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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Week 41 - I Live On!

I suppose one of the best perks of the Pilipinas is getting to email twice in a week because of a hurricane! hahaha I can now say that I not only survived a hurricane but basically slept through most of it, which is pretty cool. I gotta just say that the shear power of God is marvelous and magnificent. Picture the entire sky, as far as the eye can see, completely black with clouds and hundreds of bursts of lightning going off every minute! And all the while knowing that God is completely in control, was actually quite comforting, I slept like a baby through the whole night. Although once the power went out and we hard no electric fans it made things a bit worse haha. This is just the very start of the season so I wouldn't be surprised to see another perhaps bigger hurricane come again.

We had stocked up on food before the storm but I didn't realize that the typhoon would knock out the power so we had no way to cook anything. So we pretty much just chowed down on bread and uncooked chicken and cornbeef for a couple of days which was not my favorite but I've had worse. Nothing too terrible happen in our area except one of the only trees in all of Kalookan fell down next door into the apartment across the street. It was fairly entertaining watching like 300 Filipenos try to figure out how to cut down this tree. 

In other more important news we had stake baptisms last Saturday and 6 converts entered into the Kalookan Stake. We represented UH Ward with Sister Hazel. She is awesome and has been a spark to her whole family to return to activity. Through teaching her we have also been able to reactivate part of another family and they should hopefully be getting to the temple soon to receive their endowments and sealing. 

I had to give a workshop on the topic of promptings because apparently there has been a little confusion in our district claiming that "the Spirit" has been saying to chastise the local Bishop and also break mission rules, so we had to set the record straight about the actual role and promptings/feelings that come from the Spirit haha.

The spirit is almost impossible to put into words because I think it comes in different forms for different people. I think sometimes our spirit recognizes the Holy Ghost so it sends out a physical feeling like a warmth or for me usually a chill. However lately I've noticed the Spirit working more so within my thoughts, something that's hard to describe but the ability to recognize just comes over time with practice I guess. I love when Bednar said that answers and revelation come in two ways, the light bulb being turned on (very rare) and the sun rising (very common). Most often our answers just come over such a long period of time that we hardly even notice them working within us. Read Alma 32 about the seed and letting it grow. In order for a seed to grow you have to weed the garden, or pluck out all the negative thoughts and doubts first, then water and nourish the seed and look back at its growth. 

As we know that there must be opposition in all things, it seems sometimes that the better we become the harder it gets and the more responsibilities we acquire. But with the added weight comes added help from the Lord and that's when and how progress occurs. The saddest thing I've seen repeatedly over the course of my mission are the investigators, as well as less actives, who start out so strong and obtain testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel, but like the parabole the Savior gave, become choked by the the weeds and fall away by the way-side. Remember the the Tree of life and how some partook and cast their eyes about ashamed, and for what? They tasted of the Gospel and didn't even realize how great it was. Instead they traded their inheritance for the great and spacious building. It seems it is the nature of man to always be discontent with our plot in life. This can be a positive when it pushes us to become more like our Savior and continually get better and progress, but more often in the world today I feel that these kinds of feelings have become a burden and a problem. We constantly think that once/if we get that job, or finish school, or get this, or get that, or finish this then we will be happy and content with life. However once we finally obtain these things we find we are no more happy than we started, in fact, usually all we want is more. 

The best lesson I have learned on my mission is just being happy and content with where you are at no matter what the circumstances may be. We have very trying obstacles and standards of living in the Philippines, yet I am happier than I have ever been. It is because I have the peace that I know what I am doing is right and my mind is not centered around what could be better. I don't know a whole lot, but I do know without the shadow of a doubt that the church is true and Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. The trick in this world is not knowing but remembering. Before the world was we all knew exactly who Jesus Christ was and even chose Him as our Savior. Here on Earth we can receive witnesses that He is real and that this is His restored church. The Devil doesn't have to convince us the church isn't true, he just has to get us to forget that the church IS true. The reason thousands of RMs go less active is because of how easy it is to forget. Read 1 Ne chapter 7 when Nephi asks his brothers how they "forgot" that they had seen an angel, and so many countless miracles of the Lord. My advice would merely be to try praying not for signs or a stronger testimony, but do as the sacrament prayer suggests and simply pray that you might "always remember him". The more often we think of the Savior, the closer we draw, and the more we want to become like Him. Desires lead to action, and action leads to change.

Elder Krueger T

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week 40 - overcoming the flu and remembering Toby

We had a tough week getting out because Elder Roa and myself were very sick but we still managed to help fertilize the area a little bit. We should have at least 10 investigators with baptismal dates by the end of this week and with 15 LAs at church last week, we are striving to see 20 make it out this upcoming Sabbath. 

