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!)