Monday, January 28, 2013

PHILIPPINES WEEK 13: YET another cycle in Naguillian! WEEK 22


Another wonderful week from Elder Betancourt and another wonderful e-mail! Enjoy!

"Hey there sweat pea...(oh wait i'm allergic to peas :) haha)
Soooo, I AM STILL IN NAGUILIAN! :) haha It was hilarious because all the members thought I was going to be transferred so they were sad and ready to say goodbye. Then I told them I was staying. It was just hilarious! :)

You are like on the verge of going to the MTC...WOAH! That is so crazy to think about! It blows my mind to think its already almost February! Time is like non existant in the mission field! haha!

To answer your questions, so far no baptisms! People have a hard time attending church here because Sunday is the day that everbody gets chores done here and its palengke day, which means thats like the best day to go to the market!

Hopefully, we will have a few this cycle since we have 9 weeks! :) We still teach mutual night when they have it, and Elder Samar was like unofficially called as a sunday school teacher. He is "unofficially called" because we cannot have callings in the branch, but the Branch President asked him to teach each week! I am sure I will be partaking in some of that too! And yes Elder Samar and I are still companions :)

I love the Sunday School topic so much this year...I am learning so much! It is D&C and Church History! It is so cool! I love it! :)

It is so cool being a missionary because you work with the ward/branch council and go to their meetings so you can offer suggestions. It's so cool and fun!

So this week nothing really new happened! We watched the Restoration DVD with this member's boyfriend...haha It kind of reminded me of us...so that is a really cool thing to be apart of! :) He even attended church! He is actually progressing faster than any of our other investigators haha! His name is Aldrin. He is super cool...(it's Sister Kristina Danao's sister's boyfriend...follow that? haha) It's really cool to work with him and help him to receive the restored gospel!

It's so good to hear that your mission preparation is going well! I am going to tell you the honest truth...you won't get it all done...haha thats what sucks, it's like impossible to do everything...so just do your best, but dont stress because it will work out! I promise :) You will love the MTC! :)

AND just so you know, I gave someone a letter to mail for me last week but they havent done it yet! So hopefully that gets done! and Ill be mailing another this week! So you should receive two in the MTC pretty close to each other!

You make me so proud devy! You are so devoted to your Heavenly Father! He loves you and is so proud of you too! I know it! Because you are his daughter, and you are just so awesome :)

Just wait for Sundays in the mission field! They are amazing! Especially fast and testimony meeting because you are hearing people bear their souls, the same people that you serve! Ah! Its amazing! You will love being a missionary I know it!

You make me so proud and happy dont forget that!

I love you sooooo Much!

Forever and ever yours!

Elder Ryan Anthony Betancourt
                                                Elder Betancourt and some Nagulianers!
                                                                "Guapo Series!"
                                                 Elder Samar and Naguilianers!
                                                       Elder Betancourt and Noriel
                                      Elder Samar and his illustration of The Plan of Happiness!

Monday, January 21, 2013

PHILIPPINES WEEK 12: Onward! WEEK 21

Another fabulous week for Elder Betancourt! Tomorrow he finds out if he will be transferred! He sure hopes he will stay in Naguilian for another transfer!

"Hey there Devy! :)
This week was awesome! Even though it flew by like a plane! haha! It was so fast! But we had a lot of great times! Taught a lot of lessons! I just love being a missionary, Dev! Even though it is often so hard! A lot of things that can get you down, but you just have to stay positive! It is easy to get down and depressed, but whether you are happy or not is up to you! Nobody can affect your mood if you don't let them!  A young boy by the name of Noriel had some trouble at home this week when he was kicked out of his home for attending church. He demonstrated so much faith as he moved in with some members temporarily! He is only 14. His parents tried to force him to work on Sunday, instead of going to church. He insisted that he go to church, and he had to choose his family or the gospel. I admired his faith and was grateful how my parents never tried to kick me out! (My parents are awesome :) ) But anyway while he was staying at this members house, he requested that we had a nightly scripture study with them and some other youth! He is just an amazing example to me, even though he is only 14 years old! Well, luckily his father decided to let him back in! And he is back at home! I am sure if he had not stood up for his testimony, he may no longer be able to attend church.
Our investigators have started to progress! But of course now, I am terrified of getting transferred! Right when I feel like I have discovered my purpose here in Naguilian! Which is to help the young men and priesthood in the world and help them become more active and find more who are ready to receive the priesthood! Hopefully, I will get one more cycle in Naguilz to try and help people!
I am so excited to hear about your future experiences in the MTC and Russia! It will blow you away! I know it!
Well I am sorry this shorter...when you are the MTC I will give you longer ones :) promise!
Well I love you so much Devynn!
You are amazing!
Keep up the hard work!
I love you!
Elder Ryan Anthony Betancourt"

