Monday, December 27, 2010

Good morning!

Kamusta! Today we're having P-day with Jerrene and Laurena (both recent converts). They both wanted to come follow us around here while we go grocery shopping. haha, what fun. Today we ate lunch with sister Young and sister Anderson. Tomorrow is transfer awareness day. I sure hope none of us gets transferred yet! :)

On Tuesday morning we had a mission Christmas conference. It was wonderful, although a little strange not to have President Jensen's wife there this year (she's in the U.S.) We watched a hallmark movie called "Front of the class" - very inspirational. I recommend it :) President Jensen gave us all toblerone and mini books of mormon for Christmas. Also on Tuesday was our ward Christmas party. As the ward was deciding on the food, I jokingly suggested that they bring balut for sister Nielsen (which she did NOT want to try). But they actually took us seriously and brought 10 balut (5 for me and 5 for sister Nielsen), and then everyone piled outside to watch Sister Nielsen try it for her first time. Haha, it was very unforgettable. Well, she ate it! the whole thing! And of course, I ate one too. She's such a good sport. We were ecstatic because of how many of our investigators showed up at the Christmas party - around 30 came!

On Christmas Eve, we made chicken nugget lumpia, and then sister Nielsen and I went out on our balcony to read scriptures about integrity, purity, and knowledge with candles (one of her family traditions) and read Luke 2 while we listened to the fireworks. On Christmas day, we Christmas caroled a bit and visited the Agustin family, who fed us "Bilo bilo" (one of my favorite Filipino desserts) and fried rice patties (kind of like scones). Maria Luna, Vicent, and Ray (ages 8, 10, 11) sang us a bunch of Christmas and Tagalog songs. I recorded it on my camera - I wish I could show you, but the email won't let me send videos. We also watched Mr. Kreuger's Christmas with them. It made us so exceedingly happy to see their whole family at church yesterday, and all of the members did such a great job of fellowshipping them and making them feel loved and welcome. Yay! Sometimes, as a missionary, my greatest fear is bringing investigators to church, because of the fear that members won't reach out and make them feel welcome. Sometimes, honestly, it can feel like feeding them to the wolves. But it's so wonderful when members fellowship newcomers. It's made me really realize how much of a difference it can make for just one member to go out of their way to be friendly to a new face.

On Christmas morning, brother Ferrer, an elderly member (around 80 years old) fed us a nice breakfast. We also stopped by the Madayag family (members) on Christmas day and they fed us a whole bunch of fruit salad. The fruit salad here is really interesting: it is sweet, has noodles, flavorless jell-o, corn, and cheese. my companion hates it, and we had to eat it 3 times in a 24-hour period. It was funny. The members here are so generous and kind.

This week we offered to "remove temptation" from one of the returning members who is struggling with quitting smoking. It was great - we swiped his box of cigarettes, and then he told us how he has decided to quit! Hooray!

I love Urdaneta! I'm pretty sure I've been assigned to the best area in the entire mission. We're so lucky -we've got the temple, the mission home, and the world's nicest people here! I love you! It was so great to hear your voices on the phone! My goodness, Jennifer and Jessica, you sound so old! Send my love to Alex!

Inayayet Kayo! (I love you - ilocano)

Love always,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Maligayang Pasko!

Merry Christmas! And Happy Birthday Daddy!

Haha, that picture of the big huge snowman is great! I really like the one where you are all leaning over mimicking it. Hehee! Way to go Jennifer and Jessica for performing in the Nutcracker! I bet you were great! This week was great. I went to a Filipino wedding (of a member/investigator). It was funny because they gave me and Sister Nielsen red-carpet treatment - we were seated at the family table right next to the bride and groom, with people waiting on us lots of Filipino food. One interesting tradition is that as they were dancing, people would go and pin money to the bride's veil. It was really interesting wedding. The couple didn't kiss or hug or show any signs of affection throughout the entire night! They weren't even smiling at each other. It weirded me out! But it was a good finding opportunity. Lots of neighbors and relatives were there, and we made a lot of contacts and handed out lots of pamphlets.

This week when we visited the Agustin family, little Jo-jo (10 years old) was really sick with a bad flu and fever. Sister Agustin was really scared and didn't know what to do because her husband was in Manila, and both Sister Nielsen and I felt prompted to ask if she wanted someone to give him a priesthood blessing. So we tried contacting a bunch of the priesthood holders in that area, but all of them were gone, and luckily our zone leaders were kind of close and willingly came over to give him a blessing. I think it really was comforting for Sister Emily (the mom) and was a great opportunity to help her understand more about the blessings of the priesthood in her home.

We visited Jerrene's mom, Josephine (who is an inactive member). Usually she has been too busy and hesitant to let us in and teach her, but when we came on Saturday, she seemed eager to have us teach her because she quickly grabbed two chairs and invited us in, even though Jerrene wasn't there. As we talked with her, she cried and expressed many things to us. She knows this is the true church - she is just having a hard time trying to let go of the past and come back, but she expressed the desire to have her family sealed in the temple. (If you remember, two of her children died when they were only 6 and 7 -- they drowned in the ocean). In this area especially I have seen and experienced many things that have really taught me the great importance of never judging or condemning others. We have no right to judge others because we don't see their whole situation clearly - only Jesus Christ is the one who truly understands where they are coming from. I've learned how important it is to never gossip or talk behind someone's back - because there is always a reason behind why people do the things they do, and we need to exercise more charity and leave the judging to the Lord. Gossiping is never helpful, and is never a worthwhile or productive use of our time. Instead we should be giving people the benefit of the doubt, and looking for ways to help and serve them. Sister Jerrene is great -- she really wants to go on a mission, and always wants to work with us. She is already being such a wonderful influence on all those around her, especially her family. Her mom talked about how they used to all go to church as a family, and her husband was taught by the missionaries and almost baptized, but then they're 2 children drowned, and it was really hard on them and quit coming. But now it seems he is warming up more to the idea of being taught again. Because she said that whenever we come over, he is in the other room listening in, and even grabs his scriptures to read along with us. She also said how Jerrene's little brother and sister are now excitedly reading the scriptures on their own, which is surprising to their mom. And Jerrene told us of how she has changed since she became a member -she used to argue a lot with her mom and they would run around the house trying to hit each other, but now whenever they have a disagreement, instead of hitting, Jerrene gives her mom a hug. You can really tell how much of a positive impact it has had on their entire family. I always tell Jerrene that she can be the light and beacon in her family.

Yesterday we had ward conference - it was one of the best sacrament meetings I've ever attended. They spoke a lot about charity. I liked this quote: You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Bishop shared the story about the Lord feeding the children of Israel manna for 40 years, and he tied it into keeping the Sabbath day holy. It was very edifying. There are 1000 members (exactly) in our ward. Unfortunately only about 9% of those are active. Needless to say, there is plenty of work to be done.

I worked with Sister Young on Friday while our trainees went to Baguio for a new missionary training. I learned that trying to teach drunk people doesn't get very far. But at least you can leave them with something to read when they get back to their senses. I feel so blessed to be assigned here in Urdaneta, where the new temple will soon be built. It is an adventure to be training, especially since we are both Americans. I love Tagalog - I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to learn this language - I didn't even know what it sounded like before :) Filipino people are so great. We in America really are pretty spoiled in a lot of ways. In some ways, I wish Americans could be more like Filipinos: humble, childlike, affectionate, content with little, easily excited, always smiling. I just love it. I love you! Have a wonderful merry Christmas! I'll call you on Christmas day for me - probably Christmas Eve for you --- or Christmas night (morning for you). Oh p.s. our email time was increased to 45 minutes now :)

Love, Rebecca

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Christmas time!

Maligayang Pasko! (Merry Christmas!)

Hello my most beloved family! How are you???? Thank for the emails! Oh boy! Christmas is coming soon! Ok I'll probably try to call you on Christmas day then - I'll let you know when exactly next week. This week was great. On Tuesday morning, Sister Young and I left our trainees to work together while we headed to Dagupan for a 4-day training. It was a really good 4 days, and I learned a lot. President Jensen is a wonderful mission president, and very good at teaching us pure doctrine to motivate us as missionaries. He taught us about the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy, and I learned a lot. He read us Doctrine and Covenants 59 and explained that the blessings that come from obeying this commandment are very very similar to the blessings of keeping the law of tithing. Heavenly Father promises us the "fullness of the earth" and will open the windows of heaven and pour us out blessings that we won't even be able to contain, if we only give him this one day to refrain from shopping/working and to worship him. Both laws are very similar too. The law of tithing requires us to sacrifice and offer the Lord by means of our income. Sabbath day observance requires sacrifice by means of our time. It can be really easy to overlook how important it is, and to even cheat a little if we don't have a deep and abiding faith that blessings will literally be poured out on our heads for doing so. But they will. As my companion likes to say, "If we're almost obedient, than we almost receive the blessings." It's interesting to think about it that way. I learned from President Jensen's discussion that no matter what you try to do or where you look, the very best way to get out of poverty is by living the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially in keeping the law of tithing and keeping the Sabbath day holy.

