Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Week 9

What a week.

Actually, I say that every week. But this week has been great. Well, hard and great at the same time. I don't know how that works out here, but it does.

We had Mission Tour on our regular P-day, which was awesome. Elder Brent Nielson and his wife are a golden couple. They are amazing. And it was cool to meet someone that is with the prophet and the quorum of the twelve on a regular basis. I literally got to talk to him face to face, eat some lunch with him, and snap a cool picture with him. Successss!

With Sister Nielson
We all gathered in the wonderful Lipa chapel, and all the sisters first met together with Sister Nielson (who is ABSOLUTELY amazing). I can't even tell you. You had to be there, I guess. Her spirit is so incredibly strong, and you just feel it when she speaks. She talked to us about how our missions prepare us for motherhood and recognizing the holiness of what we do every day in each choice. She told us a story about when she was a young mother with 6 little ones running around the house, she came in one day and just looked at all the mess. Toys and crumbs everywhere. She was so frustrated she grabbed a rake from the garage and just started to rake everything into the middle of the room.... (Haha--funniest thing watching her describe this.) She said that after she had everything in a giant pile she just stepped back and looked at it all and had a thought. She thought about how much she loved those children. She talked about how all those toys she bought were for the learning of these spirits and that all the crumbs meant that they were fed and watched out for. She talked about the holiness in everyday life and how each of the things we do each day help us learn about God's life and how he lives. In holiness and order. (Doesn't the temple say, "Holiness to the Lord?") Even the simple and small things I do as a missionary are holy and orderly. I realized how much holiness goes into one day as a missionary and consecrating your decisions to the Lord.

This week I have been thinking a lot about why the heck I'm here. Every morning I wake up and I'm like, "I'm STILL here?" But the Lord has shared with me a little insight: Maybe I'm here because I can really relate to these people's lives. The Filipino people love the Lord, but they don't always obey. They don't like to show it all the time. Mostly, they just accept Christ in their heart and call it good. But, as I've looked over my life and past 19 years here in this world, I realized something that could most definitely change my entire existence. I've always accepted Christ in my heart but never really actually tried to live His gospel. I've always had a belief in Him and His gospel, but I've never really lived it how I should... till now. And maybe that's one reason I'm in this country. To relate with these people and let them know there's a way to accept Christ not just in our hearts but in our lives.

Being a missionary, you get to enjoy really spiritual times. Sometimes your most intense soul-moments happen while you're washing your clothes in a bucket. and then using that same bucket to shower. What a life, I tell you. THE BEST!

This week I learned how the Lord works in mysterious ways. We went to visit a woman named Miraquel that lives near us in Calansayan. She seemed interested at first, but I knew that after she heard my Tagalog is was all over. She literally runs away from us. (Sometimes I can't tell if people like me cause I'm American or hate me cause I'm a Mormon American missionary. It's one concept I can't seem to figure out.) I decided one night that we should just try one more time, even though we had no hope in getting a lesson or even a short message with her, since she's been MIA for the last while. We went and there she was, doing her washing and looking so devastated to see us (hahaha).Let's just say the whole feeling was a little awkward and tense. Her husband has been hanging around whenever we've shared a message with her, but he's always acting kinda crazy from the alcohol. He saw us while Sister Tafiti and I are just enjoying some awkward conversation with Miraquel. (The kind missionaries have when you and your investigator both know they've been running away from you.) He pulled up two chairs and said something I'd never thought I'd hear: "Hey, come sit down, I really want to listen to you guys." IS THIS REAL LIFE? Cause really we never hear that EVER! Alex started telling us about his life. Literally giving us an autobiography. He told us how he has been saved from death so many times and he has had a Book of Mormon sitting in his house for quite some time now.. And he knows that we were sent to share the message with him because he needs to accept God in his life. He used to be Islamic, and then Catholic and then he got sick of paying so much money and now he's just a wanderer. Coolest lesson probably EVER thus far on my mission.

The Lord is so funny sometimes. And how grateful I am to be here to witness His plan come forth in this country. Missionaries and members are the most vital part of His great work, and I know that He is counting on us in these last days to help gather his sheep. YAY for a great week, with more to come. And, I'm proud to say that I haven't even eaten anything too weird or crazy yet, hopefully that will keep up! But since my luck is about as good as my Tagalog, its probably most DEFINITELY won't.

