Monday, May 26, 2014

Week 33

It's summer now in America! Whoo! To answer your question yes we're having rain lately. I've woken up many times with rain the night before. That's nice! It's cooling down a little when it rains. Summer is coming to an end here, and we're heading into the rainy season--not quite yet typhoon season, but rain is definitely here. It's still really hot and I'm so glad summer is winding down. It's too hot! I'm tired of sweating all the time...haha...but then it will be more humid when it rains. Man, the weather here is just interesting. This week I've been alright. It's been pretty mellow. I'm feeling a little down on myself with the work lately. I've been out now for almost 10 months. WOW--that's fast! I think I'm getting too comfortable with my area. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing. We're struggling with baptisms, but I got a blessing yesterday that helped. I know if I am obedient and consecrate myself to the work I will be blessed. I'm trying to overcome these emotional challenges, but it's hard. I really feel like I'm not helping anyone right now. But then I remember Lionila--she is so sweet. She came to church this week and she was wearing a beautiful flowery combination of skirt and shirt. I just love her. We always laugh together. She's like me--a joker :) haha. Missionary work is always up and down. Our area is doing alright. We're trying to help our ward mission leader fulfill his calling. He's struggling a little bit. Everyone around us is having baptisms and that's stressing me out. But I just try not to compare myself to anyone but me and do my best every day. It's a hard thing. Missions are not easy. But I know my testimony is growing.

So we have Elder Craig Christensen coming to our mission tomorrow... that's exciting. (Also, I saw that Pres Uchtdorf visited the MTC! WHAT?! HE'S MY FAVORITE! Man, those lucky people. :-(  Oh well.)  We'll be in San Pablo for half the day. I love going there. It's so big and fun and clean. :) Speaking of clean, I literally smell like a pond every day. It's not that fun. But hey. I won't be here forever. :) Also, transfers are coming up. I'm not sure if Sister Baguio will be transferred or not. I hope not. We really laugh together and struggle together. I love her a lot. She is so sweet. And I love teaching her English. 

I'm trying to get as much sleep as possible. I tripped to other day while running with Sister Reed---it was the WORST! I think it happened mostly because I'm so tired when I exercise. But I'm trying to exercise and follow the schedule exactly. It's hard! But I do my best.

Basically I just love all of our investigators right now. Old and new. Building up the teaching pool is not easy work but rewarding. I think it's rewarding for several reasons. It builds diligence, and not to mention fervent, prayers. We've got a couple of new investigators: Michelle, RJ, and June.

FIRST: Michelle is 24 years old. She is a cute girl and is a working as a maid for a member in the ward. She's from Batangas, which is 5 minutes from my first area. Coincidence? I think NOT. We were teaching the Tope family about the doctrine of sharing the gospel, and at the end of the video we shared, we asked them who they knew that they could invite to hear the message. Sister Tope looks to her right and points to Michelle, "Siya." It was pretty great because normally this doesn't happen--We got a referral right on the SPOT! We got to know her a little bit, and invited her to church. She's come 2 times now and feels so happy at church. I really hope things are going to work out with her. She's got GREAT potential. And she looked really happy when we taught her how to pray. AND she told us that she would definitely read and pray!

SECOND: RJ, who is the husband of Sister Marsha. We found Marsha while trying to find her sister who was a member, back then. (So many people have gotten lost and gone inactive) We started teaching Marsha without her husband, since he wouldn't really talk to us. Then when we went back this week to teach Marsha, she was asleep. EXCEPT her husband was just walking around in the heat...sort of working on starting some home-cooked meal. (Also, this guy is SO extremely quiet. Literally cannot hear him.) However, super nice. We start teaching him, and find out he's had some contact with the church, friends, been to church, etc. Perfect set up. I really felt the spirit strong in that lesson. Hopefully we can complete this family. I have SO much faith in them. 

THIRD: June. I just love the guy. He's making some big, big changes in his life, and we can see his big desire to change. He's probably the smartest investigator I've taught. "So brother June, how was your reading in Alma 42?" Then basically he just teaches us everything about the plan of salvation and how we can be redeemed/saved. He's come to church 3 times now. YAY. Working his way to baptism next month.

