tour would have to be postponed.  It was a category 5 typhoon.  Anyone who doesn't know what that means, it means that the winds exceeded 156 mph.  To be honest,  at one point in time the winds were 170 mph.  

Our 3 North Zones had to be emergency evacuated, which led to my appartment housing 8 Elders total!  Haha it was a little crazy, but was also fun to see familiar faces!  We ended up not having water for a day, and were without power for 3 days.  The wind was pretty bad and there was some flooding, but it wasn't too bad.  The storm only lasted for about a day and a half, then we could begin working again.  

When I went out to work was when things got even more interesting.  On my way to work, I was on splits with Elder Alecha, one of the Elders sleeping with us at the appartment.  Now, usually I sit on the outside of the tricycle, but this time, I was in the inside, so I faced the right side of the road, saw everything just off the road.  About half way to my area, I saw something that didn't quite register in my head.  A car that was on its side.  Suddenly, and quite shockingly, I realized I had just witnessed a car accident.  And a pretty bad one.  After I saw the car on its side, I saw the top of a mans head underneath the car and to my horror, I saw his crushed tricycle wrapped around a telephone pull.  

Now I knew I needed to stop.  Instinctively, I yelled at the driver to stop.  And before he had even stopped I was out of the vehicle running to the scene.  I was the first one there, so I grabbed the first Filipino I saw and told them to call the police.  Then I called over other Filipinos to help me push up the car, so I could pull the body out from underneath the car with his clean hand.  After that, I went and checked inside the vehicle.  I could make out 3 girls in the car and tried to open the door from the top, but something was wrong with them.  We grabbed a tricycles seat and used it to smash the back window out and I helped grab the three little girls from the car.  

Afterwards, I knew it was time for me to go out to work and that my help was no longer needed.  Before I left, we found that the driver had just left the hospital and still had the IV in.  I don't know all the details but sadly it seems that the driver was definitely not fit to drive and something had happened to the driver while driving, either they passed out or passed away.  Now although it was a very saddening situation, I was thankful I was able to help those girls who were trapped in the car that was stuck in D3.  

That day I was able to teach both of my American investigators and to testify with more power about the Plan of Salvation and how great it is that the people who passed on were now in a better place.  On Saturday, I have a surprise for you...  I GOT MY FIRST BAPTISM!!!  Now I was sooo shocked that it really was happening.  I mean, I had never seen the fruits of my labor until this point, so it was very amazing.  Now, I have to be honest,  I was definitely a litte awkward with my investigator before I baptized her.  Haha I just didn't know what to say to comfort her, because I myself was beyond nervous, I was sweating up a storm!!!  But it was a very spiritual experience.  

As I baptized her,  I felt the joy that she must have definitely been feeling from her Father at the moment.  I was so thankful to share in her special experience.  She looked especially happy at church yesterday.  It has been so great to watch her progress and become happier through my time as her missionary.  She will become a great strong Sister in the church and I am excited to see where her life will go!  

Overall, I have to say I had a pretty crazy but good week.  Its a great day to be a missionary!!!!  

I love you all,
Elder Warren







Sunday, October 9, 2016

Like Father Like Son...

Hello Everyone!

I am now back in Cauayan Zone! I am now the new Finance Elder for the Philippines Cauayan Mission!  Wow this is a big jump for me.  Just a week ago I was a regular missionary and now I have been called to be the Finance Missionary.  I am a little nervous for such a big position, but I know that if I really on the help of the Lord and try my best always that I will be able to fulfill this position successfully.  You know, I had always never planned on being an accountant like you dad, but I guess it was destined to be because here I am now, going to be handling money and taxes!!! 

My new companion is Elder Estuaria. It is going to be a great couple of cycles.  I learned that I could be here for quite a while so I am glad I get to serve with him!  We are reopening our area so we have lots of contacts and new investigators.  We bore our testimonies on Sunday, and like always, as soon as they saw me lean over to talk into the microphone, they started to laugh.  

Well I am happy to be back in the great Cauayan Zone!  I did honestly kind of miss it and I am in the district of Naguilian, so I may get the chance to see my old branch again!!!!  I am super excited to be here, to have the opportunity to fulfill this position.  I dont really have much more to say except that I am happy to be back, and to be healthy!  

I love you all and will talk to you again next week!

Love,

Elder Warren






Member Missionary Work

Hello Family and friends!

Well it was another good week this week.  We had our Stake Conference this week, so I got to attend that on Sunday.  It was inspiring to hear more thoughts from my mission president, President Hiatt. He really stressed the importance of members getting more involved in missionary week, because this is a missionary church.  

Members are not just members, members have the same responsibility as missionaries in that they need to invite all to come unto Christ.   In fact, members are just as if not more important than missionaries when it comes to the week.  They have the responsibility in fellowshipping the investigators, recent converts, and less-actives so that they may retain what the learn.  That is a very important phrase right there.  Retain what you learn.  

The problem with many recent converts is that they have no one close to them besides the missionaries to help them retain the importance of following the commandments of our Heavenly Father.  Missionaries constantly move around, so we depend on the members to make sure they fellow ship those we get to church.  We work as hard as we can, but we need the strength of members more than you know.  Members are key in helping progress the work.  That is why this Church is called a missionary church.  

