Elder Joe Leishman~Philippines Angeles Mission

January 2011-January 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Have Fought A Good Fight 1/13

Dear Friends and Family, It feels strange to sit down at the internet shop to type my last email to you here in the Philippines. I cannot believe how fast it has come and it still feels unreal. As I reflect on the past 2 years and I can't help but smile. These 2 years have been two years of true joy! The feelings you have as you serve the Lord and see others change and accept the Gospel is a joy that is hard to describe. In my call letter it states, "Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among his children". When I first read that I had no idea what it really meant but it's so true. One of the greatest things i have gained from my mission is a knowledge of my Savior Jesus Christ. Before my mission I knew who he was but now I know him. My relationship with my Savior and my Heavenly Father is the greatest treasure of my mission. Like it says it John 17:3 "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee only rue God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent". In my mission I have learned how to love in a way that i didn't before. I love people and know that everyone is a child of God and has something good inside of them. You can find something good in any person! I love the Filipino people! I love the Philippines. This wonderful nation has become my home. I have gained a love for the scriptures and have learned the importance of exact obedience. I wish i could write all the things I have learned and expereinces i have had in the past 2 years but one email sure won't do it. Because of my mission I know I will be a better son, brother, student, employee and one day a father. My heart if full of gratitude for my mission and the effect it has had on my life. I am a different person now than I was when i entered the mtc in January 2011. The Gospel has changed me and my mission has changed me. I hope that anyone who has a desire to serve a mission will start preparing now and go out as soon as they can to help bring Heavenly Father's children back to him. Last week i had one of the greatest experiences in my mission. Last saturday night we attended the area broadcast at the stake center in San Jose. After the meeting was over I felt a child pull on the back of my pants and I turned around and saw little 3 year old Dwayne Vergel De Dios holding a picture of their family at the temple! When I first met that family in San Jose they were super less-active and I was privileged to help them back into activity and to see their two oldest sons baptisms. Last December 21, 2012 they were sealed as a family in the Manila temple for time and eternity! My hard was so full of joy as I saw that picture and talked with them for a few minutes after the meeting. They are now serving as executive secretary and ward family history consoltant in San Jose ward 1 and are so happy. I think that that's the greatest gift I could recieve on my mission is helping a family make it to the temple! The Gospel is for families and my mission has helped me realized more than ever how the Gospel blesses families and has blessed my family. I attached a picture of a picture I took of the picture of the Vergel De Dios Family at the temple. It's not the greatest quality but i hope you like it. Things are going great in Portal. We are teaching some of the coolest investigators and have some less-actives coming back to church. I feel so blessed to be assigned here right now and I have so much work to do here this last week. I always feel like there is always one more person you need to talk to and one more person you need to help and serve. I want you to know that I know that this is the only true church. Jesus Christ is at its head. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and through his atonement we can all change and be clean. I know t he power of prayer and that our Heavenly Father loves us and answers our prayers. Joseph Smith restored the Gospel and saw what he said he saw. The Book of Mormon is true and is a powerful tool in changing lives for the better. Families really can be together Forever. The finish line is close, and I still have lots of work to do as I sprint to the very last minute. I'm going to continue to give it my all so i can say like Paul "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith". I love you all so much. with love

