Monday, January 19, 2015

Week 66

HEY! Sorry about last week. It was CRAZY. Basically, the AP'S just called me on Sunday telling me to pack for Manila... so short notice for you guys, sorry :) Here's a summary!

Manila was so great! It was like a little vacation, I guess. I traveled alone ALL THE WAY to a city called Santo Tomas to meet some of the other missionaries in my batch. I was a little nervous, but I felt confident that I could find my way. And PLUS there was a lady that helped my find the next jeepney going to Tanauan City. :)  We all met up by 3 pm, then we all took a bus together to Manila. Once we got there, we met up with our driver guy at a mall. It was just us missionaries staying the night over at a hotel, the Privato Hotel. The next morning we went to the TEMPLE GROUNDS and then on to the immigration office. Our van had a big sign in the front that said, "LDS MISSIONARIES" with the church logo. :) It was really cute haha! I have never seen so many people of different nationalities in ONE building. :) It was such a testimony builder to me that Heavenly Father loves all of His children no matter where they are in the world, and we are all brothers and sisters.

At the Manila Temple
Sister Buckley, Me, SISTER BURT (MTC comp---boo yah!), and Sister Cassinat all stayed together in the hotel. It was really fun because Sister Burt and I got to catch up and be roommates in the hotel. :) The Pope just decided to make a big visit to the Philippines so when we got there Monday evening, people were out on the town making preparations and such. Manila is a WHOLE lot bigger than New York. It's like 5 New York cities in one. We just got a little dinner and went back to our hotel and talked and went to bed. I HAD A HOT SHOWER FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 17 MONTHS!!!! OH MY GOSH CAN I TELL YOU HOW GREAT IT WAS!!! I didn't even have to wear my slippers (aka, my flip flops) around because it was so clean. That's a plus! I couldn't tell if I was in America or still in the Philippines... The church took really good care of us there at the hotel. 

On Tuesday, we woke up around 5 am and headed all together with the Elders in our batch from San Pablo and combined with the other missionaries from the Laoag and Baguio missions. (They are also headed home on Feb 11.) We all went to the temple grounds and then to the immigration office. We got some nice pictures and finger prints, and all in all our stay was about 6 hours at the immigration office! We went out for lunch to the mall of Asia, and then got on our respective buses heading home. Sister Burt and I traveled to a couple check points together, and then Elder Hale and I traveled on together since we were headed in the same direction. The day ended for me at 10 pm when I finally arrived home from Manila. BEST TRIP EVER! :)

The box was PERFECT. I loved it! The chocolate is pretty much gone because I ate it all...haha... I shared some too, don't worry. I was able to find some things for my companion and it ended up being a great Christmas, so thank you again! :)

My interview with President Mangum was great. I loved talking with him. He talked to me about the desires of my heart and encouraged me to set goals and a vision for myself. Immediately what came to my mind was the temple. The temple is my next step! I know that God has a plan for me, and I'm excited and nervous to see what life brings in 23 days. All I know is, I'm a missionary and representative of Christ for now.

Besides Manila and Zone training and Zone interviews, We didn't get out to work that much this week because of all the traveling. HOWEVER, yesterday we were able to teach a new referral from a member named Sister Mau. She referred a long-time friend and former classmate to us named Lizer. He's a teacher and home school's Sister Mau's son, Hon Hon... (haha I love him...he's like 6 but speaks awesome English and always fills me in on his angry birds happenings at church. Let's just say he's eating too much rice and rich people Filipino foods because he's quite plump! Amy, you'd love him!! )

One of the adorable Ward children
LIZER. Back to Lizer. We taught him the Restoration--which my companion and I were nervous for because he's read the bible like 3 times cover to cover, and let's just say I've only just started to read Acts. I'm definitely not one for deep doctrine. I was expecting him to be ready to rip us apart with Bible stuff, but LO AND BEHOLD the lesson was PERFECT and he is the most humble man I know, despite all his biblical knowledge. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon and to be baptized and he accepted, if he knew it was true. SUCCESS. P.S. I even got to tell the Joseph Smith story in ENGLISH. Definitely felt the spirit in a different way since it was not in Tagalog. That's cool. It's great to work with members to find new people to teach. It's like finding gold for me! I love teaching the restoration.

