Monday, February 23, 2015

The Rise of Guinayangan! (Gin-Ya-Gan)

Hello Everyone!! First thing I want to do is just thank you all for your prayers, and faith for those who we have been teaching, and visiting in Guinayangan! All of our prayers and faith has truly resulted in miracles, which I will explain later.

or I will just explain it now! hahah... so yeah umm... things are going down in Guinayangan! We are witnessing miracle after miracle here in Calauag at the time in our work, and it is so faith building to know that God knows when people or AREAS are ready to be taught and baptized to expand his work and his glory! We had a record of 18 investigators come to church yesterday, and that my friends in just insane in our mission! That is the most I have ever gotten or heard of in my mission! So we were pretty excited to see all these KIDS show up to church, each had searched, and sacrifice to be able to pay for their bus fare, they were a little late because of how far they live, and when they walked into sacrament meeting, everyone was shocked, haha. We had a few members look us and give us thumbs us, or they clapped, and other funny things haha. 14 of those investigators were from Guinayangan, I was so flippin happy yesterday it was insane, you always here these awesome missionary stories of powerful conversions but you never expect it to happen to you. I believe this is a blessing from our recent commitment to obedience, we have been working hard lately, really seeking for the blessings of the Lord, and they are definitely coming.

but wait my friends, the story gets even better. We went back to Guinayangan to play basketball with some of the young men, and hang out with them to help them feel more love, and have better fellow-shipping with them. While we were there I was talking to our member who has been working so hard, and I mean doing everything in His power to help these kids prepare for baptism which I will explain later but, he told me that all of the parents who wouldn't allow their kids to be baptized before have now allowed their kids to come to church and be baptized!!!!! That is a miracle for sure if you would have seen how stern these parents were, we tried so hard to convince them that theses things will bless their lives forever and they just wouldn't listen. but now, its all good!! wow... and it still gets better my friends, even they themselves want to be taught and come to church!!!! WHAT!!!! This is why I thank you so much for your prayers and Faith, I have been praying so hard for these kids every single day, and I have been so stressed about them trying to figure out how we can get them all baptized because there is mission rules we still need to follow and standards in our mission that need to happen which makes it VERY difficult for them to be baptized at this time. Also, the member told me that he didn't know but they accidentally left a bunch of people behind that wanted to go to church but didnt know how, like some of the parents of the kids, and so they are going to church next week! He said they might reach up towards 30 that will come to church. This is one powerful witness to me that nothing is impossible in Gods timing and will. I am just so taken away from this experience, and even though I might not even see these people baptized or what will become of it but I am just so grateful to have been a part of building their foundation of Faith, and meeting these Wonderful people, they are such great examples to me the sacrifices they go through so they can do they things that they know to be true. Its a tear jerker sometimes, and I am glad I had the opportunity to experience it so that I may always be humble through out my whole life.

One of the greatest examples is our Member in Guinayangan. His name is Sonny Agiri. His whole family are members of the church, they were baptized in a different area, and were very active members, they had to move for reason I dont know, and since they have been here in guinyangan they have had it pretty rough. They couldn't find work, so things got worse, and then one of the Super Typhoons hit them and nearly took there house, which now the still don't have a roof on their house, just a small part where they sleep. Before brother just sold fish off the streets to provide for his family, and when I say off the streets I mean he walks all day everyday to sell little fish, we can only imagine what he makes per day. almost nothing. Just recently His wife made the sacrifice to work abroad to provide for her family, and brother now stays at home to take care of his family. This is were the great mans example comes in, since he has so much time now, and we have visited him lately, his missionary desires just exploded! He started sharing with everyone, and I mean everyone around him, and all these kids are always at his house because he is such a good influence to them. He has scripture study with almost all of them almost every single day! sharing about the restoration, plan of salvation, and the gospel. Constantly speaking with their parents convincing them of the blessings of the gospel, He has been the instrument of these great miracles at this team, and he is definitely the man! Such a great guy. So humble, yet so strong and faithful. 

