Kumusta pamilya ko! (At lahat kung sino magbasa ng blog) :)
Itong linngo ay pinakabisi! Haha this week has been super busy! My companion and I are getting along very well, he's District Leader in the Paniqui zone so we never slack off. I'm so grateful for him because a couple other Elders have said they had terrible trainers when they first got here and it started their missions off all wrong. Elder Cope pushes me harder and harder every day, and I can already see a huge difference between when I first got here and now. I can understand almost everything people say when speaking about gospel-related things, just because those things are engrained in my mind, but everyday conversation is still very difficult.
So this week has been crazy. The power has been out almost every day, I'm not sure why, my kasama says they're doing maintenance on the power plant or something, I didn't quite understand everything he said about it. So it feels kinda cool because I wrote a bunch of letters this week by candlelight. But at the same time it is ridiculously hot at night. I went and got a hammock for like $3 and put it outside and I sleep out there every night because it's too hot inside. Haha so this week at family home evening I got to teach a bunch of little Filipino kids how to gangnam style, which was hilarious. And then they have a song here called "Budots" and they all taught me how to dance to it. Oh there has also been a lack of water lately, so some days they randomly shut off the water. But I'm grateful for Boy Scouts and teaching us to always be prepared because every night before bed I fill my Camelbak up with water, and so the first time the water got shut off I still had water for that day. That water shortage should end pretty quickly here though becuase Tag-ulan is coming. Rainy season! I hear it's crazy here too. In one month last year they had four typhoons! Elder Bell, my zone leader, is from Arizona too, and he said before this he loved the rain. After being in hurricanes and typhoons and heavy rain for six months though, he says you will never like the rain again. Hahaha, don't worry Shelbi I will still love the rain when I get back, because in Arizona it's not trying to drown you ;)
This week I had the chance to give a blessing to Elder Wick, which was an awesome experience. I also got to anoint oil on a little boy in Moncada 2nd branch who is in the hospital right now. Both experiences were very powerful and I am so grateful for the Priesthood. I liked in I think M. Russell Ballard's talk how he said the same priesthood used to bring worlds into existence is the same authority we hold today. Such a powerful statement! And I know it is true.
Dad, that is so cool you got your deer!! Agghhh I want to go hunt something..I just want to go shooting or fishing or something! We went hiking today as a zone (I apologize that's why this letter is getting sent so late) so that cured my outdoor itch a little bit. It was so beautiful, we went to some mountain that is pure jungle and it was awesome. Haha that's so funny the girls won't eat the mountain lion meat. I can't even put a name on what some of the meat I've had here is. I've eaten dog, which was not intentional. I didn't know what it was at the time, and asked my kasama afterwards and he laughed and said "Aso", which means dog. So...yeah..it was really sweet, taste-wise, not like the "awesome" kind of sweet. And yes, still going strong with the fish. It is a staple food here, so I'm getting used to it. I still don't enjoy eating it but it doesn't make me gag like it did.
Mom, I am doing grrrrreat (Tony the Tiger) :) Really, I am. And yes, we have to go to internet cafes to use computers also. It's exciting because I get to skype you all on Mother's day! So I don't need a phone card or anything. And yesss conference was awesome! But we missed almost all of Priesthood session because they do it first on Saturday before the other sessions and we thought it started an hour later than it did, so I'm bummed about that. And yes I remember Hilary Olivete, I wish I would've known her mom taught Tagalog! It's true what she said about speaking other dialects, where I'm at right now almost everyone speaks Illocano dominantly and Tagalog as a secondary language. So it's hard to learn from them because I pick up words from both dialects and when I speak to people who only speak one or the other it confuses them because I accidentally speak a mixture of the two. Haha I was super confused the other day because people here call Jesus "Papa Jesus." But it sounds like they're saying "Papacheezoos" and so I was going crazy trying to find out what the heck they were saying, looking in my dictionary and grammar books and finally my companion spelled it out on paper and I felt so stupid hahaha.
Mom, I am so grateful for all that you did for me growing up, (You too dad haha, but the scripture I read applies more to her). I read this week in my personal study about the Stripling Warriors, and how their mothers taught them to never doubt the Lord, and their faith and trust in Him was unwavering. Because of that, they were all of them preserved in multiple battles. Mom, your testimony has helped me so much growing up. I am so grateful you taught me never to doubt.
Aleigha, you excited to go to prom? Aren't you just a Sophomore? That's really weird you're going to prom. ;) How're your chickens doing? I cannot tell you how many different parts of a chicken I have eaten, but it is not a few.
