Monday, December 31, 2012

Hi to my favorite family!

Hey there!

Well, first of all, I have to tell you that I was awakened at 3:30am last night by what sounded like two cats arguing outside about who could meow louder. Seriously, they kept going "meow...MeOw...meow...MEOW!" And then every once in a while, a dog would cut in to try to quiet the quarreling kitties, but they just kept up their meowing. And pretty soon a chicken started bak bak BAK-ing as if it wanted to join in. Let me tell you, it's exactly what I wanted to listen to at 3:30 in the morning.

It was actually pretty cold last night and this morning. I actually kind of wished I had a light blanket. I never thought I'd want one here in the Philippines, but I guess I was wrong.

So, tomorrow is transfers, and ...dun dun DUN...Sister Cabato and I are staying together! Yay! I don't have to leave Laoag 3!

Oh, and guess what, last Thursday, I had an exchange with Sister Woahn, the one that Mom is emailing her mom. I wasn't sure how it would go because we are both American and relatively new and still working on our Tagalog, but it went really well. It was a really fun exchange and it was really nice to be able to talk to another American sister. I really like Sister Woahn, she's really nice.

Wanna hear something kinda cute? We have these 2 little girls who live on our street, and every time we come out or go back to our apartment, they run up to us to shake our hands and give us high fives and kisses. They are really sweet. :)

So, I just love Sister Mimi. She is so excited to learn everything she can about the gospel. She is so excited to be married in the temple someday. She is so different from other people I have taught. Teaching her makes me more excited about teaching the gospel I wish we could teach her every single day. Her grandma usually sits in on her lessons, and she is really cute and old, and she forgets things a lot, and she'll ask us the same question 2 or 3 times in a lesson. It makes me smile.

I love the gospel so much, and I am so grateful to be able to share it. We really are so blessed to be members of this church. I hope none of you will ever take that for granted. Read the Book of Mormon every day! I cannot emphasize that enough.

I love you all so much!

Love, Sister Boekweg

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy December 17th!

Hi family!

This is what I wrote to President this week:
"My spiritual highlight for this week was kind of interesting. On Saturday night we went to the house of an LA family to teach them, but before we could start teaching, a pastor from another faith came in and started talking to us and to them, and then one of our investigators also came in, and he started talking to the pastor and asking him questions. The pastor went off for about 15 or 20 minutes, and it was obvious he was very educated about the scriptures, but the spirit wasn't there to back up his words, and the whole time it just felt really tense in there. It doesn't sound like this would end up being a spiritual highlight, but after the pastor left, we taught the less active family, and we opened with a hymn, and the spirit was there very strong, and I could really tell a huge difference in how it felt when the pastor was preaching and when we started teaching. It made me really appreciate that I don't have to be very eloquent, and I don't have to know the answers to everything off the top of my head, and I don't have to speak Tagalog perfectly in order to teach. I only have to have the spirit with me, and the people we teach will be able to feel that we are teaching the truth."

Yesterday was a great Sunday! We had an LA family come to church who we taught for the first time on Saturday. They didn't really understand why this is the only true church, and so sometimes they would go to a different church, but we taught them the Restoration, and then they came to church yesterday! We were so surprized and happy! The mom and dad of the Guillermo family also went to church yesterday! This is the second time for the mom since we've been here, and the first time for the dad. I'm so happy! And Tatay Alfonzo came to chruch again too! I really think he really will be baptized.

Oh, and Sister Mimi passed her baptismal interview yesterday! So her baptism will be this coming Saturday! I'm so happy!

Being a missionary is so great! It's super duper hard, but it's sooooo worth it when people accept the gospel and change because of it. I've noticed that Sister Mimi's countenance has really changed since she started learning about the gospel. I love seeing that happen to people.

I love you all! I love the gospel! I love the plan of Salvation! Don't ever stop reading the scriptures, or praying, or going to church! Those things are SOOOOO important!!! It is really true that "by small and simple things, great things come to pass." I know if we will keep reading the BOM every day, and praying every morning and night, and going to church every Sunday, it will keep us on the path that will lead us to eternal life.