Sister Seastrand

Monday, November 18, 2013

Week 8

One word that would sum up this whole week and probably my life for the next 15 months: Determination.

We had the craziest week! So much has happened and so much to tell. Let's start with a little tender mercy from Heavenly Father that I really needed:

A few weeks ago on the jeepney on our way to the San Jose hospital we were coming back from Lipa. I was just enjoying the bumpy ride back to our home town until 10 minutes had passed and I just had the feeling like someone was just watching me. Good thing these moments can tend to be extremely awkward and maybe turn bad.

I had been sitting by this cute little woman wearing a cute little white cap, and a big carry on full of stuff to sell who had been STARING me down. Not just checking out my badge or pondering on how to ask if I happened to be American, but seriously staring... not that I'm not used to that or anything...this woman was determined to talk to me.

I finally turn awkwardly and look at her stuff and asked her where she was going and she told me about how she sells little trinkets on the road, and we start talking like we are old friends or something. Conversation is going GREAT. Perfect timing for me to slide my missionary purpose right on in there with my broken Tagalog. She started asking me questions about our church and I basically just gave her the entire Lesson one overview of Joseph smith and such. I couldn't believe my ears when she told me that she did not have a set religion and that she was just experimenting many to see which one was true....

Can you say, "Golden Investigator".

I asked her if we could share more about the gospel of Jesus Christ with her and she said, "yes" and I said, "um, GREAT!" I could not contain how I was feeling inside!

Missionary Tip 101: Don't forget to get the potential investigator's number.

We get off the jeep and I realized I didn't even have her name or number...FAIL.

I'm telling the sisters about my ever so successful OYM (remember? this means "Open Your Mouth) and then Sister Tafiti asks, "Great! So did you get her number?"

YEP. Trust me, still having it rough and feeling dumb over here. It's been a rough couple of weeks thinking of how we could find her. I thought about her every day since I saw her.

But here's the best part: We were walking to Zone Meeting at the Chapel on Thursday and see our wonderful District Leader buying his daily dunkin' donuts... and lo and BEHOLD...She is standing right there. Talking to the elders. I could NOT believe my eyes. She was being OYM'ed by the elders. We hugged and started talking... Anyway, long story short, got her name and number and a day and time to teach her. Coincidence, I think NOT.

Diligence is KEY and sometimes even though we mess up, the Lord helps us and gives us a second chance. I know seeing her again was not by chance. Being in the right place at the right time can work wonders as a missionary.
Speaking of being at the right place at the right time, we also gained another golden investigator. Her name is Belen. Here we are just deciding to tract in a random village by the cemetery in Don Louise. We're OYMing this guy and as soon as we get his info, this lady come up to us and asked us, "Who are you?" Perfect question. We told her who we were and shared our purpose, and the next thing we knew, we were in her house teaching her Lesson One. She told us about her husband dying from sickness. The next part just brings a little tear to my eye. She told us how she would always walk by our chapel on Don Louise

Road, and tell her daughter that she wanted to go inside, but her daughter said, "That's only for Mormons. You can't go inside."

This sister is so ready and prepared for the gospel. She was so excited to see us and felt like she really needed to talk to us. AMAZING PEOPLE here in this mission.

Despite all of the sadness from the typhoon, the Lord is really blessing Sister Tafiti and I. We had a very successful week, and many new investigators are ready to hear us. It's all about being in the right place at the right time.
Since the devastation in Tacloban from the typhoon, we will be getting a whole BUNCH of new missionaries from that mission. There won't be any more missionaries in that mission anymore since Tacloban is completely wiped out. So incredibly sad. We're excited to help them and welcome these amazing missionaries into San Pablo. Their stories will be so humbling to hear.
Something President Peterson told us at zone training this week has been ringing in my ears. He said, "Stop looking back and consecrate your life to serving the lord." When we give our lives to the Lord, he makes us so much more than we could be. Full- time missionary or not, we can all consecrate our lives to serve God. We should be, always! We already made the decision to do so when we were baptized. How grateful I am and humbled to be wearing such a great badge everyday that is a beacon to the world of who we are and what we believe. I know it's true. There's no way it's not.
Sister Seastrand

Monday, November 11, 2013

Week 7 - Typhoon!

