Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lots of hugs from me to you!

Merry Christmas!!! Hehe, here in the Philippines, the polite holiday greeting is "Merry Christmas Po!" It makes me laugh to put the Po at the end, but that's how to address people with respect. It was so good to talk on the phone with you! Sounds like you had a great Christmas. It was a good Christmas here too, although it was really weird without snow! We sang Christmas carols and gave out Book of Mormons at the hospital, had a zone activity, and ward/stake Christmas parties. Hehe, here in the Philippines, they really love to dance. Everyone. And sing. The ward parties are much more lively than any I've seen before - they remind me of youth/EFY activities. It's so fun because all of the adults get really involved in the dancing and activities. I love the Filipino people - they are so sweet and warm and friendly. And they are always smiling. They love to give lots of hugs too. I love how colorful it is here. All of the houses are surrounded by all sorts of tropical green trees and bamboo. Most of the houses have bamboo roofs. Whenever we go to someone's house, instead of knocking, we yell "Tao Po!" (i.e. anyone home?) The roads are very busy - lots of Jeepneys and trikes. No stoplights and so we just have to cross wherever we get the chance. I think I'm getting used to it though.

Thank you so much for your wonderful emails! I love you all very much. Oh, did I tell you that I did meet Elder Anderson from Fairview, and Elder Titensor in Aunt Gracie's ward. That's wonderful that Sister Allred was able to contact you! She told me she would email you. She and President Allred took me and Sister Broadhead (the other American sister in my batch) out for lunch on Saturday and bought us a bunch of "American" groceries (which is good because neither of us have been eating very much lately). Today, they will be taking us both for most of our P-day to Rosales. I am looking forward to it a lot! There have been a lot of challenges this week, but I know that Heavenly Father will help me. This is His work. I appreciate your prayers. I know that this is His restored gospel. I'm so grateful to have it. So many people here don't understand what life is all about, and it's sad to see how different life can be without that knowledge.

I know Heavenly Father loves us! Life is happy!
Have a great week!
Love always, Rebecca

P.S. Send my love to my dearest sweetheart, Alex! I'm so proud of him for being such a dedicated hard-working missionary :)

Email From December 20

Hello wonderful family! Thank you for your emails! Magandag Pasko/Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday Daddy! I love to hear about what has been going on. Well I am here! I have been assigned to my first area, Dagupan! My trainer is Sister Garma (hehe, whenever I say her name it reminds me of "Sister Garmin" and how ironic it is because Sister Garma truly is my "navigator" and helps me find my way. I thought Daddy would get a few chuckles out of that. She has been here for 8 months. Yes, she is the one in the photo that President Jensen sent you. I'm so glad President Jensen sent you those pictures. How nice! Sister Garma is a native but she speaks some English. We live with 2 other sisters, Sister Jover and Sister Tobias (both also natives) in a two-story apartment. It has been interesting for sure. So many new things. Sometimes it's hard because I don't understand what they are saying - the people here talk so fast. I'm struggling to be able to understand when people speak. Please pray for me. Most people here speak some English but prefer speaking in Tagalog. It's funny to hear them switch back and forth between the two in the same conversation. I love their Filipino accents when speaking English--it's cute! Many Filipinos greet me with English greetings like "Hey Maam!" and "Good Evening Maam" and smile because I am a foreigner. The Filipinos are so sweet. I have been assigned to the Dagupan 3rd ward - it is a very strong ward. There were 4 baptisms on Saturday. On Sunday, they asked me last minute to play the piano for the Primary program in Sacrament meeting. I also got to bear my testimony is Sacrament meeting. I am enjoying getting to know the people. This morning Sister Garma taught me how to wash my laundry by hand. Hehe, it was funny to see the neighbors staring at me the entire time. I guess it's quite a sight to see a blonde white girl around here. I'm very tall compared to everyone (weird!) We use buckets to shower, wash clothes, etc. It fun to learn a new lifestyle and eat native Philippino food. The best thing I've tried so far is "Lumpia" - they are like little egg rolls, but better. yum! We ride in "Jeepneys" a lot - they are very colorful buses that cost 7 pesos for each ride. I'm still trying to understand how things work here. I feel very lost but I hope I will adjust quickly.

We arrived at President Jensen's at 11:30 PM on Wednesday. The bus ride was interesting. We had SO many solicitors! I think they had some sort of deal with the bus driver, because at street corners they would ask if there were Americans on board and then the bus driver would let them on board to walk down the isle selling their goods. I enjoyed contacting people on the way over here. In Los Angeles, I met a nice lady from the Philippines named Agnus. Sister Young, Sister Parks, and I shared with her our purpose as missionaries. Agnus had seen the Manila temple before but didn't know much about Mormons. I was able to give her a pass-along card with a picture of the temple. On the plane, I was able to talk with a Vietnamese man named Peter, who spoke very limited English. He is Catholic and has studied Theology at a university. We talked about the scriptures, and I was able to show him my standard works, including the Book of Mormon, which he had never heard of, so I shared with him what it was all about. He seemed intrigued. We also talked about families and I showed him a picture of our family. Next to it was a picture of the Manti Temple, and he asked about it. I shared with him about how the temple is a "very special place for families" and bore my testimony to him about how families can be together forever. Peter loves to read the scriptures online and so I gave him the church website so that he could get access to the Standard works online in Vietnamese. It was a neat experience to talk with him. I've noticed that many people see our nametags and ask about who we are. The first thing they see is the name "Jesus Christ." It is always a good reminder to me to always act in a way that represents Him.

