Philippines Cauayan Mission

Philippines Cauayan Mission

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Short Note

Hello everybody once again! Only been a few days since we Skyped and not a whole lot has happened so I think that's pretty good justification to not have to write a long email!:)

So here are a couple pictures from the last couple days and earlier today. I guess we did get some news that I should tell you about. We got the transfer list today and none of us here in Echague are transferring so we are all looking forward to another cycle together.
Something else is we broke record attendance at church on Sunday! We hit 100! Crazy being that last week there were barely any people there. Anyway, it was super good because we had two visitors from the stake there. One of them came up to me and said, "Wow! The attendance has gone up a lot" and I was just like, "uhh yeah it has!" Haha it was a nice Sunday. Meetings were all pretty good and work was great as well. We couldn't split like we normally do because there wasn't enough priesthood to come with us but we still made do with what we had.

That's the big stuff for the week. I'll get back to the normal emails next week, just feel like I get a week off cause of Skype. :) But I love you all and have a happy new year!

Love Elder Haacke

 Skype from my side of the camera.
  
 Us on Sunday night waiting for the KI's to come in.

 The 6 Echague missionaries at lunch earlier today.
From left to right: Elder Romo, Elder Labrador, Elder Carrington, Me, Sister Delinila, Sister Villa.

 Pictures of the damage from the floods last week.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Rain

Hello everybody once again! The week for Skype has finally come! I can't wait to talk to you later in the week!
As for this week... All I can say is what a week we had this week! I can sum it all up in one word.. RAIN! I should just end my email right here because that's about all I have to say about this week. But I don't think that will be appreciated very much so I'll try to write a little bit more. 

The rain this week was honestly a killer. It made work not fun and not nearly as successful. We've had rain everyday since last Monday. Yesterday it rained, stopped for a bit, then was raining again before we went to sleep. Then today it is raining once again. I don't think I have experienced rain for this long my whole life. It actually brought down the entire zone. This week was the lowest ki's for the zone since I have been here. Some companionship's would say sorry as they sent us their ki's for the week since it affected them so much. There were a lot of not good things that happened this week because of the rain.

Lots of people lost a ton of rice and corn that they had planted. It actually led the last branch president of the other ward here in Echague to drinking for the first time in over 15 years. The other elders went to their house Thursday night for dinner and he was drunk because all his crops are gone and they need to start over.

There is a part in our area that crosses the river but the bridge is really small and low to the river. That bridge was covered by water for 2 days and while it was covered the bank on the other side going back up was destroyed. So those people couldn't come to town for a few days and a lot of people couldn't get back across to their home and had to be placed in Jones (a different city).
Clothes do not smell good when they don't dry normally after washing and because of the rain, they took forever to dry. So we've been wearing clothes that don't smell great all week. 

Good things that happened this week. On Thursday, President Rahlf was down in Santiago for the Christmas devotional for the zones down there. On his way back, they came through Echague and ate at a restaurant here. President called us and had us meet him there since he had something to give us. We met him there and he gave us some money that a past missionary had sent to Echague ward that we needed to give to Bishop so he could use it to help some families in the ward with Christmas. Then he bought us some pizza for us to take home! That was the awesome part. I've never eaten at this restaurant but I think I will now because it was super good! The cook is from Italy but also knows German so President got to show us his German.

Last Sunday we had a lot of less actives at church and 4 that were close to returning. This week there were 16 of us when we started church. Rain kills everything. But two of the less actives that were close last week were there and we considered them returned this week. It was the Quisisem Tatay and his daughter Roxanne. It would be nice to see the entire family return so we will work on that. All the other less actives that were at church last week will now restart on their count to be returned but we should be able to bounce back in the next few weeks.

Overall alright week. Hopefully this rain will leave soon and we can have a few days of good weather. We had a zone activity today. Just got together at the chapel and played games together, did white elephant gifts and ended with a big water fight. Turned out way better than I thought. I think everyone had a really good time. Looking forward to this week especially Christmas then Skype! Love you all!

Love Elder Haacke

Picture from zone activity. Seniors vs Juniors, this is the senior group.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Finding and Returning

Hello everybody! Another week has flown by here in the mission! Another week with ups and downs but there were a few pretty great things that happened this week that made it a great week!

Started off on Monday night, we had dinner with the Quisisem family and was able to build even better relationships with them, especially Nanay. We have been trying to work with her to come back but still have not been able to find the reason to her not wanting to come to church. Every time we are with her we laugh and joke a lot and she is very friendly to us. Even in the lessons she participates pretty well by commenting and asking questions. I guess time will tell with her but we won't stop what we are doing.

Tuesday we hopped on a bus and went to Cauayan for the Christmas devotional. It was a ton of fun! Learned a lot as well about the birth of Christ and the reasons behind the things that happened. For example, I never new why it was important that everyone had to be taxed. Why that played a roll in the birth of Christ I had no idea. If there was no decree sent forth taxing everyone in the land, Joseph and Mary would have had no reason to go back to Bethlehem. But because they had to go back to the land of his house, the prophecy was fulfilled that Christ will be born in Bethlehem. So everything that happened happened for a reason. Shows you the planning that has taken place in the pre-earth life. We had a great lunch, acted out the 12 Days of Christmas, did zone skits then ended with a great testimony meeting. Our zone skit was something else. I have winged a lot of presentations in my life and this just added to it. We just winged the entire thing and you could totally tell but we still laughed and had a good time. Also Elder Brandon's zone was there as well so I got to see him again before he goes home this Wednesday. Can't believe how fast time has flown since we were together a year ago in Bambang. He is going home a couple weeks early so he can be home with his family for Christmas. Over all the Christmas devotional was super fun and everyone had a great time.

We finally taught brother Neo again! We had seen him a few times lately by the way. Last time he was in his car while we were crossing the highway and he stopped his car right in the middle of the road and we talked right there while we were standing in the middle of both the lanes. Guess you can do that in the Philippines. But we were finally able to catch him at his house and sit down and share with him. It was another great lesson and he asked a ton of questions. It was awesome because while we taught prophets, he asked, "If there were prophets back then, there should be prophets as well right now right?" We just looked at each other and were like, "Exactly! Let us tell you about our living prophet!" Then while teaching about Christ's church and the apostasy, he asked,"So when and how are we going to get 12 apostles? Who's going to replace James and them? And what about God's authority?" Once again, we just looked at each other and were like, "Let us tell you about the restoration and about prophet Joseph Smith!" It was an amazing lesson and super fun to teach. We will be able to follow up his prayer next time we are able to visit him. Investigator wise, he is about the only one that is active like that in the lessons.
 
On the other hand, we are really progressing with quite a few less actives and continue to meet new ones! The Quisisem family has continued to improve. Next week, Tatay and one of the daughters will be considered returned. Roxanne (the daughter) has totally began to enjoy coming to church. That goes the same with Tatay. He has another less active friend, John Garcia, that we are teaching and bringing back at the same time. The other two daughters and Nanay still having taken the few steps to returning. The other two daughters are doing alright. They come to church sometimes but not like Roxanne and Tatay do. It's been cool to see the change in them and hopefully it will effect the rest of the family as well.

John Garcia has been doing good as well. He didn't come to church last week so his count had to restart but he came back this week. We have been working with him for a few weeks now and he is really coming around as well. His wife is abroad in Canada so he raises his two kids here. He has a job as well here but his wife just asked him to quit so he can spend more time with the kids and worry more about raising them.

We have another Sister that is returning as well. I have actually never taught her. Elder Labrador always teachers her when we go on splits. Every time I have gone with him there she has been busy. But she too has come 3 weeks in a row now so she will be considered returned next week. She made a mistake a couple years ago. She is young and already has a baby but since she has been coming back, the ward has showed so much love to her making her feel more than welcome.

In all, last Sunday we had 6 less actives there and 3 of them are very close to being considered returned. We also had the primary program on Sunday. It was fun to watch all the kids sing and speak their parts in the program. Something cool on Sunday was we traveled to Alicia to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and we traveled with our 4 fellow shippers. Last week we traveled with them as well and they watched Elder Labrador and I each contact somebody on the way to Alicia. When we got off the all said they wanted to be able to do that someday. So this week, we got them ready and encouraged them to do it. Then they all did it! We all sat different places on the bus so we could each contact someone different and everyone did it! It was so awesome to see the progress of the ward missionaries and their confidence and desire to share the gospel!