Well this week has been BIZARRE to say the least. Really though, it's been insaaaane! There's always those people that try and determine when the world will end..."The world will be ending December 13, 2013". And usually they are just silly people that no one really believes anyway, especially members of the church.

Until this week.

I was literally waiting to hear someone announce on a big megaphone saying, "The end of the world has come." And then say, "Told ya so, Sister Seastrand!"

First of all, every single one of our investigators ran away from us. haha but really...No one likes us anymore.

Second, we had the largest typhoon ever in the history of... ever. Clearly I didn't watch the news, but we got texts from fellow missionaries in our areas telling us about the devastation in Tacloban. So much loss of life and so much destruction. Seriously, the saddest thing ever.

Over here in San Pablo? Oh, we had just a little bit of wind and rain. When I say little, I mean A LOT. I'm pretty positive the ocean just decided to give us a nice big bath or something. I was about ready to find a modern day Noah, and ask him to just build me a nice big boat and take us safely to the mission home. I'm pretty sure we had enough rain that I wasn't sure if we were in Noah's day or ours. Along with the rain, we had wind that was uprooting and taking everything into the ocean with it, including our laundry and shoes, haha. We were instructed to stay in our apartments for two days because this typhoon was coming our way, and would be here to stay for awhile.

Our ZL's gave us a call to make sure we had enough candles, water, and food for our 72 hour kits... OK let me just say that "food storage" in America is A LOT less stressful than it is here in the Philippines, mostly because we can work on building up our food storage and it's good for the next 5-20 years. Yeah, NOT HERE. The food here doesn't have any kind of 'shelf life', not to mention the items here are so much different than America... We really are the promised land. We've got it all. My heart starts to palpitate a little faster every time we talk about these 72 hour kits cause I'm tellin you, the typhoons here are insane. (Not to mention scary.)

We got all of our buckets filled with water and candles lit, and just sat and listened to the intense wind, making guesses that if we dared walk outside what country we'd land in..... or the ocean. We just sat there, thinking of our families and homes, but mostly everyone being affected by this terrible storm. There were a few highlights/journal moments for me and since we were confined to our house for the next who knew how long, we just studied and wrote letters. (Oh, and read the Book of Mormon AND Bible three times, cover to cover. NOT. If that had happened, I would probably be the scriptorian everyone assumes me to be.)

What really happened: I actually read a talk about the Atonement by Elder David A. Bednar. What a guy. He gave me some really great insights that I think everyone should consider. He talked about how most of us think about the Atonement in terms of "cleansing and healing the sinners."

Here's a fun fact: The Atonement does so much MORE than that. It enables us and gives us POWER. Man, I don't know about you, but I never even thought about that part. Elder Bednar was saying that both the enabling and cleansing powers work together to fully cleanse us and make us into better and better (and finally, the best) people. This life isn't just about becoming good to better, or even bad to good. It's about becoming our absolute best for the Lord. We do that through both the enabling and cleansing power of the atonement. What an amazing thing to think of and thank our Heavenly Father for!

After I read every single Liahona issue from 2010-2012, we all got our mattress pads in the living room and slept on the floor, together 'as sisters in Zion'. This whole experience was so interesting and different and hard, but had some great moments I will never forget. We woke up on Sunday and looked outside (after enduring the last two days of straight wind and rain) to behold the earth around us. Everything was not where it used to be. Not even some trees, or houses. It's a good thing we're even alive and safe. I've never been more grateful for the house we have, that protected us and kept us safe even in the midst of what seemed like the end of the world. We were so protected and watched over by the God that created us all.
District Meeting (before the typhoon)
In spite of everything that has happened with the typhoon, no sleep for a straight 48 hours, and all our investigators running away from us, I learned more about my Savior and Joseph Smith than I have my whole mission so far.

How grateful I am for that wonderful prophet of God who restored this gospel knowledge. And how even more grateful I am for a loving Savior who shows me infinite love and mercy every day of my life.

Missions are really hard. But I would not trade this experience for anything. If you're thinking about serving a mission and wondering if you really should, then call your bishop and tell him you want to set up an appointment to start your papers. The badge you will wear and the badge I wear everyday is the best piece of plastic ever made.

