Monday, November 5, 2012

November 5, 2012

This week has been great, crazy, long, busy, etc. I love my new area but we just have so many new crazy things going on. I'm assigned in Daraga 1, which is right next to Legazpi city. Elder Casanova and I are the ZLs for the largest zone in the mission, we always have tons of things going on. This week we have ZLC which is today (we are in Naga right now) until tomorrow afternoon. Wednesday we have exchanges with the Legazpi district district leader. That night all of the elders on Masbate will be sleeping at our apartment, and that next morning we have a joint zone conference in Legazpi city. It will be a combination of tobacco and legazpi zones with the 2 island districts there. Catanduanes in Tobaco zone, Masbate is my zone. I'm way excited because I've heard such cool things about Masbate, and i get to go out there once a transfer for like 5 days!!! Anyways, right after zone conference, we get to go out to our island (the ZLs island). It is called Batan island it is part of Albay Province but it is 4 hours away from Legazpi city. I hope I don't get sick on the boat. We don't have a house there so we just sleep at the church meeting house there on the ground. Then we stay out there and work for 4 days.. We are the only missionaries in the whole Naga mission with an area like this!! I'm so stoked! We will be back on Monday morning back to Luzon by 10am-ish hopefully. This week will be great, I'll doubt I'll even be able to take a stinkn break there haha. By the way, we have BIKES out there on Batan. It is the only area in the mission with bikes! Sick!!

This week was a blur. Church was good, I bore my testimony, we had tons of dinner appts, (we have a ward :)) , we work a lot with members, etc. 

Love u!
Paracale, Michael's first area was on the coast, about where the top of the "I" is in Camarines Norte. Naga is about in the center of Camarines Sur. Baao, which is in that same province is just to the north of the large lake which sits on the border between Camarines Sur and Albay provinces.
Legazpi City is in Albay Province and is situated right on that small inland bump on the coast of Albay Bay.
Batan Island is the middle of the three small islands that make up the northern boundary of Albay Gulf, included in their area is a second island, to the right of Batan, Rapu-Rapu.
Masbate is the very large set of islands to the south in the Sibuyan Sea 

October 30, 2012

Hey mom and dad I just wanted to check in and say I love you. I'm at the Internet shop with my companion tonight making the zone calender and other things. I'm a ZL in Legazpi zone, the biggest in the mission. We have an island in our area as ZLs that we go to 3 times a transfer for several days. its about 4 hours away from Luzon. Plus we also have Masbate island in our zone which is sooo cool! We will be going there at the end of this transfer for a training, exchanges, and apartment checks! My comp is Elder Casanova. He is way cool. Hes from Manila and is a RN.

 Love you!!

October 28, 2012 - PART II

Humans. Whats up?

Life has been good lately. Just doing my thing, being a missionary and all. I love it though. Its crazy that I'm about to head to my 3rd area though! Booya. I got the announcement on Saturday that id be transferred. At first my ZLs lied and said that I wasn't being transferred. They said that Elder Madsen was.....I was a little frustrated but I thought I knew it was what the Lord wanted for me. Then I scrolled down the text page and I saw the word "joke". I then slammed the door and yelled "NO"! After that they sent the real announcements! I was scared it was serious! It would have been crazy if I did 9 months in Baao haha. But ya, I'm transferred! I'm so excited, but at the same time, I'm really going to miss Baao. I almost cried yesterday at Church. I am really going to miss them. A good chunk of members cried, and then they thanked me for my work in their area. I was so grateful. I told them I did what I could but now a new missionary is on his way to Baao, to do that all he can to help them. So many of them gave me gifts. I felt awkward here taking gifts! I told the"no its ok" but they insisted. I feel bad I didn't have anything, but if Church attendance is as good as it was yesterday, every week, I think that will be enough as a gift haha. A nanay gave me homemade tsinelas (sandals), a family made me home made chocolate from an awesome fruit cacao! I love that stuff. I sister shoved a giant brown bag into my bag, and I didn't notice until I got home. It was filled with tons and tons of name brand cookies and some candies! It was not cheap stuff! I am so stinkn grateful. The best part of it was that she wrote a note saying, "Friends forever, this I promise." Man, I almost got teary eyed haha. I am so grateful. By the way that same sister fed Elder Madsen and I at her house this week. It was so good! Fried pork chops and fat, with steamed veggies, rice, and fresh cut pineapple for dessert. So good.Last night we ate at a members house for dinner. Again, almost another crier. Haha. Its kind of hard being assigned in areas a long time. I'm really close to so many people now.

This week has been good. We have been keeping busy with our work, even though we didn't teach as much as we had planned for. A lot of our messages were about enduring to the end, but we shared as well to the needs of our investigators. We are still having trouble getting our investigators, but I'm sure if a new missionary can get in there, especially a Filipino, they will make lots of progress. I had a good time visiting families for the first time. I will miss them so much. Not a whole not to share about those, thew were all super great lessons. 

This week I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with E Salas! He is my best friend in the mission, and he is way awesome. He is my ZL here in Ligao zone. We had a great exchange in his area, Polangui. It was awesome. We taught well together, and I learned a lot from him. I'm not sure what else to talk about....

I'm being made a Zone Leader tomorrow :/

love me

October 28, 2012

Oh yeah, he did it again! This did not sit well with his Mom! However, this e-mail was followed by some really great news, so it was worth it, sort of... 

