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

I see that no one has made an attempt to translate the joke of the last sign

April 26, 2017

The joke behind that last picture is that the one on the left says that their chicken is better with sauce and the one on the right says that their chicken is better because it has no sauce haha! 

Basta the time has come where I get to tell you that next week I will already have transfer calls. I don’t expect one bit to transfer but I do expect to get a new kauban cuz E. Eberhard has been here a while. This next call will be my final assignment. My last transfer. my last 6 weeks:( And next transfer is going to be busy! 2 MLCs, 2 ZTMs, 1 zone conference, and 1 zone interviews. Paspas gyud oy! Fast.

This past week was full of some good stories to tell. A lot of wisdom learned and such. Keeping the journal updated every night is lisod but I have still managed to go back and write something for each day:)

Starting out on Wednesday I caught a glimpse of true evil in the world. TBH these next two stories are about pure evil doings told by others I have come in contact with. They are rather quite sad. 

Upon visiting our recent convert who has been gone for the past 2 1/2 months she told us about her recent adventure to the Bohol Island where her parents are. She told us that she left because of her father. The story is that the father wanted to sell his land but a squatter on the land didn't want to move and so there was a rather large contention. A few nights or so past and as the tatay was leaving his little tiny side road store he returned to the store to grab his bananas and right behind him was another man who shot him about 5 times. The most deadly was a shot in the lower stomach. The man fled on a motorcycle while tatay bled out but not enough to kill him. A by-passer found him on the road and rushed him to the hospital where he survived. The sister whom we were visiting went to Bohol to help out. She now has to pay a huge debt of over 100,000 pesos! People here just can’t even afford that! So she is super stressed about the debt and such. It is assumed that the man who wouldn't move off of the property is the one who hired the hit man that night. 

The second story is about a little girl I met. She was so cute! I didn't get a picture though. She is deformed a bit, very skinny. She was 7 months in the womb when her mother decided to have an abortion. She then spent the next 2 months in the ICU until she was able enough to leave. The mother left the hospital in Manila to go get money and never returned. The mom apparently tried to abort her baby because she broke the law of chastity and was being shamed by her family. Do we all know of a story of a person who broke the Law of Chastity and it lead to him killing the woman's husband? Well this lady almost killed this young girl through her abortion and we all know that Christ has taught that even if you have the intent to do so it is just as good as actually doing it! Not to mention she just abandoned the baby at the hospital. I found her, 7 years old now, at a member’s home who took her in. She is super cute. Cognitive too! But she gave me a high five after several struggles with her shyness. 

I actually have a few more stories to share but will probably have to wait until I am home. 

As far as the work went we did pretty good last week. We had 7 investigators come to church last week, 3 different households. One family, the Martinez family is looking really good for May 13:) I am super excited for them! A couple other tatays came for their 2nd time as well so hopefully they will continue! 

We had many exchanges this past week. Thursday was out in Macasilao. The ONLY Elders in the mission who have a truck and are not ZLs or APs because their area is so far in the mountains. I took lots of selfies with the goats and cows and karabows:) 

Then the next Sunday I worked with a member from the branch here, si brother Jahm. We crossed rivers and such. He fell into the river while I barely brushed my shoes with the water haha. Then last Monday we went with the Assistants on exchanges. And yesterday I worked with one of my old companions from Siquijor, si Elder Artajo who is now training. I have spent maybe one or two days this past week with my actual companion! Lisod oy! 

Had a CSP where we helped make a lady’s fence. We had zone interviews last Monday and Zone Conference last night. We had about 14 other elders stay at our apartment yesterday night because of the conference and we had to entertain them so that is why I worked with Elder Artajo and such cuz he stayed at my place. 

An old friend stopped by this past Monday too! My old Zone Leader from when I was in Argao, Carcar just randomly showed up at my house with fast food breakfast! Elder Wilson is his name or morag brother Tyler Wilson. Basta it was great to see him again.

A lot happened and this upcoming week is going to be very busy... it already has been! Bisan pa niana the work is still happening! We have been having a lot of success here! Probably the most success I have had in any area of mine! I love it here it is an adventure every day! 