ANYWAYS, great week. I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! I'm happy and working and just loving life as a missionary... I am not sure how I can leave. Especially after teaching and finding and everything. It's the most fulfilling experience of my life. I hope you have the BEST WEEK!  I always think of and pray for you. :) 

Sister Seastrand

Monday, January 12, 2015

Week 65

Hey well, I know I'm writing early this week. Mostly because I'm headed to Manila later today to go to immigration offices and do finger printing with some of the other Americans in my batch. DON'T WORRY I'M FINE. :) I'll be back with my companion on Tuesday night. :)   I GOT MY PACKAGE! :) Thank you so SO MUCH! Everything was great!! I loved the quotes, the "He is the gift" cards, the ENSIGNS! And especially the new WHITE clothing items :) You wouldn't believe how much whiter they are compared to the others haha! I said to myself, "Have I really been living like this for 18 months?! The Lord truly does make things light for a high maintenance girl!" haha....Thanks for  the tape recorder! It was great to hear your voice! :) Thank you so much! I'm so excited to be able to work it and try to figure it out. I opened the package on the bus coming home from a meeting yesterday and when we got home to our apartment I tried to figure out the tape and practice it. We'll see. Anyways, everything was the BEST! Thank you SO SO MUCH. :)

This week has been pretty great. We taught Jen the word of wisdom, and she and Jomar are getting their marriage papers all figured out... Things are coming together for them, slowly but surely, and I just love being a part of their lives. If there are any three people that have changed my life for me, it's: Sister Ricketts, President Mangum, Sister Jen C.

ANYWAYS we got a little punted by our new investigators this week (actually a lot) BUT I'm just holding on. Enduring to the end seems a little rough at times but I know that I need to rely on Christ to get me through rough times. He is the way to get through it. :)  We have a busy week ahead with me going to Manila, zone training meeting, and zone interviews with President Mangum. I'm really looking forward to interviews with him... What a blessing he is to my life and strength for me.

This week I was reading in our True to the Faith about our consciences and something really stood out to me. It says that when we procrastinate our repentance and continue in sin, we can dim our lights of discernment within like as if a "hot iron seared" through it. Our consciences are so fragile! I'm reminded of the scripture in Moroni 10:32, "Yea, come unto Christ and be perfected in Him and deny yourselves of ALL ungodliness." Let go of the pride, and of the ungodliness and we can all be perfected in Him. "and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your heart, might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you.... and if by grace ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." We will basically gain a strong testimony of God and His Son when we experience His grace.

Have a GREAT week this week and I'll talk to you in a short amount of days! :) LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

Sister Seastrand

Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 63

HI!! Thanks again for the skype call! It was so good to see you was good for me to see you all and talk to you. You all looked great and sounded great too! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Don't worry, we'll both be going to be at 10:30 pm right? ;) Enjoy with the family! 

Here's our NEW YEARS plans: we have a curfew at 7:00 on Dec. 31. That's all. We'll still proselyte and teach as much as we can. Sometimes it's hard to teach because people are busy, but knowing the determined person I am, it doesn't stop me and my comp from finding and teaching :) I don't yet have the package, but I will be on the lookout for it. I bet I will get it by Jan. 9th. :) No worries! We'll just wait for it to come when it comes. :)

My LAST 6 weeks as an official rep of the true Church on the earth has now commenced. NO TRANSFERS FOR ME :) I'll be finishing my mission out here in Candelaria with my last companion, Sister Martinez.  She is the cutest, spiritual, sweetest, companion ever.  We have a lot of charity in our companionship and it's something that brings me great joy everyday when we work together. :) 

