Thursday, May 19, 2011

Final Mission Letter May 2

Haha! You're actually here! (assuming you didn't miss a flight and are stranded in Korea). I'm so excited to see you!!
This has been a great last week here in Binmaley. I absolutely love missionary work. Saturday and Sunday we went to Lingayan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the church in the Philippines. They had a broadcast of a bunch of youth doing native dances and then a devotional with Elder Cook, Elder Packer, and Sister Beck. It was great. I was so happy that Myrna, Danilo, and Reynaldo were all able to come. So brother Reynaldo is doing great! We visited him for the last time last night, shared the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis who buried their swords. It made me so happy to hear him tell me that he is going to stay active in the church and endure to the end, for sure! 100%! He mentioned how ever since he's been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, he's had a stronger urge to not let a single day go past without reading the Book of Mormon, and also a greater desire to share the gospel with others. He's also actively involved in helping to strengthen brother Danilo. The two of them talked on Sunday about why his baptism fell through, and he encouraged brother Danilo to get right back up on his feet and continue on the right path. They worked out a deal where they will go to church every Sunday together (in brother danilo's trycicle). That makes me way happy. Brother Danilo's motivation and excitement are coming back. Last week he was pretty depressed and drained of energy and weakening in testimony. But now it's coming back, so I'm really happy about that!

I'm way excited to see you tomorrow. You will love President and Sister Jensen! They are the best!
I love you!

Love, Rebecca

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Life is full of surprises

Hello my dear wonderful family and future family! I love you!!!

Sorry so this is going to be quick. so I just got done with a career workshop here in Dagupan. It was great, I learned so much and came out of it feeling so empowered for the future. So last week - what a week! It was filled with some of the highest highs and the lowest lows... Brother Reynaldo Balagot (62) was baptized and confirmed on Saturday. He was so happy. It made me so happy to see him so happy and fully involved as a member of the church. Unfortunately, brother Danilo threw a surprise on us and backed out an hour before the service. We were shocked, especially because of how much he's been progressing and how ready he seemed. Just of Friday, he showed us 4-pages worth of notes that he had written, just on one verse we had given him to read, on things he had learned. Out of all the investigators we've been teaching, he definitely seemed like the one who would be the most faithful and the most committed member of them all. Well, yesterday we went and visited him, and long story made short - he feels really depressed because he still really wants to be baptized, and I guess it was just Satan working on him that morning and he had some emotional/mental turmoil. Well, on top of that, he's been having hallucinations recently, and it's so sad. he wants to change so badly and move on with his life, but the effects of his former drug-abuse (way back in the 80s) are making it hard on him. Please pray for him. If you get the chance you could also put his name in the temple. I feel at peace. Everything happens for a reason. I really believe that. Sometimes life throws surprises at us, and often life doesn't turn out the way we expected. Heavenly Father sees the end from the beginning, and when we trust Him, he is sure to open doors and windows to us that we never thought possible. He's got it all figured out. It's very comforting to know that He knows the desires of our hearts, and if we turn to Him in faith, He'll help everything work out wonderfully! Yesterday I gave a "farewell" talk in sacrament meeting. I'm sure going to miss Binmaley. I love being a missionary. I am so excited to see you all soon! I guess next week, you'll already be in Manila. I'll see you on Tuesday! Sorry I haven't been sending pictures recently - I always run out of time, but I'll have plenty to show you next week!

P.S. I love you all, ESPECIALLY YOU! :) can't wait to see ya!!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Day!

Hello! This is a good week. I can't believe how fast time has flown. Is it really April already?! Sister Ledesma and I are doing great. She's great. She is almost exactly like me when I first started out on my mission, with her mindset and desires, etc. On Saturday Danilo Ordona (49) and Reynaldo Balagot (62) both passed their interviews and will be baptized this coming saturday at 9:00 AM. Yay! I'm so excited! We found brother Reynaldo after his granddaughter showed up at church. I remember the first visit, he asked us how soon he could be baptized. Brother Danilo we found when we rode his trycicle - he mentioned that he had met elders a long time ago and we asked if we could come and teach him, and he accepted. Then he's progressed so much since then. Missionary work is the best! Sister Myrna is doing great. On Sunday, when she came to church, she kept telling us how she feels she has ended her search and she feels like she's come home. I'm so happy for her. They talked about tithing in relief society, and she was so excited afterwards to pay tithing. She said, "I learned so much today!" and she always shares what she is learning with her neighbors, who may possibly become new investigators soon. Yippee! On Friday night I spoke at the funeral of the mother of our relief society president. Yesterday I spoke in church about the importance of temples. I miss the temple a lot. I am so excited to go to the Manila temple on Sat May 7th with you! I am really excited for the Urdaneta temple to be built! That is going to be a happy day. I am so excited for our investigators, especially Myrna, Danilo, and Reynaldo. They are going to really be strong members of the church. I love the Philippines! So much! It's so happy here. All the people are always outside, and it's way easy to mingle and make friends in the community. It's really really hot now - it's definitely the hot season. Be prepared for the heat when you come here!

