Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 38

So this week is the week that we meet our new president! We actually will be have a "Meet the President Zone Conference" in the San Pablo chapel... Our zone will be combined with 3 others zones: Cabuyao, San Pablo, Siniloan, and Santa Cruz. We're pretty close to San Pablo. I'm excited! It's even on the "forf of July" haha. Don't worry! I'll be celebrating in my mind and heart. I hope that you all enjoy that day and the wonderful freedom and blessings God has given us there... Don't ever take it for granted! And if you do, just come to my mission and you will see.  :)

This week has been alright. We are still teaching our beloved investigator, Willmar. What a great person. I feel the Spirit so strongly when we teach him. We've only been able to teach him every Saturday and Sunday with his job, but he is so humble and willing to change. I love his desire to learn and grow. I'm learning a lot from teaching Him. I don't know why, but my face just lights up and I feel so excited to teach him every time we do. We could have the worst day, but every Saturday and Sunday we look forward to our evening appointment with Willmar. He really wants to learn the commandments of God and follow them... he also wants to change. I just feel like we were friends before. I know he will get baptized... I'm wanting to stay in this area to see it happen, one more cycle! 

Transfer week is almost here: two more weeks.. I've been here for 4 cycles now, and the chances of me getting the call on transfer day is highly likely... Which I'm not sure how I feel about it, if it happens. I really love Sister Dadivas, I love our investigators, and I like our apartment and area. We'll see what happens. I've still got time so I'll enjoy it as much as I can.  

This week Sister Dadivas was sick which gave me time to do my favorite things: study and clean! haha! I washed clothes, mopped, washed dishes, and wrote my talk for zone training meeting. It was a good time for me to study and think about being called to be a servant. This week I'm just feeling especially grateful to be a missionary. I know that I will never have this time again to just study the Book of Mormon. I'm really going to miss this a lot when it comes time to return.

Something that's been on my mind is how my mission is like a mini episode of the plan of salvation and of returning home to our heavenly father. We come to our mission or mortal life and learn and make mistakes and all these things happen to us, and then we have to be ready to go home. And I know when I return home, I want to return home with the spirit in my eyes and a song in my heart to heavenly Father giving him thanks for my mission. Just like when we return home to God, we need to be ready and prepared to do so in order to feel worthy to be with God again.

I'm also learning a lot from my fellow house mate, Sister Aquino. She is 25 years old and has cancer. She got cleared to serve, but she's not sure if she will finish her mission if it gets bad.. I look up to her so much. I was expressing to her some of my frustrations about myself and feeling down and she told me, "Sister, everything that God wants you to be after your mission starts here in your mission. It all starts here for you." I've pondered that a lot and realized how true it is. God has given me a start. And I know that He is making me what I need to be and what He wants me to be. No matter what, he will remain true to me if I am true to Him. And no matter how hard it gets here or how stressed or frustrated or lonely I feel at times, I know he's there. If I do my part I can be happy.

Well, I hope you know how much I love you. This week has been pretty mellow again. I really love being here. I love being a missionary. I am a representative of my Savior. And I will never get this time back! I'm happy and healthy. I hope you all are, too, and that you have a fun 'forf of July' with everyone! 

Happy forf of July! :)
Sister Seastrand

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 37

The weather is pretty crazy here: rain a lot (and I mean A LOT) or hot. Oh, and very hot. Haha! So this is the last week with President Peterson and Sister Peterson, which is sad. And I'm really nervous for our new President, but I am excited to meet him. He sounds like a wonderful man and I'm sure he's nervous, too. I'm glad to have met President Peterson. He's great.

This week we've still been working on the investigators we have.... And once again, no investigators at church. It's really frustrating because the other sister's just had a baptism -- which was great. Heavenly Father is testing my diligence and faithfulness. I'm not perfect, but I want to be obedient and diligent to Him. All these little set backs are just helping me to grow closer to Him. It's interesting, but I think my first area is actually going to be my favorite. It was the hardest time of my life and the lowest time, but I felt so close to Heavenly Father in that time. I've noticed that because this area is easier because of the better conditions, I don't feel that close to Him, and that makes me a little stressed out. But I know that I just have to keep praying and keep going everyday. No matter what happens to me. It's been an interesting lesson on what we need to do to stay close to our Heavenly Father. I know that in order to help the area, We need to start with the members. I want to show them my love.

