Sunday, November 19, 2017

Success and Some Other Things

Success mixed with failure isn't too bad, because the success overrules it all. At least in my case it does. 

Got some fun events that went down along with days where nothing happened. Overall I am happy with life and the mission is going great. 

Got to work with some more people in my district, got to hold something new, and got to see 2 more amazing people baptized!

So here's something you don't see in America: while walking by a couple of kids we know, they decided to show us a giant lizard that their family got. They picked it up, twirled it around, tried to open its mouth like it was nothing. When I finally got the guts to hold it, turns out it wasn't bad. Also they took out it's fangs so we're all good. I can now say I've held a big lizard in the Philippines.

As for the work, I had a couple of fun days along with some slow days. This week of work for the most part was mostly us walking around looking for someone to teach and everyone being gone or busy. We had 3 days this week (one I was sick so we went out late) where every appointment we went to fell through, and we had to wander around for awhile. But all is well. 

I did have the opportunity to go on 2 exchanges, one with Elder Lalangan and one with Elder Pacapac. The greatest thing about working with Elder Lalangan is his area was my 2nd area when I was only 6 months in the mission. So you can imagine how happy I was to go back and say hi. We were able to teach a couple of good lessons, and eat dinner at the Bishop's house (who's family is one of my favorite). The kids were happy to see me. The 3 year old girl (Riley) apparently tells everyone I'm her boyfriend so guess I have a girlfriend (don't get mad Mom) but it was nice to see them. They were impressed that I actually ate a lot of vegetables. It's a work in progress.

On Thursday I headed over to the other area in Vintar with Elder Pacapac. The first 30 minutes we spent trying to go to people and none of them were home. As the time passed we were able to find people to teach. Elder Pacacpac is a really good teacher, especially since he's only been on his mission for 3 months.

The work is going well over there. Last Saturday night around 5, we headed back home and waited for a jeepney (which is a really long jeep, basically like a bus...kinda.) and at 5:30 we headed over to Laoag to the Bantay chapel for the baptism of Karen and Elsie.

It ended it up being a great success, and we got a good amount of people to come. The Spirit was very strong during the baptism, and they are both very happy. On Sunday they were able to be confirmed as members of the church. The blessing is that even though Karen works, and at first she wasn't able to come because of that job, her manager will now allow her to come to church every Sunday! God really does provide a way.

The Vintar life is going well. The branch is still growing. The 35 of us that came yesterday are happy. Numbers don't matter. I know the work is hastening and I'm happy to help others come unto Christ. Love you all! 

Elder Espiritu

**you can email Elder Espiritu at joseph.espiritu@myldsmail.net


The floral tie squad (Thanks again Mom and Dad!)



Dinner once again with the Florez family



Vintar and Laoag STL's (Sister Pangilinan and sister Pestano)


My little bald friends and a lizard


Baptism of Sister Karen Melchor and Sister Elsie Ibana



Inside the jeepney

Sunday, November 12, 2017

God Will Provide a Way

I have come to appreciate a couple of more things this week, such as indoor plumbing. I am also happy with my calling as District leader and the opportunity to go on exchanges with our district. The people here are awesome too. We had some pretty good success this week, and have some bad news that became great!

So first, like I said I am grateful for plumbing. One morning the pipe in our bathroom broke, so we had no water that day. The best thing was I needed to wash the dishes and my clothes, so I had to take lots of trips to the water pump (bumba) outside our apartment, wash my clothes, wash all the dishes and shower in water that smells like metal. It's all good though. Our landlady had it fixed right away. 

As for another fun event, we had another exchange this week. This time I went with Elder Johnson, who is from Australia. The exchanges went awesome and it was a fun day. 

After doing studies we headed out and talked a lot. The lessons we taught were great and I felt the Spirit when we both taught. We taught some really good lessons and it felt great teaching. He is still a little new with his Tagalog but it went well. We're pretty good friends. That night he wanted pizza, so he paid for the majority and we split the difference with us other 5. He's a good Elder!

