I want to apologize for not sending an email last week. I had it all typed up and went to send it and as I did the internet was lost and it deleted it all. I hate to say it, but now that I'm in this new area, there might be a couple weeks like that.
In this new area my perspective of a missionary has changed a lot. Not at all in a bad way, but I my eyes have just been opened to a lot more things. I have grown up in the church in Utah my whole life and so I though the church was similar to that no matter where in the world you went. I knew it was different but its hard to understand until you've experienced it.
-Out here we have a small branch that has an average of 45 to 50 members that attend sacrament meeting and about 30 to 40 that attend all Sunday school and priesthood/Relief Society. On average about 10 of those are our investigators.
-Our branch president is 23 and an RM of 1 1/2 years, the YW's president is 18, the branch secretary is 20 and getting ready to leave on a mission in 3 weeks, the YM's president was 17 and less-active until he got released yesterday and the new one was called, he's 17 as well.
-We only have 6 speakers that are willing to speak aside from us as missionaries so they just switch of each Sunday.
-We have only a few priesthood holders that attend because the area next to us has so few that the missionaries asked the district president to have a couple from our branch attend their meetings so they can have the sacrament and some one to preside.
Because of the young ages of the leaders they don't have a lot of experience and so they look to us as missionaries for all kinds of help and answers. We as a companionship have had to start reviewing a lot more the manuals so that we know the correct way to do things and be able to answer the questions that we get asked. As young as everyone is, the devotion to the church and to their callings is phenomenal. I love to see their growth every week and how their testimonies grow from the love they have for the gospel. It has only affirmed my testimony that no matter where you go the eternal principles and doctrines of the gospel are still the same.
I had an awesome experience in one of our lessons last week that I was going to share until it all got deleted. We had planned on going to visit a less-active sister and teach her about faith. She lives in the jungle and the fare for her to get to church is too expensive. We wanted to teach her that if she would put her trust in the Lord and exercise faith in his commandments that she would have enough money to get to church and still be able to have money for food. When we got to her house she had her daughter over. We were planning on keeping with our plans of teaching faith. We said the opening prayer and both decided that we needed to teach her daughter instead. We also felt that we needed to teach Joseph Smith instead of the whole lesson one. We began to teach her and she was so focused. She answered all of our questions and had so much knowledge. Obviously this was all being done in Tagalog but after Elder Hale bore his testimony I was going to bare mine and then close the lesson with the commitments. I began to bare my testimony in Tagalog and then had this thought come to mind that I need to bare it in English. I though it was kind of crazy because she didn't speak any English. I ignored the thought for a second and continued in Tagalog and then another thought came to mind that she needed to FEEL the truth of the message. I stopped my testimony and said sister I want you to pay attention to the way you feel as I bare my testimony not the words I say. I began again, but this time in English. I bore my witness that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I bore my witness that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of the world. I told her that I know Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon though the power of God. As I spoke she began to cry. I closed and then asked how she felt. She said, "Even though I couldn't understand what was begin said I had a peace come over me that I have never felt before." After the lesson I reflected back on the things I said and the way I taught, just as a self evaluation so I could improve for the next lessons. I thought about why I felt I should bare my testimony in a language she didn't even understand. I remembered how focused she was. She was gaining knowledge but not a complete witness in her heart. She need to feel it in her heart and English was how that could happen.
Amazing thing as well is the less-active sister said that in that lesson she knew that Heavenly Father gives a commandments but also ways to keep them. She has come to church the past 2 weeks. She came to us and said "elders a miracle has happened I have enough money to come to church and I have enough money to buy enough food for you to come to my house and eat. Please come and bring more miracles" I had to laugh a little because I felt like we just carried a basket labeled miracles and handed them out to whoever wanted them. In a way we do, its just according to their faith.
This church is true and Jesus is Christ. Thank you for all your love and support.
Wheres the tp? Oh yeah! Its the hose on the wall hahahah still have a hard time with it
Beach, rice fields, american food, just for fun
The work is progressing! Another baptism yesterday
Love Elder O'Neil