Bagong Taon 1/6/13

Dear Friends and Family, This past week was an awesome week. New years was pretty uneventful in Portal. The entire mission had a curfew of 6:00 pm because it can be pretty dangerous and crazy in some areas. Portal was pretty quiet compared to Cabanatuan last year. To celebrate I cooked bicol express and made new years resolutions. I also did my laundry which was an eventful new years eve activity to say the least ( picture included). It wasn't half as loud as it was in Cabanatuan. The videoke was a lot louder than the firecrackers. After new year our week was a really good week. One of the big successes this week was our church attendance. Last week our attendance was 27 and yesterday it was 64. It more than doubled! We had some investigators and lots of less-actives attend. One of the less-active members who attended is the former branch president here who has been less-active for about 6 years. The missionaries have visited him many times but nothing has every happened. When we got into the area our branch president told us to visit him and he wasn't happy. He didn't want anything to do with us. But after stopping by him house a couple more times we finally caught him laying in hammock on his front porch holding his sleeping granddaughter. He didn't have any where to go so he let us teach him. We taught him about the atonement since it was Christmas time. After that we taught him basic gospel principles like family prayer, the Book of Mormon, prophets and we never mentioned attending church. We slowly started to see him change and warm up to us and as he started the live the simple principles we taught him he starter to get happier. Yesterday he attended church for the first time in 6 years with him wife. He was beaming as he walked into our meeting house. It was really special to see. Brother Vizon is a leader that our branch is in great need of. That was one of our miracles this past week. Right now we are currently teaching 5 young families. It's so awesome to teach families. On of them is the Likodo family. We met brother Likodo while walking down the street we stopped to talk to him and asked him how his new year was. He said that he got drunk with his buddies. I then asked him about his family and he told us about his wife and 2 young boys. I then I felt inspired to ask about how is drinking effects his family. He then started to talk about how his wife hates it and wants him to quit but he just can't seem to quit. We told him that we could help him quit drinking and bless the life of his family and he gave us his address. When we went to teach him he was surprised that we actually came and was excited to see us. His wife was in other room when we started the lesson and didn't want to join but as we started talking to teach she came in and joined the lesson. We usually don't mention the word of wisdom in the first lesson but it was what this family needed. It feels so good to teach people not lessons. One of the things we are working on as a mission right now is asking inspired questions in our teaching. I ask a lot of questions while I teach but I don't know how inspired they are. After training from our zone leaders this past week on inspired questions Elder Soberano and I set a goal to ask more inspired questions in our lessons. It was difficult at first was the effect in our teaching and finding has been awesome. I feel like I'm teaching more like the Savior would teach and we are finding out the real concerns of the people we are teaching. Talking isn't teaching. This past week I finished reading the Book of Mormon again and this time I around I highlighted every reference to the Savior and all of his words. It was amazing to see the pages be filled with color as I did this activity. This helped strengthen my testimony in Jesus Christ and his mission as our Savior and redeemer. One of my favorite things about this activity was seeing all the titles that Jesus Christ goes by. I made a list in my study journal of all of his titles and I was surprised at how many they were. The Book of Mormon really is Another Testament of Jesus Christ Every page testifies of him! I love this area. I love the members, less-actives and investigators here. I just love it. Everyday I feel my love grow. It's so hard to know that I won't have that much longer in the area... There is so much work to do here and I want to do it! I'm trying to make the best of everyday to give it my all and establish the church here in Portal. Elder Soberano and I have high goals and we are doing all we can to acheive them. Working with Elder Soberano is awesome. He's a good elder. Thanks for all of you who emailed him. Fight the good fight of faith Mahal ko kayo Elder Leishman. The first 2 pictures are from new years. The first is Elder Soberano and I before we ate, the second is me doing my laundry on new years eve. The last picture is me with the Atonio Family. They are members here in Portal.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon 12/30

