Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 3

Magandang Hapon Po!!!
3 weeks here already on the mission! I can't even believe it! There's so much that happens every day! I wish I could just record every moment, especially when so much happens in one week!

This week has been really full of ups and downs. Early on, every single lesson we had canceled on us, and it really started the week off bad. My kasama and I just really prayed harder and tried to be more obedient and still nothing happened. It's very difficult to maintain a positive attitude about everything when people don't listen to you or your message of SALVATION. Sheesh. But finally on Wednesday, ALL of our investigators committed to baptism!!! The spirit was strong, and we felt God's love in each lesson. It was so so liberating and refreshing to have our investigators finally listen to us.

Our first investigator, (new to me, but taught previously by my companion), Hener, is a hair stylist with four cute little kids. He lives in Lapo-Lapo 2, which is the furthest street in our area. (Seriously it takes FOREVER to get there.) He has been reading the Book of Mormon and really loves it. He seriously is just so intrigued by the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and he keeps his commitments every time. We are so blessed to be teaching him. He's been really busy lately so it's been a few weeks since he's been taught by the missionaries, and since my companion has taught him before with her last comp, I had never taught him. Prior to our visit with him that day, I was feeling kind of annoyed especially with being homesick and frustrated about our investigators, and we happened to tell the trike driver to take us to Lapo-Lapo 1. I think it was just a misunderstanding, mostly because neither of us speak Tagalog haha... rough. Anyways, we walked up hills, over bridges, and up more hills to get back to Lapo Lapo 2. I was so bugged!! I was sweating terribly, and of course at that moment the weather just decides to rain, and when it rains, it RAINS. Americans have no idea what rain is until you live in the Philippines. We got pretty wet, but we finally made it to his house. We decided to teach him Lesson 2 (which is the Plan of Salvation). We focused on the Atonement, and I was pretty stressed because this was my first time teaching him and I wasn't quite sure what his needs were. He also lives in the booney's in a tall bamboo tree house which was so COOL! (I just love their houses here!) Anyways, we get to the lesson and immediately after the prayer, I just felt like I should ask him about his life, and his sins. I was nervous, but I was bold and just said, "Brother Hener, have you ever felt bound to your personal sins?" When I asked him that, my companion just looked at me like uh... this could be awkward... but he opened up to us and told us how he has always felt so weighed down and guilty his whole life of past sins. In that moment, I just felt this overwhelming love for him in my heart, and I got a little choked up and said, "Hener, I know that we all make mistakes, but Jesus Christ atoned for every single mistake in any form and I promise you that you can be free from this guilt you feel." He just soaked it UP and the spirit was super strong. It was a really great experience for me and him, and I knew that the love I felt for him was the same kind of love God feels for us. Despite the fact that I was sweaty, muddy, and wet, all of that was worth it to teach him. We invited him to be baptized, and he accepted. Hener is definitely a golden investigator.

So we had a TYPHOON this week! My first typhoon ever! It was way intense! Pres. Peterson told us to get our 72 hour kits out and ready, which I DIDN'T have yet... preparedness is key, people! I learned my lesson! It's so funny because everyone just is so terrified of rain here, and even when it starts sprinkling they put on their hats and get their umbrellas out -- it's hilarious. And then there's me just like walking in the sprinkling rain, and everyone thinks I'm crazy. So the typhoon hit over Bagio, but swept over San Pablo. Literally everyone was home by 4:00. It was super cloudy and windy. We were teaching a lesson until 5:00, when it really started to pick up. The wind was going crazy and we didn't know if we would even get a trike back to Poblacion 2... yeah, dumb decision on our part! Luckily, one last trike for the night was driving by and we made it home. That night it POURED. I seriously felt like our apartment was in the Ocean. The rain was so incredibly loud and the wind was blowing super hard. I didn't even sleep cause it was so loud. We had a brown out, and so we had to get ready for bed by candlelight -- it was awesome. Let me just say, the next morning when we woke up and looked outside, everything was in a completely different place, including other people's laundry in our yard!  What an experience!

We finally have MOVED out of our nasty, moldy, lizard and ant infested apartment!! We are now officially in a brand new HOUSE in Calansayan! It's kind of sad, because we've had some really good times there as 'Sisters in Zion' in that little run-down place. And we were super close to everyone and everything. Now, we're in the booney's and have to take a Jeepney everyday to everywhere. It's gonna be rough, but worth it. I'm so grateful for our house. It's so much bigger and livable. I really don't know how we survived, haha. It's got two huge bedrooms, a dining room, living room, full kitchen with TWO working hot plates, and TWO bathrooms!! It's perfect. I never want to be transferred haha. Moving is definitely not fun. It took us 4 hours to get everything to our house with the bishop, office elders, and zone leaders. We had a lot of stuff--I mean there are 4 of us girls living together.