I hope you all are doing well! Take care! Amping! 

-Elder Morris

A Bit Different Than Last Week

April 19, 2017

Saturday and Sunday. We were up in the Cabagtasan area that weekend where we stayed the night there and went to church in the small group out there. We only had 16 people show up to church at the small group and I got to give an amazing talk that was prepared in the 5 minutes that the sacrament was passed! I talked about Easter and the resurrection. I will admit that my talk was the only time that I heard about Easter OR the resurrection. This past Easter was quite different than I had thought. Due to it being a Catholic nation here they celebrated Holy Week.

On Thursday we went on splits with the Elders in Valehermoso. On Friday morning when returning home we were waiting at the bus stop and I look down the road and see 2 guys dressed in red robes with their faces covered marching down the road carrying a huge wooden cross. People were behind them beating them with sticks and branches and such. I videotaped it because Y.O.L.O. What I learned later is that this is common for people to do! I was told that they believe that if they suffer like Him they will receive a forgiveness of their sins...

On Friday night we parked the car to go and eat some fried chicken (cuz every other place with food was closed!) and the next thing we know,  a police brigade comes by and cuts off all traffic to the road on which we parked and a HUGE group of people came marching down the street with super loud microphones shouting a rehearsed Catholic prayer. They had some big named Bishops and Priests in the lead. It was quite odd for the Mormon missionaries to be 30 feet away from a group of about 1000, especially since we have been warned to stay away from big groups of people.

On Sunday morning we woke at about 4:30 in the morning (this is in our other house in the middle of the jungle of Cabagtasan) to another loud speaker going off shouting a rehearsed Catholic prayer and a rather large group of motorcycles tailing behind the microphone. Elder Eberhard and I yelled at them from inside the house haha.

Sunday, the alleged day of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead, was dead silent and clear that it went by unnoticed...I have a thought about all of this. So if the Lord Christ did not raise from the dead then His sufferings would have been in vain because we all would be cast out in the last day, good or bad (see 2 Nephi 9). But because He lives we all will live also and thus there is purpose in His sufferings. I don't understand why the Resurrection was the thing least celebrated?

One thought. It dawned on me that there is a difference between these two: commandments and traditions. Commandments come from God and must be kept at all times. Traditions come from man and are nice as long as they are in compliance with the commandments of God. When a tradition interferes with upholding a commandment of God or contradicts a commandment of God then is the tradition to not be upheld by the people. Sadly I witnessed a lot of traditions being kept by the people here. Hardly any of the commandments were though... A handful of these traditions here were actually in contradiction to the commandments of God.

The rest of my week was good. A lot of just plain out working:) We have a handful of really good investigators! I will admit that this is probably the most fruitful area I have been in since my first area over 1 1/2 years ago with 9 baptisms. We have the Martinez family, 5/6 people in the family our progressing investigators! They are really golden – I can’t describe how golden they are! We then are teaching the sister of one of the parents of the Martinez family. We have just recently started to teach her but she has come to church 2 times (3 times for the Martinez family). Her name is Josephine and she has a child that is joining her. 

(Martinez family on the bday of their eldest daughter)

We also have tatay Tony. He suffered a stroke a few years ago and in partially paralyzed. He speaks with a slur and can’t really move so he requires assistance to get to places such as church. He is the only one in his family that is really interested in our message but he still makes his wife or daughter take him to church. He told us that he wants to be baptized!  We then have the Ricamata family. We honestly have been finding so many investigators through that family. We have 3 main people from them— Josephine, Lary, and Alfredo. The two tatay (Lary and Alfredo) have already made it to church and they told us that they planned to go last Sunday but due to the rain they couldn't make it off of their mountain they live on. Josephine is the nanay and is always reading the Book of Mormon. I will admit that it is rare to find someone who is actually reading the book! like not just the assignments that we leave but reading more on her own. She is really good.

