Sunday, March 26, 2017

Week 89...Cagayan Philippines


I'm back in the boonies! Its good to be back in Cagayan. This place is kinda crazy.  On my first day in Camalaniugan it rained and was cloudy, which was super crazy because I don't think it has rained once in the past three months while I was in Laoag. Elder Cabanus and I were walking down this super long dirt trail that leads to the people that live in the mountains, and it  was right after it rained and it was still cloudy, but there was this crazy hot wind that felt like it was coming form the ground releasing all the heat because it hasn't rained in so long. Haha Im no scientist but it could be legit haha.

Camalaniugan is cool. There are just tons of Coconut tress every where, oh and rice fields as far as the eye can see. The "niug" in the word is the Ilokano word for buko, or coconut so maybe there is a reason why its called Camalaniugan.  The people here are a lot darker and rougher looking than the people in Ilocos. Its probably because most of the men are bukid farmers and work in the rice fields under the blazing hot sun all day everyday.

The apartment here reminds me a lot of my first apartment in Lasam. If any of you remember, that was January of 2016, when I was living in this old depressing, dilapidated wooden shack that was flooding from irrigation.  Don't worry this apartment isn't that bad, it just kinda looks like the other one and reminds me of it.  Its super hot sometimes in the apartment cause the Philippines, and it's also right next to the highway so its super noisy and hard to sleep. And our neighbors are these crazy people that just laugh and yell and scream and swear at each other really loud all the time. Sometimes when we are trying to sleep, but its all good. I guess I'm just kinda picky right now because I just transferred from the mansion in Laoag which is the nicest apartment in the  mission, so I guess I had it coming.  Our water pump broke a few days ago and we could shower for almost 2 days, but the district President came and fixed the pump and saved the day Halleluiah!

I love my new companion! Elder Cabanus is the  He goes home in June so were are both in that last stretch! We have been working our tales off and the branch already likes us a ton so that's a good sign!

We started working about 5 days ago here in the new area and we have been hitting the dirt streets!  Just this week we found 42 new investigators and we found so many part member families and scattered Israel just in 5 days that I can't believed the past missionaries missed them.  We were really surprised this Sunday when 9 of our investigators came to church!  They all came in a cable car about 5 minutes late and they all walked in at the same time and the members were kinda freaking out cause they haven't seen that many investigators at church at once in a long time!  We are so excited to keep thrusting in our sickle and there is so much work to be done!

Every night this week ELder Cabanus and I have just come home and crashed because we are so tired from walking and talking and  teaching, but its great because the sleep of the laboring man is sweet!

We are baptizing the Reconoce couple this Saturday after they get married on Friday! Ill fill you in on them next week!

I love you all and remember to put your shoulder to the wheel!  We reap what we sow, and there is no substitute for good hard work!
-Elder Andersen


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Week 88...Laoag Philippines

Hey friends!  I'm transferring! I have received a special assignment from President Andrada to be a "Senior Zone Leader" in Cagayan.  There are three provinces in the Laoag Mission, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, and Cagayan.  Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur are relatively close to the mission head quarters but Cagayan is super far away and it is hard for the Mission President and the Assistants to handle.  Last year President called 2 additional Assistants in order to handle Cagayan but the area found out and told President that he can't have 4 Assistants, so he had to keep it at 2.  I talked with president this morning about my new calling and he told me that I am exactly what the old Cagayan Assistants were, only the name is "Senior Zone Leader" haha.  The Laoag mission has 8 zones, but 5 of them are in the Ilocos Norte and Sur provinces. Me and my new companion are in charge of the 3 zones in Cagayan because they are so far from mission head quarters and they are so geographically spread out.  So I am super excited! This is a great opportunity for me and a chance to keep stretching myself and a chance to serve the other missionaries. 

So basically I am an AP now, but minus getting to drive the cars and the office work and math and orientating the incoming missionaries haha. Which is nice because I don't want to do any of that (except driving a car).  