Earlier I mention that in our mission we have a ton of standards that we have to follow when teaching especially with kids before they are baptized, and I am so stressed out because I am trying to do it the right way and not take short cuts, but everyone wants to do it the quicker more  convenient way because of how prepared they are which isn't going to happen, but I was thinking by doing it the right way i will never see any of them get baptized, and this brought a lot of sadness to my heart for a moment, almost kind of mad. Here I am trying to do everything correct, right, by the way it should be and needs to be to ensure their conversion process, and most likely I will not see them baptized or see the fruits that come from that labor, especially witht he magnitude of the work that is happening right now, I mean think of it! How cool would it be to have 15 plus baptisms in one day! It would be insane! Or see an entire area be converted kind of like in the book of mormon times, yet you can't because you will be transferred before it happens, and the next missionaries are going to stroll in on their merry go rounds, and just take all that credit and delicious fruit, that we have worked so hard to get! After thinking about it for a while I remembered something President Mangum has said to me, he talked to me about the foundation of buildings ( he was in construction before) and how important they are for the entire building, and if the foundation is not properly place, the entire building has a possibility of falling apart. Then he talked about the Temple and said that when we go into the temple we always recognize how beautiful the temple is inside, and all the handy work they so many people have done, but when have we asked "Take me to the foundation, I want to see the beauty of the foundation of the temple"? no one sees or thinks about the foundation of the temples, yet its the most important part, no one sees there work, or knows who did it. Its just always a second thought, and God knows who really did the hard work in the case, and he really applied this to me because I was caught complaining to him about how this has been the case almost my entire mission, especially the last 6 months! It has been very comforting, and instructive, and like I said before, I don't care if I don't see them baptized, as long as I had the opportunity to help build their foundation, and show them that I love them for they are truly amazing kids.

I truly never thought something like this was going to happen to me in my mission, especially because of my personal weaknesses I have struggled with through out my mission, but its a testimony of the Power of the Atonement is real, and applies to every single one of us. Brothers and Sisters I know this Church is true, and if we can manage to align our will with the Lord's will miracles will happen. Obedience + Faith = Miracles. I am so grateful to be a part of this work, and I am not ready for it to end! But my time will come so I am just going to keep enjoying the short time I still have left. 

Thank you all so much for your support, and keep praying for those in Guinayangan! 

Elder Kikel
-on the Lord's errand-
San Pablo Philippines Mission

Monday, February 16, 2015

Miracles Continue...

Hello Everyone! I haven't really thought about what I am going to share today so this might be a bit shorter then the last but I hope it will still be as good! I really appreciate all the support you all give me, and I am glad to hear that you all enjoy my e-mails! Makes me feel like an inspired writer or somting haha
Well our week this week was a roller coaster! It started out pretty slow, and difficult! trying to find people to teach and create a teaching pool, then after our awesome District meeting we had with the Zone because of the transfers! Things just skyrocketed! We received 13 referrals this week, and in our mission that is HUGE! The standard is 6 referrals a week but we only end up getting maybe 1 and mostly none weekly. We had all ready contacted all 13 referrals, and taught most of them as well, and most of them seem to have potential to become progressing and maybe just maybe another baptism! I was so pumped to figure that out yesterday when I was doing numbers! ahh... its such a relieving feeling, to know you have names to work with!

Most of those referrals come from an area that I have mentioned before in my e-mails. Its an area that is so far from the church, its called (Guinyangan) if you want to look it up, i probably spelled it wrong but thats the jist. We visited that area yesterday to follow up on what we have done there in the past, because its been a month since we have been back there. To our great surprise, the one member that we have over there has been teaching, and reading with the kids that we taught! what!?!?!? and he told us that he has been teaching them to prepare them for baptism! WHAT!?!? I was blown away, because 8 kids ranging from 12 years old to 18, all of them close friends or cousins approached us and told us they wanted to be baptized, by their own free will and agency! I sat down with them and did a couple baptismal interview questions to check for their testimonies and where they came from, and they all ready believe in the Church, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon, and we haven't even taught them yet! AHHHH this has been the biggest Miracle that i have seen in my entire mission. The Lord is really preparing for a strong foundation in Calauag because the most receptive, teachable, and strongest testimonies are coming from the kids that we have been teaching! Just like Audrey and Aubrey. Seriously I wish all of you could sit down with them and have a gospel discussion with them and they will blow your mind! Aubrey who is twelve, in gospel principles class will stand up, read a scripture (in english!) and explain the simple doctrines contained with in! its amazing! I love it! and in this far area, we have a 12 year old girl who has all ready read till 2 nephi! So things are getting pretty crazy now in Calauag! the only problem is that our mission has a very strict rules on standards of baptisms because of how often people go less active here in the Philippines. to put it into perspective there are 700,000 thousand members in the Philippines, and only 250,000 are active, so because of that, our rules of engagement are pretty strict and even more strict with people 17 and younger. There is so many things they need to do before they can be baptized to ensure that they will not go less active.