For Christmas I will be able to talk to you for 1 hour! I'm not sure exactly when I will call but I'll try to make it a time when you are all awake.

I love you very much. I hope all is well. Please pray for me to adjust quickly and to learn the language. I really need your prayers right now.

I love you all,
Rebecca

Monday, December 14, 2009

Today is exciting!

Hi! How are you????? Magandang Pasko! (Merry Christmas) Today's the big day. I can't believe it's already here. I feel like we just got here. On Saturday, Sister Leatham and Brother Doria shared some special mission stories and photos from their own missions for our last day with them. Guess what? Elaine S. Dalton, YW General President, came to speak in Relief Society yesterday! It made me very happy because she is one of my favorite speakers. On Tuesday last week, Elder Costa from the 70 spoke to us, which was soooo good!On Wednesday I got to be a host again. I hosted 3 new sisters - one going to Georgia Atlanta, one to Hondurus, and another to Temple Square (she was from India and was soooooo sweet!). On Thursday, our whole district wore blue, just because. Even our teachers (well, Brother Doria fully intended to, but he forgot). On Friday, we went on another field trip for Sis. Parks. She is doing better - we are all going to the Philippines! We'll just hope and pray that things stay fine when she's down there. Also on Friday, Sister Leatham had us do a "Day in the field" where we prepared lessons for 7 different people, but only 3 of them end up being taught (teachers who pretend to be investigators) and then we do a half-hour of contacting. It wasn't as much as we would normally do in a day in the field, but it was fun to get a little taste. On Friday, the fire alarm went off in the sisters' residence hall in the middle of the night. We had to evacuate in our pajamas in the snow. It was actually quite fun :) After about 20 mintues, they let us back in.
Last night, the BYU Men's chorus came to sing at our fireside. It was great, although someone very special was missing! ;)

Well, I'm excited to talk to you on the phone! I'll probably try to call at 7:30 - the home phone. I've heard that I'll have 1 hour for emails in the field. Also, our teachers informed us that we will be doing all our laundry by hand, which will take up a chunk of our P-day. So I'm sorry if I don't have much time to write letters! I love you very much!

Ingat! Mahal Kita!
Love, Rebecca

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm going to miss December 15th! :)

Okay I got my flight plans, yippee! I'm leaving on Monday, not Tuesday! We leave the MTC at 4:30 PM, and then we will take the 8:25 flight to L.A. California. So I'll be able to call you either at the SLC airport or CA I think. At 11:30 PM, we'll leave Los Ang. and cross the international dateline, arriving in Taipe Taiwan at 6:10 AM on December 16th! So you all will have to let me know how the 15th was because I'll never experience December 15th, 2009! Crazy eh? :) We have a 3 hour layover in Taiwan and then we take the 9:30 AM flight to Manila! Yay! It's sure going to be an adventure. I can't wait! There are about 48 of us going to the Philippines - 12 are going to Baguio with me! So there you have it.

Well, this week has been wonderful. How did you like the 1st Presidency Christmas devotional last night? Wasn't it great? I loved it! Especially President Monson's message. The MTC taped it at 6 and then let us watch it at our weekly fireside. The MTC also has lots of Christmas lights up in the trees and a nativity set outside. And now that we have lots of snow, it feels so Christmasy! It will be weird to leave this winter wonderland and have my first warm tropical Christmas.

The reason my email is later today is because we had to go on another "field trip" to the doctor for Sister Parks. She is still having some stomach problems, and we will need to go back on Friday for a return appointment. She found out today that she may be facing the decision of whether to go to the Philippines or whether to stay and serve her mission stateside where better medical services are available. So needless to say, it's been a pretty emotionally difficult day. Please pray for her. She has worked so hard in learning Tagalog and we're all so excited. I hope everything will resolve itslef and that we will all be able to leave together. I love my companions!

Every Wednesday morning we have a service assignment cleaning the showers in the sisters' residence hall. So by the time we get out of here, we are going to be epxert shower cleaners! My companions and I like to sing Christmas songs and Primary songs together while we clean. Oh, I found out that Sister Young grew up on Brite music too! So occasionally we sing those together. hehe! Sister Young's parents are planning to pick her up after her mission too, and so you'll probably get to meet them! One highlight from this week was that Sister Cheryl C. Lant (the General Primary President) came to speak to us on Tuesday! And yesterday for Fast Sunday we had a big mission conference where the MTC presidency spoke to us. One of the talks was about the role of Mary as the mother of Jesus. It was so good. It made me really think about how courageous Mary must have been to accept that role. On Thursday at the TRC we taught the Plan of Salvation to Eliza, from the Philippines. We didn't understand everything she said, but we are improving. I'm nervous-excited for leaving! I don't feel completely ready, but I guess the Lord works with what He gets. I'm ready to work hard!Well I'm out of time. I love you very much! Thank you for all you do for me! I love this gospel. I'm so happy. I love sharing what makes me happy. Life is good! Take care!

P.S. thanks for the kindness from Grandma Maria and the Tuminez's that you've passed on! I hope sister Tuminez recovers well from her surgery.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Love You!

