I bet your wondering why I didnt send a personal email yet. Well I have now relocated to the mission home and we just finished a family home evening with the mission president and other missionaries leaving in the batch. Everything is winding up and everyone is starting to get more and more antsy. It feels like I left Batangas forever ago, which is my last area. We attended a training today in San Pablo at the LDS Employment Resource Center and the teacher of the class was actually the bishops wife from San Pablo ward 5 my third area. It got me thinking about the real world a little bit. My goal in life is to go to college and work part time at Lowe’s, this is a little flexible plan haha.
I hope you saw the family in the mission email that I sent earlier. That is the Aguilar Family. My whole time here the mission has been counting the amount of families we got fully baptized. It has always been my vision to do that but it just never worked out. We would baptize just the father or just the kid or a single person. When I was back with Elder Abekoon last transfer I told him my final goal in the mission is to get a completed family. We actually found a number of prospects with in the coming weeks and I was really praying for them to come through. Little by little they started falling through with little issues until just this family was left. They were the last strand of hoping connecting me to the mission.
I first met brother one afternoon as we walked by his house I noticed him sitting outside but it wasnt until my back was turned to him that he half jokingly said “hey elder.” Most people are aquainted with the elders anyway or have previously been taught so hearing that does mean to much and many times we tend to brush it off because they are joking. But that time I stopped turned around walked up and shook his hand. I introduced myself as a missionary and when I asked him if he was familiar with that church he half heartedly looked down and said “yes, im a member.” I could tell he felt ashamed because he had obviously become less active. I then continued by asking him questions about his family and I could especially feel there was a deep desire with in him to come back. We then began to return and drop by sometimes with the Elders Quorum president. I recently learned that brother became less active after he had worked abroad in Saudia Arabia after he had brought his book of mormon with him and was reading it one night. Someone entered his living quarters took the book of mormon from him and tore it up in front of him. That was in 1987. He continued in life never returning to the church. When we met his wife and daughter they had no idea that he was a member but mentioned they were looking for a church to establish their Faith in. The rest is history we continued to teach brother changed some of his habits became worthy and was able to dress in white to baptize his wife and daughter. Heavenly Father was preparing this family my whole mission and because I never lost hope we found them and brang them into the fold.
I know the church is true and that consecrated our lives to god is the only way to fully experience the blessings of that church and the gospel in our lives. The Book of Mormon can seal our testimony and anchor it to the other beliefs we already have in life. There is no other church in the world that god proclaims his name to. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Nathan Polatis
Well not much to say other than this is it. I will only clip my tag on about 10 more times and tomorrow that will be a single digit number. Everything seems normal to me really. Everyone asks what does it feel like to be going home. To be honest normal. It feels like I have been in the Philippines for two years right? It does seem to be a little surreal when I try to think about what homes like. I forget the feeling of sleeping on a real mattress, taking a hot shower, living in a dry climate, driving a car, etc…. But thats all good. Its time anyway right.
The last week went a little out of the ordinary. We started our excursion back to Calauag by first going to Manila to get Elder Boyd checked by the doctor then we went to Lucena and slept there and on saturday we went to visit the people I didnt say bye to last time. Then we road 4 more hours in a van to Calauag and slept on the ground in their apartment. It was a super rewarding feeling seeing all the converts in Calauag and they are still enduring. If you remember brother Jesse the short guy he has read the book of mormon twice in the last year and is super active and has a calling in the young men. Hes such a good guy. He wanted to serve a mission but hes already 26 so he said he will just go on to the next mission…temple marriage. I also saw tatay jack and we went and visited a bunch of other members. Then we started on our way back. We actually ended up hitch hiking a ride in a big family van. It was kinda funny because they just picked up two random americans and then they didnt know the road so we ended up showing them the way. We became pretty close with them in the 5 hour drive and we even had a little bible sharing.