I love you lots! especially you!
Your missionary,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Magandang Hapon sa Inyong Lahat!

Hello my favorite people in the world!

All right, well here's the news. So Brother Reynaldo Balagot unfortunately had a family emergency - his daughter-in-law had her baby prematurely and so he had to go out of town to help. We found out just hours before the baptism. But he's still anxious to get baptized, but after talking to him we decided that April 23 would be the new date. Please pray for him.

Also we received big news last week. We're no longer giving away Books of Mormon for free. We now are selling them for 10 pesos each. This is a 60-day trial - we're on a special assignment from President Jensen (just our zone and Dagupan). It's a different approach, but it seems like it will be a good thing to help us center everything we do more around the Book of Mormon, and I think it will also help those who buy one have a greater appreciation for the book because it places a value on it. I'm really excited because if this works, we may be able to give out more Books of Mormon out than ever before. (The amount allotted to us has been somewhat limited because of a lack of funds).

Brother Danilo Ordona, 49, is doing great! He's getting baptized on April 30, or possibly April 23 if he's ready. He attended all 4 sessions of general conference, and loved every minute of it! I wish you could see how he has changed just in the past month. It's incredible. He always talks about how ever since he met us, he had a complete change of heart and no more desire to bad stuff, like before. I think he's probably the most humble and truly converted investigator I've ever taught. He is always waiting outside on his porch for us when we come to teach him, with his Book of Mormon already open. He's reading the Book of Mormon everyday, and talks about how everything he reads seems to have a direct application to his own life. The other day he smiled as he reflected, "You know, I've discovered that living the commandments really is the best way to live. It feels so good!" Every time he makes the choice to exercise his faith and apply what we teach, he feels the spirit confirm to him that what he's doing is right. And one thing that makes me really happy is how determined he is to endure to the end. On Saturday, very few attended the sessions of conference, and brother Danilo prayed very earnestly that night that more people would come to hear "the messages of God's servants." Well on Sunday morning the entire stake center was filled all the way back to the stage. Even me and sister Ledesma were surprised at the turn out. Brother Danilo always brings his Book of Mormon with him when we drives his tricycle (kind of reminds me of a little boy with his teddy bear), and often asks us to hold it so it doesn't get all bent up while he drives.

Sister Myrna Esquerra is also progressing! She told us excitedly that she really wants to be baptized. Her 2 teenage daughters are also reading the Book of Mormon, and her husband has lots of questions. I can see their entire family becoming really strong members of the church soon. Yay!

Wasn't General Conference great? I think I'd have to say that Elder Hales talk was my favorite, along with the talks by Elder Perry, Utchdorf, and Scott. :) I also liked what one of the spirit said about how we can overcome false traditions and worldly culture by establishing celestial traditions in the home. I thought it was interesting how many times the different speakers referred to covenants. I also gained a greater understanding of the law of consecration. I think the mission experience is the best laboratory to learn about how to live and find joy in a consecrated life.

I love being a missionary! It's the greatest thing in the world. It brings so much fulfillment and joy every day! I wish everyone could experience serving a mission for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! It changes your life forever.

I love you, Mahal na mahal ko kayo, especially you,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy in Binmaley!

Hello! Happy ako! Mahal ko kayo!

So this week was great. On Saturday we had a scare because brother Reynaldo Balagod (one of our golden investigators) missed his baptismal interview. We were all really surprised because he's usually way on top of things, comes to church really early, never misses an appointment, always reads the book of mormon and keeps commitments. Well, when we went to his house, to our dismay we found that he was drunk. It was really sad. But the next day, he felt very repentant, and when interviewed by the district leader, he was okayed to be baptized this friday. Ever since we started teaching him, he has been very resolute in his decision to keep the word of wisdom. I guess he just relapsed a bit, but now he's right back on track, strong as ever. It made me think about how vulnerable we all are, even if we're strong and trying to do what's right, there may be times when we are caught off guard and fall for temptation. We need to always be on guard because none of us our immune to temptation. Brother Reynaldo is an amazing old man who really wants to do what's right. He gets so excited to share with us scriptures he has discovered in his reading of the Book of Mormon. I love how truly converted investigators really get excited about the gospel once they get a testimony of it!