Email from elder madsen to his family

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Austin Madsen <>
Date: Sun, Oct 28, 2012 at 7:47 PM
Subject: All Grown Up!
To: ...

Well I have officially reached the end of my second transfer as a missionary! That means that I am now done with my training! So Elder Kornegay my trainer is going to leave tomorrow and I am going to get a new companion! A Filipino! I won't find out who it is until tomorrow so I am way excited/nervous! It is pretty scary because I will have to take my new companion out to all the people we teach and lead the area for a week or two. It will be hard but I know I can do it because I have done it on our exchanges I have done it before, plus this will help me build stronger relationships with the people we teach because I will have to talk to them. Haha. Usually Elder Kornegay takes care of all the "small talk" stuff. It's going to be hard, but way worth it and I feel like my Tagalog is going to jump so much having a Filipino companion, hopefully he has really bad English haha.

Anyway so this last week went really well! We worked so hard like every day but we didn't get very many lessons. But it is ok because the lessons we did have were way good! On Tuesday I had an exchange with my Zone Leader. It went pretty well, on the bus ride to go pick him up they were playing Rambo III, and on the way back an Eagle's concert, it was really hard to resist those temptations, but I tried my best haha. So our work was really good, we had a lot of lessons planned but about half of them fell through so we finished and I didn't know where else to go, and it was dark, which meant it would be hard to do anything. People really don't like to be taught at night which stinks because it gets dark at like 6:30 here. So around 7:30 we went home to finish studies, plus he was excited to go home early because he is pretty trunky. He is going home like tomorrow, but it was a way good exchange, he is really funny.

The rest of the week was kind of like Elder Kornegay's farewell to Baao. We just went to all the people we teach and he said goodbye and he left them with a powerful message about enduring to the end. Elder Kornegay has been here 7 and a half months so he and the people were sad to see him go. I hope that I can get people to love me enough that they are sad when I leave! It is kind of hard because making small talk and getting to know them is not my expertise. Most of my vocabulary is gospel words, so I will be working on that soon.

Sunday was a really good day. President Flores of the mission presidency, (He is a Filipino guy that works with President Bliesner) came to our sacrament. We were nervous because we weren't sure if a lot of people would show up or not, luckily it was a pretty good number. There could have been a few more Priesthood holders but that's ok. President Flores said Baao is actually really close to becoming a branch again so that is way exciting! Hopefully my new companion and I can really keep up the work!

Well I love and miss you all. I am including some pictures of the last couple weeks, I forgot to send some last week, I hope you all have a great week!

October 22, 2012

This is Elder Madsen's email home. I'm too lazy to type too much of a big email!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Austin Madsen <>
Date: Mon, Oct 22, 2012 at 3:05 AM
Subject: Masarap ang buhay!
To: ...

Wow this has been a great week! Sorry I wasn't online earlier though, we had something that is called a zone activity! So our zone had the cleanest apartments so we all got to go to this place called Kawa-Kawa and play games and hear from President Bliesner. It was like a "Catholic Shrine" place, they have a bunch of statues of Jesus and a big grass field in the middle to play in. I got to wear my chacos, it was a great time haha. It has been a long day because after that we had to help our Zone Leaders move into their new apartment, but now here we are!

So this week has been sooo busy, but one of the best weeks of my mission! I know its only been like 5 months, but it was an awesome week! So Tuesday I had "exchanges" out in a different area. I got to work with Elder Taylor, he is way cool and from Utah. So we worked together and after we got done teaching we realized we didn't have enough money to rent a boat to get across the lake back to the city he lives in. Soo we decided to walk! We wanted to explore a little. About 10 minutes in Elder Taylor lost his shoes in mud and thought it wouldn't be that far, he would just walk barefoot the rest of the way. An hour and a half later and some sore feet we walked past this house and a really nice guy gave him his flip flops. Ha it was so funny, he said in his great english, "I am a police officer, I am a good person, take my shoes." Elder gratefully accepted them and we walked another hour and half more. So yeah, 3 hours total, we were so tired! It was so fun though, probably the funnest day of my mission, we had a great time. Before we started walking one of the members came up to us and was like, "Hey you guys want some Buko?" YEAH! So Buko is the young coconut, sooo good! So he climbed up this like 30 foot coconut tree and chopped down some buko, then chopped off a part with his machete and we drank the juice, then he cut it in half and we ate the meat inside. Yeah my life is pretty cool here!

So this weekend was way good! Saturday we went out to my favorite area, called Santa Elena. So it is our furthest area but it is by far the strongest part of the Baao area. All the strongest members live out there and come to church every sunday, even though they are so far away. I love them all so much! So we taught this new family that is investigating the church, the Norte's! So we taught them with one of the strong members and we just talked about the Book of Mormon and bore testimony of it, having that member with us was so helpful, especially since Sister Norte came to CHURCH!!! WOO! It was great, I really think they are going to get baptized, they are so ready and accepting. Brother said that when he was a kid he wanted to be baptized but his parents wouldn't let him. Happiness!

