Happy 2016 Everyone!
I hope everybody had a terrific New Years’ celebration and was able to make resolutions that hopefully you’re still following since it has only been 4 days. 😉 I had way too many resolutions and it is so weird to think that I will not see America or any friends or family in America for this entire year of 2016. My New Years’ celebration consisted of 4 dinner appointments which was more food than I see on Thanksgiving. If you could die from being full, I would have not seen the second day of 2016 cause I was soooo full. But the members are so nice to us and we have regular dinner appointments now and I just love getting to know them better because most of the people in the Philippines are converts unless they are around my age or younger, so they all have neat missionary and conversion stories and they are all soo buotan(nice).
We spent most of our week doing CSP (church service projects) at the church and at investigators or members houses, but this week it is looking like we will be able to get more teaching appointments in which is good because, even though I didn’t think I would, I miss teaching these beautiful, humble people and feeling the Spirit that comes with each lesson.
We were able to have a big FHE at the stake president’s house with the ward missionaries, Nay Mila, HER ALMOST HUSBAND, and Nay Esmeralda. We taught about family prayer and the importance of it and then we played yet another fun Filipino game(they have a million games that I am excited to play with everyone when I return) and everyone had an amazing time I think. Hopefully.
I want to tell you all about Tatay Alegre, a 60 yr old man who reminds me of Joseph Smith. We found Tay Alegre by complimenting his garden that he was working in and he invited us into his house to share a message. We found out he is Roman Catholic but also part of a Jehovah’s Witnesses Bible study. He also invited us back to teach him more about The Book of Mormon and the gospel. The first time he came to church, he saw an older guy paying tithing and wanted to know what it was so he paid tithing the very first time he stepped into a Mormon church, he then got a manual after Elder’s quorum, and then a few hours later came to our missionary fireside and basically gave a talk where he sounded like he had been a member his whole life, THEN at 7 he came to the Christmas Devotional broadcasted at the stake center. We were so impressed and happy for him.
We went and visited him after the typhoon and, with the saddest look you have ever seen on an old man’s face, he told us his wife and family didn’t want him to come to our church anymore but that we could continue teaching him. On Sunday, we taught him with Bishop and I decided to bring the Joseph Smith pamphlet because Tay Alagre loves to read and learn about all different religions but he is so confused because of course, the religions say different things and now that he wants to start coming to and join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are people rejecting him and rebelling like his family. We bore our testimony that he and Joseph have a similar situation and encouraged him to continue to pray about the church and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Bishop told him that since he is the patriarch of the home and he has his agency, like the scriptures say, he can choose what he wants to do. I love Tay Alegre and how prepared he is.
Gina’s husband surprised her from Manila so him, and the missionaries started building their house this morning. We also helped Nay Esmeralda fix her roof so that everything doesn’t get wet when it rains(every day), and she was the happiest I have ever seen her when we all showed up. Those smiles are the fuel to this work.
The talk of the week was “Behold Thy Mother, By Elder Holland, and just like I did in the MTC when I heard it, I cried reading it. I just thought of my mom(of course the whole time) and my favorite quote was :
“A wonderful young mother recently wrote to me: “How is it that a human being can love a child so deeply that you willingly give up a major portion of your freedom for it? How can mortal love be so strong that you voluntarily subject yourself to responsibility, vulnerability, anxiety, and heartache and just keep coming back for more of the same? What kind of mortal love can make you feel, once you have a child, that your life is never, ever your own again? Maternal love has to be divine. There is no other explanation for it.”
I have seen the divine nature in my mom’s love and care for me and my siblings. I love her and am forever grateful to her for loving me so deeply and exuding selflessness in literally every thought, action and word. My mom is my example and I try to love the people I serve and teach with a similar love and selflessness that she has demonstrated to me my whole life.
I want to tell a story as intermission of my letter. We were eating at my favorite restaurant “I Eat @ Home” where they call me Sister Teriyaki and we got our food to stay. We sat down and three guy ranging from 23 to 28 sat down next to us. Sister Cerdenia and I both looked at each other because we felt uncomfortable and could tell something was not right. The 24ish guy sitting closest to me started telling me how beautiful I am and that he sees me everyday walking and I am his inspiration, they all proceeded to tell us they were drunk (which explains his compliments) and we got our stuff together to leave so we could get our food to go. We left without telling the men we were leaving and as we looked for a ride back to our apartment, the one guy ran after us yelling “Beautiful, Beautfiul!”, caught up to us and tried giving me his phone to ask for my number. I said “Diri brother. pasensya pero bawal”, meaning “no brother sorry but it is not allowed.” He was then kind and said okay I understand and left us alone thank goodness. We won’t be eating there for awhile just to make sure haha.
Lastly, as I was personally studying Ang Libro ni Mormon, using the seminary manual as a guide to better, more deeply, yet still simply learn study The Book of Mormon, I came across a wonderful quote that went along with 1 Nephi 14. It explains why I am here to both teach people who have never experienced the gospel, the less actives, and the recent converts. It is also motivation for me to live obediently and faithfully both here on the mission and throughout my life. I hope it gives you the same motivation and push.
“There is only light and darkness; there is no twilight zone. Either men walk in the light or they cannot be saved… It may be better to walk in the twilight or to glimpse the first few rays of a distant dawn, than to be enveloped in total darkness but salvation itself is only for those who STEP FORTH INTO THE BLAZING LIGHT OF NOONDAY SUN” -Elder Bruce R. McConkie
I want people to step into the complete light as I teach them and invite them to come closer to our Savior. I remember in 10th grade seminary with Brother Allen at Basha, he had a student stand on two chairs and then he started pulling one of the chairs and the student(not being a gymnast) could not stand on both chairs as they moved in opposite directions. Similarly, as Elder McConkie explained, we cannot be in the twilight zone because it doesn’t exist.
I love being a missionary and I love these people and experiences that will forever shape my life. I love you all and want to share one last quote from the talk of the week because he states perfectly the gratitude I feel for my mother every single day.
““Thank you. Thank you for giving birth, for shaping souls, for forming character, and for demonstrating the pure love of Christ.”
I am lying on the beach because we had just finished playing a game as a district for a district activity, and so I lied down to rest on the beach and I looked over and all the others (all Filipinos) were trying to fit under one umbrella because they hate the sun and want to be whiter. so they were all laughing at me cause I was the only one who wanted the sun.
Photo: We were buying vegetables and there were flies everywhere all over the vegetables and a young girl was waving this stick with a plastic bag tied to the end to get rid of the flies, so as Sister Cerdenia was paying, I asked if I could do it and she reluctantly gave me the stick and it was a blast. Sister Cerdenia took a picture of me before I even knew she saw me doing it.