One example is that fact that we need to teach them each individually with their parents present, they don't have to participate but they have to be present, and if they are the only ones in their family getting baptized they have to go to church for almost a year first to show their desire and determination to stay active and endure the end, stuff like that. So its super complicated and its going to take a ton of work, but I am really trying to exercise everyone ounce of faith hat I have on these kids, and i need all of yours as well. Some of these kids parents did not approve or were willing sit in with our lessons, so some of the kids were distraught! that is the correct term, they were so sad, even in tears. One in particular who is almost 18 was just crushed that he mother wouldn't let us teach him. I felt so sad, and almost mad at the same time, and If I could ask all of you keep in these kids in your prayers, and pray that the Lord will soften their parents hearts and allow us to teach them, and hopefully their families as well. I felt such a strong spirit over there and I want to do everything in my power to help them, and reaching to the heavens to obtain even more power! But in the end its god's will that is going to be accomplished but not mine... But I hope and pray that this is the Lord's timing and that I will be able to be a part of it!

Experiences like these just build Faith, and I am so grateful that I chose to serve a mission that I can build my Faith in Jesus Christ. Something that I have learned about miracles in my mission, and probably something that you all know all ready but God doesn't give or show miracles to give Faith, or to create Faith, but to build upon the faith that has all ready been exercised. I know that to be EXTREMELY true, as mentioned by Moroni in Ether 12:6.

I am grateful for my mission, and my experiences, though I haven't been the missionary that I always wanted to be, I have done my best with the experiences i have been through, and though difficult I am not slackening my strength at this critical time, and I am striving to reach higher and higher even till the last day.

This scripture has always given me comfort, aid, and courage in times of trouble, and sorrow. Especially with temptations. Read it, ponder it, and apply it to yourself. 2 Nephi 4: 15-35

I love you all and I will see you in 4!! thats crazy...

Elder Kikel
-on the Lord's errand-
San Pablo Philippines Mission

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

King of Calauag


You will not believe what has happened this last week, so I am just going to get straight to the point!

ELDER KIKEL IS NOT TRANSFERRED!!! I REPEAT IS NOT TRANSFERRED! Can you believe that!? I still can't! The unbelievable is believable, the impossible is possible! I will being going 6 more weeks in Calauag, which will total up to 8 months! That is almost the longest I have heard a missionary being in one area! 6 months is the maximum amount of time a missionary spends in an area, and I have just broken that maximum! I am still shocked and its been a whole day. I am pretty stoked though because I freaking love these people here in the Calauag! None of them wanted me to leave, its was hard but i guess it was just a big joke all a long... so next sunday when I show up to church everyone is going to freak out, because I pretty much told everyone i was being transferred for sure, haha oops. Thats the craziest thing thats happened so far.

The next craziest thing is our Baptisms went through! Yay! its was awesome!  Despite the fact the members showed up an hour and half late, even the speakers (Filipino time) everything went well! Elder Garcia baptized them all, and it went smoothly once we got started. I love those two kids so freaking much, they are like my brother and sister now! Audrey who is 15 and Aubrey who is 12. I just want to be with them all the time! Infact after there baptism we had lunch and played scrabble, which was funny because they only wanted to play english words so they can get better at english, and so obviously... yeah... I trashed them, then we played tagalog words.. and yeah... I still almost one! ha! I am pretty sure Audrey is in love with me because she did not want me to go, haha. She wrote me a bunch of letters and stuff, so nice. I have pictures so I will try to send a bunch today! I love baptisms, here in the Philippines the surprisingly don't happen very often despite 90% of the population is christian! or maybe its just my mission but either way every baptism you get just fills your soul, and makes all the struggles and trials worth it! I am so grateful I was able to see them baptized!