Sister Emery, my beloved housemate, is sadly transferred. WAH :/  The other Sister Martinez will still be here with her new companion. :) I'm excited to still be here in Candelaria as my last area. It's weird to think I only have 3 areas, but I know that there is a purpose for all things. I know that our investigator, Jen, is the reason why I'm here. I'm so grateful to stay and help her be baptized and confirmed. It's the best feeling in the world. I can't believe it's a new year! I'll be home in 6 weeks, and no longer an official rep of the church. But I know if I endure to the end and work hard and obey, I will have no regrets like mom said. That's the goal! :) No regrets.

This week with Christmas was just GREAT! We got to visit a member and a less active on Christmas. We focused our message on the Nativity. I know that my testimony grew 10 times bigger as I studied the gospels. Jesus Christ's life was a life we can emulate to others, in order to help them have a chance to return to our Father in Heaven. The interesting thing about LIGHT is that God is the source of all Light. He created all things and so all things are in Him, and He is alive in all things. When we are filled with His light, we reflect that light to other people and they FIND the light through our examples, BACK to the greatest source of all light--Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.

Our investigator, Jen, CAME TO CHURCH again! AND she talked to her parents about getting married. We feel the time is AT HAND for their marriage, and most importantly, her baptism and confirmation. And that's only the beginning people! :)  I have to say as a missionary, you find joy that you can't find anywhere else in seeing people the way God sees them. As children of a Heavenly King. How does God handle all the love he feels for each of us? How is it possible? I know that helping others helps us too. It picks us back up and reminds us of who we are. We have deity in our souls, in our spirits.

HAPPY 2015! Time for new year's resolutions. Don't forget to set GOALS and make PLANS to actually make those resolutions happen :)

Sister Seastrand

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 62

JEN AND JOMAR CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!! (Sorry I just can't contain it!) Jen and Jomar both came to church with Noah and Joshua, their two cute little guys! I honestly cannot get over it. I almost cried for two reasons:
1) We didn't see them right away at 9 and they missed the Sacrament. I was so disappointed, I just wanted to cry--literally on the verge.
2) Right on the verge of tears of sadness, we see Jomar and Jen on the back of his scooter pulling into the parking lot of the church with the two little rascals---so now I wanted to shed tears of joy.

I nudged my companion and we ran out to greet them. BEST DAY EVER. Just smiling from ear to ear the whole day. THE BEST PART IS they got to see the Primary program! It was the Best. There's something I will never forget about seeing Filipino children sing about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Especially "I Know Heavenly Father Loves Me". (classic Primary song and one of my favs.) Mom, I know you'd have shed a tear to see these cuties sing/speak their parts at the pulpit. I almost did :)

Another week of learning a WHOLE lot. If you'll allow me, here’s a little Story Time about how I'd picture my mission and my conversion:

Chapter One: Called To Serve as a Missionary in the Philippines
Let's go back in time and say Sister Seastrand were to live in the times of the Nephites. Let's say she heard from her next door neighbor that the Promised Messiah were here, and that they saw Him descending from His Father to visit them. She runs to see if it's true, and when it is confirmed, let's say she felt a little shy, standing in the back, trying to peer over other people's heads, shoulder to shoulder with the next guy. Maybe some things like this would be running in her mind: "Maybe He wouldn't even notice me in all of these people." “There's so many other people that need to be healed." "Who am I to go to Him? I can't just push past these people who have waited for Him to come maybe longer than I have."

CAUTION: If you're like me when it comes to reading a book, you usually read the first chapter and the last to see if it's worth reading or not based on what happens in the end. The curiosity is just unbearable, right?! If that's not you, then sorry. Let's go to the last chapter! -->

Chapter Ten:  Sixteen Months as a Missionary for Jesus Christ and His Church in the Philippines
Sister Seastrand's next door neighbor runs to tell her that the promised Messiah has finally come. But her neighbor finds the lights are off, the garage is closed, and the front door has a note that says, "Back in a while. --Sister S."   WHERE COULD SHE BE?! Sister Seastrand is already kneeling before Him, glorifying Him and His presence. She actually went up to Him with confidence ready to greet Him.