Another investigator, Danilo Ordona, 49, is very progressing as well. He shared with us the other day about how ever since we started teaching him, he has had no more desire to smoke or drink or do other things he used to do. He said he just had a change of heart and it didn't feel like the right thing to do (even though we hadn't even taught him about the word of wisdom yet). He's always attending church, taking notes at church, reading the book of mormon, praying, and told us that he really wants to know all of the commandments so that he can know everything he needs to do and not do. I think it's interesting - there must be something in the spirit that we bring as missionaries that helps people start changing right from the start. It's not in what we say, it's in what they feel. It's amazing to watch people change for the better. I think it's so neat how discernible the difference is sometimes. You can actually see the light of Christ in greater abundance shining through the eyes of investigators as they progress! A light that wasn't there before! It's the coolest thing :)

This last Wednesday we went to Baguio for a sisters Leadership training :) it was great! I love trainings! They are always so edifying and I learn so much! As I was looking out at the mountains and scenery on the bus ride home, I thought about how much Heavenly Father must love us to spend so much time and effort just making this world a beautiful place for us to live in. He could have just put us all in a huge cardboard box to be tested... ;) hehe, but it shows how much he truly loves us that he created such a beautiful world for us.

Oh, another of our investigators, Sister Myrna, is doing great! She is getting very excited. She loved her first experience at church, and the message of the restoration really clicks in her mind and heart. This week when we came by she exclaimed, Oh if only I could have met you a lot earlier in my life! She's great.

Ok, well that's about it. Things are busy. I love you! How was general conference? I can't wait!

Love, Rebecca

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mahal ko kayo!

Good morning!

I'm sorry my last email didn't get to you. We went to Dagupan last week for a career workshop for those returning home, and the computer was being too slow. Last week I found out I will be training for my last transfer. My companion is Sister Ledesma, from Bacolod (her native language in Ilonggo). She is wonderful! I like her. I am also in the same apartment with Sister Caras who is also training (we were companions for only two weeks). This is going to be a fun transfer! Oh and by the way, I did meet the elder sister, sister Walker, who you mentioned knows Uncle Joe. She works in the employment center in Dagupan, but we never go there unless we are going home, so that's why I knew nothing about her. She and I had a great chat and she asked to send her love to the Hickens! Guess what! The Agustin Family, Christina Abaya, and Haidi Israel all got baptized! I am happy! I love them all so much. On Wednesday we will be going to Baguio for an all-sisters training, which is exciting. I love it when we get to see President and sister Jensen. We are teaching a brother named Danilo Ordonia. He is in his 30s and always has a lot of great "questions of the soul." We met him when we got a ride in his tricycle and invited him to church and he eagerly accepted a return visit. He has been attending church ever since and preparing to be baptized on April 30! We also met another wonderful family - the mom came to church yesterday and had a wonderful experience. I was surprised at how great all the lessons were - each testimony, talk, lesson all seemed to touch perfectly on all the needs of our investigators. I felt very uplifted and edified. I am so excited for general conference! I think this is a wonderful opportunity to step back for a couple days and "see things as they really are." In our backwards world, where things are not always represented how they really are, this is an opportunity to see more clearly and put things into the proper perspective. Heavenly Father will be giving us some clear solid direction that we need in order to be safe these next few months. Let's all make it a priority and trust in Him and His servants by following their counsel :)

I love you! Thanks for all you're doing! Life is great!

Love always,

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's a great day to be alive :)

Good morning :) Mahal kita

Yes I did hear about that huge earthquake in Japan. Pretty scary. I heard rumors also that it caused a tsunami here in the Philippines (on the other side of Luzon). Well, sadly Sister Walker had to go home because of some back pain/health problems. So she is probably on her way to Mount Pleasant right now. That means that I'll be left alone in the apartment until Friday when Sister Lapana and Sister Dolojan go home on Tuesday next week. Kinda melancholy, but I'm sure this next transfer will be great.

On Thursday we had our zone conference in Dagupan with Elder Teh. I was called up to give a talk about teaching by the spirit, and I so shared about the importance of "purifying our heart" in order to teach by the spirit. The conference really left me with a great desire to live a more consecrated life.

So, sister Rowena was scheduled to be baptized this Saturday. She already passed her interview and it was all set, but then we found out that her marriage was not legal. It was more like a "cohabitation agreement contract." So that was disappointing. But it's okay because they're going to try to get that fixed. It'll just be postponed for a little bit. She is really excited to be baptized!

Well, both me and Sister Lapana have holes in the bottom of our shoes from walking so much. It's funny, we always come home with big brown spots on the back of our feet. We're so righteous - even our shoes are "holey" (that was for you, Lisa!) Have you ever tried aloe vera juice? it's yummy!

