Monday, January 11, 2016

Jeepneys, Donuts and Persevering

Hello Everyone!
Well first off to answer your questions, there is not a temple nearby, in fact there are only 2 temples in the Philippines.  I will not have the opportunity to go to the temple for the rest of these 2 years unfortunately.  I actually really like this ward.  Although it definitely needs some strengthening the members are so nice and really funny.  Also I have to come clean about something.  It has actually been bothering for me a while now.  I actually no longer wash my clothes by hand...  I just pay a member to clean my clothes for me hahaha.  Its relatively cheap and saves me time and they keep my whites white so that is an extra bonus. 
I am getting more and more used to Jeepneys.  Today I got on one because it is the cheapest way to travel into the city and they filled this thing.  If you want to talk about uncomfortable, I think jeepneys take the king.  I am talking my arms were twisted and angled across my chest.  I have one leg sticking into my companions thigh while my other one is jabbing into a stranger sitting in the middle, where there technically isn't a bench, but they fill these things up as much as possible.  By the time I get out of the Jeepney, half of my body is numb and the other half felt like it just worked out for a good 30 minutes straight.  I don't complain, I see it as an opportunity to work on my flexibility!  Haha and I feel like if you flex a muscle for that long it has to be getting stronger right? 
Oh so I also had donuts today for the first time in 6 months!  Holy cow it tasted like heaven on earth.  I forgot my taste buds had even existed until then!  I must've bought 5 chocolate donuts alone.  I also had some other various Filipino donut flavors. 
As for work here, we are working hard to reactivate as well as make some progress with our many investigators.  One day we were walking along this scenic route after coming from an area where every single one of our lessons weren't home.  As I walked I just pondered on why it can be so hard to find people sometimes.  As I did I started to look around at the beauty and the water buffalo and just came to a realization that behind every rough patch is a beautiful valley just waiting to be found.  I know that I have not had a lot of success with investigators so far, but I feel like if I keep pushing through these thorns, eventually I am going to find success.  I continue to read in the Bible and look at how hardened the hearts were of the Jews.  It only took them 30 days of not being in the presence of their Prophet to construct a golden calf.  It is actually a little saddening to see how easy a persons beliefs can be changed. 
Throughout my mission I have found so many evidences that just add to my testimony and let me know the church is true and there is no way that I can deny it.  I know that we as individuals need to really do our part and continue to study the gospel with a fervent desire to come to close.  If we come to a plateau, we will begin to lose our testimony and the Spiritual strength that comes with it.  I am not discouraged that the ward is small or that I have to get used to an area this big in 6 weeks.  I know that as I continue to come closer to Heavenly Father, He will provide a way for me to be successful in this mission. 
Well I am continuing to do well here.  I am really starting to draw a crowd when I go play basketball, especially after last week when I dunked on a hoop in a barangay and broke the hoop on accident... On that note I love you guys and here are some pics of me and my comp!
Elder Warren

Butter Flavored Corn Candy

Hanging out with a family and other Elders

Pic of my new comp in a rice field

Front selfie in a rice field

Side selfie in a rice field

My pet dog


My First Transfer

Hello Family!
Well I was in fact transferred!  During that day I actually was not that nervous, I was more excited!  My new area is right here in Cauayan City and MAN do I love it here.  Everything is so close and they have dunken donuts and KFC.  Talk about heaven.  This is the moment I have been waiting for.  I will now look forward to district meetings because after those I get to go eat at those delicious restaurants. 
My new area is pretty dang huge.  It takes a whole week just to go through it all!  Talk about having some work ahead of me.  The first Sunday was a little bit of a surprise for me.  I found that I am now in a branch, not a ward.  And this branch is really small, like really small.  We had about 30 members that day which was a little bit of a shock for me.  I have a lot of work to do, but I am really excited for the opportunity to do so!  These members are very nice though and willing to work with us which is exactly what I love to hear!  My new companion's name is Elder Fernandez and he is originally from Monilla.  I am now the Senior Companion which is insane for me to be honest.  I am actually following him up which means that most likely I could be training NEXT CYCLE! 
Wow does time fly.  I made an attempt this week to take the opportunity to start the conversation with our lesson appointments and find out the needs and concerns of the people.  It wasn't that hard.  And since I am the follow up, technically Elder Fernandez should be leading so I give him a lot of lean way on where he wants to go and who he wants to teach. It has made the process go a lot smoother.  I still have many areas to check out and need to really try to remember where everything is in the next 6 weeks haha.  I am definitely noticing that the amount of responsibility is getting bigger for me, which means I just need to work harder to meet my goals! 
Anyways I had a great time during New Years Eve!  I got to be with the Victorian Elders since their appartment wasn't safe for the night.  We had a fun time going to a FHE and then being locked up after 6.  We just played some cards and talked.  We were actually allowed by the President to go out and watch the Fireworks which was really nice.  Some people went crazy for New Years Eve.  I heard music until 3 in the morning when I was trying to sleep!!!! 
I also got to bear my testimony this week during fast and testimony meeting.  I really felt the spirit and it was kind of like another building experience that just let me know the church is true.  I also surprised a lot of the members because they expected that I would bear my testimony in Tagalog hahaha.  This area is very good at English which could come in handy if I ever get super duper tired.  Anyways I had a good week and I am excited for the new challenges and blessings that come with a new area!  I love you all and although I do not have any pictures yet, I will definitely get some to you next week  
Love you,
Elder Warren

Monday, January 4, 2016

Transfer Week = Lots of Dinner Appoinments

Hello Family!

It was nice to see everyone on Christmas.  I loved talking to all of you guys and the skype actually made me more energetic than sad.  I realized that I am already a fourth of the way done.  If I keep up the hard work I will be home before I know it!  

Anyways I am doing great here as you can see haha.  I did have a little challenge this week as later that evening after we skyped I got the flu.  That was not a very pleasant experience and I definitely hope I don't have to go through that one again!  Anyways I found out that I will in fact be transferred in 2 days!  I have no idea where I will be going or who is going to be my new companion but I will continue to keep you posted next week!  Although I am excited, I will miss my ward because the people there are awesome.  

On the bright side for the next 2 days I will have dinner appointments!!! I have learned a lot from my first area.  What to do and what not to do.  It was incredible to see how much I have improved in Tagalog. At church this Sunday I thought back to those first weeks where I couldn't understand what was being taught in class and now I could interact with the teacher!  The gift of tongues has definitely been made evident through my time here as a missionary.  

Honestly I have realized that we have so much more than these people and sometimes I wish I could just take them all back with me.  I only have to work here for 2 small years and that is part of the reason why I have been so positive.  Another reason I continue to remain happy is because I can actually see that I am becoming a stronger man from this.  I am a pretty stubborn guy and I know I was put here in order to realize that the Lord has work for me to do and I need to rely on him for the strength to make it through this, not just my own strength.  That is one of the most important things that I have learned. 

I hope you know that I am continuing to work hard for you guys and for myself.  I have learned so much here and I am more than grateful for this experience I have been given.  I am becoming more of a man as well as a more effective tool to be used by the Lord!  I don't have too much more to talk about since we talked only a couple of days ago!  I love you all, you all look great and I will be back before you even notice I was gone!


Elder Warren

Christmas Eve Games with the Kids

More Christmas Eve Games