I enjoy the less active work so much, mainly because it is a work many overlook and yet is even more essential than baptism. Without the enduring to the end or covenants available only within the holy temples, baptism in itself falls infinitely short of the requirements of Celestial Glory. When I think of less actives I can't help but think of D&C 15 and the worth of souls. Whether we are within or without the church we are all still precious souls to our Father in Heaven. I know because I would consider myself to have been a less active for many years back prior to my mission. It took the love and outreach of many Earthly angels to bring me back, through which process I learned the worth of my own soul. Perhaps that is why I feel so driven to help others return and recognize the peace and promises that come only to the faithful of Christ's restored doctrine. When I think of Heaven I picture seeing all of the converts I was able to see come unto baptism and it makes me truly happy. But then I picture a family standing in the presence of God there only because some missionary took the time to find and rescue them. To remind them of their covenants and teach them about the opportunity to be sealed forever within the temple. A rescued family won't bring a whole lot of glory to a missionary and there is no statistic within the key indicators that will give him credit, but to our Father in Heaven could there be any greater work or deed than a family returned to the truth and sealed for time and all eternity? No, the work is all the same, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Within or without the church we are all still investigators of our Heavenly Father and while we are all along different parts of the vision of Lehi, His goal remains only to bring us all back to the Tree of Life. Regardless of whether we are in the darkness, the river of filth, the great and spacious building, or even holding fast to the rod of iron. It is all the same work of the Lord, to bring to pass immortality to all men and eternal life to as many as will desire it.

I was able to go on an exchange last Saturday with Elder Rodriguez and he is doing great now. I think he is very happy and excited about getting his new trainer in Elder Crabb. Elder Rodriguez still has a long way to go in learning the the language, but being a Phil-Am he certainly has a leg up on most the foreigners. Once he gets the language down in the next several months I can see he is going to be a great missionary. He is humble, teachable, and most of all just ready to work. I pushed him a little bit to try teaching in our lessons rather than merely bearing testimony at the very end and he responded very well!

That was pretty much the life of a missionary this week, so I suppose I will close this email with a few words about Toby. Being the only child at the house for 6 years, I came to truly enjoy the quiet. It was something I thought was going to be a struggle for me to deal with on the mission cause given the choice between making casual conversation and sitting in silence I would actually prefer the silence. Now that has changed a little bit on the mission as making conversation frequently and with anyone in earshot has just become the standard. Yet still, I recall some of my favorite times back home were just laying on the ground perhaps reading or watching tv or just thinking. Always at these times I had Toby laying there right by my side or down at my feet (trying to steal the heater from me). 

That is what I will miss the most, having somebody there and yet being able to merely enjoy each others company without having to say a word. He didn't have to say anything but I knew that he loved me, and hopefully he knew that I loved him too. I can relate my relationship with Toby to that of Heavenly Father. He doesn't say a whole lot and yet He is always there and I know that He loves me. Even when I don't always give Him the attention that He deserves or treat Him right, He is still there right by my side ready to do anything with me or for me if I so much as say the word.
I love Toby and the blessing he was to my life for all those years, though I still regret wasting his potential as a pure bred hunter. I hope he enjoyed his time spent in mortality and I look forward to seeing him again in immortality.
Elder Krueger T

Week 39 - Why make life any harder then it is?

We had a great week in seeing progression in our teaching pool and investigators. We were able to give out a couple of baptismal dates, one should go through on July 19 and then 5 more on August 9th. Interestingly enough it would appear that with the greatest amount of success comes the greatest amount of opposition. Both Elder Roa and I had 100+ degree fevers and several flu-like symptoms. On Saturday I was feeling extremely ill but we had such a great day lined up we felt like we had to get out to work and trust that the Lord would carry us through. Never have I experienced such a long and yet spiritually uplifting day in my life. 

We started off visiting our progressing investigator who is preparing for baptism on the 19th of July. After which we quickly made our way over to a new investigator named Brother Alden, were the spirit was so strong in inviting him to baptism on the 9th of August that he accepted. We were then able to make it to Brother Joven, an OYM who happens to be the Barangay Captain (probably one of the most wealthy and respected men in our whole area). Despite our weakness we taught boldly the message of the restoration and committed him to attend church with us the following day. Unfortunately he was unable to make it but he was so intrigued by our message that he invited us to come back to his office every Saturday until he has heard out all that we have to say. The other two investigators that we visited however were able to make it to church yesterday and partake of the goodness of the Spirit felt during the meetings.Then we finished off the long day with our very first English Class over at the church (not the greatest attendance but should begin to grow). 

I learned a valuable lesson that this work is too important to take time off. It is important to get well but if we had stayed home we would have missed these incredible opportunities to share the gospel and strengthen our investigators. It was an incredible day, one I hope never to repeat and one I will not soon forget. At times I felt like I couldn't get up to use a CR to throw up, and yet at times during the lessons I spoke as if I was 100% healthy and nothing could slow us down. We are not without opposition in this work, even the greatest missionaries in the scriptures frequently recorded trials, struggles, and despair. Even Ammon recorded in Alma 26, "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." He spoke of hunger, thirst, fatigue, in the body and the mind, with much labor in the Spirit, and yet it would appear always when he was pushed to the very edge the Lord came to bear him up and continue forward. 