Overall we were very happy again with our week this week. I am loving this area and my companion is great! Christmas is getting closer and closer so let us all do our part in sharing to others the real meaning of Christmas! Love you all!

Love Elder Haacke

 Elder Brandon and I

Alicia zone at Christmas conference

Monday, December 7, 2015

Finding Sucess with Inactives

Happy December everyone! Less than 20 days until Skype! I'm looking forward to it so much! Don't count on me having the same account as last Mother's Day or last Christmas. I will be making a new one once again since I have no idea what my username or password was for either of those two accounts. I'll let you know my new username so you can add me when I make my new account in a couple weeks. Oh by the way, got the letter with the kids' school pictures. I can't believe how much they have changed! They are growing up way too fast! To be honest, almost made me want to cry when I compared the first pictures I got of them to these most recent ones! Can't even imagine what 8 more months is going to do to them!

Another week down and another week closer to Christmas. Everyone is already saying Merry Christmas to each other like it is Christmas day. Everyone except this one Nanay at the Christmas party Saturday night. It made me laugh when I heard it. Everyone was saying good-bye and Merry Christmas then when it got to this one Nanay she's like, "It's not even close to Christmas yet!" Then she just walked out. I thought it was pretty funny! But Christmas season in the Philippines is so awesome. You can honestly see the difference in the people. Everyone is just all around more happy! Then we get to go around and teach them the reasons why they are happy! All around just a super happy season.

Work was okay this week. Still are not having good luck with investigators. We don't even have that many. The sad thing is, members always ask us how the work is doing and they only ask about investigators. We have to tell them we are struggling with investigators but then I'm like let me tell you about the less actives that we're teaching! But by that time you can just tell they don't have the desire to listen. They just focus on baptisms instead of retention as well. It's not bad because baptisms are important as well but they don't see a lot of the progress that we actually are doing. That's okay because we are happy with the progress and the Lord knows what we're doing. The Quisisem family has had heaps of progress! They came to church the last two Sundays and the children are starting to build relationships with the other youth and single adults. We have also been able to build a strong relationship with them just in the last week. We just need to work with the mom to come back. She hasn't attended church with the rest of the family. She came to the Christmas party and had a great time. She even participated in one of the games and ended up winning! We have a great relationship with her as well but for some reason she doesn't have the desire to attend church. They are probably the most progressing less actives. We have quite a few that we are teaching and even came to church last week but a lot of them didn't return yesterday for church.

Saturday night's Christmas party was great! They just planned last Sunday after Church that it would happen this Saturday. Great planning right? So it was never announced in sacrament meeting. All week, we were asked to go around to all the members and spread the word that it was happening this Saturday. With late planning and nobody knowing about it, it turned out to be pretty well! When we got there, there were more less actives than members! It was great! We met a lot of new people and spent a nice night together. Had lots of people there and a lot of fun with the performances and games.

Sunday morning, get to church, no people. There was barely anyone there! I'm thinking, what happened to everyone that was here just 12 hours ago?? Then Bishop announced that we were starting and there were only 24 of us! Bishop was the only one there in the Bishopric. Probably the lowest there's been at the start of the meeting since I've been here. I was shocked. By the end of the meeting, it had gone up to around 80 which is about where it is normally. Almost everybody was late. Like a Christmas party hangover or something. But church was still good and we had some good lessons. Even in Elders Quorum we had a good lesson! Focus was home teaching related with pure religion.

Sunday night we went to Alicia and President and Sister Rahlf had a devotional for Alicia stake. They taught about the birth of Christ and the importance of some of the people and objects in the story. One of the things I learned was that angel Gabriel is prophet Noah in mortal life. I never knew that! Alicia zone has Christmas devotional tomorrow so we will learn more about the birth of Christ and President will expound more on the significance of the people and objects in the story. Definitely looking forward to that!

Over all we had a good week and continue to find success in teaching and returning some less actives. I hope you all have a great week this week. Love you all!

Love Elder Haacke

Imagine harvesting all this corn by hand! At least its in batches so they don't do it all at once but still, that would take forever!

 The elders at the ward Christmas party.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Finishing November

Happy December everyone! Can't believe it's already the last day of November. Christmas is going to be here in no time! November has flown by and it ended with a pretty busy week! 

Started out normal with district meeting on Tuesday. Didn't really attend a whole lot of it since I had to help another Elder in my zone contact the doctor. We had to call to a landline and we don't have load to a landline with our phones so we had to go buy load at the store. Then when we finally called the doctor, they put us on hold for a while so of course, the load we bought ran out while we were on hold so we still couldn't contact the doctor! Phones are messed up here. They don't make any sense. Anyway, ended up finishing district meeting and the Elder just went through Sister Rahlf to get what he needed. After lunch, we were walking back to the highway to get on a bus to go back to Echague and we saw the two elders about the doctor. Turns out they were on their way to Cauayan to go to the hospital there. He was feeling the symptoms of a Hernia so he went to get it checked out. We did not have a good day of work on Tuesday. We got punted at almost all of our appointments. Then it started pouring rain! On the bright side, we decided to do some finding and we found a new less active. Other than that, that was basically it for Tuesday.
 
Wednesday we had MLC in Cauayan. It was pretty good. We had a somewhat Thanksgiving lunch so that was awesome! Ham(like the ham at home), mashed potatoes, corn, and a fruit salad. No stuffing though. In MLC, we started the discussion for new Standards of Excellence for 2016, new mission vision, then some other announcements. Sister Rahlf taught us about being a missionary at Christmas and then President Rahlf taught us about gratitude. It was a good lesson and very important. That is what we'll teach to the zone on Tuesday. Oh yeah, before MLC started, we went to the hospital to visit my two Elders that are there and bring them their clothes and stuff from Alicia since they learned they will be staying there for a few days. Finally got home Wednesday night back in Echague.

Thursday morning, we packed some stuff and went straight back to Cauayan for splits with the AP's. While we were planning, President asked us to help him in the mission home so we went in and helped him set up the Christmas tree. We went and ate lunch at McDonalds then went out to work. Using a car at work is amazing! I loved getting out of the car, teaching the lesson, getting back in the car and going to the next appointment. I walked more steps in the couple hours of work we had after MLC on Wednesday than I did the whole day of work on Thursday! My companion for splits was Elder Higgins. We are batch so we had a lot to catch up on since I haven't really been around him very much in the mission. Splits were great, learned  things from each other that we are both going to apply to our own work. Friday we did our accounting at the mission office. Talked about our companionship, area, then about Alicia zone. They showed me some KI's of the zone from 3 months ago and we have already progressed a lot in the past few months but there is still a lot of room for improvement. After the accounting, Sister Rahlf asked us to go to the hospital again before we went back to Alicia just to see how the Elders are doing. They had been doing good, as good as you can be sitting in a room all day. The test results had come back on Wednesday and he needs an operation and the operation is scheduled for Saturday. Told him just to keep in touch with us and let us know if he needs anything. 

Finally got back to Echague around lunch time on Friday and went right to work since it had been 2 days with basically no work in the area. Friday, Saturday and Sunday we were on splits with members. I barely taught any lessons at all this week with my companion! But it's great that the members are getting involved in the work. It helps us a lot! Because of the members help, we met 9 new less actives this week which totally paid off because most of them came to church on Sunday! Sunday we had 8 less actives attend church for the first time in a long time! Hopefully it will continue so we can get them returned! One of them even blessed the sacrament and I saw two more willingly paying their tithing. I thought that was awesome. Even though they might be less active, they still have their faith in Heavenly Father that he holds true to his promises as we obey his commandments. We are still struggling a little bit with investigators in the area. They seem to go out as fast as they come in. We do have this one couple that I think can progress. The two elders before me baptized the mom and the daughter. Ibarra family. The mom then left and went to Manila but is now back. Now we are working on bringing them back along with helping the father build his testimony of the gospel. We taught them on Saturday and they committed to church the next day. Then we had a member go by on Sunday morning to remind them about church. Turns out they didn't come and I was pretty bummed about it. Later that day on splits, I went by there to see how they were doing and only nanay was there. Then nanay told us that they left this morning and went to Alicia to go to church at the Mormon church! I don't know if it's true or why they went to Alicia but I hope they were able to attend even if it was in a different ward.

