I'm on early today! Apparently there's going to be a planned brown out (no power) later today so we had to come here early...
For the last several (about 52) weeks, I've continuously started out these emails by saying out fast the time has gone by. This week though, has been different! Things ACTUALLY started to somewhat slow back down to normal speed (in comparison to the regular pace of life here). Maybe the one year mark on Thursday (18th) slowed things down (don't get too excited, July 31st, 2014 is still my go-home day), or maybe my new area. Either way, life is great. Here's the report -
...I'm in my new area! After 2 months of the MTC, 3 months in Naga, 6 months in Baao, and just 6 weeks in Pilar, I'm now transferred to Tabaco! I somehow got places in yet another big city (all other areas at least had access every Pday to a big city, pretty lucky) so I must be playing my cards right. They bumped me up to become a Zone Leader which is probably why I got transferred so fast from my last area. There's a lot I could story to you about being a Zone Leader, but most importantly, it means I get to live in the Tabaco Mansion! Even back when it was still Naga Mission, I had heard rumors about this awesome apartment. It's huge, has 2 bathrooms (both with bidets) and a hot shower! Better yet, it's only us two here! My companion is Elder Alldredge from Arizona. He goes home in a little less than three months now. We've met lots before now so we were surprised that we're companions because we both Americans. Even though there are way more Filipino's in the mission, I've somehow had 5 American companions now and only 1 Filipino... Alldredge and I were both assigned in Baao too, just he was there a year before me! We have to do a bunch of new administration kind of things since we're the Zone Leaders, but the best part (2nd I suppose to the awesome house) is that we have an island in our zone so each transfer, we go spend a week there!
This place has really seen the effects of the new missionary wave. Our Branch (the only like it in the mission), has 8 missionaries! - six of which are Sisters. They're actially in the Branch, meanwhile, Alldredge and I are assigned in a Group under the Branch. So I'm in another group. Just like Baao, 30 is about the average attendance each week and... we go to church outside again! There are only 3 Groups (MUCH smaller than a Branch) in the whole Mission - I've now been assigned in 2! This week, we spent a lot of time with the church leaders here in splitting up all of the missionary boundaries to fit all 8 of us in the Branch, and also we're trying to find other places to put more missionaries in. It's pretty exciting (I'm not doing a good job of conveying that (: )
Anyways, I could tell you all about the new and exciting things I've been doing, but I'll reflect on this last full year as a full-time missionary. In short... It has been the best! Better than high school (obviously), better than college and better than all the classic adventures I had at home. There's just something about loving others so much more than yourself (or at least, striving to). I can't describe how joyous it is to literally forget myself, and give it all to Him. I've said that over and over again here, and that's simply because it's true. I mean, what more need I say? I've quoted this scripture a few times in these emails, and it still rings true (basically talking about missionary work and everything that comes with it): "Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness." (Alma 27:18). I just love it. I really, really do. So as with my New Year's Resolution from January 1st, what will I do with my last year of full-time service? Continue. Continue it all. And when I say that, I don't mean flat-lining where I am, but to continue with the progress I've already made. Continue to grow, continue to have greater and greater happiness, continue to be the best I can, everyday, always improving. Easy task? No. But worth it? Of course.
That's it. Thanks for it all! Sorry for few pictures/stories only, more to come next week!
Love, Elder Brown
1-2. Members who worked with us yesterday. The little house on the left is where we go to church.
3. Our house! Granted, it's only the left side, but it's still enormous!