Okay now for the ooey gooey part of my letter. I was thinking a lot about what I talked about last week in my e-mail about being pasaway or disobedient, and I just recently read the story about the sons of mosiah and also Alma the younger. In the scriptures it says that these guys were the vilest of sinners, seeking to destroy the church of god, and guess what they were still forgiven, with of course sore repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. There story really inspired me especially for me at this time while I have been struggling in obedience, and I thought how after the finally learned of the importance of the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ they did everything in their power to fix the things the have done wrong, and in the Gospel that is what we call "restitution" which is one of the steps of true repentance. Then after doing so the had such a great desire to serve God they were even willing to deny their right to the kingdom and go and preach the gospel to those who were trying to kill them! thats just amazing, how much humility, and faith would that take. A lot more then most of us have... sadly to say. Something that I thought about as I read this story is the fact the maybe because they knew how it felt to wade through sin, and they were once those vilest of sinner, they would know how to speak, and convert their brethren because they have been there, they know that life, and they know how to get out of it. Kind of like a missionary who has recently been baptized, those kind of missionaries kind testify so much more powerfully then some one like me could because they know what it feels like to be an investigator, or they know the questions they might have because they have been through, maybe something like this played a big role in their desire to leave their homelands and go unto those who were trying to destroy them, and as the story goes and that we all know, they were strong in faith, and were very successful! I applied this to myself, and figured if they can do it, so can i. I may not be as strong, or as faithful, but I can definitely stop what i am doing, repent, and starting working harder then ever, just like the sons of mosiah. Some might say that of course they were changed, convinced, and became men of god because they saw and angel, and the angel spoke to them. Who wouldn't be converted at such an experience? as true as that may be, it says in the scriptures that they confirmed their faith through the diligence in preaching the gospel! I love that! they received a message and they acted on that, that is so key.. action.. I don't need to see an Angel to know that this work is important, and how important the Gospel is, and to give me the Faith to go out and do everything i can to share this Gospel to those who are perishing in unbelief because I know that is what I have been called to do, and its just my faith that is lacking, but my desire is still there, and its growing and growing as I strive to become a consecrated missionary of the Lord. I want to commit to all of you and promise all of you like I have with the lord, to my mission president, and to myself. That I am going to be consecrated these last 4 months of my mission, and bring home with a home run! Kikel spaz style! 

Thank you everyone for you love and support despite my weaknesses, and trials. I know everything that happens is for a purpose and we just need to find out what those purposes are. I love you all so much, and until next week. farewell.

Elder Kikel
-on the Lord's errand-
San Pablo Philippines Mission

Okay so these pictures include first of some of the Young Women in our ward here in Calauag they thought I was leaving so they all wanted to take pictures haha also we have some of the bishop is the old looking guy that I have my arm around, and Elder Garcia is hugging. He is the man. Then we got some pictures of the baptisms! We also re baptized a member as well with Audrey and Aubrey. then some pictures at the house were we at lunch, played scrabble, and with Audrey trying to hold my arm again... haha notice how my hands are in my pockets... Well hope you enjoy! oh and some selfie action ya know, keepin it fresh..

Monday, February 2, 2015

Gifts of the Spirit

Hey Jo! thats about what every Filipino male calls me out on the streets! some missionaries get angry over it and some do not, I don't mind at all I just throw back a "Hey Phill!" the funniest part is most of them don't get it...

Everyone what is up? the sky is whats up duh...

They never get that one either...

This week was a great week, we actually got a lot more work down then we have been the last couple of weeks! Honestly we have been suffering with almost a ZERO teaching pool!! what! thats impossible but seriously, we almost have no investigators!! but one day we spent the entire day just tracting, trying to talk to as many people as we could, and get as many lessons as possible, and it turned out great! We got 6 new investigators in 3 hours! thats how we do it! I really pumps me up to missionary work when i have days like these because you can just feel the power and authority you have as a missionary. We are on exchanges right now so I wont be able to go back and teach them tomorrow, but Elder Garcia will bring us home with some baptismal goal dates. 

ummm... funny story that happened this week.... wala..(none) I can't think of anything funny or interesting that happened this week, it was just a get down and grind week! But there is good news! Audrey and Aubrey will be baptized this week on Feb 7! I am stoked beyond my mind, this baptism is going to bring so much peace to my heart after such long tribulation and trial in this area! Even though they are only 12 and 15 they are so good! The Zone leaders interviewed them and they said they were fully blown away with how good they were, so we are pretty stocked for them. I will send pictures next week! Also next week will maybe be my last week in Calauag! Transfers are on the 12th and I have been in this area for 6 and half months! What!? none, of the members want me to leave, they all want me to stay until the end of my mission! If that were ever to happen that will be 11 months in one area! PHEWW that is so long! half my mission in one area, but I highly disbelieve that will happen because there really is now reason why I need to stay here, the ward is kicking into gear, and Elder Garcia and his new companion should be able to reap some rewards from that. I am pretty stocked for them. Thats all of the exciting news for this week, which is pretty exciting! 

