Called to Serve

Called to Serve

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Return of Elder Zachary James Morris

Dear Brother and Sister Morris,

This is surely an exciting time as you await the return of your son Elder Zachary James Morris.  He is scheduled to return home on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Elder Morris has rendered faithful service and has achieved substantial personal growth. His willingness to learn and the effort he has put forth in the growth of the kingdom has been an inspiration to both members and missionaries alike. It has been a pleasure laboring with him in the Philippines Cebu Mission.

While here, Elder Morris has served with several companions and labored in various areas. He has served as both Junior Companion, Senior Companion, Trainer, District Leader, District Leader Trainer, Zone Leader and Zone Leader Lead. In these areas of increased responsibility he has served faithfully, performed his duties well, and rendered valuable service.

Here are the details about your son’s honorable release:
  1. We will provide an airline ticket for travel from Cebu to the airport nearest his home.
  2. Missionaries must travel directly home. Any exceptions are to be approved in advance by the Mission President and the missionary’s parents.
  3. The cost of any change of approved travel plans will be paid by the missionary.
  4. He is to report to his Stake President as soon as possible after his arrival home.
Thank you for raising such an exceptional young man. May the Lord’s choicest blessings be
poured out upon you and your family.

Warmest regards,

President Terry C. McCurdy
Philippines Cebu Mission

This is it!!

June 7, 2017

"The time is far spent; there are a few days remaining to publish glad tiding here in Cebu mission!"

I honestly can't wrap my brain around the fact that I will no longer have an assignment here on Monday and then released from being a missionary a few days later. I always watched my friends line up and take off thinking that it will never be me! My time will never come! Some part of me wishes that my time won't come, another part of me wants to go home and find inday hahahahaha!

Starting in premortal mission life with Elder Gali in the MTC and then being born here in Toboso Negros with Elder Noprada. Followed up be Elder Germain and then buggin out to Argao Cebu to followup train Elder Adap. Coequal with Elder Estanislao and then opening Pardo C Cebu with Elder Beretara. Making it 10 weeks with him before the emergency transfer and having a stake missionary, nga si Brother Mark Jayme, for 2 weeks. Afterwards, I got exiled to Siquijor where I was with Elder Artajo for the two transfers. Became District Leader after one of those transfers. Then I picked up my anak, nga si Elder Fernandez, and trained him for two more transfers on Siquijor. Receiving my first Zone Leader assignment in San Nicolas A with Elder Espiritu, then pushing two more transfers with Elder Putnam. After requesting to die off in Escelante I was shipped off to San Carlos where I never regretted it! Elder Eberhard (who shares the same first name as me) and then to be killed off by Elder Murdock. A total of six areas, 13 companions.

I baptized 21 people (counting two more THIS Saturday). 8 in Toboso: Mika, Rezamia, Patrick, Chris Merk, Gabriel, Ernesto (R.I.P), Victoria, and Kyle (who never got confirmed). 1 in Pardo: Billy John. 1 on Siquijor: Mae. 1 in San Nicolas: Kenneth. 10 here in San Carlos: Roque, Punay, Flora Mae, RoMari, Jill Beauty, Tony, Alfredo, Larry, and Liza and Antonnette this Saturday.

Last Monday morning I finished reading the Book of Mormon in Cebuano. I understood it! That makes 6 times in the past 2 years that I have finished that book. I also read the D&C once, PoGP once, and the New Testament once. (Sorry Old Testament! Didn't find time for you!).

So much happened and boy am I glad that I took a journal with me! Wrote an entry for every day! I am very blessed that my parents sent me a camera in the MTC. I wish I had taken more Photos of course but I have about 32 GB FULL of pics & videos.