We got to watch General Conference this weekend and it was wonderful, as always. I think the main theme of this one was to remember who you are, and most importantly remember God. I especially loved Elder Uchtdorf's talk about our church. I loved when he told us that if our intentions were to find perfect people with nothing wrong, then we would never find it. But if our intentions were to find loving, Christ-like people who serve Heavenly Father, then this is the church for them. It's so TRUE! We are not perfect people, but this church is perfect. And it all depends on our intentions. If we intend to find love and Christ, then we will find both of them here. This is Jesus Christ's church and it is His gospel. It's perfect, and we don't need to change it. It's not ours to change anyway. Why don't we just partake of it the way it is, and learn and grow from each other instead of trying to change something that's a lot bigger and better than us!

I also felt during this conference an overwhelming gratitude for our roles as men and women in the church, and especially love for the men of this church and worthy, priesthood holding men. How great it is for us women of the church to have the Priesthood. I myself have been blessed to have it in my home, and it made me want to help all the men in my life realize their divine nature as sons of Heavenly Father with the ability to use His Priesthood. We can ALL help support them more fully in our lives, and even if we don't have priesthood holding men in our homes personally, we can sustain and help the men of our wards. Help everyone around you realize their divine nature! No matter if you know them personally or not, we are ALL God's children. As a missionary, I have had the opportunity to feel of god's love for us as his children. He loves us, each of us individually and personally. He knows us! He created us! I know that this church is true and I'm so grateful to be teaching these people of that love of God. I feel inadequate and weak, but I know God wants me here for a reason, and I'm going to find that out.

Until next week, keep reading, keep praying, and most importantly, Remember. Remember who you are and where you came from. I really am so grateful for this experience. These people have nothing. NOTHING. and we have it all. They are lucky to eat dinner most nights. And sometimes we teach in the dark with one little light. It's incredibly humbling for me, and I need this. I'm a very blessed girl who needs to step outside herself for 16 months.

Sister Seastrand

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week 2

Week Two!!! Already gone!
Hello from San Jose!! This week has been good, yet overwhelming! So many people here in this little area... I don't even know where to start! My first week here in the mission was definitely one that will go down in history as probably one of the most overwhelming, stressful, funny, emotional, and every other emotion possible weeks of my life. 

So our apartment is a no go.... it's really bad! Mold EVERYWHERE. In fact, so much mold that it latched onto ALL of my garments. 14 pairs people. I honestly don't even know how it happened... There I was just doin my thing with my two little washing buckets sitting outside enjoying the nice humid musty air, scrubbing my lovely little garment tops and bottoms until my knuckles were about to bleed, (for 2 hours mind you) I hung them up to dry and the next morning I woke up they were GREEN. Everywhere. I gagged. Hard core. It was sooo weird!! And in that moment I missed our MTC washer and dryers. haha I called Sister Hansen, our lovely little mission home assistant, and she told me if they don't get bleached or clean after that, to just chuck them. 

The next day, we were just eating the usual brown rice with some cabbage and other stuff that I'm not really sure what it is but I just eat because I'm hungry, and we heard this bloody murder squealing. I thought a child was getting kidnapped. We ran outside and Sister Banzali just starts laughing soo hard. This PIG or baboy was running up our street. It actually wasn't just running... it was BOOKING IT up our street. And our street isn't very big so it was covering major ground. It wasn't just a pig. It was like 5 pigs in one body. This baboy was MASSIVE hahaha. It was running toward our apartment and all four of us girls just ran inside our apartment screaming and laughing so hard. I seriously was afraid for our little apartment that it would somehow just bulldoze it down and run us over. We watched out our tiny little window as this truck full of all these pigs and farmers on top are hauling it to get their pig back... They hopped out with a BAG. A tiny little bag to catch this Bear of a pig. It was hilarious watching these 4 foot tall filipino farmers try and get this pig that could eat them both if he wanted to.. they tried cornering it and it was hilarious watching them try to dodge the pig when it would go all wild... HAHA oh man, it was definitely a had to be there moment but still so funny.. They finally got it up into the truck and we were all just dying.

So since our apartment is so bad, we have to move :( to Calansayan, a little city like 10 minutes from San Jose Poblacion 2. It's kind of sad because that means transportation is going to cost a lot more since we no longer live by the markets or the chapel or anyone for that matter... all of our investigators and members usually live in lapu-lapu or tug-tug. So... yeah. haha but it's such a blessing because A)There's mold. I don't know how we are still in good health with all of the mold in our apartment. and B) it's a house!! With two bathrooms and two working hot plates!! Whoo!! haha it's so nice! I'm so excited and I will be taking pics of our house once we officially move in :) It's kind of awkward walking home every night because the drivers always call to us and want to give us rides... and it gets dark here at  6 so it's always kind of scary at night but dont worry mom, we're safe.