Well I think you can officially put a countdown on the number of emails you have left from me. Its like one and if your lucky 2. First matter of news that I keep forgetting to tell you. Theres a returned missionary who moved here to his relatives place to study college here at Batangas State. His name is Francis Sipe. He is from the Bacolod mission. Where I supposedly have a cousin named sister Polatis serving there. He was a little shocked because sister Polatis was assigned in his ward and he was her ward mission leader. Now hes here in Batangas and works with us sometimes. Small world right. Another matter of Business I now have a new mission President name President Mangum. I really dont know anything about him yet. We have a meeting with him on Thursday and then after that meeting he is going to come to our area to interview one of our investigators. So I will be able to get to know him a little bit and catch a couple words of advice about life before I get out of here.
The week went well we actually went tracting a ton last week. I decided I need to get out of all the squatters areas and find some leaders in the church. I have made it a goal that I will have a teaching full of wealthy business oriented potential leaders in the church. So we went tracting in subdivisions. Im getting really good at getting into these gated neighborhoods lately. We find holes in the fence or if all else fails we just walk in the front gate right past the guard like we own the place. The problem is my filipino companion looks a little timid when we do that and they usually say hey where you going. Then I start talking to them like I own the place and put on a show like you dont know who I am. Usually it just works if you say we have a member that lives inside and hope they dont ask for the name. But once you get in once, you just need to make a few friends and contacts. Then when you come back you have a name for the guard. We started teaching a guy who is an international industrial machines inspector. Hes home for the time being but he says he is getting ready to go to Algeria next. Hes a really good family guy he has 3 kids but hes always gone in other countries is the problem.
I gave a talk yesterday in our ward and so did Elder Boyd the missionary thats in my batch that I will be coming home with. I talked about ordinances and he talked about covenants. I guess one thing I havent mastered on the mission is time management. To be honest they never gave me a set time. When i got done with the out line of my talk I told Elder Boyd that I would take more than seven to ten minutes. I guess he counted and I went 18 ooops. Thats ok he told me he wasnt very well prepared anyway. Then after sacrament bishop decided to surprise. Because it was the fifth sunday he wanted to call it missionary sunday. So he dumped the combined RS/Priesthood/Youth class on us to teach them about missionary work. But our Ward Mission Leader helped out a lot. The mission really helped me be prepared for circumstances like that and break a sweat. It was really nice. The members made us a dinner calender and the week before I go home they are going to feed us every week. This weekend by the way I am going back to Calauag to visit the members and all my converts back there. We are given the opportunity to go visit one area at the end of our mission and go to church there. Interestingly enough Elder Boyd was also assigned in Calauag so he is going to be my companion.
Well everything is still on track. The Aguilar family that I found back in the start of May has started pulling through. Brother Aguilar was the less active that we ran into while tracting. All of a sudden his wife and daughter have sparked interest and started letting us teach them and they have started attending church regularly. Everything is in the ideal situation. We have a perfect match member family that doesnt live to far away and they come with us when we teach. Brother is getting active and committed to live the Word of Wisdom so that he can baptize his family. Heres a crazy thought that surprisingly I havent really come across in my mission. Sister Aguilar was really surprised when we told her that if brother is worthy he can perform the baptism. She was completely appalled that some one other than the priest pastor bishop or whatever it is can also perform an ordinance. If you think about the organization of the church we really are the only church that allows our members to do such things. We are also one of the only churches that has doctrines pertaining to the family. Theres a lot of eye openers like that when you step out of Idaho, Utah, California, Arizona or any other mormon populated state. Then everyone starts thinking were the weird ones huh.
The week went good. I said bye to Elder and Sister Peterson last Tuesday. They will be leaving this week and the new mission president will be here this week also. Our investigator family is actually going to be the new mission presidents first interview, he has to authorize it because of technical issues. So we will get to talk to him for a little bit and get to know him before we take off the next week. We have been working hard. The other day we spent about 3 hours tracrting this subdivision full of monstrous million dollar homes and we didnt get into a single one. I thought there had to be a reason for us going in there because we walked right past the security guard without him saying anything. Whats funny when though is that most people would send out the maid to come talk to us or others would peak through the window and be afraid to come out because they think were only English speaking and all sorts of crazy stories.
