This week was probably the hardest ive ever had. I had a really hard time most days, but grew a little more each day. I am super happy now. I will tell you all about it :)
Homesickness was the worst thing ever. I had a really really hard time. Every day it seemed that my heart was breaking. I would read the scriptures harder than ever before, and pray with all of my heart to feel relief from the burden. I missed you all so much. I was really really hurt and felt inconsolable. Each day I seemed to find a little peace, a verse or something that would lift me from my pain just enough to continue on. But in general, my hours were filled with thoughts of you and despair that I cant see you. Little things would turn my thoughts to you. It was so hard. I kept reflecting on dad's words. "the first two weeks of any job are the hardest. This is the hardest job you will ever have. But not near as hard as what the savior did"
I reflected on that again and again, praying to my savior. One morning I sat in my apartment and cried unto my savior, "Jesus, my savior. Why would you choose to feel this pain? you were perfect! you didn't need to feel this way. Why would you choose to feel like this?" In my heart I seemed to hear the words, "because I love you Connor. More than you can imagine." my heart was so full of gratitude towards my savior. I poured out my heart unto him in thanksgiving for eternal family and for his constant love in my life. I began to feel his healing power in my mission. Even through that experience, I was still struggling out here. I still missed you with all my heart and felt terrible. I kept praying to my savior to feel relief. I kept studying and working hard but I was still filled with such sorrow for the people I love so much. On Friday we had a ward activity at the church (which I will tell you about in a sec). Before entering into that chapel I was weighed down with so much despair and so much pain.
It felt like Satan was throwing everything he could at me. I felt absolutely terrible. As soon as I entered that chapel my pain was washed away. I felt absolutely wonderful. My heart felt weightless. i felt so relieved of my pain. I was filled with such amazing joy. Alma best describes how i felt in Alma 36:18-20. My joy was as overwhelming as was my pain. I felt so happy. I remembered how much i love my savior and that I am out here to share his love with the world. Pain is temporary. Our separation
is temporary. Family is eternal. Joy is eternal. Because of his sacrifice, we get to be together forever! never to be separated ever again! oh that brings me so much happiness. You have no idea how happy that makes me. That truth is the most beautiful thing ever created.
Another trial I had was that we are working harder than I have ever worked before. we work 70 hours a week outside in the heat, speaking another language all day. That was really hard. I felt like overwhelmed and tired. My body ached and i just wanted to be at home. I was frustrated with rejection, people not keeping commitments, and I felt like I couldn't truly love the people here because I cant speak their language. On Sunday I fasted to love the work and to love the people. In sacrament meeting, all of the speakers spoke about work. They spoke about how work helps us to grow and how the pain is temporary. They spoke about their missions and how hard it was in the beginning and how they loved it after they had suffered through homesickness and fatigue and how they would do it all again. It seemed like a message from god to me. I really needed it. In the 2nd hour we talked about how work is ordained of God and about having a good attitude and finding joy in our work. The entire church day was just what I needed. Its amazing how much god refreshes us on the sabbath and how much of a blessing that fasting is. I really enjoyed ward council and being around all the members. They are all so kind and wonderful. We have dinner appointments almost every day which is awesome! The best part of m day was that we visited the villanuava family after our meetings. We went to their house and sat and visited with them before sharing our message. I noticed all of the teenagers playing the PI version of rock paper scissors, which involves a lot of slapping. I decided that i wanted to try and so I jumped in. It was so much fun!!!! they would laugh hysterically whenever my hand was slapped because it would turn red (because I'm white and they aren't) It was hilarious! we all were laughing, playing various games, and taking pictures together. They all wanted pictures with me and videos of me. It was the highlight of my day. Afterward we shared a message. We started by singing families can be together forever, and then shared about how keeping god's commandments can help us return to him and feel his never ending joy. I looked into their eyes while I was sharing and was absolutely touched. In their eyes I saw overwhelming love for the savior and for me. While i shared they seemed to be glowing with joy. I realized in that moment that i loved them. That even with the language barrier, that I loved them with all my heart and that they loved me too. I realized that my whole perception of my mission was wrong. Its so easy to get focused on numbers. Its so easy to get caught up in your goals and forget why we are here., We are here to bring families unto Christ. In that moment I realized , that if I worked for the entirety of two years and only baptized them, that it would all be worth it. I looked into their eyes and saw my family. I saw the joy and peace we have from knowing that our family is forever. I realized how lucky I am to be here. To be a messenger of my savior! to be consecrated as his servant and to be here serving the people of the pi!! oh the joy that gives me!! I love my savior with all my heart and am so grateful that he loves us enough to suffer every pain, so that we can live together forever. I cant even imagine traveling this difficult life without knowing that family is forever. I can't imagine it. I am so grateful for him and that he loves us enough to bear our burdens and lift us when we feel broken.