All of us whether we be within or without the church, on full time missions or disciples of Christ in our small circle of influence, will face many problems. This is evident in D&C 24 when the Lord clearly states, "Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days." Interestingly enough this is a 2 part statement. The Lord tells us we will have afflictions and yet also that we will have His help. His hand will always be sufficient and equal to meet the needs of our challenges. How miserable must people feel without the hand of the Lord. Since we all experience trials in mortality, it is a sad plight for those who wander through this mortality without the aid of a perfect loving father in heaven and a perfected elder brother. Why make life any harder than it has to be, if we understand the promises of God we will understand that we will never give us a burden we cannot bear, nor will He ever leave us without sufficient help to succeed. When Christ said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He was not promising a life free of trial or tribulation He was promising a partnership. A yoke links two oxen together, now if the Lord is the other ox, how can we expect Him to drag us and the load along? Likewise we cannot expect Him to burden us down if we are yoked to Him. His promise is an equal partnership, He will pull as we pull. As the load that we carry increases so does the strength that He lends increase. The covenants within the Church exist specifically so that we might submit to the will of the Father and yoke ourselves to the Lord. May we always remember those covenants and as we live worthy of them, may we remember the promises made on the other side of the veil from Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ.

By the way 4th of July here makes me miss the land of the free more than anything. We splurged on some hamburger meat, it was incredible. America is definitely the land of promise. 

Elder Krueger T

Week 38 - Life as a District Leader - anything can happen in Kalookan

We had a great week again in our area, the members have really come fully
on board with the work and it's just awesome to see how fast an area can
turn around with a fully supportive and actively engaged ward. In the last
two weeks we have yet to have a lesson without a member present! We have
done a lot of focusing on setting expectations and goals with our LAs
through using the NRMF. The success has been unparalleled and we are seeing
a number of LAs and full families returning to solid activity in the
Church, because of the vision of temple blessings. We continue to try
finding new investigators to teach as well and we're blessed to set nearly
a dozen baptismal dates in the last 2 weeks.

My companion Elder Roa is doing awesome despite this being only his 2nd
week in the field. He worked a lot with missionaries before his mission daw
and I can see how ready he already was from the get-go to share the gospel.
He is extremely excited about the work and doesn't have any fears with
talking to anyone about our message. No complaints here, I already know he
is going to be an incredible missionary.

As for the Alma district as a whole...there was a bit of an incident at the
Kalookan 1st house. It has been quite a nightmare to deal with, I think for
everyone involved and has taken a bit of a toll on our district as a whole.
A week from last Tuesday night, a little bit of a rumble went down in the
Kalookan 1 house. A certain massive 280lbs Polynesian elder has a great
heart but I think perhaps there has just been some pride and other issues
that have hardened him a bit. On this night there seemed to be a boiling point.
Another elder asked if he could quickly use the DVD player, which he
refused to share daw. When the elder stated that it was the church's
property and proceeded to take it, this large elder shouted, "You're not
gonna use it!!" To which he slammed his fists down and smashed the table in
two and then bounced up and proceeded to deliver several blows to the elder
who wanted to use the DVD player. Luckily a companion stepped in and gave just
a second enough for him to slip away and run upstairs. Several phone calls,
and another threatening of a beating, and a lot of blood later, this elder
and his companion were immediately removed from the house. They have been
living at our house while the visa papers get worked out to send the
attacker home. In the meantime some extremely intense encounters have
occurred between the two as this elder getting sent home seems to have lost
all care and respect for his leaders and just does whatever he wants haha.
Basically there is a 280lbs elder on the loose with nothing to lose and a
brand new (probably scared to death) missionary as his companion. I feel
like Mormon when I say I cannot even begin to write 1/100 of the events
that have taken place this week haha and it could not have come at a worse
time. The last week of President Sperry in the mission and the first week
of President Bertin! However, with things finally getting worked out it
should settle down and get back to business in the next week! I'll leave
the rest of the details out but as for my two cents, I think there were a
lot deeper problems Elder (massive Polynesian)  has been dealing with than
just another Elder trying to barrow the DVD player. I've noticed before
some control, anxiety, and anger issues and its sad that things escalated
to this point and effected so many people in a negative way. I hope
Elder (massive Polynesian) can get help with this back home, and I think
Elders (Victim), (His companion), and (the brand new trainee) will be able
to move on without anxiety once he is gone. They are all doing ok, but
there is just been a lot of tension and stress so I'm sure everyone is
looking forward to just moving forward. Elders (Victim) and (His
companion) are great missionaries and are extremely hard workers, so I'm
hoping this doesn't negatively effect the areas they have labored so hard
to build. I also admire the way Elder (the brand new trainee) has handled
himself despite being brand new in the mission and having such a terrible
(and terrifying) first 2 weeks. Elder (beat your face in) too does have a
kind heart and I think perhaps there has just been some pride and other
issues that have hardened him a bit. I hope he can get it worked out and
this won't be a cause for him to fall away from activity in the church.

Despite the drama and the terror and the negative consequences, it has been
kind of fun actually to be right in the middle of all of it! I feel like
I'm in a movie, and the best part is I didn't even have to get my face beat
in, so there's that. Hahaha if I've said it once I've said it a million
times, anything can happen in Kalookan!!

Love, Elder Krueger T