Monday, September 30, 2013

What can you fit on your motorcycle? Letter 09/29/2013

Dear family!

Wow! I have been here for one month already! The language is coming but I still have a long ways to go. It is super hard to understand what other people are saying. All of our investigators are doing well. we have about 10. 3 of which are progressing. Brother L. is doing super well and he wants to be baptized but wants to be completely sure before he commits and that's the same case with our other investigator sister A.

So usually when you transport a couch you would use a truck right? But hey, a motorcycle works too. I wish I would have gotten a picture but the other day I saw someone riding their motor cycle with a full on couch balanced on the back. Here they take the max capacity for a motor vehicle and than multiply it by like 10. The jeepney's probably have a max capacity of about 25 but once they pack that thing full with people on top and what not I bet you there's about 60 people. It's quite the experience. ( and safer than you'd think).

We are instructed to teach fifty percent investigators and then fifty percent less actives Dad, you are spot on. A lot of times they just lack hope. It is an amazing experience seeing people return to church and remember the spirit that they once felt. No matter what your excuse is, if you have faith you will find a way to make it to church. We are currently teaching a family (a couple) that want to return but feel like they can't because of transgressions they have committed. It's heartbreaking but they are making progress. It's hard finding the right balance between having compassion but then being straight forward enough that they still know what they did is serious.All I have to say is that I love the Atonement and it is for everyone. It is so important that we fellowship! Everyone needs to feel welcome. Fellowship gives hope and then so the miracle begins that Elder Lund talked about.

General Conference: We don't watch it till the 12th due to time difference and poor reception. It gets sent via dvd and we watch it a week later. So let me know how it goes. And send me the conference Ensign when it comes if ya would.
Thanks for everything, I love ya! Keep the faith, Always be grateful for everything you have been given, Always do everything to strengthen the less active, The gospel blesses families I know that to be true. I bear testimony of it everyday and have all of you as proof to back it up and I thank you for that! I would defend each and everyone of you "even unto bloodshed" (Alma43:47)
Love Elder Lowe

 Service Project roofing a house Filipino Style

We are sword fighting and yes I am using my umbrella.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Letter 09/22/2013


Wow, Where do I even start? It has been another solid week in the mission field. It's crazy to think that I've been here for a month already. I'll admit, for the first couple weeks I was convinced that time had slowed down but now it seems just like yesterday that I was stepping off of the plane into Manila. The adage is true that the days feel like weeks but the weeks feel like days. I feel so young. Everybody here is always surprised to hear that I am only 18. It's weird that my comp is 24. That's as old as Rob and Austin. I can't help but realize that these short two years are shaping everything I do for the next 80 years. 

So just a small story first about getting my haircut. It wasn't that exciting but I want to tell you about it anyways. They are like a machine with scissors. It seriously reminded me of Edward Scissor Hands (if you've ever seen that movie). It looks alright though. Oh and if you watch Star Wars V or the one with the Ewoks (the short fury jungle animals) you'll notice that they talk. Well the language they speak is Tagolog. It makes sense because if you look at a picture of a Filipino (some more than others) they look like Ewoks without fur. That was one of the best realizations of my week. (I already knew they spoke Tagolog from something I heard in the MTC).

We continue to teach brother L. We did a service project for him on Tuesday where we cleared his back yard of 6 foot tall thick grass and weeds with machetes. It was way fun. I love service projects. They are a nice change from finding and teaching. They don't really have a concept of work clothes. Him and some members we brought as well as my comp were just wearing shorts and flip flops and that's just how they do things I guess. Me on the other hand had my black keans on with my khaki Columbia pants. Brother L. questioned my clothes and jokingly informed me that that wasn't how they do it here. I laughed and told him that I would make it work (Of course I would make it work! Why the heck would I do yard work the nature of which we were doing with out pants and closed toed shoes?!? That's what I was thinking) So, we start working and surely enough Elder S. Gets bit by an something on his foot and so I took the opportunity to inform everyone that that was why I wore pants and shoes and Brother L. said that only an American would have that kind of foresight. (I just kept working with the look on my face that Dad gets when someone realizes that he is right). 