Alright family I have jobs for you. I know now more than ever that Satan is working really hard to discourage and hurt god's children. I want you all to be as happy as possible. So i have a few requests. I know they may be hard. I totally get how busy that life gets, but I know these will keep you safe and that you will feel closer to me. I want you to do family scripture and prayer every single night. If i could come home right now, that would be the first thing i would want to do with all of you.
The second is that I want you to have family home evening every single week. I know that you are all very busy with activities and life, but you will never regret those evenings together. I love and miss family home evening. Please cherish it. It is such a gift to us. Please do it every week. The third is scripture study. Landon, i want you to read at least one chapter of the book of Mormon every day. It will help you feel the saviors love and feel close to him. Nicole, mom, and dad. I want you to do 30 mins a day of scripture study. I know that can be very hard sometimes but i promise that it will strengthen you more than anything else. I've come to love scripture study out here more than anything else. I wake up every morning so excited to read. It
is an anchor for me and I want it to be for you too. Lastly, I want you all to pray with all of your heart each night. to thank heavenly father for all fot your blessings and to ask Christ to help you where you are hurting. I promise that these will bring the blessings of heaven into your lives more than anything else. Your testimonies will be strengthened and Satan wont be able to hurt you.
Alright so now for more PI stuff. The ward is amazing. Everyone is so friendly and wonderful. I have so many people that I've grown to love. I don't have a lot of pictures yet of them but i will get them soon. The ward mission leader, brother jared, is super funny! he is absolutely hilarious. He smiles at all times and uplifts everyone around him. He loved talking with us and is very focused on the missionary work here in san juan. The morales family is so kind! they came up to us and said that they would like to feed us once a week. Dinner at their house is so great. They are both so bubbly and kind. I love them so much. Elder vicencio is the best!! he is a former 70 who works so hard to get us referrals. We have two from him and one of them is progressing so much. We hope to baptize her by the end of the month! at every lesson, we teach at his house. His family brings out a ton of food for us! so every Thursday we teach there and eat. Its so great! he is so great! his daughter in law is an English speaker who lives in a Tagalog speaking nation. It is kind of nice to go and talk to her in English. She is having a hard time learning Tagalog. Their family is so wonderful. I absolutely love when we get to go there. Bishop mendoza is so great too! he
is a convert. This sunday he talked about his conversion. He wasn't accepting anything that the missionaries were sharing. Until one day he looked outside and saw the missionaries playing with his children. He saw how much his children loved them, and his heart was touched. He thought, "if they loved them and had received them, why haven't i" the gospel has touched his life so much. I also love an Rm here. His name is toti. He served in naga, PI. He is going out with us next week to teach some lessons!
that's going to be wonderful. there is also a 14 year old boy here that I love with all of my heart. I have no idea how to spell his name, but he is the kindest soul I've met here. Every sunday he runs up to me saying "brother Dyches! brother Dyches!!" he asks all about america and me. He is so great. I have such a great friendship with him. Hes going to be such a wonderful missionary someday. Sister michelle and her family are wonderful! we are teaching her daughter in law. It is so fun to do lessons with them. They are so wonderful. One thing you have to be careful about here is that all families live in one big group. Grandma, father, kids, everyone lives together. So most families we teach are part members. So during our lesson we were drinking this delicious cucumber juice that they gave us. It was so tasty. Sister michelle came into the room and was horrified! she said! "elders I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry! grandma made that and she put tea in it! you don't need to repent, I will repent for you! i am so sorry!" It was so funny. I guess that I broke the word of wisdom out here.
