Monday, July 28, 2014

Week 42

Things are moving along with the clean up from the typhoon. Unfortunately, this email will be short because not that much happened. It's been kind of a different/weird week with investigators and such with members being busy cleaning up their houses-- some still don't have electricity. Quite a long after-effect with the typhoon! It's been a slow teaching week because we didn't feel it was that appropriate to teach them, especially since they had no roof (or even a house!), so a lot of missed lessons, but hey! It's all part of the life in the Philippines. We haven't actually done any service because people refuse our help! I definitely think it would be nice to have pictures to remember this experience, but like I said, it just feels wrong to take photos of someone else's sadness. I will just always have the images in my mind.

So guess what? Sister Burt, my MTC companion is my Sister Training Leader now! It's so great :) Also, other big news.... Sister Ricketts is a trainer!!! AH! I'm so happy for her. She's so great :) I love her!

Hey, Bryan!!!!!!!!!!!! Maligayang Kaarawan. :) (Happy birthday in tagalog of course.) So sounds like your week was fun! :) I'm glad cause you deserved it! You're a wonderful person. I just wanted to tell you that I love you so much and am so grateful for your example to me. I always tell you this, but I mean it: You've been a BIG help to me here in the field. You will never know how much your example and emails to me have lifted me in times of need. :) And Jaegar's birthday!! What a cutie. Congratulations on receiving the Priesthood!

I also have to agree with you about our pioneer heritage, and about Grandma Ada and Grandpa Glenn. I know for a fact they are with me because it tells me in my Patriarchal blessing that the ancestors know me! Even though I don't know many of them, I bet these ancestors are with me here to comfort me. I'm grateful to be part of that heritage. It's a legacy that we need to carry on! They were strong, but we can be just like them, and never forget them. :)

So our investigator didn't come to church this week.... We didn't get a chance to teach him :( which is so sad... I wish we could have been able to teach him because I know that he is really wanting to change. I'm just hoping that his girlfriend won't stop him! He is really prepared. I hope he comes to church this week again.  Other than that, we've just been focusing on teaching members. We have some other investigators that aren't progressing, and I'm realizing how badly we need referrals. We've been struggling in that area of our goals. I'm hoping that we can get some this transfer. Sometimes it's really hard for the members to refer their friends. I don't know why because the message is so much more important than what people think!  I just really love Filipino kids. They're SO CUTE. I love speaking tagalog to them. It's fun :)

This week has been a different one with my companion. She's been feeling a little homesick from her last area, which has made things a bit off between us. I've been a little sick (Mom, don't worry :) ) so we haven't worked as much. Just tired and no energy. But I'm getting back up there! I've learned a lot of things about myself. One, I've learned about my weaknesses; and Two, I've learned that it's OK to be honest with yourself about your weaknesses, and to accept and move on from them. I know that none of us are perfect. And I know that Heavenly Father is the only one that can help us with our weaknesses.  I know that I have a lot of changing to do in myself to become better. There's always more to give. And I know that if I do my part, Heavenly Father will help me and make up the difference for my work here. And I'm glad to still be here in this area. I'm not sure why, but hopefully Heavenly Father will help me know why. I sometimes feel that I'm not doing anything to help, but I know that at least I can plant seeds and do my best as I teach, study, and everything, Because I know who I am serving. And that helps me to keep going. All I can say is that I'm doing well and happy to be a missionary.

I love you all!!! Have a great week! :)
Sister Seastrand

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 41 - Typhoon Glenda!

Typhoon season is coming for sure. For the next 6 months. Beginning this week with Typhoon Glenda.  It was really scary, actually... scarier for me than Typhoon Yolanda. Santa Cruz, my area was hit the worst is what we heard from the other missionaries. The wind was over 115 miles per hour, and all four of us took out the windows in the other sister's room because the pressure of the wind was so strong; strong enough to break out these windows. And we wouldn't want to have shattered glass come speeding toward us! Then we moved their bunk bed to the window to help the pressure.  We got our 72 hour kits and slept all of us in Sister Dadivas and my little room and sang some hymns by candlelight, but couldn't even hear anything accept the wind and rain. The storm started at about 11 pm. Of course we had early curfew because we were Signal 2 (which means you need to stay inside). So Sister Dadivas and I taught one lesson and got home at 6 pm. We couldn't sleep at all that night since the storm went until the early morning. We  finally fell asleep around 5 am, and the storm was over. We enjoyed the silence of the storm being over. We all woke up at about 10 am. It definitely was a rough night for us.

