So I have been in the Philippines now for 5 days, I guess today is day number 6. The Philippines is 15 hours ahead, I think, I am not exactly sure about that. All I know is that I live each day before you do, and work at a different time than you do. The Philippines is good. The first few days we stayed in Urdaneta, where the mission home is. We did this until the transfer day, which was Friday. I wrote you a letter on one of those first days, but you will probably get this e-mail first. I don't remember what I put in that letter anyway. I met my mission President, President Jensen. I really like him, he is a good man. We also met the Filipino missionaries coming to the field with us. They are coming from the Manila Missionary Training Center, and because they didn't need to learn Tagalog they have only been on a mission for 3 weeks instead of 2 months like I was. President Jensen talked to us about some of the mission goals and focuses. He also shared some spiritual thoughts with us. He shared the scripture in 1 Peter 3:15 that says to be ready always to give a response. He talked about how as missionaries we need to always be ready to say something. It reminded me of the scriptures in John 14:26 and Doctrine and Covenants 100:6 that say the Holy Ghost will bring things to our remembrance and that in the very hour of our need it will be given to us. The connecting thought that I had is that if we are always ready and willing to testify and give testimony about Christ that the Holy Ghost will help us, but we still have to be ready. Also that one of the best ways to be ready is to have the Holy Ghost as a companion, that way you are not alone and can receive the help mentioned in the scriptures I wrote earlier. After President Jensen shared his spiritual thought on being ready always to testify, he called on 3 missionaries to bear their testimonies.
I thought I was going to get a Filipino companion, but it turns out my companion is from American Fork. My companion's name is Elder Tolman, he has been in the field for about a year and is also one of the district leaders in our zone. I am in a city called Agoo. We are opening a new area there. After the transfer meeting on Friday, we rode in a jeepney to Agoo. The jeepney was very crowded and it was a long ride. The first night in Agoo we didn't do too much, we found where stores were and bought food, but the next day we worked quite a bit. Because we are opening a new area, and because Elder Tolman was previously in a different zone, we didn't know any members around where we lived. We managed to find out who the branch President was and so we went and met with him. The Branch President actually speaks pretty good English, best I've heard so far. The Branch President told us about a few less recent converts and less active members we could go teach. We also met the ward clerk, who then volunteered to come with us to teach some lessons. We taught 3 lessons that night. We also gave a blessing to Sister Visitacion, a recent convert whose family we taught about temples who was sick. That first night for me was tough. I was still super tired, and a little overwhelmed by the Tagalog, so I didn't do very much in the lessons. I was still able to bear testimony about what we were teaching.
Sunday was good. It was fast Sunday, I was asked to bear my testimony in Sacrament meeting, something I fully expected to be asked to do. It was good I was the first one to bear my testimony in the meeting. A lot of people in the Philippines desire to know English, so when they bore testimonies they would say English words in the midst of Tagalog. For the most part, they are not very good at English. I was also asked to play the piano in Sacrament meeting, I should have, but really didn't expect that. They asked me to play some songs I have never played before, so I sight read them. I made some mistakes, but the piano was a little out of tune so I don't think it was even noticed. The less active members that we talked to on Saturday also all came to church, and our one investigator as well, so it was good. My companion says we should focus on less active members, because there are a lot of Filipinos who become less active, this is true of the entire country. The district we are working in actually used to be a Stake, but there are many inactives. My companion said that as we focus on less active we will get a lot of refferals, and also find many part member families. He says it's not hard to find people to teach in the Philippines, so that focusing on the "rescue effort" we will still find many new investigators, as well as help strengthen the current members. This is the suggestion of Mission President Jensen for the entire Baguio mission. Sunday night we went and taught more lessons. We went with the Branch Presidents wife and taught some less active members. I felt a lot more at ease, and contributed more to the lessons. Instead of just bearing a testimony after my companion taught, I helped teach. I explained about the atonement of Jesus Christ and how much it blesses our lives. It seems people lose sight that the atonement blesses our lives each and every day. I was able to talk about the atonement, how it blesses our lives, and how only through the atonement can we become clean.
Every Filipino meal consists of rice, and something else. Sometimes the something else is good, other times it's not so good. That is what I've observed so far about Filipino food. My Preparation day is now on Monday, as you can probably guess by my emailing now. Life is good. It hasn't been to difficult adjusting. I love you all and will write again next week.