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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Week 60 - A death without mourning is a life without loving

Sorry I'm on a day early but I have to speak at the Kalookan Stake conference this weekend so we don't really get much of a pday this week to email. Apparently all the UH ward knows that I'm speaking so it will be a lot of fun to see all of them again! The down side is I have to speak for like 30 minutes though so I hope people don't like fall asleep or anything haha I've got a couple of jokes up my sleeve though to hopefully keep it interesting. 

This was easily the hardest week of my mission, the best investigator I have ever had passed away unexpectedly last Monday morning. He died just 1 month before his 46th birthday and left a widowed wife with 3 kids. I think I actually wrote you guys about Brother Deraper just a couple of weeks ago. He was a seaman who worked abroad for most of his life, and as a result never took interest to the missionaries. In fact he would get angry when he first heard the missionaries were coming over to teach his family. For one reason or another however his wife had softened his heart over the years, at least enough to the point where he let us start teaching him. I've never seen the Gospel make such a drastic change in someone's life before. Within the last 3 months he overcame a cigarette addiction, several person repentance process ordeals, was reading the Book of Mormon everyday, and had come the last 6 straight weeks to church. In fact he spent the last day of his life here on Earth at the Fairview Stake Conference last Sunday. Unfortunately the Deraper Family snuck in after the opening hymn and left immediately after so we never got to see them. I called them on the phone later Sunday night though to check in on Brother and everything seemed fantastic. Within 24 hours, we were the ones getting a call that Brother Luciano Deraper had passed away that morning. 

It's literally impossible to describe the emotions that I felt, and am still feeling. Particularly in grief for those in his family he left behind. When we showed up to the house, I still couldn't believe it was Brother in the casket, it didn't look like him to me. I couldn't really think of many encouraging words to say to a now widowed woman swallowed in tears. The plan of salvation brought initial hope, but brother had just begun to embrace the gospel and change, it seemed so unfair to have him taken at this time. It was the lowest point in my life sitting there knowing I'm suppose to be the one comforting this family, and yet balling in tears as I listened to a 4 year old boy hanging on the side of the casket saying, "Patay na ba si papa?" (is daddy dead) and "Kailan siya gigising?" (When will he wake up). We did the only thing we knew how to do. I ask if we could kneel in prayer and 
poured out my heart for the welfare of Brother and his now lonely family. 

It's the first time in my life someone close to me has ever died. I realize now how truly blessed my life has been. With heavy hearts we have visited the Deraper Family ever night this week, bringing articles, sharing scriptures, praying with them, and just trying to help ease the burden in any small way we can. Most times we have just been there to sit in silence while they grieve. The family is doing better, though despite the glorious knowledge of the plan of Happiness, no immediate cure can be administered. I read a talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson titled the Doors of Death. In it he poetically says, "we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life". A death without mourning is a life without loving. 

However I do know through special experience and beyond the shadow of a doubt that I will see Brother Luciano Deraper again. I know that the Spirit world exists and that he will receive every opportunity to accept the fullness of the Gospel that he was denied here on Earth. 7 days before he passed away, he told me that I would baptize him. One year from now I fully intend on fulfilling his wish in the Holy Temple. I love Brother Deraper, though I mourn for his lose and on behalf of those he left behind, I know where he rests and I find solace in some future day when I shall see him again.

Elder Krueger T

Photos from Speaking at the Kalookan Stake Conference.  

Week 59 - Zone Conference Trainings

We finally finished all of our zone conference training this week! It was a lot of fun getting to see and interact with every missionary in QCNM over the last couple of weeks but it has been very tiring so I'm excited that we can continue moving forward. This coming week we only have one day of training and that is for all the new missionaries and their trainers that will have been together for about a month by now. Last week in addition to all the zone conferences we also managed to squeeze in 2 exchanges with the Valenzuela and Camarin zone leaders. So it has been a pretty busy week but a lot of fun and the Deraper family that we have been teaching is quick progressing towards baptism, all is well in Zion!

We had a great exchange, Elder Jeciel and I, in the Valenzuela area. We were able to start off the exchange with some OYMs on the way to our first appointment, which lead to contacting a part member yet less active family. Afterwards we taught member present, LA, and RC lessons. A pretty good balance of everything and we had no worker which made it easy for us to have lots of conversation while we were working. Elder Jeciel is a fantastic leader, and really cares for the elders/sisters in his zone. He mentioned that the number one thing he and Elder Tumale are trying to do right now is set the pace of the zone by personal example. There were a lot of struggles with “trunkiness” and a going home state of mind which cause a great deal of stress in the past ZL companionship in Valenzuela. However, Elder Jeciel really is loving his companionship with Elder Tumale now and they are working very diligently in an effort to revamp their area. Elder Jeciel is a great teacher, obedient, fun to be around, and just has all the traits of a great leader. I really learned a lot from him and enjoyed the day we got to spend together sharing the gospel. 

