I have been called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines Cauayan Mission. This blog is managed by my parents. If you would like to contact them, you can email at lindalarson1598@gmail.com

Monday, March 31, 2014

Adoption Thoughts

Seven more days have came and gone and here I am again without anything crazy to say. As for the threesome, things are going well. It really has been kind of like an adoption haha. Elder Loto'Aniu was kind of just delivered to us unexpectedly, like young Harry Potter was given to the Dursley family. (Although I consider myself more of a Dobby kind of guy rather than a Vernon or Petunia...) Anyways, Loto is a cycle behind me and doesn't know much Tagalog so he usually just bears his testimony after Elder De Guzman and I teach the lesson, but he is a stud and his company has been nice.

 Elder Loto'Aniu and me

As I mentioned last week, the three of us have to cover Angadanan as well as his area (Dagupan) which is kind of far away but we're managing. They have two investigators-Flory Mae and Mary Joyce-with a baptismal date on April 5th so lately we have been focusing to make sure they are prepared for baptism. I have only taught them a few lessons but I can already tell they have strong testimonies and are ready so I am excited for them!

The church in Dagupan

For an update on my (adopted language) Tagalog, I'd say it's going pretty good. I remember once upon a time when I thought there was no way I would ever learn it. However, slowly but surely, with patience and work, it has been coming and now I'd say I am pretty much perfect! Just kidding. There are still times when I don't totally understand what the investigator is asking when they have a question. But I would say I am finally to a point where I would consider myself fairly comfortable with the language. Even though obviously I still have much to improve on. 

Earlier this week, I went on member splits again with Albert, who recently got called to the Halifax, Canada Mission to preach the gospel in the English language. We were doing some role practice and I came to the realization that there are some lessons and principles of the gospel that I am probably better at teaching in Tagalog than I am in English. Never did I expect this to be the case. But it's kind of nice to see the progression that I've made. However, I know that by myself, I couldn't do it at all. The Lord has helped me every step of the way. The gospel is incredible my friends. Have a good week. Elder Larson is out.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Small Miracle & An Unexpected Companion

Ladies and gentleman, it's been kind of confusing last few days but the Angadanan branch now has a fifth missionary in the area. Let me explain the situation: Remember the big typhoon that hit Tacloban last November? So there was a missionary from there who got re-assigned here in Cauayan. However, his previous mission re-opened and he decided to return. Since he was a Zone Leader, somebody needed to fill his position and my good pal Elder Allred was just the man for the job. That left his companion, Elder Loto'Aniu, who was then sent here and now I am in a threesome. 

Elder Loto'Aniu is Tongan and a really nice guy, so for the time being, I think the whole threesome thing will be alright these last few weeks of the cycle. However, the hard part is, the three of us have to cover our area here in Angadanan, as well as Loto's previous area which by tricee is like 30 minutes away. I think we'll figure things out though.

Quite a while ago, I mentioned the Paggao family. Nanay and Tatay still haven't attended church, but there is still something that happened with this family that I would like to share. When I first got here, the Word of Wisdom was something that was kind of an issue for them. Every one of them was drinking coffee on a basis of about five times a day. When we first taught them the W.O.W, they felt like coffee was something they couldn't give up. Tatay Paggao was also drinking and smoking occasionally. However, over the last month and a half or so, this is something we have really focused on with them. 

After each lesson, we gave them a challenge to cut down just a little bit at a time. It was going to be hard for them but they said they were willing to try, because they knew it was a commandment of God and they wanted to be obedient. The next week, they were down to 4 times a day. Then 3. Then 2. We taught them this last Wednesday and asked them how they are doing with the Word of Wisdom. I am pleased to report that Nanay, Tatay, and Jazel haven't drunken coffee all week and Tatay is no longer smoking or drinking.

Alma 37:6 states 'by small and simple things are great things brought to pass'. It wasn't a sudden blink of an eye that these three went from drinking coffee 5 times a day to being obedient to the Word of Wisdom, but by taking small steps, they were able to do it and I know they will be blessed for it. So although Nay and Tay haven't been to church yet, (Jazel actually attended yesterday for the second time) I still consider this story a miracle and hopefully a stepping stone for them to come in the future.

Compare this scripture to us as members. We don't need to have a crazy life changing experience in order for us to have a testimony, but through small and simple things such as going to church, reading scriptures and praying every day, etc; we can have great things brought to pass. The little things are what make up the big picture and strengthen our testimonies and also all of us within our families. In school we always talked about how simply smiling or talking to someone can make their day.

So I guess that's it for this week. I don't always have a ton to say in my weekly emails, so maybe this will bring my happiness to my beloved parents. Yesterday marks 5 months since I have been here in the Philippines and I haven't stopped loving it. I'm just waiting for one of you seniors to get your calls to come kick it with me in Cauayan. I have plenty of faith that this can happen because if anyone hasn't heard the news yet, Sawyer Norman and Kurtley Meachem are currently a companions out in Jamaica. What a dynamic duo! To two of my very best friends...Riley, Emily...hope you guys had a great birthday! Have a good week everyone!