So people keep asking me if they can take my picture hahaha... Actually, they don't really ask they just run up to me and pull their phones out and then speak Tagalog and since I'm still a baby here in the mission I just smile and say Salamat po! And then they just walk away still staring at me..they really do love americans over here. Everytime we tract in Tug Tug there's always kids playing basketball in the dirt street with a little makeshift hoop. It's adorable. They always run up to us and want us to play which is SO HARD to decline, but whenever they see me come they say, "The Barbie! The Barbie is here!" So, apparently I look like a barbie. Never got that one before, hahaha. I don't think I'll ever get used to the fame here..all because I'm American.  I really do love them, these people. They're so kind and fun loving. Especially the children. They have nothing and yet they are so giving and so HAPPY. It's amazing to me. I love tracting because all the little kids just follow us around and want to come with us everywhere we go. And they're cute little faces just kill me. 

Filipino transportation is literally unlike any other. It's so fast paced, especially when we go to Lipa city where it's like new york ttype of traffic. On the jeepney you can just strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone, it's great! It's been kind of weird though because some people have never even heard of the Church before and growing up in happy valley utah, it's definitely a shock sometimes. But I have to remember that I'm half a world away from America. I never thought about how I would tell someone about our church who's never even heard it in 3 minutes on a jeepney ride. I have failed many times, and sometimes it's been awkward cause I'm halfway in my sentence about Joseph Smith and they say "Barra po" and get off. hahah I just laugh with my kasama and try again. It's so fun! I love the jeepneys. Seriously the transportation here is so fun. Jeepney, trike, or walk. no one really has a car. They just walk everywhere. And the jeepney drivers drive FAST and furious. They are crazy. It's so fun and scary to ride into Lipa city because there is no traffic laws everyone just drives. They don't even have crosswalks, you just go and sometimes people stop for you. It's a little life threatening but hey, when in rome do as the romans do. 

So the investigators here are great, but they never come to church when we commit them to so that's kind of hard. But, there is one investigator in particular that we are so blessed to have. Her name is Minda and she has 4 kids. We found her through a referral from the ward and she is SO READY for the gospel. We taught her lesson 1 and she believes it is true. It's so amazing her faith in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Her husband has heard the missionaries before, but then turned them away because he didn't feel ready and same with Minda. It's been a couple years since they've heard the missionaries, but she said that she just feels different with Sister Tafiti and I. Her husband hasn't been to the lessons yet since he drives a tricycle, but we are going to teach both of them in a few days! I'm so excited for them. I really feel like they are ready and that the Lord has prepared them for us. 

Jobel, a 15 year old girl is also preparing for baptism. She is the cutest. She is so shy and quiet, and is very poor. She is the only one in her family that is ready for the gospel, and we have loved teaching her. She reads the Book of Mormon everyday and is really excited to be getting baptized soon. I am amazed at her faith despite her dad and other family members trying to tear her down. She is so strong! It's funny how the Lord works sometimes, because we were teaching her tatay (dad) but he just wasnt progressing at all. She listened to us and wanted to learn more, and now she is getting ready to be BAPTIZED! It's so exciting!

Overall, a pretty good week so far. Not too much craziness, but yesterday was definitely a rough day for me. My kasama was sick, and so we didn't go out at all after church. We stayed in all day and I really started to feel homesick. I'm still learning, growing, and I'm not yet the missionary I want to be or that the Lord wants me to be... I am learning that sometimes its hard in life to rely solely upon Heavenly Father when you're whole life you've relied on everyone else. I feel like that is a hard lesson to learn but the earlier we learn it, the better off we will be. When we rely on Him, He reminds us of what we can become through his plan. It's really hard being out here. I think I can finally understand when people tell me that they can't explain it to you, you just have to experience it. But it's Faith that we have to rely on in our lives because life is not easy. We all need God. We all need the Savior. I'm grateful to learn and know Him  more here in the Philippines. Don't ever think for one second that I don't miss home, my family, my bed, my country. But the cool thing is, is that I am Happy. I am happier than I've ever been in my life. I can't explain it, but I just am. Missions are the best and the worst 18 months to 2 years of your life, it's true!

Well, that's all for this week. Hopefully more exciting things will happen here in this wonderful little place I call my home for the next  16 months. :) Keep praying, Keep reading, And most of all keep relying on Christ. He makes it possible.
xoxo, Sister Seastrand