We looked out the windows and saw the damage... we quickly ate some rice and then went out to visit the members and investigators to see if they were hurt or anything. NOTHING could explain the feeling of humility I felt as I rode the tricycle, looking at the damaged town. The roofs on houses were gone, houses were completely fallen over, poles were in streets and in some houses, and the worst, the "budget lane" sign had fallen on our church roof. 

In spite of everything I saw, the greatest thing I saw: people were up on their roof trying to fix up their tiny little bamboo house. Most of their things were just gone, but still trying to fix up what they had. I've never seen a stronger people than these ever in my life. 

This past week has been a rough one... some of the people had to evacuate because the storm became a Signal 4 storm which means EVACUATE NOW! After we visited the members and checked up on our investigators, we had no electricity. So for the past week I've washed my clothes on my kitchen floor with candles, planned by candlelight, and sweated more than I ever have in my life because it's so hot. I've learned to do many things in the dark..haha!... You should try it sometime! It's been a learning experience. When we got our electricity back, I felt like a rich girl on Christmas. :) I ran upstairs and said, "Sisters! wake up! We have electricity!!!!"  (this was like 6:15 am because I woke up early to take a bucket shower since our water is low) Let's just say I've not really slept that well this week. We also have had an earlier curfew because there's no street lights so of course it's not very safe to walk. But we have flashlights. :)  There's a projected time line of no electricity for one month. We just barely got our electricity on our street, but not everyone has electricity yet. We spent all day today looking to see if there was a cafe shop with internet and we finally found one! I'm so lucky to be able to communicate to you guys right now!

In spite of my trials this week, I know we are so much more blessed than our investigators and other people trying to salvage their homes. I just want to cry because of the level of humility I've been brought down to. And yet on Sunday, people still came to Church. WE ARE SO BLESSED. Never waste ANYTHING!

I'm happy to say I'm still here in Santa Cruz! :) YAY! Which means still working with Willmar, and Alex. The two highlights in my mission! Willmar came to church AGAIN with Jennifer and their little son.. I love Willmar so much. This week we taught him again the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the lesson when it was my turn to teach, I just asked him this question: "Willmar, how does it make you feel to know that you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven unless you are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ? What do you think about that?" His response: "Well, then I better just do it." I loved that so much. I'm not sure if I will be here to see him be baptized since he needs to get married still... but I know he's ready. The Lord has given him to me because of two reasons A: He is prepared and ready to enter the covenant of baptism and B: He's our only progressing investigator in this area. Heavenly Father gave me that as a tender mercy so that I wouldn't be so down and out about the work here. :) 

Anyways... things are good. I'm glad you had all had a good week! Also, Congrats to Grandpa Seastrand!! WOW! He's the best. The backyard reunion sounds like it was fun. I miss those activities. Maybe we can do it again in about 7 months? :)  It's quite the life, the life of a missionary. I love it. I don't want to change it. I like what Jessy said about not going back to how you were once you get home. It's so true! I must admit, I love being a missionary. No matter my trials that are in my life, I love teaching, I love the Philippines, I love Willmar and Alex. I love it all! Even the 'no water, no electricity, and big typhoons' :) It's a good time for service. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that it was appropriate to take pictures of the damage, especially as a foreigner. There is a lot of sadness. But I will never forget the images I see. I will share them with you when I come home. I will miss it in 7 months. I can't even believe how fast time is.

I hope you have a great week this week!! Just know I love you all so much. I'm doing alright :) We will survive and get back to normal. :)

Sister Seastrand

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 40

It's still really hot here.... man. I'm still sweating a lot! There were 2 days where we had no water except at night because the water in the lake is so low. I gotta say, it was really hard...but I survived and bought filtered water to take a bath in.... It was GREAT! :) No pond smell! And then we had no electricity which was hard cause it's the middle of the day, when it's the hottest... but we survived.

