As we watched fireworks on our rooftop eating spaghetti and cake, I pondered about the year 2016 and the fact that I spent the whole year in the Philippines as a missionary. I thought about all the things that I had learned and the person that I was just a year ago celebrating New Year 2016 in the Philippines. I am so grateful for everything that happened and I wish I could spend my whole 2017 here as well but I will never forget 2016. It went by in a flash but contained a lifetime full of experiences.
I got a new companion but stayed in the same area. She is new in the mission and her name is Sister Osma. She is my anak, or daughter, or trainee.
She is from Dubai which is the coolest thing ever since I have always wanted to go there after seeing the Fast and Furious movie i think. But she was born in the Philippines and she is half chinese. She is so weird like me and we have so much fun together. She speaks tagalog to me a lot so my tagalog is improving but slowly but surely I am teaching her Waray Waray. She is a fast learner and it is impressive how much she understands and can speak even though it is just her fifth day in the field.
It has been kind of a chaotic week because we were in the mission home for two days waiting to meet the sisters we are going to train and having trainers meetings, and then we weren’t allowed to work after 6 for the past three days because of New Years. BUT we still had miracles happen and found people ready to receive the gospel.
I would like to share something from my personal study yesterday about the Brother of Jared and the stones. My very first conference here in the field I was called on to share a scriptural insight and I also picked a passage from the story in Ether but I focused on the beginning and he went to Heavenly Father with a problem and then needed a solution as well and then after all he could do God helped him. In Ether 6, the story goes on about the Jaredites travelling in the sealed up boat with just stones as lights for 344 days. Starting in verse 3 it says:
And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ give us “light” as we go through this life and experience the “great waters” of hardships, trials, temptations. He does not leave us alone in the deep dark abyss of life. It goes on to talk about the storms and how they were under water for days at a time but they were still safe because the boat was so good and they still had light. Verse 8-10 says:
And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.
Our hard times and the winds we have in our lives all still are leading us to the promised land or to heaven to return to Him. And we can learn from their examples that even though Heavenly Father was the one making the storms happened, they thanked Him and prayed all the time because they realized that the storms were for their good. Finally it says that no monster could break them. Nothing in this life can break us or make it so we can’t move on as long as we continually have His light in our lives. They reached the promised land after 344 days.
I am sure those 344 days felt like a lifetime to them in that boat. If we just continue to center our lives in Christ with His light and be grateful for the trials that come, we too will reach the promised land one day where we can spend eternity with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and our families.
Let us commit ourselves this year to endure and enjoy until the end and find joy and gratitude even through hard times as the Jaredites did. Let us continually have the light of God’s love that will eventually bring us home to the promised land.
I love Tacloban Mission and Sister Osma and San Juanico Area.
P.S. Sister Fernandez and I walked the San Juanico bridge, since it is in our area, before transfer day. It is the longest bridge in the Philippines and Tacloban is kinda famous for it. That is why we have so many pictures there.