Anyway, this week we did a lot of walking, like every week but I felt it more because, lucky me I split my heel open!!!  Haha only in the Philippines.  It's alright, what happened as when I was coming into the house, we have two steps, followed by a steel screen door and a wooden door.  The problem with the steel door is that the hinge is broken. So it closes fast sometimes,  This time it closed fast and happened to be right where my right heel was coming up the step.  It left me with a pretty good gash.  Shoes were not my best friend this week, but that wouldn't stop a stubborn guy like me! ;)  

I am already transferring again!  It was so fast here.  I was just really starting to form good relationships with the members here.  I am a little sad to be leaving, but I am also excited to help progress the work in another area!!  Apparently, transfer day has been pushed to Thursday due to a holiday, so I have an extra day here to solidify those relationships I have with this people before I leave!  

I am about to finish 2 Chronicles right now and a lot of it is a different view of the heritage of David.  Its interesting to see the different levels of obedience his descendants had.  Some did not follow the Lord; others followed the Lord, but did not do away with the molten images and high places; and then others followed only the Lord and got rid of the high places.  

I feel like this is kind of like us as members of the church.  We can choose to just be ok, go through the motions and kind of follow the commandments, we can be those who follow the commandments and have meaningful prayer and scripture study, or we can be those who follow whole heartedly the example of our Savior.  They not only follow the commandments, they work on their Christlike attributes, and never hesitate to share a message of the gospel with those around them.  

We need to be like those last members, center our lives around Jesus Christ only.  We need to be actively seeking to make a change around us.  So that everywhere we go, we leave it a little more clean than when we got there.  If we want to have the Spirit with us always, that is the kind of attitude we need to have as members.  Being a member of this church isn't easy, because obtaining salvation was never easy.  Let us remember who we are aspiring to become like, Our Savior.  If we are to become like him, we need to repent.  

I remember hearing once about the definition of repentance, it is making a change in our life and turning...  The turning we should be doing is to our Lord if we would like to truly repent.  Only be relying upon Him may we become truly changed and walking more uprightly before our Heavenly Father.  

Well I hope you all have a great week and I will let you know where my new area is this coming p day!  

Until next week, much love,

Elder Warren


Stand Up for Your Beliefs!!

Hello Family and All,

Well I have survived yet another week!!!  I only was sent 9 hours south to Manila, brought to the MRC (Missionary Recovery Center) which is located in the MTC (Missionary Training Center) and given the best rest of my life!  Haha in all actuality it was a very growing experience for me to go to the MRC. 

Never in my life have turned more to Our Savior for guidance and peace.  Never have I felt the spirit so strongly then when I was with other missionaries who continued to struggle with various sicknesses and injuries.  Yet we all seemed to rely more wholly upon prayer, fasting, and reading our scriptures.  I can not express in words the Spirit that was felt during the Preach My Gospel discussions we had every night.  The testimonies literally jumped steps every night. 

With that said I am very happy to now be back in the field!!!  We have gone back to work and hard!  I am getting excited with some very prospective investigators and I have never been more motivated until now, even though I have never been rejected as much as I am being rejected by people now.  I have people who won't even answer my simple questions of where someone lives because I am from a different belief.  After attempted contacts like those, I honestly could only laugh.  

At the same time I felt sorrow for our World today.  What have people come to when they feel the need to bash on other peoples beliefs?  How mature are you when you feel like you can't answer someones question of where a person lives because my faith is different from yours?  In my opinion it is honestly a little depressing.  

But I continue to smile and laugh, because my purpose as a missionary is to invite ALL to come unto CHRIST!  What is a better responsibility than that?  What could possibly give me more joy than that?  I may be spit at, rejected, viewed at as not smart, seen as different from others, but I am still the happiest I could ever be. Because I represent the one true perfect person who has came to this Earth.  His name is Jesus Christ.  He was the perfect example, he gave us the way, showed us the plan for us, and became the mediator to atone for our imperfectness.  

So now it is my responsibility to represent him as best as I can for a mere 2 years of my life. For years, I had to answer peoples questions about our church in high school and middle school.  But I was never ashamed of who I am, I am a Latter Day Saint.  I had people tell me all kinds of things about my beliefs, but I was never disheartened. In fact, it only gave me opportunities to grow in my testimony.  

Other people aren't gonna stand up for MY beliefs because that's just it.  These are MY beliefs.  That is my advice to you mom, and to everyone else who reads this email.  Stand up for YOUR beliefs because no one else will, no one else can, not even the closest of friends or other loved ones.  

You may not be perfect, you may fall short, you may be out numbered, but you will never lack the power or strength necessary because He is on your side.  Jesus Christ.  That was what I learned in High School. That is why I would literally have to sometimes stand in front of the class and answer questions about what I believe in.  That is why I serve a mission.  That's why I continued to fight going home, even when I struggled to catch my next breathe.  And yes, I am very serious when I say there were times I didn't know if I was going to be alive to get home.  Because I know that this church is true.  Because I know that Jesus Christ LIVES, He loves us, and has prepared us all a way to come back into the presence of our Heavenly Father.  