Sunday was amazing too. So we were out of our apartment for like 12 hours just teaching, reminding people to come to church, and eating. Seriously like everyone we went to fed us, we were so sick! We decided we can no longer say "I am so full!" because every time we say that someone feeds us and we get even fuller. So church was good, I got to speak again and I talked about the Sacrament. It is pretty cool to be able to give a talk in Tagalog, I just can't believe how far I have come with the language. (Side story.) Today at our zone activity we met an American who was a teacher here, she taught in the schools like what Jordan did, she has been here two years and she barely knows how to speak Tagalog, if at all. This was just convincing evidence to me of the blessings God has given me as I serve Him He has blessed me so much with learning this language.

So after church we had a family home evening activity in Santa Elena. All the members that live there came out and we played games and sang and ate snacks. Sister and Brother Norte even came! So fun! I really really love that place haha. We had the Family Home evening because Elder Kornegay is leaving. It kind of made me look back on my short/long time here. Sometimes I used to get frustrated because it seemed like no one came to church or whatever, but as I looked back I saw so much progress, both for me and Baao. I love it here and I love this work. I love the feeling of just giving my all to the Lord and the sense of satisfaction that comes from that. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I wouldn't want to be doing anything else! Even as enticing as longboarding around Logan and going to school is, this is just soo great. I love and miss you all and once again I am so grateful for all your support and love for me. I hope you can feel the Lord's many blessings in your life and just I hope you all have a great week!

October 14, 2012

Hello family, 

Another week gone, which means another closer to being transferred! I'm so excited to get transferred. I'm going to work hard for these next two weeks, but I am excited to get to a new area though. This past week has been long, but good nevertheless. On Tuesday we had north leadership training, in Naga. That was a lot of fun, we learned a lot of good things. I will be teaching what we learned over our next two weeks in district meetings to my district. We learned a lot about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how to teach it more effectively and as well as more simplified. We met the sister missionaries who were assigned to go in Iriga at the terminal there, then the 4 of us rode in a van to Naga city. We got to the mission office by 8, and got a ride to the Naga stake center with the couple missionaries. We started at 9 and it went to 3 or so I believe. It was lots of fun getting to be with everyone who is a leader in the North. I talked to the DL in Paracale district a lot, he is assigned in Paracale and is way nice. So many people that we were working with in Paracale now have callings, etc. So awesome. I also surprised Elder Smith. He is the long time ZL in Goa zone and he thought I'd be in the south, but I surprised him by showing up in Naga. We had such a good time together. For the practice teaching at the teaching, we were assigned to teach President again. We had to teach from what we felt to teach him about, no topic or anything. We had to teach a person, and not just a lesson. At first I thought we kicked butt, I thought we nailed it on the head. For the second round, he changed his scenario and it was pretty hard; I felt like Elder Madsen and I were struggling pretty hard, and weren't really going anywhere with the lesson. Then President said something, and I felt prompted to go off about Joseph Smith. And I did I just went off, feeling inspired, not really thinking at what I was talking about, then I almost started crying. I was nervous I was too bold but after we closed that mini-lesson, he said it was great. Which is good, I was worried we sounded too lost at first. It was a really cool experience, a testimony builder I think of following the Spirit and of Joseph Smith. Something that are always needed as a member of the Church. After the practice, I said bye to E Smith for probably the last time. I'm going to miss that guy. After that we went out to the crappy Mexican food restaurant in Naga for dinner. We wanted to go buy milk but had no time. Later that night I texted one of the AP's to please get me some milk and please bring it to Legazpi for the other training. He said that my ZLs didn't understand the text he sent them, and that I'd just be going to training in Naga, not Legazpi too. That wasn't a big deal, its a lot cheaper only going to one. Too bad I didn't get to see Elders Yangyang or Gilliam. This is Gilliam's last transfer, hopefully I see him before he leaves. Because we didn't have to go to Legazpi I went on exchanges with Elder Flores in Iriga 2 area. I did it that day instead of this coming week to save time. This coming week will be a crazy week, which is good. While Elder Flores and I were out in Baao, we stopped at a bakery that we always go to to buy food. I noticed in their fridge that they had fresh Pili fresh fresh. Like exactly the same stuff I love! Its what I am always buying when I am in Naga.....but this time it was in my own area!!! I asked the lady 3 times, if they have this everyday. She said yes, but I had to keep asking to make sure, for sure, that this was for real. This is way serious to me! Haha. I bought oh so much milk, I used oh so much money, and have been drinking milk everyday since. Just shy of 2L a day. If I don't get transferred, Ill use up all of my money there. Hopefully I'm transferred haha. I feel so dumb though that I had it in my area for 7.5 months, and never noticed it. :/

Conference was great. Didn't do much those days except for eating and watching conference. Lots of fun. I loved each of the talks. Every single time that I see or hear Elder Oaks, I want to be a lawyer. Every time. Who knows what will happen when I get home.

I loved conference. I wrote about everything worth writing about. I hope this next week is great. Ill be fasting soon for it to be a great week, and great work.  To answer your question, transfer day is Oct 30. So Ill be unpacking my things in my new area that night. Malapit na!!

Love you!

October 7, 2012

I heard about the new age for missionaries yesterday right after church. I didn't believe it at first. It came to one of the teachers at church to his cell phone through a text message. I immediately text President Bliesner to ask if it was true, because if so that's way sick! He text back saying that it was true. After that I sent a message to everyone in our district letting them know of the change. That is so awesome. The first thing I did when I got to the Internet shop was watch that clip of conference. President Monson is the man. It seemed like he was just talking directly to a person, you or me, not a whole group of people. He also seemed really humbled about it, he did it very well. I am so excited for Elder Holland's talk as well as Elder Christofferson and President Uchtdorf. They are all some of my favorites. I listen to Elder Holland talks everyday, and I want to be a speaker or a writer just like him. He kills it, he is so good with words. I love it. Are there any 18 year olds or almost 18 year olds in our ward or stake that I'd know who are planning on serving missions? That's a crazy thing to jump forward a year. I wish I could have done that!! Id be home by now haha, but oh well, I love my mission.