I also learned that the gift of discernment is one of the most precious gifts of the spirit that we can receive, and that listening is one of the best ways to enhance our spiritual discernment. And I learned that sharing personal experiences is one of the most effective ways of teaching and inviting the spirit. Also, I've learned that the most important doctrine you could ever teach someone in 60 seconds is the "Doctrine of Christ" which is, in order to fully access the blessings that Jesus Christ offers, we must to these 5 things: have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the holy ghost, and endure to the end. Why not say that families, or community service, or temple work is the central doctrine of our church? important as those things are. Because none of those things matter unless we can access the atonement. Those 5 things are the most important thing that any missionary or member of this church could ever share in order to help others come unto Christ.

During the training, I also got to go on splits with a couple sisters in Dagupan and work in their areas, which was neat. My companion sister Nielsen, is great. She always has great ideas and has a great sense of humor about everything. Last night we taught one of our investigators about the importance of having "a mighty change of heart" and I used that carrot/cookie analogy that you emailed me. Thanks!

Last night we watched the Christmas Devotional and I loved President Monson's talk and his counsel to "discard the meaningless." Being on a mission in the Philippines has really had a huge effect on my perception of what things are really most important. Material things just really don't matter, and yet it's sad how caught up we can sometimes get with them, and how easy it is to set our hearts on things that won't ever make us truly happy in the long run.

I love you! Being on a mission is the best thing in the world! I feel so lucky to have been assigned here in the Philippines Baguio mission! And in Urdaneta as well, where a new temple will be built! What a privilege. This gospel is true. I'm so thankful for this wonderful experience to be here. Don't get me wrong, it's still sometimes super hard and discouraging, but the happy things way out the bad! I love you very much! (especially you!) Keep being great! :)

Love, Rebecca

P.S. one of the Christmas traditions here is the little children go around on the streets singing carols to people walking on the streets, and asking for candy or pesos. It's cute!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Hello everybody! Mahal ko kayo!

Guess what! Tomorrow I get to go to Dagupan for a 4-day leadership training. I'm excited. Sister Nielsen and Sister Anderson will be companions for 4 days working in both areas. They are both really nervous because they've only been here for 2 weeks and are having a hard time with Tagalog still. But it will be a great experience - they will do great!

Well, as far as our investigators, things are going pretty good. One of our investigators, Nanet, and her daughter, Christina, are getting baptized in January! We are helping them, the Agustin family, and Joanna get over their addictions to coffee. They're doing great.

Sister Jensen (wife of President Jensen) flew out to the U.S. today and won't be back until January (family emergency). It will be different not having her around for the holidays. Speaking of, let me know when you want me to call home - it can be anytime during the holidays.

This morning we went hiking as a zone. It was very hot, and my companion and I got sunburned. I'm enjoying learning lots here in the mission field. There's a lot I've learned about how to be more effective in setting and reaching goals, and I've seen Heavenly Father's hand this week in helping us to reach some of our goals and the standard of excellence. Doing missionary work is hard. But it is very enjoyable, especially when we try to keep an eye single to the work. It requires so much, so it's really hard/nearly impossible to be effective if your whole heart isn't fully into the work. I'm really grateful for this wonderful opportunity to be here. I just can't imagine my life without having served a mission in the Philippines - the culture, the people, the lessons learned, the friendships made, the language, the experiences. It's strange to think I might have never had these priceless experiences had I not decided to go on a mission. Boy am I glad I did! And how the Philippines has almost become a part of who I am now. I just am so grateful and happy that I chose to be here, although I definitely had no idea what I was getting myself into at first. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ! We are so blessed, and Heavenly Father loves us so much. The restored gospel is true, and it will do more to make us happy than anything else in the world.

I love you all! Thank you for the emails!! It's okay for others to email me but I'm not able to reply to them. If you see Alex or Karla, let them know there's a letter that will coming soon :)
Let me know if there's anything I can do for you all! Thanks for everything you are doing for me.

Rebecca Marie Boekweg

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mahal na mahal na mahal ko kayo!

Kamusta to you all! Our email time got cut in half, and now it's only to immediate family (unfortunately that doesn't include future family, so you'll just have to forward the family emails on to Alex from now on). And I'll probably not have much time to reply individually anymore, so you just get the family email. But that's ok - at least we still get to email. I love you! I'll be printing off all your emails so I can read them when I have more time. Include questions/anything you think I might want to respond to in the subject line, ok? Guess what! Mangoes are back! They've been out of season for a few months and I've really been missing them, but I saw them in the palengke last week and we bought some! Mmm! Philippines mangoes are the best thing in the world! I've been having some fun with Sister Nielsen, It's funny because she told me that she hates rain, seafood, and is a cleanliness freak, and yet she was sent here to the Philippines. It was raining superduper hard the other day, and she asked, "are we really going out to work in that?!" And I said, "Yep, you betcha! We're Baguio missionaries!" But she's a good sport. I'm really enjoying being able to help her in Tagalog - I can't believe how far I've come in 11 months. I remember when I was really struggling and wondering if I would ever get this language down. Well, it became possible! We had zone conference last week, and had a really nice lunch cooked for us by some Filipino ladies. I found a big caterpillar in my chop suey! Hehe, I almost ate it because it just looked like another vegetable, but then I noticed it had a head and legs. So then I just put my little friend aside - I'm still not sure whether the cook added it intentionally or not - it almost looked like it was supposed to be there. ew! ;) On saturday we had an open house for our new stake center, which was really nice. It was a great way to open it up for the public to come and learn more about our faith. Yesterday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting about the blessings of the restored gospel. We are so very blessed to live when we do, and to have the fullness of the gospel back on the earth again! Last night, we were almost attacked by a dozen dogs on our way to an appointment - but we were safe-- I tell ya, it's gotta be because there's a special bubble of protection around the missionaries! Then we found out that the area we had been in was not a good place to go at night, because we have to go through a field - and there are a lot of snakes that come out at night. The Filipino lady that we visited warned of that before we left to cross the field. Yikes, how scary! But we didn't get bit! Hehe, I didn't tell my companion what "ahas" means in Tagalog (snake) until we had safely crossed the field. I'm very happy because the Agustin family is now coming to church every week! They are wonderful! One thing I love about Filipinos is that they are not shy about singing, loud and shamelessly. We visited a brother in his 70s, who sang us an ilocano Christian anthem, loud and clear - it was so classic I feel bad I didn't get in on video. I just love that! Well, other than that, everything's going great! Thanks for everything you do! I love you!

Love, Rebecca

My First American Companion

Hey! Sounds like you all already know by now, but I have my first American companion, Sister Nielsen, from Oregon! It's great! We found out on Wednesday that Sister Almaquer was being transferred and that I and sister Young would both be training. Sister Young's trainee is the MTC companion of Sister Nielsen! It is really interesting having an American companion - I'm going to have to get used to it! It's funny because it made me realize how far I've come in one year, and how much I've learned. I'm so used to speaking in Tagalog that it's like second nature now, and I need to pause sometimes to remind myself to speak slower, or explain things in English. (but actually there are some things in Tagalog that don't really have a direct translation in English, so it's kinda weird! I've been in the Tagalog mindset for quite a while!) But I'm so excited for her! She's going to be rambling off in Tagalog in no time! It's been fun to see her reaction to new things and the culture, etc. I was starting to wonder if I'd ever be put with an American my whole mission. This is going to be fun. One funny thing is that here, they often say "o-o" (yes) with their mouth closed, and Sister Nielsen always says "uh-uh" for "no", and so it's a little confusing for both of us sometimes, whether we're saying yes or no! Ha, i love it.

Yay! Yesterday I was so delighted because the Agustin family came to church! Finally! I love them so much! I'm so excited that Alex got to stay the weekend over there! That's so happy! I hope you all give him a great big hug from me! :)

On Monday, Sister Young and I made Thanksgiving dinner with Sister Almaquer and Sister Garma, before Sister Garma went home on Tuesday. It was great! We taught them how to cut out hand prints to make a turkey and write everything we're thankful for. They enjoyed it. Sister Young stayed over with us until Friday - it was fun to be able to work with her again.

I love missionary work. We are so blessed. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to find lasting happiness and peace. We can look anywhere we want, but unless we latch onto Heavenly Father's plan, whatever route we end up following isn't going to produce true happiness. It's like we're branches, and we've been broken off from the tree, and our temporary happiness is unavoidably going to eventually shrivel up and wither away unless we are grafted in again the the mother tree, or reconciled to Heavenly Father through the Atonement.

Love you lots! Stay happy!
Love, Rebecca

P.S. So, I've heard some rumors that the email rule might be changing, and we may only be allowed to email immediate family again. Anyways, I'll find out for sure tomorrow at zone conference.

Hello Most Wonderful Family

Greetings! Happy Thanksgiving! Sister Young and I are getting together today to make Thanksgiving dinner for our companions later on, so they can have the American experience. We're going to have to improvise a little because of lack of pumpkin, stuffing, and the usual makings -we're use chicken instead. Jerrene was baptized on Saturday! She bore her testimony afterwards - she really has a great desire to share the gospel with as many of her friends as she can. It's great!