After all that has been said, all I can testify is that I finally see the light in my life! After that experience of mine in the MTC, a quiet chastisement from the Lord, I haven't had depression since! I get very frustrated and angry when I cannot work because that is how I have figured out how to beat my depression, Service! I have always known that this church is true but now I know why! My eyes are open to many different things in life and religion is one. The Book of Mormon speaks to me each time i read it especially the last one I read in Cebuano! I have learned so much from that book that it draws my full attention! The latest verse that has been on my mind for the past 3 months is found in Moroni 7:45-48. I sustain our living prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson. His body may be weak but his mind is still sharp! I likewise sustain all the Apostles of the church as my guides back home. I know Christ lives. His teachings do lead to a happier life! Life isn't meant to be easy but at least it can be enjoyed!

This past week we baptized Alfredo and Larry! The sisters also added their baptism. The tall Filipino in the Center is the sisters baptism who was baptized by the more round Filipino.

We attended a wedding last Friday for Branch 1. The married two people and then baptized them right after our baptism.

We interviewed Liza and Antonnette Aclan for baptism this Saturday. They passed!

We had MLC last Monday and Tuesday. I Took my first picture with President and Sister McCurdy. 2 years and I finally get a picture with them! 

Well I have some stuff I need to get done! I will be seeing most of you inig uli nako! 

(Pics are the wedding, baptism, and the Martinez family as they went home from church last Sunday!)

- Elder Morris

Two More P-Days Left…

May 31, 2017

And the time is here when I get to announce that next p-day of mine will be my last. SO WEIRD! This past week was full of lots of work! We have scheduled 2 baptisms this Saturday, si Larry ug Alfredo will be baptized. They passed their interviews last Saturday and are good for this Saturday! We also will be interviewing the wife and daughter of Tony (the guy we baptized last week) this Saturday so that my last Saturday in the mission we shall have 2 more baptisms. That would cap me off at 21 baptisms in my mission. We will be leaving a lot more baptisms for next transfer -  Elder Murdock and his new companion will be harvesting them! We have a sister Leonessa who has made it to church 2 times and promised to come the next Sunday. We have a sister Vicinta, the one with polio, who really wants to be baptized and has made it to church once. We have a mother and 2 children of a recent convert namo that we are going to kuyog with to church this Sunday in hopes that they will be baptized here in a month from now. We also have a new investigator, a friend of Leonessa who accepted baptism here in 2 months that may be a good bet. Also 2 youth aged girls, si Jessa Mae and Regilien who have come 2 and 1 time. Also the gahi Catholic mother of Tony said she will try to make it to church this Sunday! That's a miracle! If she progresses well we may just baptize her too! Elder Murdock is lucky! 10 baptisms this transfer and if he works hard next transfer I don’t doubt that he can steal away with 5 more baptisms before he goes home! 

We worked out in Macasilao area. They are an hour away and are the only are in the mission that is not a Zone Leader area with a truck! They have to drive it to get to their area because it so walay klaro far away! I interviewed their baptism candidate and he passed. I then continued to work there for the day. I ran into a member family. They have been inactive for almost 9 years. This family taught me a lot! They have a daughter of 18 years old. She looks fine, talks fine but has a mentality of a 7 year old. The family doesn’t know what the disability of her is but I say she has autism. She reminded me so much of my younger brother! Same age, same situation except my brother can usually do a bit more physical things. The thing the frustrated me the most (and a big lesson I learned) was just how impatient and unloving the parents were towards their daughter! They spent the hour that we were there complaining about how their daughter can wash dishes, bathe herself, wash her laundry (she was blunt when she mentioned blood stains...), she always fights with the other kids, throws tantrums, can lunag (cook rice), can’t cook anything else. As in! I was a bit disgusted. We read Mosiah 4 and 14-15. They still didn’t get my message. I saw a huge lack of love and charity! From the words of Elder Holland:  

"I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally 'free at last'."

What is going to happen in the next life when you confront your friends of family or children who have suffered from disabilities like such? What are they going to say to us? "Thank you for your huge sacrifice in helping me my whole life when I could not"?  Or, "I can’t believe you would not help me in my time of need"? I tried my best to talk with the girl; I saw my own brother in her.