This week has been good. Just another week I think. We got a lot done this week. We met the standard of excellence for lessons and new investigators, and didn't even work on one of the days. On Tuesday we had exchanges with the Iriga 2 elders. On Wednesday, the 2nd day of the exchange we got back to our area, and started cooking lunch. That turned into a nightmare. I had bought 2 liters of boxed milk on Pday, and started and finished them on Wednesday. Elder Madsen and I also ate more than half of the giant bag he was sent from home, of giant peanut butter M&Ms that we kept in the fridge. We had so much.... Then we ate some of his skittles.... We were so sick to our stomach. I don't know if I told you this, but I have a problem with milk now. Its still my all time favorite, but if I drink more than 2 glasses I get an upset stomach. I drank 2L lol. It was sooo good, even though it was boxed haha. I'm just trying to get prepared for when I get home; a gallon a day baby. Anyway, that slowed down our work for that day.

On Thursday, we had to be in the Ligao chapel by 8 AM for DLC and Zone Training. During DLC the zone leaders told me that the assistants called them the night before and told them that I needed to attend both leadership trainings coming up this week, one in Naga and one in Legazpi, and they didn't say why. UGH. I really am excited, but that is going to just be so hard on our work, and support, plus I have no idea why I have to go to both! All of the other leaders in the mission like me, only have to go to one, north or south, depending where they are. So I'm excited/nervous. I text the APs the other night and asked why and they said because "Ive been very very pasaway haha." Which means naughty. It should be fun getting to see E Smith, E Gilliam before they go home though. Elder Smith is going to be so surprised to see me in the North tomorrow haha. Anyway, this takes place Tuesday, and the other one on Thursday. They are both all day events. We also won't have any work on Saturday or Sunday due to General Conference. It will be a long/crazy/awesome week.

Friday and Saturday were normal work days. We kicked butt, and taught all we could. I had exchanges with the ZLs on one of the days. We got 4 new investigators in less than an hour. Its hard just getting 2 a week. We were way pumped about that. We also taught 7 lessons together. When I was back with Elder Madsen, we went and taught one of our investigators, Alain and his family, that we met a while ago. He's the one who gave us a free ride on his pudjak. We taught them about the Aklat ni Mormon. It went great. At first I thought that Alain had something in his eye, but he was actually trying to hide his crying. I hope they progress more! Later that day Elder Madsen and I were walking. I tell everyone hello, good morning, afternoon, night whatever it is to everyone I see, no joke everyone. After saying it to a lady she stopped and started talking to us for 10 minutes right there in the street. She had a child with down syndrome with her, and I told her that my brother has autism, and we talked about that for a minute. The conversation went great. We got her address and an appointment to go back to her this week. She pointed to her house. It was some big monster house! Which is awesome! That is our weakness in the Philippines. The poor people are easy to baptize, but its hard to teach the rich people. I feel really blessed that we met her. BTW, the tithing money that is used in the Philippines is 90% foreign. That means out of every dollar the Church in the Philippines that is used, 90 cents of it comes from America. We are working on finding those that can really support the Church in their own land, and be truly reliant.

Sunday sucked and was awesome. Bad news first, church attendance sucked. I'm trying to use better words in my vocabulary but sucked and sucks fits. We have been working our buts off this transfer. No joke, we get lots of work done. We work hard, and church attendance sucked. We worked lots in the morning of Sunday but literally everyone told us straight to our faces that they weren't going to go to Church. I was so sad. They are one of the closest barangays to the church, but they just don't go. We spend so much time there with them every week. Ive been there 7.5 months; I know their stories and situations, and they still don't go to church. I'll list the reasons why: its muddy, its hot, it might rain, tired, my clothes are still drying (shouldn't wash on Sunday anyways), can't find this or that, etc. So lame. When we got to Church later that afternoon, everyone asked if I was ok, I told them that I was alright. I felt like I wanted to cry, which doesn't happen all too much. I have spent countless hours, etc. to try and help them to get to go to Church, and they don't. It used to be kind of funny to joke about, now I just get super sad thinking about it. Ive been here forever and I want to leave Baao better than it was when I got there, and I have a hard time believing that I did. 