Hey!!! Happy December! (amost!) I love you!
How was Thanksgiving?! Thanks so much for the yummy pumpkin-chip cookies! We gobbled them right down :) Are Jennifer and Jessica done performing in the play? Oh, about the address - I think both are correct. One is just smaller than the other, but I'm pretty sure you can use either. Wow, what a week! Guess what! Elder Holland and his wife came to speak to us on Thanksgiving morning! It was cool because he answered some questions (which we all submitted beforehand) about sealings, investigators' questions, and other concerns. He shared a poem about following promptings and accepting callings, even when it takes us out of our comfort zone.

Here it is:
"Come to the edge," He said.
"No, I'll fall."
"Come to the edge."
"No I'll fall."
Come to the edge."
"No I'll fall."
So I came to the edge. He pushed me, and I flew!

I love it because it reminds me that when we hand our life over to Heavenly Father, he makes more out of it than we can alone.
Elder Oaks and his wife also came to speak (on Tuesday)! It was a privilege. He talked a lot about the mantle and responsibility we have as missionaries and about the sacred nature of missionary work. It was really inspiring, and made me want to always conduct myself in a way to give reverence to this call of representing the Savior. Sister Oaks said, "Missions aren't stepping stones to greater things, they're cornerstones for our lives." I thought that was neat.

Guess what! I got called to give my talk on obedience (in Tagalog) yesterday at church! It was fun. I like our branch. There are 3 districts. Yesterday I accompanied two elder in my district on the piano while they sang a musical number. I love playing piano for sacrament meeting. It's kinda funny because we sing the hymns in Tagalog, but I use the English hymnbook to play, and so sometimes I lose track of where they are singing and I have to quickly translate what I'm hearing in my head. Hehe. I love Sister Parks and Sister Young so much. I'm so glad that they both have strong desires to be exactly obedient! We really have had such a good time together and had a lot of fun this week. We learned how to sing "Do as I'm doing" in Tagalog, and also this other song to the tune of "Do your ears hang low" to help us remember directions in Tagalog. I wish I had access to a Tagalog Primary Songbook, but they don't sell them at the MTC bookstore. I really want to learn "I am a child of God" so I can teach it to the children in the Philippines. Tagalog is lots of fun. I learned that it's basically a mix of Tongan and Mandarin Chinese crushed together over thousands of years, with some Spanish influence splashed in. Sometimes I feel like I'm a little kid when I try to speak it because of some of the sounds :)

Mahal Kita! I love you so much!
Love, Rebecca

P.S. This morning I recieved a happy Christmas stocking stuffed with goodies from Alex's parents--oh jolly!! (if you are reading this, thank you so much! )

P.S.2 Thanks for sending on the encouragement from the Tuminez's :) They're so nice!

P.S.again. Doctrine and Covenants 128:23 and 2 Nephi 2:24 are amazing! Also, have you ever heard the song, "My kindness shall not depart from thee" ? Someone sang it here at a devotional, and I think it's become one of my favorite songs! It's based on D&C 121:33 :)

One more P.S.! Guess what! We're going to get our flight plans on Thursday! I'm so excited! I can't believe that we're already that close to leaving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Only 3 weeks left!

Hello! Haha, whoopsie! Sorry you got 27 copies of my last email - haha that makes me laugh so much. I really didn't think it was sending and so I just kept hitting the button. Haha, well I'm glad you got it. Thanks for the clementines! My companions and roommates officially love you for that! Guess what?! On Thursday we taught the Restoration in pure Tagalog! We probably butchered the grammar somewhat, but the spirit was there because we were trying our best. It's amazing to think that we can actually teach an entire lesson in Tagalog after only a month! We memorized the First Vision in Tagalog too. That makes me happy. One thing that's good about learning a new language is that we are forced to teach the basic doctrines (which are the most important things anyways). The church is true!

Guess what! On Friday, we got to go on a field trip outside the MTC! (because Sister Parks needed to have a doctor's visit for some stomach problems - don't worry, all is well). But it was an adventure. We armed ourselves with pass-along cards and cameras. As we were sitting in the waiting room, I thought, "Hey, I'm a missionary. I should do what missionaries do!" but then I looked around and everyone in the waiting room was buried in their respective magazines. And then I had an idea: I looked inside my bag and I had 8 andes mints ("travel" treats!) and I counted everyone in the room, and there were exactly 8! I thought it must be fate and so I went and gave one to each person in the room. Hehe, I felt kinda cheesy but it was sure fun. Then it was cool to see how all the sudden everyone opened up to conversation and we got to talk to them about missions, etc. Hmmm...maybe I should bring some andes mints to the Philippines.

On Saturday at the Referral Center, I had a really neat experience where I talked to an older man on the phone for about 15 minutes. He had ordered a "Joy to the World" DVD. I asked him about it and then asked if he had ever hear of the Book of Mormon. He said that he actually had one that some missionaries had given him a long time ago, but that he hadn't read it much. But he said that he thought it was very similar to the Bible. He said he didn't have time to meet with the missionaries because life was too busy. I encouraged him to make time in the near future and bore my testimony to him that it was the most important thing he could do and that it would bless him so much. He told me that he was intrigued that "someone so young" would have such strong convictions, and it was then that he felt prompted to ask if there was a website where he could find out more. He talked for a while about his concerns that the youth today do not have good morals and that it is at the heart of many of society's problems. After talking for a while with him, I committed him to read Moroni's promise and to really ponder and pray about it. He seemed much more receptive to the idea then he had previously, and he promised that he would do it that evening. It was really cool. I felt like I had been pretty bold, but I also felt the spirit and I know that he felt something too. Yay! The Book of Mormon is amazing!