This week, my companion and I taught a workshop about how to begin teaching. I've learned that teaching is not so much filling people's minds with information. It's more about creating a feeling in their heart. This week when teaching a wonderful family for the second time - we followed up their prayer (praying to know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet), and unfortunately they didn't keep their commitment. The mom even laughed a little, and said she forgot. Well, it would have been so easy just to go along with their lighthearted attitude and say "oh that's ok - just pray tonight about it, will you?" but that's not what Elder Holland said we should. He said we should be devastated. This is eternal life, and we're too casual about this most of the time. And I knew that So we showed them that we really were devastated and testified boldly about the first vision. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ actually appeared to Joseph Smith! That really happened! And they restored the one true church of Jesus Christ back on the earth - the only one and true way to return and live with our Heavenly Father after this life. This is the most important message in the whole world. Either it's true or it's not. And we can know the answer, from God himself. But if we don't pray and ask God to know if this is true, we will never know. Anyways, it was a really neat experience, because right as we said that and set the right tone - not fearing what they would think, and not trying to go along with their casual attitude - The whole atmosphere changed. Their was a heavy silence, and the spirit filled the room and testified of the truthfulness of the restoration, and they felt our love for them. It was one of the most powerful teaching moments I've had yet.

On Thursday, we went to an FHE at a member's house, and they had us eat the very native Filipino way - with rice, whole fish, and meat all piled up on a big table with banana leaves laid out. No plates, no utensils. Everyone just crowds around the table and digs in. hehe! yesterday was a special day because our new chapel was dedicated. President Jensen and Elder Edwards came and spoke. Both of their talks were amazing! Elder Edwards talked about the danger of "gospel drifts" and corrected some false traditions/doctrines that have been spreading around - such as not taking the sacrament with the left hand (which is fine to do) and some other things. He talked a lot about "looking beyond the mark" and how we should not focus on form more than substance. The worldwide leadership training was also excellent! We got to watch it on Saturday morning!

I love you very much! Thanks for being so wonderful!!! This gospel is true! Heavenly Father loves us so much, and we are so blessed! Strive always to do what you know is right, even when it's hard, because blessings are always poured down on us when we keep the commandments. Love you lots!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mahal Kita!

Hi! How are you all doing? Is everyone ok? Love you all!

This week was wonderful! Sister Almaquer and I are doing great. We're thinking that one of us might be transferred soon. Sister Jerrene passed her interview for baptism. She will be baptized on Saturday! She is so amazing - Yesterday she bore her testimony in sacrament meeting, and cried as she expressed her faith in the Savior, and related how the first Sunday she walked through the church doors, she felt an overwhelming feeling of love and peace, and she knew she was in the right place. The church really has been quite a refuge for her with all the trials she is going through right now. Her testimony is rock solid and she's so eager to be baptized and endure to the end. I hope we can help her mother to return to full activity in the church. Little by little I think we're helping her to warm up to the idea. Sister Jerrene has already caught the missionary spirit, and even came to work with us one day. She also referred her best friend, Joanna Marie, to us and we've started teaching her. They are both really sweet girls.

One funny thing that happened this week is that we were teaching the Vintigan family, and invited the dad to church. But he made an excuse saying how he had to stay home and take care of his pigs (mga baboy), because he has to help them take a bath and feed them in the afternoon. Well, my ears made a mistake and I thought he was referring to his children (mga bata), and I so I immediately and enthusiastically exclaimed "Bring them along with you! Don't worry, there are classes at church for them too! Everyone is welcome!" and told him how there are teachers there who will watch over them and where they can sing songs about Jesus and learn the gospel. Then Brother Vintigan got the most bewildered look on his face and said, "What?! Bring my pigs to church?" We all got a really big laugh about that when I realized he was talking about his pigs, not about his children. Hehe!

This week we read 1 Nephi 17 with the Agustin family - I love that chapter. It is full of really motivational inspiration stories about obedience and faith, even in the face of difficult circumstances. Instead of finding excuses or focusing on our obstacles, if we have an unyielding resolve to do what God has asked us to do, despite opposition, miracles can occur.

Well, this week was great. We're trying to prepare this area as much as possible for the new temple to be built. It should be in 3 years from now. It's exciting to think that our investigators are going to be that close to a temple in just a few years! You know, I've really come to learn that the biggest indicator for success in missionary work is our attitude. It's all about our attitude - it's not dependent on the area, members, time of year, etc. If we think positive, our work will be positive! Like President Monson pointed out - when feeding the 5000, Jesus Christ didn't complain about the lack of bread/resources. He simply gave thanks for what they had, "and a miracle occurred." That's a great principle to live by.

Today Sister Young is with us for preparation day :) because sister Garma went to Dagupan for a career workshop. So that's all for now! I just received your letter in the mail Lisa - thank you so much! Have a wonderful day!

Love, Rebecca.
*I love You*

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

They are sweeping the rice that they have laid out to dry on the road.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy All Saints Day!

Hi! It's a great day! They don't really celebrate halloween here in the Philippines, but today is All Saints Day, and everyone goes to the cemetery (it's like our memorial day), and they also light candles and put it outside their door at night.

Thanks so much for all your letters and emails! I love you lots! Sister Almaquer is a delight to work with. We are doing great. This week was great. We took sister Jerrene to witness a baptism on Saturday. She is doing wonderfully well and progressing very rapidly. She'd make a great missionary if she chooses to go on one. I can't wait for her baptism! Sister Mary is going through some challenges right now, with some family discord, and she got really sick because of all the stress, so we offered to find someone who could give her a priesthood blessing of healing and comfort. President Orpiano, and another brother in our ward, offered to do that. I'm really grateful for our stake president's humble example. He is very humble and even though he is very busy trying to provide for his family, he is always magnifying his calling and willing to minister to those who need it, and we found out that he often cleans the whole church all by himself every week. I wouldn't be surprised if he is called to be the temple president of the Urdaneta temple in a few years. I learn many things from the examples of many good and inspired leaders here in the Philippines.

This week I've been really distressed about one of our families preparing for baptism who we still haven't been able to get to come to church, after recommitting them many times. My testimony was strengthened this week as me and Sister Almaquer have prayed a lot about how to help them, and ideas came to us that we never had even considered previously, which will hopefully be able to help them. I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers. It just requires us to be in tune and receptive to the ideas and impressions that come to us. Yesterday I was really happy because one of our investigators surprised us by coming to church. We've been inviting him all the time, but he was always drunk and never came. Well this week we went to him many times to remind him, and we were delighted to see him walk through the gates. He told us he wants to become a member of the church. Yay! We found a wonderful family this week through a member referral - they were so happy that we came and the mom kept telling us how grateful she is that we will be teaching them. It was funny because the mom was shocked that I knew Tagalog, and kept asking me over and over "I don't believe it - do your really understand what I am saying?!" Hehe, another of our investigators thought that I was born and raised in the Philippines. It's pretty rare Americans to know Tagalog, and so many Filipinos are kind of take back by it when they hear one of us Americans speaking their own language.

The Book of Mormon is of priceless worth. It is often taken so much for granted and even "trampled under the feet of men." I think it's interesting in 1 Nephi 1:11, when the Lord appeared to Lehi in a vision - out of all the things he could have done - he gave him a book of scripture to read. Also in Matthew 24:27, when Jesus Christ appears after being resurrected, out of all the things that he possibly could have done and said to his disciples, he opened to them the scriptures. That says a lot about the importance of scriptures.

I love the story about when Jesus' disciples are fishing in the sea, and they aren't having any luck, and then Christ comes to them and tells them to cast their nets on the right side of the ship, which, they do. And after they do - they catch so many fishes that their boat almost starts sinking. I think that teaches a great principle about obedience. Sometimes when promptings come from the Holy Ghost, we might be inclined to say to ourselves, "That's a silly idea" or "That doesn't make sense" but if we cast away our pride and act on faith, we might be surprised at the miracles that can result.

Well, anyways, I hope you all have a wonderful day. It's a great day! Heavenly Father has blessed us all so much! I know that this is His church, and that He leads and directs us today through His living prophet. We all have limitless potential to do good and bless the lives of those around us. Let's all find out one thing that Heavenly Father wants us to do, and go do it. Go out and make someone happy!

I love you!
Palangga kita! (that's I love you in ilonggo!)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hello hello hello!

Magandang Hapon sa Inyo Lahat!!

Hello! The typhoon started Monday night and lasted until Wednesday, so we were told not to work, just to stay inside, for a couple days. A lot of the houses of members and investigators got flooded. Some in the lower parts were flooded pretty bad, but most were just up to the ankles. Luckily our apartment stayed 100% dry. It was kinda exciting - at times we could feel our walls vibrating because of the wind. It was pretty cold too. The lights were out for a while and we used candles and made lumpia and sang lots of hymns about sunshine, just for kicks and giggles. On Saturday we went to one of our investigators houses, only to discover that the entire road leading to their house was completely flooded over, so we got pretty wet making our way over there.

We went to a birthday party this week at a member's house - she had cooked spaghetti and was complaining that it tasted sour, and my companion said "What? they forgot to add sugar!" But I told her, "Wow, this tastes American!" hehe--spaghetti here is very sweet :)

Mary Roces (recent convert) is really catching "the spirit of Elijah." It's interesting- ever since she's gotten baptized, she's kept having these reoccurring dreams where her family members (who have passed on) come to visit her and ask if she can do their ordinances in the temple. How neat! So we've been helping her record their names and send them to the temple. The other day she found a really old Book of Mormon the other day that belonged to her father, who investigated the church a long time ago. How exciting!