The elder in my zone ended up getting his operation postponed to Sunday morning. He texted us before he went in to operation and said he was really nervous but he made it through and is doing good now. He is still in the hospital but should be able to come back early this week.

In all we had a very busy week but were able to make up for it because of all the splits we went on. We were very happy with the success we had with some less actives this week. Hope everyone has a great week this week and I love you all!
  
Love Elder Haacke

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fellowshipping

Hello everybody once again. Start off this week's letter with have a happy Thanksgiving this week! I will be thinking of all of you on Thursday, probably eating some nice turkey, potatoes and stuffing. I'll pray we get a dinner appointment on Thursday and that will be good enough for me! Speaking of turkey, I'm working on getting one of my favorite families here to kill one of their turkeys for Christmas. I think it's going to work! Don't know if it will taste the same as back home but I'm still looking forward to it!

Don't really know how to describe this week. I guess every week has it's ups and downs but at least we were able to end it on a good note! We struggled pretty hard this week in our area through out the weekdays. Ended up doing a lot of finding since so many appointments fell through. We are basically back at step one in Maligaya. That area has been difficult since I have been here and when we went there this last week we didn't have any success at all and didn't spend much time there. Two of our areas, Soyung and Gucab, have started to get a lot better this last week. We were able to follow up with some contacts that we had done and we ended up getting some new investigators out of it.

We had a few birthdays this week so that meant a lot of food! Wednesday was Bishop Trivino's wife's birthday then on Thursday was the Bishop's in ward 1 birthday. So yeah that was great, got a lot of food and got to spend time with some more members. Then Friday night we had dinner with the Gaffud family. One of the daughters worked with us a few days before and she invited us to dinner. We had ham! I'm pretty sure I have not had ham since I've been here! It's not the kind of ham you think of back home but it still tasted like ham and was super good. We got to build a good relationship with them since we aren't really close with them. They are such a great family that has been through a lot and is still super faithful to the gospel and the church.

We have also been able to progress some with the ward this week. We had a PEC meeting on Saturday night which usually never happens. Missionaries aren't supposed to be in the PEC meeting but Bishop asked us personally if we could attend so we could add some suggestions and be part in helping the ward grow. We mostly talked about missionary work. We made a list of 15 families or couples that are less active and made assignments to get them contacted and found. Also discussed a few other things about sacrament meeting and such but for the most part just missionary work. The single adults had an activity at the church that night so we ended up getting free dinner as well.

Church on Sunday was alright. There wasn't very many people there at the start but people eventually showed up. Class and such was alright. Nothing new I guess. Then we had another meeting with the auxiliary leaders to discuss missionary work and plan the Christmas party. We left after the missionary part since we weren't needed anymore. Basically talked more about the 15 families we are trying to contact. Work on Sunday was pretty good. Actually it was really good. One lesson was following up a contact so we just taught the first lesson. We had to find his house since we just contacted him on the street. As soon as he came out to open the gate, two of our fellowshippers, Rica and Cezar, turned to me at the same time and told me they were going to kill me. I had no idea why but turns out, they have both argued with this person before. He is a tricy driver and they are pretty pushy to get people to ride in their tricy, but I guess this guy is something else. Anyways, the lesson wasn't as awkward as I thought it was going to be since the past meetings with him and my fellowshippers hadn't been that great. It actually was kinda good cause Rica used the opportunity to explain what happened and said sorry. Another great lesson on Sunday was to a mother and a daughter that was baptized a month before I got here. The mom had since gone to Manila to work but we decided to go by the house anyway. Turns out, they were there! Along with the father of the family. They were happy to see us and we were really happy to see them. I guess she had just gotten back a few days before and isn't planning on returning to Manila. We taught a short lesson using the little flashlights on our phones since there was no lights. Just taught about our loving Heavenly Father and how we can always come unto him. Before we left, without even being invited, the dad promised to come to church next week! So that was awesome!

That's pretty much it for this week. Had a great week and am definitely looking forward to this coming week! Hope you all have a good one!

Love Elder Haacke

 Found a sign for the Patriots! First football related thing I've seen and it was my team!

Monday, November 16, 2015

District Meeting and Stake Conference

Hello once again! Another week gone by and November is half way over! That means Christmas is just over a month away! Thanksgiving isn't really a holiday here so I don't have much to look forward to in November. Plus all you hear is Christmas music everywhere so my Christmas countdown has started! Few more weeks to go until Skype!

This week, however, was an alright week. A few days were not great but we still had some enjoyable days and still felt good about the week.
Had district meeting once again on Tuesday. The district leader, Elder Odchigue, talked about how being humble and following the mission guidelines is key to being a successful missionary. One example that I liked was he had someone draw a tree on the board. Then he told another missionary to go up and draw another tree but this time it was as if he was designing his own world and could make a tree look however he wanted. As he started to draw it, it didn't end up working. He couldn't think of how to design a tree that was totally different to the tree that every one knows. It ended up looking a lot like the first tree. He used this example to show that we have guidelines in the mission and that is how we are supposed to live. If we try and do it our own way, it just won't work. That goes with life as well. If we try to bend the commandments that God has given us, it just won't work. We won't be entitled to those blessings that God is willing to give us. Overall, it was a great lesson by Odchigue. Plus my last companion, Elder Gabelo, is in that district so I got to spend some time with him again so that was fun.

This week was up and down work wise. We were really excited to get back to Brother Neo this week and follow up with him. Every time we went out there he was gone. The nanay that was there did tell us that his wife has come back from Hong Kong for a few days so I can't blame him if he is out spending time with her. We are going to visit him again tomorrow and hope he will be there. We really want to meet his wife as well so hopefully she will be there. Last time we took a picture and he sent it to her.

Still are doing a lot of finding in the area. On Thursday, Elder Carrington and Elder Labrador had a meeting in Cauayan so I was companions with Elder Romo for a day. We spent a lot of that day following up contacts that we had done the previous week in Maligaya. We did not get a single lesson/new investigator from a single one of them. Maligaya is the more rural part of our area so I don't think we will be going there very often any more. There is only one member that lives there but he just left and went to Utah a week ago. Elder Romo and I split the day in half as in we'll work in my area for half then work in his area. They hadn't gone to a part of their area that's where we went and we just contacted like crazy to try and get to know the area. Finally ended the day meeting back up with Elder Carrington and Elder Labrador at a dinner appointment with a member in the other ward. Ate a ton of food then finally went home. Another thing, the best dentist in the mission lives in Echague and we went and Elder Romo had an appointment with him since his retainer broke. It was a pretty nice dentist office. I definitely still like the ones in America a lot more but I was pretty impressed with it.

Saturday and Sunday we had stake conference. The temple president of the Manila temple, President Amistad, attended stake conference on Saturday night. His talk was awesome! He was super funny. We were laughing almost the whole time but he had some really good lines in his talk. One of them reminded me of my conversations with dad lately. I keep telling him marriage is far far away but he says he thinks it will happen in two years and the ward thinks it will happen sooner than that. President Amistad's quote was, "Don't rush, but don't be late." I thought that was a perfect answer. I won't rush but I won't be late. There weren't too many people there on Saturday night which was actually kinda nice. It was really easy to focus and listen to the speakers. Sunday on the other hand was something else. It was packed as could be. Could barely hear the speakers at all and even with air conditioning it was still hot since there were so many people inside. Didn't really get that much away from the Sunday meeting but I really really enjoyed Saturday night. It wasn't required that we attend as missionaries but I am glad we did!
Had 3 members work with us on Sunday which was a lot of fun. Brother Mark Jun and Sisters Michelle and Arlene. They are super cool and Michelle and Mark Jun work with us pretty often. Working with members is always so much better than just the missionaries. The members know the area so well and helps us meet new people each time, especially since I am still only a month into this area. Sunday night we had dinner with Nanay Felix. We have planned this dinner since I was with Elder Arorong and the night finally came. It was just Nanay, her grandson, Elder Labrador and myself. We had a good time talking and joking with Nanay and eating some great food. I think sometimes she gets a little lonely at the house so we joked and laughed a lot while we were there.

