How are you? I love you! Can I just start off with saying that I love my cute companion! She is so fun and such a hard worker!
I just want to let you know that when people here say my name they pronounce it like "Tomas." Since I have been here so long, that is now how I say it as well, "Tomas." When I try to say it with an American accent it sounds weird. Like it can't come out of my mouth right. Plus, with my companion being from Australia, I have really picked up on her accent and so, when I speak, I just like a whole big mess of cultures right now (and yes, I just said that in my head with an Australian accent)! My companion says my accent sounds really natural. I could pass as Aussie! Look how many languages and accents I am going to come home with. (; Haha!
Anyways, I am so happy to write again this week. I can't believe it has already been a week. Time passes quickly when you are busy! I can't believe it is September. My head is still stuck back in June. Honestly, what happened to the time? I am now coming up on my last three months as a missionary, two more transfers and EVERYONE keeps reminding me. It is like such a rude joke in our mission to remind the "oldies" they are going home. Apparently, I am now considered an "oldie" (like when did that happen?). Really, I just wish everyone would stop reminding me and I could go back to being a greenie in Camiling. I just really need some more time...eh? There is so much still to do!
This week was good, pretty normal. The ward split announcement was made yesterday. We met our new bishop for Mabalacat 2, Bishop Manny Delacruz. He has been the YM's president, and now, he is the new bishop. He is really young, like he and his wife only have 1 kid, who I think is not even 10 years old yet. But they are both RM's and really excited about his new calling. He seemed really humble when we talked with him yesterday, apparently he was not expecting this calling at all. I am excited to work with him. He is excited to get involved in missionary work. Hurrah! We love involved bishops! I think this split will bring a lot of great changes to this work. I am excited to dive right in and help build this new ward. The members are super supportive and full of enthusiasm about the changes!
Next week is our first week as a new ward and we will start things off with two baptisms and confirmations! Jezreel and Thannia Orario are getting baptized this Saturday! They are so, so, so, excited. They apparently got through their interviews with flying colors. Hahaha, they are the most intelligent kids I know. I am happy for them and their family. Their mother just returned to activity and she is happy to see her children finally getting baptized. It has been a long and difficult journey for them. Their dad is super kind and always welcomes us into his home, but has yet to come to church or listen in on a full lesson. I believe it will happen though. But all in the Lord's timing. He is actually being prepared so when the time is right, he will be ready!
I have though a lot about forgiveness this week. Yesterday, we got a text from Tatay Jolly Yu saying that he was leaving his family, and no longer preparing to go to the temple, and lots of crazy things. We immediately went to his home and found Nanay Mamer in tears. When we got there she was in the process of cooking food for us, while crying. It was so sad. We sat down and talked about what was going on. She explained that Tatay was angry because he is struggling with one of the ward members who recently received a new calling in the ward. Apparently that member and his wife are the reason he went less active before. Something about gossiping about his daughters and it went around the whole ward and then he was hurt and got really angry and caused a scene because he is REALLY hot headed. Like really. So he hasn't let it go and he doesn't want to go back to church because he doesn't believe the Lord would let someone like that have a calling in the ward........ugh. This family is so amazing, that must be why Satan works hard to keep them from becoming an eternal family. Please remember them in your prayers. I really care for them so much.
As I listened to Nanay's story, I felt sadness in my heart as I realized that it was past feelings of pain and hatred and anger that was holding this family back. Not a single one of them has let it go. I did all I could to testify of the healing power of forgiveness, but to no avail.
It made me question something about myself. How often do I hold grudges against others or accuse them because of something they may have done wrong? I reflected on this a lot last night. Also, how often do I hold grudges against myself for mistakes I make?
Forgiveness is a tricky thing and the world would have us believe that it is nearly impossible to forgive and love someone who has hurt us and that people never change. Satan wants us to feel that some people are just not worth forgiving. But through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we know better. We are ALL brothers and sisters, we all have infinite worth and we all must learn to forgive others and even ourselves. Holding on to anger and bitterness hurts no one other than ourselves. We stop our own progression. We keep the pain and anger inside our own hearts. This not only keeps us feeling bad but this makes our Father so sad. There is nothing He can do until we allow the Atonement to work in our lives. Forgiveness can be hard for some, especially those who have been hurt but it is such a liberating experience if we can learn to let go.
I pray that this pain that the Yu family feels will heal. I pray that Tatay won't let this keep him from coming to church again. Pray for him, he really needs it right now.
I know the church is true! I am happy to be a servant for my Father and my Savior. I can feel their love manifest every second of the day out here.
I am happy everyone at home is happy. You are all in my prayers. Even Bowen's football team. Which must have worked since they are now 2-0! (; I can't believe I am missing the winning season! Oh well, handsome man, there is always next season, right!
I love you all so much.
Happy birthday to Courtney on Thursday, and Bowen on Sunday!!! (: You are all old!
Mahal Kita Family