I've been thinking a lot lately about Satan tries to distort our perception of things as they really are. He'll use any means or strategy he can. We need to be so careful about what we allow to enter into our thinking. Mainstream media and popular culture often send messages that distort our perception of things as they really are. It can be very deceptive and very subtly distract us away from the things that are most important. I think the words of the living prophets and visiting the temple often are excellent ways to combat that and to see things clearly.

I love you very very much! Stay happy and safe and know that you are loved!

Love, Rebecca

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's raining!

Hey hey hey! It's a great day! This has been a great week too. Looks like a typhoon is on its way tonight! We were all pretty scared a couple days ago, because the forecast showed a signal 4 (President Jensen said that's "very bad") and it was heading straight for Baguio. So we were warned to get ready with all our 72-hour kits and "prepare for the worst." Luckily, yesterday we were notified that it has shifted a little northward and is now aimed at the more northern part of Luzon. We'll still get a typhoon, but it will be signal 2 instead of 4. It's supposed to start I think sometime tonight. Don't worry, we'll be just fine! Our apartment is on high ground.

Wow, it's hard to believe that I reached my 1-year mark this week! It's gone by like a dream. The other night I fell into an deep and unexpected mud swamp and lost my shoe, but then dug it out again. It was a really funny sight. Gotta be careful during rainy season--you never know what you'll step into! We had a two-day sisters training here in Urdaneta, with all of the sisters in the mission. It was great. President and Sister Jensen taught us a lot about the new "simplified curriculum" - helping us to be more effective teachers. We learned lots. And it was so wonderful to see all of the other sisters, especially my former companions sister Dolojan and Sister Dollente! Sister Broadhead and I went on splits that night in my area (it was my first time being companions with another American) and they slept over at our apartment. It was the first time all the sisters in the mission have been in the same place at the same time! What fun.

President Jay E. Jensen (president of the 70) and Elder Co (area 70) also came and gave a multi-zone conference on Thursday! They came to check possible sites where to build the temple here in Urdaneta. Wow, their talks were amazing. We learned the great importance and power of using the hymns and primary songs in our teaching, and how to "teach people, not lessons."

Sister Jerrene Manzanilla, 16, is progressing really well! She is great. Her mother is a member of the church, and used to be really active, until, in a tragic accident, the other two of Jerrene's siblings drowned in the ocean (ages 6 and 7). As a result, she went completely inactive and returned to Catholism. But here's the neat part: In their home they had the children's book "Stories from the Book of Mormon" (the one with pictures) that the missionaries had given to her mom many years ago. And even though her family stopped going to church, Jerrene continued to read and cherish that book. And it was that book that kindled her testimony and helped her feel the spirit, and eventually led her back to church with the desire to be baptized. It is very worn-down and old now, but she still reads it, along with the Book of Mormon that we gave to her. She often brings it out to show us with excitement the pictures associated with the stories she has read in the Book of Mormon. It made me realize how little things can really make a big difference. Those missionaries who gave her mom that children's book probably had no idea the impact it would have on her daughter's conversion. Sister Jerrene is going to be a shining beacon and light to her family. She is so childlike and sweet, and valiant! I'm sure she will be an instrument in Heavenly Father's hands in helping her entire family receive the full blessings of the gospel someday. We are working with her mom to help her come back. She is a such a sweet sister -- she still has a lot of anger and bitterness that has built up inside over the years, but we sang hymns and comforted her. Hopefully we can help her come back and let the Savior heal the hurt. The gospel is the answer to every question and every problem. I know that's true.

I love you lots and lots!
Love Always,

Monday, October 11, 2010


Hi!!! It makes me so happy to be able to email all of you today! Especially you :)

Wow, Alex is home! That is wonderful you all got to talk to him on the phone! Yay! How exciting!!!!!!! I got 3 emails from him already! *Thanks!* It will be super exciting to be able to email him directly now. Yippee!

This week has been splendid! Sister Young (my MTC companion) got transferred to Urdaneta! She is now companions with Sister Garma. It's funny. I killed her mom, and now she's going to kill my mom. I guess it's all one big family feud. Just kidding--Mom means "trainer" in missionary language, and we always say "kill" to mean the one that "sends you home" (your last companion). I was sister Niebla's last companion, who was also Sister Young's trainer. I love Sister Young! I was so happy to see her after a long time of being in different zones! She and Sister Garma are getting along great. Sister Caras got transferred to the Agoo Zone with Sister Walker as her companion. Sister Jerrene loves studying the gospel and whenever we ask her what she learned from her reading assignment, she teaches us pretty much the whole lesson before we've even begun. Her baptism will be October 30th. She's elect!

General Conference was amazing, wasn't it?! We watched it Yesterday and Saturday! It was funny because none of us could really understand what President Monson said, when he said "Urdaneta" - and so it was a good thing that we all got the announcement beforehand, or else we may not have caught it. Hehe! One of my favorite talks was Elder Holland's. I also liked what Elder Gong said about how we can give children "roots and wings." I liked how a lot of the talks focused on purity and integrity. I loved the music too. My favorite hymn is now definitely "Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd." I love missionary work. We have so much to be grateful for. This life is full of blessings, especially family and the restored gospel. I am so grateful for everything you have done for me throughout my whole life. I have the bestest family in the whole world. Be safe always!

I love you always! Mahal na mahal ko kayo! (I love you all very much!)
Ingat kayo palagi! (Take care always!)
Piliin ang tama! (Choose the right!)

Love, Rebecca

Monday, October 4, 2010

We're going to have a temple in Urdaneta!!!!!!

Yippeee! I'm was so excited when President Jensen announced to us on Saturday morning that there will be a new temple built right here in Urdaneta!! I've heard rumors it's even going to be in Sister Almaquer's and I's area! yippee! How lucky can we get? I just wish I could be here when it happens! It is such a huge blessing! Yesterday in fast and testimony meeting, they extended the time because of how many wanted to bear their testimony and express gratitude for the new temple. I am so happy. In fact, it brings tears to my eyes when I think about the many investigators and members that we meet who simply can't afford to make the trip to the Manila temple. Sometimes, when we talk about the great blessings of being sealed in the temple and show them a picture of the temple, I feel their disappointment when they realize how far away it is. And now, it's going to be practically next door! I'm so happy!!!

On Wednesday, Sister Almaquer and I did a workshop for our district about "Finding." It was fun, and this week we found 16 quality new investigators! Happy! We also worked really hard to reach the mission standard of excellence, but were short by one lesson. But I'm happy because we did our best! Sister Mary Roces (recent convert) is so happy. Ever since her baptism, she has just radiated purity and is so excited about doing missionary work. She loves to talk about her baptism and loves to encourage her friends to be baptized. You can tell she is truly converted. Our new investigator, Jerrene, is great. She is 16, and is really really sweet. She reminds me a lot of Elisabeth Houghton. Anyways, she came to church on her own last week (we were delighted!) and said she wants to be baptized. And she is reading the Book of Mormon almost every night already. She loves the children's one with pictures :) Her mom is a member, but quit coming to church when 2 of her children died. We are hoping to be able to teach her with her whole family and help them eventually be sealed in the temple. I love the work here in Urdaneta. It has been very fruitful!

On Friday I had the blessing of going on an exchange with Sister Garma (so I got to return and visit the 2nd ward). It was wonderful to be able to work with her again. We work really well together. I'm sure going to miss her a lot. We visited Brother Laurel, a member who had been really really involved in missionary work when I left. He would always take us to appointment, give us referrals, and contributed a lot to the ward and to the church. Well, one week before I left, he got released from the bishopric - and by some oversight he was not informed of the release until the meeting. Well, turns out he was offended and quit attending that ward (he went to other wards). Well, about a week ago I felt to write him a 6-page letter and then we had the opportunity of having a really wonderful visit with him, and to make a long story short, he returned to his ward and triumphed over offense! It was a miracle!!! I'm happy! Sister Garma and I will be going on more exchanges in the future.

I love this work! I'm so happy! This morning we went to visit the 2nd largest dam in Asia, which was neat.

Welcome home Alex!!! I love you oodles! I can't wait to hear how you are doing! I can't believe it's October already! Give yourself a big hug from me!

Love always,

P.S. Happy Birthday Grandma! Happy Birthday Emma!
P.P.S. The other day a great big lizard flew and landed on my head. hehe!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Magandang Hapon!

Kumusta Kayo? Happy day!

This week was wonderful. I love my companion, sister Almaquer. She is very cheerful and confident. Yesterday we did a lot of OYMing (opening your mouth) and finding new investigators. At one point in the day, there was a man who passed us by in a trycicle, and I felt that we needed to talk to him, but he drove away. Then passed by us again, and I felt bad about missing the opportunity and so I prayed in my heart that if Heavenly Father wanted us to talk to him, to please help him come back a 3rd time. He did, and we found out that he was ready to be taught and eagerly accepted the opportunity to learn about the restored gospel. I'm so happy. We are also teaching the Agustin family, a wonderful family with 6 children. Their father is a member, and he found us, and told us that he wants his whole family to be baptized. I am excited!

On Saturday we had a family week celebration for the Urdaneta stake! We put on a presentation about the plan of salvation. Afterwards, we held the baptism of Mark Arganda, which went wonderfully. Yesterday I spoke in sacrament meeting about the Savior's example of charity. Even though he was despised, ignored, and rejected, and people treated him with disrespect and ingratitude, he didn't let their actions cause him to become offended. He remained full of love and accomplished the atonement, providing hope and rescue, even for those who treated him so badly. He even forgave them on the cross.