Alright the good news. I gave my first baptismal interview yesterday. It went so great. The girl that is getting baptized this week by the Iriga elders is so awesome. She is Emma's age, but so super mature. Elder Maure (one of the Iriga elders) told me to be kind of easy on her in the interview. I thought, well she has to pass the interview, but she has to completely understand what she's about to do in order to pass. So I started the interview and we talked for just 2 or 3 minutes before I started asking the questions, and she just blew it all away. She knew everything so well. I didn't go easy, I thought maybe I can make this a tad harder, and ask a lot of Why questions. "Why do you want this?" Why you?"..etc. She knew it all and had great answers. I thought about her when I was at Church and was grateful that there are still lots of people with desires to do the right, and serve God, vs complaining about a patch of mud, or being tired. I hope everyone can be as ready as her. We are going to her baptism on Friday. I'm buying her a journal later today. I told her that I would and that every night she should write how her day went and what she felt from her new companionship of the Holy Ghost. COOL. 

my hand hurts bye. email me. love you

September 30, 2012

Hello! This week has been pretty good. We got a lot done this week. We met the standard of excellence, finally. That means we taught 25 lessons in a week. That's not to shabby especially because I am still training Elder Madsen, and because we didn't work at all on Wednesday. We had a district meeting and interviews with President on that day. Once we got home from that (at 5ish), neither Elder and I were feeling so good. It had been a long couple of days before that and we just needed to lay down haha. I never do that! But it was needed for sure. My body seemed mad at me for going non stop forever, it needed rest haha. Anyways we had a lot of lessons, and came home super pooped at the end of each day. The only problem was we didn't have a good turn out on Sunday. It wasn't rainy or anything, just way hot. It has been way hotter here than usual these past couple of days, but we haven't dead yet. Our members and investigators complain about it more than us. Haha wieners. Anyways it was pretty depressing going to church and seeing none of our 9 progressing investigators there, and half of the less actives we are working with. I want to leave this area better than I found it, and I have a hard time thinking that not much will have changed because of what I have done. 2 weeks or so ago we just completely filled the place, and everyone came up to the missionaries and said "thanks" and "great job." I told them it obviously wasn't me doing that, it was the Lord, and them making the change for themselves. Then its almost like people look at me when church attendance is low, and wonder why I don't do my job right. It makes me laugh wondering if they knew how many hours, and everything we put into our work for them and then they still don't make a move or change. I want to be more like a Jeffrey R Holland or a Brigham Young. They are amazing speakers, and so sophisticated and loving but are bold. Like what Elder Holland talked about I think 2 conferences ago, "being bold enough to singe the eyebrows a little...because anything else doesn't seem to work." I just know if I do that I could offend a lot of people. I think I could do it perfectly well in English, but Tagalog to me seems to be different. I just don't know how people here will take it. I just want to call them all to repentance and let them all know they are on the fast track to hell. (That's pretty Brigham Youngish...haha). I obviously wouldn't say something like that to someone. But I just want people to care. Oh well, hopefully everything works out. 

We've had several really humbling experiences this week. One is our friend, and group leader, Brother Jeff. Brother Jeff is the man. He is the man who needs the blessings that everyone else takes for granted. He can't even comprehend the fact that some teenager would complain about not having his gas tank filled, or not getting a really cool cell phone or something. This guy wants nothing more than to just feed his family. We were talking about Mathew 6, and Jesus' words about seeking the kingdom of God first, overall. He said that used to be the hardest thing.He said that the only thing he really finished in his mission was the 2 year part. He said rules became nothing, studies nothing, etc. and he went inactive. He talked about he hates the fact that he's always been a started and not a finisher. He said these past couple years he has been doing all that he can to be a finisher. He said since then life has been harder than ever. He sees members not paying tithing, gambling, drinking, etc and they always have something to feed the kids. It gets him mad thinking about it. Then he paused for a several long seconds and said "you know what I did last night?... I sold the vegetables I grew here...You know how much I made...?...20 pesos..." Then he kind of laughed, choked with a tear, and rested his head on the back of his chair, and took a deep breath. Then I shared with him what I shared for my DL message, about how the mission and life itself is our refiners fire. How we are all pieces of coal right now, but with hard work, and endurance we will eventually be the diamonds that God wants us to be in his Celestial kingdom. I basically shared everything Dad taught me in that email he sent. (thanks dad). He liked that, and offered us some vegetables before we left. He said they were free, but there was no way in heck I was going to take his free vegetables. He wouldn't take my money(100p, way way more than what those veggies cost), but I persisted. I am close enough with him, for him to not to have gotten mad at that. He really appreciated it. 

Oh I forgot to say that he was telling us how we landed a job interview with Yakult, driving a truck and restocking Yakult at stores. He wasn't able to get the interview in Naga though because he had no fare. He has it now, because of the veggies. I hope he gets the job. He would make 150-175p a day from that.... This guy is the man. He is the man of all men. He is humble, and deserving of everything we take for granted. Slap me if I ever complain of being without or ungrateful.
Not sure what else to write. Work is good. 

Love you

A Letter from the Mission Office

Dear Brother and Sister Kornegay,

We are pleased to announce that Elder Michael Kornegay has been assigned to serve as a District Leader/Trainer in the Philippines Naga Mission. This assignment reflects the trust and confidence of his Mission President and the Lord and reflects the will of the Lord expressed through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Elder Kornegay is a wonderful missionary with strong missionary skills and is loved and respected by his fellow missionaries and the other leaders within the mission.  This assignment brings opportunity for growth and a need for even greater humility, but does not overshadow his primary responsibility to invite Heavenly Father's children to return to Him.

Thank you for communicating with  Elder Kornegay on a regular basis and for encouraging him in humility, diligence and obedience.

We are confident that Elder Kornegay will put forth his best efforts in this new assignment and that he will strive to be exactly obedient in living the commandments of God and all of the mission rules.  Thank you for sending us such a great missionary.

President Ronald D. Bliesner
Philippines Naga Mission
39 Panganiban Rd., Naga City
4400 Camarines Sur

September 23, 2012

Maligayang pasko!