I know my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that He lives, and loves me, too. I know that His church is true, and was restored through His prophet, Joseph Smith.

In order to make this book, there is more than just chapter one and chapter ten...mostly because it takes many chapters of different experiences to make a good book...and a good life. Where would you be if this was you? Would you be confident to walk up to Him? Or would you be like me, at first, at the back not feeling able to walk up to Him? Do you know Him? Maybe you'd be the one with the note on your door, already greeting Him. Wherever you may be in your own conversion to Christ, I invite you if you don't yet know Him, learn of Him. It's not too late, and there is no such thing as “by invitation only.” All are invited. And adding missionary work into it, you could be the one to invite your next door neighbor to come and see, too. (Thanks for letting me share my conversion story…hehe. I just really wanted to share it.)

Sister Seastrand

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Week 61 - Typhoon Ruby

Typhoon Ruby was supposed to be stronger and more intense than Yolanda. If you remember, the devastation of Yolanda was so incredibly sad. This week was crazy with the typhoon. Basically we assumed it would be coming on Saturday night until Monday, so I spent two nights not sleeping (mostly because sometimes they come at night and are so intense). It was so stressful! But the AP'S texted us on Friday morning telling us that President Mangum had emailed us preparations for the typhoon. We followed his instructions and were blessed not to be afraid. We spent our day Friday preparing, and taught a few lessons in the evening. You could see the sky preparing for the typhoon at that time.

Sunday was very dark and sketchy, but we still went to church. After church we stayed in our apartment. We weren't allowed to leave our apartment yesterday for P-day. I was surprised because people kept telling us about the typhoon coming and to prepare and then after it hadn't come when we thought it would, they told us that it wasn't coming anymore. But, boy did it come on Monday afternoon. Basically the typhoon was a really slow moving typhoon which usually means a longer amount of time with all the effects of it: strong winds and so much heavy rain. Typhoons are so stressful and unpredictable! Their course can never really be determined. Right now, it's just pretty cloudy and cold. I wore two jackets today during study...That's NEVER happened in my mission! We didn't have to be relocated at all, our apartment is a house so it was pretty strong. There's four of us in the house, 3 Americans and my Filipina comp. We prepared clean water and our 72 hour kits and cell phone and then spent all weekend waiting. It's been a stressful and tiring past weekend waiting out this typhoon. But I know that because my companion and I prepared and followed Pres. Mangum, we weren't afraid.

All is well again. My second 'Super Typhoon.' Thank you so much for the prayers and concern. I know the people are more affected over in Vesayas part of the Philippines (Mindanao) than Luzon (that's us in the San Pablo mission). I was really nervous because of the impact that typhoon Glenda had on us here, but we prepared and all was well. Still alive!  Getting back into the routine is rough but that is the way it is during typhoon season here in the Philippines. :)
I can't hardly believe it's Christmas time again! It's so fast. This week we're trying to focus on Jen and Jomar. They are getting close to getting married and we're just trying to have the Spirit lead and guide them in their decisions in order to help Jen be baptized and confirmed. I can feel this family needs so much help. They all are less active and need hope. Jen is such a blessing because I think the Lord is using her to help them come back into the church. It's so great. I love teaching her and seeing her and seeing the Book of Mormon change her. It's the best feeling! I have faith that the Spirit is helping them to read and pray together. It's really all about family. I've learned that as we've taught the plan of salvation, the restoration, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. IT'S ALL ABOUT FAMILY. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and is aware of all of our needs. 
Sister Seastrand

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 60

OKAY this week was seriously just the BEST.

Crossing the river to get to our appointment
1) We are finding new investigators that have serious potential.
2) We received 5 referrals from members who have agreed to go with us to teach them.
3) Heavenly Father is answering my prayers.

