Monday, April 28, 2014

Week 29

First of all: I got the package! I got it on transfer day. One of the sisters in my apartment got it for me. And, I'm not transferred yet! Praise the heavens! WHEW. Also, my beloved companion is still with me! :) I love her. I LOVE SANTA CRUZ SO MUCH. I never want to leave. Members, companion, the people. LOVE IT ALL!

Lionila's baptism
Our baptism with Lionila, our 62-year-old investigator, was great! The talks about baptism and the Holy Ghost were great. I felt the spirit strong. Even though it was a crazy day trying to get it ready, it all came together and I felt the spirit. I guess it goes to show that it doesn't matter what happens as long as we have the right authority of God and get to be a part of His work. Then she was confirmed in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. She is the CUTEST EVER. Right after she was confirmed, she goes to sit down, and starts shaking the entire ward's hands on her way, starting with all the deacons and teachers who passed the sacrament, down to the oldies in the back. Brother Omadto, our first counselor in the ward, just stands and waits for her to sit down so he can welcome her into the ward. She ends up just standing there while we all welcome her. I just love her so much. I'll never forget how she looked when she bore her testimony. The gospel changed her life, a change that she had never had before. And the light of Christ was in her eyes. I can see her desire to follow Christ. It's really humbling to see. She works so hard in her rice field, and her house is so tiny. She's really poor, but she loves her Book of Mormon and keeps everything we give her in a little bag. It's so sweet. I love her.  And, thanks to her, here's my list of favorite experiences of the week: 1) When Lionila told me that she got electricity! YAY!  2) Seeing Lionila huddled under her tiny new light bulb strung in her tiny little bamboo house reading the Book of Mormon, and  3) Linonila and Lily making Pancit Canton for my birthday!! My fav of all Filipino food!

We're trying to prepare sister Lily for baptism sometime in May. I can't wait. She's so sweet. She learns a little bit slower so hopefully we can help her. Clariss is a little 12 year old girl who always comes with us and helps Lionila and Lily to read and everything. I love it--it's so cute to watch. :) She also came to church on her confirmation day wearing a skirt for the first time. :) she always wears jeans but she came in a skirt. It was so cute.

As a missionary you feel so inadequate of the work you do every day, but the thing I realize is it's not my work. It's the Lord's work, and we are just part of sharing it. So why do we need to be afraid? Of anything, really? So all I need to worry about is doing my best. There's no time to feel inadequate! There's so much work to be done. SO MUCH. Especially in the Philippines. The church is growing, but it's taking some overhaul effort.

 On Wednesday, we were in a barangay (neighborhood) called Pantalan. We were finding a referral from a non-member. We were in this tight little alley way, asking all these people if they knew the person we were trying to find, and then we have all these little boys about 10-12 years old come up to us and ask us what we're doing. We tell them who we're looking for, and then they tell us they know the person.
"So why are you looking for them?"
"We're missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, teaching the gospel."
Then sister Baguio looks at them and asks them, "Do you know Jesus Christ?"
And they start picking on this little girl who is with them that is apparently one of their play mates.. Asking her if she is Jesus Christ and making fun of us. Then they run off and Sister Baguio just shrugs and laughs. But then we hear this little voice that says, "Kilala ko si Cristo" (I know Christ). We smiled and told her a little about the gospel, then gave her a little pamphlet and she ran off all happy to her mom. CUTEST EVERRRR! It's experiences like that I won't forget. Children are so close to God. Their minds and spiritual abilities are so sensitive. Sometimes more than we tend to be as adults. I love seeing the little children playing with whatever they can find in the streets, at the lake, on the bridge. And I especially love seeing them at church singing "I am a Child of God" with their Filipino accents.

Oh boy, get ready for this:  WE HAVE A RAT IN OUR LAUNDRY AREA! Oh my, I almost had a heart attack! Mostly cause I'm just sitting there having personal study and sweating bullets, just the normal, and I see out of the corner of my eye this big black thing running around in our laundry area. I've gone 8 months in my mission without any rats or mice. After seeing this, I think I'm good for the remaining 10 months! It's back in the drain where it belongs. And I hope he moves on!  :)

We taught a less-active named Merly who has been less-active for probably about most of her life. She is offended by someone in the ward, and lots of missionaries have been visiting her. We went to her house to teach our investigator, Oliver, but he wasn't home. So we decided to share with Merly. I had a feeling to just share about charity in Moroni 7. And then things got pretty intense because the Spirit was super strong. I decided to get pretty bold. "Sister Merly, I know that we can be filled with this pure love of Christ if we will just let go whatever happened in the past. I know if you let go of whatever happened, you will be happier and feel the love of Christ." Well, she said a wonderful, heartfelt closing prayer and we left. I hope that this charity will enter her heart soon.

Just a typical, beautiful sunset
Speaking of Charity, I was reading about it in PMG. And 1 Cor 13, talks about charity. Without it we are nothing, and really, if we don't have it, it doesn't matter what good we do.  I know that being here in my mission is sometimes a test of my charity...How much charity I will have for my companion, my investigators, and even myself. Charity is pure and sanctifies our hearts to be pure.

So my birthday is this week... almost forgot until last week! Finally out of the teens, moving on into the adult years--BOOYAH!! I can't wait to spend my b-day in my favorite place, and I'm feeling especially blessed to spend it with my companion, Sister Baguio, in Santa Cruz.

This week's focus is: FINDING
We're really struggling to find new people to teach. Always. BUT we are going to take advantage of any slow time and look for the "address unknown" people and track down some of those members who've become lost or forgotten.

I'm really learning that the Lord is always trying to teach us something especially when we feel like we are growing stagnant in our lives.. which even happens on our missions. It's interesting how our trials differ and how they are given to us, and they change quite frequently throughout your mission--which ometimes is a giant curve ball you can never expect. It seems like feeling frustrated in my language and frustrated with my teaching ability is always going to be there. But then, you have the need to be humbled when you slack off on your language study because you get to the point where you can have a pretty substantial conversation instead of just the same-old, "How are you? Do you have a family? I'm a missionary." It's so important to know that we always need to turn to the Lord,  even if we are doing pretty alright in our mission--maybe especially when we're doing pretty alright! I'm thankful for Tagalog and being able to learn another language. I hope that I am becoming the person that God wants me to be. I know my testimony is growing and that my spirit is getting stronger in the gospel. I am really finding out who I am and what I'm made of.  :)  It's hard out here, but I know I will miss it when I'm finished, and I don't want to regret anything or waste any time.

Quote of the week (You have to know that Santa Cruz is one of the hottest areas in our mission. I am sweating from sun up to sun down, and even into sleeping hours. 24/7. It's awesome. So here's the quote of the week from Sister Baguio):
"Man... How long is summer in the Philippines?"- me
"Maybe until the June time. All I know is, my feet has fever."- Sister Baguio

I love her. And her English. And most of all I love teaching her English while she teaches me Tagalog. There's never a dull moment with Sister 'Stranded at Sea' with Sister 'Baguio'.  (p.s. 'Baguio' means 'storm' in Tagalog. Clever, eh?!)

Happy birthday to meeeee!!  :)   haha!
Until next week,
Sister Seastrand

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