So this week has been quite interesting...they put a whole new meaning to Easter. The week before Easter is called Holy Week. Monday Is Palm Sunday. Tuesday hasta Thursday are Holy days so they go to mass all day everyday for those days. Good Friday is crazy! I saw things this week that I wish I never saw. People will pay money to carry a cross through the streets and then be nailed to a cross and hang on the cross for everyone to see. Then after they hang on the cross they take the person down and bury then for like 10 min and then they dig them back up. So they don't actually die but they do all that and I guess it shows their dedication to their religion. Then there is Black Saturday. On Black Saturday at night everyone brings their motorcycles, cars, jeepneys, and all their vehicles. To the Banwa (town plaza) and at night a Priest will come and bless every vehicle by sprinkling holy water on it. And then Easter is the same except wala (none) Easter Bunny or eggs haha. So as you can imagine trying to proselyte and talk to people this week has been very difficult but also we have had a few opportunities to learn from the people and share the similarities of our beliefs.
Sometimes its so hard to stay motivated to keep going back to these people that we teach. The thing I am struggling with so much right now is getting people to church. Because its a small group a lot of people get the idea that is a cult. Its so frustrating. And if you don't already know here in the Philippines you have to go to church 4 consecutive times before makabuyag mo (you get baptized). So for me right now all I can do is love the people, keep teaching them, praying for them, and fasting for them. The key to missionary work is truly Love and the Spirit. With out those two things it makes things budlay gid (very hard).
This week I had an amazing opportunity to serve. So I think in a previous email I talked a little about Manuel. He is the investigator that I extended a baptismal date to and he said yes. Well we have been teaching him mga (about) twice a week every week. He has a liver problem and has not been able to attend church because of that. He has almost no money. He has four kids. Two of them live with him (2 boys ages 10 and 3). This past week he was admitted to the hospital on Thursday. He left his two kids at home with no money or food. Their mother works in Cebu and has left them and ran away with another husband. So we went to their gamay nga balay (little house or shack) on Friday night. That is when I found out that he went to the hospital. I couldn't believe it I didn't know what to do. I love those two kids and Manuel so much. So that night we went and got them food and just stayed with them for awhile. We have gone back everyday since and bring food. Their father is still in the hospital and there is no way to contact him. So we don't know if he will return or maybe pass away in the hospital. I don't know what to do. I want to give this kids everything. Life for people here is so challenging. No matter what happens those two kids always have a smile on their faces and have so much faith. The older boy just wants to go to school. I have never heard those two boys complain about anything or ask for anything. If I didn't ask if they had food they would have never told me. I don't know what to do for this family but I know that through prayers and faith that everything will work out. Every time I ask them what I can do for them the answer is always the same "polihog magpangamuyo para sa ang tatay namon" (please pray for our father) If you will please pray for this family. I know that through prayer they will be able to get through this pagtilaw (trial).
I am so excited for the opportunity I have to watch General Conference next week. I don't think iv'e ever looked forward to hearing from the prophet as much as I am now. Its such a blessing we have to hear the words of the leaders of the church. They are truly inspired of God.
I am struggling with my companion. I don't know maybe its just me. At first I thought he would never talk because he was shy. But he still never talks. He talks to me a little bit but never to anyone else. I give all the lessons and do all the talking when we are tracting. When I look at him he just looks off into the distance and doesn't say anything. When he does language study he only studies Japanese...I don't know why. And then he dyed his hair black so he could be more like a Filipino. Ambot sa iya (I don't know about him). haha Oh well I guess its all just part of the mission experience. :)
Being here in the Philippines has showed me how blessed I am. I am so grateful for the family and friends I have. I am so grateful for this gospel. And that I know that I have a Heavenly Father that knows me and is always there to help me get through hard times.
I love you guys hope y'all had an awesome week. :)