I wish I could explain everything, but it's mostly just the last one. Heavenly Father answers us. We have been praying and working for a long time to find new investigators. We are finding in so many ways this week! This week I’m thankful for members who talk to people as they work. Mostly because this person they talked to came to church, After MANY prayers of wanting to find new investigators who are prepared and ready to receive the gospel, one just shows up to church. Brother Jimel. PLUS this member introduced him to us as the missionaries AND sat by him in Gospel Principles. That is the essence of member missionary work. Things are going so well here in Candelaria. I love it here and I just love missionary work.

Visiting with some members
Just like you, all I can say about this week is WOW! haha. So much good things have happened. I just am so happy and satisfied with working hard and being obedient. I'm so glad that Thanksgiving went well and I agree that next year will be better since I'll be home. :) It was just another day here. (Which I may or may not have forgotten it to be Thanksgiving haha.) It's just the mentality of a missionary, I guess! Every day is the same and I LOVE it.

I'm sorry if this is so scattered, I'm not sure where to start since a lot has happened this week! Mostly, I'm just so happy to be in the service of Heavenly Father. I know He is blessing me. I can FEEL my faith in Christ growing and my desire to serve Him growing. We are working well with members and serving and loving them. I have a testimony of obedience and the Atonement. Heavenly Father loves us so much. I hope all is well this week, and maybe things will calm down before the craziness of Christmas. It's now officially December and I'm looking forward to Christmas/skype time/ being a missionary for Christmas yet again. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than to be a missionary! Thanks so much for your support. I am happy and doing well. :) You're the BEST and I love you all SO MUCH. Have a great week!!!

Sister Seastrand

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 59

Saying goodbye to Sis. Rafi and hello to Sis. Martinez
Bye, Bye Sister Rafi! :( No matter what anyone tells you about getting used to transfer week, they’re wrong. Being almost 16 months in the mission, I STILL can't get over it. The dreaded/ most stressful day in any missionary's life. Transfer Day. I really thought my sweet companion would maybe stay one more cycle in this area with me, but at the last moment, we received "The Call" at 5:25 p.m. She is now making another Sister/ward members happy in the San Pablo area. I miss her SO MUCH but I know our friendship is eternal. On Thursday we get to Divergion where she dropped me off and we parted ways while I stayed at Jollibee waiting for my new companion with the Zone leaders and other missionaries transferring. It was like a movie or something with the rain and me just standing there with a somber look on my face holding my umbrella waving goodbye to my sister and friend. After her first hug, she turned back and gave me another. :( That's all I could think in my mind, "Bye bye Sister Rafi." SO YEAH, Just still kickin it here in Candelaria with my new companion..... drum roll please........Sister Martinez! From Mindinao. She's SO CUTE and I love her already. She's a brand new missionary, only two months in the field. Thanks President, you put a young one with an old one... You'd think I'd have some missionary skills by now, but whaddaya know, 1st day of comp study and my companion's got some sharp teaching skills in the tool shed. Just a little overwhelmed, that's all. 

Jen is currently residing in Candelaria! She didn't go to Sariyaya to stay with her parents. And I can't even tell you how great it felt to see her at Sister Sonya's house Sunday evening. We get to start teaching her again with her new little one, and of course, Noah.
Basically everyone needs to pray for this investigator of ours. Pray that she will listen to the Spirit telling her to follow our Savior Jesus Christ and be baptized and confirmed a member of HIS church. I know angels are helping us every day.

This week I'm reading in the Gospels about Jesus Christ and his parables. I'm trying to study it before Christmas. I have a strong testimony of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And I've been finding Him, just like we find investigators all day, I'm more determined to find my Savior as I read His teachings. I challenge you to find your testimony by reading His life as we prepare for the Christmas season.
all is well, all is well, in the life of a sister missionary in the Philippines.

Sister Seastrand