That was pretty much it for the week. We are continuing to get more dinner appointments each week which is great. This week we have one tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. There was only Sunday dinner when I got here so I think we've improved quite a bit! Hope everyone has a great week this week! Love you all!
Love Elder Haacke


Monday, November 9, 2015

Busy Transfer Week

Start of another cycle already! I just realized that this one is my 11th in the Philippines! So crazy! But I think this cycle is going to be a great cycle! Tuesday was Elder Arorong's last day. I guess not really, he left in the morning around 7:40. I spent the day with Elder Romo and Elder Carrington, the elders in my apartment. We had a fun day together. It's a little weird sometimes working in three but we had a good day. They had a lunch and dinner appointment so I was fine working in their area for the day. Dinner was more of like a ward get together for Sister Ilago since she was going to transfer out of the ward. Dinner was good and I got to meet a few members from the other ward along with the Bishop. I'll just say getting to know the bishop was a great idea because he ended up inviting us to dinner on Wednesday night. He is the bishop of the other ward but his house is in my area. Turns out we now have dinner with him every Wednesday! Anyway, back to Tuesday. Totally forgot that since Arorong was gone, I need to plan the vans and stuff for transfer day the next day. Made a few calls to figure out how it works here in Alicia then called the driver. He has a nice van and his son has a little pickup. Everything went well for transfer day, other than the guy that has a pickup decided to show up in a car! What use is that?? The pickup was gonna be for the luggage and the van for the missionaries then he shows up in a car? We ended up making it work but we might as well have all just made it work in the van instead of taking the car and having to also pay him for only taking one companionship. Best part of transfer day is reading the list of where the missionaries in my zone are going and who their new companions are. It's always really loud and everyone goes crazy and everything so it's a good time. After I read off the list, I helped get the missionaries to the right vans then send them on their way to their new homes. Then we went to the mall to eat some lunch. I was with Elder Brandon. This is his last cycle. Crazy. Feels like yesterday I just met him in Bambang. But we ate at KFC, the only one in the mission. It was super good. Went back to the church and waited for the other vans to arrive coming from the other 2 transfer points in the mission. My new comp was coming from Tuguegarao. It is Elder Labrador! We were in the same zone in Roxas for three cycles and we went on splits once while I was there. I was his district leader in Roxas. We were pretty excited to be companions so we should get along great and work hard together. Finally got back Wednesday evening and went around to members that were close and introduced Elder Labrador to them. Then we had dinner with Bishop then went home.

Thursday was zone meeting, my first one. It is also Elder Labrador's first one and he wasn't even at MLC so I had to teach him what to teach. In the end, we got through it. Probably not the best or most fun zone meeting ever but that's good so no one has expectations for next time. Ate lunch over in Alicia then came back to Echague. Went around and met some more members and learned where they live and while we would visit with them we would ask them of any less actives in the area. For the last few days, that has been working really good. We have been able to meet a few more less actives and also strengthen relationships with the members. Even got one Nanay to make the missionaries a dinner calendar! Before the night ended on Thursday, we went to our most recent recent convert, Nanay and Alyssa Ballad to start the reteaching to them.
Friday was a good day. We had two SA work with us and they were a huge help. They showed us some of the area that I didn't know. It was a lot of fun having them work with us. One of them was a new RM and the other one is preparing for a mission. I think they will start to work with us a lot more so that will be nice. We were able to do a lot of contacts on Friday and also teach some first lessons to some people. Finished the night teaching Aaron, the other one that was baptized a week ago.

Saturday was alright. Just the usual day. We worked in an area called Soyung and an area called Tuguegarao. Best highlight of the day was in Tuguegarao, we were doing some finding/exploring basically in the middle of no where. We just turned down a random road with a few houses on it and started contacting. No luck. Got turned down by everybody. Then we went by this one house and met this brother named Neo. He's 31 and has one little girl. His wife is working abroad in Hong Kong. We got to know each other a little bit then started the lesson. He is familiar with the church. He has had a couple friends that are members. We started sharing the lesson then he started asking questions mostly about how can we return to heaven. We explained the gospel and the steps we need to do to return to Heavenly Father. He then asked us some questions about repenting and how we know if we repented. We answered it then he ended up opening up to us and sharing with us the things that he has done. Turns out, while his wife has been abroad, he's fell into temptation a couple times and been with other women a couple of nights. He feels terrible about it and he says he doesn't know how to repent. The way I described this story makes it seem like nothing special but this was one of my favorite lessons in the mission. We were just able to discuss things and teach while doing that. I know the gospel will be perfect for him! He said he was going to come to church on Sunday as well...but that ended up not happening. Saturday night we were supposed to have a meeting at the church to discuss missionary work. We got to the church and there was no one there. We called Bishop and I guess they decided to reschedule it and not let us know so we just ended up going to a restaurant for dinner.
That brings us to Sunday. Church was good. Elder's quorum was something else. They ended up debating/arguing on what activities were okay and what were not. I ended up just telling my companion that we should go to the hall and let them fight it out. Neo was supposed to come late, around 10:30, since he has a part in his church that he can't miss. He is Catholic by the way. But he texted us and said that his wife wanted to Skype and see their daughter so he wasn't going to make it to church. The meeting that was rescheduled for Sunday after church ended up not happening at all. We had some SA work with us again on Sunday and we went to the last part of the area that I haven't been to. Walked crazy far to get there and there is only one member there. They are somewhat less active but make a showing at church every once in a while. Got there and they were busy so we couldn't even share with them but at least we met them and talked to them for a little. Had a dinner at night then that was it for the week! Hope everyone has a good week this week! Love you all!

Love Elder Haacke

Monday, November 2, 2015

Conferences with Elder Schwitzer

Last week of the cycle already! Just a four week cycle so that's why it went so fast! Next cycle is 8 weeks so it will be a while before I say this again. Of course, Elder Arorong is going home now so I will be getting a new companion on Wednesday. Don't really have an idea who it could be so should be interesting. Elder Arorong leaves tomorrow morning and goes to Cauayan for the day then will sleep there so I will be with the other 2 elders in my apartment for the day. I'm not complaining though since they have a lunch and dinner appointment tomorrow and we don't have any!

The week this week was pretty good. We were blessed this week to be able to have Elder Schwitzer and his wife visit the mission this week. They are awesome people! Very approachable and he had lots of jokes while he taught. Elder Bowen was a little scary to approach sometimes when he was here but it felt totally different with Elder Schwitzer. On Wednesday, we had MLC with him and his wife from 2:30 to 6:30. First MLC in the mission. I guess the new ones in MLC get to sing the first line of a song in front of everybody. Since it is the 'ber' months, the topic was Christmas. I sang the first line of Jingle Bells since that was the only thing that came to mind. You could say I completely destroyed it. Yeah, never was a singer. But after I totally got rid of the spirit with my singing voice, we still managed to have a great meeting. Being in MLC is alright. It's nice to get a voice on something if you want. That's what we started out with. They choose a topic then every one voices their opinions of what they think about it. That part was okay. For the most part the opinions were pretty good but every now and again there was an opinion that I thought was pointless. President and Sister Rahlf taught us about having a vision. Then we reviewed the vision that we have right now for the mission. We will be making a new standard of excellence in December so we are starting to talk about it now. Then Elder Schwitzer taught us about qualities of a good leader that he has seen as a member of the seventy. It was cool because from each trait or quality, he would tell us from who he got it. Most of them were from members of the Quorum of the Twelve. It was a great meeting and awesome listening to him share to us. We then ate dinner in the mission home then the AP's brought us back to Alicia. Got to hang out with my friend Elder Teikauea as well since he was called as a zone leader the same time I was. I hope I can be comps with him one day. That would be awesome.

We finally got home that night and went straight to bed since the next morning we woke up at 3, got ready, and took off to Solano for zone conference. It was supposed to take like 3 hours or so to get there. We aren't supposed to be there till 8:30 but we CAN'T be late. Anyway, it only ended up taking like 1 1/2 hours to get there so we got there super early. Ended up just walking around with nothing to do. Did end up going to eat at McDonald's then President and Elder Schwitzer showed up there as well to eat. Conference was great. Learned about ways to contact people, how to use the scriptures, then Elder Schwitzer's main lesson was about repentance related to the plan of salvation. Over all, it was a great day!