We found two new young ladies this past week. A sister Irene and her sister Christine. They are 17 and 18 and are really good! They truly pay attention in the lessons! -that’s not common BTW. They even have read more from the Book of Mormon than what we have assigned! Again, uncommon. Their parents told us when we asked them if we could teach their kids that "they have their own agency" and left it at that. One issue here is that once you find a really good person to teach they usually are killed off by one faithless person:/ Gina from Pardo. Jovie from Siquijor. Bibot from Siquijor. I forgot his name but a tatay from Argao. etc. But the parents are letting us teach their kids:) so I hope that all goes well! We will have to wait on teaching them though because there was a recent death in their family. It is mango harvest season now (YES!!!) and their uncle fell off from the top of one of the trees and died so they are going to the Mindanao Island to help with the newly widowed wife and 4 kids under 11 years old.

Our really progressing IBD recently moved, Jahar.

We have 2 kids who are part members to member parents that we teach every Wednesday. They live so far away it takes us 1 1/2 to drive out to their house. It is so far into the mountains that it is cold there at nights! WHAT! COLD IN THE PHILIPPINES! Yup, that’s how far up a mountain they live. We also have a handful of other part-members in that region that we are returning to tonight because they have recently returned from Bohol (The place where that terrorist attack happened last week) because their father was shot last month (and survived:)). So we shall hit them up later and begin visiting them again. One of the members is our recent convert.

Yeah that about does it for our main investigators. We are flying through a lot of people lately that it is crazy! We always have something to do and someone to go to here. We are kept pretty busy.

Other than that the week was a "Semana ra gihapon". Just another week. A handful of other things happened that I don’t have time here to write but have it all in the journal:) I will honestly be sad if 3 things were lost: 1) my camera with all my pictures, 2) my quad, it has all my written notes and tons of wisdom in it:), 3) my journals. The memories are worth it to me :) I can honestly look back on any day of my mission and remember what happened on that day due to the journal. It is a blessing.

(Eating sugar cane!)

(I got to ride a bike again!)

(My project last Wednesday)

(I have a car!)

(If anyone can tell me what is funny about this last picture I will buy you a chocolate bar. Oh and my Filipino friends can’t answer it! Sorry:/)

Well I hope that you are all doing well! I wish the best for you all! Love you all too! Amping! (Cebuano), Halong! (Illongo), Ingat! (Tagalog), Tsues (German), Ofa atu (Tongan), Adue (French), BYE! (Murican).

-Elder Morris

Halfway Through the Transfer

April 12, 2017

And like I said before I am halfway with the transfer! Halfway through the companionship because I am almost positive Elder Eberhard won’t be killing me off in the mission. I like my comp. We get along just fine! No issues what so ever. Just another great simple companionship! 

Money has been very tight these past 3 weeks. We have what is called Zone Fund. In it we have about 15000 pesos (roughly about $300 dollars). We reimburse other missionaries on their expenses that aren’t supposed to be paid through the normal support system - ie medical reasons, travel over 45 minutes or for uncommon meetings, bike repair, gasoline for the truck, etc. When I first got here we had $0.00 and so we had to get some more. Got about 10000 and reimbursed half the zone that same day and had nothing left over. So we sent in for it again and got our full 15000 and last Monday reimbursed the other half of missionaries and have 100 pesos left! ($2). I am really learning budgeting here in the mission cuz me and my companion are still in debt! E.E still has some 7,000 pesos to reimburse and I have a couple hundred. It makes things interesting dealing with all this money. I guess I can't wait for real life when I am no longer dealing with the hundreds but the thousands! 

This past week was extremely busy! We only had one full day of work last week. Mon-Wed we were in Cebu for MLC. Thursday was Zone training meeting, Sat- Sun was General Conference. We probably only had about 15-16 hours of actual proselyting this past week! And it was amazing what happened last week. We have here a mission standard for finding new investigators weekly (NIs), having Investigators who have committed to baptismal dates (IBDs), Investigators at Sacrament (I@Sac), and weekly baptisms (B/C). The standard is 10, 10, 10, 1 per week. I have never hit that standard in my past 22 months but this past week we found 10 new investigators, we had 13 people committed to baptism, we didn’t have a baptism though:/ but 10 people showed up to Church last Sunday! I have never had so many investigators come to church at once! 10! It honestly made me so happy to see that in the week that I have probably proselyted the least we had the most success!    

