Wednesday, January 15, 2014

1/06/14 Happy New Year!

Family and Friends,

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I can't believe that this year I will get to see all of your faces again! Time is so fast! New Years is quickly becoming one of my least favorite holidays. It is a bigger deal here than Christmas and so New Years eve and day= the days no one wants to be taught by missionaries, so that equals trying everyone you can think of and then tracting while everyone is just trying to carry on with the celebrations. We managed though...It also means fireworks aka homeade bombs going off. I now know what war sounds like. For sure the only New Years when I was in bed at 10:30 and so frustrated with every person celebrating the New Year right outside our apartment. Haha maybe next year I will actually enjoy the holiday. I did take some time to set some goals for myself for the last year I have as a full time missionary. The crazy thing is, last year when I was thinking about the year ahead of me I definitely didn't picture serving a mission. 

So this week the thing that stood out the very most was ROEAL!! So January 3rd probably one of the most memorable days of my whole life! We had an appointment with Roeal and his 2 friends and so we invited President and Sister Lario to come with us because we really just felt like there wasn't much more we could do for Roeal and we needed some backup. Background: Brother Lario is the former branch president. So many members were baptized because of him and he is just an amazing person and had done so much good for the church here on Masbate. For a few reasons though he had become less active for a few months and his wife has been coming to church alone. President Lario is known for being awesome in the Bible and so we knew that would be perfect for Roeal. So they come to meet us and they seem so happy and I am so stoked to finally meet the esteemed President Lario. So we get to Roeal's house and his 2 friends are there and Roeal gets so nervous the second that he sees President Lario. Brother Lario's presence was so powerful as a Priesthood holder! So Roeal is super fidgety and takes forever to get settled. We say an opening prayer and then ask Roeal how his reading in the Book of Mormon is going and he says some of it is true and some of it isn't. That just opened a whole can of worms and from there President Lario was in the zone and he just went at is explaining to him our doctrine and asking him questions. It was probably the coolest think I have ever seen. President Lario knows his stuff! He has a serious gift and there are definitely people he is meant to bless with it! Any question or concern that Roeal had- President Lario had an answer and a scripture to back it up. He basically has the whole Bible memorized. He knew the whole history of the Bible and why we use the King James version. He also knew the history of just about every church. He knew specific verses that the English and Tagalog translations were different. We talked a lot about the Godhead and he had so many verses that explained the truth. It was so cool- he just asked them about what they beleive and found the errors and then showed or explained our doctrine. President Lario was getting so pumped when he was showing them. At one point we were discussing the temple and some different things about God and Roeal with all the power he had said "I need Salvation now, I need to know God now. What if I die tomorrow? I don't need Salvation tomorrow, I need it now." It was amazing how powerful his concern was. He is so desperate and hungry for the truth. It showed me that he was unsure about his religion because he wasn't sure if he has salvation. I am so glad that I know the pathway that leads to salvation. President Lario told him that it was okay because we hadn't finished teaching him the lessons yet, he hadn't had the chance to hear the entire message of the gospel. As this all went on it was amazing to see the reactions of the 3 men. Roeal seemed on the edge, like he was scrambling for proof, but had none. I think the whole thing really shook his beliefs. One of his friends- the other pastor was very defensive and resisting everything, while the other was receptive to the spirit and believed the message- so the other one got mad at him haha. The coolest thing to see though was President Lario. He had such a presence and there was authority behind everything that he said. I have never seen anything like it. He was so happy. Even if Roeal never changes, maybe we found Roeal so that President Lario could change. He was so happy after we left the lesson and his wife was just beaming. It was probably the cutest thing I have ever seen. I will never forget the spirit beaming out of President Lario. The best part is that he came to church yesterday! It was so amazing! And since our Church is later because of the new year, we went on Sunday morning to tell Roeal he could go to his church and ours and he said that he would come next week! We are pumped! He was so excited to see us too and wanted to take pictures with us and his family!

Another great thing about this week is the progression with our branch! We had more people come to church yesterday than they have had in a very long time and everything went really smoothly! As missionaries we have been putting a lot of time and effort into helping the branch and have been having a lot of meetings trying to figure out what we can do, and finally on Sunday things started to happen! In our class for investigators we had so many between the 3 missionary companionships that we could barely fit in the room it has always been in! It was so awesome! President Lario taught the class- so of course if went great! Then me and my companion taught relief society- so there was actually a prepared teacher! Progressing here on Masbate! 
Things are really going well as far as work. We had a lot of people accept baptismal dates and people actually came to church! Finally some fruits out of all those weeks of tracting! I am just so glad that I can be a small part of the Lord's work and help people understand their purpose here on earth and return to their Father in Heaven. There is nothing I would rather be doing. 

I love you all and thanks for the constant support! 

-Sister Gardner

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