Magandang Hapon po!
I will have to be quick today because we went on a hike this morning and don't have much time to email because we still have to wash our clothes (by hand of course) and be ready to work in less than 2 hours. The hike wasn't anything too long or strenuous (at least for me and my Nay legs haha), it was just up a "mountain" (really a big hill), but it did have a really beautiful view. We got up at about 4:30 in the morning so we got to see the sun rise above the mountains and saw beautiful sun rays coming out of the clouds on the valley floor below us. It felt good to get out and go on a little hike again and see some nature. On the top of the hill there are some really primitive houses probably smaller than our food storage room. We had a little barbeque up at one of the houses and then we had to go down a steep hill to the stream to fetch some water to use to wash plates and stuff. Glad I don't have to do that every day. Haha. We even saw 2 little kids leaving to walk down the huge hill to make it to elementary school. Quite the hike just to go to elementary school. One of the most memorable parts though is I can officially say I have ridden in the back of a big dump truck Haha there were 12 of us waiting on the side of a rural highway forever so we could flag something down and the dump truck with no load in the back was the first thing that stopped. It was pretty awesome. I am getting quite professional at hitchhiking because we have to do it several times a week just to get back at night. We just stand out on the side of hi ways with our thumbs out waiting for someone to have pity on us.
I think the highlight of our week was on Saturday, when we spent the entire day doing a baptism interview, witnessing our own baptism, and training the Stake leaders and bishoprics. We probably spent 20-30 minutes training them about the importance of hanging on to the recent converts and the importance of keeping them involved. Several years ago, I would have just laughed at the idea of presenting training to a bunch of church leaders for that amount of time. But, everything turned out well and I never even seemed nervous about doing it, and we wished we even had more time to train them even more. I suppose that is one of the extra blessings of serving a mission-makes you a lot more self confident. It was definitely a day where we both couldn’t help but go to bed a few minutes early because of such a mentally and physically exhausting day running from place to place. We were able to have a very spiritual experience as we witnessed how prepared this individual was and the strong testimony he has. I had the privilege of performing the interview while Elder Lasay just sat in the room, but during the interview his desire to become a member was made very apparent by his testimony he shared of each principle in the baptismal interview questions. There was no doubt in my mind that he was ready to be baptized. The Spirit was definitely in the room to confirm it, and even Elder Lasay could feel it. Being the one entrusted with the responsibility of determining this person’s readiness for baptism makes me appreciate my own baptismal covenants and desire to fulfill them better.
It was very rewarding to see that the Tatay of these 2 primary girls (ages 9 and 11) made the commitment to make himself worthy and prepared to perform the baptism on his children. Elder Lasay and I had to practice with him several times the process of the baptism and helped him memorize the baptism prayer, but it was super awesome to see him come from being less active, quitting his smoking, and making the extra sacrifice to come to church. This family is very poor and it is a big sacrifice for them to make it to church each week. Whenever I think or hear of an excuse of not being able to make it to church, I will always remember the Pader family.
Well, sorry I don't have time to write more. Maraming salamat po for your emails and support. Not going to lie though, that is kind of cool mom got to cut open dead people and practice amputations-because I'm sure that is a skill she will use often... Haha. Makes the term Graveyard Grace sound even more fitting. :)
Mahal ko kayo,
P.S. be thinking about which time and day you want me to skype