Monday, February 24, 2014

Built Upon His Rock Letter 2/24/2014

Dearest Family,

This week has been amazing and we have experienced so many tender mercies of the Lord. I only have time to share a few. We had six investigators at Church this week! But two investigators that came last week didn't come this week. It was good to have six but they were all girls and we are really trying to convert men because we need priesthood. One of our progressing investigators,  is doing so well. She received an answer to her prayers about the Book of Mormon and so we are super excited to continue teaching her the rest of the lessons. We have her baptism set for March 29. Please pray that all will go smoothly and that she as well as all of our investigators will have the strength to withstand opposition. There are so many people here who are ready to receive the gospel but opposition is present as well. In one Barangay (neighborhood) we have only visited about three times we have already noticed and on Sunday we heard that the Catholic priest told his congregation not to listen to us because Joseph Smith is our God and we don't believe in Christ. I don't think he's ever read our name tags... We are excited to continue working in that area and to invite them to come unto Christ through this wonderful Gospel. 

We taught a new family of investigators. The dad wasn't able to be there which was sad but we taught them with the a recent convert family and they are amazing. We just taught a few principles from Lesson 1 and were doing a typical first visit and we invited our recent convert to share her feelings about her conversion and how the Gospel has strengthened her family and she said something like this: "Okay, I'm going to be a little prideful, look at my husband. If we hadn't joined this Church, he would still be drinking and smoking and what not. And then our kids would have seen that example and they would have followed. We are so much closer as a family and so much stronger because of this Gospel." It was amazing to have them there and we are hopeful that the  family will progress even if it takes the Brother a second to come a long. Their daughter who is about 13 came to church on sunday. The sister coudn't because she has a baby who is only about 6 weeks old. Hopefully she will be able to come in the future. 

My companion asked me the question after reading Helaman 5:12 "How exactly do we Build upon the Rock for our Redeemer Jesus Christ?" As I thought about it, I related it to sports and well, any skill. The key is in mastering the basics. You have to learn and relearn and review the basics just like drilling "take-downs" or running plays over and over again. our drilling comes from daily scripture study, and regular personal prayer as well as repentance and many other simple things pertaining to the basic Doctrines of the Gospel. And thus we see that by "Small and Simple things are great things brought to pass." I'm so grateful for the gift of grace and the enabling power it gives us through the atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know that if we build upon His Rock, we cannot fall. I love you all so much and I pray for you always. Keep the faith and may peace be the journey!

Love Elder Lowe

Elder Lowe's Castle that he lives in. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Walking on Water Letter 2/17/2014

Maayong Bisan unsa nga imong oras karon,

You would never actually say that but the grammar is correct I think... The other day this guy asked us where we slept and it wasn't even weird. Different culture for sure. It is quite normal to ask people where they are going or where they are coming from just as a conversations starter. Some times when people ask "Asa man kamo?" (where are you going?) or "Asa Gikan 'mo?" Instead of saying "gikan sa Bogasong" (From Bogasong--a neighborhood in Libagon) or "Sa among balay" (To Our house) I will say "Gikan sa langit" (from heaven) or "Sa paglakaw kami sa dagat" (We are going to walk on the ocean.) Some get a kick out of it and  others just look confused but sometimes it's a good conversation starter and that's just what we want. 

We had five investigators at Church on Sunday! The Lord is helping us so much with the work here. We taught one new investigator this week. He is so excited about the Gospel and his eyes were locked on both of us as we taught. We are excited to see him progress. Him and one of our other sister investigators are friends, of what nature I'm not really sure. I have yet to figure out how dating works here. We teach them together and they are both progressing well. We are just really trying to get the sister to pray about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. She is about 22 years old and is a single mom. She has the cutest little 7 month old baby and I can't help but think of Hailey every time I see her. 

This past week we were headed to teach one of their less-actives and the less-active we were looking for wasn't home but we found an opportunity to teach some members of their family who weren't members. We started teaching the lesson and just did the normal routine with Lesson 1 when a couple from "Iglesia Ni Cristo" showed up. I think they followed us into the appointment so they could invite us to their little Bible study. So we invited them to join and so they sat down and listened. I don't know a ton about them but did my best to speak by the spirit and we testified of the truthfulness of this Gospel. They weren't contentious which was good but they weren't really receptive either. They squirmed when I testified on doctrine where we are very different pertaining to the potential that all of us have to be saved. 

Later on in the week after exchanges we ended up in a discussion with a Born Again Pastor from Washington who lives here now. That was rough, wow. He tried to feed us a bunch of Anti-mormon stuff, but we just testified and went on our way. The reason he ended up in our discussion was because he had told a recent convert and one of our investigators that what we were teaching wasn't true and we asked him to stop. We also felt impressed to stop by. That Anti-mormon stuff is toxic and I can see how it could really get to someone if their testimony wasn't strong. Anyways, we pray for him and maybe someday he will end up as Zeezrom who ended up being a missionary. 