In spite of everything here, I hope everyone is continuing in patience and hope in the gospel. I know I am! Come what may and love it!

Sister Seastrand

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 6

Transfer Week. Booya!

This week we officially have a new investigator. It's about time right?! Right.

Sister Miraquel and family. She is so ready to hear this gospel, I can't even tell you. We taught her lesson one overview and gave her a good ole Restoration pamphlet. And the best thing is, she wants us to come back! When we found her tracting, we walked up to their house and it's like they're partying like it's 1995. Her husband and friends are getting pretty drunk.... Anyways, we walk up and say, "Hey we're missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ. Could we share with you a message?"  (Mostly, that's all I can say in Tagalog anyway) Everyone is pointing and staring at me but hey, that's just a daily occurrence. In spite of everyone and their loudness, Sister Miraquel pulls two chairs up for us and we teach her. The spirit was so strong there, and It was AMAZING how attentive she was. It was still pretty crazy and I definitely can see why they tell you to teach people in member's homes or the chapel, cause it was getting CRAZY haha... Yeah, won't do that again. SO.... yeah. other than that, This week has been pretty slow moving, but some good things are happening here in San Jose!!

This week is TRANSFERS. I'm freaking out because my nanay has been here for like 4 months and I'm pretty sure she's taking her stuff and hitting the road.... I'm stressing over here. Hopefully we can stay together just a little bit longer cause we really do love each other so much. She's really grown and we've really helped each other become better missionaries.

This week was Halloween. OK-- Halloween in the Philippines is quite different from America's Halloween..... actually it's ALOT different. No costumes, no trick or treating, not even candy...

Everyone goes to the cemetery ALL DAY, and just sits by the graves of their loved ones. It was really interesting because all the streets had a million flowers (and people trying to sell flowers) for the graves. It was gorgeous to see flowers rather than trash and pigs running around. But it was really rough since everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) was at the cemetery so Sister Tafiti and I got punted.... the whole DAY. We looked at each other after our 3rd hour of tracting and said, "Soooo.... now what?" We literally just walked the streets of Galamay-Amo and just enjoyed the flower-scented polluted air of San Jose and talked about gospel things, and our mission. Here's some spiritual stuff I have been thinking:

Here's what I thought about missions: You come out thinking you know it all, once you've been thru the MTC. You come out thinking your testimony is PRIME TIME and that you are already the person you want to be, and that your prepared for any and every hardship that comes your way. (Does anyone else EVER feel like this, or is it just me? Cause if you have, you are NOT ALONE. And if you haven't, then it would have been cool to know how I could have avoided this dilemma.)

Here's the reality about missions: You come out here, experience the PITS. Heavenly Father gives you tough trials. Moldy apartments, bad food, mosquito bites everywhere, sweating all the day long, and people that simply just don't care what you have to say.
BUT-- in spite of all that and more, He gives you, YOU. He gives you all of that so you can see who you are, and who you were meant to be. I firmly believe that we all were bound to be stellar, awesome, amazing, and every other good quality that Christ has, before we came to earth. ALL OF US.

Point: We ALL have the greatest potential to become something GREAT, but so often we don't realize it.

Being a missionary so far, I've learned a lot. But the thing about missionary work is that you're not trying to teach people about something foreign, you're teaching them something they have heard before- something that they have known and believed in before they came here to earth: and that is the plan- THE PLAN of Salvation! You are simply there to bring to their remembrance what they chose by coming to this life, and you are there to remind them of their relationship with Heavenly Father. The word "lost" doesn't always mean unknown. I think that the word "lost" for missionary work means "losing remembrance" or "forgetting". What an AMAZING and really hard thing, missionary work is. Every day I get that chance to remind people of who they are, why they are here, and what they can become.

God knows all of us. The Philippines is pretty big, and there's millions of people, and yet God knows each and every one of them PERSONALLY.  Don't ever think for one second that He doesn't remember you, that He has forgotten you, that he doesn't care about you. Because guess what? He hasn't. And He can't. It's simply impossible for Him NOT to love you!

I think more than anything I have realized how much God leads and guides us in our lives, and yet we sometimes don't see it or even acknowledge it. But I want anyone and everyone to know that if you feel forgotten, lost, or even just a little bit like God has been unfair to you, think of this: You have more potential and can become more with God than without Him.

