Philippines Cauayan Mission

Philippines Cauayan Mission

Monday, March 28, 2016

Last Week In Echague

Well I can officially say it was my last full week in Echague! I will be transferred this Wednesday and most likely end up in what will be my last area! Pretty exciting but also weird to think about. Time goes so fast. But I'm excited to get to a new area and meet new people and experience another companion. Echague has been pretty good and I will miss it but I'm excited to get to the new area. Today was a pretty good day. Sister Merlyn, one of our investigators, got married earlier this morning at the church. That was pretty cool. Guess who gave the opening address? That's right, I did. Why me? I have no idea. The second counselor came up to me yesterday at church and asked me to do it so why not? They had something printed out and told me to just read it straight from the paper. It was English which I think is why he wanted me to read it. I read over the paper and it was full of mistakes. No idea who tried to write it but it wasn't even close to normal English. At dinner Sunday night, Sister Delinila and I went through it and made a ton of corrections and took some stuff out. Even though she's Filipino, she's probably better at English than I am so she helped me edit it. But the wedding was pretty cool since I haven't been to one since I've been here. It was cool to also be a part of the program. Then after the wedding, they all left and went to PagAsa (where they live which is really far) to eat and we left and went to Santiago for pday. Met up with Elder Enuake since he goes home tomorrow back to New Zealand and we had a big feed together at McDonald's. As for the week this week, we were pretty busy. Started out great. President and Sister Rahlf came to Alicia Tuesday morning and taught a specialized training. It was about the last week of Christ's life as well as traits of becoming a better missionary. I really enjoyed the part about Christ's life. I learned a lot of things there that I have already applied to the work. During the whole week I always thought about the things that Christ was doing on that day. Also taught a lot about Christ this week being that it was Holy week and Easter Sunday. I remember this week last year when I was in Roxas and I remember thinking how weird it is. Like what the people do and stuff. But not a whole lot changed from last year and this year. Friday we did splits with the Elders in Paddad. We almost cancelled it since we waited so long for a van or bus and one never came. I told Elder Labrador we would wait 5 more minutes and if nothing came then we would just cancel the splits and do it again another time. Luckily within about 2 more minutes a van came. That was the only van I saw on either side of the road the whole time we were traveling to Paddad. I split in Paddad with Elder Lott and Elder Labrador came back to Echague with Elder Sorronda. Splits went pretty well I guess. It was kinda hard to get people to teach. Granted I wasn't in my own area but I guess it ended up being similar for Elder Labrador and Elder Sorronda. Everything was closed and almost nobody was out on the streets. Even if people were home they just wanted to relax since it was Good Friday. So Friday was a pretty long day but we survived. Spent the night in Paddad then came home Saturday morning. The apartment in Paddad has air conditioning so that was awesome. Definitely miss that from my days in Amulung. So on Thursday, we were supposed to have splits with the other elders from Paddad in our area but the one got "sick" and said he didn't want to have splits anymore. They still came to Echague that day to do a baptismal interview but then went back home. We went to Bishop's house to get the key to the church for the interview and while we were leaving these two Tatay's outside drinking stopped us and started talking about the Bible with us. We didn't have to unlock the church for about half an hour and we didn't have a set appointment at that time so we sat and talked for a while. Ended up being quite the discussion. He just asked a ton of doctrinal questions but we were able to answer all of them pretty easily. We eventually got up to leave and he told us to sit back down and was keeping us from leaving. He said that's not how missionaries work. You don't leave until the person you are teaching has a perfect understanding of what you're teaching. So he made us promise that we would come back after we unlocked the church. He gave us 30 minutes. I didn't want to go back since it was a total waste of time but my companion wanted to go back and prove a point or something. So we ended up going back and it was no question a waste of time. The guy wouldn't even listen. Every time we talked he cut us off. Plus he was drunk. Plus what he was saying wasn't making sense. So ended up wasting like another hour. I guess it was a little interesting to hear his point of view on things even though he was far from the truth which was sad. But the rest of Thursday was pretty good. Contacted a referral that we started teaching in St. Domingo. The Bauit family. They were pretty shy and didn't open up really well but when we went back on Sunday it was way better. They will be a fun family to teach in the future. Sister Ghen was at church again. The Sisters taught her and her mom in Santiago Sunday so that was good they are now in contact with her. In gospel principles on Sunday, we talked about temples. The ward just got back from the temple this week and the newly endowed members bore their testimony on Sunday so Ghen had a lot of questions about it. We had an awesome discussion and talked a lot about family history work along with a little about the Plan of Salvation. Sister Ghen ended up getting pretty emotional when we were talking about what happens to those that aren't baptized here on Earth. Good thing we have family history and baptisms for the dead. She started crying when she thought of her dad that has already passed away and never accepted the gospel. By the end of class, she had gained a testimony of the importance of temple work and the other ordinances that happen in the temple. I'm excited for her as she continues down the path of conversion. So remember the one investigator we had that we ended up having the sisters teach since we didn't know it was really their area? Well she got baptized on Saturday. That was really exciting. She was really happy that it finally happened. She said she has waited a long time for this. We were all really happy for her. Church on Sunday was pretty good. It was fun listening to a lot of people's experience going to the temple. Right after church we went straight to the Bercero's house and ate lunch with them. Then we went to Savemore and met up with Cesar, Mark Jun, and Joy for work that afternoon. It was really fun working with them and we got a couple more pictures before we would probably split up for the last time. Definitely going to miss the SA always working with us. That has been really fun to do every Sunday. Ended Sunday with Dinner at the Layugan's then went home. Overall it was a really good week. I am looking forward to this coming week though. Going to a new area and getting another companion. I'll let you know all about it next week! Hope you all have a great week. Love you all!