Love, Sister Boekweg

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy day-after-the-exceedingly-great-typhoon!

Hi family!

Hahaha! I just wanted to startle you with the subject of this email. We were supposed to have a typhoon yesterday. President texted us on Saturday night and told us to prepare because there would be a typhoon the next day. I guess it changed its mind, though, because all we got was a little rain and a little wind. Oh well.

So guess what! On Saturday I recieved 2 packages!!! One was from Mommy and the other was from Rebecca! Thank you so much! I was so excited to see real authentic canned ravioli! and Enchilada mix! Wow! Thanks so much for the CD player and CD's! I listened to "Consider the Lilies" tab choir cd yesterday morning, and it was soooo wonderful! Most of the other sisters have mostly efy music, and I didn't realized until yesterday how much I have missed tab choir. And thanks for the goodies and letters and stickers and vitamin c drinks!

This is what I wrote to president this week:

"This has been a good week. My spiritual highlight for this week happened on Thursday when we were teaching sister Mimi, one of our investigators with a baptism date. She hadn't yet recognized her answer about the church and about Joseph Smith. I felt I should share Galatians 5:22-23 about the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.) We asked her if she had felt any of those feelings when she has prayed or read the Book of Mormon. She said she had twice while reading the Book of Mormon--she had felt peace as she read--and she was able to make the connection that that was an answer. She also said that she used to have a lot of doubts, but now whenever we teach her she just believes what we say. I'm so happy that she was able to recognize her answer, and that she has a great desire to learn about the gospel."

I love sister Mimi so much. What impresses me the most about her is that she speaks really good English and she is a teacher, so she is really educated, and she is really intelligent, but when we are teaching her about the gospel, she is so childlike, and she has such a great desire to learn, and she is so willing to believe what we teach her. She will be baptized on December 22.

Yesterday, Tatay Alfonzo came to church again! I am so happy! We thought he was going to turn out as one of those eternal investigators who always promises to come to church but never does. But he has come to church 3 times now in 4 weeks! He is really progressing! He is the cutest old man! I love him so much! Sister

Crisamel also came to church with her granddaughter Angel! I'm so happy!

This week we taught the 8-year-old daughter of the Icalia family. She is not yet baptized, and technically, she doesn't have to be taught by us in order to be baptized, but she really doesn't know anything about the gospel, so we're teaching her. She is really cute, but she isn't all that excited about being taught. Do you have any ideas of ways to make the gospel seem exciting to an 8-year-old who just wants to go out and play, and doesn't want to read the BOM, or pray, or go to church?

Anyway, thank you so much for everything! You are the best family in the world! I love you all so much! I love the gospel! I know it is true! I am so thankful to be a missionary!

Love, Sister Boekweg

P.S. I went to the Mexican restaurant last Monday. It wasn't exactly like Mexican restaurants in America, but it was close enough to satiate my craving for mexican food. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy December!

Hey everyone!

Guess what! I got a package in the mail yesterday! and it was from you! It had dove chocolate, dried apples, andes mints, pie crust, chocolate pudding mix, my favorite granola bars, and a present that is all wrapped up, which I'm still deciding if I'll wait until Christmas to open. Thank you so much! It's so exciting to get packages, especially when I can share the things inside with my companion. I also got a letter from Mommy, which I haven't had a chance to read yet, but I'm excited to read it!

This is what I wrote to President Barrientos this week:

"My spiritual highlight for this week was yesterday when Shiela, one of our recent converts, shared her testimony in sacrament meeting. She is usually reluctant to share her testimony, but the spirit was so strong as she did, and it was very clear that she knows the gospel is true and it has made a huge difference in her life. It was really great because we had an investigator at sacrament meeting too, and I kept watching her face as people shared their testimonies, and I could tell she was feeling the spirit as they were speaking, especially when Sister Shiela shared her testimony. It was a good day. I love seeing how the gospel changes people's lives when they accept it and are baptized."