Love you too. This week has been great. We are at the SM (a mall) right now in Naga city. We texted President last night and asked if we could go to Naga to buy some things, shoes, maybe a new pair of pants, and milk. Elder Madsen needs a new dictionary, etc. Hey President just actually walked by us with Sister Bliesner and said hey haha. I'm so glad that its finally P-Day! This has been a long week, just so much stuff going on. We are trying our best to hit the Standard of Excellence (25 lessons) this week but we only got 21. I know we would've had almost 30 if we didn't have a meeting on Thursday and didn't get any work done on that day. As well as Monday, we didn't get any work there either. I am a District Leader now. Yep I found out last Tuesday. Its fun, and I'm excited for it. I get to go on exchanges with all of the Elders in my district which I will start tomorrow. This means I also give workshops at district meetings. I gave one last week for my first week as a district leader, and it went really really well. I was nervous at first, but it went really well, and Im not to nervous anymore. That meeting we had on Thursday was DLC (district leader council) for the 3 DLs in the zone and their companions. do you remember my future roommate and really good friend here in the mission Elder Salas? He is my ZL now! I'm so stoked that guy is awesome. I'm excited to get to go on exchanges with him.

I had some cool experiences this week. Yesterday morning, we tried giving a baptismal date to a fairly new investigator. Her husband is a LA member, who we are working with. They love us, the missionaries, they love when we come over but yesterday she wouldn't accept our baptismal date, we will keep working with her though. Not only her, but her other of age children, who are also investigators. We taught lesson one so well to her! And reviewed our last message about scriptures and the Book of Mormon, and she was really starting to understand it all. Then at the end I asked, when you know this is true, will you be baptized by one holding the Priesthood authority of God? She was taken back, and just started talking and talking, so fast. I understood her though, it was great. I just kept thinking about a lady who talked like her from Paracale, and I just never understood her. At least I know I'm getting better haha. Anyways, she was worried she'd have to go tracting as a member, she'd have to go on a mission, she'd have to do all of these crazy things. I told her that's not true, and I told her what her only obligations would be, and she was surprised. She said she really wants to know the truth of our message, but that she doesn't want to leave the Church she was raised in. I told her that when she wants to know the truth, she will, and that she'll have to act on it. So we closed the lesson and asked her to pray and she did. She just started bawling about halfway through. She asked to know if it was true. She was too embarrassed to look at us as we left so she hid her face and laughed a little as we left. Then I told Elder as we were leaving "I think she just got her answer" hahaha.

Also this week we had the opportunity to work with Bro Jeff again. One time we went to his house this week to share to his wife, who is coming back to the Church. We heard them talking with the kids that they were just eating boiled bananas that night for dinner. They had run out of rice, and didn't have any sort of ulam (rice topping). As Jeff and us walked outside I told him that I was hungry but told him that Elder and I didn't know how to cook very well. I asked that if we bought the food, that they'd teach us how to cook it. He said of course! So Elder and I went and bought a bunch of ingredients to make Laing, one of my favorite dishes. We also bought almost 4 kilos of rice... a lot more than what we would have needed. We probably only needed .75 kilo for all of us at the house to eat. We went straight out to work again after that, we told them that we had appts to go and teach so that they should just start cooking, and that we'll learn next time haha. Smooth. It was a really good dinner. We are doing that again later tonight. We are going to learn how to cook tinula, which I love as well. 

Its really expensive at the SM to Internet, so Ill finish this later when I can at a cheaper place! Love u

September 16, 2012

Whats up? Have you both been? Life is going good here. Today is the first day of my 10th transfer. Everything is going by so quick! Elder Madsen and I have now been together for one transfer, and we only have one more left then I'm transferred!! Woo! I'm pretty excited to be transferred and everything, I am going to miss this area so so much, but I'm ready for my 3rd area. Haha. We finally got everything moved into our new apartment. It kind of sucks not having power but our landlord hooks us up to their generator about half of the time. So we have power from about 9-10 at night until about 7-8 in the morning, which is nice. It kind of sucks when there isn't power for an electric fan, but everyone is thinking that by the 25th, the power will be back permanently. Sana! Our landlord is so so nice. Like I said, they hook us up to their power, always are cooking us food, etc. We ate dinner there at there house last night after we got back from work. We had lots of really good chicken adobo and lots and lots of rice. By the way I'm really craving rice right now, kaya sana Ill go get some lunch soon. They are so awesome and are always asking us if we have eaten or if we want to eat food haha. So awesome. They have asked us lots of church questions and they want us to share our message to them sometime. Sweet! I'm way excited for that. The only kind of problem is that they call us 'Michael and Austin or Brother.' They asked about what does 'Elder' mean, and I explained how it means missionary, etc. They thought that Elder was our actual name haha. Then they asked what our real names were, and we told them, now they wont stop calling us that! Or Brother....haahahaha. We told them we should go by the name on our name tags because we are missionaries hahaha I hope that stops soon. But more times than not its Brother. haha. When we don't have electricity at the house, we also don't have running water! So there is a well like thing at the apartment complex that is for all of the residents to use. It is a free flowing waterway down in a cement kind of pit thing. Its where we shower, and wash dishes when we don't have power hahaha! Sometimes its sketchy showering at night because I just know there are people watching, I've seen and heard them. They're trying to get an American peep show. I never shower in it at morning because the whole world will see me naked lol.

