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