One big key to it all is simply faith. Do the numbers matter? That is depending on the Lord. Can the Lord reveal to us where every golden investigator is at? Sure He can! So then why does He not do that? Faith is a huge principle here. Can the Lord reveal to a naughty or disobedient missionary where the golden people are? Sure He can! But what would that do for the naughty missionary? Will he be converted? Or will he still go home and soon become a less active because he never really cared or was faithful from the beginning? On the other hand if you have a dedicated servant who works so hard every day to follow the Lord and sees no success (number wise) what will become of him when he goes home? I feel that one who in consecrated to the Lord no matter the numbers will remain active the rest of his life and bring up righteous posterity. These are my thoughts as I pondered this past week. Zone averages were extremely low. To be honest the mission wide stats are the lowest they have been in the past 3 years but why did I all of a sudden have such great success? Let it be wisdom in the Lord. One lesson I learned is that it is possible to reach these seemingly impossible numbers (and remember that each number represents a person). I told my Zone last Thursday during our ZTM that I am now going from walking through my mission (think training) to running (think the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th area of mine) to finally flying (last 12 weeks)! Last time I checked a bird flies faster than I can run (and I run very fast). What is needed here is a missionary who endures to the end with faith. That is what lead to a small chastisement to my zone last Monday as the zone averages were extremely low. 3 areas with 1 NI, 15 lessons and with full weeks of work! Not acceptable. I understand that you can have a faithful missionary who gets 0 progression. Let it be wisdom in the Lord. But he is a success because he did as he was commanded but the problem that I see here with many missionaries is faithlessness and if you remember from several previous emails of mine I hate faithlessness. Understandable that some missionaries may not know how to work most effectively. That is ok; the grace of the Lord helps on that part and the missionary will learn as he becomes experienced but when I see missionaries who are over a year in the mission and acting like he is just out of 12 weeks training... unacceptable.  The standard is set. The Lord has spoken. Who will step up to the plate? 

I was very inspired by many General Conference talks this past weekend. Even though Priesthood session was in Illongo (that’s not even my mission language!) and I didn’t understand it, I enjoyed the talks. My favorite was D. Todd Christofferson --very straight forward with his message. A bit deep but he who has ears let him hear. Second would be Elder Costa’s talk for investigators. Our ten people who came to church talked about his talk the most and they really were touched by it. I learned this yesterday as I visited with them all and they all told me how they enjoyed his talk. One investigator who came for his first time, tatay Tony, told us how he wants to be baptized! I am so excited! Work is progressing here and it really is thanks to the Lord. A lot of times I feel a bit unworthy of such great blessings that have come but I am very grateful for what the Lord does in the lives of others. This is true happiness. Basta, I am just excited to see what happens here in the next few weeks. We don’t have any meetings for the next 2 weeks so that means 2 weeks of straight up work! Woohoo! 

One funny story… I find the little tiki lizards all over. Last night I found a little baby one, captured it in my hands and threw it at an Elder Quidez. He doesn't like lizards and he freaked out like a little girl! Oh it was so funny! 

Well any who, I hope to be able to finish stronger than I have ever. I am now implementing my goal for the last 6 weeks of my mission which is to carry my Cebuano Book of Mormon (Basahon ni Mormon) around and not my English. It is a bit rough at first because I am not so used to the Cebuano but I have been doing this periodically for the past few months. I hope to be so good at scriptures and Cebuano that I can be totally Cebuano for my last transfer. Transfer goals! I am so far in 3rd Nephi in reading my BoM in my mission language. I do understand it:) 

I am doing well. Still a bit quiet just because I've always been quiet but I can say that even though I don’t express joy all the time like we see others do, I am happy though. It has been years since I have seen the depression that ate at me before my mission. The key is to focus on the Savior and His teachings. Even if some how He is not a God and this is all just not true, the Saviors teachings of lifestyle are the best teachings that have ever been taught. So if you out there don’t want to follow Jesus Christ our Lord then I invite you to at least try living the life that He has shown us. It is a happier life. 