Monday, March 17, 2014

B.O.M. Power Read

Sooo hey guys! What's up? The exciting news of the week, as signified by the title, is that as a mission, we have all been invited to start over the Book of Mormon and do a 'Power Read'. The objective is basically highlighting any mention of Christ-prophecies, doctrine, his teaching, etc; This activity is similar to something I did with Elder St. Gelais back in the MTC except in this mission-wide challenge of ours, it's a little more specific and structured. Nonetheless, I am excited for this opportunity.. It is the keystone of our religion, and combined with the Holy Ghost, the most powerful resource to ones conversion. For all you seniors getting your mission calls, I would challenge you all to finish the B.O.M again before you leave. It really is such an incredible book!

Other highlights for the last seven days is that our whole district had a service project pulling weeds together. Since everybody just loves pictures, and a certain mother of mine is always requesting them, here we are:

A few missionaries hard at work

Ako, Elder Hall, Seuilli, and Young. We are hecka tough.

I also had splits on Wednesday with our DL Elder Young and it went well. For this special occasion, we went to this pretty nice restaurant for dinner and I had a nice pizza for the first time in quite a while. Sorry, no pictures though :/ Anyways, same old stuff out here in Angadanan. I guess I will clip part of my LTP again for an update on the work...
We have a lot of solid investigators who seem interested and had another week with a lot of good lessons. However, none of them were at church yesterday. This is a frequent pattern that has been a little discouraging and at times I wonder to myself what else I can do to help the people we teach, but I know that even at the times when it feels like they aren't really making progression, we can always be that example to them simply by showing our love. We can always be that instrument or tool in the hands of the Lord to help others come unto Christ. And although they might not be ready right away, we can be the ones planting and nourishing the seed for when the time comes that they are prepared to receive the gospel.

And I guess we can leave it at that. Have a good week everyone! And happy St. Patrick's Day.I think that's today right? With love...Elder Larson

Monday, March 10, 2014

Journal Entry 5.2S (Advanced Version)

Good afternoon friends. Tomorrow marks 6 months since I said goodbye to beloved Pleasant Grove and it is hard to believe so much time has passed already. As for this week here in the Angadanan, the work went really well. On both Saturday and Sunday, we had a lot of members working with us and were able to do 'splits' with them, essentially doubling the amount of work getting done in our area, with Elder De Guzman working in one neighborhood and me in another. Every member a missionary! It was also good practice for me since I was the one leading and teaching the bulk of the lessons.

I don't know if I have mentioned this yet or not, but one of the big problems for us lately has been that after we have a great lesson with investigators or less actives and they commit to coming to church, but then Sunday rolls around and they don't show up. I guess the only thing we can do is to keep inviting and keep praying for them. However, we did at least have two investigators at church yesterday. I'm hoping we can keep making progression with all our investigators though and that this will be a number that we can increase.

Some random thoughts lately...I hear plenty of American music. But this week was the first time that I have heard a Macklemore song since I have been here in the Philippines. Also, at one house we visited, they were watching 'Fairly Oddparents'. It made me reflect on how chill old school Nickelodeon was. I was a little sad to hear we lost in the Finals to Lone Peak, but keep your heads up boys! You are still all unreal young men and winners in my heart!

I'm so happy for Melissa entering the MTC this week. So proud of ya cuz! Good luck Em on the farewell talk this Sunday. You will do great! And lastly, Happy Birthday to my dear friend Mark 'Charles' Sheffield. You are truly an inspiration buddy. And to the rest of you..ituloy ninyo na maging masaya! Mahal kita. (Keep being happy. I luv y'all)

Monday, March 3, 2014

3 Cycles Down

Another week gone by and I don't have a whole lot to say again. I struggled to even come up with a title for this week. But it's a new cycle and a new month, so time continues to go by quickly. Elder Bangal got transferred so on our last day, we watched The Other Side Of Heaven (another incredible movie by the way) and spent the night playing chess. I will miss that dude a lot. Elder Hall's new companion, Elder Pawin, is pretty cool but he doesn't speak much English.

The 4 of us before transfers - Elder Hall, me, Bangal and De Guzman

We had stake conference on Saturday and Sunday which went really good. President and Sister Rahlf gave talks during both sessions and I really enjoyed their messages, as well as the others who spoke.

We also have several new investigators (Joaymah, Elizabeth, Rosita, Joy) who are the classmates of some of the young women in our branch. We teach them all at once and the lessons with them have gone really well. They ask a lot of questions and seem really interested, so I think they have a lot of potential.

Well, that's about it for now. I apologize that this was a rather uneventful letter but I don't know what else to say. S/O to Smooty who is heading to Chile. Good luck to PG ball in the state tournament. And BYU too. I'm gonna miss March Madness. Oh yeah...Shown below is my master recipe of pancakes earlier this week. I sure hope that my future wife will be a good cook or else I'm done for... Farewell! :)

Call me Elder Chef