So to bring it down to a better town for my spiritual message today which is actually going to be a bit hard for me to give but I have been impressed to give it, but before that I just want to give all of you another glimpse of the life in the Philippines. I was talking to a member as we were walking home last night, and as he got off work. To keep it simple and straight to the point, this member is 22 and is preparing to serve a mission, he only has a grade five education because of financial reason and this job is what he is doing to save for his mission. He lifts and stacks 110lbs sacks of rice for 14 hours a day, every single day, for only... 2 freaking dollars... 100 pesos. I don't know about you but that makes me pretty mad that could actually be allowed to happen! its so sad... 14 hours! every single day for 2 dollars a day... wow... but yeah its the only thing he can do to get some kind of money for his mission. 
This message I have to give to today is a little bit difficult not to bad but still a cost of humility, and a release of pride. I thought about sharing this with you guys mostly for those who are going to serve a mission and who might experience the same things. First off, most of you think of me as this amazing missionary, who just gets everything done like a boss, or does everything right, is super obedient all the time, and is always the good example. Well, I am here to tell you, thats not true. As with everyone I have my own personal weaknesses, and have had my down moments, bad days, good days, good moments, and even the lowest of moments and of disobedience, I remember when I came in the mission and I started to realize my purpose as a missionary, I told myself I want to be obedient my entire mission, and never becoming a pasaway missionary, and all ready knowing I have failed at that brings a certain sadness to my soul, but as we know through the doctrine of the Atonement, its never to late to change. For the most part I have been obedient, followed mission rules, and strived to be an example to my peers, it is so much harder then it appears, sounds, and looks like! Seriously, even in the mission field! and I am definitely one who is easily tempted... Not once was I ever happy when I was pasaway, and not once did I approve of what I was doing, but just in a state of sadness, depression, and weakness. The Lord has helped me each time to become stronger, and work things through, only to fall again and feel even worse. Then having to talk to your mission President why, and then look at all our Batch mates being Zone Leaders, and have great success, and stuff like that just makes it even harder... I now have a personal testimony the what alma says is completely true; "Wickedness was never happiness" How true that statement is I can not describe to you! Through all these trials and errors, constantly trying to improve and get back to where I wanted to be and where the Lord needs me to be, I realized one thing, which has given me big comfort. I know out of all trials we are to learn something, and become stronger and this is what I have realized. According to the title of the Letter as missionaries we receive gifts of the spirit to help us in our work as missionaries, and also in any callings we have in the church, and through out our lives. One gift the lord has given to me is the gift of desire! Through out my trails of obedience I have noticed that I have never just accepted being disobedient, I have never enjoyed it or thought i would stay that way till the end of my mission. Every time I am passaway (disobedient) it just eats at my soul! I don't know why but I hate it, and it drives me crazy! and I always seek to improve, I never give up, and I never accept disobedience. That has really been a blessing for me in my mission, no matter what I do the Lord will not allow me to be satisfied with disobedience, I am always evaluating myself, I am always seeking to improve, I am always striving to be better now matter how many times I fall, or how hard it is, or how long it takes me. I just can not be disobedient! I can't do it! and I thank the Lord for giving me that desire always, that allows me to constantly apply the Atonement in my life, and know that this gift will help me through out my life. Knowing no matter HOW HARD things get in life, I can all ways trust in Him and just get up and keep going having hope and faith things will get better, and striving to be better, and the who the Lord needs me to be! Its kind of hard to explain my feelings about this because its been more of a really personal affair then more than an experience. These experience has blessed my life, and I testify that well all receive blessings through our trials and there are reasons and things we need to learn from our trials to prepare us for bigger trails or even bigger assignments from the Lord, all we need to do is accept God's will and just keep climbing that later to exaltation! I would have loved to been the missionary that you all wanted me to be, but I have been the best at doing it, but i want all of you to know that I will never be satisfied with sin no disobedience, and I will always strive to be better, to be who you want me to be! 

Thanks everyone for you love and support, I miss you all, and guess what ONLY 4 MONTHS LEFT! scary...

Love you!

Elder Kikel
-on the Lord's errand-
San Pablo Philippines Mission
 Okay so these pictures include some of me and arman that I told you guys about, he is in the gray shirt, some of our girl "friends" in our area that really wanted to take pictures with us, they got a little close but its still funny. and then some pictures of our two investigators who are going to get baptized(audrey, aubrey) Audrey is in the yellowish top and aubrey is in the black, the one im chocking out haha and then some pictures from our Zone P-day today! hope you enjoy!