Monday, August 15, 2016

Laoag Week 104

Dear Francis family, 

Well I have 7 more days left of work.   Wow, the mission goes by so fast and I can't believe that I will be home next week. Well I would just like to say that these last two years have been the best two years of my life and I won't regret this ever.  I am really going to miss the Philippines, the people I  have came to love, the friends I have made,  and the culture. I am really excited to come home and not because I am going to miss being a missionary, but I am really going to miss the Filipino people and all of the friends I have made. 
But I can tell you that the mission really does change a person and the testimony I have of the gospel really has grown so much.  I truly know with all my heart that this is the true church and I know that the Book of Mormon is true because I have seen how it can change the lives of others.  I feel like when I read it, I put myself in their spot and really think and ponder what I read and my testimony grows so much stronger that Jesus Christ lives and He is my Savior and Redeemer.  He loves me so much and He died for me. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet because I have prayed about it and I have received an answer that he is a true prophet of God.  That is why I came on a mission,  because of the Restored Gospel and because I know that Jesus Christ lives. That is why we are all here, because of Him.  I keep telling myself and other members that I meet that we need to "Stand up for what we believe in". We need to live the gospel to the full and be an example of the believers at all times.  We need to be a light to others so others can see the good example.   You need to stand on higher ground to lift others and that is what I have seen my last two years of my mission and the people's lives that have changed.  The thank you's and the tears and happiness I see in their eyes and hearts and they truly can feel the spirit when we share the gospel with them.  They feel the love Heavenly Father has for them.
 I also know that a mission is not easy but it is so worth it.   I have gone through ups and downs and a lot of trials but we need to get back up on our feet and get back to work, and always remember that we are never alone in this work. I always remember this quote "Do I want the life that's up ahead, or the life I left behind?" I can say before my mission I was going through a lot of trials and my faith was not as strong and neither was my testimony.  I had obstacles and road blocks that came to my life but because of my mission I  have seen the love of my Heavenly Father and the power of the Atonement and the healing power it has on each and every one of us.  No matter how far you have gone or how lost you get, the atonement of Jesus Christ is real and it is there for everyone. There is only one person in this world that knows your thoughts and what you are going through and that is our Savior and he has felt our pains and sorrows and wants us to be more happy. 
Also something I have heard on my mission a lot is this quote "True Christlike service is selfless and focuses on others."  I feel like since I have been here on my mission I have learned or obtained Christlike attributes and the promised blessings when we truly serve him with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength, and really serve him every day in our actions and deeds. I like what Elder Holland said to us missionaries: "When I asked you to be a missionary, it was forever. When I asked you to see this through to the end, it was because it's not over 'til it's over, we're in this 'til the end."  I  like how it says we are missionaries forever, here on the mission and after because we have Christ's name in carved in our hearts and we are his instruments in this work and helping his children return unto him.   We need to endure always the trials and challenges that come into our lives and endure the hard things and continue to exercise our faith in him. 

Something else I would like to share with you is the 13th Article of Faith.  It starts of with "WE Believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men: indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul- We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." I would like to share my testimony about this and when I read this it makes me think that "It is about who we are",  It's not just a behavior, that's who we are at all times. We live these principles 24/7, every day and every hour we need to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, and virtuous at all times and in all things. We need to endure all things and continue to walk forward in the right path that leads us to eternal life and that is what I  really like from this article. 

Well Francis Family and Friends it has been a long two years, but the best two years ever and I am ready to come home.  I can't wait to see you all. I would love to baptize Aiden and tell him Congratulations!  I would love to see you all at the airport next Thursday.  I will see you next week. Thank you for the prayers and e-mails and letters and the love you have given to me.  

Mahal na Mahal ko kayo at mag ingat kayo palagi. 
Kita kits next week. 
10 days na lang. 

Elder Francis 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Laoag Week 103

Hello Francis Family,

I am really old now hahaha, I can't even believe it that I am now twenty like wow life goes by so fast. But I had an amazing birthday and got fed so much good food by some of the members and then last Saturday we had a ward family home evening and birthday party for me.  It was so much fun because we played games and we just talked and built a good relationship with the members.  Then they made me sit in a chair in front of all of the members then they sang a birthday song to me in Ilocano.  It is called Padapada kam and they gave me flowers for it and it was such a cool experience.  They made me feel so happy and I started to tear up a little.  I truly love ward 5, they are such a good group of members and they make me feel like a part of their family. So that was a really good 20th birthday that I had here in the Philippines. 
That was great and also guess what?   Sister Carol got Baptized like yeaaaaaa!!!!! It was such a good day for us - to see her smile and I really loved watching her get baptized and seeing her smiling face after.  Then she gave such a beautiful testimony about how she was so happy to meet us.  The story was about a month ago we were finding and Elder Gabuyo asked me where are we going to start and I pointed to a house and he said okay lets try it.  So I yelled "tao po" and sister came out and I said "hello po sister kamusta kayo".   Then we just started to talk to her and since then she has been great and just been growing and her life really has changed so much.  I can see how the gospel has changed her life and I really love how the gospel can change the lives of others. So that was really great for us that we had a baptism this last week.  
I don't have to much too say because I am close to coming home.  So I can just tell you everything when I get home. But congratulations Emily for making the soccer team and hope everything goes great. So I will be seeing you guys in about 16 or 17 days, love you all and miss you all too. 