As for the work this week, it was actually one of the best weeks we had in a long time. Almost every day (except Saturday, which was the most punted (missed appts) day). We taught really good lessons and found some friendly people. We were finally able to extend some more baptismal dates! I'm grateful for the chance to find friendly people here. So far they have really good potential to progress.

So here's the bad news that became good: While I was on exchanges with Elder Johnson we went to one of our progressing investigators, Karen. Once we got there we were told she wasn't home yet, which made my heart sink a little. The reason she wasn't progressing before was cause she had a job and turns out she got a job again. 

When she got home we decided to teach 1 Nephi 17 to her about Nephi building a ship. We used the point that if we trust the Lord, he is capable of anything, such as helping Nephi build a ship and helping Karen go to church. It was a great lesson and we felt the Spirit. 

The next lesson with Elder Trinidad and I, the possibility of Karen going to church and being baptized did not seem good. We then taught D&C 82:10 about promises. So I promised her I would give her Twix that my parents sent me for my Christmas packages (sorry Mom I opened it early but it was for a good cause!) and told her the blessings that would come.

You can imagine how happy we were that Sunday when Karen showed up to church. We asked her if she still had a job and she said yes, but she told them she is going to church on Sundays so there she was! We then asked her if she could do that every Sunday even with her job. She decided to trust in the Lord and decided to solidify her baptism this Saturday! God will always provide a way!

I will once again state that I love the mission and all that happens. I always feel blessed when we have good weeks. They always outweigh the bad. 

I know this church is true, and I know the doctrine of baptism and following the example of Jesus Christ is the gateway to exaltation. I'm excited for this week! Stay tuned!

Elder Espiritu

**you can email Elder Espiritu at joseph.espiritu@myldsmail.net


 Exchanges with my boy Elder Johnson (also it's his birthday today)




Another pizza party



Preach the gospel to every creature


Using the bumba for water


The Vintar squad




Sunday, November 5, 2017

Work, Work, Work

It's kinda weird how holidays here feel way different from when I celebrated them at home. But oh well, Happy Halloween last week! Our week consisted of a pretty busy week. Most of it happened out of our area. We were able to go to Laoag for exchanges with the Zone leaders, then had another exchange with the other elders in Vintar, saw a couple of different things, and have a couple of other small great things come to pass! 

This Tuesday after district meeting we headed back to our area and were able to attend a birthday of a 95 year old woman here. She was the mom of one of the other Elders’ investigators Elsie, who is a 58 year old very sweet woman. This last Saturday I was also able to interview her. It is possible that she'll be able to be baptized at the next stake baptism on the 18th of November!

Wednesday morning we headed over to Laoag for our exchanges. The zone leaders live in a compound with 15 missionaries (including them) with the senior couple next door. Elder Trinidad wanted to check his weight and the senior couple had a scale so we went and talked to them. We ended talking to them for an hour and then checked our weight (turns out I still weigh 165, which is how much I weighed in the MTC) and then they gave us American candy and cookies from a Halloween party. 

For the exchanges I went with a 6’5’ Elder from Canada named Elder Willoughby. We went to a slightly far area and went to work. We first taught a big group of investigators with one member present, which went well except they're really young and one of them was taking pictures of me the whole time. 

We next taught a couple of girls close to getting baptized, then a big family of investigators. The spirit we felt was so strong during the whole lesson. We taught about Alma talking to his son Shiblon. After the lesson they fed us Mountain Dew and ham sandwiches and we talked a little. I got a compliment on my Tagalog which made me happy. 

Before we got home we took a Greenwich pizza flier and decided to order some at home. So we did. Right after eating we had an exchange with Vintar B and I went with Elder Bottema from St. George Utah. We went to 4 different areas and walked for most of it. My knees hurt by the end but it was good. We taught a lot of lessons to some less actives and their progressing investigator. We walked an hour home after work which wasn't bad.