We were able to take Brother L. and another Investigator to a baptism this week and that was super neat and the Spirit was so strong. We have invited Brother L. to be baptized but he doesn't want to commit until he is completely sure so we will continue to work with him but I am pretty sure he will.

We had a training on Wednesday and Sister A. talked about handling stress and being resilient but later that night I figured out that there is one way to handle stress that trumps all! Top Load... This is wear instead of riding in the Jeepney, you ride on top of the Jeepney, and yes, It was the best thing of my life. And as far as you are concerned, it's not dangerous. 

Okay just one more experience, I wish I could tell you everything but I don't have time. So, every Sunday we have Missionary Coordination meeting with all the Ward missionaries and then this Sunday we had ward Council and had the opportunity to train them. We talked about ward involvement with Recent Converts and Less Actives. I talked about the War chapters in Alma and How each family adds to the strength of the fortress. And How It is all of our responsibility to labor and build up the fortress of the Palo Ward. Alma 48:7-8 and 12. We also talked about being united in purpose. I came up with a sweet analogy about how the members create the dam that keeps the pool of recent converts and not as strong members active. It's hard to explain but it was really cool and the bishop loves me for it. 

I love you all and Pray for you always. Thanks for your love and support and your prayers. They are felt. I couldn't do this with out you. Keep the faith, and peace be the journey. Never pass up opportunity to live up this adventure we are on called life. Let there never be a dull moment.
Love Elder Lowe!
Matthew 6 By their works ye shall know them.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Letter 09/16/2013

Dear Family,
Every week gets better. I am really getting into the swing of it and I am so happy where i am at. Of course I miss you all so much but I am in the right place doing the right thing at the right time. And think about how much greater our adventures afterwards will be because of what I am doing now. Anyways, Missionary work is a grind but I'm loving it. I wish I could tell you everything that happens in a week but I just don't have enough time so I will just tell you the best stories from my week.

 I am learning to work with the members. I really like them, and enjoy being with them and working with them, it's just if I had to choose a team responsible for saving the world or doing something else that is really important I wouldn't choose them. I can't wait till I can speak the language well enough to really connect with people(everyone speaks Tagolog pretty much because it's the national language but there's something about being able to speak the native dialect). Everyone, especially in the ward speaks some english (some better than others) but they shouldn't have to for me. 

One of the hardest things to get used to has been people flaking on appointments and not keeping commitments. The hard part about his area is it is a devout Catholic center and there is a big cathedral in the middle. I know they will feel the spirit if they will keep the commitments but they have to act and teaching them in a way that will inspire them to want to feel the spirit is tough. I'm learning to love the answer "no." I'd rather someone say "no" and then keep working with them then have someone say "yes" and not follow through. 

I have two stories, one about a less active and the other is one of those stories that every missionary dreams of having. It is seriously like a story you would read in chapter 9 of preach my gospel.

So the less active. If any of us were under the perception that this was a high baptizing mission, kind of. It used to be at least but the people weren't becoming converted I guess and so now there are tons of less actives. The ward membership is about 400 and average sacrament meeting attendance is 140. So as missionaries we are supposed to spend half our time teaching investigators and the other half teaching less actives.
Sorry for the tangent but our less active hasn't been to church for 15 years, we started visiting him two weeks ago and he has started coming back. The ward members asked us how we did it. We didn't. The spirit is so strong when we visit him. I think his heart was just a little hard and he needed to know someone cared and be reassured of the power of faith. He has trouble seeing and so he can't really read the Book of Mormon. We have had some really good lessons about faith and revelation. Our last visit we talked about the parable of the lost sheep. When ever we are lost, the Lord will go out of his way to rescue us. It was then I realized why the picture of Christ holding the sheep on the cover of the "Restoration" pamphlet was so significant. 

