What a crazy, exhausting, wonderful week. I don't have time for everything but I'll just fill you in on the main highlights of the week, starting with the best first: Teaching Mergie's dad! Why this is so awesome for us: Mergie is 16 years old and is progressing super fast. She's doing the main three things for successful conversion: 1) reading the Book of Mormon every day, 2) coming to church, and 3) praying every day. Can't get much more golden than that. Here's some important information to know about her: This girl is the sweetest. She honestly makes my mission so far the greatest. She is almost graduated from high school and onto college. We have always taught her at her best friend's house. So we've never actually met her family before or taught them. But has actually added a bonus because her best friend is also super progressing. They both come to church together and live half a world away from the church. (And, Yes, I tend to get a little emotional when I see them walk into our little chapel every Sunday with their smiling faces after having walked so far to get there.)
PEROOO (pero = however), there's always a catch to every golden investigator: Sister Ricketts and I have had a rough time trying to talk to her family. Since she is under the age of 18, she wouldn't be able to be baptized without permission from her parents. Mergie's dad just happens to be devoted Catholic, which isn't surprising since half this country is catholic. We finally went to talk to him and, not surprisingly, he did not want to talk to us. He literally would not even come to the large gate. He just hid in his door and yelled to us in fast Tagalog while we tried in our slow, broken Tagalog to tell him who we are... hahaha. It really could not have gotten more awkward than that, but as a missionary you just get used to this aspect of mission life: not everyone wants to talk to you.(surprise!) It's been like that for several times now, and slowly he's been warming up to us. He even made the effort to come to the gate a few feet closer to talk to us. We have yet to even shake his hand and get a smile from him. (We just add that to our daily key indicators every night during planning.) We had invited them to church, but he never has come.
ANYWAYS, we were visiting a member in the same village as Mergie, and I just had a great little thought come to mind, "Hey we should go stop by and see if Mergie (and her family) wants to come to the baptism with us tonight." I turn to Sister Ricketts and say, "Sister, we should stop by and see Mergie." Without delay we go to Mergie's to ask her if she wants to go to the baptism with us, and LO AND BEHOLD out comes Mr. Buscas to talk to us (with his typical scowl that tells us how he feels about us more than words do). We tell him about the baptism and he tells us he doesn't have any money to come to the baptism...But that he has time to hear our message. MIRACLES HAPPEN ONCE IN A WHILE! (Cue the Princess Diaries music.) We literally had not even planned for this but saw one of our members visiting Mergie and asked if she would be present in the lesson. He even left his property to come to Juliet's house to be taught. I felt extremely nervous since his Tagalog is really awesome and deep and mine is really not awesome with a small vocabulary. Overall, we had a great lesson about the plan of salvation. The Spirit was there and a bonus: my Tagalog was not even bad.
The Lord really does prepare hearts to receive His message. If we would not have kept going back to him to try and share with him, we probably would still be where we are today having no success with him. (Sometimes you need to be a persistent missionary!) Sometimes it's hard to tell when, but the Lord is always working in mysterious ways. The best part is that the Lord was able to lead us through our thoughts that came to mind and we had a great lesson that really helped this man soften his heart to the Mormons. SUCCESS!
On Sunday we dedicated the new San Jose Chapel which was just wonderful! Elder Brent Nelson, Area President of the Philippines Missions came to dedicate it. He is just awesome and our chapel is just awesome. How grateful I was to have a nice new chapel for our small branch to meet in. We sang "If You Could Hie to Kolob" (in which I was volunteered as tribute to play piano!). "Hey, We need a piano player who can come up with a song to play for one of the Lord's servants and be able to practice it in 2 days.... Sister Seastrand, you look like you could do that, would you be willing to help us out?" "Um...SURE!" It's really funny that people think missionaries can just do EVERYTHING. None the less, it was a happy successful piece that really brought the spirit to the meeting. I just love our branch so much. It's one of the best in the mission.
This last P-day we went hiking to Mount Maculot (which is not just ANY hike). Nor is it a hike for the weak of heart or body because It was probably 8 miles or so and a 90 degree slope. Not to mention, it's one of the tallest mountains in the Philippines. Good thing I'm in such great shape and so I didn't really struggle the whole way...NOT! Good thing we have awesome elders that just help all the sisters when we do anything that requires physical exertion. Once we got to the top, I could not even believe I was even serving a mission because the view was just paradise. Sometimes I just feel like I'm on this awesome vacation since my mission is so gorgeous. God really created such a beautiful earth for us to enjoy and take care of. I really felt close to my Heavenly Father as we hiked to the top and really enjoyed the peace and quiet for awhile while we just looked at the awesome tree tops and volcanoes all around us in the water.
I'm so lucky to be a missionary. And I have one of the best missions ever. It's not easy, but we never get a time so sacred as this to learn about the gospel and grow close to our Heavenly Father. His work is not easy, and nor will it ever be, but how lucky I am to be a part of something so great.
I'm a blessed sister missionary.