Here's the chorus to one of my favorite efy songs: I like the message :)

Fear is like the clouds that veil the earth from the sun,
Faith is like the morning rays that break with night is done,
And when the fear inside me says that all my hope is gone,
Faith in heaven lifts me up and shouts - "you've just begun."

Well, I love you very much. I know that this church is true. This life is sooooo important, and it's so easy to get distracted from the things that truly matter. Have a wonderful day! Keep smiling!


Monday, March 7, 2011

I love you!

It's a happy day! Thanks for the cheery emails! I'm excited to read them all in depth later today! Please send my thanks to all who sent birthday stuff. That was really sweet of you! Today we are in Dagupan (because sister Walker and I have to get an x-ray before coming home). I'm excited because Rowena, one of our investigators, is getting married tonight! And another investigator, Renaldo Balagot, is eagerly preparing to be baptized. Sister Jennifer Cardinoza also - though she needs to get married first as well. We taught sister Norma (the one who seemed unreceptive at first but is actually quite open). She had some concerns about the Book of Mormon because she told her pastor and he told her that Joseph Smith was not a true prophet. So we taught her the importance of asking Heavenly Father in prayer. I think it's interesting how easily people just believe what their pastor tells them rather than going to the source of all wisdom and asking Him directly. I really felt the spirit guide us as we taught her, and at the end, she teared up a bit and committed to continue to read the Book of Mormon and found out the truth for herself.

On the bus I met a really sweet girl about my age named Rhia. I had been praying to meet someone on the bus who really needed the gospel that day. And in the morning I felt I should bring an extra Book of Mormon. Well she sat next to me and we became fast friends. It turns out she's studying nursing, and graduation is soon but she's not sure she'll pass, so it's been really stressful for her lately. One of her classmates is Mormon. She is the 8th of 10 children of a single mom, who is working abroad. two of her siblings died. I showed her a picture of our family and of the temple, and told her about how families can be together forever. Her eyes lit up with hope, and I gave her a Book of Mormon and told her it would help her through the hard times. She gladly accepted it. It was a really edifying conversion, and I really feel like it was the time in her life when she was most prepared to hear about the restored gospel. I'm happy!

Well, this week my testimony has really been strengthened of the power of prayer. Prayer really does make a big difference in how much we and those around us are blessed. I like what it says in the bible dictionary about how prayer secures for us blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. I also think it's interesting how it says that prayer is a form of work. I like the quote that says, "Pray as if everything depends on God, and then get up and work like everything depends on you." So I've been studying a lot in the Book of Mormon about how prophets received answers to their prayers, and I've discovered that each of us can receive answers that are just as clear and direct from the Lord, in the exact same way that they did. It just takes a lot of practice trying to figure out how the Holy Ghost works and trying to become accustomed to his voice. I love the account in Ether about the brother of Jared. I think it teaches us a lot about how important prayer is. Jared was able to receive very specific answers to his prayers to know what the Lord wanted him to do. His prayers also have a great effect in blessing him and his family to receive blessings they may not have otherwise received. Then they halt in their journey on the seashore for four years, and finally the Lord chastens him for three hours for forgetting to pray. On my mission, one of the first things we always do is teach investigators how to pray. It's interesting how many people don't understand how. One of my favorite things is when we teach the first lesson and then invite them to give the closing prayer. Afterwards, you can see how excited they are - they really feel a difference when they learn to pray the right way.

Preach My Gospel is not just for missionaries. It's for everyone. It can answer pretty much any question you have and it is a great tool for life! Conference talks are amazing!

I love being a missionary! I love the Philippines! I love my companion, Sister Lapana. She's great! I love the gospel! We're so blessed! I love you! Thank you for everything!

Love always, Rebecca

P.S. A million thanks Alex, I love you! Your emails today sure brightened my day!

Monday, February 28, 2011


Hello from Binmaley!
Thanks so much for the birthday wishes, etc.! Sister Lapana, Sister Walker, and Sister Dolojan and I made homemade ice cream and pasta on Tuesday. We brought it to our district meeting, which meets in Aguillar every Tuesday morning :)

This week was fine. Sister Lapana is a great companion. She is very genuine, down-to-earth, and humble. On Saturday we did a workshop for all the leaders in our ward, to help get the ward mission process going. We also talked about how counseling can be a revelatory process, if we "put off the natural man" (humility, patience, respect, letting everyone express their feelings, and avoiding debating/shouting. If we strive to invite the Holy Ghost into our meetings, it will flow more smoothly. For some reason that's been somewhat of a challenge here. Sometimes it seems more like a city council meeting ;) Hehe, well it was interesting to say the least. I think we may need to do a few more workshops perhaps. We've got a very good dedicated bishop and ward mission leader.

