Thursday, September 10, 2015

E-mail Sept. 6, 2015 "If at first you don't succeed then try, try again. ...and again, and again.‏"

A few weeks ago I complained about my companion getting a violin because I was sure he wouldn't be able to play it. I was afraid that it would be painful to listen to and that he's end up trying to play it for a few days and then give up.

I was wrong.

I almost couldn't believe my ears but as I listened to my companion playing his new instrument this week I was amazed that not only was he able to pick out the melody for several hymns and popular church songs, but it sounded good too. Considering that he has no formal teacher and he picked it up just by listening to his pen drive of music is incredible, but maybe even more incredible is that fact that I've seen similar results with my efforts on the guitar. I got a guitar for Christmas years ago and I even went to classes every week for a month to learn the basics, but, and anyone who's ever tried to learn guitar before knows this, the beginning stages of that particular instrument often result in frustration and bleeding fingers and I gave up too soon, thinking it just wasn't for me. However when I arrived in the Philippines and watched my companion strumming away on our neighbor's guitar I decided to give it another try. It's taken persistence, it's taken patience, it's taken tips and teaching from my companion and members, and it was just as painful as when I tried it years ago, but I'm proud to say that because of a little dedication I'm picking it up, and quite rapidly at that.

One thing I've learned on my mission (and am still learning) is that with a little dedication and hard work anything is possible. I've seen it with the guitar, I've seen it with exercise as I try to stay healthy, but most importantly I've seen it in abundance with developing Christ-like attributes and striving to become the person the lord wants me to be. The Lord will very seldom help us to change if we don't desire it and ask for his help, but he also won't help us if we ask him and don't do anything. There have been times when I asked the Lord to help me change and then I was frustrated as I waited around and nothing seemed to change. What I've learned is that the Lord will always help us, but He will almost always wait for us to take the first step. I think that's one definition for faith, and as I've set goals and tried hard to improve I've seen the hand of the Lord taking me further then I could ever go on my own. I only play the guitar in the evenings after all our work is done because we're busy and I don't want it to be a distraction, which means there's hardly any time to practice, and yet I'm still seeing rapid progress. In the Same way when we give our best effort to improve ourselves, even if that effort is small at first, we'll be amazed at how quickly the Lord helps us to progress as He makes up for our shortcomings.


Sister I-Forgot-Her-Name, Sister Dominic, Elder Grimmett, Elder Clouds, and Elder Semideni and the Manila MTC. (Sister Dominic was from my ward in Hyderabad, it was a pleasant surprise to see her again).

Beautiful Philippines

My Filipino Father

Ran into this handsome Elder at the mission office when I arrived.
- It's Elder Colt Williams from Layton!
(And no, I haven't gained weight there, it's just the humidity).

Real Beef Burgers!!!

Just another day in paradise

Anyways until next time everyone, mahal kita. :)
-Elder Cloward

E-mail Aug. 30, 2015 "Translation po?"‏

Dang it, I had so many pictures I was going to send this week but unfortunately something is still wrong with my camera and I can't bet the pictures back. I'm going to see if I can get it fixed soon but until then pasensya everyone.

In the Philippines if someone doesn't understand what's being said they'll hold their nose and say "nosebleed" to signify that they don't know what's going on. I've had the biggest nosebleed of my life these last 6 weeks as most of our teaching is done through translation and although most of the members know English they think it'll help me learn faster if they speak to me in Tagalog. It's been a stressful challenge and I've given up on learning this language more than once now, but as I've re-committed myself these last couple of weeks it's been amazing to see the results. For the first time since I got here I was able to follow my enough of what my companion said during a lesson to pick up where he left of without his having to translate for me. As I listen to the talks in sacrament meeting I can pick up more and more of what they say and I can generally get at least the topic of whatever conversation is going on around me. Now don't get me wrong, I'm nowhere near being able to communicate and I can only say a few phrases but It's amazing to see how a little bit of work and a lot of help from the Lord is helping me to be at least a little more effective in the work here. Before I speak too soon though let me mention that we got two new missionaries in our apartment this week, both native Tagalog speakers, so it looks like my happy days of Elder Operio speaking English in the apartment are gone. Here's to the Gift of Tongues and what I'm sure will be many more nose bleeds before I get back to India. Cheers.

Anyways Everyone until next time- 
Ako po si Elder Cloward, ako po si pogi, Gustung-gusto ko ang lahat ng sa iyo.    

E-mail Aug. 23, 2015 "Why does everyone call you Home Schooled? You're not even weird."‏

-Were the words the new missionary who joined our companionship this week said after he met me. Nine Visa waiters from India came to the Philippines on Wednesday, but because transfers are this Thursday they sent them to stay with the other missionaries for a week. Elder Chand is the missionary who joined my companion and me, and it's definitely been a missionary-appropriate party all week. He's from Los Vegas and is serving in the New Delhi mission (third best mission in the world) and there's never a dull moment when he's around. Among the many crazy things he's done this week are flick-boxing a spider, catching a 15-pound duck, and trying to set my hair on fire (he got close too). On top of that though he's a fantastic missionary and Elder Operio and I will miss him after he gets reassigned this week. Something crazy I found out is that although he's from a different mission in India he's already heard about "Elder Cloward the Home Schooled kid", but he thinks I'm pretty normal. I guess we'll see how long that opinion remains after I try to set his hair on fire this time... ;)

In other news this week we had a less active family officially enter the "returned" status as they re-attended church for the fourth week on Sunday. This has become one of my favorite families in this area and it makes me so happy to see them returning to the blessings of the gospel. The best part is that we didn't even have to do anything. We showed at their home after they'd stopped attending for about 6 months because they got offended by a member. The story they shared was sad and the offense was real,  and we honestly didn't know what to say to them. As we pondered I prayed in my heart that we'd know how to help them, and almost immediately we started sharing a principle of the gospel which we were prompted to give. We knew that it hit home when on fast Sunday they came to church and the sister bore her testimony and mentioned, almost word for word, the message we'd left with them and how it helped them  have a desire to come back to church. It was a testimony builder to me that God really does know his children, and all we have to do to help someone is to listen to the promptings that come by His Spirit.


Loko Loko (and yes that's a Selfie Stick)

The one and only Angeles District 2.
From left to right- Elder Clouds, Sister Tikeri, Sister Borrowman, Sister Mepania, Sister Halblieb, and Elder Operio

Elder Chand and the Duck

"Hey, where are the keys?"

"Ah, there are the keys!" (Don't worry I didn't actually drive it).

Anyways everyone until next week stay strong and rock on. :)
-Elder Cloward