Guess what! My favorite game that we play as a class is where Sister Leatham starts reading a random verse in the Tagalog Book of Mormon and then we all have a scripture chase to find where she is reading and the first one who gets there starts reading along with her. Hehe, it is fun.

I love my companions. Sister Parks and I had a huge uncontrollable giggling fit the other day because of trying to talk in Tagalog, and Sister Parks said "Please pass the butter" and then added that she didn't want any bread. She wanted to eat ONLY the butter. I don't even know why it was so funny but we couldn't stop laughing and when we got back to class, Sister Leatham asked what was the matter because we were crying from laughing so much. Sister Young is so much fun too. She loves to randomly sing and link arms and skip down the sidewalk.

Oh guess what! On Wednesday, I got to be a "Host missionary!" I hosted two new sisters, one going to Washington Kennewick, and the other going to Philippines Angeles!
Life is good!
I want to share with you the lyrics to one of my favorite songs that we sang in choir:
I marvel at the miracle of God's great love for me. I try but cannot comprehend and ask how this could be. For I had left behind my God, and lost my way thru sin, Still God loved me and sent his son. To lead me back to Him. I wearied of my weaknesses, and trials filled my days. I cried out, Lord, my burden's hard, is there no other way? He He said, I give men weaknesses, and if they come to me. I give them strength to overcome, and I will make them free. I pled with God to shed His grace and take away my sin. He did, and yet I turned away and stumbled once again. At last I knelt before His throne and offered him my could, He wept, then gave it back to me, Renewed and washed and whole.

I love that song. The atonement is central to everything. If we truly understand it, everything makes sense.

I love you! Thank you for being the bestest family ever!!!
Good luck Jennifer and Jessica on the play! You're amazing! Hugs and loves!

Love, Rebecca

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Life is Good!

Dearest Family,
Wow! I can't believe I'm more than half done with the MTC! Seriously, it's like a time warp here - time goes by soooo fast! We're really getting a new church building?! Oh boy I'm really excited! But it's kinda melancholy knowing that I'll be coming home to a different ward. Wow. That is also cool about the new residence halls to replace DT. (Does that mean Wyview will switch back to married housing?? hehee). Wow, so much to say. Thank you Mommy dearest for the card in Tagalog! I acutlaly understood it! Yippee! I got a big packet of letters from the Everetts this week! Oh boy how exciting! Thank you all so much. That sure brightened up my day :)

Yesterday Elder Dallin H. Oaks' wife spoke to us in Relief Society! She gave each of us a "testimony glove" and spoke about the importance of having the basic foundations of testimony. One thing I love is that every Sunday, they have a sister missionary who is a convert share her conversion story in R.S. This week, a sweet sister from China spoke about the example of friends who encouraged her to come to Cambodia so that she could receive the gospel. Last night, Sheri Dew came to speak as well. She is amazing One of my favorite things that we do at the MTC is that we always sing 3-4 hymns all together in the big auditorium before every Fireside and Devotional. It really invites the spirit into the meeting and gives me a greater love for the lyrics of the "Hymns of Zion"!! I also love singing "Called to Serve" every Tuesday. Wow--what enthusiasm and energy and excitement we all have when we sing that song. I love going to Choir practice every Sunday and Tuesday. The directors are amazing and they always give us a special spiritual thought to go along with the song we are singing and to apply the lyrics to our missions. Last week we sang a beautiful song called "I marvel at the Miracle."

Guess what! On Saturday I got to chat with a 27 yr old girl from Leeds England, who was interested in the church and was looking for a place where she could have stronger relationships with her family and to find happiness. She really liked the idea of abstinence before marriage  It was so neat to be able to bear my testimony to her about the gospel. I arranged to have the missionaries visit her and gave her the directions to the nearest church building in her area. She also gave me her email address and so I may continue contact with her while at the MTC (the MTC allows us to do that through the RC email system). It was so neat! As a companionship, Sis. Young, Sis. Parks and I have been praying for Carrie to receive the gospel. I know that it will make her happy.

Want to know a funny story? Last week I taught at our teaching appointment and showed them a picture of my family and said "Ito ang pamilya mo!" (This is your family!) instead of "Ito ang pamilya ko!" (This is my family!) and the girl started giggling and said, "Tagala?" (Really??!) Sister Parks also told the girl (Brittany) that her mom is really sweet - but used the word that is only meant to describe food, and Brittany was like, "mmmm!" Hehe, it's fun to make mistakes sometimes--I'm just glad it's here and not out there! This week we've tried to speak all Tagalog. It's fun but sometimes hard to remember to speak it instead of English! My favorite thing to do in class is the Jeopardy review game. Learning is fun!

Last night was the most amazing night! We watched "Mountain of the Lord" about the building of the Salt Lake temple and it was amazing to think about the great sacrifices that went into that and how important temples are. Afterwards I felt so giddy and happy--me and my companions started skipping and singing back to our residence hall and expressing our excitement about the gospel. We are missionaries! The church is true! It is real! There is nothing more important. It's so amazing when you think about it.

I love you very much. Thanks for letting me be a missionary! It's so great. Gotta go!!!

Love, Rebecca

The shoes are comfy! but I think 1/2 size smaller would be better. is that possible? Thanks!!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Life is Happy!