This week we have been keeping really busy. Obviously the move took us until Wednesday. We have finally gotten everything situated, its about time. We still were able to teach 19 lessons this week, which is pretty solid for a week like this, especially with the training schedule going on. Our landlord said that President Bliesner stopped by the apartment on Friday morning, around 1030 or 11, but we were out at work. I have no idea why! He has so many things to do, I don't know why he'd come to us, but we were out doing our morning work, which is a weakness in the mission so that makes us look pretty good haha. On Saturday, we worked with Brother Jeff, our group leader. I love this guy so much. He is the 2nd missionary to have come from Baao. He is so awesome, funny, and good at teaching. He is almost 40 now, and has 3 kids, a wife, and a mother in law to care for but he still finds time to work with us. He is the one who asked for a polo. I wish I could just send him a million dollars or something. If anyone needs it/deserves it its him. Anyways, he went to work with us on Saturday. We taught like 6 lessons that day, contacted 7 LA's, and ate lunch at a members house. He took us out to our very very farthest area, and showed us where the LA's were, now we know where to go when we go out there! It was so awesome. One of them went to Church yesterday, and we have high hopes for the rest of them. It seems like the farther away/harder to get to members are more receptive to those who are so close. Like I said one of them fed us eggplant and rice for lunch. It was the best eggplant Ive had in my mission, as well as the best rice. I was in love with the kind of rice we ate. They grew it all (eggplant/rice) themselves. I worry that when I get home to America I wont like the kind of rice out there :/ I'm also in love with vegetables here in the Philippines. Those are my favorite kinds of ulams-vegetables. I love all of it, and that's why I'm getting so fat haha.

We had a lot of members who went to Church yesterday, even though it was rainy. I really have big hopes for this area. We had 40 people attend church this past week. We killed it! Our very very best in Paracale was like 47 or 48. I think in 2 weeks or so, we can get 45. No doubt. Everyone had such a good time going to Church last week that I think they'll all go back. Yesterday Elder Madsen and I spoke in Church. I spoke about what I learned about in my personal study. I am reading a church book called "Lay hold upon the good work of God". It's like a church book/class manual. So good. I spoke about lengthening our stride as members as well as the power of one. I had this impression of what to talk about before church yesterday, while we were out working, as I was looking at my stride. I talked about how we as members might have not to big of strides, in missionary work, and as well as in everyday lives. I stood at the front and walked a couple of steps in small small steps, and asked "After 10 minutes where will I end up?" obviously not much progress, then I took 2 big strides, and asked "where will I be in 10 minutes like this?" It worked better than I thought it would. I said that we might not be meeting our potential. Then I talked about how all of us have a great potential to do great things. I then talked about the power of just one person and the power of their big strides. I used to examples Joseph Smith, and Jesus Christ. I said because of just one Joseph Smith, one person, who went maybe out of his comfort zone, to kneel and pray out loud, is the roots of an almost 15 million member church, with the true priesthood that is growing everyday. I also talked about, one Jesus Christ, who because he kept himself free from sin, who even though lived among imperfections, and sin all of his life, chose the right, always, and was able to perform the Atonement for us. Now we all have the ability to return to live with God again. Before I finished the talk, I talked about things that we can do to lengthen our stride: family scripture study everyday, family prayer everyday, setting better examples, and repenting. It went better than I thought it would, haha. I spoke for just short of 25 minutes, the longest talk Ive ever given. Not to shabby. I asked Bro Jeff to count my mistakes before I spoke so I will no what to work on. 2. I'm still working on fixing those 2. But I still don't sound like a Filipino yet, still a long way to go.

Love you!

September 9, 2012

This week has been crazy. We only got 14 lessons this week but we've been working hard though. Sorry this email isn't going to be very long just because I burnt the heck out of my index finger on my right hand this week while cooking and it hurts like heck to type and it takes forever too! I have a nice giant blister on it haha.

We are moving into our new apartment later tonight, and we still have so much to pack, and clean. It is so stressful and crazy but it will for sure help the work here in Baao. This week we have spent several days moving some of the stuff in, finishing the contracts, explaining tax stuff, trying to figure out why we wont have power until the 25th, etc. Its so crazy. I never want to move again. It should all be done by tomorrow though!! :)

We are doing good with our investigator work as well as our investigator work. We are planning to give 4 baptismal dates this week. I hope they all happen! Elder Madsen and I have been pretty masipag! We are hoping everything goes well with them. This week we had two different trainings. We went to Ligao on Wednesday and on Thursday for trainer/trainee training as well as zone training. I am so tired of traveling and moving around. Its not as much that I am sick of traveling, its wasting money that I'm tired of haha.

I'm not sure what else to really tell you about this week, I'm so sorry. President is picking us up from Iriga centro in about 30 minutes or so, and we will be taking him to a member in our area's house (our farthest area) so that he can give her a temple recommend interview. I'm so excited for this member, her family all wants to be sealed, but mom is getting her endowment first, because she is ready now and the temple trip is this week.