Love Elder Haacke

 The baptism Saturday (above and below).

 Brother Elmer, Sister Ghen and myself at church.
 Brother Acosta (left) and Brother Ualat (right), some of the best member missionaries along with Bishop.
Elder Kane, Elder Carrington, Elder Enuake and me at McDonald's earlier for lunch.

 Work on Sunday. These kids came out of nowhere while we were taking a pic asking to join in the picture so I told them to hop in!
 Walking back to town at night with Mark Jun and Joy.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Summer Has Hit The Philippines

Another week has flown by once again and we can definitely say Summer has hit the Philippines! Totally take back ever complaining about having to work in the rain. I think I'd take the rain over how hot it was this week. It doesn't look like it will stop either. I think it's here to stay. Now that I think about it, it hasn't been crazy hot since I've been here in Echague but this last week was something else. It takes a lot longer to cool down at night as well. Part of serving in the Philippines I guess! 

So this week was pretty good other than being extremely hot. Don't have a lot of time so I'll quickly update you on who we're teaching.

We were able to teach Cyrene again this week. Taught about the Word of Wisdom. Pretty smooth lesson. She is still struggling gaining a strong testimony of Joseph Smith. Her Book of Mormon reading is improving so that will help her gain that testimony. The next time we go we will focus on the Holy Ghost and how it works. We don't think she is recognizing the spirit when it is there. She wasn't able to come to church this week since her teeth hurt. At least that's what she told us. We're visiting her tomorrow though so we will follow up on that.
Brother Neo was out of town both times we tried to teach him this week. I don't know if I mentioned before what his job is... So he has a personal van and people without cars or vans hire him to drive places that are far away when they have somewhere to go. Most likely in a group. So a lot of the time his schedule is up in the air because if someone calls and wants to go to Manila with their family, he will take it and be gone for 4 or so days. That is the reason we strike out with him a lot of the time. We planned the Wednesday appointment two weeks in advance but it still didn't end up going through. We have been in contact with him over the phone but we really want to have a visit with him. Might end up dropping him soon since we really only teach him about once every 4 or so weeks.

Sister Ghen was back at church this week. We didn't teach her since she will now for sure be taught in Santiago by the sister missionaries assigned there. We are able to teach her in gospel principles class though which was pretty good. She had a lot of questions about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon so that became our topic in class. Hopefully the sisters will be able to contact and teach her this week to help her continue to progress.

 A less active I haven't told you about is Sister Lady Mallab. She has gained the desire to start coming back to church lately. We have a good fellow-shipper that is being a good friend and helping her come back to church. She had actually come to church three times in a row until this last Sunday when she wasn't able to come.