I think I have offended the mother of my friend who is in the Womens and Childrens protection facility. I followed up with the reading and worship of the mother (fully knowing that she hasn't been doing either for years). When she said she hadn't been doing either but that "hugot gyud ang akong pagampo!" (My prayers are still tight/strong i.e she is faithful in her prayers). I related a story to her about a hunter who is in the woods. He comes across a bear and decides to run. The bear chases him. The man then drops to his knees and prays "Father, please make this bear a Christian bear and that he won’t eat me!" Right then the bear catches up to the man. The bear also drops to his knees and prays "Father, please bless this food which thou hast given me!" I told her that her prayers aren't sufficient alone. You need to work! She didn't talk to me after that. Preach my Gospel teaches us, "Pray with love and charity. Pray for people by name.Ask for inspiration to help you understand and meet their needs. Pray for the welfare of contacts, investigators, new converts, and less active members. Pray for the members and priesthood and auxiliary leaders in your area. Pray for your family at home. Pray for your companion, other missionaries, your mission president. Pray to know how you can help others, then be willing to sacrifice in their behalf." Our prayers won’t be answered if we do not do our part. The first law of heaven is obedience. The second is sacrifice. How can we ever expect God to teach us or guide us if we are half-hearted? When a trial comes this is your time to come to know your God. How can He remember you if you don’t even remember Him! (think of the parable of the ten virgins "Ye knew me not!")

Last Friday night, the truck went down two big holes and the next thing we know is that the oil seal on the right front tire is broke and we have a huge leak of our power steering. We know have to use power arm steering! We can’t get her fixed here in San Carlos. The parts just aren't here so we need to take her to Cebu this Monday (which is also MLC) to get her fixed. 

Other than that the week has been another good week! A lot written down in my journal to share when I get home:3. T minus 13 days until I leave my area and make my way to Cebu where I will be having my departing missionary workshops and such and hopefully a great dinner at the Marco Polo hotel! MAHAL MAN SIYA! 

I would email pictures right now but I have forgotten my cord to email pictures with! Patay! Sigi, sa sunod na lang! 

Amping moha! 

-Elder Morris

Sunday, May 28, 2017

P-Day on Thursday

May 25, 2017

Yeah so some of you might be wondering why I didn’t email last night. We had our zone interviews on Tuesday and we had our zone conference yesterday so our pday was changed to today. 

Yesterday at zone conference I gave my farewell testimony... NUUU!!!! Honestly I spent the last 2 years watching people go up and give their farewell testimony and thinking that will never be me! Well that was yesterday! Time flies so fast! 

We were able to baptize brother Tony last Saturday! His family came and was supportive and all. His wife and daughter will be interviewed for baptism here on June 3 for baptism here on June 10 (my last Saturday). We have a handful of other investigators that will probably be kept for next transfer, si Loloy, Vicinta, Leonessa, Gary, Jessa Mae, Regilien-- as in we have a lot of potential here. And lucky si Elder Murdock; he gets to harvest so much here in San Carlos! 

My last week was full of great learning opportunities. We visited the girl who was raped the other month last Monday. We taught her and such. We also gave a special blessing to sister Vicinta who has polio and can’t really move around. 

We had a good conference yesterday where my comp and I taught in the conference. That is a new change. The Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders now teach in conferences! That was fun...  We also helped with a service project at like 7 in the morning. We hauled loads of rocks to a member’s house to lay them on the ground cuz their house is kind of a swamp. So we put down a new layer of rock to help them when it rains. After wards they washed my car for free! Free car wash! 

So far, so good. I am not so sure just how much else I should write! I hope that all of you are doing good at home and hopefully here in 20 days I will be able to see my family here in Cebu and the rest of ya'll a few days later. Amping moha! 

- Elder Morris

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Got Em!

May 17, 2017

This past week was a very successful week! Last Saturday I was finally able to baptize the Martinez family. Five people! Brother Tony passed his baptism interview last Monday night and is set for baptism this Saturday. If I really push things we will have 2 tatays ready for baptism the following week and then the wife and daughter of Tony wanted to be baptized with Tony as well on the following week. We then talked with a couple investigators, sister Leonessa and sister Vicinta, and if they come to church every Sunday for the next 3 weeks there is a chance that I could baptize them too on my last Saturday here! So there is a chance of baptizing a total of 12 people here in my last area! But you know how things usually work out so I am hoping for about 10 of those before I go home. By this Saturday I will have 6 here in this area! 