-Elder Morris

And the Week

April 5, 2017

I will admit that right now I am a bit sick. We had our MLC this past Monday and Tuesday. We just got back from Cebu and I am a bit sick from the boat! I almost heaved several times... yeah not feeling so great right now! One thing I learned from my mission: I hate to travel! 

Again, it was one of those super long weeks with many things happening. The biggest thing on my mind is the change in my attitude and diligence these past few days. I love MLC because it always gets me super fired up for the work! The mission has actually tanked in the stats this past 3 months. Since the new changes in reporting and the schedule the stats have flown!... way DOWN!!! Pres was really worried and so we had long discussions on that. It was the topic this last MLC, last month’s MLC and the month B4! I will admit that lately I just have been going through the motions. I haven’t been the most dedicated or diligent. I am not lazy but sort of just going through the motions. Depression has been sneaking back in lately and we all know that that is a bit hard to get over but this past week has really inspired me to start flying now! Thinking that I have started out walking in training, running in area 2-4, I really should be flying now diay ba? Last area was a bit difficult but time to bounce back! I will start flying to the end! 

Elder Gali whispered to me in the temple last night "69". I was like "dude... we are in the temple..." and he was like "DAYS LEFT! 69 days before we are home". I should be flying at this point! Using everything that I have ever learned and be maximizing it! Well I am fired up a bit right now and can’t wait to start implementing what has been revealed to me these past few days. 

We do have our Zone Training Meeting to conduct tomorrow. We also have Sat. and Sun. Gen Conf this weekend. I am stoked for it! This really means that Friday is our ONLY day in which we have a full day to work this week! Ok ra! Mao ra gihapon! Waay problema! 

So we had a temple session yesterday night. The ZLs on the Negros Island get to do a session after the MLCs cuz we can’t make it home on the same day. Many questions entered me head last night about the temple. I guess me and my Grandma Owings will have a long talk about that when I get home! 

I got to see my apo! My trainee is training so I got to meet my grandson! He is Elder Manu from New Zealand. He is super cool and will definitely continue the blood line that we are a part of. Elder Smiler (A.P) Elder Noprada (legendary ZL) Elder Morris (yours truly) Elder Fernandez (he honestly is just a legend) and now Elder Manu (he is Mauri so they are naturally amazing missionaries). He is a big guy too. He makes my anak look super duper small haha. 

The rest of the week was mao ra gihapon with work (same old same old = mao ra gihapon)-- being sea sick on 2 boats, eating a ton of food since I have been here but not gaining an ounce! siyerte! I do have a pain in my hand from when I broke it way back in my Jr year of hockey up in Vernal. The pain has come back... 

Hmm I am not so sure what else to say. I feel like I need to be entertaining but as of now I am blank. Again, grateful I am for the journal. OH! WAIT! I got a new souvenir! I can't tell you about it though:) I got it for free but I will have to tell you all about it when I get home. 68 days now. 

I hope that you all have a good day. I know that most of you are sleeping now so AMPING! Love you all! 

-Elder Morris

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Fist Week in San Carlos!

March 29, 2017

I honestly can’t describe my first week here. SO much happened and I am glad for the journal!

Starting with last Wednesday after email we went around to some families. We saw Tatay Rico and I said good bye to him and also this nanay Abie who is so very nice and is always present at our lessons but isn’t investigating. We said bye to them and then went to probably the family that I was most close with, the Alidon family. The nanay gave me a shell chandelier that is so fragile that I feared it breaking on transfers but alas it survived :)

We took off early Thursday morning and got to San Carlos rather quite quickly. By about 12 I was already on the other island and with Elder Eberhard (oh and my new TRUCK!) Elder Eberhard is great! He does not speak any English. Cebuano na lang. He is really good at the language due to his dedication to speak it. My Cebuano isn’t so good. Probably my biggest regret from my whole mission is not really learning the language as much as I should have. I have 11 more weeks to go; maybe I can master it by the time I go home.

