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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Clean up in Kaloocan

First week in the beautiful Kaloocan, and by beautiful I mean fowlness and poverty the mind can not begin to comprehend. Just kidding it really isn't that bad, its actually wayyyy fun! Elder Lindley is the man and we are having a ton of fun trying to build our area up.

A little background on the area, so last transfer there were 4 elders in our area but 3 of them got pulled-out and now Elder Lindley and I took over the other elder's area as well. Lets just say the area, area books, and the apartment itself were not looked after very well to say the least. We've cleaned up the apartment and now we are working on cleaning up the area as well. 

There are a lot of challenges associated with our area. Church attendance is very low, few Melchizedek priesthood holders, and our teaching pool right now is not looking good to say the least. But on the other hand I've never been more excited about missionary work before in my life and honestly never thought I would be either. I literally am thinking all day long about how we can improve and where we got to go and who need to talk to and what are their needs. What we lack in knowledge of Tagalog, we make up for in effort that's for sure. 

This is the first time so far on my mission that I have gained a testimony about the Gift of Tongues. Coming into the transfer that was my biggest fear, Elder Lindley and I being so young in the mission, but the language to my unbelievable surprise hasn't been a major stumbling block. By no means are we "great" at Tagalog yet but there have been so many times where words have literally just started coming out of mouth that I don't think I've ever practiced before. I don't know if its always grammatically correct and maybe its just the Spirit interpreting the words for them, but all the people we have taught and OYM'd have understand our message and the things we prepared to teach them. 

Before I always just kind of thought, the gift of tongues was just a catchy phrase everyone throws out there just to give us hope in learning the language one day. Now, however I know it's real. The gift of tongues is literally a gift from God for the purpose of teaching His children the Gospel. I have a firm belief, that as long as we are obedient, keep working as hard as we are, and keep our desires focused on His work...the Lord will never hang us out to dry. Simply put, I know He's got our back. Because of that fact there is no fear in speaking or OYMing anybody at any moment. 

Last transfer 92 lessons were taught in this area, we set a goal for 150 this transfer and are determined to get all of our key indicators up to the standard of excellence by the end of the transfer. We have good support from the ward missionaries and we spent a good portion of our time this week delivering member lessons in an effort to gain the support and trust of the ward for our area foundation first. Over the next couple of weeks comes the real task of laying the brick work. There is incredible potential in our area and likely over 100,000 people. With that many people, we know there are hundreds if not thousands prepared by the Lord waiting for someone to show them the way to everlasting life. There are too many people, and too much potential here to go wasted. As we continue to work hard and have fun, relying on the Lord's support in every thing that we do, I know the area will begin to flourish. 

Kaloocan is a tough little city but the people here are kind once you get to know them. Not to mention, who wouldn't be interested in talking to two huge white guys walking around in church clothes in the hottest, dirtiest place on Earth? You best believe, we bout to ball out this transfer.

Pray I don't get stabbed, but if I do that'd be a cool story
Elder Krueger T

Bye Bye San Jose, Hello Kaloocan

Bye Bye San Jose :( 4 and a half months here and now this place just feels like home. Its weird thinking I'll have to pack up and start all over again tomorrow! I really don't want to leave this area I love the people here, and especially the members, sooooo much! They've been so kind to me even though I was new and struggling with the language. Guaranteed no kindness like this sort can be fold across all of America, I've seen members willing to starve just to have the "honor" of feeding the missionaries. I feel like in America people are often like, "Ah man who invited the missionaries, this is family time", but here if you're having a birthday party or any celebration its like the highest honor for the missionaries to attend haha. Having not experienced any other part of the Philippines yet I can't say for certain, but I really think this will always be my favorite area. I feel like I became a man here, I really hope that someday I'll be able to return to San Jose! 

As for transfers...I did not see what happened coming at all! I really thought I was going to transfer out to Baliwag (the far province part of our mission), but instead I will transfer to Kaloocan (the most city na city part of our mission). More than that...I will be companions with Elder Lindley, one of my batch! Two Americans, neither of which have been speaking Tagalog for 6 months yet, companions in one of the hardest areas in the mission. 
From what I've heard it usually takes about a year to get comfortable with the language so maybe President thought that if we put our 6 months together that makes a year. lol Pray for us. 

About Kaloocan, its the hottest, most flooded, dirtiest, and dangerous part in our mission. No sisters allowed in the Kaloocan Zone. Needless to say I'm pumped, this is where all the magic happens. The stories, the dangers, the thrills, Kaloocan baby here I come! I've heard stories of missionaries having to swim just to get home because the floods come up to their necks during tag-ulan. Crime? Poverty like no-other? Cheap fake goods? Pollution so bad you have a higher chance of lung cancer than smoking? Of course, its the city, anything goes. 