Just through these three wonderful people I've learned a lot about my testimony. I know that Heavenly Father wants me to teach these people. He wants me here to help them, especially with some deep intense problems that they all have. At times I wonder if I can really teach them the way Heavenly Father would. This week I read in Helaman 3:35. The Atonement is the foundation of the reason we can become clean and theHoly Ghost is the way we feel clean. I'm so grateful for the quietness of the Holy Ghost. I feel it in the everyday things. Whether we're riding in the trikes, laughing at funny stupid things that happen, talking about awkward lessons, funny things that our hilarious recent converts say. I feel it. I feel the quietness in my heart. And then I know that what I'm doing is a good thing. That's what I want all of our investigators to feel. They will feel it and know what they're doing is a good thing.

Diligence, fervent prayer, and self-inventory. I guess it's safe to say these three things have helped us to find some new people to help this week. Helping more people come unto Christ is daunting, but when we have the spirit to teach us, we find more people than we ever would on our own. When I get stressed about what I'm learning, I just have faith in my Savior. I know he's right there telling me to keep going, even when it's hard. I'm learning that diligence starts even when you're tired. And trust me, I'm a tired sister! :-) Here's to a great week with some new investigators. I love you so much!!! Talk to you next week!

Sister Seastrand

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week 32

Hey! Wow Amy's birthday! I am glad it was fun and low key. I hope you had a GREAT birthday,  Amy! :) hehe.

I think the Lord is testing my patience and my diligence.  Mostly because everyone we OYM, talk to, or associate with ends up being in other area's boundaries with other missionaries. Which is not really ideal when you're trying to find people you can teach. BUT I'm just feeling it. I'm feeling the diligence come. 

Highlight of this week:
First of all, this week we OYMed this super sweet man on the tricycle. We gave him a pamphlet. Said our ingats, then left. ('ingat' = care, caution, safekeeping) THEN we saw him again! There he was giving us a ride again. And he already read the first pamphlet again. So we gave him another.

FAST FORWARD...I was in the shower, and had the distinct thought in my head to visit this guy. So then we went to a Special Zone Training Meeting with our wonderful President Peterson, and he talked to us about the Spirit and how we can recognize it.  "Sometimes Elders and Sisters the spirit will talk to you, in places you wouldn't expect. We have to be ready at all times for the promptings. Even in the shower. Did you know you can receive promptings in the shower?" WHAT?! Perfect timing, and perfect confirmation. Right after that meeting we went to find brother Ronald Ramirez. 

Great Ward Missionaries!
I gotta say, President Peterson calls on me a lot in meetings--which is intimidating. I feel like I forget how to breathe around him..haha. Also he told me after the meeting when everyone was gone, "You look great! Are you happy?" I dunno, it just felt nice to see and hear that. I've tried to have the spirit a lot which makes me shiny and happy. He told me not to be stressed, but to just listen to the spirit and I will be alright. 

Speaking of a special Zone Training Meeting, this mission is raising its standards, and boy am I stressed.  Finding, teaching more lessons, working with members and leaders, key indicators, visions. All of this is making me lose my mind. Lately, there's been this topic that keeps being on my mind. Sacrifice. In D&C 88 I learned all about sanctification and sacrifice:

Verse 67:
"And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things, Therefore sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him, for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.

verse 74:
"And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean; That I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this generation; that I may fulfill this promise, this great and last promise, which I have made unto you when I will."

