(Mom/Nicole: I forgot to post last week, this includes 1/11 & 1/18)...
January 18:Hello family!
Wow, this week was great! So many amazing things, but also very hard for me.
This week I really gained more of an appreciation for the people here. They have no electricity, often little or no food, and their houses are very small and often not much of a shelter for them. Yet, they are so wiling to give of everything. They are so humble and very nice. I am truly friends with so many of them, and really love them.
This week I really felt discouraged by the language, by the time it was dinner, my brain was telling me to stop and I was just truly exhausted (spiritually, mentally, physically). I felt like I didnt have any more to give, but needed to continue. After a day of really struggling and praying, I decided to tell my companion. After we talked about it, I felt so much better. She is amazing and so patient. She really felt like a mom for a few minutes. Since then, we have used only Tagalog, this letter is my 1st English! I have really seen progression, and even though its hard I know it will come if I keep working. I spoke is sacrament meeting this week, and it was FULL Tagalog, sometimes I surprise myself haha. It was good, simple, but I felt the spirit.
This week we had a day when no one was ho,=me and we didnt know what to do. We had been tracting, but everything didnt feel right. We stopped and prayed and then continued to a different street that was farther away. We walked, when we usually take a tricee. On the way there were some little kids, so like always I talked to them (they are my favorite thing ever!). I didnt think much about it, but my companion asked where they lived. We then asked if the parents were home. Little Nicole told us they were. We went to the Refotula home, and they have 7 kids, and are taking care of the fathers 2 down syndrome brothers. They are such a willing family to hear the gospel. They were so excited to act and the next day Sister Nicole right when she saw us reminded us of church. This family is truly so prepared. I know that He prepared them and guided us to them. I talked to the kids, and my comp decided to ask where they lived. Without both of us listening to the spirit, we wouldnt have found them.
SIster Lolita had her baptismal interview with Pres Guanzon and is ready to be baptized, it felt so amazing to know her and her family are entering into such an important covenant.
We also found a Sister who is 17, Sister Sheena. SHe is living with a less active family while she goes to school. We taught her and she has come to church since. She wants to be baptized, but was nervous to change religions. Some other Elders had a baptism and so we decided to invite her. She came and after that asked when her baptismal date was and has been so excited, she texts us everyday about her reading.
We have some other families who arent progressing and that is always hard to see. This week we are really focusing on how we can help them progress towards Heavenly Father.
Sister Carol and Brother Bong finished the BOM, and started again!
We had zone activity today (Monday)! IT WAS FABULOUS!!! We went to Sawanga beach. The ride there was beautiful, many palm trees and rice feilds. And we were able to walk out to an island at low tide in the morning and there were tons of star fish in the pools, we hiked around and played with the star fish! After we went back to the beach, and played some games and volleyball on the beach. It was absolutely beautiful, like nothing Ive ever seen! I took a lot of pictures! We also took a jeepney there, which was crazy as always. Ill send as many pictures as I can.
Also random things...
There is a goat in my area. We took a picture, but the next day it wasnt there. The family ate it, so I guess there was a goat in my area.
Love you and hope you have a great week!
January 11:Hello Everyone!!!
This week has been fantastic, as always! We had a trainer/trainees training in Legazpi City on Wednesday, so we had to travel there by jeepney (which was crazy), and then spent the day learning from Pres. Guanzon. He is such a spiritual man, I wanted to write everything that came out of his mouth. I really felt the workshop gave me more tools to continue to improve as a missionary in order to help the people here better. We made some changes in our work and companionship, and they are hard, but this is the Lord's work, so if we want to do it, we have to do it His way. We have seen a lot of blessings as we strive to be exactly obedient.
To write about some of my investigators this week, because I love them, and I want you to get to know them too!
Carol and Bong- They are SO progressing!! He was a LA member and she hadnt heard of the church. We started teaching and she accepted so fast and is willing to act, and he has started to follow her example. She is almost done with the BOM, and they get so excited every time we come to tell us about what they read, and tell us how it applies to their lives. None of the "houses" here are tall enough for me to stand in, and they think its so funny/cute. Every time I walk in theirs they say, "watch your head" and laugh. They love giving me new food to try, and they give me a list of vocab words every week. They are always at church, and are just the happiest, nicest people. They have a band, and he has sung for us, its pretty great, indescribable really;) We committed Brother Bong to live the WOW this week because he is a chain smoker, and he was struggling to know how. In the lesson the scripture 1 Nephi 3:7 came into my head, and I shared how God wont give a commandment we cant follow and without helping us. He committed to live it, and the next day at church, he was so excited to tell us he hadnt smoked, what a miracle! Sister Carol sewed a skirt for church, and came in a skirt for the first time. She doesnt get to see her kids often, but when they came to see her on New Years, she wanted us to go meet them. Thats the pic from last week. She can be baptized in July, when they have been together for 5 yrs, since there is no divorce here.
Sentes Family- The Sentes family is LA. They have 8 kids all under 8, and are very poor. He is mostly blind, but still works as a trycicle driver. Sister Olivia started to come back every week and has started reading the BOM every day!! The kids are cute and love seeing us, but area little crazy. They didnt seem that interested, and so I honed in my mom skills this week haha. We made a reading chart, and family reading box. The box has pieces of paper with a verse of 2 on it, and then has questions on it. For exqample...what was Nephi commanded to build (ship), How was Nephi able to do this hard thing?, What hard thing can you do in your life to be like Nephi?...They have been reading as a family now! Brother Rodel didnt join us at 1st, but now comes in for every lesson and will pray now. He wont come to church becasue they are afraid the house wont be safe if they leave. I know this family can continue to improve and go to the temple to be a forever family!
I dont have enough time to write about every investigator, so there are two amazing families for this week. I really love them, and in sacrament this week I just felt an overwhelming love for the Philippines, all the people, culture, and specifically our investigators. We have been extremely busy this week. We also got to watch the Philippines are broadcast this week, it was very great to see the improvement in the church here, and the goals for continuing improvement. The church is so growing here. There are so many very strong young people here, almost all the leaders are newly returned missionaries, or 16-25 very strong young leaders.
There was a father and daughter who came to our house a couple weeks ago. They were begging, but we said a prayer with them instead. The father is blind and the Bagiou ruined their home. This week they showed up at church and said they knew our prayer was to God and they wanted to be part of a church that helped them feel the way they did after. WOW, can you say miracle. I know Heavenly Father is preparing His children for this gospel!
Some fun things this week...
We tried a lot of Filipino food! The bread here is so beautiful, cheap, and delicious from little homemade houses.
Our goal is to speak only Tagalog, and its been great so far. A lot of improvement!
I got called to speak in Sacrament this coming week. I realized that 2 months ago if you had asked me to do this I would have had a meltdown and panicked...now no big deal! Ill let you know how a Tagalog sacrament talk goes haha.
We interpretive danced to EFY music for our morning workout one morning haha, it was beautiful!
I love this gospel, and that Heavenly Father helps us in all we do. I know I couldnt do this without Him. I absolutely still love it here and being a part of this culture. People always comment on how Filipino I am, well yes of course, I live here peeps! I would fit in all accept for the part that I am 6' tall haha and white and blonde, other than this, I got this. I know the way I grew up has helped me fit in here so well. Very family oriented, not afraid to work hard and get dirty.
I love you all very much. my challenge to you this week is to sit down as a family and find one thing that you can improve on. Families are forever, and we can take the families we BECOME with us, if we follow Jesus Christ. I love this work, and hope you all have a great week!!!