Taught Sister Marilou Ballad as well this week. Elder Arorong and I baptized her and her daughter a couple weeks after I got her. She then disappeared and we didn't know where she went. After finding her a few weeks ago at her new place, we have been visiting her and sharing with her to help her come back. We had a pretty good lesson with her on Saturday about how she felt when she was baptized. She has told us in the past how happy she was and how great the feelings were when she was baptized so we wanted to bring that back to her memory and let her know that you can feel it again by attending church and eventually be able to go to the temple. We just want her to know that there is so much more we need to do after baptism. But she is doing well and we think she will come back as soon as we get her a good friend to fellowship with us.

So something I really enjoyed this week was going around and just teaching about Christ and his Atonement. Most the people are Catholic so they will be celebrating Holy Week this week so we have modified the way we contact and teach to go along with that. It has been really fun teaching about Christ. Kinda like at Christmas time where we do the same thing. It's just so many people have a small amount of knowledge on who is, what he did for us and how important that is to our lives. We have another full week this week to be able to do that so I'm really looking forward to it. Also we can apply some of the things that President and Sister Rahlf share to us tomorrow as they will teach about his last week here on Earth.

I was supposed to be a speaker on Sunday but then when we got to church they already had the speakers. I was actually looking forward to speaking since I most likely only have one more Sunday and I could have used it to say goodbye and bear my testimony to them. I was grateful on the other hand that I ended up not speaking because we had a brown out all day so the microphone didn't work. Also meant all the fans were off in the chapel which made it like an oven in there. Everyone was fanning themselves the whole time with whatever they could find since it was so hot. On the other hand, the kids were pretty quiet for the most part and a lot of people were there. Could have been one of the best Sacrament meetings so far if we had power.

The power read in the Book of Mormon is going really good. Still loving it. I'm in third Nephi right now. Can't believe I got there this fast but I'm loving the pace. Testimony of the Book of Mormon continues to grow everyday when I open it up and read it.
The week in all was pretty good and really enjoyable for the most part. This could be my last full week in Echague. We'll be getting the transfer list next Monday. That was fast. Definitely going to enjoy this week and work hard knowing it could be my last one here. Hope you all have a good week this week and I love you all!

Love Elder Haacke

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pulling Weeds

Once again another week already gone! Week flew by again and I can't believe I'm already back here writing again. This email might be a little shorter than normal. Normal week this week so I'll just do some updates on are investigators and some less actives.

Start out with Sister Cyrene. I don't know if I've mentioned her before but we were able to get a couple more lessons in with her this last week and she came to church for the second week in a row. She is 16 years old and her step mom is a member. We found her a good friend in the youth, Grace, to help her learn and feel welcome. There is a youth conference the second week of April so we will work on getting her baptized before then so she will be able to attend.
Didn't teach Brother Neo this week. I guess our set appointment with him is the 16th so hopefully that will happen so we can see where he's at with the Book of Mormon.
We were able to teach Sister Merlyn this week. She is busy getting ready for her wedding so that she can be baptized. The wedding is planned for the 28th. She and Bishop have been busy getting all the papers done so that it will happen.

So we thought Sister Ghen was at church in Santiago last week but we got a hold of them this week and turns out they are in Manila. Explains why they weren't at church. They will get back during the week this week. We might actually end up teaching her here instead of the Sisters in Santiago. She hasn't decided for sure yet but hopefully we'll get her here.

Sister Clarissa came to church this week. She wasn't able to attend last week which was too bad since she wanted to have her baby blessed. She talked to Bishop about it yesterday and made plans for the first Sunday in April. It made me really happy to see her at church again. I have been pretty close to her and her family since I am always the one that has taught to them. I have always been on splits with one of the SA when we have gone to their house so I've had the privilege of getting to know her well and help her come back to church. Also it is really cool seeing how happy her sister, Marvilyn, is when Clarissa comes to church. Even though their houses are only like a 10 minute walk away from each other, it's almost like a reunion when they are with each other at church.