We weren't able to teach as many lessons this week due to all the things we had to do, but we were still happy to see our investigator Karen Melchor come to church again! The attendance was 36 this week, 28 coming from Vintar. If Karen comes to church next week, there is a possibility she can also be baptized on the 18th at the stake baptism. We have taught every lesson and she has been to church a lot. We just want to make sure she's ready.

This week was full of good moments like working in other areas and eating french toast every day. Plus funny moments, like less actives seeing us and pretending like we're not there, and buying an empanada with meat and receiving one that didn't have any. 

Yet life goes on and the mission’s still great. The scriptures are still great, and the district is still great. I love everything that happened. I know this church is true and all things happen for a reason. Hope everyone had a good week! Love you all!

Elder Espiritu

**you can email Elder Espiritu at joseph.espiritu@myldsmail.net


A 5'11" Filipino on top of a 6'4" American, trying to reach a branch of the tree. I imagine this is how David would look at Goliath.


A random group of girls from the zone leaders' area that we taught. 



Notice I still have a whole pizza cause I was still doing laundry and they didn't wait for me 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Great Weeks

I always find it funny how there's a couple of random differences with every type of person, Americans, Filipinos and Australians alike. Like while proselyting, it's interesting to have one person buy ice cream for a snack and the other buy squid (I bet you can guess which one’s me) and I also found out an interesting fact that it's not part of the Australian culture to leave tips at restaurants. Go figure. 

Also we basically ate leaves of a branch as a vegetable. It's actually not that bad.  Anyways there was a lot of blessings and good things that happened this week, such as finishing the Book of Mormon, people finally coming to church, and a baptism!

After studies one day we needed to get vegetables, so we decided to get malungay. What we did is crossed the streets to the rice fields and searched for some. Some nice people helped us find some so we chopped it up, then took off all the leaves and cooked it in our food (tinola). I am now a herbivore (mom you should be proud).

I am happy to report that this last October 25th, 2017, I finished the Book of Mormon for the 3 1/2 time on my mission! I would say 4th, but I was already halfway done with the Book of Mormon when I entered the missionary training center, so I just count is as 1/2. 

I know this Book is true, and it is impossible for a man to write such a book like this in just 65 days. Every time I read it I learn something new. I still encourage everyone reading to keep reading it every day! It really has the power to change lives and comfort souls!

This Saturday we were able to go to Laoag for Kyle's baptism! Although we only had 2 other people come to the stake baptism for support, we were happy to see him baptized. He was a little nervous as soon as he stepped into the font, but it all went away afterwards. He was baptized that day along with 6 other people, coming from Laoag zone. All is well here.

Other good news: our branch got a little higher attendance again, so we're back on track to keep it rising with an attendance of 44, 8 coming from Laoag. We were also really happy to see that one of our investigators that we have been teaching since last cycle, Sister Karen Melchor, was finally able to make it to church! It's always awesome to see someone you love finally come. We had 1 other investigator come which we were happy to see too. It's interesting to see how much the branch attendance can fluctuate. Hopefully we can keep raising the attendance here!

Life is going well here in the mission. The district is still doing well too. We're all having fun. I'm getting better at teaching as a district leader, and I hope to keep improving! It was a pretty successful week and these weeks always are more memorable than the hard weeks. They make the slower weeks worth it. 

I love the mission and I know this work is true. I love the people here and the experiences that I've had! Until next week! Oh and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Elder Espiritu

**you can email Elder Espiritu at joseph.espiritu@myldsmail.net


Kyle and his 2 sisters Shela and Czlea



Exchanges with Elder Vincent (with Kyle and Erika as a guest star)



I can't remember what these things are called but it's some sort of fruit



We ate all the leaves of these branches (it's called malungay and apparently very healthy)



Stake baptism (Baptism of Kyle Soriano) 





Monday, October 23, 2017

Another Sweet Reunion and Happiness

So there were a couple of things that happened this week that I was not expecting at all, like catching a rat in a jar and killing it. On the good side, we got to meet the mayor of Vintar with my Aunt that I haven't seen since the summer of 2013, and my favorite 12 year old kid becoming eligible for baptism!