Gonna jump to Saturday since I am running out of time. We had a baptism this last Saturday. Went great! Nanay and Alyssa Ballad were baptized along with Aaron. They were all very happy and had a great time at their baptism. The whole zone put together there was 10 baptisms on Saturday which was great to help us get a lot closer to the zone goal.

Sunday was good. Great fast and testimony meeting. Not a whole lot of people were able to testify since the ones that did share shared for like 10 minutes each. Plus we conferred the Holy Ghost to them that were baptized which we were able to assist in so that was cool. Rest of church went pretty well. Priesthood was the usual...plan the activities they want to do this month. Next week the lesson will probably be reviewing the activity and making changes to it. I think it's kinda funny.

That's pretty much it for the week. We went to Robinsons today, the mall in Santiago. That's why I'm netting later than we usually do and don't have any more time. At Robinsons, Elder Carrington and I each bought our own pizza and tried to finish it. 
Last time I'm doing that. Never felt so sick in my life! But it was still a good time! Hope everyone has a great week! Tell you all about the new companion and the changes in the zone next week!

Love Elder Haacke

Monday, October 26, 2015

Finally, A Real Letter

Hello everybody! Feels like a long time since I've written a letter home! That doesn't necessarily mean that this letter is going to be super long or anything but I'll do my best. We just got back from Maggot Dam (for the third time) so I don't have a whole lot of time.

Start off with the typhoon last week. It came in about 2:00am Sunday morning. We all woke up from the wind but I ended up falling back asleep no more than a few minutes later. Woke up in the morning, rain had pretty much stopped. Just a few drops every once in a while. Wind wasn't very strong at all either. Just like a usual Idaho breeze. Some people here were still saying the wind was super strong but I'm sitting there thinking it's barely even windy. Bishop texted and said church was cancelled. Thing is before that text, someone else texted and asked me to give a talk. So in the end, I got out of giving a talk in church! There were a few trees that had blown over during the night but people got right out with their chain saws and cleared the ones that were covering the roads. There wasn't flooding at all in my area. All the members were okay and not effected by the storm. The rice fields were all flattened though. Like back home sometimes some of the grain falls down like the end of July. It was like that with the rice but the entire field was flat. They've still been harvesting all the fallen down rice but it's not the yellowish color that it normally is when they harvest. The only time I saw flooding was on Monday when we were in the bus going to Alicia to p-day. As we went over a bridge, I noticed that someone built their house a little too close to the river and had about 4 1/2 feet of water in it. That's pretty much it about the storm. Not a whole lot to talk about. We didn't even get a service out of it.

This week on the other hand was alright. My first and only district meeting in Alicia for this cycle on Tuesday. It was nice not having to teach and also getting to choose which district I wanted to attend. I could get used to that! After district meeting, we ate at this Japanese place that doesn't even cook Japanese food. We all got burgers. It was a huge burger, not all that tasty but it was big so it was worth it.

Work here in Echague is somewhat slow actually. We don't have that many investigators. Just means we need to do a lot of finding. A couple cycles ago, the zone leaders area was switched with a different area so it was kind of reopened. We do have a few investigators that are progressing and actually have some that will be baptized this coming Saturday. First family I met here was the Ballad family. We don't teach Tatay yet but we do teach Nanay and the kids. Tatay is supportive though and we see him quite a bit around the house. Nanay and the daughter, Eliza, will be baptized this coming Saturday so that is pretty exciting! We are also teaching a boy named Aaron that is a part member. He is only 11 years old but is very intelligent. He will also be baptized this coming Saturday.

I can see the things I can work on while I am here in this area. We have 2 investigator couples that need to be married before they can be baptized so I will get to work with them and become a wedding planner. Also we have a Tatay that loves coming to church but still refuses to be baptized since his belief is that all churches are true. I'm looking forward to being able to work with these people and do my best in helping them come unto Christ! I will also be doing a lot of finding so we can increase our teaching pool. Also I will be working on dinner appointments in this area. As of now we just have them with Bishop every once in a while but I heard that they used to have them all the time before. Hopefully I can get things back to the way they were before!
Church was pretty good. Felt the love the members had for me as soon as I walked in the door. And I love them as well. Got to meet a lot more of them this last Sunday. I love the Bishopric. They are so funny but also hard working. We have a pretty good group of SA and youth here as well so that's always fun since they love the missionaries. I was able to speak for a little bit and introduce myself in sacrament meeting. I also spoke with a new sister return missionary that just got home this last week.

We also had a few baptismal interviews that we had to do this week. Had them on Thursday and Sunday so that took away from our time a little bit since we had to travel pretty far to get there.
Overall, pretty good week this week. Still learning the area and the people here but so far it is going good. Only have one more week the Elder Arorong will be leaving. Plus this week we have leadership training on Wednesday then zone conference of Thursday then a baptism on Saturday. Will be a busy week so I'm looking forward to it! Hope you all have a great week this week! 

Love you all!

Love Elder Haacke

 Elder Arorong and I at Maggot dam earlier.
  
 The water is way higher than the last 2 times because of the storm.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Buhay Pa!

Hey! Just real quick. We waited ALL day yesterday for the internet to come on and it never came. We went to every net shop in the city and they all didn't have internet so we couldn't email yesterday. I guess no one had internet because of the storm. That's why I jumped on the net for a bit right now just to send you a quick email. Week was good. As you know, had a storm this weekend. Church was cancelled but we really could have had church cause the storm was basically finished. Pretty windy and quite a bit of rain but not a ton. A few trees had fallen over but that's about it. Not even much flooding at all at least where I am at. It came in during the night so we slept through most of it. At 2 am 3 out of the 4 of us had woken up because of the wind but I fell back asleep about 3 minutes later so it didn't bother me too much. All is going well. Hope you all have a great week and I love you all!
Love Elder Haacke

Monday, October 12, 2015

Transition Week

Hello everybody once again. So got some news for the week! Pretty crazy I guess. I will be going to Alicia zone and my area is called Echague. My companion is Elder Arorong, I was in the same zone as him in Bambang. Actually went on splits with him once. So this cycle is only 4 weeks long then the next cycle is 8 weeks long. Elder Arorong will be going home after this cycle and my first week of this cycle is still here in Amulung. So we will only have 3 weeks together then I will be getting another new companion! So on Wednesday I will be going to Cauayan for a meeting then will continue on to my new area in Alicia. Feels like a lot happening in just a short time! I'm excited for all this to happen, should be pretty exciting.
This week on the other hand was alright. I don't have a lot to say about it so this email might be a little boring. My companions are Elder Gumayao and Munoz. They are alright. They'll be the new missionaries here in Amulung come Wednesday. I think everyone likes them for the most part. The one isn't to enthused about missionary work. He's a little lazy. Since the area here is huge, we haven't been teaching very many lessons, just introduce the missionaries, talk for a little, then leave. That is what the zone leaders advised me to do. I guess that's the reason I don't have a lot to say. We've just been going to a ton of different places to help them learn the area and get to know the members. We still have some places we haven't gone that we need to. This area is just so big and we've had something every morning since we have been here. From zone meeting, weekly planning, then conference for two days. So yeah, it's been busy but we are still getting around. 
So if you remember Elder Schwitzer from conference, he will be coming to the mission on October 27-29 so that will be pretty cool. Just like Elder Bowen came last year, it will be him this year. Pretty cool to see him talk in conference and now he will come the the mission in a few weeks. Rumor has it he will be going around to some apartments since he wants to see what they are like so hopefully he won't be coming to mine! 
That's pretty much all I have for the week, we are literally just introducing to everyone and all the different places. Only have tonight and tomorrow afternoon to finish it all up then I will be leaving! Haven't heard anything on how I will be going to Cauayan, hopefully the AP's will come and get me so I don't have to travel by a bus! That's what I'm praying for. 
Conference weekend was good. I really like a lot of the talks. I didn't bring any of my notes with me but one that I remember was I think Robert D. Hales. I just like how simply and plainly he spoke and how easy it was to relate to your life. Can't wait until the talks come out in the Liahona so I can read them again and learn a lot more! 
Overall it was an alright week. Finish up showing the area this week then I'll be off to the new area! I will be in an apartment with four elders for the first time so that should be cool! Hope everyone has a good week! Love you all!
Love Elder Haacke

Computer won't read the sd card so next time I will send pictures!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Bagong Balita For the Week

What a week in Amulung! Pretty crazy week this week! Went by insanely fast! And transfer list came today, find more out about that later!

