Monday, June 26, 2017

Week 102...A Conversion Story

This is Gabe's mom. HI!  He didn't send a letter this week, so I thought I would share a powerful conversion story that was sent to me.  I am sharing it with her permission.  


The Book of Mormon makes me feel spiritually whole. It is my main source of spiritual light. Of course I didn't always know that, but I know that now.

(Taking place in January, 2015)

I always went about feeling empty inside. I never felt whole--just like there was something always missing. One night, I was feeling very empty and I contemplated a bit over the matter. I wondered if this was a feeling that I would have forever. I just felt so empty. I decided to pray about it. I remember specifically what I prayed for--that I was not happy, and that I was afraid that I was never going to be. I also asked God to teach me how to pray.

I believe that it was three days later, when my LDS friend Allison and I decided to go to the school talent show together. After the show, we were having a casual conversation, and eventually the topic of God came up. We talked a little about the church and I remember her telling me that she has “never known anything so true”--whatever that meant. It was a short and simple conversation, but she ended up inviting me to church that Sunday, and I went. Church was good.

I remember being at Allison’s house one day, and both her and her mom were telling me about Joseph Smith. They didn't go into much detail. All I really knew was that he prayed and was led to the church. I thought, “hey, that's kind of like me, I prayed and I am being led to this church.” I always compared myself to him in that sense. I believed that he was a prophet.

(Taking place in February, 2015)

I believe that it was the second Sunday when I met the missionaries. Their names were Elder Taylor and Elder Pettingill. I had my first missionary lesson at Allison’s house very soon after I met them. I invited a few friends. The lesson was on the restoration. It was good. After everyone left, Allison and I ran upstairs to her room. I remember telling her to hurry up as we were going up the stairs. For whatever reason, I had a sense of urgency. It was as if my spirit subconsciously knew that I was going to have a holy and miraculous spiritual experience, and it could not wait to get to it. When she closed the door, I kind of collapsed on the floor and just bawled. I was overcome with such perfect joy, and my heart felt perfectly whole. I kept saying two things one after another, repeatedly, because it was all I could say. “I know for a fact that this church is true.” And, “I am SO happy.” I no longer believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet. That belief was gone--diminished. I knew it. “I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it…” And the fact that I was feeling a happiness so intense, was a miracle. One night, I am afraid that I am never going to be happy.. (one missionary lesson later) ..and I am overcome with this unspeakable joy and happiness. It is safe to say, that God silenced that fear. ...“And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!”...

I slept over at Allison’s house the next Saturday. I remember feeling a crazy amount of peace as I was going to sleep that night. I remember feeling so blessed. I felt like my life was perfect. I had just experienced a God-given miracle, and I was going to continue on that road to happiness. I was going to be baptized soon, and I was going to attend church the next day, and I was going to have another missionary lesson on Monday, and it was only going to get better from here on out. Nothing could go wrong. It seriously felt like nothing could go wrong.

It was after church that Sunday when I received a rather insensitive phone call from my dad’s girlfriend. It was followed by a car ride home full of ignorant criticism about the church and I. I took a BoM with me when I left Allison's house that day. I held on to it in the car as I was being told all manner of silly things. As she would talk to me in such a way, I felt strongly that I should not say a word, so I didn't. When I came home, I went straight to my room, and sat on the floor, and held onto my BoM, and just cried. I didn't read it because I couldn't understand it at the time. I just held onto it because all I knew, was that it was true and holy, and that I needed to hold onto it.

My dad and his girlfriend made me stop going to church, stop having lessons, stop using the internet, stop hanging out with friends, and they took me out of Track. She took my BoM’s away from me, and she called it trash as she threw it in the trash. They read me anti-Mormon literature--which is only convincing if you do not know anything about the church, and at that time I didn’t know much. Not to say that I was convinced, because I wasn't. I was just a little confused.

I remember this one specific prayer I had one night after they read me anti-Mormon literature. In my prayer I just kept repeating to God, “I know the church is true.” After a while of repeating the fact, and trying to convince myself of the matter, it finally hit me.. I know that the church is true.. because I already asked Him.. The thought of my missionary lesson came to mind. I remembered my words.. “I know for a fact that this church is true..” I remembered the feeling, and I remembered the unshaken certainty that I had. That was it. It was true and nothing could convince me otherwise. I held on to that lesson with everything I had in me. It prepared me. God allowed that one lesson, to prepare me for all the adversity. “And behold I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come..”

I also remember asking myself one night, why I wanted to believe so badly that the church is true. My answer to myself was, “because nothing has ever made me so happy.” ...Then it must be true right? Right. There is no way that lies and deceit could ever cause such joy in one’s heart. (Alma 30:35) And that was very plain for me to understand.

The journey to my baptism was tough, but Heavenly Father prepared me well. I was definitely being cooked in the refiner’s fire. And as I would come to understand why this trial was happening, I would often wonder to myself why I was so blessed to receive such attention from God. To literally be molded in his very hands, I felt so blessed.

This the beginning of my story. This is how it all got started.

Adriana Alexis Acejo

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week 101...Sarrat Philippines

Hey Everyone I transferred back to Sarrat for my last 6 weeks of my mission! I don't know why but I'm back and I'm the district leader and life is good.  Everyone here is trying to feed me tons of soda and crap and make me fat again but I'm trying to resist. 

