There is something new. I can't dunk here anymore. (hasn't he said that before?!) We were walking to a lesson and kids asked me to dunk so I dunked it with two hands and then they said, "Again!" I took a running start and threw it down, broke the rim, and flattened the ball! The rim is barely hanging now. I had to give them my ball...
My week has been pretty busy. LIKE ALWAYS! We only taught fifteen lessons last week. I swear these members punt us every day! When you say you've been punted, it means they kicked the lesson so NO LESSON! Some days we get SUPER PUNTED! That means no lessons the whole day. It happens two or three times a week. We don't have any baptismal dates yet, but we do have two new investigators who are awesome and we will get another new one this week who is amazing! She asked if it was okay to ask us a question!!!!! That's just awesome!
This week has been an awesome one because we've had to work really hard. We had FIFTY-FIVE members come to church and a record high attendance in Priesthood in years! Fasting helps so much. I've fasted every Sunday since being in the field and I plan on fasting every Sunday while I am here in the Philippines. It truly is powerful and I love the gospel because it makes you work! When you are truly baptized by fire, you will desire to follow the commandments. It's just how to get there. How you get there is to follow the commandments and apply them. It's as simple as that. I love this gospel.
I had a few spiritual experiences this past week. Last night we went to a member's house for no reason and it was late. Turns out that a girl that had just had a baby lost a lot of blood and was fainting. We gave her a blessing...I had the privilege to give a blessing to a baby that is less than a month old. The power of faith is where blessings come from...
The language is coming and I'm working my hardest every day for everyone to make y'all proud of me. I love y'all and I WILL see you soon. I love you all.
Love, Elder Odom
P.S. I'M NOT A TEENAGER ANYMORE! BOOM! THE BIG 2O!
Can you say that word?! It has twenty-four letters and means PET PEEVE! Funny huh?! Jarom says it is pronounced:
Dear Family and everyone else,
It has been raining here for days. It's raining right now. Once a week, we walk to Rizal which is a three mile walk through the mountains there and three miles back. We had to ride by trici (tricycle or a 150cc motor bike with a side cart) there because it was raining and the water in some spots over the road was knee deep. We had to walk on the way back because no trici. We got wet...
This morning I saw eleven people riding on one trici! The driver and two behind him, five in the sidecart, and three on top of the side cart. Aaand you can fit up to like fifty people on a jeepney - thirty inside and like twenty on top. It works somehow. In America you wouldn't even think about putting more than seven to nine people in a van. Here, they fit like fifteen to twenty people in a van. Very efficient and they make some money! (haha)
(these are photos I found on the internet - this is basically what Jarom must see!)
Next week is the big 20! My birthday is on our P-day so we are going a few miles down the road to an area called San Carlos to play basketball. I'm going to break the goal! I told the little kids of the primary and a few deacons to come so I'll dunk for them and we'll play. What makes me happiest here is the kids. They are so nice and they help me get through the day when the day is tough.
This week has been tough. We have over five hundred members here, fifty came to church Sunday. Our investigators didn't, and the Bishop was home sick. Only fifteen stayed for the three hours. The sacrament meeting attendance is 8% and the real member attendance is 1-2%. People here don't really pray or read every day and they DO NOT do it as a family. There was a member who had to open the church with his wife. He is an American who served here and married someone. He opened the church at 7:55 and church starts at 8:00. No one showed up until 8:45...all I have to say is I'm going Jeffery R. Holland on them at the fireside and DECLARING REPENTANCE! I tried to do the Ammon approach and serve them, but it doesn't work. It's time to let them know the importance with the sound of a trump! I feel like Captain Moroni in Alma 51:14. I do have to say though that I love the challenge and I came here to work. When everything is hard and you're doing all you can you have to push forward and work work work because that's all you can do and God WILL bless you after the trial of your faith.
This letter isn't like the previous ones, but more of a...I don't know (haha)...just what's going on on the other side of the world.