These are old pictures Elder Betancourt sent with my package! 

                                                                 MACDO
                                            Elder Reyes and Elder Betancourt
                                   Elder Betancourt being his typical self! haha
                                                                    Cherry pie! 
video
                                               Elder Reyes first cherry pie! 

Monday, January 14, 2013

PHILIPPINES WEEK 11: AND the work continues. WEEK 20

Another week has flown by! This week seemed to be a great week for Elder Betancourt. Below is parts of an email from 1/14/2013.
"Hey Devynn!
So this week was fantastic! SO incredibly busy though! As I believe I told you last week, Tatay William Vergara passed away. Well they have funerals quite different than we do. First off the casket is brought to the home where it stays for about 9 days...During this 9 day period nobody works and it is basically a 24/7 party! Haha. They have videoke and everytime you visit they give you a huge plate of food! haha. Its different. Then on top of that they allow whatever church to give a service all throughout the week! So we had to ask them if we could have a service! Haha. BUT the service was amazing! Nanay actually asked me to speak and we sang all of Tatay's favorite Hymns. I spoke about the purpose of life and it was such an honor to be able to speak at the service. His "internment" or burial is tomorrow, but we wont be able to attend because of District meetings. Sadly, there is like a cemetary battle happening in Naguilian right now! Its wild! There is no public cemetary yet, so only a few churches have cemetaries. And they will not let anyone else buried in their cemetary if they are not members or their congregation. Its ridiculous. BUT somehow they had a way in to the Catholic cemetary. I think its because Tatay was a local politician so they liked him. I dont know exactly but that is one problem in Naguilian. People are afraid to join our church because of the cemetary issues. Because they are afraid they will have nowhere to be buried when they die. It is a very important thing to these people! Its okay though because I know that it will all work out! :)
We have a new investigator! His name is Carlos Coronan and he is 21. He is a stud! He is accepting the gospel in life so well! I hope that everything works out well with him!
I miss you like crazy and I am so proud of you keep working hard and keep thinking about me!
By the way I wasnt able to get a letter out last week BUT one will go out this week! We were so busy last week it was INSANE!
Well I love you so much Devynn!
Forever and ever yours,
Elder Ryan Betancourt"

