This week there have been moments of heartbreak. But there have also been moments of inexplicable joy and happiness. One of those happy moments happened this last week when I was chosen to be interviewed by President Ian Ardern, the President of the Philippines Area 70. We talked about a lot of different things in my interview (all topics of which were dicerned by the Spirit and brought up by him) But the one thing I want to share with you is a message he told me that I should tell you. He said in his thick New Zealand accent
"Elder Dahle, you are a bright, wonderful missionary and a jolly good fellow (yeah go ahead and read it with the accent), and I want your parents to know that I think so. And I think you are exactly the missionary that they think you are, which is perfect."
Hahaha we laughed and talked for a good 10 minutes about my mission and the trials I have had and the things I have overcome. And something he did at the beginning of the interview really stood out to me. He asked me how long I had been on my mission and when I answered he look at me and took the piece of paper in his hands that had the names of those 4 missionaries he was going to interview including my name and he torn a thin strip down the side. He then found a spot a little less than halfway and tore the paper into two pieces. He placed them on the desk and told me that they represented how far I have come and how much I have left to go. He told me on the smaller one he wanted me to write 4 things I had conquered and on the other 6 things I have yet to conquer. "...And Elder Dahle I am not talking about to-do-list goals like 'read the book of Mormon 3 times' or anything like that. but more like PMG chapter 6..."
So I did. And it really put perspective on how much of me has really changed. I am still the core of who I was when I left. But with so much more direction than I did before. I am not where I want to be yet. But I am facing the right way.
Anyway, this week was good but also hard (as all of the previous weeks have been ' good but hard'). This area is honestly way tough. Significantly harder than San Manuel ever was for me. At least there we achieved our goals. Here it is nearly impossible. The mission vision of excellence has now increased significantly and a lot more is expected of us. But I know that with the praying and fasting that Elder Sta. Maria and I have been doing it is possible. There is slow but steady progress every single week. Our main focus right now is finding because we dropped a really significant amount of investigators last week (which is a really really awful feeling if I might add). And three of our IBD's dropped themselves :(. One of which by suddenly making the decision to ditch her family and illegally sneak into Malaysia to make more money. With no passport.... The survival statistic of such decision are staggering. Some serious tears were shed at the lack of prayer and scripture study and serious thought put into making that decision. She left yesterday so we don't know if she made it or not.
So because of the shortage of investigators we are now really focused on finding. And to quote Elder Dahle's last email (Derek) "so here in the Philippines it is really hard to find at night time, like if you disturb people during a meal you pretty much insult them right away" So really hours from 630-900 are dead and if we dont have an appointment at that time we are toast.
Anyway, I am loving my mission despite the roller coaster ride it has become. We are really putting all our studies and energy into having the spirit so then we can find the right people, and effectively teach them with power and authority of our calling. Elder Sta. Maria is easily my favorite companion and I am so happy to be here striving with him in this are even though it is hard.
I want you all to know that I know this church is true. The priesthood keys and power held by the remaining eleven apostles after the death of the Savior are now again held in full authority and right by the Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I encourage you all to take the term 'Saint' and give all time talent and energy into being a true disciple of Jesus Christ. This message in not hapless. It is not hopeless. It is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is to change us and change the world, and it is every second of every day. I love you all so much.