Monday, May 30, 2016

"Hoy magbago ka na!"

We've had a great week for sure! Our area is rockin and rollin! Yesterday at church, the chapel was packed! There were a ton of people at church! We had 8 investigators at church! One of them, Greg Dela Cruz, is getting baptized this June 11th. His story is super awesome! His wife was baptized by Elder Monilla just this past January, but at that time, they had no hope for Brother Greg to be baptized. Whenever the missionaries would come, he'd just walk away, or hide. Then for some reason (seeing the changes in his wife, a change of missionaries in Elder Antenorcruz, or somethin else) he decided he wanted to change. He started coming to church and taking the missionary lessons and week by week, he slowly began to stop smoking and drinking. Now, he's completely clean and literally insanely excited for baptism! Whenever we visit him, the only way I can accurately describe how it is, is "nakakatuwa" and "gumagaan ang loob ko" whenever we visit him (ask dad what those mean) haha. Just a great situation.

Brother Joel, a recent convert, asks for pamphlets that he can give to his friends. He gave us 2 referrals who came to church yesterday, one of which is one of Greg Dela Cruz's old college mate.  They're good friends and when we taught Bro. Greg and told him about his friends that were also taking the lessons, he was super excited and shocked! He keeps telling them, "hoy! Magbago ka na!" or "Hey! Just change now!"

We're teaching a Sister named Jessa Ruiz, who is pretty much in the exact same situation as Brother Greg's wife! She is a SMART WOMAN! holy cow! And is very very spiritual! She said a prayer last night in our lesson asking Heavenly Father to soften her husbands heart that he may listen to the message and accept it so they can be baptized together... super powerful! Brother John Paul Catbagan also is getting baptized on the 25th. He got in a motorcycle accident a while ago and has had almost depression issues since that time. His face was disformed because of the accident, but the gospel has been giving him a lot of hope lately and he's a solid investigator as well! Brother Nestor Dela Cruz has a bap. date for June 25 as well and has committed to quit smoking! He's been coming to church consistently as well! 

Our area is on fire! This work is true! I'm sorry this letter is a little long. I know its a little hard to read longer ones, but just skim it if you'd like!

Have a great week!

Elder Navarro

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tender Mercies and Gifts of Strength

Dear Family and Friends,

We've had a great week this week! I'm really starting to get adjusted to the new area and our area is really flourishing! There's a recent convert here in the branch that was baptized this last January, but her husband was not at all interested in the gospel... After a while, he started to gain an interest in what his wife was doing every Sunday. His name is Brother Greg, and we've been teaching him for a few weeks now. When we first started, he was drinking probably 5 or 6 days a week, almost non stop, but every week as we've been teaching him, its become less and less and less. And just yesterday, when we followed up with him on how his drinking problem has been, he'd been completely clean from alcohol for a FULL WEEK! What a miracle! His desire to be baptized has just been growing and growing. He said there were many times when his friends would invite him over to drink. And although he was tempted, he resisted and thought of how much better his life would be without the alcohol. Its been great!

We also were pleasantly surprised to find out that Greg is really good friends with two of our other investigators, Jessa and Michael, a young couple with one four year old child. Sister Jessa is very intelligent and literally understands EVERYTHING she is reading in the Book of Mormon. She's already to the Book of Jacob and is convinced of the truthfulness of the Book and of the restored Gospel. She's been a little embarrassed to pray because she feels like she has so many sins and is afraid of what Heavenly Father would do to her. We were super happy to hear that because she understands an essential principle that when we pray, its not just for the sake of saying a prayer, but rather, a literal conversation with Heavenly Father. We shared with her 2 Nephi 32:8-9 about prayer. In her prayer later in the lesson, she started crying when she said, "I thank Thee, Father, for giving me the opportunity to learn of Thy plan and Thy Gospel." Sometimes I take for granted the knowledge that we have. To know of the Plan of our Father in Heaven. Its something that so many don't know! Its our duty and privilege to be the bearers of such a message. 