Something I'm learning: People can be so confused because of satan. Sometimes I forget how I'm living in the world but not of it, and how I'm not in America... (I feel so at home that I'm not sure why I forget that cause clearly it's a big difference)... but working with our investigators I'm noticing everyday how they are so confused about life. About God. And I realize how I've been so confused about God my whole life! Heavenly Father knows it all. I used to be like some of the people I am meeting, who thought they could just pray in their hearts, and accept Christ in their heart, but that's NOT TRUE. We have to SHOW our faith. We have to read the Book of Mormon. We have to READ the Book of Mormon! Haha I'm just learning so much. It's like I'm watching a movie of myself through each investigator we teach. It's so weird how their concerns are my concerns. 

This week's experience actually doesn't have to do with any of our investigators, but a great one that has impacted me. On Sunday we taught and visited a member family this week to help them in preparing a friend to hear the gospel. It was raining pretty hard and I really wasn't wanting to go out because it was pouring buckets from above. And just our luck, they live the furthest away of any of our members and investigators. I was tempted to reschedule on them. Anyways, we pursued our muddy, flooded way through the escinitas/ dirt roads to the member's house. This past week and lately I've been evaluating myself and myself as a missionary -- and coming up short. Earlier that day in sacrament meeting I had given a talk from Pres. Uctdorf's in the priesthood session about sleeping through the restoration, and even before that in relief society I was reading the talk "Be strong and of a Good Courage" by Pres. Monson. I didn't think too much of it, but of course it was great. Fast forward to the lesson and I just felt very strongly to teach about this talk in relation to sharing the gospel. I don't know what their concern was, but the spirit just started to touch me as I talked about this talk. I started to cry and felt the love of God in my heart. It was something that I desperately needed this week. I felt so picked up and the spirit was strong. I'll never forget that experience this week. I felt courage as I felt the love of God that comes from within. President Uchtdorf shared in his talk about the restoration something that helped me: "Being disciples of Christ isn't just a once a week or once a day thing. It's a once and for all effort."  What I learned is that I have courage. Courage comes from within because we have a divinity of a Heavenly Being who gives us courage by remembering who we are and where we came from. And God can has given me courage in all my trials. Being his servant takes courage in this world of sin. At times I get lonely when it's just me as the only American and our differences are so obvious. But I know when I turn to Heavenly Father on my knees, He will help me if I obey him... He will give me courage from within.

I already know that I am going to miss the mission when I am home. It's going too fast. It's almost July, then August is my one year mark. Then October is conference, then Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then, I'm home. And it's over... What a sad thing. I'm glad to be here. I hope this week is great and just know I love you all so much. Thank you for all your support. I'm going to study that hymn. It's my favorites, too.  :)  You should study the hymn, "Sweet Hour of Prayer"  That hymn has had special significance in my mission so far. Simple, yet powerful! :)  Talk to you next week!! :) Love you always and forever!

Sister Seastrand 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Week 36

Warning, the following experience may be a bit descriptive.

The apartment: In my first area, the water was as clear as if it was coming from a fresh mountain spring. And then I came to Santa Cruz and realized my clothes started to smell like a rice pond full of mud and fish. I've always felt the stench on me and at first, I really counted on perfume. I'd always think, "I GOTTA WASH MY CLOTHES BETTER, MAN!" After a few weeks I just got used to it. Mostly cause there's nothing I can do about it. AND THEN. My hair starts smelling funny... Then my skin, etc etc. And then the reality hit me as I walked into the bathroom with my towel to bathe. I happen to look down at the tile in horror: "Sister Cortes.... is this... mud?"
Literally, I've been showering in mud for the last six weeks! And now it makes sense why my clothes have little mud specks in them. And that also explains why I always feel an itchy film on my skin. All I know is, I'm most grateful for the enabling power of the Atonement, but a close second is my gratitude for tiny water filters from the Senior Missionary couples. Problem solved? Maybe, maybe not. We'll see this week if I still smell like the pond next to our investigators house.

Zone Conference: Last one with our beloved President Peterson. What a man. He spoke by the spirit the entire time. His knowledge and understanding just surpasses anyone I've ever met with a lot of gospel knowledge. (Actually, maybe he's right there under my dad and the Grandpa's, but he's up there.)  He spoke to us about the Book of Mormon and using it as the tool of our Father in Heaven.  He gave tons of great scriptures and a lot of other great insight about this sacred book. And the thing I think I'll remember most from him is his testimony.

He said, "The road to salvation goes through Gethsemane. You have to see Calvary, Gethsemane, and Golgotha to know what burdens the Son of God took upon himself for you and me." Wonderful spirit felt there... Literally could hear a pin drop during his testimony. Sister Peterson then gave a wonderful talk about family. Mostly she talked about families and the how we need to prepare now as missionaries for our families in the future. I loved that because hey, it's never too late to start thinking about families--especially your own. She shared about the importance of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I definitely encourage all to read this proclamation. I learned so many new things and gained a new perspective about our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness for me.
The Area: Sister Dadivas and I have come up with a vision for our area...Mostly working with members, and part-member families. One special person in a part member family that we've found: Willmar.

