Sunday, April 27, 2014

"If God be with us, who can prevail against us?"

Well this week has been alright.  Nothing too special.  Did a lot of missionary work.  It's actually been a tough week for me to find motivation.  I'm at one of those points where I am dying for a change.  A little more about why.  Our area is probably smaller than our neighborhood back home so we walk the same streets everyday and see pretty much the same people everyday.  We rarely see anything new and it makes it a little tough. Plus we don't have those great things you call seasons.  It's hot.  Everyday.  Without fail.  So I’m contemplating how to spice up my life here. I was thinking about trying a new outfit. Maybe I’ll try and buy a pair of pants that has a 2 mm pinstripe instead of 1 mm. Or maybe I’ll start wearing my watch on my right hand instead of my left. Wow, I should probably stop typing, I’m getting a little too excited. 

We had the wonderful opportunity to do a couple service projects this week.  That was fun.  We went to a woman’s house to help her straighten up her yard that looked like it was hit by a nuclear bomb.  Cool story.  Elder Manares and I were asked to move a refrigerator that was being stored at the back of the house. As we approached the refrigerator, you could tell it had been there for years. We began to analyze the appliance and I felt intrigued to open the door.  As I open it, cockroaches flooded out. And a weird looking substance oozed out.  Cool story huh?  We spent the rest of the time weeding, chopping down trees with a machete and digging up ginger.  It was a good time. 

Our next service project was a ward activity on Saturday.  We swept.  We swept pretty much our whole area. We swept real well. 

I honestly don't even know what to tell you about right now.

I've been obsessed with teaching about the temple this week. We've been visiting a lot of Less Actives this week and have felt inspired to teach about the temple.  We have a really great experience last night with one of the LA families.  In the past, this has always been one of the families that reluctantly let us in, didn't really pay attention and just didn't show much interest.  Yesterday wasn't any different... until we started to teach about the temple and eternal families.  We shared about the blessings that come from the temple, the importance of the temple sealing, how to prepare and it was just wonderful.  The entire family was actively engaged as they were excited to tell us that they really want to start family scripture study and family prayer. They then excitedly told us that they would start later that night and were determined to be at church every Sunday.  Truly a blessing. They are the sweetest family and are going to be sealed in the temple before too long.  

So this upcoming week is going to be crazy.  We have MLC on Thursday, Zone meeting on Monday and then temple day on Tuesday.  Super stoked.  It's going to be the bomb.

I love this verse of scripture:
"If God be with us, who can prevail against us?"

As children of God, we are entitled to his help.  He is always with us and will help us.  However, it is conditional upon us asking for it.  If we will turn ourselves over to prayer and do everything that we can possibly do, no one will prevail against us. That's a pretty amazing promise.  

Know that I love you and you are in my prayers constantly.  Mother's Day is just around the corner. I'm giddy as a little schoolgirl. Mahal ko kayo!!

"We finish each others..." 
"That's what I was going to say!!" 

It's been on repeat. No big deal. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Let It Go"

So this week was full of exchanges and kwan.  There was just a whole lot of going-hard. My mind is kind of all over the place so this email might reflect that kaguluhan.  The first exchange I went on was with a white boy from Utah. His name is Elder Merrill.  He went to Woods Cross and is pretty much the man.  It was nice to work with another American for a day. We had some great experiences.  We taught a great family that had like 9 kids.  Elder Merrill told me before that they weren't really progressing and Tatay wasn't extremely interested. We taught a great lesson about the Plan of Salvation and the attitude of this family just changed completely.  We really focused on using the scriptures and letting the prophets teach.  You can always count on the prophets (coupled with the spirit of course) to change someone’s heart.  At the end of the lesson we had the father offer the closing prayer.  He was hesitant but offered a great prayer.  After he ended the prayer, he grabbed his chest and expressed that he had the most amazing feeling.  He then invited us to come back everyday.  I guess we can probably do that.

We also met a less active man that hasn't been seen in years. It turns out that he lives right by my apartment. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was all his golfing trophies.  Yep, my new best friend is a golfer. We talked about golf for a while, sports and all that fun stuff.  He told me that a large bucket of balls costs 40 pesos here.  That's less than 1 American dollar. The Philippines has the right idea. He then invited me to go golfing with him.  He said that whenever I wanted to go I can just stop by his house and he'd take me to the course that's only 10 minutes away.  You bet I’ll be taking him up on that offer.  Not only was he the man, he was also quite receptive.  He really has a desire to change. Hopefully there will be more news concerning him in the future.

Went on another exchange with Elder Manongas (the same Elder Manongas that was in my last zone. We transferred together). It was a great time.  We talked about the good times back in the Pasay north zone.  We did some missionary work though too.