I know that the Book of Mormon was written for our day. One wonderful thing as a missionary is when the spirit brings a scripture to your mind at the very moment that you need it, and you read it to an investigator, and it directly answers their question/concern. We would never succeed in teaching without the Book of Mormon. It's amazing how perfectly the gospel fits together. Heavenly Father loves us so much.

Have a wonderful week! Enjoy conference!
Love, your missionary,

P.S. I ate bamboo this week. I didn't know it was edible!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hello from the Philippines!

Dearest family whom I love so much!
This week has been wonderful! This morning, we met with our zone to play badminton and basketball for exercise. I enjoy zone activities because there are 4 sisters: Sister Caras, Sister Almaquer, Sister Garma, and myself - and All of us have been each other's companions before, so we all know each other real well. My companion really wants to taste frog, so perhaps that will happen soon.

On Saturday, we had the baptism of Sister Mary Roces, 52 yrs old. She is such a sweetheart! She has been eagerly preparing for the past few weeks, and finally entered the waters of baptism. Afterwards, she was so happy that she cried, and could hardly speak. It was a sweet day. It's amazing to think about how important of a landmark that baptism is. It opens the gate to the Celestial kingdom and marks the beginning of our journey home. Seeing her joy made me almost want to get baptized all over again. hehee, is that allowed? ;-)

My testimony has been strengthened that when we do our part, Heavenly Father places the right people in our path. When we have opened our mouths, it's amazing to see how many times the people we talk to happen to have a connection to the church, or have been taught previously. The Lord is behind this work. I'm enjoying this area. One thing that is nice is that we live right next door to our zone leaders, so it is very convenient when we need supplies or have questions. I'm excited for General Conference! Enjoy it for me next weekend! I have to wait because it's a week-delayed here.

Love you very much! especially you! (happy September 26!)
Sister Boekweg

Monday, September 13, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hello! Guess what, the Christmas season starts really early here. They are already playing Christmas music 24/7. It's pretty funny. Well, I'm in my 4th area now - Urdaneta 1st ward! My new companion is Sister Almaquer - she is 25, a nurse, and her native language is ilongo. I like her a lot. She and Sister Caras were MTC companions. I still think it's funny how there was a mix-up for two weeks, but actually I'm grateful, because I learned so much in those 2 short weeks, and I feel that Heavenly Father's hand must have been in it. Honestly, it was hard to leave, but now I am adjusted here in the 1st ward, and Sister Almaquer and I get along wonderfully. She is a great missionary! And she might be coming to Utah after her mission, so I might get to see her again. Yay!

Last week we had dinner at the bishop's house, and there was a roasted pig's head, with the apple in its mouth and everything. Haha! That's the first time I've seen something like that other than in the movies. The members here are so nice. They love to feed missionaries. We often get sent home with a bag of pansit, or bananas, or some kind of yummy ulam. It rained super hard one of the days this week - It was so loud that we couldn't even teach a lesson, even with shouting. I thought it was going to turn into a typhoon, but it settled down after a while and we were all safe :)

I know that Heavenly Father is watching over us. He knows us much more than we know ourselves. I'm so grateful for everything we are blessed with everyday. The Book of Mormon is true! The church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the Earth, and families can be together forever through Heavenly Father's plan of happiness. I miss the temple. I love sharing about the blessings of the temple with investigators. Temple blessings are one of the highest, most wonderful blessings we can receive in this life. We're so blessed. I love you all! Especially you :)

Love, Rebecca

Monday, September 6, 2010

Oops! I'm being transferred again!

What a shocker! This morning, I got a phone call from Elder Duncan (assistant to the president) and he informed me that there had been a big mistake with transfers. Apparently they accidently transferred me to the wrong area and with the wrong companion! I'm actually supposed to be in Urdaneta 1st ward (I'm in Urdaneta 2nd ward right now), as the follow-up trainer of Sister Albaquer, and Sister Garma is supposed to be the follow-up trainer of Sister Caras. So Sister Garma and I have to pack and switch places tonight. It came as a huge surprise. I've been here for almost 2 weeks, and so I don't know why they didn't catch it sooner, but President Jensen wants it fixed the way it was supposed to be. How funny. We shed a few tears this morning. I've loved working with Sister Caras, even though it was only for 2 weeks - we have so many of the same desires, and she and I get along so great. But I guess this is what is supposed to happen. It's kind of sad for me because we just found some golden investigators this week, and extended baptismal dates to 2 of them. It seems this week has been full of miracles. The member work here is wonderful, and Heavenly Father was just placing those who have been prepared for the gospel into our path every day.

Sister Jefferey Marata is one of our new investigators that will be baptized in October. She is amazing. Her eyes are really fuzzy, so she can't read, but still she always makes sure that she gets someone to read to her every Book of Mormon assignment that we give to her. She came to church with her children yesterday. She just soaks up the lessons and is so eager to be baptized.

Sister Mildred Tabajo is another miracle we met this week. She is 20 years old - her husband is working abroad, and she just recently returned home to live with her parents. She has had a really rough past - she was into pretty much every drug and bad thing, but recently felt a need to move back home, and a desire to change her life. And then we met her and felt she needed to be taught. She has already gained a testimony, and excitedly came to church yesterday and loved every minute of it. We'll extend an baptismal date to her on Wednesday. I'm sure going to miss her.

Well, I'll be moving out tonight. I'll let you know next week about my new area. It's been a good two weeks. crazy!

I love being a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a privilege to be able to spend all day, every day, engaged in the most important work we could ever be doing - helping Heavenly Father's children to find the way back home. There are so many people who need help. Sometimes it's overwhelming because I want to help everyone, but time is so limited. I've gained a greater testimony of the great importance of every person doing all he/she can to help those within his/her personal influence or circle of friends. So much depends on our individual exertion. I love you all! (yes, especially you!) Time to go!

Love, Rebecca

Monday, August 30, 2010


Surprise! On Friday I was transferred to Urdaneta! My new companion is Sister Caras, from Cavite (Philippines). I was assigned to be her follow-up trainer. Sister Caras is such a sweetheart. You know, I've really lucked out when it comes to companions. It seems every transfer Heavenly Father has paired me up with some of his very best, sweetest angels. Sister Caras is a recent convert. Her mother was the first to be taught by the missionaries - her mother works in California now. She's really cheerful, hard working, thoughtful, and kind of reminds me of Johannie Everett.

I was thinking I would stay in Caba for another transfer, so the transfer kind of came as a surprise. But I am happy. Sister Garma (my trainer) got transferred with me to Urdaneta as well. It was great to see her - we are both follow-up trainers. She has only 2 transfers left in the mission. Urdaneta is a larger city than Caba. There is lots of vegetation here and it's a lot more humid. It's more inland too - no ocean here. It's also a higher-class town, not quite as poor living conditions it seems. They speak Ilocano here as well, but they speak Tagalog at church a lot more than they did in my last area. I'm getting better at picking up what people are saying in Ilocano. It makes me happy. Sister Caras speaks it fluently, so it's also nice to have her for a reference.

Guess what? We found a frog that somehow hopped its way into our apartment. Here in Urdaneta, the apartment is way nicer - no rats or cocraches at all. yay!

That's great that Alex gets to stay in his area for his last transfer! Wow, crazy how time flies. Has it really been 2 years? Also, I'm not sure where I should start sending letters once he gets home. Wisconsin, Utah, or somewhere else? Anyone know? Thanks!

Inaro Taka! (I love you - Pangasinan)

Love, your missionary,

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Email from August 23: Kumusta, minamahal kong pamilya!

Kumusta, minamahal kong pamilya!

That is great to hear about Daddy being called as the ward mission leader! How wonderful! You will be the missionaries' best friend!

On Saturday we had a one-day mission in our branch. I am impressed with the enthusiasm and energy of the members of the branch to reach out and invite the less-active members back to church. Our elders quorum president, Brother Aglubat, is very active and diligent in his reactivation efforts and going out and visiting everyone he can. If every member in Caba and Aringay was fully active, we'd have a stake! Hopefully that time will come.

This week we taught Brother Dominar Garcia and his wife, Arlene. They are a very wonderful family who seem ready for the gospel. As we started to teach them about where we came from, they realized that they had no idea. It is always such a sweet experience to help others discover the answers to the great questions of the souls, and to help them see that these things "are truly manifested to us from Heaven." (D&C 123:13). We have the Book of Mormon, and we have living prophets, and we know who were are, why we are here, and where we are going. We need not be confused. Heavenly Father has given us knowledge concerning all of these things. I'm so grateful for the Plan of Salvation that has been revealed to prophets for us. There are many in the world who need help. So many people. If we could each just help one person find their way home, and if we could make that the object of our lives, how many of Heavenly Father's children would be brought back into the light of the gospel!