It is now our responsibility to decide how prepared we will be to meet Him.  And because this work is the most important work I could be doing. I am not a perfect missionary, I am not perfect at Tagalog, but I can testify that Jesus Christ and Our Heavenly Father live.  They live and continue to guide me as I go throughout my mission.  I will never be afraid to testify of what I know is true because I have the strongest person on my side.  My challenge to all of you is to stand for your beliefs.  Because that is where you will find the greatest of joy and the true happiness that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Who is on your side?

Love,
Elder Warren


Monday, August 29, 2016

Week 2 of Pneumonia

Hello Everyone!

Well I decided early on that I was gonna be positive in any situation that I faced.  Don't get me wrong, the pneumonia has probably been my biggest challenge yet in the mission field.  But I decided I wasn't going to let it get me down.  I have probably spent more time reading and praying than I ever have in the mission and I now see the importance of both.  Prayer is our way to communicate about anything we want or need to with our Father in Heaven.  I have felt his love and presence every time that I have gotten on my knees and asked him for help and guidance through this time.  As I have read my scriptures I have gotten even closer to him still.  I love the stories in the Bible.  I love how I am able to play out all of the things that occur in my mind like reading a movie kind of.  

Right now I read about King David and all of the trials that occurred in his life for the sin he committed with another woman.  He was given all he could ever ask for from the Lord but he still desired more.  It taught me more on being thankful for what I have.  

Being a missionary in the Philippines is not easy, and being my size is even more difficult.  I always seem to be hungry and can't satisfy my ever ending hunger, but it has also helped me to become more and more thankful for the basic things I have in life.  I am now so grateful for the bed I have, the clothes I can wear everyday, the clean purified water I am able to drink, and the food I am able to afford.  I may not be able to eat as much as I once used to, or be able to eat all of the foods I like to eat, but I am that much more thankful for what I am able to have.  I have less than I did, but I am happier than I used to be. 

Well I am happy for Spencer.  It seems like we have someone else in our family going on a mission every year.  Jacob will be following suit next year!  I am excited to see where all of our family ends up going!  Any area we are assigned to is where we truly belong and God has prepared certain people just for us to preach the gospel to.  May we all fulfill our 2 years honorably.  

I may be at a rough point right now in my mission but if I put my full trust and faith in the Lord, I know I can get through this.  I'm still alive and breathing and I am in the best place I could be!  I will continue to heed the counsel of my President and try my best to recover quickly.  I'm never going to give up.  I may not be the strongest or the best, but I know that through Our Lord all things are possible!  I wish I had more to report on work for this week, but sadly beside a couple of hours of work, I was mainly couped up inside the house!  Well hopefully I can give you a better report next week!  

I love you all and will talk to you again soon!

Love,
Elder Warren

UPDATE:
Hey dad I am alive!  So they sent me to the Missionary Recovery Center which is basically the Manila MTC.  I have now been here since Wednesday evening.  They finally figured out that on top of pneumonia I got plaricy.  It is an uncommon case (of course I get this) and so of course the doctors over in Cauayan didn't know how to treat it!  On the bright side within 12 hours of me arriving here at the MRC, they found what was wrong, got me the right medicine that I actually needed, and then started to actually have me rest.  For the first time in weeks I can breathe all of the way normally!  They said that most likely I will be able to go back to my mission on Wednesday which I am looking forward to.  Although I love the fact that I can just eat a ton of food here, I am missing the field and doing more than eating, sleeping, reading, and eating again.  On the bright side, I have read about 4 books in the Bible since I have been here! Pretty impressive huh?  

Love ya!  Your son,
Elder Warren

Returning back from the MRC! Ready to get back to work!!


Hanging out with my Mission President


Pneumonia Scare

Hello Family,

Well I am out of the hospital!  I got out yesterday at about 10:30 am.  But wow, has it been quite the week.  So apparently, I have had pneumonia for over 2 months.  A word of advice to anyone who ever gets pneumonia, dont wait 2 months to get it taken care of!  If you saw the x rays, you would probably have a heart attack mom.  My left lung looked almost all the way fine, but then my right lung... Well needless to day the area of white that took up the space of my lung was pretty big to say the least.  

It all started on Tuesday evening.  I got home with Elder Estuaria in Solano Zone and felt like I had a fever.  I really just wanted to sleep it off, but I kind of messed up.  Instead of taking off clothes, I put on more clothes, which is not what you do in the Philippines.  To break a fever in the Philippines you have to get cold.  So when I put on clothes I made my fever go up to 38.5 degrees Celsius.  Then I finally did the right way and went to sleep, on and off sleep anyways.  Then at 3:40 I woke up and the fever was gone.  I felt good, except there was a little pain on my right side.  Well in the next hour the pain in my right side kept getting worse and worse to the point where I could hardly breathe.  