His Background: What a small World---We had found his wife one day in Barangay Calios and talked with her. We found out that she has been less-active for about 10 years now. We gave her a few visits but her heart was not ready yet to come back, and she wasn't really interested to listen to us. After one of the lessons, she told us about her husband and after talking it over we realized that he is the guy we always see at DBP bank. We asked her if we could teach him and she gave us the OK. We've taught him for a couple weeks now, every Saturday and Sunday when he is off work. Long story short, Our last lesson with him was the BOMB. Sometimes I think my faith is lacking in the investigator's ability to read the reading assignments---since most times they don't like to read--but this week Willmar read the entire introduction to the Book of Mormon  AND 1 Nephi 1-5. Long story short, this man is prepared. He recognized the spirit and has already prayed to know if it's true. I'm picking up some good feelings with this one.

The companionship is going alright... so far so good! We both like to be obedient, teach, find, work with members, etc. haha. She is awesome. This is her third area so she's got some good experience. I'm learning from her. I do miss Sister Baguio a lot but I know that she is definitely supposed to be my companion. I'm learning a lot this week about teaching skills and sacrifice. I wish I could tell you everything but I never have the time! In short, I learned how Jesus Christ's sacrifice is the great and last sacrifice of man. Our sacrifices are not of animals or anything like that, but of our heart. I'm learning to sacrifice what I love, and love what I receive when I do. I really feel the happiness of being a missionary. 

One funny thing about being the only American with three Filipinas: they really like rice and hot dogs for breakfast. Not my favorite yet. They talk really fast with each other, and sometimes I can't understand them, but it's really helping my language skills. I can't explain it. I'm just happy. I love teaching the gospel. It's fun to find, work with members, and everything. I love it! It's hard work and I have a lot of hardships but I know if I am faithful and obedient the Lord will be pleased with my service... It's funny how fast time is going by! I'm almost to July, and then August! One year! Wow.... I'm never going to have this time back again. What a great thing I have :)
Summer is winding down, and the rain is COMING! It rained 3 times this week. After Willmar's lesson on Sunday, it started pouring and the flood came. I just walked all the way home in the rain feeling the Love of Christ in my heart and a strong desire to help Willmar and his family become like mine with the gospel. Just a normal day in the life of ME. Happy and satisfied in my trials and hardships along with the sweet successes.

I really love Santa Cruz and teaching. Every day when things get rough, and I start to miss America I feel this satisfaction and happiness that I can't describe. It's the love of Christ and the love I have FOR Christ that keeps me going every day. I'm a happy, sweaty, satisfied missionary!

Sister Seastrand

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week 35

So let's see.... this week... we had transfers! I love my new companion. She's obedient, fun, sweet, and caring--I just think it's the cutest. Anyways, her name is Sister Dadivas. She is actually from my same batch of missionaries, so we've been out the same amount of time. I'm the only American in the house, so that's a little intimidating. 3 Filipinas and me... haha! It's definitely going to help my language! I'm a little lonely but that's alright. It gives me more time to think and do other stuff I need to do. 

So with our work this week:
Saying Goodbye to Sister Baguio
We've  started teaching a man named. And his wife is a less-active for about 10 years now. He is SO prepared. Sister Dadivas and I are so excited because we really think this situation is perfect. The fact that he is taking the lessons from us will help his wife to come back to church and complete their family. I LOVE IT! I'm praying my heart out that they will be completed. I really want that more than anything: a completed family. So far so good with him.

We visited a less-active this week. He has a heart of stone. He has concerns about Joseph Smith and section 84 of D&C.. something like that. But this week I was so grateful for my gospel knowledge because I just got so bold with him and starting speaking with a 'new tongue'. I was quoting all these scriptures that I hadn't thought of before. It was a really cool experience. At first he was really not listening because he just was so hard-hearted, but then he finally sat back in his chair and just listened to me. I think I talked for like 10 minutes haha... But man, I was on a role! The spirit was on fire there. It wasn't me, I owe it all to Heavenly Father. He helped me in that lesson through the Spirit. My companion was blown away... actually, to be honest, I was blown away. I think my boldness is something the Lord has blessed me with to help these people. Filipinos tend to be like "Oh honey" kind of people. And then there's me, "WAIT A MINUTE! That's not how the Lord teaches us."
OK, so yet AGAIN we had no investigators at church... WHY?! ... UGH's rough. But I'm even  more committed to be exactly obedient and give the Lord my all this week so I can tell him I did everything He asked me to. I feel peace in my heart that I am doing alright as a missionary.