For whatever reason I suppose the President has a tremendous amount of trust in Elder Lindley and I to put us together so young! I told him that I can't promise outstanding results or a record of perfect teaching but I can promise that we are going to just work our butts off everyday and we're going to be obedient so that we can qualify for the Spirit to teach our lessons. All I know is that any success that we might find in Kaloocan will be 100% the Lord's doing and all we're gonna do is work hard and pray. I'm very excited and a little nervous about the upcoming transfer but it should be a lot of fun and certainly a challenge. 

Truly there's no rest for the weary, I thought perhaps that after the things I had to deal with this last transfer I would get it easy in the next one. But nope, quite the contrary happened, apparently the issues and trials I had to endure were merely building blocks to get to this point. However, I'm much more excited for this task because I know Elder Lindley is a stud missionary and I can't imagine we'll have any problems working with each other haha. 

Come what may and love it...Kaloocan in the Summer!! Nothing worse, nothing better :)

Elder Krueger T


Apple picking
Mmmm, Mmmm....good



Ward missionary, Elder Ray


Field of Dreams




Saturday, March 22, 2014

I love to visit the Temple

Sorry no email on Monday, we had zone interviews instead and then we were able to go to the temple today. 

Its been a pretty good week and we have a baptism planned for Saturday! I'm way excited for Frans Anastacio, I believe his uncle is going to baptize him, it should be a great service. 

In other news my favorite human being in the Philippines, JunJun Pacursa, got the priesthood a couple weeks ago and is now passing the sacrament! When I saw him passing the sacrament that was by far the happiest I've ever been on my mission and maybe in my life. I felt in a small part like Ammon when his joy was so great to the extent of overcoming his strength! I literally could not stop smiling all day long.  I just keep thinking about little JunJun passing the sacrament and holding the power of God! That feeling alone made everything all worth it. 

Also the new AP is Elder Jensen!! I'm so pumped he's going to do an awesome job and now I getta see him and talk to him all the time, its going to be a fun next couple of months. The temple today was fantastic and exactly what I needed to get through the end of transfers. 

Isang linggo na lang! 
(I had to look up the meaning:  One week only!  Hopefully after this transfers we will get more pictures again and longer letters!  j Keep praying for him.)

Elder Krueger T

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Loving San Jose

Another week here in San Jose and just 12 more days til my dude Frans is getting baptized!! Unfortunately he is our only progressing investigator...but thats ok! We got a couple of new investigators this week and 2 new faces at church on Sunday so the work is progressing slowly. The bad news, the stake president basically came out and said the ward wasn't ready to split because of the lack of full-tithe paying melchiezidek priesthood holders so maybe next year the split will happen. Its ok though hopefully that might generate some renewed desire to strengthen the ward! 

The sad news is most of our investigators with baptismal dates have been taught for awhile and they all have word of wisdom problems. One of them has been taught by missionaries for 8 years now! He came to church the last two sundays so we picked him back up and started reteaching him the lessons again. He says now that he is older and is starting to see the end he really wants to change and do the right things. So we are trying to work with him and our other investigators with set backs. Mostly that involves constant attention and trying to fill their time with positive and uplifting actions that keep them from the desire to relaps. So far the success has been visiable but minimal. 

I love the people here in San Jose so much, especially the members and the people we teach! I can't even begin to describe how weird they are, so naturally I fit right in ^_^.

In other news Ian Khang sent me a letter in which he told me he was at the BYU athletic training center and when he mentioned my name, all the trainers talked about how much they used to make fun of me for how skinny I was but also how much weight I put on. Which made me feel good until I looked in the mirror and realized I have a nice old rice belly already, and am completely out of shape in just 5 months. That was slightly depressing.

I went on exchanges with Elder Steltzer on Saturday and had an absolute blast. He's a john dear mechanic from Idaho and can quote every line from Dumb and Dumber so we get along like two peas in pod. He's such a humble guy and just exuberates the Spirit in lessons I really admire that about him! He teaches in such a calm and quite manner that you just can't deny a word he says because it comes with a power. We got punted alot and ended up walking like 15 miles that day I think, but it was a ton of fun and it was just what I needed!

We just keep working hard out here in San Jose,  I probably only have 13 days left in the area so I'm trying to make every minute count!
As always,
Elder Krueger T


Dinner!

Re-enactment of the First Vision

JunJun looking like a stud at church!

Ran into Elder Jensen at the Mall!  Happy Day!

Celebrating Elder Tumales Birthday 
On exchanges in San Rafael with Elder Steltzer

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Week 21 - Hard work pays off

Another week in San Jose in the books! Right now we only have 1 progressing investigator and he is 9 years old and really should have been baptized when he was 8 but there was miss-communication about the word of wisdom so we are teaching him now. He is a stud, and probably knows more about the gospel than any other 9 year old in the world. He knows details about the Plan of Salvation that I didn't even know til I came out on my mission haha. 