Thursday this week are transfers at the mission home. Who knows... I might be transferred--or not. I've been here quite some time, but I'm not training a new missionary... I will let you know next week what happens! We find out tomorrow morning. They just call you if you are transferred, but if you don't receive a call, then you're safe for another cycle! Talk about stress/anxiety of a lifetime! I hate that part of transfer week.  :)

This week my heart was so filled with love because.... WILLMAR CAME TO CHURCH!!!!! :) :) He really was so attentive and he had a fellowshipper there to help him too--brother AJ who is awesome and always works with us. YAY! and the best part? He came with his wife who hasn't been to church in 9 years!!!!!! and their little son!!! I was SO SO happy. I love this family so much. If I am transferred, I will miss them a lot.

Sorry... this next experience is jumbled:
Things with Willmar are going well. I especially loved what he said to us after our lesson about how he is using his time. He told us, "I give some time to work, family, and Mormons." haha Cute! He's reading in the Book of Mormon and everything. And when we were planning his lesson (since we hadn't taught him in a week since he was sick), I felt SO strongly to teach about the Holy Ghost which was random because we are still not finished teaching about L3 which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ... anyways, we created a wonderful lesson plan. The spirit made my mind so clear and I felt so much peace knowing that this was the lesson he needed to progress on his journey. I think that he is nervous and is doubting a lot. But I told him "Willmar, have faith. Don't doubt. Believe in Jesus Christ and that what we have taught you is true. Everything we have been teaching you is true and your testimony comes from the Book of Mormon... It's not about what you know and don't know as long as you know that the Book of Mormon is true." He got teary eyed and I could feel it well up inside me, too. I hope he continues on his journey. I have faith he will be baptized in his time because I feel the spirit very strongly every time we teach him. And my face lights up with the spirit and I can't help but smile every time we teach him. I know He is prepared by God. I'm so glad to be a part of his life.

Also, we're trying to help the ward have goals. I came up with something from Preach My Gospel. There's a thing that we have learned here to teach the members "regardless of the outcome in sharing the gospel". Meaning if the friend they share with rejects them, they still need to continue to share it. Filipinos are really nervous of rejection so it's rough to get referrals sometimes. Well the other day I had an idea to teach them "regardless of the situation of the ward" aiming at taking down pride and building unity. This ward has a hard time with having important meetings and things but Sister Dadivas and I are teaching each auxiliary and helping them to set a goal about their respective class. It's awesome. I feel like I am helping the ward and the area. :) I can feel that things will come for this ward in time. Like Bryan said, missionary work as a missionary is IMPOSSIBLE without members working!!! I've learned that SO MUCH here. Man, I will be a better member missionary when I return... I was TERRIBLE! haha. I have learned so much.

I've been having weird dreams a lot lately where I'm home with my name tag on but not a missionary anymore. I can't tell you how lucky I feel to be here wearing this badge. I want to serve God with all my heart and mind and might and strength. Like you said, Dad, about obedience--that is truly the way to be happy in the mission. I'm not perfect at all, but I don't want to regret anything and I want to give it my best every day. I feel that I am teaching and helping the people we need to, and the ward, too. I'm happy and nervous about transfers coming up but I have faith that whatever happens is Heavenly Father's plan for me. I will let you know what happens with that next week!

Anyways.. sorry that this was messy haha... but that was my week! I'm glad everyone is alright. I hope you know I love you all so much. Thank you for letting me have this experience and supporting me! I can't wait to talk to you next week about transfers!! I LOVE YOU!
Sister Seastrand

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 39

Hello, Family! The forf was great, just a normal day, but my companion told me 'Happy Fourth of July' so that was cute. And they wanted me to sing the national anthem, cause they like it apparently! God bless America! And the Philippines!  :)