Hey Pamilya! I'm excited. Today is a good day. Thank you for the shoes! I didn't get them until today because the mailroom was closed on Saturday when I received the package slip. But I think we may have found a winner :) Oh happy day. Thanks for the Halloween pictures, ward newsletter, etc! And thank you for your letters! They make my days so happy! Heehee, I love having little sisters.

Well, to sum up some of the happenings of this week... Yesterday was a Fantastic day! My companion Sister Parks got called upon to speak in Sacrament Meeting about patience (every week we all prepare a talk on a given subject and we don't find out who gets to speak until they call us up). Next week, we will have to prepare our talks in Tagalog. Yikes! In fact, this Friday is the day when we will be expected to speak only Tagalog in and out of class. To be honest, I'm a little nervous because I don't feel like I know enough to say EVERYTHING I want to, but I know that we will be blessed for trying with the knowledge that we have. Oh boy, this is an adventure! I know you've heard me say this every week, but I really love my companions. They are so fun. I'm glad we are a threesome! Yesterday Katrina sat right behind me at Choir practice, and it was so fun to talk to her! This week she sent me a letter sealed with duct tape. It made me laugh because that's exactly her personality.

Oh yes, so Jayme Walker is the other sister who arrived the same day as me and is going to the same mission as me too and is from Mount Pleasant, Utah! How uncanny is that? I talked to her and the reason I don't know her is because she didn't go to North Sanpete High school but just moved there with her parents. But it's still pretty cool. She is in the other district but right next to ours so we see them a lot. I like my district. They are fun. I love my teachers. I especially like it when we can go outside for class and walk around. Something at the MTC puzzles me. Many of the missionaries complain about the MTC food. Hehehe, I don't really understand it because they take good care of us here. Sister Stadler and Sister Ball (in the classroom right next to ours) got the swine flu this week and had to be put into Quarantine. Sister Stadler is out now, but Sister Ball is still sick.

Oh that is so neat that Alex is being transferred to Comodoro Riveria (or however it's spelt) and gets to serve as a zone leader! I'm so excited for him and that new responsibility. I can't wait to hear about his new area/companions/etc. Guess what was the sweetest thing ever? Alex sent me a letter this week and included a cute handmade doll made by a lady who lives in Alex's branch in Plottier. She made it just for me and gave it to Alex. I'll send you a picture.

I've had some good teaching experiences this week. This Thursday is the last Thursday we will get to teach in English. On Saturday I spoke to a man at the RC who called in for a free Bible. He was so grateful that we would provide them for free, I I think it really opened him up to want to learn more about the church. I love Saturday mornings at the RC because that is the time when we get to call a lot of people from the East states, and I get to hear a lot of really cool accents :) Sometimes it's even hard to tell what they are saying, but it is so fun.

I miss you very much. I LOVE getting your letters telling me about everything. Thank you, Mommy/Daddy for your letters! They make me happy. Um, I'm going blank as to what else to say. But I love you Daddy, Mommy, Lisa, Jenny, Jessy-- very much! (and thanks to everyone else too!)

Ingat!
Love, Rebecca (Sister Boekweg!)

Life is Kahanga-hanga! (wonderful!)

Letter from November 2, 2009

Howdy!

Here’s my attempt to summarize all that’s been happening this week! Whoa that’s crazy that it has been snowing in Mount Pleasant! It has snowed only a little here and didn’t stick. Today was actually quite bright and sunshiny! This morning we went to the temple. Great way to start off the day.

It was great to see you on Monday, Lisa! I wish I could see you every Monday – but I probably won’t be there after 3:30 (which is when we go back to our rooms). After I saw you, I told my teacher: “Nakita ko si Lisa, Kapatid ko! Nagtratrabaho siya sa mailroom. Binigay ko ang yakap sa kaniya!” (which being interpreted, is “I saw Lisa, my sister! She works at the mailroom. I gave her a hug!” I got letters from the Balinskis, Katie, my old roommate. Thank You!!! Oh, and thank you to Grandma and Grandpa Chipman. Also thanks for sending me the newspaper thing about Katrina! You all are wonderful. You sure know how to brighten my day.

Guess what! Elder Perry came to speak to us on Tuesday! It was a total surprise – They didn’t announce it beforehand – a lot of missionaries were suspecting it might be an apostle because of that very fact.

He spoke about the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, and how we should prepare and teach by the spirit – using the scriptures. Have you ever read the introduction to the D&C? It’s amazing! Wow, it’s amazing how much we use the scriptures in the MTC. I’m so thankful for the scripture masteries! It helps immensely to be able to know where a scripture passage is off the top of your head, and to know/be familiar with scripture stories and contexts. One of my favorite things we do is find scriptures to go with each principle of the lessons we are preparing to teach. It’s fun! Brother Doria had us do an activity where we teach someone else in our district the first two principles of a lesson – we back up the scriptures instead of using the scriptures to back up our own words. It’s SO much easier that way, so much more effective, and that’s how it’s meant to be. The MTC has really motivated me to study the scriptures even more than I have. I’m so grateful for family scripture reading! And for Alex’s example to me of marking them so much! He’s so awesome.