We had the most amazing Sunday in the history of Sundays yesterday. Honestly, I couldn't have imagined up a better Sunday.  We have been working extremely hard in this area, but the results just haven't been coming.  It's been pretty frustrating.  The blessings finally came when we had 11 investigators at sacrament yesterday.  What made it even better was that they were nearly all families. We had a family of 5 that have been going through some really tough relationship problems bring their whole family to church.  We have been trying for weeks to get them to close their store and come as a family.  Heavenly Father finally made it possible. We also had 3-part member less active families come to church. Part Member families are my favorite. Their is a special place in my heart for those types of families especially when they come from less active families.  There is nothing sweeter than seeing a part member family reactivate and become completed through the waters of baptisms. The Sunday service seemed to be tuned to the needs of our investigators.  Everything that was taught, shared or testified pertained perfectly to our investigators. The ward just took over as they showed these families to their respective classes and clung to them like a long lost friend or sibling. It was perfect.  These families will never miss another Sunday because they felt the love of the ward and the love of the lord. It's great to actually witness the plan of our Heavenly Father rolled out before you. He truly is aware of every single one of us and will do everything in his power to help them.  Not only that, but he blesses us with the opportunity to act for him.  He gives us his children to love and to care for. We truly are answers to prayers when we follow the guidance of the spirit. President Monson stated that there is nothing sweeter than following a prompting of the spirit and later coming to find out that it was an answer to someone’s prayer. We are so blessed.

Just had the best morning in the world. We pulled together a last minute zone activity before transfer day.  We got approval to watch the movie that I have been dying to see, the movie that I have heard all about and the movie that has the catchiest song in the word: Frozen.  Oh my gosh.  It was pretty much the best 2 hours of my life. From a missionary’s standpoint that hasn't seen a movie in about 14 months, it was the best movie ever created. "Let it go, let it go."

Well that's about it for this week. Nothing else too exciting happened. I'll be staying with Elder Manares for one more transfer.  I think we might be the modern day Alma and amulek.  Who knows though.  I hope you have a wonderful week.  Keep doing what you do and keep being who you are.  "Let it go."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Search, Pray, Apply

I have a ton to tell you about this week.  It has been a week jam-packed with pretty much everything you can think of.  You should be excited. I don't even know where to start.  

Last Monday. I witnessed a very simple but profound miracle at a family home evening.  It was our first meeting with a member referral that had come to church the day before.  In church, we talked about the restoration and so we decided to show the restoration video. We put the newly opened DVD into the DVD player and patiently waited.  Quick fact: No one here owns remotes.  They have DVD players, but they never have remotes so usually you have two options: play and pause. No menu button, no up nor down, nothing. This was no exception.  This DVD player didn't have a remote. So as we were waiting, the DVD automatically played... in English.  Not what we needed. So we were stuck with a play button, a pause button, and an open button.  We tried everything to try and get to the language options. Needless to say, we couldn't get there. Then a miracle happened.  I tried one more time to eject the DVD and close it again (even though the previous attempts hadn't yielded any result). Miraculously, the DVD again automatically played.  However, this time, it played in Tagalog.  It was amazing.  Just plain amazing. FYI Tagalog is like the 7th option of about 14 languages and it was a brand new disc and therefore rules out any sort of language memory or anything of the sort.  Not only did we witness this miracle, it yielded results.  Our investigator, Romeo, was touched.  He testified that he knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet.  Yeah, he's getting baptized. 

Tuesday.  Zone Meeting.  It just went great.  Thanks Dad for the articles. They were perfect. I shared about breaking our mental barriers and doing the impossible. Missions often have "barriers" that missionaries believe to be the boundaries of possibility. Whether it is in number of lessons, progressing investigators, investigators at church or baptisms, these mental barriers are present.  Often times the only thing keeping us from doing "the impossible" is our mindset.  We our bound by the limitations that we set for ourselves.  It has been quoted that "Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right." We should never limit ourselves to the expectations of others, or the expectations of man. If we think like men, our potential is that of a man. If we think like our father in heaven, our potential is eternal. Don't mentally bind yourself. "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."

We had a great opportunity on Wednesday to do exchanges with missionaries in the MTC.  Since our zone is fairly close to the MTC, they send missionaries out every once and a while to go on splits.  It was so fun.  I had a young missionary from Tonga.  He's the man.  His name is Elder VaiTohi. We just killed it. We just destroyed peoples' faces with the gospel. I love seeing their love and enthusiasm for the work. It truly is inspiring. 

Elder Manares and I had some amazing success finding this week. The Lord really blessed us with people that he has prepared to hear the gospel.  One investigator, Corizone, we found yesterday and we had quite the experience teaching her. About half way through the lessons, she seemed to be deep in thought, so we inquired about what she was pondering.  Corizone then began to relay a dream that she had 15 years ago. The dream that she described was a portion of Lehi's dream. She told us of this angel that showed her this big building full of people.  She described how these people were not the best of people and how she was exhorted to help these people. She then stated the building fell.  I opened up my scriptures and read to her the experience of Lehi.  She was amazed.  She sat listening intently to every word that came from my mouth.  Corizone then told me that she has been telling others about her dream for 15 years and no one could "interpret" the meaning of her dream. She has been praying for someone to help her determine the meaning.  She said that she knew that God would send her a message.  Elder Manares and I then began to expound upon the Book of Mormon and the message it contains. The spirit was strong as we testified of the Restoration and told her that this is what the Lord has planned for her and her family.  Upon ending our lesson, she thanked us multiple times for the answer we had given her, the answer to her prayers.  She has committed to be baptized on May 17th. 