The one thing I've learned since coming on my mission is that as we learn more about God, we learn more about ourselves and our potential. If you want to know who you really are, then take the time to learn about the gospel and you will find yourself. The gospel is without a doubt the best message anyone will ever hear. Share it! With everyone! Your mom, your friend, your boss. EVERYONE NEEDS TO HEAR THIS. Whether or not you wear a badge on the outside, you wear the badge on your heart when you were baptized! You have the responsibility to share this message. Forget yourself, forget your doubts, and fears and most importantly forget about what faith you don't have and SHARE IT.

I can't wait for this next week and what is up ahead, whatever it may be. Come what may and LOVE IT.

Sister Seastrand


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Week 5

Hello!!!! Week 5 already DONE! I honestly cannot believe I've been out here for one whole month! Time just never slows down does it? This week has been soo great and stressful all at the same time. So many things happened I just can't even tell all of them!

This week was Sister Tafiti's birthday! Woo-hoo! The big 22! We went to district meeting and then to Mang Inasal which is the BEST rice and chicken/pork on a stick. They give you unlimited rice and a HUGE piece of chicken for around 100 pesos (that's about $2.30). It was great. No wonder the elders love it so much (haha--they're always hungry). I can literally say I am a Filipina now since I ate with my hands! It was so fun! I'm surprised because that was the one thing I didn't want to do here, and I told myself I would take the culture in and become a part of it...except eating with my hands... Well, it wasn't that bad! It seriously takes some technique though, haha. Surprisingly, the Filipino elders in my district said I'm pretty good at it. :-)

Thursday we had our zone follow up training meeting. It was quite the long day for us since we had to travel to san pablo. We woke up at 5 and had to leave the house by 6 to get to the meeting by 10 am. It was so long! We took a jeepney, trike, jeepney, trike, and then a BUS to San Pablo. A tiny bus, might I add. The funny thing about the Philippines is everything is so SMALL! I feel like I am such a giant person every time we go anywhere. Probably cause I practically am... these cute Filipinos are just soo small. I love it. So we got to the bus stop and packed all four of us in the back of the bus with about 12 other people in the two front seats. It took us what seemed like forever to get to San Pablo City, but I tried not to focus on the fact that my body was all crumpled in a hot, tiny bus, and just take in the scenery. I just LOVE THIS PLACE. Seriously, I am SO lucky to be serving here. It's just beautiful everywhere we go. I'm so grateful to be in a province (aka, the booneys)---as opposed to a city---so that we can enjoy the wide open spaces of the palm trees and hear all the crazy animals in the morning. It's unreal, and I just feel like I'm on a vacation sometimes. I'm so lucky.

Friday we had exchanges, so I went to Lipa City and worked with one of the Sister Training Leaders, Sister Narciso. She is Filipina, and LITERALLY--I kid you not--barely 5 feet tall!!! She is the cutest. I was excited to be working with her and hear her cute little Ilocano accent all day. Lipa is HUGE. Seriously, it's so stressful. There's just people everywhere at all hours of the day, and so many cars. We taught four lessons, and then slept at their house. It was cool to be out of San Jose for a little bit in the city life. But I have to admit, it made me 10 times more grateful for my area. I learned so much from her. She's been out for 16 months so she had a lot of advice to give me. The thing that stuck out to me the most was not what she said, but her attitude all day. She was so happy and so positive about everything. She was OYM-ing so many people (open your mouth), and she wasn't afraid to talk to anyone and everyone, even if they rejected us! It really helped my confidence and I realized that people really look at our outward appearances more than what we say. As missionaries, especially as an Americana serving here, people stare at either us or our name tags all day. We are carrying the gospel of Jesus Christ with us 24/7! We should always be happy and smiling, especially when we are out and about, and showing people how the gospel makes us feel, truly feel, inside. Even as members, we should be doing that. There were so many kids just running after us, wanting to walk with us especially "The Barbie" (me. hehe) I just love the kids here. They are so loving, and serve each other so freely--especially the poor children. They work together and help each other out. It made me so grateful to have the family and siblings I have who just give so freely, and it made me realize how we should ALL give freely. Nothing we have is ours. Everything is God's, except our will. And as we give our will to God, he makes us the person we were always meant to become, before we even came to earth.