Sister Leatham, my other teacher, is such an inspiration to me. She has a very strong testimony and whenever she gets excited, she’ll make these way motivating “pep” talks. She talked to us about having enthusiasm for the gospel. Hey, so I found out that John Bytheway went to my same mission – Baguio! And he and his companion would walk so fast and enthusiastically, on their way to appointments, that Filipinos would stop them and ask them where they were going and what was so important, and they would say “Something AMAZING has happened! And we’re trying to tell as many people as possible! We’re on our way to someone’s house right now, but we’d love to come share our message with you too—what’s your address?” Isn’t that awesome? Really, the gospel is an amazing message. The Restoration and the Book of Mormon are indeed *miracles* to tell everyone! It’s true!

Guess what! On Saturday morning I got to work at the Referral Center, doing outbound calls (to confirm if people received Bibles/DVDs they asked for, and to offer them an opportunity to meet with the missionaries and learn about the Book of Mormon). I spoke with two people who accepted the missionaries to come to them and teach them! One was an older guy who had never heard of the Book of Mormon but knew a little about the Bible. The other was a cute southern lady who seemed open-minded to the idea and was curious to learn more. Oh boy, it was so neat to share my feelings over the phone and to have my first “real” finding opportunity as a missionary! It put me on a high. I also talked with another man who thought I wanted “$100 million dollars” from him for the Joy to the World free DVD we sent him. He went off in a mad rage over the phone – my first experience of literally being yelled at over the phone – and he wouldn’t even let me put a word in edgewise. It was pretty ridiculous—kinda funny, but sad when you think about the lost opportunity. Finally he asked, “who are you?” and I bore my testimony before he hung up. It was interesting, but really weird.

Wanna know how to say “joke” in Tagalog? It sounds just the same as English, but spelled “Diyok.” Hehe! OK – what else . . . Oh, every week on Thursday night we have a “teaching appointment.” The last two weeks we’ve taught the restoration story – in English. (We do 15 minutes of Tagalog – get-to-know you beforehand). This week we are preparing to teach the Plan of Salvation (or Plano ng Kaligtasan). Pretty soon it will have to be in Tagalog – yikes!

Funny story: On Thursday, we were particularly stressed – getting ready for our teaching appointment and Sister Parks gave Sister Young and I a Dove chocolate (with the fortunes inside on the wrappers). We all opened ours, and all three of them were the same fortune: “Don’t stress. This too shall pass.” Wouldn’t it be awesome to design fortunes that said: “The Book of Mormon is True” or “Invite the Mormon missionaries over today!” Hehee! I love being goofy!!

We have a big district: there are 12 of us. Me, Sister Young, Sister Parks, and Elders Ball, Gilles, Stevens, Hales, Page, Leavitt, Latu, Schneider, and Grow. I love singing hymns in Tagalog. I feel like I’m singing in some sort of baby babbling “Gag a” “Ba ba” “Pup u” etc. It’s so much fun. It is also very beautiful too!

Wanna hear more about my companions??? I can’t remember what all I’ve told you already – but one thing is creepy cool: Sister Young reminds me so much of a mix between Elyse and Katrina – two of my bestest friends! (I’ve seen Katrina several times – she came in on Wednesday. Yah! So happy!) Sister Young’s Katrina similarities: She loves the outdoors/animals, never gets cold, knows ASL, same birthday: Aug 31, always has a “toolbelt,” very physically active, and loves playing leaves and being kid-like, and sews. Sister Young’s Elyse similarities: LOTS of the same type of personality, and sense of humor, talks kinda like Elyse, short brown hair, & loves Eyeore. Sister Parks is so awesome – I love her example to me. I love my companions SO much! Sister Lapana left for Baguio this morning! She is another Sister here at the MTC. She is really nice!

Wow, this is a LONG letter! Well, I hope you’re doing great. Is there anything you want to know about still? Sometimes I don’t remember to answer all your questions! The MTC is wonderful. I have been very happy. I sure miss you all! Sometimes it has been hard to not have people to hug – I’d hug my companions, but the MTC policy won’t allow us to shake hands or hug because of the colds going around and Flu season. I guess it’s just weird for me to suddenly go from lots of hugs at home to none here. But that’s ok!

Thanks so much for everything. I love you!

Mahal kita! (I love you!)
Ingat! (Take care!)

Love, Sister Rebecca Marie Boekweg

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hello!!!

Hey! It's P-day again! Thank you so much for all of your letters/emails! Thank you Lisa for the adorable package with the tangelos with faces on them. Hehehe! that made me crack up so much :) ooh and also thank you for the banana bread and treats and everything! I feel spoiled! This week I also got a letter from Alex, the Balinskis, Allen, Grandma and Grandpa Chipman, and Elyse! (Thank you so much!!) Getting letters really does brighten up my whole day. Well, let me tell you something: P-days at the MTC are definitely NOT a day of rest :) in fact, they can be quite stressful trying to get everything done, but oh well, that's okay! I hope I can get to writing all the letters I would like to--if not, know that they will soon be coming.

This week was great! I love Tagalog. Everytime we speak it, it makes me giggle because it's such a fun language! Want to learn a sentence? Bababa ba? That means "are you getting down?" Isn't that awesome? Hehe! "Mag-CR" is how they say "go to the bathroom" - CR is short for "comfort room." We are supposed to be SYLing (Speak your language) as much as possible in and out of class. We are learning how to conjugate verbs now, which involves a lot of repeating of the root--which is part of the reason it's so fun! I love my companions! Sister Young has been sick with the cold this week but she has a good attitude. Sister Parks found out this week that her sweetheart on a mission has to come home for colon surgery (apparently it's pretty serious), so that has been really hard on her and we are praying for her. Hopefully he'll be able to go back to the mission field in a couple of months.

