The power of planning, oh and prayer, oh and GodThis was a very good and enlightening week. Tuesday, we went to Laoag which is a 6 hour bus ride away. We arrived around the evening time and we went to the Mall they have and I bought some new ties and socks and we ate at Mang Inasal which is a Filipino fast food restaurant and its so so so so so good. The next day, on Wednesday, we had mission tour/zone conference with President Ardern who is the Area President here in the Philippines. It was an awesome and inspiring conference. The focus was mainly on teaching quality rather than quantity which happens to be a problem in this mission. President Ardern said that as a mission, we teach a relatively high number of lessons, but we lack in quality teaching, and teaching by the Spirit. There was a lot of kind improvement as well which general authorities happen to be very good at obviously because they chastise by the Spirit. A big focus was on 'Teaching the Doctrine' and Elder Ardern emphasized that we are teaching doctrine, but not ALL of it. He suggested we go back to PMG and study the lessons so we can 'Teach the Doctrine' which allows us to teach with power, because the doctrine happens to be the true, and the Spirit testifies of truth which allows the investigators to be effected by the lessons. There was a lot of other things we learned but I could type about them all and I don't have all day soooooo...
Later that night we had to go home and take a van back to Cagayan or 'the boonies' which took about 4 hours because it was now the a.m. and there was no traffic, which led to more than a few of the Elders we traveled with throwing up and just about everyone else had a tickly stomach. So that was fun (not).
Another personal lesson I have learned this week is about the power of effective planning. Elder Roberto and I have decided to focus on our daily planning. As missionaries, and especially in the Philippines, you come home every day and you're a dead beat, Which makes the scheduled nightly accounting and planning for the next day less than desirable to do, and also the updating of the area book. Unfortunately these things are sometimes neglected in the mission field and it is also something that I haven't taken very seriously so far on my mission. This make come as no surprise to my family and those who know me well because I can be a lazy butt sometimes. But this week, me and Elder Roberto decided to change that. As soon as we got home from mission tour we planned the crap out of our next day and set some crazy awesome goals for our KI's that would make us stretch big time. Now we plan every night after work and every morning before work and we really focus on the lessons and people we teach in companionship study, and we have seen some major results and an increase in the Spirit.
I will give an experience. Thursday, we planned a training member lesson to go teach Sister Sunshine, who is a 16 year old member, the next day on Friday. We prepared a specialized lesson that was about the Restoration of the Gospel and the need for missionary work, with the goal in mind that she would trust us with some referrals. The lesson went more than perfectly because we had planned by the Spirit, prayed and we listened to the promptings that would come from time to time. She ended up giving us a referral. It was one of her dear friends and classmates who had already been asking her questions about our church. The problem was that she lives in the outskirts of Lasam and we had never been to there and had no idea where to find her because in the Philippines there are no addresses. All we have to work with is names and the name of the barangay (or the town) they live in, meaning we have to ask for directions everywhere we go. We had also decided to start focusing our finding in Centro to make the area easier for the future missionaries, and also so the area is less tiring to cover. So it was going to be rather difficult to contact this referral because of how far she is and how long it might take us to actually find her house plus we have to hope and pray that she is there at the house when we go and also that there will be a man there so we can actually teach. But we promised Sister Sunshine that we would find her. We made plans later that night after work to contact her the following Friday, a week later. But I still felt a slight impression that we should contact her sooner. The next morning, we got a text from one of our investigators that we planned to go and teach first thing in the morning. She said that they would no longer like to continue meeting with us (bummer dude :( ) But that made our schedule open up a bit. We still had planned to spend about 2 and a half hours to go street contacting after that. But before we went out to work, we sat down and reviewed our plans. The impression came again to me to go and forsake the plans to go finding in centro and to go find our referral in the super far away barangay. I told Elder Roberto that we needed to go and that I knew it would be less than convenient but I had and impression. We decided to just go and planned to leave out the door at 8:30, go find and teach lesson 1 to our referral and return back to centro by 10:30 to our next scheduled appointment. All for our plans to work, it would have to take a miracle. Before we left I offered the prayer. I asked Father to provide us a way to get to Nabannagan (the place where she lives) in good time, and that we would be able to find our referrals house in good time, that she would be home, that there would be a man there so we would be able to teach, and that we would be able to return to centro in good time for our planned activities. So we left. As soon as we walked outside, a cable car ( a motorcycle with a metal box attached on the back that you can sit in) pulled up and we told him where we needed to go and that was exactly where he was going. That was weird. Then we told him that we never been there before and we told him who we were looking for. He said he was from that place but he was familiar with our referrals last name so he sorta knew the general area. When we got close he started flagging people down to ask for directions and he was going down alley ways and flipping u -turns and doing everything he could to locate our referral. It wasn't even 15 minutes before we had a house to go to. We gave the driver a nice tip and thanked him. At this point both me and Elder Roberto were a little shocked at what was happening and Elder Roberto was even gasping and grinning but I stayed quiet and I didn't look at him because I wanted to look like a boss missionary haha. So we approached the house and there was a teenage girl sitting in the shade in front of the house. We told her who we were looking for and she said, "That's me!" I heard Elder Roberto gasp again. I told her we were sent by her friend Sunshine, but also of God. She took us around the back and we met her father who was working on some sort of project in his yard. He was a nice man and was more than happy to let us teach his daughter. We told him we would teach her outside so he could see us. He and his daughter were the only ones at the house, the rest of the family had left early to go to centro. We taught her the message of the Restoration and she was what we like to call a 'Golden Investigator.' She accepted our invitations to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it and also she accepted a baptismal date. She didn't know if she would be able to come to church the next day but she said she would try. After the lesson we met with her father again and he said he and the rest of his family would be willing to listen the next times we would come back. Soo we caught a ride back to centro and we arrived near the house of our next appointment at exactly 10:30. God granted every single thing I asked Him for. :O All this started because we sat down on Thursday night and planned a member training lesson for Sister Sunshine. Miracles will happen in this work if we plan with the Spirit and stop being lazy butts. Lesson learned. Oh, and also we were happy to see our new investigator at church sitting with Sister Sunshine the very next day. Wow.
That is just one of the miracles we have seen in our work this week as a result of being serious about planning. My advice to all people everywhere, missionary or not, try sitting down at the end of your day with something to write with and something to write on and make plans and set goals for the coming day. Try starting with a prayer and ending with a prayer and ask God for the Spirit to guide your plans. I promise in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that your improve and progress faster and daily in whatever endeavor you plan to take. Be it Work, Sports, School, Diet, Church callings or ANYTHING ELSE, you will see improvement and miracles in your every day life. I do NOT promise that you will reach every single goal you set for that day, although it is possible. The purpose goals is to give us direction and make us stretch. Probably the bigger your goals are, the more you will stretch and accomplish, whether you reached that goal or not. That is how it has been the past few days for me and Elder Roberto. We have been setting goals that make us stretch daily and we haven't reached all of them, but we have gotten close. Our work here in Lasam is improving drastically because of it.
That is this week. I love you all. Happy Mothers day to all the Mothers out there and especially to my Mom! I know and feel the power of your prayers.