It's sad though to leave Laoag, especially since we have about 8 baptisms coming up for the month of April, but it's okay because I know Elder Costales can and will take care of them and see them through. Ill miss my RCs and the soon to be RCs for sure! But on the bright side I get to go back to the Boondocks in Cagayan and loose my fats and probably get some more weird sicknesses and ride on the top of Jeepnees and stuff! I'm so stoked. I couldn't ask for a better way to finish my last 4 months out here! I got 4 months left to dunk'em for the rest of my life as a full time missionary so here goes nothin!

Here are some pics from the beach when I went on exchanges with this super cool guy named Elder Mortenson. Shout out to Elder Mortenson for the cool pics with his super nice hipster camera.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Week 87...Laoag Philippines

Hey family and friends.  I'm gonna tell you some stories. That's what my family keeps saying they want to hear but I am so bad at telling stories on email but ill try haha.

 There is this guy named Arnel that I met towards the end of January while I was on exchanges with an American elder from my zone. We were finding new investigators all over the streets of Lapaz and we saw Arnel who talked to us in English and fluently which surprised us haha.  We can teach him in English which is so awesome and fun cause I can really get into the lessons and sat what's on my mind in a way that I just cant in Tagalog. I have come to love Arnel and he has been through a lot so trying to help him reconnect to God is a challenge and super fulfilling.

 Arnel Tayamen is in his mid 40's, and he grew up here in Ilocos. But when he was a teenager, he and most of his immediate family moved  to Virginia where he lived for the next 15 years. While he lived, studied and worked in the U.S. he maintained a long distance relationship with his high school girl friend, and he worked to save money so that he could come back to the Philippines and marry her and start their life together. after 15 years he came to the Philippines and married her, but after 8 months his wife died of a sickness and Arnel's world and 15 years of planning and working and saving came crashing down.  That was 9 years ago and he has just kinda been here in the Philippines taking care of his family house and working and that's about it. He is born Catholic and he has lots of doubts because of the inconsistency of the Catholic churches history with Christs teachings, but he doesn't like other churches because he says that all of Christianity owes their knowledge of Christ and the Bible to the Catholic church (which is actually pretty true).  But over time I have found that his real concerns have been he is kinda mad at God for letting his world and life's work fall apart and even after  9 years he hasn't let go.

 He doesn't really like Filipino's so I can only go and teach him when I bring Americans on exchanges haha. But over the past 2 months we have had so many intense and spiritual lessons with him where we have taught the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation and a correct concept of what faith is. He has broken down to us in painful tears a few times and there was this super intense moment one time when he was despairing and crying and I was pounding my fist on the table and trying telling him that God is good and saying, "Jesus sweat drops of blood for you Arnel!" and then I started crying too.. 

I love Arnel. He says he feels something and he can see the light again every time we come. He is a little stubborn and is having trouble dedicating time to the BoM and he refuses to pray at the end of our lessons. We almost got him to come to church when Elder Bednar came but he drove by the church and didn't go in. He doesn't like to go to church because he always remembers the pain of losing his wife but we are working with him!

This is why I don't tell stories because when I do it takes forever and I usually tell too much because I stink at summarizing them haha!

This week was dope. We baptized Michael Javier! He is 18 years old and he is the man! He is studying to be a sea man and we baptized confirmed, and gave him the Aaron priesthood all in this weekend! We also gave the priesthood to our other two recent converts, John Henrick and Michael Tungpalan!  We also had 9 investigators at church and 5 of our RCs at church so I guess you could say were happy right now haha.  We have a ton of baptisms coming up in the coming weeks too so it's so awesome right now lemme tell ya.

I'm telling you guys, this kinda stuff takes a lot of faith and hard work. The faith to find and baptize scattered Israel and to achieve anything takes a lot of faith and faith as everything to do with action in the present. We are what we do every day. We only harvest what we sow. And that's with almost everything in life. Baptizing, Working out, studying, providing for a family you name it. Faith is so important. Faith in Jesus Christ the Lord over everything else.