Below, I have added parts of the second letter. Elder Betancourt wrote the letter on 12/10/2012. 
"My DevyWevy, 
Wow, what a week. Can I just say that I love you. I think you know that, but I just wanted to remind you!  Just so you know missions are amazing. HARD. Very hard, but each day is a blessing and amazing at the same time. ...Take my word for it, dev. The best way is to give everything you have from 6:30am-10:30pm. 1. Times goes by faster. 2. You become a better and better missionary. 3. You help your area the most. 4. You are blessed the most. You will do so great!
...This cycle has absolutely flown by. I thought the MTC went by fast. Devynn, do you know why it went by fast? It went by fast because I gave it everything I had. I work all day until I drop in my bed at night! My goal is to work harder this cycle. I am excited to give everything I have! It will be great :). Set goals for yourself on your mission-- weekly, monthly, cycle-ly! This helps you keep track of your progress.Set goals and do everything in your power to do them. Show faith to set goals that make you stretch, but commit to them! ;).
..This time apart is so hard and sometimes throwing in the towel seems like the easy way out, but it is actually the hard way. Think of all the blessing and opportunities we would be giving up...it's all worth it! I want to tell you a story about the atonement. --So one day you are watching the news throughout Europe. The virus kills people indefinitely. There is no surviving this. As the weeks go on countries begin to quarantine as scientists and world renown doctors gather together to think of a cure. As they are seeking a cure, the virus spreads to all countries. People are losing hope. The human race could surely fall. You friends and family in distant areas begin to get infected. Millions/billions of people have died or are dying. The news flashes. They think they may have a cure. Everyone needs to go be tested to see whose blood they could use. You go and bring what is left of your family. As each is tested, no luck. Until your son gets tested. His blood is clean, completely unaffected by the virus. The doctors rejoice, even you do. Why wouldn't you?! Then you ask how much blood they would need. The doctors say since he is only a boy, we must take it all. Your son will not live. They are begging you to give you only son so that the world may be saved. You know what you need to do. You decided to let them carry out the removal of the blood. Before they do, they let you spend a few minutes with your boy. You try to explain, but of course, you cannot. He says, father (or mother), why have you forsaken me? (Why are you letting them take me? Haven't I been good?) You leave your boy after telling him you love him. A while after you discover that it worked. You boys clean blood saved the world. People are rejoicing and celebrating. Returning to their families and friends, celebrating life. No thanks are given, a few people maybe, but for the most part, the world continues to turn. Now think that you are Heavenly Father. The boy who is given is Jesus Christ. How do you feel? Do you feel loved? Do you feel gratitude? -- This story touches my heart and makes me want to do everything I can to show my love for my Heavenly Father! You do so much for your Heavenly Father. He loves you and is proud of you. I know this. I just wanted to share this story because it makes me want to be better every day and give everything for him, who gave all he had; him who bled from every pour so that we may live. I hope you enjoyed my story!"

I know that Elder Betancourt is an incredible instrument in the hands of the Lord. He has a beautiful testimony of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I am thankful for his testimony and example. Below are a few pictures that he sent! I have also included a video from his package!



video
                           This is apparently how he walks around his apartment! Nerd alert!
     Ina, Elder Samar, and Elder Betancourt. Ina is Sister Tintin's daughter. According to Elder Betancourt, she loves to play when they visit. He says she is very sweet!
              They are eating some Gray Ham cake that the Danao's gave them on New Years.
                It is a famous Filipino dessert. It is called and pronounced Gray Ham Cake. It is actually made out of gram crackers, but since they pronounce every syllable, they say gray ham.
They are eating chocolate cookies and cream ice cream that Elder Samar made. Elder Betancourt said it was masarap!

Monday, January 7, 2013

PHILIPPINES WEEK 10: Another week bites the dust! WEEK 19

Time just flies by. It is truly incredible. It seems like yesterday, we were taking Elder Betancourt to the Mission Training Center. Now, don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for time flying like an airplane, but man, there is a lot of the Lord's work he has to do in such a short amount of time! He would greatly appreciate any prayers in his behalf!

Here is some of the e-mail that I received from Elder Betancourt on 1/06/2012.

"Hey there Devy Wevy!
So this week was intense! Our KI (key indicators) were awful; we hardly taught any lessons...BUT we worked so hard! Sometimes that's how your weeks go. You work harder than ever but you hardly get to teach! It's okay. No effort goes wasted! Heavenly Father knows you are giving your all! As long as you are working your hardest each day, you will be blessed whether you teach many lessons or not! So it was a hard week, but well worth it! 
The Vergara family just had a death in the family, Tatay William (Brother Jonathon's father) who used to be a Branch President here in Naguilian, but for some reason went inactive after. Then he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away. We visited him very often. It is very sad. But at the same time, I am happy that he is no longer suffering, and he can be in peace and be able to come unto Jesus Christ. The plan of Salvation truly is amazing! I love it!
Despite what happens, it's always a good week! As a servant of the Lord and a representative of Jesus Christ...who was called by a prophet of God, I am given strength when I need it! I have learned the power of a testimony. When we teach people about our message, the most powerful part is when we testify and invite. When we tell them that we know this is true through the power of the Holy Ghost, and that they can know by that same power for themselves if they will read the BOM and pray about it, with a sincere hear, real intent and having faith in Christ. 
I hope that you are feeling better and continue to do so! I am glad that you received my package. It wasn't cheap to send and after I paid for it the lady just tossed it in a box haha...without giving me a receipt or anything...haha they do things differently here, but you just have to love the people. They are so laid back and loving! 
Well I love you and Miss you!
You and everyone else back in RVA are in my prayers!
Take Care! 
Forever Yours!
Elder Ryan Anthony Betancourt"

