I'm sorry that I couldn't email last week! We had no connection because of a tropical storm...but the good news is that I'm not getting married with a random Filipino woman. See mom, I told you I would take of care of it.
Well I just had one of the best, most emotionally and physically draining, intense weeks of my life. But it not only changed my mission, but my life. Let me explain why;
After our Mission Tour, President Balledos gathered all the zone leaders in the whole mission for a meeting. President wanted to change the mission. With that in mind, he decided to change our Standards of Excellence, which means our goal of number lessons that we should achieve each week. It's broken up in different categories but its intention is to push the missionaries and make sure we're working effectively and we have a goal in mind. So for our mission the goal was 25 lessons each week. And one of the burden of being a zone leader is you get a crappy area, because President expects that the leaders in the mission should be able to have success in those hard areas. So President told us that he wanted us to get 40 lessons in one week. Now let me back up for a second. Elder Y and I average about 20 lessons a week. When I was in Aringay, I was getting 35+ a week no problem. So, when I heard the challenge and knowing the stats of our struggling area, I'm scared to admit that I kinda doubted that it was possible for our area at that time. And then President told me something that I will never forget. He said,
"Elder Strader I'm not talking about numbers...I'm talking about faith..."
That hit me hard. Feeling a little ashamed of my lack of faith I prayed asking my Heavenly Father to help me to achieve the 40 lessons to help change the mission and my area. I asked him to give me strength and help me with my unbelief. I promised that I would be exactly obedient and I would put my 100% and in return He would bless my efforts and make it possible. So...we went to work.
Elder Y and I worked the hardest, I think the hardest we've ever worked in our lives. We fasted everyday the whole week, we prayed hard, we planned more effectively and we talked to everyone. Every time it got hard I kept saying out loud, "can't stop, won't stop." Once I explained it to Elder Y in Tagalog that became our companionship motto for the week. People were prepared for us and the lessons just kept coming. When we got our 40th lesson late Sunday night, I wanted to cry and shout praises to the Lord because I knew for a fact that we had witnessed a miracle. All the glory goes to Him because through Him...anything is possible.
I want to tell my family that I love them. I miss you all so much. I miss mom's cooking and our inside jokes. I miss the random wrestling matches in the kitchen to the deep gospel discussions with dad. I miss Brennan and us watching Netflix till 3am. I'm still not sure if I miss Maddie or not. I'm kidding I miss Maddie and her personality. I miss Donovan and his happy and obedient attitude. I miss playing on piano with Sydnie and Emyrie dancing. There's a lot of people and things I miss but...if I didn't come out here I would be missing out on a lot more. I love being a missionary. I love the Philippines and the people here. I love my Savior and I know He loves me. But I know He expects a lot from me and because of that...I can't stop and I won't stop sharing this restored gospel that has brought so much joy to me.
I'll see ya'll soon.
Your Valiant Missionary,