Aiight so gross story first: While Elder Trinidad and I were eating and talking, he noticed a dark gray blotch on the ground which quickly scurried away. Not wanting it to stay inside the apartment, we quickly got it cornered and put it in a jar. Putting it in a jar was not easy, it almost escaped and tried to bite us a couple of times. I've seen lots of mice in my lifetime, but I can now say that rats are 10 times nastier. We did kill it. How did we exactly? Well we may have used hand sanitizer and a candle. I'll let you figure it out, (don't worry, it died quickly).

Alright now for the good part of the week, at 12:53 pm Wednesday afternoon, (I know this because of our phone) we were about to head out for work when we got a call from President Andrada. So when President calls you, it's either a really good thing or a really. A little nervous as I picked up the phone, I was relieved and excited to hear that my mom's oldest sister, Tita (aunt) Nennette, was in Laoag and was going to come visit me with President's permission! I hadn't seen her since Christmas of 2015. She lives in Hawaii and our family doesn't see her very often.

To make things better, the person bringing her to Vintar was the mayor of Vintar! So at 2 o'clock, we headed over and I got to chat with my Tita for a little and meet the mayor. It was a really rare opportunity. The 3 other missionaries thought Tita Nennette was cool (which she is) and provided us an opportunity to give a Book of Mormon to the mayor! She is in the area of the other Elders so we'll see how that goes! We were all so grateful for my Tita's kindness and generosity to all of us missionaries!

So now for our investigators, Kyle passed his baptismal interview and will be baptized at the stake baptism this Saturday at 2! I've really loved teaching him and he's a fun kid. He did come to church and stayed almost the whole time! We're excited for his baptism!

We had a little less amount of people come to church, but that's okay it was still happy. We almost had 2 people come to church the first being Kyle and one was legit at the front of the church but her 2 year old daughter did not want to go in, (she probably would've thrown a big tantrum if she was forced in) so it was just Kyle. The other 2 Elders also had someone come who has really been progressing. The attendance was 30 this time 22 coming from Vintar. It was pretty low, but the saints here are faithful.

Fun lesson of the week that we taught: We taught a Roman catholic last week who is hardcore Roman catholic (he wanted to be a priest when he was 3) but he respected us enough to let us teach him. As we taught he also shared his beliefs. It was cool, he didn't understand a couple things about the restoration, such as why from 100 AD (or whenever the last apostle passed away) until 1820 the true church of God wasn't on the earth. He also asked a couple of interesting questions. 

I was really impressed with how much he loved his church though, especially since he said he was offended by a priest yet he loves his church so much he's willing to move on. You can still learn many things from different people! I have high respect for him. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon and have his own experience, so we left feeling pretty good. He's very catholic.

We got a new district here in Vintar with me as the District leader, and so far it's alright. We had the district meeting in Vintar for the first time ever (since I got to decide where it is) and it went well. We got 2 Americans from Utah (Elder Bottema and I) 4 from the Philippines (Elder Trinidad, Elder Esco, Elder Pacapac and the newer elder Elder Lalangan) 1 from Malaysia (Elder Vincent) and one from Austraila (Elder Johnson). We're all doing fine here.

The mission continues to be going really great here even though it's not all sunshine all the time (that can be said literally too, since it rains a lot) yet I grow every day. I'm still definitely not perfect and make lots of mistakes but I learn through all of them along with the hardships too. I know this church is true and I know missionary work is the work of God. The time is far spent! Until next week!

Elder Espiritu

**you can email Elder Espiritu at joseph.espiritu@myldsmail.net

** From his Tita Nennette's Facebook post:

"I started my day in Laoag where I am part of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii 27th Trade Mission to the Philippines which is led by Hawaii Governor David Ige.

My brother in law Eddie Espiritu messaged me on FB that my nephew, Elder Joseph Espiritu is serving as a missionary nearby, in the town of Vintar.