I've been thinking a lot about one of Daddy's poems - "The Trick" and how that is very much like missionary work. A lot of the time, we don't realize it, but we are like mirrors in our interactions with people. We are either the ones who merely imitate, or we are the ones who "set the mood" and others automatically will reflect back that same attitude. This is especially important when teaching the restored gospel and helping others make and keep commitments to apply it to their life. If they reflect a casual or uncommitted attitude, we need to be careful not to be mirrors and act casual about the gospel too. We need to follow Elder Holland's advice and realize that "much of the time we are just too casual about this. This is eternal life. ...They may not know that, but at least you do! So take control of the situation." I love that quote. At Zone Conference, Elder Co of the 70 came to speak to us, and he and President Jensen taught us about this principle. We need to be the ones that "set the stage" so that we can awaken our brothers and sisters to how important this really is. If the way we speak and act reflects the attitude that this is the most important thing in the world, others will see how it is and adjust accordingly. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the only way to true and lasting happiness.

We went to Baguio for Zone Conference on Wednesday, and I got to see sister Dollente again :) I also met a new American sister, Sister Eldredge, who told me, "Sister Boekweg, I have a message for you!" and then gave me a big hug (from Lisa!) Aw thank you Lisa!!! That's neat to think that she saw you just recently in the MTC!

I love the parable of the sower in the New Testament. I think a really huge role in teaching the gospel is first trying to soften hearts and create a climate and environment that can foster the growth of testimony. We all need to receive the seed (gospel) into good soil. As missionaries, friends, neighbors - we are all "plowers" - helping to plow the ground, and prepare people's hearts to receive the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love Helaman 3:29-30. It didn't use to have much meaning for me, but recently it has become of my favorite scriptures because of seeing so much distraction, contention, and confusion in the world. There is only one way to find our way through life safely and triumph over "fiery darts of the adversary." We must hold to the iron rod/word of God. All other attempts will fail if we don't have a sure grasp on that one sure anchor.

I love being a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sometimes it is overwhelming, and I know that I have many weaknesses and shortcomings, but I am grateful for this opportunity to be engaged in this work and do what I can to move this work along. I am learning so much. Thank you so much for everything - I think I'm pretty sure I was blessed with the sweetest happiest family in the world! I love you!

Happy Birthday to Grandma Gunn and also to Grandma Boekweg coming up!
I love you bunches! Especially *you!
Love, Rebecca

Here's an Alex quote of the day: "If you feel depressed, sad, or any negative emotion, do the following things: Pray, serve someone and make someone else happy, think of your blessings, and understand that you cannot bless others very well with a frown, and then make a conscious effort to turn it upside down." I love that. It is very true. Every time we feel any kind of negative feeling, it does not come from God, and we need to learn to recognize and acknowledge it's source.

P.S. Let me know if you have any insights/object lessons about sacrifice, mighty change of heart, or covenant keeping!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hello from Caba!

Greetings! Today is a great day! This week went by fast. On Tuesday I went to Aringay to work with Sister Caspe for a day. Sister Caspe is Filipino and very smiley and talkative. On Wednesday morning we went to a service project to help a member harvest corn, and it actually turned out to be more of an adventure than we expected. His corn field was at the top of the mountain, and we hiked up in flip-flops the steepest hike I've ever hiked. There wasn't even a trail, and so Brother Diaz took along a bamboo pole to make a foot hole so we wouldn't slide down. Looking back on it, it was kind of funny, because by the time we got to the top, it was just a tiny little plot of ground, and the actual harvesting took a lot less time than the hike.

I love teaching the gospel everyday. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I love the Tree of Life story. It describes the whole Book of Mormon story. We contacted Brother Juan again, and he was sober. He is very thin though-- he got really sick from drinking too much. but now he's stopped. He still has a testimony and the desire to continue to learn about the gospel.

It always makes me excited when investigators tell me that they gave their Book of Mormon to their pastor - because hopefully the pastor will read it, pray about it, and come to know that it is true too!

I love the story of the 10 virgins. It has a lot that we can learn about. it's interesting that all 10 virgins had a lamp, and all of them fully expected to be able to attend the "wedding feast." but only those with oil were admitted. So it is like us as members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We all hope and expect that we will be admitted. But In D&C 45 it talks about that parable, and how it is like those who have "taken the Holy Spirit to be their guide." That's how important getting and keeping the spirit is. One of the most important ways to keep the Spirit with us always is by partaking of the sacrament every week worthily.

I love you very very much!
Love, Rebecca

P.S.I ate chicken intestines on a stick this week! interesting.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Is is really August already?

Wow, time seems to be flying on wings of lightning! I've learned that it is important when teaching investigators, to "Point them to the Savior" and make Him the focus, no matter what we are teaching. It is a sure way to invite the influence of the spirit and provides stronger motivation to apply His teachings and live the restored gospel.

The Reotorio family is a great example to me. Although they are extremely poor, they are absolutely faithful in attending church every single week. Even though Brother Lito (the father) has been out of work for an entire month. One sobering experience the other day -- because of a lack of food, they went to trade their dog for a chicken. But then, somehow, the chicken was stolen from them. Sister Merlene was so stressed and upset over it that she spent hours outside looking for it in the rain. Finally they found the remnants of it and evidence that whoever had stolen it had already eaten it. It was sobering to see them in that situation, and Brother Lito holding a plastic bag with the feathers only, and their 5 small children. But we testified to them that blessings follow obedience, and just a couple days ago, Brother Lito found work again, which is a huge blessing and proof that Heavenly Father really does take care of His children and delights to serve and honor those who put their trust in Him.

Sometimes I feel like a disney princess here with all the little children flocking to say "hello" and use whatever English they know. Filipino children are so cute.

Some sad experiences this week have been when we have taught to some investigators who have treated us and the message of the Restoration with spite and contempt. I feel sad especially when people choose to disregard the Book of Mormon, close their hearts to the message, and refuse to pray about the things we are teaching them. Many of these belong to Iglesia Ni Cristo - a very prominent church here, to which my companion belonged before she met the missionaries. It's interesting, because it's kind of like our "counterfeit" -- some of their doctrines/history are somewhat similar to ours, but they firmly believe that they are the only true church. But you can definitely tell a difference. I've heard lots of rumors that the founder was actually a former LDS member who apostatized. Anyways, during one such visit, I felt the spirit very strongly testify through me - I bore as fervent testimony as I could about the Book of Mormon and receiving answers to prayer through the power of the holy ghost. I love to share 3 Nephi 11:39 - about how contention is of the devil, and that the doctrine of Christ is for "such things to be done away." I love how one of the main purposes of the Book of Mormon is to confound false doctrine and do away with contention. One thing that really helps when it can be easy to get discouraged is to recite "The Standard of Truth." It is very comforting to know that no matter what happens, no matter how many people reject the message, the truth will go forward boldly, nobly, and independent. Truth will triumph! It will continue to roll forth until it has sounded in every ear and the work is accomplished!

Yesterday we went on splits because we had so many appointments. I went with Shiela Lorenzo, a member who works a lot with us. She becomes a really good friend and huge support to the work. She knows all of our investigators and it almost feels like she's a third companion. She will apply for a mission in 2 years from now.

What a joy it is to be serving as a Baguio missionary. Whenever there are challenges or big tasks to do, President Jensen always says, "All right! We can do it! We're Baguio missionaries!" This work is true! I'm so grateful for Heavenly Father's wonderful plan. It is perfect!
I love you! Thank you so much for being the best family in the world!
Love, Rebecca

P,S. If you know of any really good object lessons, I'd love to hear them. I'm trying to collect all the ideas I can.

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's a beautiful day!

Hello! This week has been wonderful! Hehe, your calendar quote the other day was just perfect timing: "if you want to see a rainbow you have to stand a little rain" - because that just happened to on one very rainy day when we got home all muddy, soaked head to foot. Here in the Philippines, they don't have any iceskating, but I'm sure getting my share of mud-skating. The mud here is very very slippery! One of the cutest things in the world is when little 1 and 2 year olds run up to me and "nagmamano" (bless) my hand on their forehead. It's so cute! I love the Philippines. I'm excited for one of our investigators, Brother Espada, who is reading the Book of Mormon everyday - he says that is moves his heart and makes him want to repent. That's the power of the Book of Mormon! It makes me so grateful when I hear investigators express how the spirit is changing their hearts. This is truly Heavenly Father's work.

A few things I have learned/observed here on my mission recently:

-How important it is to keep the Sabbath day holy. Heavenly Father gives us commandments for our benefit. Sacrifice brings many blessings. Sacrificing our time, talents, possessions is central to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

-Commitment-keeping is a pattern of heaven. We live in a world where being un-committed is often viewed as acceptable, part of the culture, but it is not congruent with Heavenly Father's plan for His children. His plan is centered around covenant-keeping. We all committed to accept His plan before this life, and Jesus Christ committed to do His part so that we could all have the opportunity to return to His presence. We can fully access His atonement through exercising faith, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end in keeping the commandments - all of which require us to make covenants and keep promises and commitments. It's the only way we can bring our lives in accordance with His will. He expects us to make and keep commitments throughout our lives.

-Being open-minded is a good thing, but it can also be a great stumbling block if we take it to the extreme. Especially if our open-mindedness leads us to the belief that there is no absolute right and wrong, that all truth is relative, that God's commandments are negotiable. That's one of Satan's most clever tactics.

-It is foolish, if we know our Heavenly Father's plan, to not live a gospel-centered life. We can't keep one foot in Babylon and one foot in Zion.

-Listening to the spirit is important. We must never crowd out the still small voice of the spirit with our own opinions.

I love you lots! (especially you!) This gospel is true! Keep plowing ahead! We are very blessed!
Love, your missionary,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chicken Feet and Balut!