The faith of these members here in this Branch inspires me! I wish you could meet Brother Fernandez! His story and faith deserves to be in a church film! He was a total drunkard before he met the missionaries on a tricee. And ever since then his life has just completely turned around! He told us the other day, "I'll do anything for you, Elders. ANYTHING! I know that everyone in the whole world needs to hear this message and I'll bear my testimony for you to your investigators whenever you need me." He's very serious about that. One time, the branch president called him to go help a member of the branch with his medicine which meant he wouldn't be able to work that night to buy food for his family. He went anyway and the Lord blessed him and his family in tremendous ways!

Sorry this is longer.. I know this is the work of the Lord. I've never felt so much peace in my life than I do right now.

Have a great week!

Elder Navarro

Monday, May 9, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

I really want to start by wishing all the mother's out there a Happy Mother's Day! I know that I've been blessed with a WONDERFUL mother and no offense to all the other moms, but she's the best!

But this last Saturday we had an AWESOME baptismal service for our investigator, Brother Francis and the other baptismal candidates of Elders Higgins and Antenorcruz! It was so good to see such an awesome person enter the waters of baptism! Elder Pandaog and I were super psyched!!! His testimony at the end was also very powerful! He expressed to us his desire to serve a mission and we hope and pray he will be able to do that!

Last Monday, President called me into his office and said the Lord had called me to be an Assistant to the President. And since that day, its been super busy! We've been doing a lot of trainings and planning. So that means I'll be here in Cauayan probably until the end of my mission. And we'll have the opportunity to "train the new mission president" although, I'm pretty much 100% sure that he'll be training us more than anything! haha This has already been a humbling experience and a time of self-evaluation. 
Not much else to say besides that I know this is the work of the Lord! I'm super sad to be leaving this area and our investigators, but I'm excited for the new things and adventures I'll be having! Heavenly Father puts us in positions for us to grow. I've seen that in my time here and I know its true. We may not understand why things happen to us but "trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding"

Love you and  HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY again!

Elder Navarro

Monday, May 2, 2016

"The Lord sent two angels"

Dear family and friends,

Wow! We had a great week! Just some highlights. So Brother Francis Gonzales, one of the most faithful people I've ever met, just got back from his "on the job training" in Tuguegarao. This last Sunday, he came to church for fast and testimony meeting. Elder Pandaog and I were just sitting down listening, when all of the sudden we see Brother Francis step up the pulpit to bear his testimony! We were both super shocked! It was super funny what he was saying but in a way, super super super humble and sincere. He said something to this effect, "Good morning brothers and sisters. I'm have not yet been baptized and confirmed a member of the church, but I was convinced by an angel (the fellowshipper he was sitting by) to come up and bear my testimony... I'm super nervous because I'm not used to speaking in front of a lot of people. But I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ! I remember a few months ago, I was praying to Heavenly Father to know what I needed to be doing in my life. I was very confused about the many religions I saw. But then the Lord sent two angels to my house almost immediately after I had prayed. I know that this is what God wants me to do and I'm so excited to become a member of the Church!" He then finished with a small testimony of the things he knew.

Lisa Edoloverio also has been progressing like crazy! She reads the Book of Mormon every night with her daughter and one thing Elder Pandaog and I have noticed is that she is incredibly humble! She says multiple times throughout each lesson, "I have so much I have to make up to the Lord... I wish I had known about this when I was younger!" She also shared something that really hit me as well. Just like what happened with Francis, the same happened with Lisa. She's a woman in her late 30's and has been to a lot of different churches! She keeps telling us "this is just different." But she also was praying before we met her to find guidance in her life. Then she told us, "after I did that, you two showed up at my door!"

I'm not saying this to brag about our own finding efforts. In fact, its better to work through members to find more people to teach. But I felt very very very strongly this past week that we are literally answers to peoples prayers. Not just Elder Pandaog and me, but all of the missionaries. The Lord really does guide his missionaries to those who are searching for something more to life. It has truly been a humbling feeling and I really feel like Alma of old, "I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."

I know that the God of Israel leads this mission as our mission president always says. And that He is mindful of each and every one of you! I've seen that in our work here and I know its true! Have a great week!

Elder Navarro