We've been having Sister Shiela work with us sometimes, and it's always really powerful when she shares her testimony about how she came to know the church was true. She didn't want to be taught by the missionaries at first, but it was when she read the Book of Mormon that she really knew it was true and she started seeing changes in her life. She read the entire Book of Mormon before she was baptized.

So, I have to tell you a really cool thing that happened on Saturday. The power went out in the morning all over our area, and it stayed out all day long into the evening. At around 6pm, we remembered that we were planning to show a DVD to the Guillermo family later that night, and we couldn't watch it with them if there was no power. So we found a bench on the side of the road, and we prayed that the power would come back on so we could watch that DVD with them. Then we walked to our next appointment. I kid you not, after we had walked maybe 2 or 3 blocks, the power suddenly came on and the lights in all the houses turned on. It was really cool. I just started laughing because it was so incredible that five minutes after we prayed for the power to come on, it happened. That experience strengthened my testimony that Heavenly Father really does hear and answer prayers.

Tatay Alfonzo came to church again yesterday! I was so happy! One of the fellowshippers that came with us to teach him this week said that he has really changed from when the missionaries were teaching him before. Apparently he used to say to the missionaries that they were a lot younger than him so he knew more than them. But now he is so childlike, and when we teach him he seems to just soak in what we tell him, and he is really willing to do what we tell him to do. He is the cutest old grandpa ever. I just love him so much. He accepted to be baptized. At first he was hesitant to set a date to be baptized because he wanted to know everything first, but we told him he just needs to know the gospel is true and to keep the commandments. He accepted January 29 as his baptism date because it is also his birthday, and he just kept laughing becuase he was so pleased that he could be baptized on his birthday. He makes me smile so much. The only problem is that he can't see well enough to read the Book of Mormon on his own. We're trying to figure out what to do because we feel that he needs to read the Book of Mormon every day. We thought about buying the Book of Mormon on CD, but he doesn't have a CD player and we can only find it in English. We would go read with him everyday, but we don't always have a fellowshipper, and we can't teach him without a sister with us. Do you have any suggestions for how we can help him to read the Book of Mormon every day?

I don't know if I've told you about Sister Crisamel yet. She is probably in her later fifties, and she is a really sweet grandma. We found her one day when we went to the side of the road to pray because we remembered we hadn't prayed when we left the apartment and we werent' having any luck in teaching. We happened to be next to a sari-sari store where Sister Crisamel was working, and Sister Cabato bought a snack and started talking to her. She said she had been taught by missionaries before, and she agreed to let us go with her to her house to teach her (she was just getting off work right then). So we began teaching her. At first she said she couldn't be baptized because she had been baptized in another church before and the bible says "one baptism". After we taught her about the restoration and the plan of salvation and emphasized the need for the priesthood in order to baptize, she started to understand, and she said she would consider being baptized, but she said she would have to think about it "not once, not twice, but many times". The next lesson we had with her, we taught her about the restoration of the priesthood, and we read the verses in JSH about John the baptist restoring the priesthood to Joseph Smith. At the end of that lesson, she accepted a baptism date. It was really unexpected, and it was really a miracle that she was able to understand and accept baptism. Her scheduled baptism date is January 12. She is such a sweet lady. I just love her.

Well, that's about all I have time for. Thank you so much for your prayers and your letters and emails! They help me so much. Thank you so much for supporting me to go on a mission. It is such a wonderful opportunity, and I am learning so much! I love you all!

Love, Sister Boekweg

Happy Monday!

Hello family!

Here is what I wrote to my mission president this week:

 "My Spiritual highlight for this week happened when Sister Cabato and I applied what we learned from our district meeting. Our district leader taught us a new way to plan at night, where we center our lesson plans around a commitment that the investigator needs to do. When we tried doing it that way--thinking of the commitment first and fitting our lesson around that, I was shocked because for the first time on my mission, I enjoyed daily planning, and I felt like I was planning for people, rather than just planning lessons, and I felt inspired in my planning. Before that, I usually just felt tired while planning and wanted to get it done as soon as possible, but since we've been applying that, planning has become more spiritually uplifting. I'm learning a lot about my purpose as a missionary, and I'm really starting to enjoy the work more and to love the people I'm teaching. I hope I will continue to progress in that way.