As for some things that happened this week, I went to Jones on Thursday and split there with Elder Kane. This is his first area/4th cycle in the mission. He is doing really good with the language for how long he's been in the mission. We had a pretty good day together and got to know each other a little bit more. I enjoyed going to a different area for a day and working there. It's always fun to see other areas and meet new people.

We got up early Friday morning and left right away to come back to Echague and end splits. After about an hour of traveling we got back right in time to go to a csp. We cleaned up a lot that was full of weeds. Not my favorite type of csp's but it was still a lot of fun being with the other missionaries here in Echague. We worked pretty hard to be honest and went pretty fast. We weren't quite done yet but Nanay came and told us to stop since she had to leave and go take Tatay to the hospital for something. She said we can come and finish it another day so there should be another csp in the near future! 

Bishop worked with us on Saturday and we went out to Pag-Asa. Highlight of the day, teaching two pastors of a different church. We taught for like almost an hour. It was interesting to listen to their beliefs. We focused on the Godhead, families, and went into prophets a little bit. It never really turned into debating which was good but it did get close at some points. Nothing had really changed by the end of the lesson. I think they were finished being that the one just got up and left. I did enjoy hearing their beliefs and stuff though.

That pretty much sums up the week this week. Had a couple visitors from the stake at church on Sunday. Really focused on home teaching. Something that needs work here. Just got a new stake president/presidency and they are really pushing it which is good. That could be really helpful to strengthen the ward if there was home teaching.

Anyway, hope you all have a great week this week! Love you all!
Love Elder Haacke

 Decided to take a pic of us 4 since we were all wearing blue.
 Having our merienda after we finished work.
 All of us at the Layugan's for dinner Sunday night.
  Power went out at dinner so we had a candle light dinner.

Monday, March 7, 2016

New Goals for the Zone

What a busy and super fast week we just had! I knew it would go by quick because of everything we had planned to do but I really can't even describe how fast it really was!
Week started as usual with district meeting in Alicia Tuesday morning. I attended Elder Ratamula's district meeting. He taught about effective study and how it relates to effective teaching. It was a little quiet at first but we finally got a decent discussion going and had a fun role play at the end. Tomorrow we are planning to talk to the zone about some things that we need to work on. We talked about it on splits with the AP's this last week as well. The zone has been at an all time low on contacting the last couple weeks so we are going to have the district leaders focus on that this week and also talk about it as a zone before we split into districts.

Wednesday we had MLC in Cauayan. I really enjoyed MLC this month. One reason is because we don't have to regurgitate it to the zone. We won't be teaching zone meeting this month. Instead, President and Sister Rahlf will come by all the zones during the month and they will be teaching about the last week of Christ's life since it is Easter this month. That will take the place of zone meeting. But I really did enjoy the lessons taught in MLC. It was basically all about leadership. The AP's started off talking about the attributes of leaders. Expounded on all the verb attributes listed in the white handbook like represent, convey, inspire, encourage, help, teach, discuss, share, and correct. Then Sister Rahlf talked about ministering and administering. I feel like here in the Philippines, or at least in the wards, a lot of ministering happens and not a lot of administering. Everyone is excited to act and help and do things but the planning is a little weak. It is another one of those things where if you really want to have success, you need to do both. President Rahlf taught about the differences of being a "Law of Moses" leader and a "Higher Law" leader. Sometimes we get caught up in making sure everything we do is in line with the way we are told or with guidelines given to us but that's not always the right thing to do when it comes to a certain situation. I don't have my notes and I can't remember the exact examples President used but you can probably think of other examples of being a "Law of Moses" leader and a "Higher Law" leader. That pretty much sums up MLC. Hung out and ate lunch with Elder Teikauea again. Food was good as usual which put the icing on the cake for MLC.

Thursday we got back and had a normal day. Best part of the day was teaching Neo Cuntapay. After like 3 weeks or so we finally taught him again. We shared again about the Book of Mormon which ended up turning into a discussion about a ton of other stuff as soon as he read the Joseph Smith quote in the introduction about it being the most correct book of any book on earth. He said, "If that's true then what about us? We study from the Bible and that's not a true book?" This is a relatively easy question to answer but it didn't seem to click with him when we answered it. After a little longer he went back to his personal belief that as long as you live a good life and pray you will be saved. We set an appointment with him for this week either Wednesday or Thursday. Wednesday hopefully.