I have really enjoyed a lot of the meetings and firesides this week. In one meeting, the speaker talked about our purpose as missionaries. We are not here to simply help people live better lives. You don't have to be set apart to do that. Anyone can do that. We are not here simply to help others come unto Christ either --Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored gospel through faith, repentance, baptism, recieiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Our ulimate focus should be to help our brothers and sisters make sacred covenants through baptism. I love this gospel! One thing he pointed out was that the scriptures do NOT say "The field is brown and all ready to plant seeds." It says, "The field is white and all ready to harvest!" Everywhere we go, there are people who are ready and prepared to recieve the restored gospel. We can plant seeds in people's hearts too, but that is not our main purpose. Anyways, that just made me excited. I'm so grateful to have this experience of serving a mission. I know that there isn't anything else in this world that can bring people more happiness than by living the gospel. This week my teachers have had us practice teaching the first lesson A LOT. The more I teach, the more comforable it gets. Yay!

Okay so I only have 7 minutes but I'll try to give you an idea of my schedule since you've been asking for it. It changes everyday, but a typical day is like this: 5:45 get up, 6:00 exercise class (sisters only). 7:00 breakfast, 7:30 personal study, 8:30 Companionship study, 9:30 Wika study (language), 10:30 MDT (missionary directed time) where we can study whatever we feel we need to, 11:30 lunch, 12:15 Class (learning the language), 4:30 Dinner, 5:15 -9:00 Class (part language, part doctrine), 9-9:25 daily planning and then go back to your apartment and get ready for the next day. 10:30 lights out!!

Well, my time is up! I love you and miss you. I hope you are having a great day today. Thanks for the emails! Also please continue to send most of the letters in dearelder because I can only be logged on for 30 minutes, including reading emails.

Take care! Love, Rebecca
P.S. Thank you for sending me a copy of Alex's email!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I love the MTC!

Dearest Mommy, Daddy, Lisa, Jennifer, and Jessica - Hello Family!!! I love you! I am writing this email while doing laundry. Today is my P-day! Ok, I only have 30 minutes so I'm going to just cut to the quick and give you all the info-- here we go. I love my two companions, Sister Young and Sister Parks! They are sweethearts! I am feeling very blessed because I've found out that I have some unique things in common with them both. Sister Young is from Georgia and was homeschooled all the way up until College. She loves horsebackriding, ASL, writing, and reading. She has a fun personality and is very talkative. Sister Parks is 25, and guess what -- she and I are in the same situation--we are both waiting for our missionaries who are currently serving. He is serving in Wash. DC and they are planning to get married when they both get back. How cool is that? I really feel like this companionship was inspired. I've learned so much from both of them already. Okay, moving on-- Oh! THANK YOU SOOOOO much for the flowers and chocolate! What a surprise! How did you manage to get them into my room. That brightened my day.

Ever since I got here, it has been go-go-go busy. But it's so much fun. I can now bear my testimony, introduce myself, and pray in Tagalog. One fun exercise me and my companions like to do in "Nga, Nge, Ngi, Ngo, Ngu" -- it makes us laugh at how funny we sound. In class, we are learning to "speak like Yoda" because that is how Tagalog sentences are formed. Instead of we are happy, it's happy are we--Masaya Tayo! My teachers, Brother Doria and Sister Leatham, are amazing. Brother Doria is Filipino but was born/raised in the US (He is also abnormally tall for a Filipino. And he served in Baguio! Sister Laetham is so sweet--she is very good at teachign concepts and getting us involved in our learning. Our district has a goal to bear our testimony is Tagalog to 2 random people every day. My companions and I are trying to pray in Tagalog every time we pray. It is hard, but I know that the Lord is happy that we are trying and he will help us more if we show him our efforts. I feel so grateful because I've really been able to understand what we have learned so far. The language is coming pretty easy for me so far. I think all the studying beforehand really has paid off. I hope I can continue to be blessed in that regard. Thanks for sending up the CD and speakers. Unfortunately there's a NO MUSIC rule here at the MTC, so I'll just save it for when I get out in the field. I've seen James Lambson here several times, usually in the cafeteria--which, speaking of-the food is so yummy! But poor Sister Parks has some stomach problems and needs a special diet. Luckily we talked to the dietician today and they are going to make special sack lunches for her from now on. Oh yes another thing-- We share a room with another set of sisters, Sister Woodward and Sister Adams - they are going to the Philippines and have been here 3 weeks. Yikes, I think I'm out of time. I love you all so much. I'll try to finish up in a letter!

Oh never mind, I guess I had a couple more minutes.

That's awesome about Christian's mission call. I met a sister the other day who is going to Fresno, Spanish speaking as well!

Yesterday I got a calling in my branch as the music coordinator. I am excited because I get to choose the hymns and arrange for special numbers and so on. Yay! I'm also the senior companion for the first few weeks--we'll switch off every few weeks. Oh and another thing--I LOVE companionship study! It is so awesome! Oh and I got a Tagalog Hymnbook!

I love you all. I hope you're having a happy day. I miss you, but know that I am being good and staying busy in Heavenly Father's work. I'm so joyful today! I love this gospel!

Love, Sister Rebecca Boekweg

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"A Window to His Love" by Julie de Azevedo


I want to be a window to His love,
so when you look at me you will see Him.
I want to be so pure and clear that you won't even know I'm here,
'cause His love will shine brightly through me.