Ok so basically, we need to cleanse ourselves enough so that we can give our heart to Christ to sanctify it for the Father. We all need to do this. Because that is our purpose. It's a process that I'm learning, but I think that's why I'm still in this area...To learn to sanctify myself before the Lord. We're still finding. It's a process... but I'm learning a lot. I'm trying to be more diligent and sanctify myself to the work. Satan is really working hard on me. But I have faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I'm getting a lot more focused in my mission. I'm feeling the change in my heart everyday! The Lord is working on me. We are doing our best here. We have all these lists, that I am excited to just find new people! It's fun to find :) I know that if I do all I can this week, everything will work out. Using all the lists we can get our hands on to find, and Find, and FIND. I'm grateful to be here. We're just trying to find all day. And all night. There's not even time to shower or eat! I'm just thinking about all these ways to find. I really love my companion. She is great. She loves learning English. She told me how grateful she was to me for teaching her everyday and being patient. It's so cute. This is going to be the theme of our week: Sanctify ourselves. We haven't had our miracle yet. But diligence is the key. Be happy and keep reading the book of Mormon.

Sister Seastrand

Monday, May 12, 2014

Week 31

What a great call!! :) How grateful I was to talk to you, and the blessing of seeing you. The process by which it came about was a little stressful... and loud. The rain came POURING and the jeepneys were going by. Standing in a little cell phone shop trying to call you... No one was answering, and feeling a little abandoned. But how wonderful and funny it was to hear dad. That was special :) What an experience, too, trying to figure it all out.. hahaha... But nonetheless it all worked out--thanks to our Heavenly Father. He is watching over me all the time. I know it. Every time I pray I feel Him there. Just sitting right there on my bed. Listening to my worries and my fears. I'm SO grateful to have been able to see my wonderful grandparents as well. What a great blessing that was, too. I love them!!! I am so grateful!!!!

Beautiful Rice Fields
Mom, thank you for the compliments and love. I felt your love this email very strong. I hope you had a great Mother's Day. Just know I thought of you all day long :) Just like every day. What I couldn't do without my mother. Thank you for your virtue, faith in Jesus Christ, example, unconditional love, support, cooking for me, living the gospel, teaching me how to sew a button, teaching me how to repent, how to obey, how to be like Christ, how to love my companions, how to love everyone. All the good things that come from me come because you are my mother, sent from our Celestial Father. I love you mom. More than you know. You're a strong woman. And I am strong because of you. :)

We found a new investigator named Lito and his daughter named Liezel. They're super sweet and I hope things go well with them. I can see how the Lord has prepared them to hear the gospel. Liezel cares a lot for her family. At only 17 years old she understands her responsibility to help and care for them. She has a lot of little siblings and it was just great to see her example. I hope they accept the gospel.

This week had a few challenges:
Challenge number one: Not just a challenge emotionally and spiritually, but a frustration because of the fact that NONE of our investigators came to church. Not one. So that was rough... and a little sad standing at the entrance of the Chapel with no one to greet except our fellow missionaries. I felt a little sad and a little overwhelmed. WHERE ARE YOU?! But I think we'll find out the concerns in the lessons we will be teaching them this week.

Challenge number two: Mostly at this point in my mission, I'm feeling this great sense of stress/ self-inventory. I'm taking this self-inventory of my mission and wondering, "Am I giving enough?" And the answer I came to: "Probably not." Heavenly Father teaches us different things in each area, and for this area I think what Heavenly Father is trying to teach me 'sacrifice.' I need to sacrifice my thoughts, my desires, my will, everything. Which is a big part of me, but here's my big goal/vision: To just sacrifice everything, everyday. I mostly want to try this because I know that He knows me better, and has a better plan for me.

I also came to the conclusion this week that my biggest fear of my mission is that my weaknesses will stop me from finding people. I've felt recently the sense of urgency Heavenly Father must have to share His plan of happiness. Every teaching appointment I just tell our investigators that this is the most important thing they could ever hear, so listen up. :) Just like I would do in normal life. Being the boss.
Our investigators are doing pretty good, although both baptismal goal dates are being postponed, which means I probably won't be here for these baptisms. In spite of these setbacks to the hastening of the work in Santa Cruz, I think Heavenly Father really wants me here for them. These two genuinely good people. Remember when I had that strong impression in my first area that there were other people God was preparing for me to talk to? I think I found a couple of them, here. I'm grateful for them. And for the things I'm learning because of them.