Love Elder Francis 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Laoag Week 102


Mabuhay po Francis Family, 

This week is going to be great because it is my 20th BIRTHDAY!!! Like I am so excited and I feel like I am getting too old too fast hahaha. But thank you so much for the birthday wishes. This last week has been really memorable and full of miracles and stories that are really spiritual. 
So I would like to share with you about two people that we found this week.  The first person that we found her name is KA Licuan and she is 18 years old. We started to talk with her and she started to really open up with us and said that when she was a little child both of her parents got killed and she doesn't know why God would take her parents from her.  Since that happened she never prayed to God and she never went to church but we taught her and told her that the gospel of Jesus Christ is centered on families.  We asked her if she would love to see her parents again and she started to cry and asked how, and we said through this message that we share with you, we believe that we can live together forever as a family and she started to really listen and pay attention to what we were sharing.  We told her God loved her so much because she is a daughter of God and He wants us to be happy and for all of his children to return unto him and she was smiling and really happy and she told us I feel like I  want this in my life.  So that was a really great experience for us. 
The second one that we had her name is Sister Lila she is 40 plus and she was really friendly and let us right into her house and we started to talk to her and she opened up to us also and said that she had an 8 year old boy that died because of heart problems.  She told us that she was mad with God and never wanted him to be a part of her life and she never prayed or attended church.  We shared about the Plan of Salvation and we told her that God loves each and every one of his children and he wants us to be happy in this life and he give us trials and afflictions to try our faith in him and also to help us grow.  Then we asked her "Sister Lila where do you think we go after this life?" and she said "Well I think heaven or hell and that is it" and we told her it is more than that and God has a plan for us and and plan for your child and that is to be with him forever.  She didn't believe in what we said and then we testified to her that families are meant to be together forever and told her that she could see her child again and she started to cry and we said to her "Sister Lila, this is the way through the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can be sealed together as a family" and we asked her to pray and she was so scared to pray because she felt like God was mad at her and she had not prayed for over 30 years.  We told her well now is the time to talk to your father in heaven and we tell you he is really happy to hear your voice and he truly loves you and she said okay I will give it a try and she started to pray from her heart and she started to cry during her prayer and then when she finished she said I felt like God was speaking to me and touching my heart and comforting me. So those are the two cool and spiritual stories that I had this week. 
 I testify that God loves us all and he has a plan for each of us and that is to return to his presence someday. Then hopefully on Saturday this week sister Carol should be getting baptized, so that will be really exciting for us and I am ready for this awesome week.  I love you all and miss you all so much too. 

Elder Francis 

Laoag Week 101

Good Afternoon Francis Family,
This week was full of blessings and miracles for me and Elder Gabuyo.  So these last two weeks we have been finding like crazy. We have been trying to find the Amuleks in our area and trying to find investigators that are potential and we have been praying and fasting for our investigators.   We have seen something happen these last two weeks - we have been having 7 investigators attend church and we are having success in our area. So that is really exciting for us and we will be having baptisms coming in August on the first Saturday and second Saturday.    So I am really excited for that.   Sister Carol will be getting baptized next Saturday and after that on August 13th we should be having 6 or a couple so that is really a blessing for us. 
This week we had something interesting happen to us.  On Wednesday night when we were sleeping and woke up Thursday morning, I was praying Elder Gabuyo went downstairs and yelled "Elder Francis!" and I came running downstairs and I guess somebody broke our window and cut a whole through our screen and stole 300 pesos from Elder Gabuyo.  He didn't get into our house, he just used a stick and some how reached into our apartment and stole 300 pesos from Elder Gabuyo.  So that was interesting.  
We also had a birthday for one of our less actives grand daughter and I bought her a cake and some balloons and when we got there she was so happy and started to cry.  It was three little girls and they came up and hugged me and said thank you elder and they said that is one of the best birthdays they ever had.  I felt so happy and enjoyed the party that we threw for her. 
So that was my week and nothing too much is going on just getting ready to come home.  I am very excited to hear about Aiden getting taught by the missionaries and I would love to be there for it.  I should be home by August 25th on Thursday so that Saturday he could be baptized or the week after  I get home. Just tell them that. I love you all so much and miss you all so much too, take care Francis Family.
Elder Francis