Something I've learned this week: We were walking and I was contemplating why our investigators don't like to pray the way we teach them. And the thought came to my mind, "They like to do it their way." And I related that to obedience. We (as natural man) want to do things OUR way. But any other way than the Lord's way is not right. "And this is the way and there is no OTHER WAY nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God." 2 Ne 31. I love that scripture --- it's so true. There's no other way to be saved in heaven except by His ways... obviously!

I'm excited for President Mangum! I'm nervous at the same time, but I can't wait to meet him :) He sounds great. There's always so much to tell you about what I'm learning. But I just want you to know that I'm happy. I'm learning and I'm gaining a relationship {like you said, Mom, with Heavenly Father}. And that's the most valuable thing anyone can have. At times I get homesick but then I realize how fast the day goes and then yet again it's another day so I just keep going! I hope I stay here in Santa Cruz for 2 more transfers. I can tell I will really will love working with my companion here. We're going to do good things hopefully :) 

It's been raining lately so hopefully it will cool down a bit. :) I hope you all have a great week again and just keep going. I love you all so much. You're the BEST!


Sis. Seastrand

Monday, June 2, 2014

Week 34

Zone P-Day at The Gardens
I think I've felt a little pat on the back from Heavenly Father this week. Like a friendly celestial hand from Heaven just patted my shoulder. We get so jealous of other missionaries--sometimes we forget who we should look to: God. We should remember that reaching goals and doing good things helps us learn the ways of God. And reaching goals reminds us why we do the things we do. A good missionary once told me, "Sister Seastrand, don't look around you. Just look up." She is wise. And indeed, looking up takes humility.

Sister Baguio and I are setting goals, and reaching them. We're building up our teaching pool and finding how surprisingly intertwined our investigators are to the church. Each person we've taught this week has had some kind of contact with the church. And this week, we went to find another lost member named Bong De Asis. 

And we found him. And we started teaching the whole family. POTENTIAL COMPLETED FAMILY! Nothing gets me more excited than looking at a family that hasn't had the chance to hear the gospel for their family, and being the one to be the messenger.

Speaking of being a messenger, I've thought a lot about the word, "sheaves." At first all I could think of is wheat or some kind of grain.... And as I studied in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, it talks about sheaves and what the Lord means by the word "sheaves." As everyone around us has been having baptisms the entire week, I was tempted to think that sheaves is only baptism. But then I thought about all the tiny little grains and seeds on a sheave. How intricate and delicate they must be. And how the Lord tells us in the Book of Mormon how we obtain these sheaves: Faithfulness. Whenever I go out to work each day, I look around me at all the possible sheaves that I can return home with. And the promise of the Lord is that if we are diligent, we will gather sheaves. 

And then I thought about all the people I've taught in the past 10 months of my mission. And I have a lot of sheaves. A lot of intricate, delicate experiences of teaching that have helped ME in MY path to Heavenly Father. We're all on the path back to God. And we can all help each other while obtaining sheaves on our backs. Just a thought.

Not the month, but our investigator, June. Having struggles with faith lately. Don't we all, though? Sometimes I ask myself while teaching him, Who am I to tell him to have faith enough to find a new house and job in this difficult way of living? Sometimes I think God wants us to teach certain people so we can learn certain lessons. And gain another sheave on our back. It's not always easy to be chastened by God. And it's especially not always easy to see others be chastened by Him. But the blessing is that He knows how to chasten us. He chastens us in each experience, each day. 

This week we were lucky to teach a wonderful man named Willmar. He's a guard at the bank the we always go to for our missionary support. Also, the husband of a 10 year less active woman named Jennifer. This is (yet again) another potential Completed Family. To find potential families to be completed is something we've fasted and prayed for. The opportunity to see his willingness and humility to listen to our message was something I needed this week. I have great faith in him that he will seek the truth.

I hope I never leave Santa Cruz. This week is the worst part and best part of a mission: TRANSFERS. I literally don't know what I'm going to do without my best friend and partner in the work, Sister Eden Baguio. We've laughed together, cried together, had every kind of awkward moment together. But somehow I feel that things will be OK. Who knows. Maybe I'll be the one transferred. Yikes!  Maybe I'll stay. Yikes! The Lord knows each missionary and what He wants for each area from them. I'm definitely loving this area, but I know there's still more to my mission than Santa Cruz and Sister Baguio. How grateful I am this week and I'm definitely counting my blessings. 

Sister Seastrand