As far as investigators go, we found a new lady named Norma Alejo, who seems very much prepared for the gospel. She is already making quite a sacrifice to attend another church weekly (in a much farther location than the one in Binmaley) so we are thinking she will be a great strong member of the church once she gains a testimony that it is true. At first, she seemed closed-minded and hard hearted, but as it turns out, she had lots of questions, and has already read the first part of 1 Nephi and wants to read the whole Book of Mormon. Yay!

We also found an elderly man, Renaldo Balagot, because his grand-daughter came to church on her own. He was taught by sister missionaries before, and he eagerly asked us "how long until I can be baptized?" on the first visit! I'm excited when investigators are excited to take the next step!

Ok, Well I'm doing great here in Binmaley. It's a lot hotter and there's a lot more mosquitos here in the Lingayan zone than in my other areas. I think I heard that Lingayan is actually the hottest zone in the mission. Ok, well, got to go! I love you!
Love, Rebecca

P.S. you might want to check the time difference again, because some of your emails don't end up in my inbox until the following week :) so just a thought to consider if you have any questions you need answering right away. Love ya :)

Email from February 21: Maraming Salamat!

Thanks for the birthday song video!! Haha! Holy smokes Jennifer and Jessica, you both look so old! I'm really shocked! Jennifer looks strikingly like Lisa all of the sudden! And Jessica, you look so tall and mature! Looks like you haven't lost any little-girl energy though, so that's good! Well, I hope you had a great week. I sure did. I'm here in the Lingayan zone doing great! Lisa, Happy Birthday on Saturday! We have a big cockroach who is hiding somewhere in our room. I tried to hit him with a broom but then he disappeared. He tried to cuddle up with me in bed the other night! errggg... ;)

This week we've been trying to seek out the inactive members and invite them back, and help new investigators through them. I've noticed a lot this week how important it is to point people to Christ. You can never go wrong in pointing them to the Savior. It always is sure to bring in the spirit into any lesson. One of my favorite investigators, Rowena, (19) is getting married on March 5 to the son of our ward mission leader. She's a very sweet girl. We committed her to be baptized on March 19, and she's really excited and her faith has grown a lot recently. Yay! It's amazing to be a missionary and to have so many people open up to you every day and share their. you get to observe a lot of people in a lot of different situations, and they look to you with trust for advice. My testimony has really been strengthened that Heavenly Father gives you what you need to say right in the moment you need it, to help someone. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the most wonderful and precious gift anyone can enjoy in this life. I wish all people could understand that.

There's a path we have to walk at night a lot, and they say there are snakes on either side, so we have to keep in the middle, or we'll get bit. kinda scary. But | was thinking how that's kind of like life. We've got to keep on the "straight and narrow" path and not make any deviations from keeping the commandments, or we might end up getting bit.

Serving a mission is the best thing ever! It's like an incubator for spiritual growth. You learn so much. And the more you learn, the more you realize you still need to learn. There's something about serving a mission that really changes your perspectives about life and realigns your priorities. It's really good. I've also been thinking about the difference between "happiness" and "fun." I've observed a lot of people who try to find happiness by having fun. While it's true that happiness can encompass fun, fun alone will not assure us true happiness. There's a difference. Happiness is lasting, whereas fun is a fleeting thing that leaves as soon as the music, lights, glamor, and noise all fade away. It's really sad because I think it's easy to deceive ourselves and become blinded to the fact that we are not truly happy, as long as we are absorbed in our little world of chasing after one "fun moment| to another. Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone wants to feel loved. But it's crucial to step back and realize that concerts, food, parties, drugs, material things, etc. can never produce true happiness. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can. And that's what we as missionaries are on an errand to help people discover for themselves.

I love you!! Thanks for all the wonderful emails!!

Love always, especially you :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

I've got a better idea!

Hey! I've got a better idea! So, I love the Philippines! and I don't want to leave! here's the dilemma - I miss and love all of you tremendously (especially you!)...but I also love being a missionary here in the Philippines...I feel like I just want it to keep going on forever. and the reality is starting to hit me that I'll be coming home soon and it kind of is melancholy. so how about this: why don't you all just come on down over here, and then I'll petition to President Jensen to let me stay here forever, and arrange to go on splits with each of you everyday! and I'll teach you all Tagalog and we'll build a community of bamboo huts and eat rice and lumpia and chicken curry everyday, and live happily ever after! Ya, I think that sounds like a grand idea! Yippee! Hehehe.