Now, I REALLYYY didn't want to go back to a hospital because it is no fun here in the Philippines, so I procrastinated calling Sister Hiatt until 4:50.  I called twice and got no answer so I called President and he answered.  I got to talk to Sister Hiatt and she told me to just go get a check up at the hospital.  We went and got a check up and then came back home around 6:30 am.  I felt great by that point.  I was gonna just go back to the hospital after getting ready for the day, pick up the medicine I needed and go wait for my new companion and all will be well right???  WRONG.  I went to the hospital and they gave me the death sentence, "You need to be admitted sir."  The first thing they did was put a gas mask on me.  (They made me look like Bane and sound like him) So while I had the mask on, of course I did Bane impressions to Elder Estuaria.  The doctor in charge of me was looking at me in shock.  I didn't know why he looked like that until about an hour later, when I couldn't breathe.  Long story short the first 2 days were painful.  It was like having a cramp in your lung that will not go away and it makes it very difficult to breathe.  

My new companion was very good about the whole thing though.  He came in and we just had fun talking, listening to my bane impressions, watching the nurses try to speak English to me because they never expect me to know tagalog, and watching church movies.  I can't complain though, besides not being able to really breathe those first 2 days, the rest were pretty good.  I just did what they told me to do, and made sure I rested a lot.  When I was transferred to Cauayan they put me on antihistamines and until now I feel like I have caffeine in my veins.  I forgot what those did to me but now I remember.  My heart rate elevates and I get pretty hyper, which is a super downer because how can I rest when I have that much energy in me?!?  

Anyways, this week I took the time to really focus on prayer, and to be honest it really helped me to calm down.  It also helped me to feel at peace and feel the love that the Savior has for me.  I also really enjoyed some of the church videos.  The struggles that the first prophets went through were so great, but they persevered through them without faltering at all.  I remember one scene, where they literally buried the entire foundation of a temple so that the army wouldn't destroy it.  Then they re-dug up the foundation only to find that it had cracked.  And yet they still continued to build the temple in that area.  Our church had great trials in the beginning but look at where we are today??  We are a strong church that builds itself through the work of its own members.  Through the love and support we give each other, we help to continue the growth of this church.  

Although this mission will not always be easy, like last week,  I know that other members have seen harder still so I just need to keep working hard, besides now because I need to rest.  Well enjoy this last bit of summer and know that I am getting better.  I am on 5 different medications so as long as I continue to take them and eat a lot of food, drink lots of liquids (except for soda), and rest I will be back to normal soon!  

I love you all and thank you for your love and support,
Elder Warren



Pic of me in Cauayan hospital

Drumsticks and Service Projects

Hello Family!

Well it sounds like you have had quite the busy month! EFY and camps and the beach and Oregon!  Well I definitely can say my month has not been quite as exciting. My week was good but very busy!  My comp had more meetings for going home and has been struggling to find time to get everything ready to leave tomorrow.  I am going to be with my Zone Leaders tomorrow for the day which should be fun! I get a new companion on Wednesday and as always I am excited and I am also excited for my companion Elder Tabudlong.  He has endured these 2 years and is now returning home with honor.  That is the greatest honor and joy he will ever experience in this lifetime.  

This week was also a reminder to me just how fast these 2 years go by.  I really need to make sure I am fulfilling my duty as a missionary and inviting all to come unto Christ.  So this week on Tuesday at around 4 my companion went to Cauayan and I was with an Elder named Elder Estuaria and man was he a fun Elder.  He was so funny and he loved food as much as me. I worked with him on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Working went by extra fast those days because he just kept me laughing!  Also he brought me to the best fried chicken street shop ever.  I kid you not I bought 7 drumsticks and ate all of them with a heaping plate of rice all in one sitting.  I felt so great after that.  Along with that I had a liter of coca cola. 

As we arrived at church this Sunday, my companion got a surprise opportunity to bear his testimony for the last time as a missionary.  It was awesome to see how far he came in 2 years.  How fluent he was in Tagalog, how he could easily recount scripture passages, and apply them to every member in the church.  It always amazes me how much spiritual power we can have as missionaries.  

Well I continue to try and find progressing investigators here in my area as well as invite all to come unto Christ.  We had another 2 service projects this week (holy cow I have never done this many projects in a single cycle.  I think I have done more than one every single week!!!) The first project was not well planned, but I did what I could.  We easily cleared brush, I lifted by myself entire planks of wood, and because I was so tall I got the opportunity to scrub the woman ceiling all through out her house.  I made Elder Ishibashi useful by having him rinse out my rags hahaha.  He is a great person to have around for service projects.  Then on Saturday we returned to our members house to finish shoveling rocks and dirt.  For 5 hours I hauled dirt from the humongous giant pile of rocks and dirt to behind the members house.  By the end, I thought I had a six pack on my back!  Right now, I feel like I could need a cane!  

This week also as I was reading in the Bible I started to read about prophesies of things that would come to pass in our time.  Its sometimes scary to see just how deceitful Satan is.  He really is a very sophisticated being.  We need to be ever watchful and beware of his masters of deceit.  They know how to change the truth so slightly that if we aren't careful, we may be fooled into his trap.  In the end he desires to destroy our eternal soul.  That why I have come to know just how important constant prayer, not daily prayer, constant, reading the scriptures and attending church is.  It literally is the shield that allows us to be aware of such forms of trickery and lies.  May we ever be watchful of Satan and his many followers.  I know that this is the true church.  I know that the work I do here and now can have a big influence on future generations and I am so happy to be a missionary!!!  