The second exchange was just yesterday, and I spent the day with elder Neccessario from the Camarin zone. We had a blast, I wasn't sure what to expect going into the exchange because I had barely ever met Elder Neccessario before. He is one of the funniest guys I have ever met and always has a joke to lighten the mood. As we went to lessons and he met people for the very first time he was able to break the ice right off the bat with humor. This allowed him to really connect with the investigators in our area, despite him being there for the first time, the people we taught felt comfortable opening up to him while he was there. 

It's been a couple of great months already in the office and I look forward to things slowing down just a tiny bit this week so I can get some much needed personal studies in! 

Elder Krueger T

What we've been teachin'!!

Week 58 - The Lord is building up His Kingdom

Sorry I had to get on and send out your email tonight instead because all day tomorrow we will be at another Zone Conference so I wont be able to email! It was another super fast week though, the time is just flying by in the office. We gave like 5 workshops this week so I'm pretty worn down but it's been a lot of fun and we've still been able to see a lot of success in our area!

That is one thing President Bertin has really gotten on us to change is the area of the assistants. I guess before the assistants never really had an area, since if they were to proselyte they would just go work in other elder's areas on exchanges and such. Now though we are expected to increase the amount of exchanges, but work a little differently to also improve our own proselyting area. It has been a pretty big challenge cause we practically started 3 months ago with no investigators and only 1 teaching record in the whole area book. Somehow though miracles keep happening and we just seem to consistently get extremely luckily, always being in the right place at the right time to find new people to teach. Here are 2 great stories of late:

1.) Elder Kumar on exchanges tracted into a couple of Less Actives, who were really only less active because they moved from the province and never knew where the church was here in  Lagro. We've immediately started teaching the father of the family, who is a retired seamen and very educated/well-off man. The first time we left a reading assignment with Brother, he said at the next visit, "Der bakit paulit-ulit ang mga salita nila", meaning why do they always repeat the same words hahaha. he was referencing to the constant use of "and it came to pass", "now behold", etc. We had a good laugh about but more importantly showed his true interest to study the assignments we gave him. The Deraper family has come to church 3 times in a row now and brother is continually progressing towards the goal of baptism. 

2.) We tracted into the Cortes family about 2 months ago, which consists of about 25-30 family members all living in 2 decently sized houses. A few of the them were actually less actives, which made the transition to teaching the non-members easy. We have continually been focusing specifically on 4 of the boys who are between the ages of 18-24. Naturally because we feel like they should be future missionaries and because they are the key to all the rest of this massive family being able to go to church. We could get them to come play basketball on Saturday mornings, but getting them to church then the following day seemed nearly impossible. Well last Sunday when we finished teaching the plan of salvation, we let them know exactly what needs to be done to start living up to their potential. It was a very bold lesson with several long pauses of intense silence when our questions seemed to sink into their hearts. That was on Saturday night, after which they went to work, and the very next morning (rather than going to bed after an 9-hour shift) they came straight to the church and stayed for all 3 hours. These are not only future missionaries but future leaders of the church.

We have made it our only focus to teach families, if the father isn't home then we won't even consider teaching. It has not been the easy road, especially in a society where men either work 10-12 hour days, or have no job and drink the majority of their time away. However, we have one of the most wealthy areas in the mission and yet everyday we seemed to be finding new potential priesthood leaders all around. It has built my testimony that the Lord is truly preparing His elect to come out from all 4 corners of the Earth to build up the Kingdom on every Isle of the Sea.
Elder Krueger

The Quezon City North Mission November 2014

The "Cruise" Gang

Teaching & Training

Mission Training Meeting

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Week 56 - Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! 

Or since that doesn't exist in the Philippines, Happy All Souls Day! If you are unaware of this holiday it occurs once a year on November 1st in which every person gets the day off. Every man, woman, and child will then spend the night at the local cemetery getting rip-roaring drunk and gambling on the graves. Kinda weird, but might be a great place to go give out some pamphlets about the Plan of Salvation, we'll see! 

Our first of 5 zone conferences was this past Wednesday in which the Kalookan and Meycauyan zones gathered together here at the mission office from 8AM to 5PM for a day or workshops, trainings, practice teaching, and even a testimony meeting towards the end. Elder Ehlert and I gave 2 workshops, the first on effective use of scriptures in teaching the Atonement, Resurrection, and Judgment. The other on Weekly planning, focusing specifically on seeing/planning for people's needs over numbers with the goal of increase our efficency & percentage of our mission's current and future investigators baptized and confirm. 

After the conference we gathered up 12 elders & sisters from around the mission to come in for a musical number practice in preparation of the visit from 2 general authorities. On Thursday Elder Robbins of the 7 Presidents of the 70 and Elder Bowen of the First Quorom of the 70 came to visit our mission. Both gave very inspiring messages garnered toward more efficient planning, which was close along the lines of the workshops we gave the day before, which was kinda cool to see. 