My area is bukid gyud (rural). We drive out to the middle of nowhere to visit the one person and their cow. We do have a lot of potential here though! There are a lot of IBDs and people going to sacrament. It is a branch out here but they have a nice church building. We also have a small island as part of our area that we get to visit. We also have a group that we are to visit. They live about 1 1/2 hours away up a mountain in the middle of the rice patties. Life is fun with a truck:)

As far as adventures go, one of our investigators caught a komodo dragon in the jungle. So what did I do? I took it by the head and took a selfie with it! I know they are dangerous but he was tied down. It got a bit scary later cuz we put a big bucket over him while we taught and as we took the bucket off he had managed to escape from the bands. He was not happy.  Our investigator jumped on it and pinned its head down and retied him up. They feed him the big toads here.

We went up to the group last Saturday and stayed the night until Sunday. The place was so cool! It is far up a mountain so we had some amazing views! The cute little meeting house was also our house that we stayed in. The night got so cold that I had to grab for a blanket! This place is way up in the mountains! A nice old lady there would feed us all of our meals there. Church was fun. About 3 men and a bunch of R.S and Primary kids - 25ish attendance.

We have a new senior couple here so last Sunday we went on splits and E. E. had me go with the couple to some visits. We got lost of course as we tried to find these places at the late afternoon but had some good quality time with the Moons. On Tuesday (yesterday) we took them around to ALL of the apartments and churches here in San Carlos Zone. I got to see all of the areas and such. They are all branches but they have very nice meeting house established.

Other than that the week was good! Lots of things happening that I suddenly forgot but lucky me that I keep a journal. The internet here is extremely slow and I can't upload photos cuz of the pagka-slow. So maybe some other time!

I wish you all the best! Amping mo diha!

-Elder Morris

Sunday, March 26, 2017

And Transfers!

March 22, 2017

When I was on Siquijor my trainer was the one who called me and gave me my new assignment. He shouted "I have a new apo!" meaning "I have a new grandson" (implying that I am now training). Well last night I got to call my trainee and shout to him "I HAVE A NEW APO!" I am finally a true lolo in the mission:') They grow up so fast!

My call was also in. Staying a zone leader; I will be shipped off tomorrow morning to San Carlos 2A. This is on the Negros Island and is right next to my first area! So this looks like my last area, making 6 in all: Toboso Negros. Argao Cebu, Pardo Cebu, Siquijor Siquijor, San Nicolas Cebu, and now San Carlos Negros. My new companion in Elder Eberhard (American). He follow-up trained my trainee. He went to Toboso when I left. He went to Siquijor when I left. This should be good :) He is my jr batch so he goes home in 4 1/2 months (I in 3) so I don’t doubt that we will only have one transfer together but basta, this shall be good:)

This past week had many fun things happen! In a lesson with EmEm Alidon a man came in looking for 2 members. He had a pistol and apparently was an assigned hitman looking to cap my two friends... I almost pulled an “LDS Missionary in Brazil” and almost took his gun before beating him! (Yes we heard the story!) Jokes, but no this guy was looking to kill this small family and when he learned they weren't there he took off.

I got to baptize a sister last Saturday:) Yeah it wasn't our area but it was our ward:) I always love baptizing.

Our investigators are doing well. We have a tatay Rico and Sister EmEm that are doing well and should be harvested by the end of April. And a few other small people here and there.We had a bet with the STLs last week to see who can get the most work done. The looser had to make a meal for the winners. Well last Monday morning I made my favorite sudan - Pininyahang Manok:) and we ate it in the hour before district meeting. We lost by 1 new investigator - 14/15. Either way, I left a bunch of potential progression.

A few other activities include going to the Amadala (think Star Wars). It is a coffee shop owned by the bishop here. It is Star Wars themed. I got this huge Chocolate shake thing.

All is good here. Just going to enjoy my last few months here and try to get as much work done as I can before the big time comes.

I love you all back at home!

-Elder Morris