Tuesday, December 18, 2012

PHILIPPINES WEEK 7: Counting down the days until Christmas! WEEK 16

Christmas is QUICKLY approaching. I cannot tell you enough how thrilled I am to see his smiling face and hear his cheerful voice! It has been WAY too long.

This week I will post SOME of the letter that I received last week and PARTS of his email I received from him on 12/17/2012.

Elder Betancourt wrote in his letter sent on 11/21/2012,
"My Dearest Devynn,
I will tell you, it is amazing here! Naguilian is famous in our mission for being one of the most difficult, but through the Lord, it doesn't matter what its reputation is. His Will will be done. I just have to do my best to be his instrument here!
...Every day I strive to be a better Missionary then I was yesterday!  I have literally never worked so hard, walked so far, poured more of my heart into anything ever than this. Seeing/imagining these remarkable people in baptismal clothes and then temple clothes makes me want to give everything my soul possesses to help them or at least try to help them. I have never cared so much about others. I have never loved people I don't know so much. The mission is amazing. It is the best 2 years (or 1.5 years for you). Why? Because it is literally the hardest thing I have ever done! I cannot think of anything comparable, but when you see the look on a worried mothers face when she discovers she can spend eternity with her children, and her husband who has to live abroad in order to put food on the table. Devynn, it is worth it. This work is true. There is no doubt about that. Sometimes we have joyful experiences , most time we have sad experiences, but we continue with a smile. Finding joy in the work is mandatory. If you doubt,  you will suffer for the year and a half. Being happy is a choice!  Seek out the joy, Devy! Representing Jesus Christ is the greatest feeling ever! I hope I can be a witness/representative of him forever! Elder Reyes asked me the other day if I wanted to be an Apostle. I told him that I would be honored to witness to the world that Jesus is the Christ and that his true and living gospel is restored to the Earth. What an honor that would be.

...How are the investigators? Well, we have a few baptisms scheduled for January 5th! Rosemarie Ramirez, a newly wed and newly mother! (We are still working on her sister and husband). Also the Vergara Family! Brother Vergara is a less active priesthood holder. He is reactivating and will be baptizing his wife and three kids! It is amazing to see the change in these peoples hearts! We have a few more we are hoping to commit this week. Of course baptisms are not what this is about especially being in the difficult area, we are focusing primarily on bring all to activation. It is just as amazing to see an inactive come back to church! The measure of my happiness with my mission so far comes from neither of these. It comes from witnessing the Spirit edify me, my companion, and those we teach. It comes from seeing the fruits of my sacrifice. ...I have already seen how completely forgetting about myself has blessed their lives. I sure do love it, as will you, Devynn because you are so awesome!
..The thing is we face a lot of discouragement BUT we face the most incredible and touching experiences as well! When you can witness people progress, it just gives you so much joy. My trick  to a happy mission is finding joy in the journey! In PMG.. it talks about how to avoid homesickness..BE DILIGENT! So that is my advice for both of us. When you miss me, be diligent...study your scriptures, pray, and read PMG. It's challenging and often times, I think I can't go on, but then I remind myself--'you dont need to go through this alone. You have this pretty amazing guy named Jesus Christ, who really wants to help you!' I hope you will let him help you, Devynn, I am sure you do, I am just reminding :). Without him and the sweet though of our life/eternity together, I would be shriveled up on a Philipino road somewhere. I hand on to that sweet voice I heard on the phone. Whenever I see the moon, I smile because I know you looked at that very same moon not too long ago. You make me so happy!

......Well I want you to know that my life has changed completely all because of a Walmart parking lot kiss. And all because my sweetheart gave me a Book of Mormon. Little did she know this single bold move would unfold into the most incredible and life changing journey in both of our lives. All because of this action, I have the privilege to testify to the people of the Philippines that I know that the Book of Mormon is true. With full conviction of my heart, I can look them in the eye and tell them that Joseph Smith was called of God to restore the Church and that the only true way to receive the blessings of the atonement are through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end; because I have had the privilege to experience each one, at least a bit. To look them in the eye and tell them their burdens can be lightened simply by turning to Jesus Christ and putting all our trust and faith in him. There is no doubt in my mind this church is true. 100%, all because the girl I am hopelessly in love with gave me a Book of Mormon, asked me to read and pray about it."

"Well hello my wonderful
So this week has been so wonderful! Elder Reyes went home! It was sad and scary because I learned how short these 2 years will last! Holy cow! BUT after spending like half the week in Cauayan and practically not working in Naguilian a lot, I finally returned to the "Celestial Kingdom" of the Philippines Cauayan mission with my new companion, Elder Samar! He is an AMAZING piano player! He is just a really cool guy and a great missionary! Wow! So when we returned, I got to show him the whole area! It was really fun to take him to see all the members! It really made me realize how much I love these people! They are so strong and they love the gospel so much! Even the less actives which makes it really confusing and hard to help them sometimes because you really have to discern by the Spirit what it is giving them trouble! It's difficult but so much fun! Ah Dev, you are going to love missionary work!
I am soooo glad to hear that you are home safe! I cannot explain how happy I am to hear that! The next time you will be in the west you will be going to the MTC! ...That is so crazy to think about! WOW! haha
  ...Oh and i can get really cool custom made camelback bags here for like 10 bucks...a lot of sisters like these waist bags they are better than a backpack for sisters because the weight is on your hips...ill take some pictures of them and send you some! I could pouch you one when you get to Russia! I'll throw on a picture of me wearing one of elder Reyes! They are cool! (I added these pictures at the end from Elder Betancourt because they are HILARIOUS.)
Well I miss you like Crazy!
I'm sorry this wasn't as long as I thought, but this week will be super eventful! Elder Samar and I are singing in the the Missionary Party!
I'm excited!
Well I love you baby!
Take care of yourself!
Forever yours!
Elder Ryan A Betancourt"

                                 Tatay Juancho and Nanay Luming Leal, sweetest people!
                                                              The Aliangan family
                                 Elder Betancourt and his new companion, Elder Samar.
                                                   Modeling the bookbag! hahaha
                               Goofy Ryan modeling the camelback bag. I had to share it!

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