Dear Family and Friends, Maligayang Pasko and Manigong Bagong Taon! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. This past week was a good week. As most weeks it definatly had it's ups and downs. One of the highlights of the week was Christmas. Christmas was awesome. It was a very unique Christmas for me. We spent the entire day visiting members, Less-active, active and recent converts, and we shared messages about with Jesus Christ and Christmas. The spirit in those lessons was so special. Throughout the entireday my heart was filled with gratidude for my Savior. Many of the people that we visited are poor famers. When we asked them how their Christmas was many of them said it was sad because they had no special meal or gifts. As we taught these families about Christ's birth and about his life it was wonderful to see the spirit touch their hearts and to see their countenances change. Their sadness turned to gladness! That's what the Savior does for us. Because of his atonement he can turn our saddness into gladness. His atonement allows us to change to become more like our Heavenly Father. He brings us peace and hope. I am so thankful for my Saivor. This last Christmas was a Christmas I will never forget. This past week there was a Fiesta in Portal. It was four days long. When there is a Fiesta work is normal during the day but once it starts to get dark everyone goes to the barangay plasa for an event of somekind. A Dance, a pagent, barangay night, ect... These usually go from 7 or 8pm to 4-5am. When it's Fiesta there are marching bands that march up and down the streets playing music and everyone seems to be busy. This was a little bit of challenge for our work. It was hard to teach lessons and to find. The biggest Distraction was the marching band. There were multiple times where we were teaching a spiritual lesson and then out of nowhere the marching band would come down the street and you could hardly hear your self think. It was hard to keep the spirit in those lessons. We were teaching one less-active family when the marching band came down the street. The 19 year old son stood up and said wait a minute I got to go watch the band, as he ran out of the house. He came back about 5 minutes later and we finished the lesson. There is always something new that happens everyday. Despite the Fiesta we had soem awesome progress with many of our investigator. We found Jason and Shami guevarra a couple weeks ago and they are really progressing. They are 20 and 21 years old. Last week Shami had a question about where a person go when they die and last night we were able to teach the Plan of Salvation to their whole family. It was the first time that their parents and grandmother wanted to listen but htey listened and had lots of good qeustiosn. They are all members of different religions and are searching souls. Last night we also found and taught 2 new families. I feel so blessed to be teaching families. Last saturday all of our plans fell through in the morning in an area that the missionaires didn't really work in before. We said a prayer that hte Lord would lead us to someone he wanted us to teach. We started talking to people and while we were walking down a street we heard some yell " Elders! Hali kayo Dito!" Or Elders come here. We turned around and saw a very excited looking nanay. Nanay Rosita led us to here house where she pulled out her baptismal certificate scirptures and pictures of her at churched. She was baptized in Quezon City a long time ago and was really active there but when she moved to Nueva Ecija she didn't know where the church was and became less-active. She was so happy to see us and already has an assignment in the Branch. The Lord led us to her and I feel like she is going to be the key to getting hte work going in that area. I lvoe the Work. There is lots of work to do here. Everyday I feel so blessed to serve. I love you all. mahal ko kayo Love Elder Leishman the picture is of me cooking Tinola. One of my favorite foods. I am sporting the new mission apron that sister Martino gave us for Christmas:)


Dear Friends and Family, Maligayang Pasko! First I hope you all have an awesome Christmas. I love Christmas here in the Philippines. Filipinos are the nicest people in the world and get even nicer when it's Christmas. Everyone just has this good spirit about htem. This past week has been a great week. We had our christmas zone conference and our branch christmas party. Both awesome. We don't have a lot of plans for Christmas this year. Because we live in a very rural area the people are really poor and humble. There's not a lot of presents at their Christmas but what makes Christmas special for them is being with their families. Because it's planting time right now a lot of people will still be in their fields even on Christmas day. Later today we are going to our branch president's house to cook Biko. I'm excited about that! Tomorrow we will spend most of our time visiting people and sharing messages about Jesus Christ. The simpleness of Christmas here has helped me better understand what Christmas is about. This week our work went a lot better. It's been hard to schedule our work because from 6:00am until 5:00pm everyone and their Kalabaw is in the bukid planting rice or onions. The only people in their houses are babies and older women who take care of the children and cook while their family is in the field. Right now even the elementary school and high school students plant. I was a little bit frustrated at first with this but planting season has been a blessing because after 5pm, everyone is tired and in their houses with their families. This makes for great teaching opportunities. This past week we have found three investigator families! Not indivuals but families. Teaching families is the greatest! Even all the less-actives we are teaching are all families. The spirit has been powerful as we have taught families about the restoration of the Gospel. Yesterday, we went back to a house that we had contacted early this week and the person we contacted wasn't there. However her two children ages 20-21 were. They asked us what was the difference between mormons and Catholic. We then taught them about the restoration. The questoins taht they had were awesome. They have grown up in the Catholic church but are searching for more. They are excited to learn. I feel like the Lord has prepared many people here in Portal. Many people here have never seen or met the missionaries before which makes finding fun. Yesterday there was no sunday School teacher for the youth so I taught them a lesson. To start the lesson I wrote "Pasko" (Christmas) on the chalkboard. I then asked them what they think about when it's christmas. I listed their responses on the board and after about 12 responses a 12 year old young woman said "Jesu Cristo". Then I asked them why Jesus Christ is so low on the list. For our lesson we talked about the true meaning of Christmas and read Luke 2. It ended up being a good lesson and I think all the youth learned from it. It's been a really humbling experience to be in a branch like this. Everyday my love for the area, the people here and for my companion grow. I love it here. I feel so honored to be a missionary. It's hard to think about I only have 1 month left. Elder Soberano and I aren't wasting any time. I love Elder Soberano he is a good, harding working, Humble Elder. He is in the 2nd picture I sent. He is on the left hand side in the Pink and blue tie. Thank you so much for writing him a quick email. It meant a lot to him. I love you all so much! I know that this is the Lord's work. I love my Savior. This is his Church. Maligayang Pasko! Love Elder Leishman the pictures are 1- me in a field walking to an appointment. 2 - my new district here in San Jose. 3- my batch on this side of the mission at our christmas zone conference.