Start the week on Tuesday again. Taught district meeting a little differently this week. Normally I just take something from Preach My Gospel and teach about that but I thought of something new for this last week. My ward mission leader gave me a talk about the apostasy and it totally helps you understand how everything happened. How the churches spread and how the doctrines changed over time. It's called Why 1820, forgot who it was by. Something W. Smith. But anyway, I like how President Rahlf takes a topic and really picks it apart and helps us learn it better as missionaries. For example, last last zone conference was about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. We did a deep study about the two of them and learned things we can apply to our teaching when we teach that principle. So I wanted to do something like that but with the apostasy. I didn't really know how it would go but it actually turned out really well and the district really liked it. Definitely strengthened my testimony of why we needed a restoration and why it happened when it happened. Ate lunch as a zone, as always, then we came back to Amulung. Went to Santa Terresa to work which was alright. The one family we really wanted to teach, Alqasor family, was not there. We feel like they will really progress but we haven't been able to teach them often at all. We ended up teaching a few recent converts that live in that area to finish up their reteaching. Something I forgot that happened at district meeting...so the missionaries that will be training next cycle will be called this day either before or right after district meeting. Long story short, Elder Gabelo is training! So that either means I am transferring and he his going to be here for 7 cycles or he is transferring and opening an area! So that was on our thoughts for the rest of the week. 
Wednesday, Elder Gabelo went to Cauayan for the trainers meeting so I worked with the zone leaders for the day in their area. We had a lot of fun as the three of us. Work was one of the longest days ever though. Talk about punted. Had 13 appointments and taught 2. So that wasn't the best thing ever but we still had fun together as we went about our way. Elder Gabelo got back in the evening, we met him at the stake center. Happened to be that a member in Amulung ward that has a car was there so we were able to get a ride with him back to the apartment. 
Thursday, about 10 in the morning a guy showed up at the apartment that we didn't know but was a member. Turns out he was from somewhere in Manila, name was Herman. So he was having a family reunion in the area so he invited us to go and eat lunch there. So of course, free food, we went and ate. Then he introduced us to EVERY person there. We got a lot of contacts this day. Then the family members that weren't there, we went to their houses and found them. He is the only member in the family and he wants us to teach all of them. None of them seemed interested at all but we will give it a shot so we can report back to Herman. Then we went back to Santa Terresa for work then to Gamad. Still weren't able to share to the Alqasor family, they were busy I guess. We were able to teach two investigators in a part member family though, sister Jenny and Jennilyn. They are identical twins. Then in Gamad we had a dinner appointment with the Padayuman family. That was super good. Had meat that tasted like meat. Not meat that is 75% fat. So that was awesome! Then we were able to visit with an investigator, Marinella, that is a friend of the Padayuman family. Pretty good day. 
Friday, my favorite, weekly planning. That took quite a long time, not really sure why but we didn't finish till lunch time. Went to work in Baculud then Estefania for the day. Sister Divine Grace lives in Baculud so we visited her to make final preparations for her baptism the next day. She was super excited for her baptism and was more than ready! We then visited a few other members that live in the area and were able to teach one investigator there as well. After we finished there, we came back to Estafania to finish up the day. Not a ton happened in Estefania, everyone shuts down early here. We were still able to share to a part member family, the Verpo family. We are teaching the daughter right now. Mom and older sister are members. Dad is not yet a member. We want to be able to share to Tatay but he isn't interested at all yet. He is still a good dad though to the family, we hope someday we can share with him as well. But the mom and two daughters have improved over the last few weeks. We have seen their relationships with each other strengthen and their activity in the church has improved as well. That was pretty much it for the day on Friday. 
Saturday morning was the baptism of Divine Grace and another girl that is 8 so we didn't teach her. Supposed to start at 9 but of course, Filipino time, started at 10:20ish. But it was still a great service. The best part was Divine's testimony at the end of the service. Normally the investigator just testifies for like 30 seconds then sits down but she bore an awesome testimony. She has progressed super fast and continues to progress every day. It was an awesome baptism! Another great thing happened on Saturday. For work we went to a super far area. We have an investigator there, Bert Delacruz. This was the first time for both of us that we have gone there. Anyway, he was there, taught him and he fellowshipped with us in teaching his neighbors. On the way back to the highway, he offered that we ride his motorcycle. We all hopped onto the motorcycle went on are way. The cool part was his comment while on the motor. He says Elders, if your ever walking somewhere far, just give me a call and I will pick you up. That way we can better hasten the teaching of the gospel. Haha it was awesome to hear him say that! We've only taught him twice but he has been coming to church and doing everything we say. It's hard to teach him since he lives so far. But I am sure he will be baptized and we will set a date with him this next week if we can share with him!
Sunday came around and was another good Sunday. Divine Grace was confirmed a member then she also shared her testimony again. All the other testimonies were super good as well. Testimony meeting went 30 minutes over time since there were so many that wanted to share! Class and priesthood were pretty good as well. Had splits for work. But before the splits, we went to one members house to give a blessing to her mom. They gave us a ton of noodles to eat so we were super full. Then we went off to work. I went to Santa Terresa and striked out with the Alqasor family. They weren't there again. We ended up teaching the twins, Jenny and Jennilyn, again. Then one of the sisters with us had to go home so we walked her home, then we walked back to where Elder Gabelo was working and met up with him. Alright day, church was really good! 
Monday, played basketball at the church this morning with the zone while the sisters played ping pong. Played until the transfer list came. First name on the transfer list... Haacke! Second name on the transfer list...Gabelo! WE ARE BOTH LEAVING!! I thought I had thought of all the scenarios that could happen but that was not one of them! Anyway, while at lunch, President Rahlf called me and gave me an update. So Elder Gabelo will be transferring this Wednesday, transfer day, and I will be delayed one week. I will be in a tri-some for one week to show the new elders the area then I will leave. Also, President called me as a zone leader. I'm exciting for what lies ahead but as for now, I'm going to enjoy my last full week in Amulung! So that's the bagong balita for the week. I'll probably find out where I'm going on Wednesday but won't get there till next week! Let ya'll know how it goes. Can't wait for conference this weekend! Hope you all enjoyed it! Have a great week and I love you all!
 
Love Elder Haacke
  
 My district, and some from the other district.
  
 The baptism on Saturday.

Monday, September 28, 2015

My Week in Review

Another week gone by! Super fast week! If any one is wondering, dropped under the 300 mark of days left! Be home in no time! ;) Joke, I am loving the mish right now and am learning so much! Wouldn't trade it for anything, other than some cold weather every once in a while!

But this week was a pretty good week. Not necessarily a stand out week but definitely not a bad week. District meeting on Tuesday was pretty good! I taught about the attributes of Christ again. The elders in my district weren't there since they were still coming back from Cauayan so we were short in numbers. The STL's ended up attending so that was actually a good thing since the elders weren't there. Lesson was good and everyone participated really well. I think I'm gonna do something a little different for district meeting tomorrow so we'll see how it goes. Had lunch with the zone at Fatkids again. Ate two burgers again. Super good. Then we went back to Amulung and went to work. Just worked in Estefania, an area close to the church and the apartment. Work was pretty good. Visited a member, taught two investigators and one recent convert. The last lesson was to the member and they gave us dinner. It was super good. I actually can't remember what it was, just that it was really good. 

Wednesday and Thursday were good days of work. We had a lot of success in teaching the people we needed/wanted to. I can't really think of a stand out lesson or anything but we worked hard. We taught 14 lessons in just these two days. I guess we had one lesson on Thursday to a less active family. Only the father was there so we just shared with him. It's the Pamitan family. We shared about having strong enough faith and trust in the Lord to rely on him in times of need. I definitely felt the spirit and I think the dad did as well. Their problem is they don't have the money to be able to attend church. Or that they need that money for other things I guess is a better way to word it. Even with a great lesson, he still didn't attend church yesterday so we will follow up with them this week. At night, we had a dinner appointment with the Padayuman family. After that, we finally went home for the night. 