More next week! I love you guys
-Elder Andersen


Monday, March 6, 2017

Week 86...Laoag Philippines

 From my mom to me to you guys! IMMA DO IT


GABE. I'm totally doing this in 6 weeks. It's 6 weeks until Easter.  I want to finish then...Do it with me! 

President Russel M Nelson

I Studied More Than 2,200 Scriptures about the Savior in Six Weeks: Here Is a Little of What I Learned

During the January 2017 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, I challenged those watching to increase their testimony of the Savior by taking time each week to:
  • Study everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the Old Testament.
  • Study His laws as recorded in the New Testament.
  • Study His doctrine as recorded in the Book of Mormon.
  • Study His words as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants.
I promised those listening that if they would proceed to learn all they can about Jesus Christ, their love for Him and for God’s laws would grow beyond what they could currently imagine.
What I didn’t mention during this address was that I knew this promise was true because I was in the midst of completing this very same assignment myself for the first time.
On December 1, 2016, I obtained a new set of scriptures and proceeded to begin the same assignment that I would later extend to young adults in January. When I finished the assignment six weeks later, I had looked up and marked more than 2,200 citations from the four books of scripture.

For me, to be able to accomplish this assignment was just thrilling!
Something I found to be most insightful was that the Savior was telling us about Himself through these various periods of time—Old Testament, New Testament, the Restoration period, and our day. In all books of scripture, the story is the same and the Storyteller is the same.
I have devoted much of my 92 years to learning about the Savior, but rare are the occasions when I have been able to learn as much as I did over this six-week study period. In fact, I learned so much about Him from this study that I am planning to share much of it in other upcoming addresses that I am currently preparing.
Upon beginning this assignment, I didn’t expect that this study would help me to receive a new testimony of the divinity of the work of Joseph Smith—but it did! The revelations recorded by Joseph Smith and the insights found in the Bible are amazingly consistent. It was so enlightening for me to see this in my study.
Joseph Smith wouldn’t have possibly had time to correlate and cross-reference with the Bible at the rapid rate at which he was translating the Book of Mormon—but it’s all here!
So not only do I now have a greater testimony of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but I also have a reaffirmation of my absolute conviction that the system Joseph Smith had for translating the Book of Mormon was a gift from God.
Now, I realize some of you are probably thinking to yourselves that you couldn’t possibly have time to complete an assignment like this.
I know how you feel. I thought the same thing of myself—that there’s no way I can have time to do all of this. I needed to remind myself that a comment like this is not a faith-promoted comment. A faith-promoted comment would be “I know I don’t have time for this, but I’m going to make time for it. And I’ll fulfill it with what time I have.”
Each of us who takes this challenge will finish in our own time frames. For me, much of the joy of this came from getting it all done in just six weeks. This intense study over a relatively short period of time allowed me to appreciate the complementary nature of the learnings to be found in the Old Testament, the Book of Mormon, the New Testament, and the Doctrine and Covenants.

To those of you who feel you don’t have time, if you will make a sacrifice, you will be well rewarded and very, very grateful for the change of perspective, increased knowledge, and improved depth of your conversion. I know this is true because I have seen the same rewards in my own life.
As I mentioned at the devotional, in a coming day, you will present yourself before the Savior. You will be overwhelmed to the point of tears to be in His holy presence. You will struggle to find words to thank Him for paying for your sins, for forgiving you of any unkindness toward others, for healing you from the injuries and injustices of this life.
You will thank Him for strengthening you to do the impossible, for turning your weaknesses into strengths, and for making it possible for you to live with Him and your family forever. His identity, His Atonement, and His attributes will become personal and real to you.
But you don’t have to wait until then. Choose to be one of His true disciples now. Be one who truly loves Him, who truly wants to serve and lead as He did. I promise you that if you will study His words, your ability to be more like Him will increase. I know this is true.