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

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