We have two sets of missionaries here now.  They are hilarious and I love having them here. They make our Castle seem a little more normal. That place was really too big for two people. I will send you pictures I promise I just keep running out of time. The missionaries are flowing back in at a constant rate. It is so amazing having our mission back. I have no idea when I'll actually get to see everyone but It's good to hear that they are coming back. It's really just a matter of finding places for us all to live. It will be an exciting couple transfers as far as that goes. Hopefully, this means I will stay here in Libagon for a while and by a while I mean long enough to learn the language. I love this area and my companion impresses me more every day. Sometimes he just takes us around and introduces us to his friends and we set up appointments to teach. 

I have been studying in the New Testament and I am in Mark right now. I love the repeated theme that Jesus presents of understanding and opening our eyes to see and our ears to hear. Understanding is a process which requires faith which leads to my studies in Alma 32. Even if we only have a desire to believe we only need to let that desire work in us. President Holland counsels us to hold true to things we do know. I know this Church is True. I know that no unhallowed hand can stop this work from progressing. I love you all and I love hearing from you. Keep the Faith and may peace be the Journey.

Love Elder Ethan Lowe
3 Nephi 5:13

Monday, February 10, 2014

"I Need Thee Every Hour" Letter 2/10/14

Dear Family! 

It has been a really good week as we continue the work down here in Southern Leyte. This place is gorgeous and every day I witness some of Gods most amazing creations. Sometimes me and my companion will just stop to take it all in. He made a comment about the Hymn, "I Need Thee Every Hour" and how true that is and how sometimes we should just take a moment to reconnect with Him. 

We had our first Zone Training meeting this past Wednesday and the spirit was indescribable with those of us here that have returned to "Sogod" zone. The Zone leaders based it from a line from "Kung Fu Panda" that goes like this, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift, and that is why they call it the present" It was about learning from the things we have experienced and focusing on the work now. One of the things I really liked that they said was that yes, the storm prepared the people to receive the gospel but perhaps more than that, it prepared us to preach His Gospel to them. They talked about  how we should work so hard everyday that we won't think we can do it the next day and then wake up and do it again. I liked that and that's what I'm trying to do. I am so grateful and excited for all the road I have ahead of me after what I have learned from this whole experience.

We had a group activity on Saturday night and we played some games and watched a movie about John Tanner and his sacrifice for the Church. After the video Brother L mentioned how the Lord must have purpose for Libagon because he has put two sets of missionaries in such a small place. There is indeed work for us here and I am so grateful to be a laborer in this part of the vineyard. Brother L is great and his commitment to this gospel is amazing. I love working with him. I wish I had more time to tell you about him.

I love hearing from all of you and hope you are anxiously engaged in this great work! Never pass up an opportunity to share the Gospel. Remember that you need Him every Hour so pray always. Keep the faith and may peace be the Journey.

Moses 6:63

Love Elder Lowe

P.S. We meet at Brother L house. He has this little pavilion thing. The meeting house is small but the spirit is so strong. Hopefully we will see a meeting house built here soon as we work to increase the membership.

Monday, February 3, 2014

And... Switch Letter 2/3/2014

Dear Family!

Well, I'm back in Tacloban and things are great! It was so good to see President and Sister Andaya again. President Andaya is a man of God and I am so grateful to have him as a mission president. Him and an emeritus seventy, Elder Banks have been all over these two islands with four office elders for the past couple of months getting things back in order for our return. After we landed we were taken to the Tacloban Stake Center which has been cleaned up a lot since we last saw it. We drove through the same destruction that we left. A lot has been done but there is a lot still left to do. I was amazed at the morale of the people here. On our ride to the Stake center there was this part where little kids were lined up on the road, cheering and it was a really neat experience. It's hard for me to describe. I am so grateful to be back here. We had an orientation meeting and received direction from President and Sister Andaya and Elder Banks. It has indeed been a joyous reunion. We then made the 5 hour drive down to southern Leyte. We drove through Palo or what is left. It was almost unrecognizable, and needless to say, my things were not recovered. 

I am assigned in Libagon down in Sogod Zone. It is super bukid but I love it and it is so gorgeous. We have mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. I will send you pictures soon. We also live in a castle. Our land lady lives up stairs and we live down stairs. It's pretty hollow but it's huge. We are in the Sogod district but work with a "Group" in Libagon of about 35 members. Our Group leader Brother L. is so cool and I have been so impressed with his conversion to the Gospel. He is so dedicated to helping us succeed in this area. My companion was assigned here before and so we have been able to revisit some of their previous investigators and have already extended a baptismal commitment for March 15.  We have already had some amazing lessons and I have felt the spirit so strong. It is a challenge switching languages again but I'll get through it. There is power in prayer and fasting. 

In closing I just want you to know that no matter where we live, as Latter-day saints we are the richest people in the world and this Gospel is a great treasure. Iapologize that this email is pretty short and I will answer your questions next week and will have many more stories for next week. Till than know that I love you and God loves you. Keep the faith and may peace be the journey. 

Oh and I'm actually speaking the language that was on my call letter. I love Cebuano and it's already coming back.

Love Elder Lowe