Friday, the zone leaders came out to Amulung to do a baptismal interview for our investigator, Divine Grace Carlos. Before that, we went to the Abalos' house to have lunch and celebrate Tatay's birthday. It is always a good time with the Abalos family. They are super funny! After lunch, we met up with the zone leaders and went  out to where Sister Divine Grace lives. Interview went really well. Elder Olson said she was more than ready to be baptized. So this Saturday she will be baptized! The rest of Friday we only were able to teach two lessons. It was good though, we were finally able to visit sister Karen. First time since her baptism. Her husband has left now and won't be back for 6 months so it's important that we stay close with her to help her faith continue to grow. We taught her about baptisms for the dead and family history. She had a lot of questions which made the lesson really good! On are way home that night, we remembered all of a sudden we had been invited for dinner at a members house so we had to get off the van and go all the way back to where the member lived. We were only there for a little since we got there late then had to leave to still get a van to go home. But it was free dinner and a nice visit with the member so can't complain! 

Saturday was the family week celebration! If you remember back to one of my first emails from the Philippines, this was in one of those emails. In Bambang, it was celebrated with the entire district but here it was just with the ward so there wasn't as many people but still a lot of fun. Our goal for the day was to strengthen our relationship with the members. I think we exceeded the goal. We had such a fun time with the ward playing all the games, dancing and, of course,winning the contests. I also met a less active that is around my age and was able to build a strong relationship with him. I ended up spending most of the time with him. He is going back to Manila though to work so I probably won't see him again. Overall, the day was super fun. 

Sunday was alright. A little hectic at work. Starting at church, the day was going great. We had a coordination meeting with are new ward mission leader. That was pretty good. Hopefully we can make use out of the meeting. Sacrament meeting was great. Speakers were good and we had 7 investigators there! Jumped up a lot from the 2 last week. Also, we had two less active that are considered returned. Tatay Bacai and his daughter. Work on Sunday was kinda crazy. We always have sisters that want to work with us but only sometimes can get the priesthood. We hoped we would be able to get two priesthood to be able to split and work in two places but we ended up only getting one. So we weren't able to have a splits. Then, a nanay that lives super far asked for a blessing for her Tatay so we had to make a detour and go clear out to their house. We told the fellowshippers to just go to the area we were going to work and wait for us there. Anyway, we finally got to the house and the Tatay had left. He had gone to Tuguegarao so we weren't able to give the blessing. So we started walking back out to the highway and it starts pouring rain. So we got soaked. Finally got back to the highway, got in a van and met up with the fellowshippers that were waiting for us. We ended up only teaching one lesson the rest of the day. It was to a niece of a member that wants us to teach her. Lesson was long because each fellowshipper added in what they wanted to say. After the lesson, the member (Bro Taer) entertained everyone with a couple stories from his mission.  Then we piled on his tricy and he took us back out to the highway.  Overall, Sunday was not the most progressive day work wise but looking at the whole week it wasn't too bad. We are really excited for Sister Divine's baptism this week. She has studied really hard and done everything we have asked to prepare for her baptism.

Hope you all have a great week this week and I love you all! 

Love Elder Haacke
 
I thought I could screen shot on my camera but I was wrong. I have a lot of videos from the family celebration then I was hoping to screen shot from them but I can't. But here is one picture of me getting ready for a game.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Planting

Hello everybody! Had another great, fast week here in Amulung! Stayed super busy this week with different things which made this week go by super fast! Can't start this week out at district meeting because we didn't have one. We had zone conference as the replacement but I'll talk about that later. Since we didn't have district meeting, Tuesday was a normal and usual day of work. Went to an area called Manawag. There are quite a few less actives there is what everybody says. We don't know that many people there so we did some finding that day as well. We were able to eat lunch with the Abalos family then go out to work. Visited the elders quorum president since he hasn't been able to come to church the last couple weeks cause of his leg. I don't know what kind of sickness it was but he had like a hole in his leg it was constantly dripping blood. He said he's had it before so I guess it is normal to him. I've never seen it before. So we shared with him then went and bought him some lunch since he can't walk. We visited a few less actives, found a new less active, and got two new investigators which finished out the day. On our way out of Manawag, we went by the Abalos family again and they gave us some dinner. Then we made plans to help them at their farm the next day. 

Wednesday morning we got up at 5 and went back to their house. Met up with Nanay and the oldest daughter, Develyn, and another Nanay in the ward and took off to the farm. It was a pretty far walk but not horrible. Tatay was already at the farm when we got there making rows to plant the seeds. He went along with the plow and the caribou then we planted the seeds. Nanay and Develyn would finish 4 rows by the time we finished 1 but it was still really fun. Once we finished we all went back to the house and had lunch. So that makes 3 meals in a row at the Abalos family! They are a great family though and so it is really enjoyable to be around them. Finally got home, showered, took a quick nap since we were both wasted then went out and worked in Santa Teresa for the rest of the day. We were able to get a couple lessons to some recent converts to progress in their reteaching and also teach one investigator there as well. Overall pretty good day. Planting at the farm was way fun!

Thursday was zone conference! It was here in Tuguegarao so we didn't have to travel anywhere. There were a few people I was excited to see from the other two zones that were there but for the most part I didn't know a lot of the missionaries that were there. The mission has changed quite a bit the last few cycles. Lots of missionaries have gone home and the groups coming in have been pretty big as well. But President and Sister Rahlf did a great job as always in teaching us. We studied 2 Nephi 28 really well. About all the things that Nephi saw would be happening in our day. Also taught us a little about our purpose as missionaries and the uniqueness of our message. Then we ate lunch (super good), played a game, then went back in for the last bit of conference. For the second part we talked about the Sabbath day and how we need to really get the importance of it across to our investigators and members. Then it ended with a short testimony meeting. Overall a super good conference. Took almost the entire day but I learned a lot and loved the scripture study that we did!
Friday was the usual weekly planning. Not a fan but made it through. That is the one thing I won't miss. But Friday was a good day as well. One lesson I really liked was to the Alcasor family. I guess Elder Gabelo had taught them one or two times before but had now stopped for like 2 months. On Friday we were able to teach them again and just shared a simple message about prophets. They are really interested and want to listen. I think the only part that will be difficult is to get them to come to church. We will work on that though. The part I liked in the lesson was when Tatay gave the closing prayer. In the prayer he mentioned how he hopes and prays that the lessons won't stop this time and that we will be able to continue to share to him and his family. They didn't end up coming to church this week but we will definitely continue this time with the lessons and hopefully they will progress. 

Saturday we went out early, about 9:30 and went to a far area. One investigator lives out there that is close to baptism and she only comes home on Saturdays and Sundays so those are the only days we have to teach her. She was there and we were able to teach the rest of the commandments to her. We have scheduled an interview for her this coming Saturday. We want to be able to share with her one more time before the interview but even if we can't, we know she is more than ready for the interview. After we visited her, we ate lunch at a members house then traveled to Tuguegarao to do an interview for the zone leaders' investigator. The interview went well and had no problems. After the interview we came back to Amulung and just worked close to the church. Coming back took forever though. How travel works here is there are tents set up and so you go to that tent that has the vans going to your destination. As soon as the van is full (as in packed full) you leave. As we got there, the van just left so we were the first ones in the next van. That meant we had to wait for ages for it to fill up before we left. Eventually made it back and got three more lessons before it was time to go home. 

Sunday once again. Turns out I was a back up speaker and the person that was supposed to speak came so I ended up not giving a talk. The president and 1st coundelor from the stake came on Sunday. Talk about chastisement. His talk was a little harsh in sacrament meeting. Then he taught priesthood which was pretty harsh as well. Anyway, had 2 investigators at church which is down from last week but they all had descent reasons. We had the single adults work with us again on Sunday. Brother Sherwin and Roderick then Sisters Jingle, Rocel and Marge. We ended up splitting and I went with Brother Roderick. It was just us two and we were just going tracting while the others did the appointments. We ended up teaching two first contact lessons. One of them was super good. His name was Jacob. He was familiar with the church because of his friend at school. Before we even said anything he asked if we were Latter Day Saints. So of course we knew right away that he was familiar with the church. He is a smart kid and is very willing to listen. The lesson was alright and we told him we would probably be back next Sunday again. That was my second time now working with brother Roderick and we get along pretty well! I really enjoyed working with him on Sunday. 