We worked really hard this week and it paid off with 14 new investigators! The down side is that even with an increase in numbers, the only numbers that really count (church attendance) were low again. There's nothing worse than a person looking you dead in the eyes and saying they'll go to church on Sunday and then looking around all sacrament meeting to no avail. The sad part is they aren't just letting us down, its that they are letting the Lord down and that failure to progress is a victory only to the adversary. I think we will try even more so this week to focus on eliminating the middle man. What I mean by this is focusing more on connecting the investigator directly to Christ rather than constantly developing a teaching pattern in which the investigator feels like they come to us, and then we go to the Lord on their behalf. I think any strong active member needs to be able to receive answers directly from Heavenly Father and have enough faith to stand alone at times. And developing that kind of faith doesn't come through convincing and explaining with opinions and doctrines, but rather through the Spirit only. Sometimes I feel like the Spirit isn't really in our lessons because it is all about proving and convincing those we're teaching that it is correct. Instead of simply getting out of the way and allowing the Spirit to do the real work. 

My Tagalog has gotten a lot better over the last couple weeks, though I'm still so far from fluent I'm convinced its going to take another 5 months. Thats ok though I can teach most the lessons well enough that people can understand the point I am trying to get across. Learning a new language has taught me so much about relying on the Spirit to teach I really feel like that was one of the reason I was sent to the Philippines. It has been an extremely difficult, and at times frustrating, experience to be unable to speak and teach the things that are directly on my mind and in my heart. However, it has been such a humbling experience as well to know that while well constructed sentences and intelligent gospel insights may appear to be the most successful in convincing arguments, only true conversion comes through the Holy Ghost. And fortunately for missionaries and members world wide, the Holy Ghost can bare testimony of ANY truth concerning Christ. No matter how poor the grammar or how unadorned the vocabulary might be. Which means we should not ever be afraid to share the gospel with those around us, considering that in refraining from opening our mouths we are really only refraining the Spirit of God. We have no right to do this or to deny those around us the privilege of feeling the Spirit bare testimony. As long as we are worthy and willing, the Lord and the Spirit will accomplish this work through us as the mouthpiece. 

Buhay pa,
Elder Krueger T

Week 20 - Learn from mistakes

Its been a good week and I certainly have learned a lot. Though I must be honest with my email in saying that these have been the toughest two weeks of my life and I would be a liar if I said I wasn't already excited for transfer day. Nevertheless I am trying to humble myself and do all I can to make the next 4 weeks work as best as possible. I am slowly coming to learn the simple but fantastic fact that through Christ I can do all things. While sometimes I feel He gives me space for a time to allow me to develop on my own, I have come to realize He is never far from me and is always watching and supporting my cause if it be righteous. 

I would like to share a quick experience from a mistake I made this week. For the first time on my mission I slept in passed 6:30AM. For some reason the alarm wasn't set but I woke up around 6:25 out of habit anyways without it. I knew it was time to get up because I could tell what time it was by the amount of light outside the window, I also had a strong voice in my head telling me to get up. However, I justified that since the alarm hadn't gone off there must still be some time left to sleep. Well next thing I knew it was 7:30 and while I rushed to get ready and still managed to start my study just 10 minutes late, I knew I was in for some trouble. That was the worst day I've had, it was as if the Lord completely withdrew His strength from me because of my disobedience to His promptings. You would think that with an extra hour of sleep the day would be far better, but I was far more tired, sore, grumpy, alone/abandoned, and just plain weak all the day long. Needless to say I will never be getting up passed 6:27AM again. I believe the Lord taught me a lesson that I can't make it a single day without His strength and hand continually supporting me. The more humbling experiences I have, the better I come to know my Savior and my own nothingness without Him. 

The area is not doing as well as we would like we only had 1 investigator at church this week which means he will be the only person qualified for his baptismal date. We will reset all of our other investigators bapt dates and try to find out the underlying issue as to why they are kept from coming to church consistently. A lot of the people we teach in our area got mad that I didn't tell them Elder Jensen was leaving, it was kind of funny I didn't know what to say cause we only find out transfers 24 hours before they happen haha. We are trying to find new potential priesthood holders as well to strengthen the priesthood holders already in the area because of the impending split that is suppose to happen. Needless to say the ward is going to have a very busy March trying to get ready for this split! It should be an interesting next couple of weeks! 

I hope all is well back home and that the good times keep on rollin! Oh yeah I almost forgot the tender mercy from the Lord came on Saturday when all the foreign missionaries had to go to SM (the big mall) to get pictures taken because of visa problems, and I got to see all my batch, Elder Jensen, Bustillo, Kumar, Redder, and all those cool cats. It was a glorious event!! Oh and we also got a new bakla investigator, which now makes 6 I think lol. That was a pretty funny story Elder S and our investigator got in a fight over whether he should be called Brother John or Sister Joanna, good times good times. 

Kaya nating gawin ito,
Elder Krueger T

Dinner at the Espiritu family and burning the 12 week program upon completion
(photo from last transfer but just got it.  No new photos from this transfer)