Love you all,

Elder Warren

Cell Phone Distractions and Family Time

Hello Everyone!

Well I had another great week this week!  We went to Cauayan this week for my companion to do his English test.  It was fun to be back in Cauayan for a little bit.  After his test we got banana splits which is always a bonus!  My favorite part was the bus rides though.  I bought so many peanuts.  The peanuts they have here in the Philippines are amazing.  The people who sell them on the buses have just cooked them so they are always warm and the flavor is just the best!!!  I think I bought 4 bags of them.  Anyways, it is so weird that another cycle has already almost gone by!  The time is really going by so fast now it is ridiculous!  Really though, I thought that by now I would be adjusted to the heat but that is just not the case.  I am sitting here sweating like always.  When I get home, I may construct a freezer and live in it until winter arrives!!! 

Well this week we had a family home evening with a family who is visiting from America.  The are Filipinos but they mainly understand English.  Let me tell you, I never realized how the Sister missionaries in our Ward used to feel when I wasn't paying attention until this week.  During the entire family home evening, everyone, including the little kids and some of the adults, were on their phones the entire time.  It got to the point where my companion would ask someone a question and they wouldn't even hear my companion because they were so focused on their phones!!!!  Man, at that moment, I am thankful I built up my patience because I was not very happy with what they were doing.  Really only 2 adults were paying attention to us.  The rest were totally focused on other things.  After our pretty unsuccessful lesson we tried to play a game with the family and that was worse.  We had to explain the game rules basically to everyone individually.  We would teach a person then when it came to the next persons turn we had to teach it again.  After we finally got around the circle, which took about 20 minutes, we switched games and it still wasn't working so we just closed it and had dinner.  

If there ever was a sad point in my mission, this would be it.  The fact that a family could be so obsessed with their phones literally sickens me.  They couldn't take 10 minutes of listening to us or 30 seconds of instructions for one of the simplest games ever invented.  I honestly left that family home evening a little frustrated but even more sorrowful.  It is honestly sad to see the way families are changing.  Now I know I was definitely never enthusiastic about family home evenings, but we need to give people more respect.  Family Home Evenings are an important thing to have very week.  Its a time to come together, feel the spirit, and bond.  How can we bond if we are so enveloped in our world of technology?  My challenge to all of you is to value your time together during family home evenings 

I am grateful that my parents invented the electronics basket for family home evening.  Now that I remember that, I might install that rule when I go to the next family if it is permitted by the parents because that was just sad.  I know I am not a perfect missionary, I still have many things to work on, and I am not even close to the best teacher or at speaking Tagalog. But I know as I continue to try my absolute best I can become the tool the Lord needs me to be.  Lets try to spend a little less time coming closer to the screens of our cell phones and a little closer to our Savior.  I know I can do it because I have been living without a phone for over a year now!  

Anyways, the rest of the week went pretty well.  We are really working with our investigators but they just stopped coming to church.  Hopefully we can pull them back!  My companion is still working with me to finish strong and I am happy to see him working with me.  I love all of my companions and I try to make them laugh as often as possible, because who wants a serious companion?  

Well, I love you all and will talk to you next week!

Love,

Elder Warren

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hiking the Rice Terraces With Pics!

Hello Family and Everyone Else!

Well this email is coming in later than normal because I went to the Banaue rice terraces today!  It has been a long day to say the rest. I feel like it should be 8 at night right now haha.  We had to wake up at 2 am to go to Banaue because a couple of people wanted to see the sunrise.  Now I was not opposed to this idea, but after the sacrifice of sleep I made, I was expecting to see that sunrise.  Sadly, since Banaue is in the mountains, the MOUNTAINS blocked the sunrise!!!!!  Oh well, at least the weather was very cool, I actually felt like I was back home for a second!  

We hiked a long ways.  Elder Ishibashi wanted to go to this little hut way up in the terraces.  Basically, we trekked down into a ravine with a river then climbed up the other side to past the elevation we had been at to finally arrive at the hut.  It was a pretty good hike.  l've learned that I am out of shape recently, but I will get into why a little later.  Anyways, my journey to the hut, included me almost falling off a terrace three times, getting half my body covered in mud, and of course when I reached the top the other Elders started to think I was going crazy because I was very dizzy and singing about hiking.  I think I may have made their days with that one, but man that was a good hike.  I also have many pictures of the terraces, so you will be very happy!  

While I was in Banaue, I bought a dragon carving, I took a picture of it, and a special kind of blade!  I got both for under $10 bucks which I call a successful day!  Overall, it was a fun trip.  I enjoyed doing some good exercise and joking around with the other Elders.  So this week was the week of CSPs or service projects!  I had 2 service projects in a row this week on Friday and Saturday.  The one on Friday was pretty dang brutal and is the reason why I say I definitely need to be doing some more cardio exercises!  On Friday morning at 8 am sharp we went to a members house.  It was just Elder Tabudlong, me, and the member who was a heavier set man.  Our job was to shovel out a huge pile of dirt and rocks.  I'm talking it was chest high on me and was about the width of the road.  It was one huge pile!  Now I was working pretty hard like I normally do.  What I didn't realize right away, was how physically demanding shoveling rocks is.  After an hour of working hard, I noticed my heart was pounding and my stomach wasn't feeling too good.  So I took a 5 minute rest, but its still really hot that morning.  I get a burst of energy and start going hard again.  About 5 minutes later the first urge came... Now I pride myself in being able to say I have never puked from working out.  Never! Until Friday at 9:08 am.  I puked 3 times into a small stream.  The rest of that day was pretty hard but I stuck it out!  

