Magandang Hapon po!
Kamusta sa inyong lahat!
Earlier today we had a neat privilege of being invited by the mayor of Gamu to attend a flag ceremony at the city center. Several weeks ago he had invited Elder Mills to share some thoughts from the scriptures as part of the flag ceremony. Apparently every Monday morning, they do a raising of the Philippines flag (complete with a prayer, the singing of the national anthem, and their pledge of allegiance) and typically invite a pastor from some church (I don't think he quite understands that we are just missionaries and don't have any "pastors", but that is a bridge to be burned another day. Haha) to give an uplifting message to start off the week and then the mayor says a few concluding words and a little message. When we got there, we found out that they had accidentally double booked Elder Mills and some other pastor, so Elder and Sister Mills and Elder Villania and I just stood and watched the whole time. There were probably over 50 people there, most of them being employees of the mayor/city. Of course with 3 Americans there, we stood out like a sore thumb and the mayor introduced everyone to us and saying we were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or better known as Mormons. He told everyone that next week, Elder Mills will be the one to give the scriptural message and joked that everybody had a week to review their English dictionary to be ready for it. This all started because one of the mayor's good friends from childhood and main bodyguard happens to be a member of the church here in Gamu. He said that he has seen his friend change to being a much happier man since becoming a member of the church and is always friendly and nice to people. After the ceremony, the mayor invited us to his office for a snack and we ended up chatting for over 30 mins. During our meeting, the mayor asked a few questions about our beliefs, said he respected us for what we were doing, and said he wanted to meet with us again next week and introduce us to his family. On his desk was a copy of the Book of Mormon and Bible that the Mills had given a few weeks ago when they met with him the first time, and he asked how to use them better because that is how he prepares his weekly messages every flag ceremony, so we taught him how to use the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide. He is super nice and it will be fun meeting with him again next Monday. All of this happened because one member was living the gospel standards and being an example for everyone else. The down side to all of this is it takes a couple hours out of our P-day. Haha. It is a sacrifice worth making though, as it is an excellent way to get our name out there and gain respect among the people.
Last Saturday was pretty intense because 6 of our investigators had their baptismal interview. 5 of them are the Lapitan family, and they are way awesome. They first met missionaries several months ago when the Tatay was driving his tricy at night and saw the Elders walking home, then felt some impression that he needed to turn around and give them a ride. He immediately invited the missionaries to come over to teach his family, and ever since then, they have been living every commitment that is given to them. The day after the missionaries taught them about fasting, he tried it out and said it made him feel a lot better and he didn't even get hungry during the day. They are even consistent in their family reading of the scriptures and prayers. We went to visit them yesterday and we found the 9 year old and 12 year old reading the Book of Mormon by themselves. The other baptismal candidate is , and she has a great amount of faith. Every time she leaves her house to meet us for a lesson or for anything related to the Church, she gets yelled at because her family is super against her doing anything with the Church. She begs us to teach her almost every time we see her out of the house not only because she desperately wants to learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but she also wants to avoid having to leave her house again so she isn't yelled at. She is 23, so because she is old enough to decide for herself to be baptized or not whether she has family support or not, I asked her one simple question: Despite all of the problems you are going through right now, why do you want to be baptized? Then tears started rolling down her cheeks as she said that the blessings that come the Gospel of Jesus Christ are worth making any sacrifice. What a great testimony to have.
Mahal ko kayo,