Other than that were just working with members and doing our best to get them involved. This is one thing Im really working on because I want all of the investigators im teaching right now to be tied in to the ward before I leave so that they wont be lost.
Well theres still hope. Even though you are on a count down I am trying to put the emergency brake on to slow down the time. We have 5 investigator on track that still have hope to be baptized before I leave. Including this one family that came to church last week its a parents and two kids and then a new born baby. I was really feeling good about them. They seemed so golden and they are. But yesterday they were all lined up to go to stake conference and we had a member that was going to come pick them up and give them a ride. I called brother that morning to tell them what time we were coming by and he said sorry elder but we got a call earlier at one in the morning saying my wifes grandmother died so we have to come over here to Pajaran. Which is another baranguay really far away. So before they were ahead of schedule to be baptized and know they have to come every week in a row to baptized the day before I go to the mission home. Hopefully its not fools gold just kidding they are golden and I have no doubt they will be baptized I just want to still be here when it happens.
This week we had my last zone conference of the mission but it was also significant because it is also President Petersons last zone conference. A lot of the missionaries were bawling there eyes out. But it seems just normal for me because its almost like were in the same batch. The new mission president will be here on July 1 and I will probably only have a enough time to say two words before I am out of here HI and BYE. I guess his name is president Mangum and also from Utah. President Petersons homecoming in Arizona is actually the same day as mine is on the 27th of July. Its interesting to see the where the mission will go without him.
When I get done writing you this email me and Elder Boyd will actually be getting on a bus and heading to Manila so that we can fill out our immigration forms and be ready to leave next month. The mission is going to let us take one of the mission cars and we also get to sleep in a hotel tonight with air conditioning. Its almost as if they are trying to get us adjusted so we don’t go into another culture shock when we go home. In Manila they pretty much have everything you can think of so our number one plan is to drop by a Taco Bell! I may even be tempted if they have a swimming pool at the hotel. Hehe Im just kidding I wouldn’t I think I would probably drowned i don’t even remember how to swim.
I feel like I have to match last weeks email which was pretty long. I honestly think that was one of the longest letters I wrote on my whole mission. I will finish with telling you the spiritual part of our sabbath day yesterday. Stake conference was actually a nation wide broadcast from Salt Lake City. Quenton L. Cook spoke about the talk “Good, Better, Best” which Im sure you probably remember from general conference a few years ago. He told a story about the two funerals he attended in his youth that had a life changing impact on him. The two funerals were both of members of the church who had served missions. But in the end he said he could measure the success of each individual by there funeral service. Who attended, where it was held, what was said, and many other simple fact. Interestingly enough the more wealthy man of the two was the least successful. It seemed like the talk really was for me. Because the paths these two individuals took started at the fork of decisions that proceeded at the end of there missions. It makes me nervous to finish my mission. But I know that its time to make applications from everything I have been taught here.
I have ate more mangos in the last week than I ever ate in my life back in North America. Right now is the season for mangos and you can buy dozens of them for a dollar. We just came from a lunch appointment where a member fed us mangos for desert and I ate like 5. Normally we finish a meal with Bananas because there is no real season for bananas here they just grow all year round. Which reminds me of something else I am enjoying in this area. They actually make the missionaries a dinner calender. In most other areas we only get fed when someone has a birthday party or a few times a month. But here our ward mission leader makes sure to get a printed calender passed around once a month. My belly really enjoys that and so does my pocket.