So I just got transferred to my last area! Binmaley, Lingayan Zone! And I'm so happy because my companion is Sister Lapana, who I already know from way back in the MTC! And we've been in the same zone for most of our mission and we're already friends! She goes home in 5 weeks. And I'm also super happy because we live with two of my favorite other sisters, Sister Dolojan (my former companion, who also goes home in 5 weeks) and Sister Walker (my batchmate from the MTC from Mount Pleasant). Life is great!! They speak Pangalato here. It reminds me a lot of Dagupan, but more fish ponds, coconut trees, and windy. We're right next to the ocean.

Guess what Jennifer and Jessica! We are teaching 11-year old identical twins right now. They thought it was neat when I told them I have 11-year old twin sisters too :)

Happy Birthday Mommy! And Happy Valentines Day!! Thank you Alex for the valentine's video!

As far as wedding fun goes, please let Alex know I'm sorry I haven't answered his question for a few weeks. some of the emails come later than when I log on, and It's hard sometimes to remember all the questions in emails. how about you forward him this secret message: jkasdkjasdjkl;asdjkl;Junejkl;dasjkl18kjl;dsajkl9:45jklasdjkasd.... hehe!

Question: When can I sign up for fall classes? I really need to know when the date is so I can make arrangements with my mission president and see how I can get that done. Could you find out for me??

I love you!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Greetings from Urdaneta Philippines!

Hello wonderful family (& friends)!

Today is a great day! Being a missionary really puts life into perspective. I love it here. You know, I've been thinking a lot about the importance of strengthening others. After the things that happened last week, and many other experiences lately, I've come to realize how important it is that we are aware of those who need help. I think it's easy sometimes to just assume that the people we associate with are doing ok. But a lot of times, they are really having a hard time and need help, and we just don't know it. I've learned that it's good to treat every person we meet as if they are in great need of encouragement, help, or a friend. There are those among us who are wavering in their faith, on the brink of going inactive/off the deep end, or struggling with low self-esteem, but too often we just assume they're fine, and it's not until later down the road that we realize they might have needed our love and help to keep them on the right path. I think if we really understood how much of a positive influence we might have on someone's life, it would totally change how we view our visiting teaching and home teaching assignments at church. We would be so much more eager and take more seriously our responsibility to serve, nurture, strengthen, and teach. Just some thoughts.

I really admire Sister Nielsen for her willingness to serve a mission! She was so determined to go stateside and she didn't ever want to have to learn a foreign language. In fact, she changed her major to a major that didn't require a foreign language. She's tried to avoid it her whole life. And on top of that, she's a germ-freak (worse than Lisa). But she's here, and she's such a good sport. And she's surviving and learning the language. I'm so proud of her!

I love you! We're doing good here in Urdaneta :) I'm guessing I'll be transferred to another area on Friday, but of course, we won't find out until Wednesday.

I love you lots!

Love, Rebecca

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The back of our church building where the mission home is being built

Monday, January 31, 2011

Magandang Hapon, Minamahal Kong Pamilya!

Hello! Hope you've had a great week! (P.S. I got the package you sent, and also one from the ward...thanks!) I sure hope Grandpa is doing okay. That's good to hear that he is in a really nice place now.

Well, sister Nielsen and I are going running every morning - it's funny, we actually cause quite a scene - 2 white girls sprinting down the street at 6:30 in the morning :) Hehe, yesterday we were so happy, laughing and talking on the way to our appointment, that the trycicle driver was really surprised and asked us, "Why are you so happy? Is it your birthday?" hehe! Well we told him no, but then told him that what really makes us happy is the gospel and shared with him the message of the Restoration.

This week has been kind of sobering in a few ways. We found out that one of our investigators committed suicide (yesterday morning) which was quite a big shock. We also found out about what happened to Mark (the one who suddenly disappeared before his baptism). Well it turns out, he has another family in Manila he never told us about, which was a shocker as well. But we went to visit him on Saturday, to try to help him - he mentioned how he really needs our prayers right now. I don't know what will happen, but hopefully he'll continue to want to be baptized.

We started teaching a lady named Lourdess, who has some major health problems. Apparently she was taught by sister missionaries last year, but they stopped coming. She told us of how she hasn't been able to sleep for the past two weeks, but that she remembers when the missionaries came before, she was able to sleep just fine, and how she really wants us to visit her so that she can feel that peaceful feeling again. We taught her about the Holy Ghost and how that's s what she was feeling before - then we told her about the importance of repenting and being baptized in order to be able to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Yesterday we were really happy because 8 of our investigators came to church on their own! Th Agustin family is doing so well! The ward members are really falling in love with their family. Brother Amor Delacruz is really being fellowshipped by the members as well :)

All right, well I love you tons! especially you! Have a great day!!
Love, Rebecca

P.S. Lisa - one of the letters I sent to you got returned, and I don't know why. But I'll try to send it out again!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Day!!

