Wow that was a close one. You really think a Super Typhoon can scare me off? Hahaha but really I'm okay. I've been here for 3 months and NO TYPHOON. So when I heard there was a Super Typhoon headed our way and we had to prepare with our 72 hour kits and emergency funds...I was pretty pumped up. But I guess all those prayers from Houston, Texas were heard because, the Typhoon didn't even touch us. WAY TO SPOIL ALL THE FUN. THANKS A LOT.
Other then that false alarm it's been a pretty good week. Transfers are next week and I finish my training. Elder T thinks he's getting transferred and that I'll probably train but I hope he doesn't. There's so much I still don't know (like Tagalog for example).
I know for a fact I was meant to be here. Sometimes I feel like the Philippians is still stuck in the 80's. Every bus, trike or jeepney we travel on always has 80's music blasting. We walk through neighborhoods and people are jamming out to Bon Jovi everyday. I love it. Just the other day we're on a bus and Chicago, "You're the Inspiration" was playing. "No way" I yelled out, "this is my mom and dad's wedding song!" And I joined the other Filipinos on the bus as we sung along. (I'll repent later). Dad, I have seen about 12 red GEO-METRO's and I'm flooded with childhood memories. I know you loved that car.
Elder T and I make a pretty good team. Every time we walk around I always talk to random people, but after some small talk that is usually the extent of my Tagalog. So I then talk to and play with the kids, while Elder T talks to everyone else. It actually has been working pretty well. For example one of our area's we teach is an area that missionaries from the past haven't had much success in. For some reason people don't trust the missionaries and think we're here for their money. But every time we go to that area, there's a bunch of Filipino kids running around playing sports. So I join in with them. The first couple of weeks we didn't teach many lessons there but the kids we're always excited when I showed up so they could pick me to be on their team. After a while the parents come outside and watched us play. While I play with the kids the parents go up to Elder T and ask him why is that American playing with the kids? Why is he so happy? Of course Elder T explains how we're missionaries and we're just to serve and share these message that make's us so happy. Now, the doors have been opened for us. People want to hear our message. Every time we walk through the neighborhood all the kids yell,"Si Elder Strader dito! Tara na!" (Elder Strader is here! Let's play!) And then we commenced in playing a Filipino version of baseball. I'm so grateful for the talents the Lord has blessed me with. Although I can't speak Tagalog yet, I'm able to use the talents that I do have, while I can work on my weaknesses.
Well I love being a missionary. I love the challenges the Lord gives us. Sometimes we complain about our trials, hard times or problems. Why does this happen to me? But those are times that we come closer to God. It's like the story of the Gardner and the Fig Tree. The Gardner comes and see's the wild fig tree with long branches but it's not bearing any fruit. The Gardner then cuts of the branches really short so it grows back stronger. But when he got done cutting he thought he saw a tear drop on the Fig Tree as if it was crying. He thought he heard the Fig Tree,"Why did you cut my branches? I was such a big tree! Why did you cut me down?" To that the Gardner responded, "You weren't bearing any fruit my little fig tree. Don't worry I know your potential. You can't see now but it will be worth it in the end. With my help I can make you a beautiful tree with much fruit. One day you'll say...thank you Gardner....for loving me enough...to cut me down."
Sometimes the Lord cuts us down and we don't understand why, but He know's our potential. And with His help we can be beautiful and bear much fruit. I know this Church is true. I know the gospel is for everyone. I know anyone can change and feel the peace the Atonement can bring. I know God loves us and knows us personally. I love my family. I know families can be together forever. I know the Book of Mormon and the Bible support each other and are both Words of God. I'm grateful for my challenges because without them I would never improve and with that I say...
Thank Gardner for loving me enough....to cut me down.
Your Valiant Missionary,