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!
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!