Tell Dad that I need some advice. I have been thinking so much about my mission. I have been thinking about everything Ive learned and stuff and I feel like I haven't learned nearly as much as I should have by now. We learned when Elders Cook Ardern and Callister came to Naga mission that we need to be more consecrated missionaries. Ive been reading talks about grace from Brad Wilcox in the "BYU Classics" as well as Elder David A Bednars from the "classics" page. It talks about the Atonement being an every day thing. It talks about the enabling power of the Atonement and its power verses just the redemptive power of it. I think I have a weakness in all of these things. I want to be totally changed, when I come back. Kind of like the change that Alma had. The change that when I get invited to go see an inappropriate movie with friends when I get home, or something seemingly small like that, I wont even have to think about the choice. Ill just do whats right, without thinking or doubting my decision. Its so hard and I don't want to come home until I've mastered this. What did you do in your mission dad to be more Christlike?

September 3, 2012

Whats up? This week has been good. It's been such a crazy long day. We've been getting a lot done this week, and are having a good time. First, its funny how you recently asked about my clothes. This week both, one of my polos, and a pair of pants got wholes in them, so I just recently got fitted for a pair, and should hopefully get them finished this week. I'm going to try and fix the holes but I ordered the extra polo and pants just in case my other clothes start to give out soon. I spent just under a 900P for both a custom pair of pants and polo. 

This week, Friday or Saturday maybe, we had an earthquake. It was way cool to experience that. It's the first earthquake I've ever felt, it wasn't that strong but it was enough, and long enough to get our attention, etc. It was way cool. We ran outside and saw the streetlights shaking pretty good.

We had such a fun/great opportunity to go out to work with President Bliesner this week. It was so fun, I loved it. We got a text on our phone last Monday night from him saying that he wanted to come and work with us. We started freaking out. I was so nervous! I'm a trainer, and of course I'm responsible for everything that goes wrong. I wanted to make sure that everything went perfect haha. So after we got the text I just started praying, then the next day we changed our plans for the day. We were originally supposed to go to an area called Sagrada, but we didn't want kids throwing poop or something at him, so we changed the plans to a different area. We planned to go to 2 LA's, and 2 Investigators, as well as check out the apartment we wanted to get. So first when President got there, we all drove in his car to our area from Iriga to Baao, and checked out the apartment. He approved it after talking to the owner about what changes he wants made. The owner speaks weak English like most people here so he basically promised President anything he wanted for free: bars on windows, screens, new paint, etc. Haha it was sweet. So then we sat down and I took the information we needed for the contract and President and I explained the tax info to the owner. After that we headed to Sister Barena's. We just normally call her Jaylee's mom. At first we didn't think there were people there, but then they eventually answered, and we BRTed for a minute then prayed, and then taught the lesson. Our lesson was about her reading assignment in Helaman 6. It went so well. I let Elder Madsen lead as much as he could, and he did so good. I filled in all of the rest then I asked President about pride to answer for all of us, then he did that, left his testimony and closed the lesson.That was in English but it was sooo good because Sis Barena and Jaylee were crying, score! Lol. After that We walked around for a bit, made return appts for an investigator, left pamphlets for people we decided to contact in the street, etc. Then we drove to a guy named Bro B. Bro B is sooo awesome, but he is LA for some personal debt that he owes to an old member. He is in his late 30's and is a Melchizedek priesthood holder. We work with him all the time but he just never comes to Church. So when President text us saying he wanted to work with us, Bro B was the first guy I wanted to visit. I also changed our lesson plan to Repentance and Alma 36, which worked really well. We parked close to this guy's house, contacted some people, made return appointments, then went to Bro B. It went so well, might be the best lesson I've ever been a part of. I think it was amazing for President to be there, at the end of the lesson, President wanted to share one more verse, and he did, then he just called that guy out in a perfect way. He told him that we need him and his priesthood at Church, it was in English, but Brother started crying, and he said he would. President prayed and he dropped us off at our next appt. Before he left he said the only thing wrong with the whole day was that I didn't leave a reading assignment at the first appointment. That's it. I was so relieved. I was expecting a big overview of everything I was doing wrong, which would've been ok, because then I'd know what to fix. He is super pleased with Elder Madsen, and how he teaches so much, when he is still so new. I'm so glad he got to come work with us. After we reviewed the day, he talked to us for just a couple of minutes about some Mormon broadcast on NBC, etc. Then we left. It was so funny seeing kids touch and press their faces up to President's car, even though we were inside of it, or when we were walking up to it. They just kept doing it, it was hilarious. They also called President Joe, as well haha. It was by far my favorite day of work in my mission. 

Even though we taught a lot of lessons and got a bunch of new investigators, not a lot of people went to church this week. Our teaching pool has gotten so big, that there isn't time to give everyone the time we need. We are trying to figure everything out. Elder Madsen and I keep joking that we need to start doing disobedient things so that we will stop our teaching pool from growing. Its so huge. Yesterday before Church we taught 6 lessons, and basically ran to each of them before Church it was an insane day. Yesterday while we were riding to Church from our last lesson in the AM, I started praying that Bro B would go to church. I prayed for a minute or 2, and when I opened my eyes I noticed we had stopped almost just in front of his house. I thought, huh how funny, what a coincidence. Then we rode for another 10 minutes or so until the stop right in front of where we get off to go to Church, and I got off the front exit after a couple other people and I jump off and turn directly to right and almost run straight into Bro B! It was crazy. I was so surprised. I couldn't have been more surprised....maybe if I saw you guys there, but its a close call. It turns out we were on the same bus! He got on the back exit and we didn't see each other, it was sooo sick! I was sooo happy! A week from tomorrow, we move into our new apartment, I'm so pumped!

Out of things to write about.
Love Me