PORTAL! 12/16

Dear Family and Friends, This past week has been a very interesting week. It has been an adjustment being back in the field especially being in an area that is having it's own set of missionaries for the first time. There have been Elders working in Portal for a long time but they only go out there about 1 or 2 times a week so the missoinary work is really slow there. Transfer day was this past Thursday. It was a busy day. I had a lot of travel and when we got to our new area we spent most of the day figuring out our new house because we are the first missionaries to live in the area. Friday our work really started and it was weird being in a place where you or your companion have know idea who anyone is or where anything is. The old missionaries left there area book but there was absolutely nothing in it so we were mostly on our own. On friday we started at are house and from there we just started talking to everyone and looking for members. It was a day with little results but we did meet david who was a searching soul. He is 17 is a high school graduate and doesn't really have any plans in life. We asked him if we could teach him and we said we could. He said he was catholic and his first question to us was "Meron bang talagang Diyos?" ("Is there really a God"). We then taught about our loving Heavenly Father and about prayer and it was an amazing lesson. We are going back to teach him tomorrow. Saturday went really similarly. Luckily when I was assigned in San Jose I went on exchanges in Portal one time and I remembered the houses of 2 members which was a help. We were able to teach a recent convert that i interviewed for baptism. That was a cool experience. But overall Saturday was another hard day. When Sunday Morning rolled around I was feeling a little bit down and little bit sorry for myself because things were hard an nothing was happening. While I was sitting at my desk the song "Count Your Many Blessings" popped into my head and i immediately sang it and then knelt in prayer to express my gratitude for all the blessings that I have received and to ask forgiveness for my ingratitude. From that moment I starting thinking more about other and things just started going better. Church was a lot like church in Burgos. We met in our small meeting house and our attendance was 42. I was our branch keyboardist and was an on the spot speaker. It really took me back to my first couple weeks in Burgos. Our 3 hours of church were so humbling and the spirit was wonderful. The members were all really excited to finally have their own set of missionaries. After Chruch our branch president told us he wanted to work with us and the first thing we did was look at the ward directory with him. He talked about indivuals we should focus on, his goals for the branch, and his vision for Portal. It was awesome. Our branch president, President Sarmiento, had Grandpa Lolo as a mission president for a month when we entered into his mission in Bacolod. President Sarmiento was excited to figure that out. After our meeting with president he took us around our area on his trike and introduced us to less-active and active members and showed us where some former investigators live. We didn't teach a lot of lessons but we were able to set return appointments and get to know the members. The few lessons that we did teach were to potential missionaries in our branch that President Sarmiento is working with. Yesterday was an amazing day! The members are so important to missionary work. Because of the help of our branch president we now have a good starting place for the work. This week is going to be an amazing week! President Sarmiento gave us a lot of assignments and things to do and we take this that we have gained his trust. We are excited to do these things and report back to him quickly. Information about Portal. It's very bukid. Everyone who lives in our area is a farmer. Right now is planting season which makes teaching challenging. The people here are very humble and there are some awesome members. I love this area already and there is lot of potential. I am so excited to see the growth that will come. I am just excited about this transfer. My new companion is Elder Soberano from Iloilo. He is only in his 4th transfer in the mission. He is quite and very serious but he really likes to work. I love having a companion who loves to work. We're going to have a good transfer together. All I can think about is our area and the few people we have met. I love this time of year. Christmas time is such a great time. I love thinking about Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for his atonement. While we celebrate his birth I love thinking also about his atonement and Resurrection. I feel like I have been able to get to know him so much better on my mission. This week we have Christmas zone conference and our branch Christmas party. I'm excited. I love you all so much. I love this work. I love the people in my area. I love Portal and I love my Savior. Maligayang Pasko! mahal ko kayo Love Elder Leishman The first 2 pictures I attached were from my last night in Sta. Ignacia with Elder Bellen. The 3rd picture I took while waiting for a trike this morning. The cow turned around right when I took the picture but I still think it's scenic non the less. It's what most of my area looks like.