The next story is about Brother L. While we were finding Saturday, we were walking down the street talking to people when both of us stopped for no reason really and to our right in a little ways was this house. My companion and I looked at each other and we both knew we needed to go to that house. So we go and at this house was Brother L. You know how when we pray for the missionaries, we pray that they may be led to those who have been searching for the gospel? This was the answer to both Brother L.'s prayers and our prayers. We taught him the restoration and he tells us about how he was inches away from going atheist a couple months ago, because he was going through some rough times  but he prayed and asked God if he was there and if he was to help him. To send him the truth. So here we are a couple months later and he acknowledged us as an answer to that prayer. When we talked about Joseph Smith being an honest seeker of truth he said he felt like he also was an honest seeker of truth. And then he proceeded to tell us that this was so weird. He wants to get baptized if he feels that it's true and he wants us to teach his family also. This was the highlight of my week. The Lord indeed answers our prayers to be led to those who have been searching for truth. My description doesn't do justice to how amazing this experience was.

I love you all. Thanks your support. Keep the faith and may peace be the journey.

Uban ha Gugma
Elder Lowe

We ate crab and it only cost like five bucks USD.

At the airport

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Letter 09/09/2013

Maopay na Gabi where you're at and Maopay na kalop where I am at. It's weird to think you are going to bed last night as I write this letter. Things are still tough. I am still adapting but every day gets a little better. When President Hinckley's father told him to "Forget yourself and get to work," What I think he really meant is, Get to work and you will forget yourself. I love being out finding and teaching because that's when I am most able to forget myself. It is all a process and I am striving to be patient and enjoy the journey! I trust that you will all be there when I get home. There will be more music, more cars and more first world blessings, but being a missionary is only for two years and I want to make the best of that because I know it will influence the rest of my life.
So luckily the pigs only squeal some mornings and usually it's not till I am already awake. The pig slayers are nice but pretty receptive to our message. They told me they think I look like Tom Cruise. I'll be honest, I have never heard that one before. I watched them kill a pig and that was pretty cool. I still won't think twice before eating bacon. I'm pretty cautious about eating any meat here though. I mostly just live off of fruit and peanut butter. sometimes I make scrambled eggs and I got some ramen noodle type things today. Since we eat rice so much everywhere else I won't make it for myself so that I won't get sick of it. They eat it for every single meal though. It's ridiculous. The food that we eat for dinner appointments is usually pretty good but nothing spectacular. I ate with my hands for the first time last week and that was fun. Eating rice with your hands is more difficult than you might think.
There was this brother that we found and when we arrived for our return appointment and started teaching, he politely refused to go to the next level. I wasn't ready to give up however and so I gave him a book of Mormon and bore my testimony. I hope he will read it. He hopes he will read it, He just doesn't know it yet. Perhaps he may be baptized by us and perhaps we have planted a seed for missionaries a few years down the road to harvest. Blessings either way.
We went to a baptism this week. We live in Palo and the baptism was in Tanuaun. This little girl is about ten and was taught my some sisters in our district. It was a really neat experience. I can't wait till I have my own baptism.
We teach just about as many Less Actives as Investigators. We taught this Brother who is really lacking in faith. He can't read the Book of Mormon because he has bad eye sight but we promised him that if he would try the Lord would bless him. It was so rewarding to see him at church yesterday! All the ward members were amazed to see him to so we were very grateful for his attendance. Sunday is pay day in the mission field. The language is coming and I am getting to know the ward members and make friends and so church was a lot better and less overwhelming than last week.

The ward missionaries are Rock Stars and they work with us so much which is crucial. I am grateful for the support we have in this ward because from what I hear it's not like this everywhere in the mission. They had a missionary morning side type deal on Saturday and a member of the Stake Presidency spoke and gave some solid instruction. I was asked to give the spiritual thought and so I gave a thought that I had shared with a Less Active the previous evening. Everyone can speak some English and so that made giving the thought easier. I shared Mosiah 20:10-11 as well as Alma 43:30 and 46:12 with the message of, What would we do for our families? I told them that the reason I was here away from my family was so that others could be with theirs for eternity. In Alma 43:30 it talks about how they fought by stratagem  We can't afford to face the adversary without a strategy. Make your game plan now.
The Ward missionaries are good but it's hard to keep any of these people focused. We were in Missionary coordinating meeting(MCM) yesterday and Elder S. And I were giving the report of our week, Well I was giving the report when they started talking about playing basketball for fellow shipping. I didn't get mad but I was very firm in reminding them of our purpose and that they could talk about basketball after. It caught their attention and a few people apologized afterwards including the first counselor in the Bishopric. I wasn't fishing for apologizes  I just needed them to focus on the task at hand. 
We have this investigator and she hasn't been very good with keeping commitments but I hope and pray she will start. When we were teaching her Sunday evening about the plan of Salvation there was this point where My comp and I as well as others saw something click with her where it seemed like she started to realize that maybe there is something to this gospel. I hope that will inspire her to keep commitments so that she can receive the blessings.
I'm just about out of time but to answer your questions. It has rained a bit and when it rains it poors but nothing out of the ordinary. We have electricity but no maid. Some times it feels like I could be doing more good in an english speaking mission and sometimes it feels like time has slowed down, but I know I have a purpose here and the language will come. The More struggle, the More growth. I love you all and I am so grateful for your prayers. Keep on keepin on and I love hearing about all your adventures. Keep the Faith and may peace be the journey!
Love Elder Lowe