Its summer time when I go home in 5 weeks so I gotta be ready and not look like a skinny fat man when I come home! Elder Cabanus just went home! So crazy! My new companion is Elder Irving he is a white guy from New Zealand! He is my first ever white companion since the MTC haha. I was hoping for an Americano before I go home but oh well! The elder I am replacing here also just went home and the area is literally empty. They didn't leave anything for us so we are starting from ground zero here for my last 6 weeks we will see how it goes. 

I wanted to tell you guys about Joshua, and American we were teaching back in Camalaniugan. He is the guy in the white shirt and no tie on the very right in some of the pictures above. Joshua is 22 years old and from Virginia and he is half Filipino. He has been living here in the Philippines for about the past year and has been going to college here. His mom, who is a filipina, grew up here in Camalaniugan and he has been here to sort of connect with his roots I guess.  We met him by meeting his aunt at an elementary school where the branch was doing a service project; and his aunt wanted us to come and meet Josh and teach him how to speak Tagalog. I told here I don't know if I can teach him how to be fluent in Tagalog (cuz gift of tongues) but I said we would love to meet him. 
We have been teaching him since April and he has been to church twice and is now passed Jacob in the Book of Mormon! I invited him to be baptized but he is still apprehensive and has some doubts about Christianity and the Bible in general, and that's okay, but He says will keep reading and he has felt a lot better about it all since meeting us and reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. I was a little disappointed to know that I would be transferring because I was planning on helping Josh get baptized before I go home in July and possibly even prepare for a mission. But I was forced to leave his information behind for the new Elders who will replace and just hope and pray he will decide to be baptized. Over about a month and a half I got really close with Josh and we would visit him almost every day. We played Basketball with him and we would pick him up for church and buy him food all the time. Remember he doesn't know Tagalog so I was like the first person he can legit talk to in the past year... I hope and pray Josh will decide to get baptized! 
Before I transferred I gave him my quad and a bunch of gospel related Books and talks from Elder Bednar and also some of Joseph Smith Sermons. He has a lot of potential and he has been going through a lot of hard things personally and in his family and I hope that he will ultimately see that the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can fix all the damage and transform him into the person God has foreordained him to be!

Yah unexpected transfers kinda suck but hey at least I don't live in that one trash can of an apartment anymore! On the downside I am back in Iloccos where missionaries get fat so we will see what happens haha.
-Elder Andersen

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Week 99...Cagayan Philippines

I threw up...

Hey Everyone. It's been an eventful few weeks. We have had a lot of baptisms and other activities as of late. We just got bag from Laoag yesterday for MLC and exchanges with the APs.  

I threw up last night on the 6 hour bus ride haha ALL OVER THE FLOOR because I was dumb and thought I could fight it off but I couldn't haha and the bus drivers were super mad at me. After it was cleaned up they gave me plastic bags and I threw up 2 more times but nothing was coming out. It was the worst. It was all because I ate these Donuts that were probably not fresh right before we got on the bus. Surprisingly though that was the first time in my whole mission that I have ever thrown up, and it wasn't even because of like stomach bugs and parasites that everyone that serves here gets.

The pictures you see above were from this last Saturday. Our Investigator Levina Gabatanga got baptized! She is awesome! We wanted to baptize her last week, but her mom was on her 1 month break from Singapore and they were super busy. Plus Levina's older brother was trying talk her out of getting baptized because he wanted her to get baptized in his the families original church. But she didn't care and she knows its true and so she wanted to get baptized anyway haha.  So we baptized her in the Cagayan river because the churches water pump over heated (because its really hot outside) and so we had to improvise last minute and do it in the river.  

Also last week we baptized the Reconoce couple! They are in last weeks pictures. Nestor has had a huge struggle with overcoming his alcohol and tobacco addiction but he finally was able to get it under control and so they finally got baptized last week!

While we were in Laoag the last few days I found out that Rodolfo Asuncion from La Paz is getting baptized this coming Saturday, who is the investigator that Elder Costales and I found through street contacting and we taught him the first 3 lessons and then I transferred. I was so happy when I heard that because he is a golden investigator. He told us he wanted to be baptized after the first time we taught him! He would have been baptized while I was in Laoag but he couldn't because he would drive to manila every Sunday for work. He finally switched his schedule around so he could come ti church! He also had a drinking problem and we talked to him while he was drunk a couple of times haha and he is super funny when he is drunk. But ya I'm so happy that he is getting baptized! President Andrada has met him and was talking about him in our MLC about how golden he was! This is really cool milestone fro me too because He is the 40th person I have taught that has been baptized in my mission! I cant believe God has allowed me to be a part of 40 peoples baptisms! To me that is a miracle and is another comforter that my 2 years has been well worth the sacrifice!

Elder Cabanus is going home this week!  So crazy! Then me in 6 weeks...I'm excited not gonna lie at all haha.

Well that's all i got this week. Have fun and remember to pray always! That is something I have been working on lately, praying more frequently especial prayers in the heart through out the day. I'll talk to you guys again next week.
-Elder Andersen