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!)

Love, Rebecca (Sister Boekweg!)

Life is Kahanga-hanga! (wonderful!)

Letter from November 2, 2009


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