So I was walking through the store the other day and guess what I found.  WESTERN FAMILY FLOSS. Yes, Western family has made it to the Philippines.  You bet I’m rockin that floss.  I've contemplated passing a couple out to investigators as free advertising. Western Family or die. The Philippines' next big thing.

I wish I had more time to tell you about everything that happened this week.  It was just a great week.  Of course, there is also opposition in all things. This week was also full of hardship and trials, but in the end, you only remember the good.  

Conference was just amazing. I can't explain how excited I was for conference. We spent the last week, inviting anyone and everyone to hear the words of the living prophets. We reminded one member about conference and she stated, "Oh, it's just general conference". JUST general conference. JUST. It's not JUST general conference. General conference should be talked about with cheers and shouts for joy. "Finally!! We get to hear the words of the Prophets!!" We should be like the people that gathered to hear the words of King Benjamin and camp our for days as we wait for these inspired men to teach us the will of God.  Psh, JUST general conference. Don't worry, I set her straight. 
I was touched by numerous talks and am so excited to do further study in the future. I love the counsel of Jacob, "6 Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spiritof prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken,insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea."
These talks are full of power and inspiration that we all can learn from.  Search these talks and your faith will become unshaken. Search, pray, and apply. 
PS. I expect to hear your PMG insights next week in your letter (like we were counseled to do on Saturday).  Especially you Bing. Time to prepare!

One of my favorite quotes, "Blame keeps wounds open, only forgiveness heals." (I think President Monson drew some of his ideas from my talk I gave in sacrament the other day)
One of my favorite talks: Elder Bednar's talk about the importance of having "a load".  Happiness is not the absence of a load.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet

So let's see. Where to start. Thursday was one of the greatest days of my life.  We had MLC and it was not only a great spiritual experience, but also a wonderful social gathering. I was able to catch up with Elder Hawkins about the area and zone.  He gave me two cute notes from one of my favorite families that they had written to me after their baptism expressing how happy they were to be baptized and how much they wished I could have been there.  So stinkin cute.  Aya, the youngest one, drew a picture of all of us holding hands with huge smiles on our faces. He then proceeded to show me pictures.  Holy crap, it was just amazing. What made it even cooler is that the one who baptized them was a member that we reactivated a couple weeks earlier, Tony. Those families are both attending temple prep classes and are setting their sights on the temple and have goal dates to be sealed in the temple.  That's what missionary work is all about.  
After they told me about their area, they began to tell me about the zone.  Elder Hawkins and I put some hard work into that zone and it finally paid off.  We exceeded every one of our goals and had the highest numbers that the zone has experienced since its creation.  Plus, Bonifacio zone (my zone now) killed it as well.  We have some great missionaries in these zones and they are working hard and bringing about miracles.  It's all about faith. 

I had someone trying to convince me for 10 minutes to give them one of my babies when the time comes that I have babies.  They were serious.  Not joking. They wanted American blood in the family tree. That was weird. 

Taught our "marriage counseling" family a couple times this week.  We didn't notice any change in their relationship until Friday.  We had the most amazing lesson ever.  We began the lesson by explaining the importance of a prophet in our latter day and then connected it to The Family: A proclamation to the world.  It was so powerful.  By the end of the lesson, the spirit in their house had completely changed.  It went from anger to peace.  For brother, it was like a light went off in his head.  He began to ask a question about prophets in the Old Testament and continued talking until he had answered his own question and also described why it was important for us to have a prophet today. It was great.  All we said was "You just described perfectly why we need a prophet."  Not only that, but his wife (who has never showed much interest) opened up and confirmed everything brother said.  Their hearts have been changed.  What an experience.  Gotta love the guidance and converting power of the spirit.  

Had interviews this week with President Stucki.  It went well.  Nothin too crazy. These are the last quarterly interviews that he will be conducting as Mission President.  They head home in July.  I sure will miss them.  They are amazing people.  I'll never forget the impact they have made on my life. 

Had a killer day on Saturday.  We didn't have a ton of work during the beginning of the week because of MLC and Interviews so we were determined to go all out on Saturday.  We prayed hard, worked hard and it paid off.  At the end of the day, we had taught 11 lessons (opening prayer and closing prayer) and found 5 new investigators. Not too bad.  The Lord truly blessed us. 

Elder Manares and I got hit on hard last Monday by a referral we received from a member.  That was uncomfortable. 

We also had to teach district meeting.  Our district leader called us about an hour before and told us that his companion was sick and they were going to the hospital. So we took his spot and kinda winged district meeting.  It was good.  I love teaching.

Speaking of teaching, we have zone meeting this week. It's going to be epic.  I'll let you know how it goes. 

JunJun is still the man.  He works with us all the time.  He has such a great missionary spirit.  I love it. 

6 And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen.

So true. Greatest Worth.