When we got home that night, we received another text from one of our Leaders giving us two options, we either go to an emergency service project the next morning or help out with the one day mini mission.  At this point I was laying on my bed thinking about how much a wheelchair costs in the Philippines.  My companion and I decided it was better to go to the CSP, so we would have about an hour break before we went out to work.  That CSP was a little easier, I only had to move cement bags and paint.  I learned that I can really push myself to my limits when i want to this past week.  It was pretty cool.  

I never thought I was pushing myself hard enough, but now that I have come on a mission, I have changed and my will and determination have increased!  Now I am not saying it was good that I puked, but the fact that I alone pushed myself to my absolute limits showed me just how much I have come along on my mission.  I truly believe that I can accomplish anything I want in my life as long as I have the desire! 

Our work is going pretty good too!  We are really getting help from our Single Adults and Return Missionaries to come work with us and fellowship.  We do not have any baptisms yet, but I know that it will come.  I just need to keep bringing the desire and motivation to do so!  It has been a pretty full week and I am just a little tired right now, but this has been a great learning week for me.  It is so awesome to see first hand how I have changed.  I am no longer the weakling who puts down my dumbbell when I have 2 more reps to do!  I do 5 more reps instead!  We all need to keep building our faith daily, and the best way is through constant prayer and a positive (humorous) attitude!  

Well everyone enjoy all of these beautiful photos of me surviving the rice terraces and I love you all!

Love,

Elder Warren









Boil on a Foreigner's Butt

Hello Mom, Family, and Everyone!

Well I officially made it over a year in the mission!  It is a weird and yet satisfying feeling to know that I have come this far!  We met the new mission President this week and he sounds like he will be another great leader! He is from Idaho and has actually already served in the Philippines so he has a lot of great experience! I enjoyed listening to him, and he gave a lot of great advice to us.  Although I do miss President Rahlf, I know that Our Lord has a reason why he has called President Hiatt to be our new mission President.  

This week, a couple of interesting things happened. First, I tried the dragon fruit! I guess it is supposed to taste kind of like a watermelon, but to me it really felt like I was eating water!  The fruit actually looks pretty cool and I wish I was able to take a picture of it, but I didn't have my camera on me at the time.  The inside of the fruit is a dark purple and after you eat it, it dyes your teeth purple!  So I had to make sure I brushed my teeth extra well that night!  Haha.  

Also, we went to the hospital on Tuesday for my companions going home x ray.  While we were there, I decided it would be good for me to get my boil checked out, just to make sure everything was fine.  This is where it gets interesting.  They whisked me into a room that had 3 patients sitting waiting to be looked at and 2 female nurses. Then, in front of all of them, they told me to show them my boil.  Now I don't know about most people, but I was just a little nervous about mooning everyone. Alas, I didn't have a choice, and of course five seconds after I showed them where my boil was one of the nurses yelled "Oh look its a foreigners butt!" I don't know how appropriate this story is but I needed to share it.  

Anyways, I finally got my boil taken care of and after waiting for someone to operate the counter, I only had to pay 3 bucks to get the pills.  Hospitals are really cheap here! We also had a CSP (Community Service Project) this week and I learned that I appreciate the ingenuity of electric saws!  I had to cut bamboo and man was I making Elder Ishibashi crack up.  At CSPs, I find it is funner if you aren't serious about anything, so while I cut the bamboo with a regular saw, I made sure to crack jokes about how bad I was at this.  By the time I finished, we were both crying from laughter and even sweating! I call that CSP a definite success!  

Elder Tabudlong and I are still making progress with our investigators which makes me very happy and the Branch continues to be a huge help.  I am very thankful for this Branch.  The Elders reopened this area only last cycle, so we are still learning where everyone lives because of how big the area is.  The members are so willing to work with us and help progress the work.  I can testify that members are really the key to a missionaries success! We need the members just as much as they need us.  Only together, can we strengthen the ward or branch into a growing and unified House of the Lord!  

Well I had a pretty good week overall. I continue to work as hard as I can, because this next year is gonna go faster than I can imagine! I love you all, I pray for your safety and protection, and will see you in under a year!

Love,

Elder Warren

Happy 4th of July!!

Hello Everyone and Mom!

First off, happy fourth of July!  Although for you it is still July 3rd... I don't feel that different, just a little tanner, a little weaker, and a lot wiser.  It is crazy how fast the time went by to be honest.  At on side, I can definitely see how it has been a year, on the other, it doesn't seem real.  I still remember very clearly the night I headed off to the MTC (Missionary Training Center).  Interesting how that though is still clearly ingrained into my brain.  