Mom you mentioned about the seminary giving you an english book of mormon and asking if there would be any use of it in my mission. So I guess I havent been able to explain a whole lot about culture things here in the Philippines through my two years of emails. The church first came to the Philippines in the 1960’s and for the first twenty years give or take a few years missionaries were called here as english speaking missionaries. This was effective because the United States had many marine basis back in the day here in the Philippines and the people were widely influenced by english. My mission president served in the Philippines back in the day but to this day cannot speak the language. So most Pioneers of the church were converted through English church literature. Also if you refer back to my last email. Were teaching a pastor now of the El Shaddai Catholic church. He is great in English and we gave him an English Book of Mormon. Hes really interested in the fact that the Book of Mormon doesn’t replace the bible but makes it clearer to understand.
Oh by the way unexpected surprise. I have a new companion. Hes a Filipino named Elder Evelarion. Hes actually from an area that speaks Ilocano a lot like many of my previous companions. He will be my last companion because I just started my last transfer woot woot. Hes a short little Filipino but I like him I actually have someone who can teach in unity with me. Which is good because if we play it right we have a lot of potential this last transfer.
So yes the baptism pulled through. We ended up having it right after church. I hope i can send a picture later but I forgot to bring my card reader I will try to borrow one and send the picture. It was two sisters the one is 10 and the other turned 8 on saturday. The 8 year old was funny I was explaining how we get baptized and jokingly I told her theres a swimming pool at the church after that she got excited. So after she got baptized she plugs her nose and goes for a dive in the font. Just cant control these kids oh jeez. Everyone laughed. It was still a good spiritual experience anyways. There mom also came to church and the baptism she has been to church for at least 5 years but the relief society really kicked in when they saw her and I think she will be back next sunday.
This is getting long but so much is happening as I get down to the end of my mission and Im hoping it all pulls through. So yesterday we had 8 investigators come to church. 5 of those investigators attended church. 3 of them were a family that im planning on getting married and baptized before I pack my bags. One of the others is a 16 year old girl who we have only taught twice and she has already read to Mosiah in the Book of Mormon yesterday after the baptism she texted us and said she wants to be baptized. But we still need to work with her mom to make sure she approves and then we need to finish the lessons. Another one of our investigators was the widow who was living with our less active brother who we reactivated and got to church 2 times before he died 2 weeks ago. She had a change of heart and is already asking members for a ride to stake conference next week in Lipa City which is an hour and a half away. Everything is starting to get a kick start right near the end. Im just hoping I can finish it all out.
Last event for the week is actually we there are four of us Elders in Batangas First Ward and Elder Boyd who is my batch mate and also my companion going home which you will probably meet at the airport is assigned in the other ward. We were assigned in a lot of the same areas like Calauag so before we go home we are going to go back there and visit. We are planning to have a big massive baptism with them the week before we leave if everything pulls through. 🙂
The Church is True
On the way here to the computer shop we talked to a guy on the Jeepny(Filipino Bus). Hes a pastor for the catholic church. We struck up a conversation and he started asking us a little more about the church. Coming from the market with all of our groceries we couldnt carry our scriptures anymore. Being unprepared low and behold the next person to ride the Jeepny was one of our recent converts Joseph who is carrying with him in his hand a copy of his Book of Mormon English Version. The pastor was showing us in his Bible how we need to enjoy Jesus Christ so we showed him in the book of mormon 2 Nephi 25:26 and he seemed pretty content right there that we firmly believe in Jesus Christ. He requested a personal copy of the Book of Mormon right there and accepted a visit. It was really cool because our recent convert got into the missionary action. He is also preparing to serve and getting really excited about it.
The rest of our week honestly was not to successful we got punted a lot and the one investigator that is on the verge of being baptized is being held back because she is a minor with limited support from her less active family. So despite being ready prepared and also passing the interview her baptism is depending wether her parents go to church on sunday and if so we will hold the service right after church service. So we could use your prayers there.
Actually speaking of prayer. This last Tuesday when Elder Craig Christensen visited out of all topics to teach a group of missionaries he chose to teach us more about prayer. It was really good and made me realize the perspective I am on with my personal prayers. Now that I think more about it there were a few members from our ward yesterday that told personal experiences about prayer in their testimonies. Dont forget to PRAY.