We cooked Bangus fish this week.

Hello! How are you all?

We are both feeling better this week, thank goodness! Hehe, yesterday Sister Nielsen gave the world's bestest talk in sacrament meeting about being on time to church. She wrote it, and I helped her translate it in Tagalog. It was funny because we were both really nervous that lots of the members were going to get really offended by it, but it turns out that it made everyone laugh and they all loved it and wanted a copy of it. hehe!

It's really hard to see several of our investigators really having a hard time right now financially. Filipinos are so hard-working, but sometimes, despite all they do, it's hard to survive just the same. It almost breaks my heart when the Agustin children pray, "please bless that we will have food today" in their prayers to Heavenly Father. But that's really reality for a lot of people here. We in America are really truly spoiled, and we ought never ever to complain about anything. We need to always be humble and grateful

Last week we had a Family home evening with Jerrene's family. Her little siblings are so cute. We did an object lesson where her little brother got jelly all over his hands, and he tried to rub it off, but it just got all the more sticky. Then we likened it to how sometimes in life we have problems or sticky situations that we really can't get out of without the Savior's help (the atonement). But if we let go of our pride and turn it over to him, he has the power to wash us from our mistakes and help us start over. Sister Jerrene never ceases to amaze me - she showed us her autobiography English portfolio for a school project, in which she has a picture of her baptism and writes her testimony and talks a lot about Jesus Christ and repentance. And then she relates the story of the pre-existence to her teacher and how it all began (the creation, etc.) She said that her goal is to become so well-versed in the scriptures that someday she'll be able to teach us (missionaries) like we teach her.

Life is great!!! I love Urdaneta!!! I miss you all, I miss the temple, and I miss Mexican food. But other than that, I absolutely love it here, and it will be hard to leave. I know that the Book of Mormon is really true. I'm so happy. Thanks for being the bestest family in the whole world. I love you!

Love, Rebecca

Monday, January 24, 2011

Magandang Hapon :)

Pomela Fruit -- The coolest fruit ever!

Well this week I don't have a whole bunch to report on because Sister Nielsen and I have been really sick. We've both had fevers for a few days - her's was 101.6 and mine was 102.8. I'm not sure why. so we've had to take it a little easy. I'm still feeling a little sick still with achiness and chills. Yesterday, We thought we were ok, and we went to pick up Brother Amor for church, but then I almost threw up as we were walking with him to church. It's been a really weird few days, but that's ok.

Oooh I do have some happy news though! Sister Jerrene (16) completely surprised us when she showed us her book of mormon reading chart that we gave her, all filled out- every chapter! And what shocked us even more is that she told us that she read the whole thing in just 4 days!!! She didn't sleep -- in fact, we could tell as we were teaching and her eyes would start to droop. hehe! But I'm so proud of her! And she even remembers and understood everything she read too, and made note of her favorite chapters. Sister Mary Roces is also doing great with reading the Book of Mormon - she's in Helaman already, and absolutely loves to relate to us the stories she's been reading.

Sorry - I'm not sure if my letters are getting to you all through the snail mail. I've sent several to family/friends, but haven't heard if any have been received. Have you received any of them? Just want to say thank you for the emails! Karla, if you are reading this, you're baby is adorable!! Thank you for sending me pictures! And Alex, I got your package this week - oh boy! Thanks!!! Sorry if I"m not always able to respond to everything - I'm sure I lose track of all your questions, but I'll do my best! Thanks for being the best!

Mahal-na-mahal kita!
Love, Rebecca

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Jerrene and her friend and I

Jerrene and her friend with Sister Young and I on P-Day

Hey, this week was a good week.
I'm really happy to see the Agustin family all reading the Book of Mormon consistently everyday! The kids are so cute! hehe, a couple weeks ago we taught them about fasting once a month, and it's so funny because Maria Luna (8) has brought it up somehow in every lesson since then with a question such as "oh, I forgot again. how often do we not eat for a really long time?" It's funny because it seems she likes to eat and is really is concerned about that. Of course we made it clear that for the kids they may have to start out gradually with that -not all at once. They all came to church on Sunday, and the children love primary.

On Sunday we were really shocked and sad to find out that our investigator Mark didn't come to church, and spontaneously went to Manila (without telling us or his girlfriend). He was scheduled to be baptized on Saturday, but I guess that's not happening anymore. It was really a big surprise and really hard for us and the ward members. But oh well, I guess maybe he decided he's not ready, or maybe satan is working extra hard on him right now. That's too bad.