Maile, magaling po kayo sa balibol daw! (I hear you're very talented at volleyball!) Translated literally to English that says "talented you at volleyball I heard". See? You gotta think like Yoda! Hahaha weird huh? Mom says you help her with the dogs a lot :) Good job Maile, keep on helping mom and dad okay?
So there were a couple talks from Saturday's session I really liked, but I cannot find my notes for them! But Sunday's I wrote in my journal, so I apologize, but I will do the best with what I have with me right now. So I really liked Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, I don't know what it will be called officially, but I will title it "Light amidst Darkness". I want to couple it with Jeffrey R. Holland's talk from I think April 2009 titled "None Were With Him". These past few months have challenged me in every way possible; mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. Uchtdorf spoke of how we sometimes feel surrounded by darkness, or alone. Holland also spoke of feelings of loneliness and abandonment, and spoke in his talk of the "..loneliest journey ever made and the unending blessings it brought to all in the human family." The journey he speaks of is the life of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Holland spoke of the circle of support around the Saviour that, as the events of the Atonement came closer and closer, dwindled very quickly. I don't want to quote the whole talk, (but please read it, is is amazing), but the climax of his talk is when Jesus Christ is "...prepared intellectually and physically..." but not fully prepared, nor was he anticipating what was to happen, "...emotionally and spiritually..". The utter cry of loneliness and despair when our Saviour and Redeemer cries from the cross "My God, my God...why hast thouforsaken me". He had anticipated the "..loss of mortal support.." but not the brief withdrawal of support from the Lord, our Heavenly Father, that was necessary and central to the concept of the Atonement for this to occur, so that our Saviour could feel as we do when we sin, and have the Lord's presence withdrawn from us. The period of time the Lord withdrew his support from His Only Begotten is very brief, and the Saviour endured it all, until the very end, and in ultimate triumph our Savious ended his mortal life with the words "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." There will never be a time in our lives so full of pain, or sorrow, or despair, that has not been felt by our Brother, Jesus Christ. And so in this life we must never sink into the darkness, into the pit the Adversary has dug for us. God has promised us the hope of His light, and a way for us to escape the darkness of this world. Yes, darkness exists. Even in Lehi's vision, there was a cloud of darkness that encircled round about, even those who held steadfastly to the iron rod were encircled about by the mists. But those who reached the end, those who endured it, obtained the desires of their hearts, and fruit that was more precious than all others. Uchtdorf stated we can rise or fall. The choice is always ours. We can rise to the light, or fall into darkness. I like in 2 Nephi, I think in the first couple of chapters (I don't have my scriptures with me sorry) Lehi tells his sons "Awake, my sons. Put on the armor of righteousness...arise from the dust." We are an army of youth, called of God to bring His gospel to the four corners of the earth. We need to share the light in each of us. Never let go of that Rod of Iron. Uchtdorf said the gospel teaches us what we must know, do, and be. He also said that darkness cannot exist in the presence of light. I testify to the truthfulness of his words. The world is full of darkness. But this church, the true church of our Saviour and our Redeemer, is a light to the world. Remember the words of Matthew Ch. 5. Ponder those words. I can testify there are people who yearn for that light in their lives. Shall we not help them? Have courage. Have strength. Have a firm testimony in our Saviour, that when the devil shall send for his shafts in the whirlwinds, it will have no power over you. For darkness cannot exist where there is light. "Light banishes the darkness".
Well, I love you all very much family, Shelbi, and whoever else reads this! Thank you for all the support you give me always. The work of the Lord is pressing forward at a great pace! From the Philippines to you, mahal kita :)
Elder K.H. Rand
So this is a tricycle! It is the main form of transportation here, and it is dirt cheap. We drove across our zone today which is like twenty five miles, and it cost 35 pisos, which is less than a dollar. However, there were seven of us, yes seven missionaries on one of these tricycles. There were three in the cart, two on the back of the bike, the driver, and one missionary (my companion actually) on the roof, and another on a fold down seat on the back of the cart. It was ridiculous, and the most uncomfortable trike ride I have had since being here haha. The other picture is what it looks like with three of us in one cart! Haha, it is not fun. I think everything here is made for Ewoks. ;)
This is me and Elder Cope at the top of the jungle mountain we climbed! :) I'm sorry these are all of the pictures I can send today, I am almost out of time and the internet to upload the pictures is super slow. We will try a different internet cafe next week. I love you all so much! Shelbi, good luck preparing your talk. Oh mom it's okay to send packages without all of the Jesus stickers. It is safe, a lot of other missionaries got packages and they said it's okay if you don't do that. I love you! Stay safe everyone. Shelbi, I hope you are doing well. I miss you so much. I miss all of you!