Some of you have asked us what we are doing here.
We landed in a strange land with strange scenery, strange methods of travel, and a strange language. It is a land with palm-clad mountains, hot humid weather even though the calendar says October, and “tricycles” “trisikads”, buses and big trucks roaring down the hill by our house at all hours. Most vehicles have badly worn brakes which squeal loudly. We are lucky if we can understand one or two words in a conversation.
So sometimes we say to ourselves, “What ARE we doing here?”
We know that as missionaries we are servants of the Lord, called by prophecy and authorized by the laying on of hands, to proclaim the Savior’s everlasting and restored gospel (see D&C 68:1) in His way (see D&C 50:13–14, 17–24).
We know that our overarching purpose as a missionaries is to: “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end” (Preach My Gospel, 1). We know that the sacred responsibility to proclaim authoritatively the gospel and administer the saving ordinances has been in operation since Adam was driven from the Garden of Eden and will continue until “the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 4:540.
We have studied the words of the prophet Mormon, which is the Cebu mission scripture: “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life” (3 Nephi 5:13). We strive to be worthy, to treasure of the words of eternal life, and to remember that the Holy Ghost is the ultimate teacher.
But what are we doing here?
We are learning to drive and find our way around this area. Toledo City is an area along the northeast edge of the island of Cebu, which is a little over two miles long and less than a half mile wide. There are three main roads running the length of the city and several connecting roads. On the map it looks like a small rural town—unless you know that this area is the home of 160,000 people.
We are learning how to pay the electricity, water and internet bills, where to shop and what foods are available, and the telephone numbers of friends who can help us.
We are learning how take care of the basic necessities of life when the water and electricity are at best intermittent.
But are we functioning as missionaries? We cannot speak the language. We cannot teach. So we do what we can do. We go to meetings and to activities with the young missionaries. We talk to them. We listen to them. We text them. We feed them and give them rides. We go with them as they teach the wonderful Filipino people and feel the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the small homes. We love them and the people that they teach.
These young men and women can talk and understand this strange language. They are the ones who are inviting others to come unto Christ. They walk the streets and go into the tiny houses in the crowded barangays to “declare the word of God among His people that they might have everlasting life”. They are the ones who bring the joy of the gospel into the lives of the people of this beautiful island. We rejoice in their successes and do all we can to encourage them to continue.
That is what we are doing here. And maybe that is exactly what we were sent here to do.