I am still loving the MTC, don’t get me wrong, but I find out more and more about the Philippines every day and it makes me want to be there already! I think I already know why I was called to the Philippines: they are super sassy and love bananas and volleyball. So there you go; the Lord knows me too well;)
But seriously – today we got our flight plans to the Philippines!!! Surreal! And yesterday we got to skype with and teach a lesson to a Filipina lady and she was the cutest, nicest woman in the whole world. She did make me and my companion a little nervous though because when she found out we would be serving in Tacloban, she was surprised we weren’t learning Waray Waray. She then told us Cebauno and Waray Waray are not that similar. I had known since before I got to the MTC that I would be speaking a lot of Waray in the field and that I was learning a language here that I would hardly use in the field, but I didn’t know that the languages weren’t that similar. Also we will be learning and speaking two other languages in addition to Cebuano and Waray. YIKES. I pray for the gift of tongues even harder now than I did before.
Anyway, every Tuesday for our service, we get to choose and hang the 16 flags in the front of the MTC and it is one of the highlights of our weeks haha. We always choose Philippines flag (of course) but then we choose flags that we can relate to somehow. Like if one of our friends has served there or is from there. Then as I raise the flag, I yell “FOR so and so!”(whoever I am raising that flag for). So far I have chosen: Ukraine, Britain, Philippines, South Africa, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Germany, Brazil, Dominican Republic, and Argentina.
On Sunday, the sacrament meeting talks were on the Atonement and faith in Jesus Christ and they were both SO powerful. Sister Osumo, the cute Filipino from Singapore who is my roommate told the following story that made the Atonement and Christ’s sacrifice so tangible but at the same time infinitely hard to comprehend:
“Two little boys were fighting again and for punishment their dad said they had to hit him with a belt. The dad took off his shirt and gave the older son his belt and the older son begged him with tears in his eyes asking not to hit his father, but his father persisted and told his son that he needed to hit him with the belt. After many refusals and pleads, the son finally hit his dad across the back with the belt. The younger son, with tears in his eyes as well then followed and proceeded to hit his dad across the back with the belt. Afterwards, both sons were sobbing and said they never wanted to do that again. The dad said every time you fight, you will have to hit me with the belt again and both sons promised they would not fight again. The father then sat down with the sons and explained that every time we fight or sin, it is like hitting Jesus Christ with the belt because with each sin brings more pain to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”
I love this dad and the way he was able to teach his sons about the Atonement, if I were those boys that would resonate with me for the rest of my life because it is so true. Each sin we commit brings so much pain to Jesus Christ. I know that I will remember that from here on out.
We also talked a lot about the Holy Ghost this week because this missionary work would be impossible without the Holy Ghost guiding and touching hearts of those being taught. One thing we have heard a lot is that it doesn’t necessarily matter what you say or how you say something as long as the Holy Ghost is there and the spirit is guiding your message because the Holy Ghost can do powerful things with our investigators. During personal study, I was reading D&C 8:2-3 which talks about the Holy Ghost dwelling in our hearts and the spirit of revelation which “is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground”. The same spirit that led the children of Israel to have enough faith to walk through the Red Sea is the spirit that can lead our investigators to church, baptism, knowing our message is true, etc. And this is the same spirit that can lead you all to do the right things and avoid danger! How critical the Holy Ghost is in our lives and we should strive to have it with us always because it is gahum kaayo! (very powerful) I did not follow my own advice in our last lesson.
STORY TO LEARN FROM: Sister Davis and I planned our fourth lesson for our investigator on the Plan of Salvation and we planned out who would say what parts and practiced it and everything, Sister Davis needs to know her exact parts so she can practice the language and learn the words. Then we got into the lesson and asked how Emily(our investigator) was feeling and she said she was confused because there are so many churches and it is hard for her to know which one is right (she was just baptized into the Baptist church). I felt like I should take the lesson in the direction of all the churches, and back up to the Restoration and the scriptures I should share even came to mind, so it was my turn to start the lesson and I paused for awhile with all of this running through my head. I was afraid, however that my companion wouldn’t know the words for the lesson that was in my head that we hadn’t prepared so we continued on with our planned lesson and I ignored the promptings of the Holy Ghost. DILI MAAYO PAGPILI! (Bad choice). We talked about it after our lesson and we learned that if that happens in the future, to trust one another and follow the Spirit over any lesson plan. Learn from my mistake and trust the Lord with all promptings from the Holy Ghost.
A QUICK FUNNY STORY: So when one of the girls has to go to the individual bathroom, the companion has to wait on the bench right outside the bathroom and sometimes as my companion is walking out I like to scare her or push a big rolly trashcan into the bathroom so she can’t get out. So the other day, Sister Stinchfield in my district was going to the bathroom and Sister Davis, Sister Neemia, and I were waiting on the bench and to increase the prank, I wanted one of them to get in the trash can so I could push it in the bathroom as Sister Stinchfield tried getting out. Sister Neemia, after pleading with her multiple times, finally decided she would get in the trash can. So she first stood on the bench and then tried to get into the trash can that was sitting on a scooter thing, not connected. We were in a hurry cause Sister Stinch was about to open the door and somehow as she got in the trash can and the trash can became unbalanced and the trash can, along with Sister Neemia in it feel over. It was pretty loud so Sister Neemia laid on the floor for awhile as male teachers came out making sure everything was okay. You might have had to be there but I laughed all night about it.
We also talked a lot about our purpose this week which I still need. I can see BYU campus from the window right outside my room and every time I look out the window, I get college sick and I miss all my friends and even going to class at BYU. Which, I didn’t think I would miss and thinking about not seeing you all or BYU for another 17 months sometimes gets to me, but then we have lessons and devotionals about why we are here and then it gets hard to think about coming back and leaving the Philippines! During class we had a personal study activity where we searched PMG and the scriptures to find why we are here. I found a quote by Spencer W. Kimball that said:
Many a person in this world is crying, knowingly and unknowingly, “come over…and help us.”
I know that there are people in the Philippines whether they know it or not who need the gospel in their lives. Then I read Alma 26:30 which reads:
And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.”
I know and have been told that this mission will be the hardest thing I will do but Alma 26:29-31 remind me that the “afflictions” are more than worth it because we have the opportunity of saving someone!
My favorite reminder of my purpose this week happened in our Tuesday Night Devotional. So the Philippines is a third world country and the people don’t have enough money to eat a lot and the drinking water is not sanitary so they go with very little food and water. Elder L. Whitney Clayton’s wife spoke with him on Tuesday and she talked about our purpose. She told a story of a woman when she was in Africa who said the following “I hear, in America, there is a saying that goes ‘Think of the glass half full rather than half empty’. We don’t have that saying in Africa because we are lucky if we even have a glass let alone if there is anything in it.” Sister Clayton went on to talk about there are people we are going to serve who are physically thirsty and starving but at the same time spiritually thirsty and starving that are waiting for our message. It really resonated with me because there are people in the Philippines who are physically and spiritually starving and I can be at least a little help to ending their hunger.
I hope you are all doing well! Mingaw ug gihigugma nako sa camo!! Keep writing me and sending me pictures because I love knowing what is happening in your lives!!
Uban sa tanan akong gugma,
p.s. I eat bananas every day here.