Elder Betancourt's package was INCREDIBLE! I received many amazing pictures, videos, and TWO letters. I will include some thoughts of his and pictures. I will also add videos on an additional page! Below is parts of one of the letters I received in the package. He wrote it on 12/02/2012.

"Happy December to you, my Dear! I am writing you now as a 21 year old so prepare to experience my old  age and new found wisdom! ;) Joke joke! BUT seriously, it is weird being 21. I am grateful for where I am in life and who I have in my life. ...Three years ago, I would have pictured my 21st birthday totally differently. I don't think I would have ever thought I would be in the Philippines haha. BUT I must say this was the best way to spend my birthday by helping others receive the restored gospel! Elder Reyes asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him if I could get another investigator a baptism date; that would be awesome. So the next night, Friday, November 30th, we gave our newest investigator a baptism date! Sister Arlea Leal will be baptized on January 19th! 

   ....This week has been humbling but amazing... SO amazing! Everything was clicking with out investigators, especially the Vergara family. Until a member told us that Brother Johnathon, the less-active but now returning father had just been busted for pushing (dealing) drugs. :( I thought I had gotten shot right in the heart! He had been keeping the word of wisdom, the whole family had. He started reading the Book of Mormon EVERYDAY! His countenance had changed, Dev! His eyes beamed with the light of Christ! Had we taught him the Word of Wisdom too late? Was he getting rid of his last stash? Guilt and sadness rushed through me. This man had changed! I witnessed it with my own eyes! Confusion set in.. In the PH pushing drugs is a two crime offense next to murder. No matter how much he had, he'd be in jail for a very long time. We visited his wife, Sister Vergara. She had to leave so she couldn't talk long. She was going to the monicipalities. It was true! Elder Reyes and I of course acted nonchalantly...but we were devastated. The next day, we went to visit her again and the sister told us the real story! He is a meat salesman and a trici driver (comparable to a taxi driver) so he went to another city to buy meat. On the way back, he picked up a stranger (to him), but to the Santiago Police Department, the "stranger" was the #1 wanted drug dealer. Needless to say, they were both thrown into jail. ...He was innocent. Luckily his great reputation here in Naguilian convinced the Mayor to let him go! His wife was in tears as she told us the story. She said, "Elders, the Lord loves us. What a blessing! My husband will come home first thing Monday". It was amazing to see her love for the Lord and her husband! 
   ....Life here is hard but SO good! Each day is such a challenge but also a great and rewarding blessing! If I had to choose to stay in the apartment or go out and walk over creation; I would choose the latter because it is the most pleasing work I've ever done! 
  ....When times are rough because you will have rough, frustrating times on your mission remember the words of Elder Holland from my favorite Mormon Message. Don't you give up, keep going. You keep trying, there is help on the way. Some blessings come late, others don't come until Heaven, trust in God and trust in good things to come. It is not exact, but its close. The message still stands. Don't give up, good things will come.  Stay strong, Devynn. Dig deep when times get hard. Focus on the positive...."   

                         SOME OF THE FUN VIDEOS AND PHOTOS FROM THE PACKAGE!





Birthday surprises! He loved them! 
                                                  My package from Elder Betancourt!
 The amazing name tags that Elder Betancourt got made for both of us. They are made out of bamboo!  

This is my big Christmas/Birthday present! He got this bamboo plaque made for me! It is hand carved. The artist carved the Washington D.C. from memory. He has only been there once. He gets the darker brown by burning the bamboo. I must say he is an incredible craftsman. Elder Betancourt says he will hand deliver it on August 2014 because it is too valuable and too expensive to send via mail. I LOVE IT!