I have never drank so much water or so much soda in my life. All of the members here are so hospitable and give us soda. They truly love the missionaries unlike anywhere I've ever seen. Its so great! I also tried a sugar apple today which was so delicious!
i loved it! All of the people here are super nice but a ton are super super shy. its hard to get them to talk because they are so shy. They are so humble and wonderful though. The kids are crazy!!! wonderful but crazy! my comp says that it is because I'm white and they love white people. My favorite thing is to give high fives. I lift my arm above my head and they try to jump as high as they can. They come in giant groups to talk to us. Its so great! their favorite thing to do is to wrap their arms around my arm and for me to lift them above my head. They giggle with such joy, its so awesome. I can tell that here you win the hearts of the people through the children. When i play with them, i see the smiles and touched hearts of all of the adults watching.
Its my favorite part of being here. The kids are so wonderful. There is a reason that we are commanded to come as little children. They are so full of light. So happy and so kind. I love the teenagers too. They all love white people. They love it when we talk to them in their language. It is so great.
People here use umbrellas to block the sun. I'm definitely going to start, since it feels like we are going to die in this heat at times. There are little tiny stores at every corner where you can by a soda for 20 cents, and juice. I love those little stores. They have so much personality. It so fun here! my favorite part is night. Walking around the city at night or looking out at it on my bed (i call my bed Aladdin's perch since it reminds me of that) i love looking out and knowing that their are hearts out there just waiting for Christ's love.
We had a ward activity this friday. We invited all the families that were applying to be declared drug free (previous addicts) to the church. There we watched the first vision, where justice and mercy meet, and a tagalog video. After the first vision my comp and I talked about it and bore testimony to the group. It seems that a lot of them were really touched. We got a lot of referrals from it. Afterward we all ate. They love eating here and they love feeding us. I ate a plate, and a sister came and
offered me another. I replied that i had already eaten one. The ward mission leader then came and started laughing and said, "elder dyches you messed up your tagalog, what you meant to say was I haven't eaten that plate yet" so funny! the people here are so great!! my tagalog is coming to the point where I'm starting to be able to show my personality in it which is exciting. during the dinner we talked a ton with all the people and made some great friends. After the dinner a sister came up to my companion and asked where my last area was. I responded that i had only been in the field for 9 days. She was astonished! the ward mission leader said to me, "yeah you're good at taglog! why?" I have definitely felt the help of the spirit in my tagalog and I've had
a wonderful companion to help me. He is now letting me lead when we go finding. He pushes me to speak as much as I can which is awesome! I dreamt in tagalog the other night!! it was so weird! i woke up very surprised! ah my family I'm having so much fun.
When i stop and count my blessings, i have so many.
There are so many stray animals here. They wander all over the place. I feel so bad for them! but all of the house pets are so cute here. All of the dogs love the missionaries. Its so great! i miss my daisy though! i love that girl.
I'm having so much fun! i love my savior! he is the light of my life. He has rescued me time and time again from the sadness of despair. I am so grateful to be his missionary. I get the wonderful opportunity to spend two years to just think about him. No distractions. Just his gospel. I love it out here. The people are so wonderful. They are all so ready for the gospel. I love you all so much my family. You all mean so much to me! check my photos! i got some great stuff! you get to meet the villanueva family!! I love my mission. It is so hard, but oh the joy of watching people come unto Christ. Watching their understanding and love grow. Ask questions! I'm here to answer. I love you all so much!!!!