Today was a big day for us. We fasted that our investigators and less active members would come to church today. As it turned out most of them came and we got a few extras that we hadn't counted on seeing. Our friend Jed came to church completely unannounced and stayed for the whole block meeting. We were able to help them get jobs at the Misibis Resort and Venezia Hotel. It was good to see him after a few weeks. The Sister missionaries had dropped by to see him earlier in the week so that may have prompted him to come to church.
I had gone out earlier in the week with Elder Schmitt and Nacionales and we had some awesome visits. One woman in a family we visited had told us about a dream she had. Two men dressed in white came to see them at her home and later three men came dressed in white. After she had the dream, Elder Schmitt and Nacionales tracted into her family and taught them the discussions. Sometime later in the week I joined the two elders and visited her again quite unaware of her dream. When I joined the Elders for the lesson, during the lesson I felt prompted to ask her: "Sister Mapa, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be Baptized?" She responded "yes" subject to her husband's approval. I then invited her to church and asked if her husband could take off an hour on Sunday to attend church with the family. The next time the Elders went by to visit her she told them about her dream experience. I was quite excited to see if they would be coming to church so I arranged to attend our Sacrament meeting then leave to go to Daraga to see if she showed up. I was ecstatic to see she was there with her sister and three children. Within a short time her husband joined them. It was awesome. We also saw a couple who were less active that we visited earlier in the week who came with their daughter.
Meantime I went back to Legazpi to see our investigators and less actives. One was Brother Murilla whom we brought to church with us. He stayed for the whole meeting and it was inspiring to see him come two weeks in a row now.
After Fast and Testimony meetings in both wards, I was able to go out with the Zone Leaders in Daraga (we have two sets in Daraga) to visit some families they have been working with. It was the hottest day of the year so far and the Mission President told those of us who were fasting to make sure we take water if we went out tracting that afternoon because several had been getting sick from not enough water.
The ZL's decided to take me to the "mountain" where there was an entire family they had been teaching and they were "golden". This couple lives about as far in the back country as any they had visited, but since it was a referral and they were so receptive they have been teaching them. On our long hike though the jungle and coconut groves they told me that she carried their 5 month old son while she and her other 8 sons walked down the mountain at 5:00 Am in the morning to they could be at Sacrament meeting at 6:00 AM. They all made then made the whole trek back after meetings. I had to meet this woman, she was amazing.
We kept hiking and hiking passing a very small compound of beautifully maintained Nippa huts along the way, then we turned almost straight uphill for the last leg of the climb. Elder Esplen and Dewey assured me we were almost there. I think they were surprised I could climb with them, but once we reached the top of the mountain there was the family bamboo hut. We were drenched in sweat but there was a nice cool breeze at the top so the perspiration acted as a coolant with the air blowing on us. The woman (need to get her name again) was there watching us as we approached and was happy to see us. The large hut had been damaged somehow and was very much off kilter. I thought I was seeing things. She made a funny comment about her crooked house (her husband as taking the afternoon siesta). When we got settled we met all nine boys (the youngest is just 5 months old). The Elders asked if they had read their reading assignment and to my surprise they all had done it. They sat quite reverently as we taught them the lesson. I was so impressed with how well behaved and respectful these little boys 2-15 years old were.
After the lesson, she offered us some "buco", and even though we were still fasting we decided that we shouldn't turn this lady down who had so little but was willing to share. First we got the coconut milk. She showed us that she had washed all the glasses and poured hot water on them to rinse them off ("so you won't get sick"). Then she cut the top off the green coconuts and took a small knife or something to scrape the slimy meat off the inside of the shell leaving it inside. It looked like white noodles when she was done. She added condensed milk to it and served it to us with a spoon. I was not really excited to eat it, but after the first bite I realized this was a real delicacy and ended up loving it.
We thanked her for her generosity and said good-bye to she and the boys and we headed up hill to a point where we could see the entire area around the mountain. It was a truly beautiful site. We saw ocean on one side, coconut trees as far as you could see on one mountain after another, then to the front was majestic Mt. Mayon. I did not have my camera since Elder Dewey said he had his. But he was out of battery so the next visit I will bring my own camera and try to catch the beauty of that wonderful setting.
Our next visit was to a very young lady whose older sister was a member of the church. She is interested in being baptized and were able to teach her mother who joined us in process. Her mother has now joined the daughter to be investigators.
The next visit was with a young woman maybe 18 years old who was living with her less active sister. She seemed to be receptive to the message about the restoration we shared. Her sister was extremely happy we came by to share the message.
We then visited a young couple with a small child that have not been active for awhile. They had a really nice house and he works for the government. Our visit was brief due to the next appointment we had but we were able to share our testimony about the temple and challenge them to think about preparing to go to the temple to be sealed together with their child.
Our last visit was with an active sister in the Daraga Ward who had the nicest home of all we have visited. She has a small canteen and catering business. She lost her husband to a motorcycle accident just 8 months ago. She is raising her family of 4 children who range from elementary school to first year college (16 here in the Philippines). Her two sisters were there and stay with her most of the time. We taught them a lesson about repentance and the importance of following the Spirit if it has directed one to be baptized even if it may not be popular with the family. They both seem to be committed to baptism after shedding a few tears at the prospect of family members being disappointed in their decision.
We got home just after dark and Sister Cooley had prepared a big spaghetti dinner and invited the elders to join us. We didn't have to ask twice since it was fast Sunday and we had a big day, all of us starting at around 5:00 AM. Dinner was wonderful and we relished the experience of working together and having such great meetings.