Monday, June 9, 2014

How do you define success?

You know, it's interesting you mentioned in your letter about how baptisms don't determine the success of a missionary, because I was actually just thinking about that this past week. One day I was just thinking "You know... I haven't had any baptisms for a long time! In fact... I think I'm one of the lowest baptizing missionaries in our mission (in comparison to people that have been out for a similar amount of time)" But, I also thought how I have many people compliment me on what a good teacher I am, and many elders compliment me on how obedient I am. And yet, I don't baptize many people! But, I never ever feel like an unsuccessful missionary. According to the principles in PMG that define what success is as a missionary, I continually feel all of those things. If I had the choice between getting baptisms or being a successful missionary, I would take being a successful missionary any day of the week! :)
Our bishop is awesome! Bishop Bautista. With almost every leader I've ever worked with on my mission, it's like ripping teeth out to try and get them to do anything to help with the work of salvation. It almost feels like I've had to work against some leaders, rather than working with them. But, Bishop Bautista is on the ball! We asked him Wednesday evening "hey bishop, when do you think you could come out with us and help us teach?", and his response was "Hmmmm... how about tomorrow?" Tomorrow??? What! "Uhhh... well, we are actually meeting with our best investigator on Friday. Could you come with us then?" "sure elders! I'll come with you on Friday." And then you actually DID come with us on Friday! Huuzaw! AND he was actually helpful during the appointments and contributed in meaningful ways! I told him afterwards he is the best Bishop I have ever worked with on my mission. One, because he is the only bishop I have ever worked with. (haha) And two, because he actually helps us and wants to the work to progress! Incredible. Simply incredible. 

Me with Bishop Bautista and my companion Elder Consego
Here in the Philippines they have a decent number of languages (similar to India, but not quite as bad). And they have developed a saying that when you can't understand what someone is saying you have a "nosebleed". I don't understand why. All I know is people complaining about having nosebleeds a lot when they talk to me! haha. Another interesting point: In India, people recognize that I'm American, and do their best to talk to me in English. However, here in the Philippines everyone speaks to me (at least at first) in Tagalog! I just think "Uhhh.. do you see what color my skin is??" Haha maybe they are just used to elders speaking Tagalog. The church is very well known here! It's weird hearing nonmembers call me elder. But, I like it! 
A lot of the missionaries ask me what India is like in comparison to the Philippines, and one thing I usually mention is that the Philippines is SO much like America in comparison to India. But, I always feel a little rude saying that, because I always remember a mutual activity years ago where sister Wright talked to us about being Classy or Tacky, and one way of being tacky was trying to show people up/one up them. I know all of the Americans think the Philippines is so different from America, and I feel like I'm one-upping them by saying India is WAY more different, but it's true! I don't want to lie to them! I guess I'll just be an honest but tacky person. 
Random observation: In both India and the Philippines I have noticed a trend that the richer/more westernized you are, the more embarrassed you are over natural/bodily things. Going to the bathroom, washing your undergarments, burping, having your period, etc. They are perfectly natural things, and totally fine, but westernized people seem to be ashamed of these sort of things, where as poor people or non-western people don't seem to be bothered by them. In American, everyone is westernized, and almost everyone is rich, so I guess that's why all Americans think it's shameful to go poop. :P
This week I had a first: the first time I had NO distractions while teaching an investigator the first vision! Sounds like a good thing. right? But no, not really. It was one of the weakest lessons I've ever given, and the investigator clearly wasn't really listening. I guess Satan didn't even bother distracting him, because there was no need...
On the opposite side of the spectrum, we DID have a really spiritual lesson this week! One night all of our plans fell through, so we just started talking to people out on the street. We started to one group for a while, and then while we were talking to them a young woman (14) came outside of the house we were talking out in front of. My companion asked her is she was a member, and she said yes! So we asked if we could come in and teach, and she said yes. So we went in and met her family, and started to teach them. The 14 year old, Precious, and her brother Nepadi (10) are members, but the parents aren't members. We taught the dad about being sealed with his family. He loves his kids a lot, and this doctrine definitely caught his attention. But what touched me the most during the lesson was when we asked Precious "Do you feel that God answers your prayers?" "yes, of course." "could you give an example of a prayer that he has answered?" "Ya... I prayed that elders would come to my house someday and teach my dad." Wow. What a great young woman. I'm glad God answered that prayer. :')
Have a great week family! Go invite one of your friends to church!

Philippines Quezon City North Mission

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Me with Elder Magnum
This week my mission actually had the first mission conference they have had for a very long time! Guess I came at the right time, huh? It was cool getting to meet so many other missionaries, but also a little awkward at times as everyone was hugging all of their past companions, and Elder Mangum and I just feel like 211th and 212th wheels... :P BUT, I learned a lot, and even made a friend of a sister missionary from PAKISTAN! Pretty cool stuff! I also met a girl from my BYU Ward! Wow! Small world! 
A few things about my new country...
Everyone calls Americans Joe here. I guess named after GI Joes? Haha I've gotten it a lot the last couple of days!
The weather here is a furnace! Gee wiz, I miss my nice Bangalore weather! 
EVERYONE plays Basketball here! Everyone in Philippines wants to be a baller (and of course they all watch the NBA and wear jerseys everywhere), everyone in India plays Cricket, and I guess everyone in America channel surfs? haha ^_^
The saying here is "It's more fun in the Philippines!" 

Here's an example of the way girls dress here in the Philippines: We invited a 15 year old girl named Let Let to church, and she asked what she should wear. We told her a dress or skirt. She then asked how long it should be, and we said it should come to your knees or lower. She and her sister then busted out laughing, and told us she didn't own any dress of that length! haha oh Philippians...
Here's a story I think all of you will enjoy (especially Noah). So, one evening this last week our ward mission leader pulled all of us elders aside, and said something he needed to talk to us about. He said though he didn't want any of us to get offended. And after a few minutes of us PROMISING him we won't get offended, this is what he told us: Elder Anderson and Elder Mangum, I've been getting some complaints from the members that the two new elders from India stink really bad. haha what?! Apparently quite a few people had mentioned they were offened by our smell, but didn't have the guts to tell us, so they told Brother Richards to let us know... I guess we've lived in India for too long, where EVERYONE smells bad, so it just became normal to smell the way we smelled... (curry bleeding out into your sweaty pores does not smell very nice). So, this week I got some new deodorant and body spray. Hopefully I won't offend so many people! I've gotten Elder Mangum hooked on Noah's prayer as well "Please bless us that we will look good, smell good, and be good!" haha, fun times.
Regardless of my smell though, everyone thinks I'm super hot, so that's a bonus. I can't tell you how many people tell me that I'm handsome! My white skin, rosy cheeks, and nicely shaped nose are all hot stuff here in the Philippines!