The work is going great in Bambang, and the members are fantastic.  They literally are helping our work progress because of their attitude.  They are super outgoing, friendly, and funny. There is rarely a serious moment in this branch to tell the truth, but that's a good thing.  The church lessons are so much more involved with the investigators because the teachers are just fun to be around.  The food also does keep my quite energetic and healthier!  

On a sadder note, I got a pretty big boil this week.  Right now, I am sitting on it, and it literally feels like I am sitting on a golf ball.  I am hoping it goes away soon, but it is sort of a long process.  Oh well, this is what ibuprofen was invented for right?!?  

Anyways, we have a couple of progressing investigators in the branch and I see very high potential for them! Also, since this past week was fast and testimony meeting, I decided to get up and bear my testimony, since I haven't gotten the opportunity to introduce myself to the Branch.  When I went up, it was very different from my last branch, the members all paid attention to me and smiled.  It was a very peaceful atmosphere and I am really blessed to have the opportunity to serve the people of Almaguer Branch!  

My comp likes to remind me everyday of how close he is to going home.  I just help him to work hard and have lots of fun doing it.  He got a haircut this morning and the first thing he said when he was finished was, this is my last haircut in the mission! Haha, I love how he is excited, but he also still knows he needs to finish strong!  

Well I am doing great over here.  I continue to grow in my testimony and in my ability to eat anything I can get my hands on!  Haha I love you all and will talk to you in another week!  
See you in one more year!

Love,

Elder Warren

New Area - Bambang

Hello Everyone!

Well I am now happily here in Bambang!  This is one of the farthest Zones in our mission and is in the mountains.  I have to say the 4 hour drive was a little brutal to the knees but its nothing I can't handle!  The area is a little cooler than my other areas due to the fact that I am on a mountain, but I still manage to sweat a lot.  Story of my life!  

In other news, we have a pizza place literally right next to us and man do I take advantage of that!  One of their pizzas is like the perfect snack size for me!  I just need to make sure I don't spend too much money on them haha.  My new companion is Elder Tabudlong and he is pretty funny.  I can also see that he is ready to go home, but I am making sure we end his last cycle good!  

The area is pretty great so far.  We have a ton of members in our branch which is a total difference from my last area.  Like my last area, everyone likes to ogle over me but that's ok.  The major difference I have noticed is that people are a lot more outgoing in this area.  I love it because it makes it easier for us to get contacts!  

Alright!!!  I have realized there are various advantages to having a companion who is going home after this cycle.  For one, we get a lot more food!  Members are always feeding us because they know that my companion will be going home shortly.  It's also awesome to have a companion who has his Testimony to such an elevated level.  He truly believes and knows in what he is teaching.  He is my 5th companion so far in the mission and he is my 4th Bisaya (native) companion.  For some reason, I seem to get along really well with the Bisayan!  

Anyways, leaving my last area was a little hard.  Its hard to believe that I only left that area 4 days ago.  It was harder for me because in those  months I really bonded with those members and investigators.  I really treasure those relationships I was able to build with the people of Naguilian.  I hope that I'm able to do the same with the people of Almager branch!  At this rate, I may have to return to the Philippines after all because I have a ton of friends here!  I feel rather accomplished right now as a missionary.  

My main reasons behind going on a mission were to help others find the true joy that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ and to form eternal relationships with the people that I meet.  Throughout my mission I always pondered about what things I could bring back with my in the next life and I realized that one of those things is relationships.  The beautiful thing about relationships is that is built spiritually rather than physically.  The connection you build with people you meet and love is not seen, but rather felt.  I am really glad that Heavenly Father created such a beautiful place where I can build such relationships and bring them with me throughout all eternity.  After all, I do love spending time with my friends!  

On another bright note, my new Zone Leader is my MTC batch mate Elder Ishibashi!  He looks like he is doing really well and he is super excited to be in the same Zone as me.  We will have a great cycle this cycle.  Well I love you all and I am grateful for this new opportunity to serve in the Mountains!  I feel at home here.  

Well I will talk to you again next week!

Love,

Elder Zach Warren

Monday, June 20, 2016

Getting Transferred This Week and 10 Donut Limit!

Hello Everyone!

Well it has been one packed week.  I picked up a cough at the beginning of this week and it hasn't wanted to leave me alone.  The members tells me it has to do with the heat and my back sweat.  I told them I was doomed to have a cough the rest of my mission then because I am always sweating!!!!!  

Anyways, I will be officially transferring out of the Cauayan Zone on Wednesday!  It has been a lot of fun here in Cauayan, but I am ready to see more of the mission and meet more peope!  On Sunday, a lot of less active members came to church and it made me happy to see that before I left. I got to see almost all of the seats filled up at church. 