When I checked with the local guides, they told me that Vintar is still 30-45 minutes away, and with no access to a car, there really was no way for me to go visit him. And of course, any visit would need to be cleared by the Laoag Mission President.


At lunch, our delegation was hosted by the mayor of San Nicolas. And guess who showed up at the luncheon? The Mayor of Vintar (Carissa Furonda)! I did not know her but when I shared my desire to see my nephew, she generously offered to take me to her town and provide me with the transportation to also return to my group. Through the help of my brother Benson E. Misalucha, I called the Mission President and he was kind enough to allow me to see my nephew.

Heavenly Father knows the good desires of our hearts. And thus, this happened.

Elder Espiritu was soooo happy to see me! The last time I saw him was christmas 2015.

Families are forever."



Having fun with big leaves




Meeting The mayor of Vintar and my Tita Nennette



So grateful for my Tita!


We caught a rat

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Count Your Blessings

You know, some weeks can seem similar to others, but you can still get something cool out of it if you really look into it. For example: I can now say I've tried duck and dried ducks blood before. You just gotta try new things right? Just to start, Duck doesn't taste bad. To me it honestly tasted like cow that's been cooked in stew or sinigang na baka (hindi ako baliw palagay ko lang iyan). 

So I said last week, we are now at the start of another 6 week cycle. Turns out, all 4 of us in Vintar are staying in Vintar. It wasn't a surprise for the other 2 but for Elder Trinidad and I it was. More often than not you stay with a companion for 12 weeks then switch, so this is Elder Trinidad and I's first time having a companion for 3 cycles or 18 weeks.  

So now that I'm here for 6 more weeks, I've been looking at the blessings of staying in Vintar. 1) I get to be here for a baptism of a kid who is like my little brother, 2) I get along with all of my house mates in my apartment 3) I get to build a stronger relationship with all the members, less actives and investigators here in Vintar 4) I still get to eat fast food every week in Laoag (don't worry i'm not getting fat) and 5) I know that my mission President and God trust me for being able to help a struggling branch.

It's easy for me to focus on the blessings like the song says "count your many blessings name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done." I have a lot of blessings that I have received in my life, especially in the mission! We have have to have hard days and better days in order to experience life! 

So for some good news: we got our branch attendance up a slight bit again! This week we got it to 46, 8 coming from a different ward and 4 being us 4 missionaries. So 34 from Vintar including children. But it's still going up slowly. Maybe I'll see the day where they hit 50-60 here! If we can get the less actives to come back, that's possible. Another fun fact: I also got to teach primary yesterday, or at least attempted to. It wasn't very easy to keep them all paying attention. Let's just say I have more respect for our primary and Sunday school teachers.

Although we still don't many progressing investigators we still have one almost for sure baptism this cycle (Kyle Brent Soriano) and we are just going to prepare him for his baptismal interview. Other than that, we're still working on the less actives and finding people. I don't really think much about it anymore when people hide from us or say they don't wanna switch religions. I have respect for them.

Here goes to another start of the cycle, and I'm happy with my mission. Looks like I'm a District leader again here for Bantay district! I'm grateful for all the lessons I've learned about hardships and blessings, and about obedience and just the gospel in general. 

The message we bring is still the message of happiness and we just gotta keep looking for the people who need it! Happy 3rd week of October to you all! 

Elder Espiritu

**you can email Elder Espiritu at joseph.espiritu@myldsmail.net



Vintar Elders for 1 more cycle 



Just me and the church meeting house






Monday, October 9, 2017

Spiritually Filled

Another week passes here in the mission quickly for me, being filled spiritually and physically this week! As for another milestone, I have officially been in the field for over a year now! Also, my father is now half a century old as of October 7th! Crazy to think that, especially since Mother is barely turning 30. Hehe Love them both. Anyways as I was saying, got lots of things done! Funny thing is it was mostly in Laoag and not in my area Vintar.