Back to the Field Dec 9/2012

Dear family and mga kaibigan, This past week has been another busy week. Last monday night President Martino called Elder Adao and I into his office and showed us the transfer board. I saw my picture up in San Jose Zone. I'll be opening a new area called Portal. My new companion there will be Elder Soberano who is still really new in the mission. Last tuesday Elder Adao and I picked up Elder Cohen, the new assistant, and brought him back to the office to get train him on his new resposiblities. After two days a training and 8 hours in the Land Transportation Office we got him all trained up and were able to convert his liscence to a Filipino drivers liscence. Getting his license was quite the process! Lot's of sitting, waiting and sweating but we were able to meeting some cool people and introduce the Gospel while we were waiting. On thurdsay we had our meeting with the trainers and trainees and then I got dropped off in Santa Ignacia to be companions with Elder Bellen (Elder Cohen's old companion). Elder Bellen and I are only companions for a week but It's a been an great week so far. Our trainer and Trainees meeting this past week went awesome. It was my third time to give training at this type of a meeting but this was by far the best. Elder Adao and I ended up changing a lot of what we had planned in order to fit the needs of the new missionaries and it ended up being an extremely spiritual meeting. Leaving the office was hard. I had a lot of mixed feelings. It's hard to leave something you have but so much time and effort into and have loved so much. At the same time I'm really excited to go back to the field for my last transfer to open a new area and be able to focus every second of my time on my area and on the people of I'm teaching. It will be awesmoe to just work. It also was hard to leave Elder Adao. I am so blessed to have had him as my companion for 6 months of my mission. He's like my brother and I have learned soooo many things from him. I love Elder Adao. The past few days have been an adjustment as well. However things are good. I know that this is what hte Lord wants for me. One of the cool things about being in the office was seeing how transfers work and how the Lord directs the transfers through President Martino. I know that the Lord has a part in all transfers that happen. I am so thankful for thetime i had to serve in the office. I feel so blessed for hte opportunity. I learned so many things that I don't think I could have learned anywhere else. I feel blessed to havebeen able to spend so much timewith President Martino. What an amazing man! These past few days in Santa Ignacia have been great! The bishop here in the ward actually spent a night at Grandpa Lolo's house when he entered the mtc to serve his mission in California. His name is bishop Eugenio. Over the past few days we have had some really cool expereinces. one of my favorites was lastnight when we decided to tao po the next door neighbor of an appointment that fell through. A women opened the door and after a few seconds of talking we found out she was a less-active member. We were able to teach her a lesson and I was shocked with her knowledge of the scritpures and the Gospel. She told us that when she started college she started getting busy and stopped going to church in order to study. She also told us she really wants to come back because she misses the spirit in her life. We taught about the sacrament and atonement and you could see the spirit work on her. She told us she was coming to church on Sunday before we could give her a commitment. The Lord led us to her house. This past week I have been reading the war chapters in Alma and have been getting a lot out of them Especially what I have read about hte strippling warriors. They thought more about hte liberty of their fathers than of their own lives and had incredible courage. The ability to think about others more than ourselves is a gift from God. It's a fruit of Charity. I was asked to gived a last minute talk yesterday in sacrament meeting when the assigned speaker didn't show up and the bishop told me to talk about a Christ like attribute I chose Charity and love and related it to Christmas and Christ example to us. I love this time of year and hte brotherly love it brings. It helps us live the Gospel better in our daily lives as we think about serving others, just like the strippling warriors did. Speaking of Christmast We have been singing Christmas songs in Church and it has been awesome! The FIlipino Saints really know how to sing. They sing with their heart and it brings the spirit. Also speaking of Christmas, We recieved our guidlines about Christmas calls and we can call during the week of Christmas at a time that works for us. We will have up to 40 minutes for our phone call. I was thinking I will call the day after Christmas in the morning so it will be Christmas night for you. I'm really good to do whatever. Let me know what you thinkand we can get it coordinated. Also this is the address for the new mission office. Philippines Angeles Mission F. Tanedo Street Tarlac, Tarlac 2300 Philippines That's where stuff should be sent if it will arrive after Christmas. If you have sent something already it isn't a problem, I'll still get it but from now on please use this address. Salamat \ I love you all so much. I love this work and i am excited for this next week. Keep fighting the fight of Faith. Mahal ko kayo nagmamahal Elder Leishman