We have TWO new investigators!! The first is named Brother Jonathan who is a preacher for a Born-again Christian Church. We found him tracting our road in Calansayan (mostly cause his house looks like Jay Gatsby's mansion), and we thought, "Hey, we like a challenge." So we opened his wrought iron gate and walked up to the door and said, "tao po" (which means "people"). They don't have door bells and people don't knock, it's so fun! He came to the door and we told him who we were and he let us in and ALL of his family was just sitting in his living room. He has 5 sons who are all over the age of 16.  They immediately just started asking us a million questions about what we believe in the Bible. He was throwing out all of these references and the whole time I'm just thinking to myself, "Oh, good thing I know the bible like the back of my hand. NOT!" Needless to say, Sister Tafiti and I just left, wide-eyed and sweating. (haha) We decided that we wouldn't let it get the best of us and just really try and study for his lessons! He wants us to come back another day when he's not "busy". "Busy" in the Philippines means, "I ain't interested and I'm too lazy to listen to you right now." We won't give up! We will share the gospel with everyone, even if we are the only Mormons in our area and all of our neighbors are born-again Christian, like he said :) Haha. Everyone knows where we live in Calansayan. It's so funny and awkward when we start tracting new houses because we'll go up to people and they're like, "Oh yeah! We know who you are, you're the Mormons in the big pink house." And we say, "Uh, yes... And when did we meet you again?" So funny! Provinces are just the funnest thing. Everyone knows you, even before you meet anyone! Haha!

Ahh, how grateful and BLESSED I am as a missionary. I can feel my testimony just growing as I share this gospel message with these people. I know that the Lord is counting on us to share his plan of happiness. I'm so excited to continue this mission, despite my trials already here. I know that the Lord knows me. He knows all of us individually, and whenever I see the kids run up I just can't stop smiling! I love them. They're adorable! (I'm asking president if I can take one home. :)  Jokelang.

Well, that's all for this week! I'm excited for the lessons and investigators we have this week, and hopefully we will be able to help them come unto Christ more fully! keep reading, keep praying, and most importantly, REMEMBER. Here's a quote for the week said by our wonderful President Peterson at training meeting: "We need to learn to bend and bow in our relationships. That is a humble position."

I LOVE THAT! It's so true. When I heard that, this thought came to mind: Christ knelt when he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. Joseph Smith knelt in sincere prayer to find the truth. We always kneel in prayer in our companionships. It's so humble and submissive and it really does show respect for our Heavenly Father and a willingness to accept His will whatever it may be. Applying it to our companionships--and all our relationships--we can all learn to kneel and bend a little more in our relationships as we learn to work together. Think about it. Apply it. Thanks, President Peterson!

Sister Seastrand
"The Barbie" :)

Week 4

Week 4!

WOW! I cannot even believe that it's been 4 weeks already! Time is just flying right by. There's always so much to say, as usual, but this week has definitely been an interesting one.
Sooooo...Basically all of our investigators have either dropped us, not kept their commitments, or have not come to church. Actually, all three of those things have happened with pretty much everyone. It's been a really discouraging week to say the least. Sister Banzali (another sister in our house) got really sick and had to go to the Lipa Hospital. She ended up staying there the whole week, as Sister Tafiti and I tried to clean the entire house ourselves amongst doing our work of salvation.. We spent SO MUCH money on jeepney and tricycle fares to Lipa putting together bags of garments and clothes and other necessities... It made me think about my dad getting surgery on his hip... I'm not sure how ya did it mom, but I understand how you felt now!