(The Martinez family at baptism.)

This past week was full of solid work. We found a couple walay klaro (not really clear) investigators. One of them is from my previous area and was taught by the sisters here. He told us all about how he was part of the drug cartel in my last area, had really bad family feuds to the point where they were killing each other. I took pictures of his really cool birds...

(The cool looking birds that I was holding.)

I feel like there should be more that I should say right now. I am all caught up on filling out my journal so I have much more there. I can’t seem to remember anything else! So yeah! I do hope that everyone is doing good back at home! It should be a fast last month full of great harvest and success! If I remember anything else I will let you know about it... if I remember haha! 

(The Cebu Temple from last MLC.)

-Elder Morris

Long Day

May 10, 2017

With transfers here in San Carlos all being conducted by me, we made it through them. I learned a great thing about myself that day! When I am under stress I start getting lots of things done; usually I lose friends in the process haha! We had many weird things happen with missionaries not being shipped out by their zone leaders on time, 3 new trainers in the zone, really stupid boat port fees we had to pay each time we entered the boat port... (like 5 times...), saying bye to E. Eberhard and saying hi to E. Murdock who will be killing me off here in 5 weeks. Yeah it has been fun. My whole zone is practically new! 9 people transferred in. We have 4 total trainers and trainees. It shall be a fun last month of establishing! 

So I literally just got back from Cebu. We had our MLC this past 2 days. The McCurdy’s messages were different. They remind me of 2 Nephi 1:13-14 --
 13 O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.
14 Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return; a few more days and I go the way of all the earth.

These verses really describe the feeling I had during their workshops. 

Many things happened. For one we will no longer have Zone Training Meetings which is something I have done monthly since I have been here. But for my last month I guess we won’t have them. It’s a worldwide thing BTW. Also stake or district missionaries are no longer a thing - worldwide. We as ZLs and STLs will be training at the transferly Zone Conferences now. It shall be fun! 

Elder Murdock is great! We were friends in previous areas. We are getting along and trying our best to get a lot of work done this week. 

As far as the work goes we are baptizing a family here this Saturday! A father, mother, and 3 girls - the Martinez family! I am super stoked for them! I love this family a lot! We also have plans to baptize a brother Tony the next Saturday. If he makes it to church this Sunday we will baptize him on the following Saturday. If all goes well we will them be baptizing 2 tatays the next Saturday (the 27). Larry and Alfredo made it their 4th time last Sunday and that is one requirement. Then if the Lord still decides to grace us we might have the chance for a June 3 baptism. I know I am sort of counting my chickens before they hatch and my eggs before the chicken lays them (with the June 3 one) but it gives me great motivation! We are hoping for 8 this month and hopefully 9 by the end of the transfer! A great way to die off in the mission! Keep praying for them! I know I will be! 

Other than that it is same old same old. I am tired cuz we woke at 4 30 to come home today. 11 in at bed and 430 up and out. Tired gamay. And stressed a little bit with finances in the zone and the hope of people progressing. 

Good news: The girl who I emailed about last time who got sliced up and raped survived miraculously! She has some major blood clots right now in her heard (I forgot if it was over or under the skull, I think under) but survived. We were hoping to make a visit to her later this day if we have time. Those things do change one’s life for good. The aunt told me that they are left with the hospital bill of about 90,000 pesos... again, no one here can afford that...

Other than that I think all is fine! Baptisms this weekend, Skype this Friday morning (last Skype). I am excited! Things are really looking up here! 

Well I hope you are all doing good back at home! I love you all and will be seeing you soon! 

