Great week of work, with tremendous results! Included in that is a service project and almost catching a rat (see pictures).
Tuesday night, we walked in the apartment and saw something run into the bathroom - rat (granted, it was small still). To make a long story short, we spent the next 45 minutes setting up traps, barricades and walls with the rat just barely slipping through our hands (not literally) each time. It was especially exciting when he walked in the cage, then continued right on through the metal bars (see pictures). Saturday was the National Day of Service (ended up being a half -day), so we all got to wear "Mormon Helping Hands" vests and go plant and things like that.
Sunday was the best. Got to church (not even sweating!) and there were tons of people. Last week we had 20 people (lowest I've seen is 9 or 10), this week.... 35 people at church!! (only two empty chairs!). I guess all of our investigators and less-actives just decided to show up all on the same Sunday. Super happy that. (okay, now I'm reminded of wards in America with 400 active people each week... Still 35 is amazing here!). It was actually the first sacrament I've had in Baao (5 months now) where I didn't have a part in the program (prayer, bless/pass, speak without warning...). I did teach the youth (finally don't have to teach the adults now that our leaders are active), bit I'd rather do that than not. After church, we had some interesting experiences. We were trying to find some members who have been inactive for years and years (moved to another church)... Here, it's not like people give you an address and you punch it into the GPS and drive right up to the house, rather, it's more along the lines of, "Oh, they live in that neighborhood over there (point in a vague direction), just ask people as you walk and you'll hopefully find them." That kind of thing. Well it was great when we asked the neighbors and the member was right there but not revealing her identity. Hah I can't describe it, but imagine knowing you've found the person you're looking for but they deny it until giving in after 5 minutes of interrogation - in the middle of the street, with all the neighbors pointing in different directions to go look. We ended up actually having a decent conversation after she confessed she was the one we were looking for. (these are not the driods you're looking for). Then went in search of another person.
On our search, some kids pointed to a big house with a gate (mayaman). We did the usual "Tao po!" (just shouting "people!" so they know you're outside - no knocking), and out walks a white guy! (What the?!) Basically, he and his American wife have been in the Philippines for 29 years serving a mission for another church - not at all interested in our message, but he was nice and we talked for a bit. I was reminded of two important things: 1. The Gift of Tongues is real. 29 years of speaking Tagalog and the guy was still making small errors with a thick American accent. On the other end, in my short time, I had been talking to a lady earlier that day who stopped me mid-sentence and said, "Sorry. I'm just so amazed. I leterally feel like I'm talking to a Filipino, but you're white. Are you really a foreigner?" (confidence booster). 2. Our church is true. This man's religion's main doctrine -if my understanding is correct- is that if we have faith ("accept Christ"), then it's by grace alone that we are saved. Literally doesn't matter what we do, wicked or good.. If we accept Christ = heaven, reject Christ = hell. Well that doesn't make sense, does it? I wanted to whip out 2 Nephi 25:23, "...for we know that is it by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." (italics added). Kept that to myself though.
Hah, it's been a fun week. I'll close with a Gordon B. Hinckley quote I found, "Can any man who has walked beneath the stars at night, can anyone who has seen the touch of spring upon the land doubt the hand of divinity in creation?" And I add my own words - can anyone who has felt the redeeming joy forget it? Can anyone who has felt the love of God not desire more? I can't forget it, and I do desire more. Therefore, I press on.
Next week I'll be emailing the day before my birthday... Don't forget! (:
Love, Elder Shane Scully Brown
1. The running out of the cage...
2. Cage with hot dog bait
3. One of several barricade attempts
4-13. Service project!