Friday we headed back to Cauayan for splits with the AP's. I went with Elder Antenorcruz. We didn't have a lot of appointments to go to so we ended up doing a lot of finding throughout the day. We set a goal to try and gain trust in the people we found within the first few minutes of meeting them. At the end of the day we thought we had done well with that and met some with potential to become progressing investigators. We had a good time together. Laughed a lot and had success. Talked a lot about the zone and ways we can help it improve. Like I said earlier, we are struggling in contacting so we talked about that while we were there. All in all it was a good splits.

Saturday we woke up, got ready, left Cauayan and headed for Paddad. We had to do a baptism interview Saturday morning. Ended up taking way longer than we wanted. We got to the investigators house which is right next to a members house that is pretty well known for being strict I guess. Anyway, before we get to where the investigator lives, the member meets us and just starts explaining to us right away why the interview can't continue. He had gone over and talked to her and started doing his personal interview to see if she was ready. Not needed but I guess he wanted to do it. Anyway, so this member tells us that she prayed for a sign which shows that she doesn't have any faith and can't be baptized. He didn't want the interview to continue but we ended up doing it anyway. Normally only one of us would interview but we decided that we both would interview so that we could better understand what had happened. Long story short, she was confused if she was worthy to be baptized since her and her husband are not married and that she will be judged by members because of that. Her husband was married before but has split with that first wife a long time ago. There is no divorce in the Philippines so he can't be married again to the woman we interviewed. Because of that, the church has made an exception that if they live together for 5 years and are faithful and loyal to each other, they can be baptized even if they aren't legally married. Once we explained it well to her she was comforted and had no more worries about not feeling ready. Turns out that is the main reason she prayed. Also she said she didn't ask for a sign to see something but just to know it's what she should do. She's been faithful in going to church consistently for a long time now as well. We knew she was more than ready to be baptized by the time the interview got over. Which lasted like 45 minutes. Don't really want to explain why. But all is well and her baptism happened later that afternoon. After the interview we came home, ate lunch, then went to Bishops house and we worked with him until the evening. We went out to Pag-Asa. The super far area. We have an investigator out there that is planning on getting married here in a couple of weeks so that she can be baptized. We visited a few other members out there before returning back to Echague. Finally got home later that night and I read a ton in the Book of Mormon to catch up because of the busy last few days we had. I'm back on pace now, even a little ahead in the power reading. Still loving it and loving the pace we are going at. It's fast enough that it's basically like a movie playing in my head as I read it.
Quick update on Sister Ghen. She might now be taught be other missionaries. She is from Santiago but has been going to church here so we started teaching her. She wants her family to hear the gospel as well so she will as of now start being taught in Santiago. She lives in the STL's area but in a really far part of their area that they never go to is what they said. Too bad but we know she'll keep progressing and that she's in good hands with the missionaries there.
Testimony meeting was pretty good on Sunday. It was super loud with a ton of little kids running and yelling. If you really paid attention though, the testimonies were really good and a lot about missionary work.

We had a pretty good week overall. Two trips to Cauayan took some time out of the week but we were still happy with what we got done in the time we had. I hope you all have a great week this week and I love you all!

Love Elder Haacke

 Last day with Elder Baclea-an.
The Sisters, Elder Labrador and I at church.

 Saw a peacock while finding in new places on splits with Elder Antenorcruz.
 Elder Labrador, Elder Antenorcruz and I in the pickup. Elder Higgins is behind Elder Labrador.

 View from inside the tricy.
 Sunset Saturday evening on the way back to town.

 The clouds were cool looking coming back from Pag-Asa. Blue and black.
 Me in the tricy. Little blurred since we were moving.

This is how the missionaries here preach sometimes. They just stand up on the bus, hand out envelops for money, pray, share a message, pray again, then go around and collect envelops with money in them. Interesting to hear the things they say. Most the time about who will be saved. Sad to hear how many misunderstandings and wrong interpretations they have. Makes me more and more grateful for the restoration.
Funny sign they had in a bus we rode in going to Cauayan on Friday. "Bawal Umutot" means like farting is prohibited. And no it is not fully air conditioned.