-Elder Morris

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Last Transfer Begins


Well I did receive my last assignment here in my mission. I’m still in San Carlos and a Zone Leader. My new companion is Elder Murdock! He was my district leader in Central Zone while I was his Zone leader. This was when I was in San Nicolas with Elder Espiritu and Putnam. He is about 6 foot 3” and super buotan! He will be killing me off here:/ This area that I am in is fantastic! I love the people here so much! They are very nice. We have a family bring interviewed for baptism this Saturday. A Family! I have only been baptizing singles for my mission but now a father, mother, and three girls. The oldest son isn't joining though because of his work schedule but I don't doubt that when his schedule changes that he will be able to join as well. They are the Martinez family. 

We also have a brother Tony here. He is very nice and tells us every time that he wants to be baptized. His family is super Catholic but he is making his own choices. Both of these families are actually receiving tons of persecution for their choice to join:/. There are no members out in their area so they shall be the first. I admire their faith. They are telling us how they are so much happier in life too! The father Martinez has cut cold turkey his vices and told us yesterday how he is very grateful for the help our Savior has given him in doing so. Brother Tony tells us how he is always receiving persecution from the neighborhood but from our visits he actually feels happy! That is hard when you are in his shoes. I see true depression eating at him. He has suffered a stroke so he can’t really walk or talk all that well. People tell him that his illness came because of sin...BLAH! I see a light in his eyes from our visits with him:).

(Tatay Tony)

We also have two other tatays who are progressing rather unexpectedly well! I didn't think that THEY would be the ones to progress well but Tatay Lary and Tatay Alfredo have come to church 3 times now and are fully open to baptism! They are very poor and live far away but they still make it to church. They told me one thing that I have only heard in General Conference talks. They told us that ever since we have been visiting with them that they need to cut out their vices (Gambling, drinking etc) and they have! We haven't even taught them about that! They just felt like they should:). We also have a sister Leonessa who made it to church last Sunday too. She belongs to a small Christian church that I have never heard of. She is so very nice and is very receptive to what we have to share. Hopefully she can receive a full witness of the restored gospel and be baptized here in 4 weeks. 

(Tatay Lary, Alfredo, Leonessa.)

If all goes well we are looking at straight baptisms weekly for the next hopefully 5-6 weeks! That is if things go well. About 12 people are on my radar and I know that 8 of them will progress until baptism!  
My week was full of fun adventures. We went house shopping for some other elders in the zone. I can sort of now see what that will be like! We also took the Senior couple around last Thursday to do apartment checks. We had fun adventures with them. We had exchanges with a missionary only 5 weeks into the mission. That was great fun! Reminds me of when I first worked with my zone leader, elder Matthews, when I was in my 2nd transfer and he was about to go home! 

A sad story we heard was when we went to our group out is Cabagtasan. That morning a man went into the house of one of the member families. With a knife he sliced up the face of a 14 year old girl and then raped her. The whole group was in shock that day telling us that she is clear in Bacolod (the big city on the north end of this Island) in critical condition. The head trauma is extremely bad and TBH her life is forever changed. The man was caught by the girls grandma and is in custody awaiting trial. 

That day we also got a phone call from the Zone Leaders in Escelante zone. This was my first zone. They told us how they hit a curve going 100 KPH, blew a tire and slammed into several trees completely ripping off the front and rear bumper of their small Toyota and smashing in the door rear to the driver. The driver had broken his collar bone. A clear break! With concussions and such they are in Cebu right now, hopefully coming back to their area today in slings but well enough to work :) Their car is wrecked! If I can send a video I will show you their car! If not then you will have to wait 6 weeks. It is honestly a surprise that they made it out the way they did! Missy (the car) is dead but what a trooper she is! They still drove her back to Cebu! Even with all her dents she still got them to Cebu... I told Elder Tanaki that if Missy was a girl that he should marry her! HAHA! She took so much punishment and still continues! 

Other than that the week was maora gihapon (same old same old). I am not so sure how to attach videos... basta. 

(Me and our kuyog, brother Zelly at a chicken restaurant)

I hope all is well at home! Sorry for the dark pictures! My camera isn't they most high tech thing!  

-Elder Morris