"I'm learning a lot from Sister Cabato. She is very good at explaining the gospel in a way that helps people understand it. I think that is one reason we are having some success getting people to accept baptism, because I think they really understand what we are teaching. I want to learn how to explain the gospel as well as Sister Cabato does. I love having her as my companion. Thank you so much for putting us together."

This has been a good week. It's so fun to have Sister Asuro and Sister Cabato in the same apartment with me--my trainer and my trainee. There has been a lot of giggling going on in our apartment this week. I'm so happy! Sister Asuro told me that Marlon was baptized on November 17!!! She said he bore his testimony afterward, and the spirit was really strong, and he even started crying. She also said that he said that after he was confirmed he couldn't sleep that night because he was so overwhelmed and happy to think hat he had the gift of the Holy Ghost. She said he really wants to share the gospel with his family, and he wants to go on a mission!!!! When Sister Asuro told me about that, I think it was the happiest day I have had on my mission so far. I have been praying so hard that Marlon would be baptized, and that he will go on a mission, and I cannot express how exceedingly happy and overjoyed I am to hear that he was baptized, and how strong his testimony is now, and that he wants to serve a mission. It is really miraculous the difference the gospel has made in his life, and it really strengthens my testimony that the gospel is true, and that it really has the power to change lives.

At the last Zone Training Meeting we had, it was emphasized that we should focus on families as much as possible. So we've been trying to find families. It's hard because families here are very busy and it's hard for them to find time to meet with us all together, so we've still mostly been teaching individuals. But last night we had an appointment to teach Brother Mario, one of our new investigators, with his wife. We have taught him twice, but we hadn't taught his wife before. When we got there, he was gone, but his wife was there, so we just taught her, and she said we could teach them both again on Tuesday, so we're hoping it will work out. 

Sister Maria Luisa (Mimi) is doing really well. It makes such a difference when the members refer investigators to us. She will be baptized on December 22. She is so humble, and she has such a great desire to learn about the gospel. It is such a pleasure to be teaching her.

Life is great. I'm so grateful for this opportunity to be a missionary. I still have a lot to improve on, but I'm really grateful to be able to spend this time serving Heavenly Father and His children, and learning how wonderful the gospel really is, and how very much everyone on earth needs it.

I love you all a lot!

Love, Sister Boekweg

P.S. I found a Mexican Restaurant here in Laoag. I haven't eaten there yet, but I'm planning to. I hope it's yummy. Wish me luck. ;)


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Guess what! Last night I made Thanksgiving dinner for all the sisters in my apartment with the food you sent me in my Thanksgiving package, and they all loved it! They told me to tell you you're super awesome! I forgot to take a picture until it was mostly eaten...oops! Oh well. It was so yummy! Thank you so much! It was kind of a farewell dinner for Sister Gundaya because she is going home today. I'm sad she's leaving. She's one of the best friends I've made on my mission so far. She is Filipino, but she gets my sense of humor, and we laugh exceedingly a lot together all the time when we are in the apartment. But guess who is moving in to replace her--Sister Asuro. So we'll have 3 "generations: of missionaries in the same apartment because I'll be with both my trainer and my trainee. Hehe.

So, I dreamed the other night that I became fat on my mission, but I was happy because there was going to be a famine, and so I was prepared. Maybe it will come true. People keep telling me that missionaries usually gain weight in this mission. :)

On Saturday we taught the Icalia family. They are less active. We taught them about the plan of salvation, and we used Alma 34:32 about preparing to meet God during this life. Well guess what! They came to church on Sunday!!! We were so surprized because they always say they will go to church, but then they don't. But they did yesterday. I am so happy! They are such a cute family, and I want them to be active. They have a little 8 year old girl who reminds me a lot of Alina Tullis. She's very very cute.