After the conference we went on exchanges with the Malolos Zone Leaders and I spent the follwing day with Elder Mag-Aso. He was actually a district leader in the Fairview Zone while I was there so we had a fun day. We did lots of street contacting, placed a baptismal date, even did some tracting and found some great new investigators. One of which was a sister, about 40 years of age, whom we tracted into. We contacted her 15yr old son in the street who took us back to his house to meet his mother. After some brief questions and pleasantries, we found out that her husband had just been killed 2 months ago in a car accident. Despite handling it well, she still appeared to be quite broken down. Right on her doorstep we began teaching about the Plan of Salvation and told her that she could in fact be with her husband again. That he was hearing the same message right now, that she was receiving. The message was from Heavenly Father about an eternal plan centered around progression through the atonement and gospel of His son, Jesus Christ. 

I love to testifying and teaching about the plan of salvation far more than any other piece of doctrine that we teach. It is the perfect plan, conceived by a perfect creator, and carried out by the perfect redeemer, and solidified by the perfect testifyer. No other religion or manner of belief/fantasy can even begin to compare to the Plan of our Heavenly Father. 

Have a Happy Halloween!
Elder Krueger T

Week 55 - The contrast between brand new, extraordinarily timid missionaries and 2 year veterans, beaming with confidence and testimony,

Elder Ehlert's first week in the office as my companion was filled with training and workshops. With a batch of elders'/sisters going home as well as a new group coming in, the week tends to get a little hectic, but it's a lot of fun to be busy anyways.

At the start of the week on Monday we headed out to the Montalban & San Rafael zones to make a fairly surprising announcement and oversee the combination of the 2 zones into 1. President Bertin is very adamant about having zone and district sizes proportional enough so that the leaders can have opportunities to fulfill their purpose as leaders. So instead of one zone with 12 and another with 16, there is now simply one zone with 28 elders/sisters and 3 districts within the zone. Similar things happened in zones within the mission. We now have 10 zones with 16-30 elders/sisters in each of them. 

The following day was exit day in which 16 elders/sisters finished their missionary service and boarded the van bound for the airport. We conducted the meeting which included the famous "go home and get married/don't go less active speech" by the mission president.  The best part was the testimony meeting at the very end in which all the leaving elders/sisters have their final opportunity to bear testimony as Quezon City North missionaries. It was pretty hard to say goodbye to Elder Carteciano this batch since we have literally been in the same zones for my entire mission and have gone on so many exchanges together we practically consider ourselves as having been companions haha. I'm looking forward to hanging out with all the mission friends though in Provo after the mission ends. 

The power also went out that day at the mission home so we made our way over to the neighbors house (who we have contacted a few times about the gospel) and asked for their help in cooking the rice for our meal. It was the last time Elder Kumar and I taught together as we waited for the rice to cook and sat out on their patio by the pool (yes they live in the nicest house I have ever seen), we taught Sister Eliane about families, our church and beliefs. We even worked all the way up through the word of wisdom because the house helpers kept offering us coffee, and when we said 'no thanks' they brought us tea instead! Haha after an explanation they settled on a delicious pink lemonade yummmm. The Lord truly does work in mysterious ways to bring about His eternal purposes! We hope to begin teaching this wonderful family in the future. 

Luckily for us there was no time to get trunky because bright and early the very next morning we welcomed in 21 new missionaries fresh out of the MTC! The contrast between brand new, extraordinarily timid missionaries and these 2 year veterans, beaming with confidence and testimony, is almost indescribable to put into words. I had no idea just how much people grow spiritually and mentally in the short span of a mission. We welcomed these new missionaries in and tried to make the transition to real field work as smooth as possible for them. While at the same time we were also running a training session at the other side of the church for the trainers. Just before lunch President Bertin stood up and assigned the new trainer/trainee companionship right on the spot. Elder Kumar got a New Zealander elder and was so excited that he jumped out off the bench and screamed in the middle of the chapel hahahaha. 

Just yesterday we had another training session for all of the newer/recently called leaders in the mission. Whether they be district, zone, or sister training leaders they all came to the mission home for the early half of the day. The mission home was packed with close to 40 people all gathered in the living room to hear 2 workshops from us, 1 from the STLs and 2 from President Bertin. Elder Ehlert and I really have good flow in our teaching and I enjoy teaching with him in both English or Tagalog!

Later that night we traveled all the way out to Meycauayan to find an emergency new apartment for the elders out there. Their apartment complex has reportedly been frequently used in association with a whore house, no place for elders to be living in such a degrading environment. When we finally got home around 8:45PM, tired from the events of the day. We felt like we should at least go tract one house in our neighborhood before calling it a night and beginning our PDay. Sure enough the very first house we knock on, let us immediately right in and listened to the entire message of the restoration! This is especially miraculous because we live in a very wealthy area which generally means automatic rejection. Just goes to show that the Lord is no respecter of persons and is preparing people to hear the gospel from all walks of life and all social-economic backgrounds.

I'm exhausted but happy as can be. Hope things continue to fly by with increased speed in this effort to hasten the work!

Elder Krueger T

Elder Foster (from the MTC) on his first split with Elder Krueger in the Real Mission World.

The JOY of mission packages!!
All smiles opening this big box of goodies.

Sis Ence is so good to share photos from the Mission.  Missionaries LOVE packages.