I want to be a doorway to the truth,
so when you walk beyond you will find Him.
I want to stand so straight and tall, that you won't notice me at all.
But through my open door He will be seen.

A window to His love.
A doorway to the truth.
A bearer of the message He'd have me bring to you
And with each passing day
I want to fade away.
'Till only He can be seen, And I become a window to His love.

I want to be a window to His love,
so you can look through me and you'll see Him.
And some day shining through my face, you'll see His loving countenance,
'cause I will have become like He is

A window to His love.
A doorway to the truth.
A bearer of the message He'd have me bring to you
And with each passing day
I want to fade away,
'Till only He can be seen, And I've become a window to His love.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Additional Mailing Information


The church provides a "pouch service" to certain areas in the world where the country's mail system may not be as reliable. This is how it works: letters are sent to the missionary department in Salt Lake City, who then take the letters to the country (I think general authorities or
traveling representatives often bring the letters into
the country with them). The pouch address is:

Sister Rebecca Marie Boekweg*
Philippines Baguio Mission**
P.O. Box 30105
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150

*This is the same address where dearelder.com letters are delivered (free--highly reccommended!) The church has a deal with certain countries to allow this service on certan conditions: LETTERS ONLY. You can send postcards here, but the rules for letters are very strict: it must be a single-sheet of paper, folded in thirds and taped at the top, and NO envelope. Please follow guidelines so that this service can continue to be available. You only have to pay for the postage to Salt Lake City.
**Don't forget to write the name of the mission because many other missions use this pouch address as well.


Packages (or anything that doesn't fit under the above conditions) must be sent to the regular address:

Sister Rebecca Marie Boekweg
Philippines Baguio Mission
46 Kisad Rd
Montinola Subd, Baguio City
2600 Benguet
Philippines

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

About my mission!


Here's some information I've gathered about the Philippines Baguio mission (Of course it's all second-hand information as of yet, but I've been trying to do my research so I'll have a little bit of an idea of what I'll be hopping into in a few months!)

In Asia, the Philippines is known as "the Pearl of the Orient." Baguio city is located in the Northern Luzon (the main island of the Philippines). It is very different from the rest of the Philippines because it is high in elevation, up in the mountains. The altitude is approximately 5100 ft above sea level (so not too much different from Mt. Pleasant). Baguio is nicknamed the "Summer Capital of the Philippines" because it's where everyone likes to go to get a break from the heat in other parts of the Philippines. Baguio is 8 degrees cooler on the average than any place in lowlands. Perpetual springtime! I'm definitely a fan of that. Needless to say, tourism is one of Baguio's main industries. The name of the city is derived from the word bagiw (in Ibaloi) which means 'moss'. Baguio is called "The City of the Pines" and is located in a moist tropical pine forest conducive to the growth of mossy plants and orchids. I also found out that the word bagyo in Tagalog means 'typhoon'- which is fitting because it is extremely rainy there. Baguio gets the largest amount of rainfall in the country. (it's a good thing I loooove rain!) However from November to May (dry season) the climate in Baguio is a tropical paradise. Woweee! sign me up, I'm sooooo ready to go!

Okay now for the food: They grow lots of fruits and vegetables there. Baguio is known for being the main vegetable supplier in Luzon area. Lots of bananas, coconuts, mangoes and strawberries year-round. I've also heard they eat such things as fried beetles, fish heads, balut (duck embryo) and dog meat. And they eat lots of seafood and rice. Yum!

The language: Surprisingly, I heard that Ilocano--not Tagalog--is the predominant language in the city, so I'll probably get to pick up some of that in addition to Tagalog. But the national language, Filipino (Tagalog) is spoken by the majority. English is also widely spoken and understood by many, which is a nice little perk too :) Tagalog has a lot of similar words to Spanish (20%) due to several hundred years of Spanish rule in the country's history. But the language also has a lot of long repetitive words that sound Polynesian to me -- and it also seems to have some oriental sounds to it. One of my favorite words so far is the word for twenty: Dalawampu! And faith: Pananamapaya!

I've heard from other missionaries who served in the Philippines that I will probably be doing everything--showering, washing clothes etc. in a bucket. There also may be no electricity in some areas, especially during storms. I've heard that they sometimes have to study and teach lessons by candlelight. Yay, how adventurous is that! I always love it when the power goes out during storms at home. Oh boy!

The people are very sweet and humble and live simply. There are bamboo huts I think. I've heard that the culture is really big into Karaoke. The most dominant religion is Roman Catholic (80.4 percent). The city has a very young age structure with 65.5 percent of its total population younger than 30. The average number of children is 7.7, so I'll probably be teaching a lot of young children and families. Yay for that!

The time difference is 14 hours ahead of Utah time. So right now as I am typing this, it is already tomorrow in Baguio. Crazy!

Other fun facts:
--In the Philippines, over 70 languages are spoken.
--Filipinos know bananas. There are over 70 different varieties there, green, red, yellow, brown, and all shapes and sizes. So we from North America are probably banana deprived.
--The Filipinos use pesos and centavos for money. One American dollar = about 48 pesos.
--The yo-yo was invented in the Philippines!
--The Philippines is the world's third largest English-speaking nation. English was brought to the Islands by the British in 1762.
--Burping is a polite way to let people know you are full and satisfied with their cooking. (haha--just like in "The Other Side of Heaven" movie)