On Wednesday, Elder Sorronda and I had to come up to Cauayan because he is going to be a trainer.  I worked with another Elder while he was in his meeting.  On Thursday, I had splits with our Zone Leaders and I was given the opportunity to work with Elder Posadas.  We went to one family of his that I could tell were the joking type.  The problem was that the parents were not active.  I knew I was kind of going to have to be straight with them, when Elder Posadas asked me to teach the lesson.  I was pretty direct when I told them that they needed to be better examples to their children.  They made the excuse that they needed money, but if that was the problem then how were their kids getting to church?  It kind of seemed like the Father had many excuses as to why he couldn't come to church, but in the end it came down to the fact that he wasn't willing to exercise his faith.  At the end of the lesson, the parents weren't joking anymore and I could tell that I had struck a chord with them.  Although I love to joke with others, we need to realize the importance of attending church and repenting of our sins.  Our lives should be centered around our beliefs, we can't only go to church when it suits us well.  We should be making a valiant effort to return to our Savior, because he sacrificed everything for us.  

On Friday we had a specialized training, we watched a video that was to train new mission Presidents.  At one point it said, why would [we missionaries] think this work would be easy when it was such a great challenge for Him.  Jesus Christ preformed miracles on this Earth and yet people still dwindled in unbelief.  That part of the video really hit me.  It made me realize I need to put more faith in the people I am teaching.  If it was that hard for Our Savior, it will be that much harder for me.  I won't give up, in fact after that day, I had a renewed sense of purpose.  I know this work won't be easy, but the joy and happiness it will bring me in the future can't even be described.  

Well to end on a funny note, this morning I bought 10 donuts and 2 sodas, and because of this fact, I was not able to eat lunch.  Lesson learned, 10 is my limit.  I ate 7 with ease last time and was still hungry for lunch but I guess 10 is just over doing it.  

Also Happy Fathers Day to my dad and to Grumps and to Grandpa Matthews.  All 3 of you have left a deep impression on my life and without you men I would not be the man I am today!  Grumps, your still weak and you have strings hanging out of your shirt.  

I love you all and will talk to you again in a week!

Love,
Elder Warren


The Baller Technique

Hello Everyone!

Well it was another good week for me!  We have a truly progressing investigator.  He has attended church for 3 weeks now.  Since last week, he has accepted the word of wisdom and has given up coffee and has stopped his occasional drinking!  I am honestly so happy right now that I am finally on the route to my first baptism. Part of me hopes that I get to stay at least one more cycle, but I will go where the Lord wants me to go!  


This week I got to teach the youth about stories they can use to explain to their non member friends the importance of the Priesthood.  I was very impressed by the scriptures that were provided in the lesson book.  There are several references to the priesthood in the Bible.  Almost all of the passages we shared were in the Bible so that their friends would have a better understanding.  Honestly this is one of the things I love about our church.  Although many people like to disagree with our beliefs, our church is centered off the same authority as the Church of Jesus Christ back in Biblical times.  I love how I don't have to be confused about the governing of our church because we have the same positions as in times of old.  It also makes my life easier because to be quite frank. 

Anyways, we went to the Quirino area again and for what seems like the first time in forever, I dunked for some little kids.  Afterwards about half the neighborhood wanted to get to know me.  Talk about a great way to get contacts!  My companions mouth literally dropped open when the people started to come towards us.  Haha and then to make things better, all of the people were shocked when they found I was pretty fluent in Tagalog.  Now don't get me wrong, I am not even close to perfect at Tagalog, but they thought I had lived here for years.I usually started my contacts off by telling them that, yes I played basketball in america, and yes I was about as tall as Stephen Curry, then I was able to smoothly transition to the gospel!  I call it my baller technique! :) 

Side note: By the way, have I told you that I think I have grown an addiction towards peanuts... I buy them by the kilo!  I just cant get enough of the salty flavor they provide!  I also thinks its an indication that I may need more sodium in my diet.  Oh and I found a cheap donut shop!!!!  I bought 10 donuts and they were amazing.  

Recently we have been having some problems with the women in our branch and as I was listening to one of our less active sisters talk about her concerns about attending all 3 hours due to the fact that there was some contention, a thought crossed my ind: "Who's house is this?"  The thought hit me so clearly that I lost my place in the conversation.  Immediately I was able to answer that the church is the Lord's house.  As it is the Lord's house, all of the members come together to worship and think about our Savior.  The Lord's house is not a place where the members should be diving into groups and talking about each other in negative ways.  It is a sacred place where everyone should be gathered together for one purpose, to come closer to Christ.  

This week I am going to focus my lessons to the women on the sacredness of the Lord's house and how we should be treating it.  It is high time this Branch felt some warmth and love! And who better to give it than us missionaries!!!!  I know this church is true.  The church is a sacred house of the Lord and should be treated as such.  It is no place for contention and definitely not a place to speak negative about others.  The 3 hours we have there are very short and should be cherished every second.  It is an opportunity to receive revelation for the things we need to focus on for the following week.  It is an opportunity to improve on ourselves and come closer to Him who was our perfect example.  I challenge all of you to truly ponder what it means to spend 3 Hours in  the Lord's house.  

Well to leave off, Id like to send my prayers off to the victims in the mass shooting.  I can't believe that was able to happen on US Soil.  I hope the government works hard to control this situation, because it seems to be getting scarier everyday.  

Well I love you all and will talk to you again soon!
Love,
Elder Warren

Hanging out

Crossing the Bridge

Pondering...

The "Dam"

Silly Kids