I got locked inside the bathroom in our apartment on Saturday for more than an hour. I don't know how it even happened but the doorknob went wacky all of the sudden, and I couldn't get out, no matter how hard Sister Nielsen and I tried to jam open the door. hehe! Finally we got someone who had a special tool thingy to take out the doorknob. While in there, my companion fed me cupcakes through the vent and I taught her how to fill out a mission-form thing on the other side of the door. It was a funny adventure!

Yesterday we did a 1-day mission/ward record cleaning with the ward, finding all the inactive members and inviting them back to church. This will be a weekly ward project. It's really a good thing!

We taught brother Luis (76) and sister Norlita (64), two of my favorite investigators. We read the story with them in the bible where a great feast is prepared and guests are invited but they all make excuses for not coming. We likened it to the church (because we've been inviting them for a long time and they always have a new excuse). We testified of the Savior and the restored gospel, and read Jacob 6:6-12 with them. Sister Nielsen said it was the most intense, passionate lesson we've ever taught. I sure hope they felt the spirit. Sometimes I feel like I'm pouring out my heart to these people, and sometimes it just feels like it's not sticking.

The Living Christ document is amazing! It's a great way to build faith in Jesus Christ. I love Alma 62: 4-5 when Moroni raises the standard of liberty wherever he goes, and thousands flock to it. I think that, in a sense, we as missionaries are doing that too. We raise the Lord's standard, and those who recognize it's truth will flock to it.

I love you. That's all!

Love, Rebecca

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy 2011!

For New Year's Eve, We made Mexican food for us and our zone leaders who live next door. Sister Nielsen and I made homemade flour tortillas, but they didn't turn out quite how we expected ;) They tasted more like biscuits. But it was fun! A nice family in our ward also came to our house and gave us some spaghetti and fruit salad. The members here are really nice. For New Year's everyone does fireworks. At midnight, it was sooooo loud throughout the whole city. Looking out our window it looked like a battlefield with all the fireworks going off everywhere. This week Sister Nielsen was sick quite a bit. She is getting better now though. We were invited to a dinner at a member's house who served us goat innards (w/onions and mayo). It was interesting, and I don't plan on eating that again.

Our investigator Mark (24) passed his baptismal interview on Saturday. He will be baptized on January 15th! We had an FHE with the Agustin family, and our stake president and his son came. It was a really good experience. I've never seen Brother and Sister Agustin laugh so hard (as we were playing the games).

The work is great! The field is white, already to harvest! I love being a missionary. I was happy because Brother Amor Delacruz (an investigator we've been inviting for a long time) came to church again, and says he plans to continue to do so every week now. He really wants to be baptized. We also visited an inactive member, brother Israel, who told us of an experience where he has had several dreams recently of someone telling him to come back to church. And then when we met him on our way to the house of one of our investigators, he told us how he felt a very peaceful happy feeling (obviously the Holy Ghost), and we came to his house to teach him, and he committed to come back to church. It was neat to hear him during sunday school - he was invited to give the prayer, and he began to relate all those things to Heavenly Father in his prayer (about his falling away from the church, and his dream, and us visiting him). It was a really heartfelt prayer; you could tell He really was talking to Heavenly Father.

Oh I have to tell you about two of our recent converts: Jerrene (16) and Laurena (13). They both come from part-member families. Well, Laurena was sleeping over at Jerrene's house, and they really wanted to work with us at 3:00 pm the next day, but we had to postpone it until 6:00 pm, so while waiting for us, they read their scriptures together, prayed, and practiced teaching (like missionaries). Then they actually went out "proselyting" to their neighbors, scriptures in hand, ready to teach the gospel. Haha! That ticked me to hear that. They both really want to be missionaries. They are really amazing girls.

I've been reading a lot in the general conference Ensign, and I've really been impressed with the messages. A couple themes I've noticed in the talks are: 1. Satan is real. He wants us to be miserable. He's very intelligent and knows what he's doing. He knows our weaknesses. None of us are immune to his subtle temptations, no matter how strong you think your faith is. That's why we must constantly be striving to nourish and strengthen our faith. As long as we have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we can stay protected. 2. Exact obedience is important. It's easy to try to rationalize letting go of the iron rod "just a little bit" here and there, or to justify "partial obedience" based on the circumstance - but little exceptions to the rules can lead to bigger transgressions. Sometimes we don't always see it that way until we look back on our choices and realize we could have done better.

I love you very much!
Have a great day!
Love, Rebecca