Tatay Icalia gave the prayer in Sacrament meeting, and Sister Gundaya said that in his prayer he said "Salamat po na, kahit hindi namin gusto humarap, kumokolit and mga misyonero" which means something like "thank you that, even though we don't want to face the missionaries, they still get after us." :) We also had two investigators at church. Sister Maria Luisa came. She's doing so well. I love teaching her. She is so desirous to know the truth, and she is so sincere. She has a baptism date for December 22. I am excited!. Tatay Alfonzo also came to church! He is an investigator that we found while we were looking for a less active, and he told us he had been taught before, and he was very willing for us to teach him too. He is the cutest old man, and he's always teasing. He also always says he'll go, but then for one reason or another he doesn't. We tried to go get him for church yesterday, but he wasn't at his house. But when we got back to the church, he was there! He went all by himself! We were soooooo happy!

It's been a good week.

Oh, and I ate frog on Tuesday. We were supposed to eat dinner at the bishop's house, but his wife was at a practice until right before, and so she left the bishop unsupervised to cook the food. He fried frogs. When his wife came home and saw what he had made for dinner, she bought us food at Jollybee, but we did get to taste frog before we left. It tastes like chicken, but it looks like a very small person. It was interesting. We took pictures. i'll try to send them at some point.

Well, I love you all! Thank you sososososososo much for your emails!

Love, Lisa


Guess what! Life is super duper great! That's all.

Thank you so so so so so so much for your Thanksgiving package! I got it on Saturday! I'm so excited to have real Thanksgiving food! Thank you so much!

This has been a pretty good week. On Monday we tried to go teach Sister Ivy. She is 11 years old, and she really wants us to teach her. We taught her once before with her cousin, but her cousin doesn't seem to be interested in having us contine teaching her, so we were just going to stop, but then Ivy ran over to us one day on the street and asked us when we would teach her again. She said even if her cousin wasn't interested, we should just teach her. So we planned to teach her again. We tried going over there a week ago, but we couldn't find an adult to go with, and we can't teach children without an adult present. So we rescheduled. But when we went back, Ivy told us her parents don't want us to teach her. :'( So we cannot teach her. She was really disappointed. But we told her to keep reading the Book of Mormon, and we invited her to come to church. Last time we saw her she told us she had read all the way to 1 Ne. 22. She told us about what happened in the chapters she read, and she really had read it. We were really excited. She didn't come to church yesterday, and we're wondering if her parents didn't allow her. I'm really sad we can't teach her, but I'm really happy she is reading the Book of Mormon and that she has the desire to learn. I really hope she will keep reading the Book of Mormon, and someday she will be able to be baptized. We will keep stopping by and checking up on her.

Yesterday we taught Renz, the 11-year-old son of a less-active in the ward. He hasn't been baptized yet. We weren't sure if we'd be able to teach him becuase we had tried to teach him a couple times, but he wouldn't let us in to teach him. Miraculously, he let us teach him yesterday. We had planned to teach him the Restoration, but somehow it didn't feel right, so we taught him the plan of salvation and emphasized the doctrine of Christ as the purpose for life, and also as the way to go to the Celestial Kingdom. And he accepted to be baptized on December 29. I was amazed.

I don't know if I've told you about Giovannie yet, but he is a 17-year-old investigator, and he is just delightful. He's reminds me of a child because he is so willing to believe what we teach, and also because he was hungry at church last week and asked us if he could go buy a snack before sacrament meeting. Well, that wouldn't do, so I gave him some crackers that I had in my bag. Then after church we went to our apartment to get him a snack because he was staying for MCM (he was with some members who were going to MCM, and that's why he stayed). It made me laugh inside. He has a baptism date too. He's just the most delightful investigator. Sadly, we had to give him over to the Laoag 5 sisters because that is where he lives and he is not going to be in our area as much now that school has started (he is friends with a less-active family). I feel kind of like I'm giving my little brother away, and I really wish we could keep teaching him. But at least he will be taught. And we can probably go to his baptism too becuase he lives in our zone.