ZLDLC December 2

Dear friends and Family, This past week has been an awesome week. As usual it has been another busy week. One of the highlights of the day for me was ZLDLC. They were both awesome days full of the spirit. Elder Adao and I gave our workshop and developing Christlike attributes with a focus on charity. President gave his training on Christ's Character. It was amazing. He talked aobut all hte titles of Jesus Christ in the scriptures and then we went into the scriptures and focused on Christ's character. It's amazing how in everything he did he was always focused on the concerns and needs of others. No matter how hard things were for Christ he never complained he just loved and served others. Even up to his death on the cross, the Savior was always concerned about others. It was humbling to realized how much the Savior loves all of us and to get to understand his character a little better. I love my Savior and I am thankful for the my testimony of him. He is the real head of hte church and he is the one who is running our mission. Last night on an exchange I was working with an Elder that is fairly new in his area. He didn't really know how to get around his area very well and we ended up getting lost a few times. It was a funny interesting experience. We were looking for a barangay called Sitio Pader and we asked a man directions how to get there. He gave us directions and we started walking hte way he told us to. After walking for 5-10 minutes the Elder I was working with thought we were more lost so we asked another lady for directions and the lady was actually a less-active woman who the missionaries hadn't met before. She told us all about here baptism and about how she lost her book of Mormon and wanted a new one. The Elders are going back to teach her on Wednesday. The funny part of the story in the less-active sister gave us directions to Sitio Pader and they were exactly opposite of the the directions that the man had given us earlier. I feel like the Lord led us to that less-active sister through the man who had no idea how to get to Sitio Pader. The Lord really does guide us to his children who are ready to recieve the Gospel. Yesterday we went to church in Gerona an area that I worked in a couple months ago. At church I saw 5 recent converts who I taught as investigators a couple of months ago. It was awesome to see them again as members of the Church. One of them even blessed the sacrament. Even though I only taught them once i still felt the connection I had with them. It's amazing how the Gospel can unite people. One of the recent converts is 17 years old and really liked my tie so we switched ties after church in the CR. The best part of yesterday was the sacrament meeting. The testimony meeting was almost full of just pure testimonies. Not thank-amonies or kuwentomonies, or story telling, just pure testimony. The spirit was so strong in htat room. I felt so uplifted and so many people were excited to get up and share their testimonies. That's waht fast and testimony meeting is about. Uplifting each other through our testimonies. It was a great day. I love this work so much. It's such a blessing to serve others. My scritpure for the week is Mathew 20:27. It's so important to serve others like the Savior did. I'll let you know next week if I transfer or not. mahal ko kayo Love Elder Leishman.