So here's a few highlight of my week: Sunday was pretty great, mostly cause I have the sweetest companion EVER. She made little notes for all the relief society before church saying "Happy Mother's Day" to give to all the sisters. I JUST LOVED IT. I just want to be like her. So thoughtful!

Even though I've been struggling with myself lately, I have faith and trust in Christ. I'm reading this book called "Jesus The Christ", which is really great. And basically what I'm learning is that Christ is the one. He did it all. He lives so we can live. My fears just go away because I know I can live in this life because of Him. My testimony of Jesus Christ is growing so much. Mostly because I know that Jesus is The Christ. And there's so much to do with that knowledge.

Well, here's to finding more new people to teach this week. We'll be going through many long lists of lost souls out there. I can't wait. Part-members families, less-actives, and just lists of unknown people that forgot they are a member of this church. Finding is my new favorite hobby. Hopefully this week my obedience will pay off with some shiny new investigators full of the spirit! I can feel myself transforming like you said, Mom. Every day! I hope to transform myself into the person I want to be.

Sorry this email is all over the place, I just keep remembering things I want to say. But just know how great it was to see you all. I miss you guys, but I need to endure to the end. :) I hope you all have a great week again. Don't worry about the heat here...I'm dying a little but I'm bearing it! I love you SO MUCH! Thanks for the update on life over there. You know I love to hear anything! :) 

Until next week,
Sister Seastrand

Monday, May 5, 2014

Week 30 - Maligayan Karawaan to ME :)

First of all, WOW that's all I have to say about my package. You really know how to make me feel special even 20,000 miles away... I felt so blessed with all the things you sent me. The skirts and tops, the pictures, the Book of Mormon, the footsies, the CANDY, the letters and cards from you and Grandma and Grandpa, and the laminated quotes. EVERYTHING. Thank you a million times. I hope you know how special that was for me.

My birthday truly was a great day. Even being a little under the weather, I felt so happy all day. (I woke up on Tuesday morning with a nice little sinus infection--plugged up ears and nose.) My box from home, and my companion and house mates made it the best day. I truly felt Loved. Just like every year, but especially this year. I just wanted to tell you thank you for being my family. And thank you for sending me such nice things. I have to admit I got emotional looking at all those wonderful pictures from home. I love them! I have both the banner and pictures up in my room :) As you can tell from the pictures. :) Also, I'm so grateful you sent me that cause I stayed up the night before making myself one hahaha ...... :) So thank you!!!!!!!!

SKYPE stuff: So, I will be coming to the computer shop on Sunday, 1 pm my time. I think that's evening around 7 or 8 pm your time... I really don't remember my skype info.. or yours.. so if you can just send me that ASAP I will check for it on Sunday when we come. I CAN'T WAIT! Oh, How I love my mother!

I wanted to take this time to tell you about a really great experience I had with our investigator. She can't really read, and she's getting older... but let me tell you how I just see in her eyes the desire she has to be a part of this Gospel. She comes EVERY Sunday. In her nicest clothing and shoes. Anyways, we were re-teaching the Word of Wisdom, and she remembered 'SAKIT' --a thing we teach them about what is forbidden to partake of like drugs, alcohol, etc. SHE REMEMBERED ALL OF IT! I just was SO happy. I can't explain the happiness I felt for her. And she remembered even the other part about eating good foods like fruits. It was so wonderful. The reason I wanted to tell you this is I'm learning something about faith. Faith isn't taking a step into the dark, it's taking a step into the light because we can see. I can feel heavenly father giving me little bits of truth everyday which is helping my faith grow. That's how it gets brighter. I've been praying almost every day for my faith to shine in my face. I want to be like Nephi and Lehi in Helamen 5 "whose faces shone exceedingly"-- that's my goal. My challenge to you this week, is to learn about faith in PMG--just read it and learn about it!
The close of a wonderful Birthday!

I love you so much!! I can't wait to skype on Sunday. I'm so grateful to be here. And learning everything I am. I can feel myself changing and fighting satan. It's a hard battle, salvation. But it's a hopeful one :) I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!! Maligayan Karawaan to ME :)
Sister Seastrand