Singing a medley of Christmas songs at a mission Christmas party!
I was so excited about pictures last week I forgot to post highlights from his email...
Minamahal na pamilya ko (My Dear Family),
Our past week was full of miracles. I fast every Sunday for twenty-four hours for our area and for success. Elder Pareja and I have been led by the Spirit this past week and I can't deny it. We usually don't OYM very often. OYM means Open Your Mouth or talk to people and ask people if we can teach them, and give pamphlets out. We don't do it much because we have to focus on all of the less-active members first...we have OYMed eight times this week and we have two progressing investigators! We also OYMed to this young nanay (mother) and she was so interested she wanted us to teach her right then and there. We gave her a pamphlet and when we visited her she did the questions in the back and we didn't even ask her to do them. In the next six weeks, I feel like we will have three to five progressing investigators or three to five baptisms.
I have a strong testimony of fasting with prayer. I have a strong testimony that when we open our fast with a prayer, and be obedient and faithful at the same time, and WORK...we will be blessed and see miracles!!! I see miracles every time I fast.
A miracle...usually we have on average forty-two members and the highest the number has been in a loooooog time is fifty. On Sunday Elder Pareja and I opened our fast and started the day off by going to our "eternal" investigator's house who has been investigating for over a year and has a strong testimony. He hasn't come to church but once this whole time. He came to church with us!!!!! PUMBIHIRA!!!!! We have been inviting all our Priesthood holders to church because usually eighty percent of the members at church are the women. I swear women are already celestial! We had FIFTY-SEVEN members at church Sunday for fast and testimony meeting and we had a lot of the Priesthood holders there, and they stayed for classes. We had two more people in Priesthood and one is fourteen and he will be passing the sacrament next Sunday!! It was amazing! I bore my testimony and I told the people, "Sana, Dito ako so buong misyon." (Hopefully, I will stay here my whole mission)
I am now in Alma 31 in my Book of Mormon reading and I will finish the Book of Mormon in less than a month. I love reading from it every day. Every morning and throughout the day and every night. I love it.
I am thankful to be a missionary. I can't even explain the joy it brings to serve Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and work with the Holy Ghost because He is always the senior companion in the companionship that we need to listen to. I love serving others and bringing happiness in their lives...I have two years to show the Lord how much I love Him. MY MISSION MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME. I will not come home a returned missionary. I will always be a missionary. We all have been sent here with a purpose and we are all missionaries.
I say these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
We have been stalking Sister Carlos' blog since Jarom arrived in the mission field desperately looking for any glimpse of our Elder Odom. New posts have come and gone with no sign of him...until tonight!!!
The captions are taken from Sister Carlos' blog...
"Here they come! We greeted 13 awesome, new, eager, excited missionaries. Only two this time from the US: Elder Odom and Sister Flory. The rest are all from various regions of the Philippines."
Can you pick Jarom out?!
"This batch was ready to sing at our transfer meeting! Despite traveling for hours, they were ready and eager to join in and sing for the rest of the missionaries. We were so impressed!"
I woke up this morning, P-Day, and played basketball and dunked it and broke someone's goal! HAHAHAHAHA!!! Whoops. No more dunking for me...
...then as we were walking to the church to play, we saw these people roasting a whole dog!!! It was crazy!!!
Okay now to the important stuff. This past week has been a great one. I've been praying for everyone back home individually about their needs in their lives. I fast also and hope all is well...
...we are getting more less active members showing up to church now!! AAANNNDDD WE HAVE AN INVESTIGATOR!!!!! She is twenty-one and is on her last year of college. She's going to be an elementary teacher. She lives with her aunt and uncle who are members and she really wants to know the truth. She already has come to church with them twice in a row and last night I asked her if she'll be baptized when Heavenly Father answers her prayers and she said yes!! She has a baptismal date for January 27th, 2013!! TAGUMPAY!!! That means success. The work is finally starting to pick up...