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Who needs an alarm clock?" Waray Waray Area Letter 09/01/2013

Hello Family,
Greetings from the Philippines. I am alive and hanging in there. These past 4 days have been some of the most emotionally trying days I have ever experienced. Remember that scene in "The Best Two Years" when he says "That's not the language they taught me in the MTC..." That pretty well describes my first few days because I have been assigned to a Waray Waray area. The funny thing about this mission is that we are trained in Cebuano but the language/dialect changes with the area. So every transfer I will have the privilege of learning a new dialect.
So we left the 26th and basically skipped the 27th and arrived in Manila on the 28th. We stayed the night in Manila and then flew to Tacloban on Thursday. We spent a couple days receiving training at the mission office and we met our trainers on Friday. My Trainer is a good missionary but he doesn't speak very good English because he is a native Tagalog speaker which is good for me to learn the language but it's hard because I can't really express how I'm feeling. I know I'm not alone and I find a lot of comfort in prayer but I have felt pretty lonely these past few days since it's just him and I in our apartment. The members in my area are really friendly and everyone speaks a little English but things are super unorganized in the church and that makes it super hard. The Ward missionaries are really good though and they do a lot with us. This is mine and my trainers first time to this area and so we don't have a lot of records and the area book isn't very detailed.
Our apartment is interesting... I don't really know how to describe it. The last elders left it kind of a mess. It is super hot and our only AC is fans. The best part however, we live across the street from a pig slaughter house(if you can even call it that). So Guess what I wake up to every morning around 5:30? I woke up to a sound Saturday morning that I'm pretty sure nobody should ever have to hear. These pigs let out the most blood curdling squeels that not even I can sleep through. Because it's so hot the cold showers feel really nice, but I could do without the cockroaches. I think we are going to find a new apartment soon though so that will be good.
On Sunday we taught a few investigators with the members and they went well. I felt the spirit even though I couldn't understand anything. One of the members, told me that I should smile more. She said, "you should smile more, It fits you." Church was good. I only had to bear my testimony and they understand English so I was able to mix English with Waray. And then another member said at our dinner appointment that I reminded him of Elder Bednar. I took the compliment but was really thinking, "if only!"

I would be lying if I said I absolutely loved it here. I don't really get home sick but I have had my fill these last couple of days. However, I know that it is time to forget myself and get to work I know you as well as all the first world amenities will be there in two years. Just like anything new, once you get into the routine it gets easier. I find a lot of strength in the story of Abinadi as well as Alma and Amulek. I know there is a work for me to do here and that I need to not stress because the Lord is with me. I think I psyched myself out in thinking I would get everything the first couple days. There is no way I will do this with out His help. It's easy to say that you will do better when circumstances are better or different but you will never improve if you don't do your best and work your hardest now and so that is what I am trying to do. Prayer and Fasting have given me so much comfort and I am so grateful for your prayers and thoughts. They are felt. Whenever you get discouraged, sing a hymn. I love and miss you all. Keep the faith and may peace be the journey. No matter what challenges come my way I know this mission is shaping me into something that I didn't know I could become. From what I understand, it will be a long three months but a short two years.
Love Elder Lowe
P.S. It hasn't rained yet which is kinda weird but it will I'm sure and will let you know about it when it does.