Happy Day! How are you? Thanks for all your happy emails, they sure do brighten up my day! Wow, thank you so much for that exciting package you sent to me! I love the calendar you made - how delightfully creative! thank you so much! And the CDs too!
This week I've felt very buoyed up! Thank you so much for all your prayers. I sure have felt them. I love you! I absolutely love the Philippines. It's a pretty sobering & melancholy thought that someday I'm going to have to leave all of this behind. I feel I could keep doing this work for the rest of my life. Oooh one very very wonderful piece of news--I found out this week that sister Chona (one of my very favorite investigators from Dagupan) has finally gained a firm, unwavering testimony that the Book of Mormon/what we taught her is true. When I heard that, I nearly cried. It took a little while, but it's there now, and she's on her way home, and I am soooo happy for her!

Well it's the news you've been waiting for: I finally ate Balut. And guess what? I loved it! Sister Dolojan was craving it, and so we bought some that a lady was selling on the roadside and ate it right then and there. And yes, you do eat the whole sisiw (duck embryo). Hehe, it probably helped that it was at night, so I couldn't really see what I was eating. I also ate chicken feet adobe, which is interesting, but not as delicious as balut.

One new investigator we found this week while trying to find the house of a member - Arnel Espada. He met the missionaries when he was working in Africa, and saw the church building there too, but has never gone inside. We taught him the first lesson, and he was very intrigued and listened intently. We invited him to read the Introduction before our next appointment, but to our surprise, when we came back two days later, he had read all the way up to 1 Nephi 19! He even invited two of his neighbors to come to his home to listen to what we were teaching. It is great to see how people who are prepared for the gospel really are placed in our path.

Brother Juan Ordonez, 64, is having some challenges. A couple of weeks ago, he told his children we wanted to be baptized. They were angry with him and don't want him to leave their faith (Jehovah's Witnesses). Well, in the face of family persecution and depression, he started drinking. Every time we've gone to visit him, he has been drunk, so it's been really heart-breaking to see. because he is the purest, sweetest old man, and he has a testimony. We found out that after his wife died, he drank constantly (like he is now), but that during the couple of months that we've been teaching him, he completely stopped. He told us that he has had a wonderful feeling of warmth and lightness. He knows it's true. I hope that we can help rescue him again with the help of his member friends.

About a week ago, I lost my voice for a few days - needless to say, it was interesting trying to teach. My voice is now restored thanks to my companion's loving kindness in making me drink some nasty ginger-tea-mixture. :)

I love the people I am teaching so much. I love the Filipino people so much. Many of them are so poor that they don't know if they will have food the next day. But they are still faithful in paying their tithing. and they live off the bare necessities. And their family means everything to them. They are so happy. They really know what matters most. They teach me so much by their example. My companion, sister Dolojan, is such a wonderful sister to work with.

Well that's it for this week.
I love you!
Love, Rebecca

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pula na ako!

Naimbag a bigat! Ilocano --> Good morning!

Hehe, on Friday I went rice planting with the Agoo Zone. It was a new adventure, squishing around in bear feet in a big rice field mud swamp almost up to our knees for several hours. It was fun to learn how Filipinos plant rice. Woweee, it was verrrrrry muddy and I got really sunburned for the first time since being here. But what fun. I'll try sending pictures next week -this computer doesn't seem to want to let me right now.

The branch here does something called a "1 Day Mission" every few months. I think it is such a great idea. It's where all the branch members meet at the church on a Saturday morning, and then split into groups and go visiting all day to inactive members. We had 4 missionaries there - and each of us split to go with a group of about 6 members. It was interesting because the missionary was asked to take the lead in the visiting/teaching, but a couple of the members we visited only spoke to us in ilocano, which I still don't know much of - but miraculously I was able to discern their needs and teach and it ended up being a really wonderful experience. It's situations like that when you really gotta just rely on the spirit and Heavenly Father's help.

Caba is an interesting little town. There are 17 Barangies (or villages/blocks) and 19 churches. And our church isn't even in Caba itself--it is in Aringay, the next town over. Needless to say, there is a lot of religious diversity here. One question that many people ask is "why are there so many churches??" and that's the question that we LOVE to hear because we know the answer! It's because of the great apostasy! Another really interesting thing I've discovered is that, although most everyone believes in Jesus Christ, they don't understand his atonement. They know that he died on the cross, but they don't understand that his crucifixion was only a part of it. They miss the whole point of him suffering for our sins. When we show them a picture of him in the Garden of Gethsemane, they don't understand what it is. Before coming on my mission, I kind of always assumed everyone understood that. I think that is one of the greatest blessings of the restored gospel, that Heavenly Father has restored a complete and correct understanding of the atonement of Jesus Christ and how to access it.

All righty! gots 2 go, Ingat!
Life is happy! Thanks for being the bestest family ever! Minamahal ko kayo lahat!
Love, your missionary,

P.S. Happy Anniversary on the 29th! Thanks for being the wonderfullest parents ever!
P.P.S Did you know- there's a plant here that you can break in half and then blow bubbles through! Ha! It's amazing!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mahal Kita! I love you!*

Hello! It's been quite rainy this week and we had a few adventures slipping and getting stuck in the mud on the way to appointments. It's very slippery! Chilly too--we even warmed up some hot chocolate one day during a storm. I saw a tornado on the ocean the other day - luckily it wasn't very close. Yesterday the Orcales family was able to come to church. I am soooo excited for them. Brother Oliver, the dad, is yearning for the truth so much - you can see it in his eyes. It's so neat to be a missionary, and to have the opportunity to help others on their spiritual journey. I love the people here so much. Brother Juan is doing great. He told us that ever since we have started teaching him he has felt a feeling of lightness and relief. One thing that I've learned as a missionary is the important role of the Holy Ghost in missionary work. This week we've felt led by the Spirit in many ways while teaching in discerning needs and concerns, about which scriptures to share with them. Some of the neatest experiences have been when I've learned something new or gained a new insight from the scriptures right then and there while I am teaching! This gospel is true. I know that we're led by a living prophet.

I love you! got to go no!
Love, Rebecca

Monday, June 14, 2010

Magandang Hapon! Mahal Kita!

Happy Birthday Jennifer and Jessica!! You're 11! Wow, I can't believe it! I was 11 when you were born! Here in the Philippines, the tradition for birthdays is to have spaghetti, pansit, or some kind of noodle dish. I like to cook spaghetti a lot, and my companion always asks me whose birthday it is. Thanks for the pictures! I hope you have a great birthday! Also, Happy Father's Day on Sunday!!

On Sunday I got to see the Cebu Temple Dedication! It was so wonderful. President Monson, President Eyring, and Elder Oaks were there! On Saturday, we attended a cutural event where there were a lot of native Filipino dances, where they danced in really colorful costumes and used bamboo sticks, coconut halves, balancing pots and candles. It was really neat. Oh how I love the Filipino culture.

I am really happy because we have a lot of progressing investigators right now! 3 of our investigators, Trixie, Erica, and JC Supnet, accepted the invitation to be baptized on July 17th. They were "born again" before, but have received a witness that this church is true. Also sister Erna, another of our new investigators, has received a witness for herself that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. It's amazing to see the way people find out for themselves that all this is really true. We are also preparing Reynante Bucao for baptism - he is 15, but quite mature for his age, breadwinner of his family, and is really searching for the truth. It kind of reminds me of Joseph Smith. I love Caba. At night, we can see lights from Baguio (from all of the houses on the mountains). It's pretty. I love Sister Dolojan. Most nights we spend so much time talking and planning for our investigators that we only have 5 minutes before lights out to eat a quick snack. I admire her dedication and willingness to work hard.

Well, there's a little bit from my week this week. Thank you so much for your support and prayers. I love you very much! Have fun in Texas! Ingat!

Love, your missionary,

P.S. The other night walking home I saw a spider as big as my hand! I almost stepped on it, thinking it was a branch in the dark. --Also, one thing they eat here is baby chicken heads - the whole thing, BBQed on a kabob stick. I haven't tried it yet.
--Also, last night we discovered a big furry friend in our apartment - a rat the size of a rabbit... it was a little hard to sleep after that. But we are going to get some traps and poison today...thank goodness :)
--oh and did you know there is a monkey-eating eagle here in the Philippines?

Monday, June 7, 2010


Thank you so much for your emails.

Guess what? I have a new companion again! Sister Dolojan. She is probably the sweetest person I've ever met! She is 25, Filipina, and everyone calls her sister Dollente's twin (because they look so much alike. They both also came from the same singles ward before coming on the mission). Also, sister Billones got transferred into the Agoo Zone, which makes me so exceedingly happy because we will now see each other every week at district meeting. Yay! While waiting for our companions, I got to work with Sister Lapana and Sister Broadhead, which was great :) I love them both very much. I heard that Sister Walker is in the Missionary Recovery Center in Manila because of an ulcer. yikes, I hope she is doing ok.

Let's see, what fun things do I have to tell you about this week....