Overall we had a good week! Had some success and a great zone conference! Lesson count for the week was 23. A little lower than normal but should be able to bounce back this week. Hope you all have a great week. Love you all!

Love Elder Haacke
  
At the Abalos' farm. The field behind us is one that we planted.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Must Have Forgotten What Food Tastes Like

Another week gone by! Went by super fast this week! I want to start off the letter though by telling Lachlan happy birthday! (I didn't forget, just waited till this week to say it.) Congratulations to Marissa for all her singing this week. Sounds like she had a great week at the fair! 

Had another great week here in Amulung. Started on Tuesday with zone meeting in the morning. Sister Ferguson brought marshmallow popcorn so we ate that during the lesson. It was super good. Also, the zone leaders brought treats. I felt so sick after the meeting from all the sweets that I ate. So the lesson was the same as last October. About accountability. It was pretty much the exact same as last time. Still good though and important especially as a missionary. After zone meeting we went and ate at Chowking. First time I've been there since this is the first zone I've been in that has a choice of where you can eat. It's pretty good but not the best. Rather go back to Fatkids. But it was good time eating with the zone. Work was pretty good. We didn't have a ton of time since zone meeting went a long time. We got a couple lessons then went to the Abalos family for dinner. Turns out it was one of the kids' birthdays that day so it was good that we went by. The Abalos family is super funny and they are all so alike. We always have a good time hanging out with them. 

Wednesday was just a normal day. Good day of work. Went out at 10 and went to one  of the furthest areas. It was alright out there. There are a few members out there and one investigator. Good thing is we got lunch with one of the members and then he fellow shipped with us in teaching the one investigator. After that, we went almost to the clear opposite side of the area to teach some of the recent converts and couple investigators close to them. We ended up getting 8 lessons again over the whole day so that was awesome. We've actually hit it quite a few times now but haven't broken it yet. 

Thursday we had splits with the zone leaders. Went in to Tuguegarao on Thursday morning. I split with Elder Olson. I don't know if you remember but we split one time my first cycle in Roxas so it was fun to split again and see how much we both have improved. We had an alright day. Started out at the baptism interview. I interviewed one of their investigators for baptism. Before the interview, he took us out and treated us at a panciteria or noodles place. So while I'm eating, I'm thinking there's no way I can't pass this guy, he just treated us to lunch! But the interview went well and he is ready to be baptized. His wife is already a member and now he is in the process of becoming one. Work started out pretty slow. We didn't get our first lesson until like 4:30. After the first it started to pick up though. We ended up having 5 plus a dinner appointment so can't complain! Had goat for dinner. Actually pretty good as well. All these weird meats that don't sound good are turning out to be pretty good. That or I just forgot what good food tastes like.
Friday we got back to Amulung, and started weekly planning. I hate doing weekly planning cause it takes forever but it is helpful for the rest of the week. The main purpose of today was to visit each one of the investigators that were going to be baptized on Saturday to make sure everything was going to work out. We were able to visit all three of them and share a message with them. 

Saturday was the baptism! It was so awesome. Everyone showed up including the speakers which almost never happens! Everyone was super happy as well. I was able to baptize Sister Karen and Elder Gabelo baptized EdMarie and John Mark. It was sad to see that Karen's husband wouldn't be able to baptize her but he was still very supportive and super happy for her! After the baptism, they all did a great job of sharing their testimonies. Overall it was a great baptism! By the way, you know how  my pants have the elastic waste? Well the baptism pants do not and I've gotten fat. Probably the hardest time I've ever had trying to button up a pair of pants!

Sunday was great as well. John Mark, Karen, and EdMarie were all there and got confirmed a member and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Also, I got assigned to speak next week. I thought I'd be good for a while but nope. I don't know why I'm speaking. My companion isn't, just me. Oh well, I'll probably speak about the Atonement. But church was good then we had a lot of fellow shippers work with us in the afternoon. That is normally how it goes on Sunday after church. Work was pretty fun having all the other members with us. Ended up eating dinner at Bishop's house then finally came home. 

Week went by super fast and was pretty busy! Even with splits and the baptism, we were still able to hasten and get 30 lessons this week. We were happy with our work this week and we are ready to do it again this coming week! Hope you all have a great week this week! Love you all!

Love Elder Haacke
 The baptism!
 
 Never sent a pic of the apartment so here it is.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Bowling in Amulung

What a week we had this week! Super fun and successful week in Amulung. Last Monday, after the net shop we met up with the youth in the ward and we went bowling! So the bowling isn't anything like the bowling back home. The balls are tiny so you could throw them way fast and put crazy spins on them so that was cool. Then down at the end there are kids that set the pins up and throw the balls back haha. Way different but it was still way fun! 

Tuesday we had district meeting but there was a lesson sent to the district leaders to teach so I didn't have to spend that much time preparing one which was nice. It was about commitments and following up. Lesson was good and so was the participation of the district again. For lunch we went to this place called Fatkids. They have super good burgers. There are like 2 places in the mission that foreigners love, Fatkids and Mrs. Bakers down near Bambang. So we might hit up Fatkids quite a few times while I am here. Hopefully it just doesn't make me more fat than I already am! 

I'm still loving the area and also the companionship. I still am having a hard time remembering the places we go and who lives there. This area is huge. My last area had 6 barangays to work in and this area has over 20 so there is a lot to learn. I love how big it is though and there are so many options of places we can go to work. This last week was the best week of work I've had in a long time! Maybe even my entire mission! Some days this week we changed up the schedule a little bit so we could work longer. We started going out at 10 and just work until we got hungry, eat lunch, then work until night. We both aren't that much a fan of language study so we just go out to work instead. This week we had a total of 31 lessons. That is my new record for my mission and I'm sure we will beat it while I'm here if not this week! 

I won't give a daily description of what we did this week but I'll highlight a few lessons that I liked this week. 
On Tuesday we had a lesson to a couple recent converts. They are youth but they are pretty intelligent and understand the gospel really well. One of them is named Jonothan. We planned to do reteaching to him but as the lesson went on it turned in to more of a testimony meeting. When he shared his testimony, I can honestly say the spirit came flying in. He is the only member in his family but he testified that even though his family are not yet members, he has seen the gospel bless him and his family. He has seen his family be more patient with each other and his home has become a more peaceful place. I haven't been here very long but I can already see his desire and love of the gospel. Every night he sends us texts of scripture quotes that he liked from his reading. 

Another lesson this week was kinda funny. He was just sitting on a bench so we went over to him. I guess Elder Gabelo had contacted him before so we asked him how his reading was in the pamphlet that they left him and stuff. Anyway, we ended up teaching him there on that bench. It was going okay. The kid isn't really all there but he's good enough to understand and respond to questions. While we were teaching, some old Tatay comes up and starts telling us he's a member of the Born Again church. We say it's okay and everything then Tatay starts asking a ton of questions. All of a sudden the other kid gets up and leaves and never comes back so we ended up just teaching Tatay instead but he wasn't all there either. Pretty weird lesson but oh well, probably won't follow up with that one! 

Last week I told you about sister Karen Requilino right? Anyway, we scheduled with President Rahlf to have him come on Sunday and interview her for baptism. We went to there house Friday night to do last preparations and make sure she was going to be at church. Anyway, she was there and President was able to do the interview. President said she his more than ready to be baptized! So her baptism is this coming Saturday along with two other investigators! We were super happy for Sister Karen. She was really worried going in to the interview but she was super happy when she finished. I can't wait for her baptism on Saturday. I know it's going to be amazing. 

That's the quick overview of the week this week. We were really happy with the work and the success we had this week! Hope everyone has a great week this week. Love you all! 
 
Love Elder Haacke

 Elder Gabelo and I on top of the area: