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!

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