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