Every day aside from Tuesday and Thursday we were in Laoag, going about having interviews, and conferences. I enjoyed it all. Especially since we got to eat fast food every day in Laoag :D The work in our area was short. We had a couple of interesting lessons and another test of patience. Due to there being no transportation and Laoag being a little far from Vintar, we only saw 5 people from Vintar branch in Laoag for General Conference.

Before General Conference, we had Zone Conference with Laoag and Bangui Zone! Like always, it was a great conference and I learned a lot. It's interesting to see how much better I've gotten with long time sit down meetings. Growing up I always struggled sitting through 1-2 hour meetings and now here I am feeling 8 hour conferences go by really quickly. It's a blessing but I really do enjoy them. I mean not all meetings go by fast but I feel blessed how I enjoy the long conferences. 

One thing I learned which has been stressed for a while is about visions and goal setting. Plans are essential for success since you need to know what you are doing. We are currently planning how to better help Vintar branch, since they are currently struggling. I have a lot of respect for the faithful members here and we're still praying for a miracle. Feel free to pray for them too. We're doing our best here, so I guess we'll see where our planning and work takes us!

Speaking of another long (but amazing) meeting, the Philippines always broadcasts General Conference a week later, so we just barely watched it. Let me say it was a great conference and I was very edified. I learned so much and felt the Spirit so strong. I just remember sitting there thinking how grateful I am to be able to listen to prophets and apostles of the Lord speak to us. 8-10 hours isn't a lot for 6 months worth of preparation. One thing I now regret is never actually going to a live session. The people here get pretty surprised when they find out I've never gone. I'll certainly plan for that when I get back! 

So I noticed a lot of them talked about not being a part of the world and trusting in the Lord no matter what trials you are going through. We can find peace in an unstable world through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's true, we can. We are not of this world either, so we need to rise above it always and stick to our standards! 

One of the talks I really enjoyed was Elder Russell M. Nelson. One of the most important parts of this gospel is the Book of Mormon and that's what he talked about. One of the questions he asked was "If you were offered diamonds, or rubies or the Book of Mormon, which one would you choose?" How important is the Book of Mormon to you? He then went on to ask 3 questions 1) What would your life be without the Book of Mormon? 2) What would you not know? 3) What would you not have? I realized even more how blessed we are to have another testament of Jesus Christ to better understand His doctrine. It really is the keystone of our religion and the key to a happier life. 

Growing up in the Church I never noticed how big of a difference it is and how much of a help it can be. There is so much knowledge that I have learned within it's pages, especially here on the mission, and much more to learn. I know that the book is true, and Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God.

How lucky I am today, to be serving in a place where many people know God, and I get to help them better understand His plan for us. I am thankful for the opportunity to share this pure doctrine of Christ to others here in the Philippines. I am grateful for the opportunity to show them the doctrine written in the Book of Mormon that can help our lives so much. I have gained so many blessings and learned so much through the Book of Mormon and living the gospel, and I'm here to help others. 

Sometimes life has ups and downs, I get areas where the people are more willing to listen than other areas. Some areas aren't as built as others, but that's my purpose…to help strengthen the area I serve in and invite others to come unto Christ. I am a disciple of Christ and I fear no man. 

Wherever I am I'll to my best. Whether it be in Vintar or somewhere else soon. Who knows, this is the last week of the transfer, so I may be transferred, I honestly don't know. I'll just follow God’s will for me! Till next week!

Elder Espiritu

**you can email Elder Espiritu at joseph.espiritu@myldsmail.net


I tried to fly by holding a chicken (it didn't work)




I'm not really sure how we came up with this...


Laoag zone (and close up)



Laoag and Bangui zone Elders


Just me the moon and Laoag



Sister Persia and Elder Froerer, old district mates about to go home


Elder Arangali, Sister Panugao and I


 My Polynesian homies plus my Bacolod bud Sister Foaoa, Sister Ofalu and Elder Santillan


My other Tongan friend Sister Latu