Tuesday, January 28, 2014

John 2:1-6 (When Christ turns water into wine)

[Toni: Elder Rivera's reference to the miracle of Christ turning water into wine was to show the parallel of in his own life the miracle of Christ change him]


I have been doing a lot of changing recently, in fact the changes in me have been crazy dramatic. I have finally been able to completely lose myself. What I mean is that, I have let my old self go for now. When I get back maybe I will find it again, but for right now I need to keep focused on my job here. These changes came as I realized how much responsibility comes with leadership positions; there is not new power, or authority that comes with leadership, only more responsibilities. Even the Assistants to the President of the mission are not given more authority, all of us have the same authority on our missions, but some are just given more responsibility.

What changed me? I think really what changed me was with a person I met, I cannot spell his name but I can tell you how I met him and what he made me think about.

My companion and I have been working very hard this week to find new people to teach. We have also been getting to know our area better, there is a lot of stuff to do here, and as we were looking through all of our records we came across a name that we had not seen before. This man had been baptized in 2001 and became less active about three years ago. So we went to find him. Guess what, we found him. And we found out why he is less active. His situation is one of the worst I have seen so far, this man has 11 kids, but three years ago his wife died. And he was unable to find the strength to return back to church. He is a farmer and speaks mostly Illakano, but from him I learned so much... I learned how right after he became less active how the missionaries came to teach him once, or twice, but because he could not go back to church the missionaries stopped teaching him. I do not know why this man and his humble testimony about what we said [Toni: I couldn't figure out what he was trying to say in that last sentence.  I think he is losing some of his English skills]. This man has forgotten so much because he has not been able to come to church.

As I sat there and was listening to him talk about his life, how his only friend at church stopped visiting him, I realized how important friends are. As I realized that I do not know what happened, yes I still miss swimming, and my home, but I realized that for only 2 years do I get to meet and teach these wonderful people. I realized that I may not be perfect but there is a lot of stuff that I can do, even though there are things I need to work on.

And there is one other thing that really influenced me recently. My second companion, and one of my best friends I have ever met, was sent home, or choose to go home. I do not know what happened and it is something that I do not need to know.

This changed me because of one thing...

I was able to attend a baptism of a family that me and Elder B taught and really spent a lot of time with. As I attended their baptism (we had promised that we would) it affected me that Elder B was not there. At this time I did not know that he had gone home, but I felt that he was not going to be able to attend when we had communicated via email. His excuse was that he had an appointment. But something told me that I would not be seeing him for a long time. This family had been taught by many many sets of Elders before, but Elder B and I were able to do so much for them, and we helped them resolve their concerns, and finally agree to be baptized.

As I was talking to them before they were baptized they asked me why Elder B was not there. I could not speak for a second. I did not know the real reason, but I knew something happened and that they would not see him as a missionary. As they were baptized it felt weird being there, it felt weird telling them that Elder B was just really busy in his area. Now that I know what happened I hope that when they find out that he went home, that their testimonies will be strong enough to keep strong in the gospel that they grew to love.

I have seen so many miracles recently. So so many... I cannot describe them all.

Elder Rivera

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I am so tired, haha

So first, I finally got a new companion. His name is now, Elder Villenuava. From somewhere I can not type. 

Second, I could only put one picture, my two SD cards were corrupted. Woops... SO i am trying to see if a computer person can fix them, or at least retrieve some of the pictures. 

This family is one of my favorites, they are extremely nice. 

So I have yet to recieve any of the packages, they may just be taking a long time to get to me. Hopefully soon though. What else.

I got some bad news, recently due to miss behavior of missionaries all our rules were changed and it became sticker. One of the missionaries was Elder Baello, my companion while I was in Candon, Santiago. He has been sent home... So I am very sad for him. The new rules are actually not really new, just the enforcement for breaking the rules. 

Lots of things are changing, the fact that it takes me around 5 days to remember movies is a bad thing. But at the same time it is also a good thing. So I have no idea what has happened to my american friends here, I have not heard if they are in Baguio still or if they finally moved to the low lands, where I am. ahah. 

my area was recently changed, I was given the farthest areas, so basically I am opening an area again, meaning no investigators or others. So I am tired lol

Lots of love, I heard Mark is on his mission now, tell him to email me if he can, I would love to hear about his expiriences in the mission field. Ohh and also tell that to Preston... 

With Love,
Elder Rivera

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Week of... Not counting anymore

I have been here way too long... haha, I realized that for several reasons, 

First, When I went to play on the beach this morning, I started playing soccer and frisby but after awhile I realized that my body started hurting. And to make matters worse I injured myself... My right hand pinky is swollen, I accidently hit my comp in the  face, and my left foot pinky toe is swollen also, because for some reason someone thought they could play in the sand with shoes on.. which I did not realize until my toe was jammed into their shoes.. so there. 

Second, President recieved inspiration and decided I would make a good Distric Leader, ehh. Mabey I will... although my idea of a good District Meeting is still going to the beach and siting talking about the world opinions, something that I think would be very looked down on. 

Third, last but not least. I forgot what it felt like to swim:( 

So sorry for the short email, lots of things I am having to do on the internet right now,

Love, Elder Rivera

Saturday, January 11, 2014

pictures from Baguio

Hi this is Toni,
As you all know, Elder Rivera is not so good at sending pictures.  There is a couple serving in the same mission as Elder Rivera and they take lots of pictures.  You will be able to see what it is like there.  I also found some picture with him in them.  Here is the link: another blog

Monday, January 6, 2014

Well, gwapo pa rin ako

As of this Wednesday I will be exactly 1 year 6 months away from swimming, not from seeing all my friends, just swimming. That's all I can think about in the Philippines, it's hot and the water looks so nice, and the ocean is warm. So many things that I want to do, but luckily it's all good, the only time I get homesick right now is when me and my companion do not get along, which is almost every day for the last 5 weeks, so maybe I should stop thinking about home.

So this week I have had a lot of fun, we found a lot of new people to teach, and even me and my companion have started to get along, right when he is about to leave, I think we all have our ups and downs as missionaries. But its all better when you realize that since the language is a lot easier right now I am not as stressed with teaching and talking to people in Tagalog. I stopped learning Illakano for awhile because it is not necessary.

I wish every one was here, it is beautiful in the Philippines, really it is. The people are so nice, and I truly love it here. I really want to return after my mission. Maybe I will just live here.. Joke.

Well not much has happened. This week has been really normal because its the week after News Years. New Years days was amazing. As a missionary I did not stay up, But as Alex, the human, I did, Let me explain what it is like in the Philippines for new years day. Lets just say lots of illegal fireworks, and people spend a lot of money of them. Around 100,000 peso, or 2000 american, on fireworks. So for about an hour strait I though that world war 3 had started.

Lots of love,

Elder Rivera