Anyway, thanks for being the best family ever! Thank you so so so so so so SO much for emailing me every week. You have no idea how much I look forward to your emails. I'm sorry I don't have time to respond to them individually. I'm really trying to focus on missionary work, so I haven't been able to write to y'all as much as I would like. But just know that I pour over your emails whenever I get them.

I love you all. The gospel is true!

Love, Sister Boekweg

P.S. It's hard for me to answer your questions sometimes, because I run out of time, so if you could write any questions you want answered all together at the top of your emails, then I can just type in the answer, and it will make it a lot easier for me to respond to them. Thanks!!

Life is Wonderful!

Answers to questions y'all have had:
1) I haven't had problems yet with buying unrefridgerated meat. We go at 5:30 or 6am, so the meat is still pretty fresh.
2) Sister Cabato is a really fun companion. She likes to joke around, and she get's my sense of humor most of the time, so it's pretty fun. She is very good at singing, so we sing together and harmonize the hymns when we are walking between teaching appointments. Her first language is Chevacano (Idk how to spell that). It's mostly spanish with some words from other languages. But she is fluent in both Tagalog and English as well.
3) The Indian sister in my apartment has been on her mission for 11 months. She doesn't have to learn Tagalog, she just can teach in English. She actually was transferred back to India last week--all the Indian sisters in the mission were. Now Sis. Gundaya has a new companion. She is just here on a short-term mission for 2 weeks until sis. Gundaya goes home. She is nice.
4) I went to Mang Inasal 2 mondays ago. Yummy!
5) There is a mall in Laoag called Robinson's. We will go there today because they have the American cheese there. But usually we shop at Savemore, which is kind of like Wall mart.
6) I actually don't wear the little socky things anymore. Pres. Barrientos told me to wear stockings so the mosquitos don't bite me as much, so that's what I do now.
7) I haven't actually used the fels naptha soap yet. There's a kind Sister Asuro had that I used when I was with her, and it works pretty well.
8) We always take our laundry to the laundry shop around the corner from our apartment, all except our garments--we still wash those by hand
9) Our area is very small. We don't even ride tricycles except for p-day. It used to be bigger before they put 4 sisters in our ward, and even then the area was kind of small. Our area is in a little bit less busy part of town, but it's still in the city, so Sister Cabato has to keep me from walking into the street in front of tricycles sometimes. I can't really take a lot of pictures because we're not allowed to take pictures while proselyting, and there's not a lot of time on p-days. At the edge of our area is a river. We've been out to where we can look out on the river a couple times, and it's really pretty.
10) I don't know if I've mentioned this, but there is a new 12-week training program for new missionaries. I used it when I was being trained, and now Sister Cabato and I are using it while she is being trained. It's really good. It gives us an extra hour of companionship study every day except p-days and the day we have weekly planning. We get to study and practice a lot about the 8 fundamentals of PMG. Because of that, we go out at 1pm instead of 12. We proselyte until 8pm, and then we go home.

This is what I wrote to President Barrientos today:

My spiritual highlight for this week happened on Friday when we went with a member to teach a referral. I was so amazed at how much of a difference it made that the investigator was referred by a member and that the member was there during the lesson. It was a really good lesson, and at the end the investigator started to cry and said that our visit was an answer to her prayers. She came to church on Sunday with her friend that gave her as a referral, and I really feel like she will continue to listen and will be baptized. I am very convinced now of the power of finding investigators through members.

Well, Life is great! I love you all! I am very grateful to be a missionary! I know the gospel is true! I am so thankful to know that. I love the Book of Mormon! I love the plan of Salvation! Life is so great. Keep reading your scriptures every day, and praying, and going to church every week. These are the things that will keep you from falling off the straight and narrow path. Keep striving to be an example to others. You never know when your testimony might be needed to help someone.

Love, Sister Boekweg