This has been an Easter like never before.
This week I've been able to study a lot about the life and death of Christ, and I appreciate the Atonement like never before. Part of the reason I was able to study so much about the Savior this week (besides that it's Easter) is in preparation for my talk. Yep, that's right. I was one of the speakers for Easter Sunday. Writing a talk is hard enough by itself, but what makes it even harder is when it is in a language you don't really speak. In this case the language being in Tagalog. But I successfully did it with lots of help from the God.
A lot of people here in the
are Catholic. And the Catholic religion here has very strong Easter traditions. The Pabasa that I talked about last week was part of their tradition. Another part is something called Penitensiya. From what I understand, the area of the Philippines that I am in celebrates this more than anywhere else. Penitensiya is something people will do because they believe it will help the receive forgiveness for their sins. In short, they act out the sufferings of Jesus Christ. (Warning: Don't read the following to the young) Throughout the week we would see small groups of men with their faces covered walking down the streets. Most common were the shirtless men who would first use a blade to cut their back. Then, walking down the streets towards the church they would hit their backs over and over and again with pieces of wood attached to a rope. If they weren't doing that, then they were dragging a heavy cross over their backs. I didn't see it personally, but they will also hang people on the cross. Either just tying them up, or in some cases nailing them. They don't hang their until death, but I'm sure it is an experience they remember for the rest of their lives. Philippines
It's incredible the lengths to which these people go because of their devotion to God. But I am so sad for them. They do not understand the Atonement. Christ suffered those things for us so that we don't have to. We cannot bring a remission of sins on ourselves through suffering. Jesus has set the terms to be cleansed from our sins. It is through faith, repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. There is no other way to salvation except through Jesus Christ.
This week when we went to visit one of the less active women that we teach, we found out that her husband, who has been suffering from cancer the last couple of months, had died. I saw the body in the coffin. It is crazy how different bodies look when they don't have their spirits anymore. I am so grateful for the knowledge that we have of the Plan of Salvation and of what happens to us after we die. I know that knowledge was a great comfort to this woman. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ, and because he lived again, we will too.
This week I invited one of our investigators to be baptized. His answer was "with my whole soul!" He hasn't always been completely receptive and it has been incredible to see as he has truly has gained a desire. He understands that an important part of being baptized is being cleansed from our sins. Something funny he asked was "Do I need to bring soap?"
Yesterday I took some boiled eggs that I had colored using crowns, and hid them in our apartment for my companion to find. Happy Easter American style! And today for April Fools day she hid one of each of my shoes. Sneaky companion!
This next week is General Conference, for you at least. Because of the time difference and also to give them time to translate it, they are not broadcasting it here until next, next week. (Don't worry I'll still get to watch it in English) I'm so excited!!!! We are so blessed to be able to hear from living prophets and apostles. Listen to as much of General Conference as you possible can. Go with any questions that you have, and I know that you will receive answers.
Love you all!!!
Sister Abish "The Atonement is Real" Curtis
-Pictures from Penitensiya