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