Elder and Sister Smith (the senior couple in charge of checking all the apartments in our area) came by to take a look at our wonderfully spacious new house, bringing the extra washing buckets for laundry and showering. They ended up staying later, and we had an appointment and had to leave so they just told us they would lock the back door and leave the screen door open, and lock the front door and screen door. We weren't worried since we have a big yard with barbed wire fence around and pretty much no neighbors... We literally live in the forest. The walk home is always so lonely and depressing (haha), we always think of our first apartment in Poblacion 2 in San Jose and get so sad since it was next to everything... and civilization. But then we remember the mold and the lizards.. :)

Anyways. We get home after a long, unsuccessful day of tracting and canceled appointments, ready to plan and drop into bed. Lo and behold, we LITERALLY cannot get into our house because the back door is BROKEN! Bless his sweet little heart, Elder Smith didn't shut the door right and the door got stuck in an awkward position and it was jammed in there pretty good. Both of us tried to get it open, but it just would not budge. After deciding we only weighed 110 pounds each, there was no way in the world we would be getting into our apartment tonight. We just looked at each other and started laughing and crying at the same time. We thought about going back to Lipa and staying in the hospital with Sister Banzali until the morning, but we didn't have enough money to do that. After talking about it for 15 minutes, calling the STL's and our sisters, I said, "Ok kasama. We ARE getting into our house tonight. I refuse to sleep outside with these lizards and spiders." I don't know how I did this, but I did. Prepare to be amazed:

So, our windows are EXTREMELY high. We have two little ones right by our front door that also lead into the dining room. They're probably like... oh..... 10 feet high. They're also very tiny square windows. I thought of a genius idea to pry open the window and just crawl inside.

Literally, if I did this in America:
            a)  the alarm would go off and/or people would think I'm a robber and stuff; and
            b)  there's no way to open the window from outside

sooo I wouldn't be able to do it.

But, here in the Philippines:
            a) no house alarms
            b) apparently this is normal, and
            c) The windows don't have locks on them and they slide.


I had my kasama give me a boost (actually like 5 boosts) and I made it up onto the window sill. My kasama is just laughing her little head off the whole time and saying "What are you doing?! You're going to die! You're going to fall!" I Just sat and chilled there for a second feeling extremely proud of my ninja abilities and then realized how HIGH it actually was, and how I had no idea how in the heck I was going to get down...

I look at my kasama and say, "Soooo.... Now what?" We just bust up laughing, I'm sweating and wanting to cry and all we can say is "Elder Smith!!!!! WHYYY!!" hahaha "Never again!"

We had three plastic chairs outside, and I had the idea then to take one of those chairs and put it through the window and just carefully drop it and hope it lands on all fours so that I can slide down inside without breaking a limb or something. I tried the first two chairs and both of them fell over.

Well, looks like I'll be sleeping perched up on this window sill with all the lizards and ants. And birds.

I only had one chair left and so I just took a deep breath and tossed it and IT LANDED!! I slid down carefully without scrapping my arms, and just used my awesome arm strength to slide down slowly and carefully... Anyways, I landed, opened the door and my comp and I just fell on the couch laughing and thanking the heavens that we made it safe into our house. We just looked at each other and said, "Never AGAIN." It went in my journal, for sure. I never thought I would do half the things I've done on this mission... Each day brings something new and you just have to be creative and work with what you get. Usually those are the best moments, anyways.

Don't worry mom, I'm fine.

On another note about tricycle and jeepnee's..

OK seriously, the tricycle drivers all know me since I'm the only American sister in my area for the next 100 miles. I was riding on the back of one of the tricycles and as we drive by one of the trike stops, he honks his little horn and yells "Americana!! I have Americana!" They all cheer and hoot and holler. It's like a game or something, to see whose trike or jeepnee I will ride on! It was really awkward to say the least, I'm starting to just accept that people stare and point and take random pictures of me but all I really can do is just smile my little face off and say kamusta. Haha! It's just fun.

In spite of all the bad and weird things that happened to us, I'm excited for this week and the new adventures ahead. This work is really marvelous and is something we all have a duty to share. All of us! Badge or not, we can all think of someone we can talk to about our church. We can all think of someone that we can serve and do something for that is not of our faith. It's incredibly important to just SHARE the gospel. God is counting on US to share it. He needs us! I'm so grateful for this gospel, and I know that God knows me. I know that we can (and should) turn to him for every thing. I hope and pray that I can continue on this hard and grueling journey, and that you'll all know that I know this church is true. It's not easy to live the gospel sometimes. It's not easy to be a good example all the time. But I know that ONE example, ONE testimony, and ONE person's faith can really change so many other's lives. Keep praying, keep reading, and most importantly keep sharing!! Hopefully this week we can find some more souls that are ready to hear our AMAZING message.


xoxo, Sister Seastrand