We've been teaching The Orcales Family, and they are really progressing. It's kind of a funny story about how we came in contact with them. We were teaching their neighbor (who is a less-active member), when Oliver Orcales (The father - in his 30s) came over - he was drunk and wanted to join in on the lesson and kept saying "Please, can I listen to? I want to hear the words of the Lord.... I want to know how we can be saved." - although he was drunk, there was something about him that was really sincere. and so we set an appointment to return and teach his entire family. Well the first couple times we returned, he wasn't there, so we just taught his wife and children. But this week, we were able to catch him when he was at home, and we started teaching them all. At first, he was really quiet - I think because he was embarrassed about being drunk the first time we met him. But then he brought out several sincere questions about the gospel, how we can be saved, who Jesus Christ is, and what we need to do here on earth. It was really neat. He and his wife have both received a witness that Joseph Smith is a true prophet, and they are reading the Book of Mormon. They also accepted the invitation to prepare themselves to be baptized. Anyways, it's just interesting some of the ways that the Lord leads to the missionaries people who are prepared for the gospel ;)

We are working with helping Brother Juan abstain from tea and alcohol. At first he was nervous because his doctor told him that he needs to drink tea every morning for his heart, but we reassured him, telling him that Heavenly Father knows what is best and he promises to bless us if we obey this commandment. He is the ultimate physician.

Well, I am loving the Philippines. Sometimes it is quite hot indeed. It's fun sometimes to be teaching a lesson underneath a coconut tree, on a bamboo bench, overlooking the beach, to about a dozen little children who are crowded around to hear, with dogs, chickens, and goats running all around. Hehe...what fun.

Well, got to go now. I love you! This work is true!
Love, Rebecca

Did you know, one of the favorite past-times of Filipino children is tying big beetles to a string and flying them around - hehe, it's really funny to watch :)

I found out that the word lobo in Tagalog has two meanings - wolf and balloon :)

P.S. Daddy, the pictures you sent made me laugh :) Thanks!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lots of love from your little missionary in Asia!

Hello! Well, the rainy season is starting to kick in now! I like it. I love Caba. Tagalog is coming great. and I'm picking up a little Ilocano, which is fun!

This week, Sister Dollente and I taught a workshop about "Companionship Unity," which was a lot of fun. I enjoy working with Sister Dollente.

We extended a baptismal invitation to Sister Ruby. She believes it's true, but she really wants to wait until her whole family can join the church with her. So we are working on finding a time to be able to teach them all. Yay! She mentioned how impressed she is with the doctrines we are teaching her. She says that she doesn't feel content listening to any other religions because she doesn't understand their doctrine, but that every question that she raises, we are able to answer to her contentment, using the Book of Mormon. When she offered the prayer at the close of our lesson, it was cute to hear her tell Heavenly Father, "Nagpapasalamat po ako na contentong-contento ako sa mga bagay na itinuturo ng mga missionaries" (I am grateful that I am very content with the things that the missionaries are teaching). I love sister Ruby. She is a sweet humble lady.

One thing that is neat is that many of the people we teach, when we ask them how they feel when they read the Book of Mormon, they answer on a similar theme: it gives them a "light" feeling as if their burdens are being lifted and all problems dissolving. There's something about being a missionary that really gives you the desire to know the Book of Mormon like the back of your hand. The Book of Mormon has an answer for everything! It is the most powerful resource for teaching. One of our investigators, Reynante (16 years old - whom we set a baptismal date with this week) said that as he is reading the Book of Mormon, he is finding out "what God is like."

Some adventures of this week: we found 2 dead rats in our apartment, got drenched in the rain, had to shout while teaching (because the rain was so loud) and poor sister Dollente - all of her photos from way back to the beginning of her mission (she's been out 10 months) were deleted (when she lended her camera to a ward member). She is taking it very well however. I really admire her optimism, forgiveness, sense of humor, and eternal perspective. What a gal!

I found out that the Sudiacals (a family of 7 that I started teaching in Dagupan) are finally getting baptized on June 19th! The whole family. It makes me so happy! Also, Christine, another of my investigators from Dagupan, got baptized on Saturday!

We found a very sweet old lady this week: Lolita, 87 years old. After teaching, she asked how much the Book of Mormon cost, and when we gave it to her, she cried. How sweet. It was funny when we taught them the steps of prayer, because we wrote it out for her but she didn't realize that it was just a pattern, and so she simply said, "Heavenly Father, we thank thee.... we ask the name of Jesus Christ, amen. So we taught her that she could use her own words and add what she was thankful for and what blessing she desired, instead of just reading it.

Got to go! Time's up! I love you very much! The church is true! Lots of hugs and kisses!
Love, Rebecca

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Magandang Tanghali!

Hi! It's great to read all your lovely emails! Thanks, what a day brightener! Hey, today is Elyse's birthday! Wish her a happy birthday for me will ya? That's too bad about grandma's knee. I hope she feels better soon. Send her hugs from me! And send hugs to GrandmaBC too - it was great to get her letter this week :) I sure miss you all! I am doing very well here in Caba. I love it here. The rainy season is supposed to be starting soon. I'm excited. One thing I absolutely love about my area is that most of it is sort of uphill from the shore, and so we can see the ocean from most of the roads as we are proselyting. So pretty!

A couple highlights from this week was teaching Sister Ruby. We watched the restoration video with her (in Tagalog) and it really touched her. She teared up as she told us how she felt in her heart that it really was true. One thing I love about sister Ruby is that she always reads and really ponders every assignment from the Book of Mormon we give her. It is neat to come back and hear her insights.

One of our new investigator, brother Juan, is such pure, sweet old man. He lived in California for 2 years, and I started talking with him one day on the side of the road. When I showed him a picture of Christ ministering to the Nephites, he started crying because of his love for the Savior. It was really sweet. So I gave him the Book of Mormon and we told him we would come back and teach him more. Well after teaching him the first lesson, I decided to invite him to prepare himself to be baptized into the Lord's true church, and he accepted! We found out that Brother Arellano (from our branch) is really good friends with him already, and so we've been having him accompany us to lessons. It's really neat to see how effective it is when members really step in and get involved in missionary work.

Both Ruby and Juan have both repeatedly told us that they hope we always keep visiting them. Which is really nice that they want to learn!

As for Lisa's is it different and similar to Dagupan? Caba is a much smaller town, more spread out, more fields, more mountains (actually, there weren't any mountains in Dagupan). The main product of Dagupan is Bongus fish, but here they grow a lot of tobacco and corn. :)

We've been having fun with the rats in our apartment. This week Sister Dollente found two big holes in her clothes that a rat had eaten through. One of my 50 peso bills got eaten too! luckily just at the corner though - it is still usable. hehe!

When teaching a lesson to a bunch of little children this week, we asked them to repeat what we had said, and one of them piped up "Bawal pagdurdura!" (don't spit) instead of "Bawal pagmurmura" (don't swear). hehe!

Guess what--there are blood-sucking lizards here! Yikes.

Well, gots to go! I love you very much! See you later!
Love, Rebecca

Monday, May 10, 2010


Hello! It was sooooo good to talk to you on the phone last night! Happy Mother's Day!!!
Well, on Wednesday I got to go to Baguio for Tri-Zone Conference! It was exciting. They took my fingerprints and did a bunch of paperwork for my visa (so that I can stay here for the next year), and it was great to see President and Sister Jensen. The conference got me all pumped up and excited about working with members in doing missionary work.

The buses here are scary! They are so big and go so fast and pass all the other cars - it's especially nerve-racking when you are riding a tiny little tricycle and you see this huge bus charging straight towards you. haha.

Today is Election Day in the Philippines. Heehee, elections here are very noisy :) . They have been advertising and campaigning for the past few months. And the way that they do it is by posting up a bazillion posters with the person's face all around town, and then driving trucks around with very loud and catchy songs, with the person's name as the lyrics. It's so funny and ridiculous. It makes me giggle, and I can't get some of the songs out of my head! We've been instructed by President Jensen to go home by 6:30 for the past few days to stay away from any danger related to the election.

We have a few rats, ants, and cockroaches in our apartment, but it's not too bad.

That's great that the twins were able to participate in the "Hope of America" performance. From the picture, it looks quite fun!
That's great that you were able to get another geo metro!
It was fun to see the map of Caba! Yep, I recognize that. The plaza in the west is where we buy groceries and email. I am emailing from there right now. I live on road where the plaza is, but way up towards the east (next to the ocean). In fact, if you are going from the ocean towards the west on that road, my apartment is right before you see fields on either side. The sign says "villa navarro beach resort." The hwy right next to the plaza that is going towards the north is where we take the bus every time we go to Agoo (for district meeting) or Aringay (for church). Anyways, just for fun. That's great you were able to look it up :)

Three of our investigators are getting baptized on Saturday :)
One of our investigators, Brother Lito, is such an example to me. His wife got baptized last week, and his son is going to get baptized this week, but he is not able to get baptized yet (because of a sensitive and some-what complicated circumstance in his life). But his humility and faithfulness astound me. He is so desirous to be baptized. From the very first lesson, he has known that this is the true church, and he attends church meetings every week his family, faithfully pays his tithing, and is even fellowshipping one of our other investigators. When we taught him about the Law of the Fast this week, he meekly asked us if it was allowed for him to participate in fasting and giving fast offerings even if he is not a member of the church yet. We told him that of course he could, and that no one is deprived of receiving the blessings of obeying Heavenly Father's commandments. It is amazing to me to see the faith he has in enduring to the end, even before baptism, even when he doesn't know when or how soon he will be able to qualify for that special blessing.

Out of time, got to go!
Love, Rebecca

Monday, May 3, 2010