Beautiful Sky!
The big family reunion sounds wonderful. I miss that... Being together. BUT I know not too far away, I will be back soon cause I'm so close to my 1 year mark.. Weird huh?! It's so fast... Time. Anyways, I really love that so many were there at the reunion. Especially with distance. The thing I've learned about distance... Heavenly Father REALLY doesn't care about that cause, I'm HERE in the Philippines. That's why I learned that. So meaning, that if God wanted me so far away, then we can travel a few hours by car to see everyone for awhile. This mortal life is so short--SO SHORT--compared to the life we have waiting for us... we need to use every day while in mortality. I really love what you shared to me about your impression about family. I actually just studied that today about the plan of salvation and the kingdoms of glory. In D&C 137 Joseph Smith has a revelation about the celestial kingdom, and I felt something very important: The Lord tells Joseph that He will base our judgments on two things, works and desires. Desires are important because they comes deep from within us, in our soul and heart. So no wonder he judges us on that. If we desire it, we can have it. We just have to do our best and desire to be with God. I wish I could tell you more about what I learned, but it'd take way too long!  :)

SO this week...not the best, but not the worst. We've had some people--actually quite a few of our investigators--drop us.  :(  It's sad. But, I've felt like I've been blessed with the gift of discernment and it's not been surprising to me the ones that aren't ready. And then there's our ward.... this week I've been feeling the impression to work with the ward. You know me.. I'm a very "Just do it myself and let's get it done" kind of person. Well... I think the Lord is trying to chasten me a bit. Sister Dadivas and I have to help the ward help themselves more. There's been some problems lately with pride among the members. BUT I love them. No matter what, I just love them. I appreciate their love for me, too. They are so giving to the missionaries. I'm lucky, and yet in a challenge at the same time. I'm learning how important it is to plan for members. It takes a lot of work to work with them, teach the existing members, instead of finding new, etc. But I know in my prayers I can ask the Lord to show mercy on us and help us find prepared people if I work hard with the members. I know I am doing my best to love them! 
So Willmar has been sick.... we didn't get to teach him Saturday or Sunday which was a bummer. And then I wasn't feeling well on Sunday so we went out only in the evening. But I'm hoping that we can teach him this weekend and see him. We went by to visit him and say hi but he was not feeling well enough to see us so that was too bad. The transfer week is coming up, and I'm feeling like I'll stay here one more transfer at least. I'm learning a lot from my companion. I'm so grateful for her. she's great! We're preparing another investigator for baptism on July 31st named Alex. He's 19 and so great! his girlfriend really wants him to be baptized. And he is excited too. When we extended the invitation to him, he got so happy! I'm excited for him. :) I wonder if I'll still be here when he gets baptized.

President Mangum and Sister Mangum are great!!!!! I love them. President Mangum was so nice and professional. I think he's nervous about being new here. We all loved President Peterson so much, but I know I will love President Mangum, too.  :)  He taught us about obedience and building a culture of righteousness. They showed pictures of their family and told us about themselves. They're so sweet! It was a great conference. Sister Mangum came up to me and gave me a big hug. There were quite a few of us--4 zones--so Sister Dadivas and I sat right up front on the second row. Sister Mangum told me she knew you guys and was excited to get to know me. She shared a great testimony about the Atonement and her family. This woman has had a lot of trials in her life recently and she is so strong! I know she's nervous, but she's great. I hope I can make her feel welcome. We all had lunch together, and then before President left, I went up to him to say hi (I wanted to give him space before I ran right up to him). He looked at me quite a few times during the conference and gave me a smile like, "I know you and I know you don't know me yet!" It was great. Anyways, after the conference when I shook his hand he told my companion about dad and his band and how they know you. It was funny... and then I said how I was excited to get to know him and that he was here and then he asked me how long I'd been here and about adjusting to the culture and I said, "Well President, if you need any advice about anything, give me a call!" haha! I thought that was funny since he is new here. It's nice to know them and especially to set a good example for our family. Sister Mangum is great. I know she is nervous and they told all of us how they weren't expecting to come to the Philippines but they are glad they are here with us. It'll be fun to be with him for the last 7 months of my mission!

Anyways...Like I said, transfers are coming up but at the same time I feel like I'll still be here at least one more transfer. It'll be my 4th cycle here.. that's long! But, that was my week. I hope you all have a GREAT week this week and just know I LOVE YOU so much. All I know is, I'm here and I love it. It's a great time to change and become closer to my Heavenly father in these days. I need all the time I can get here. I pray that I will serve the mission he has prepared for me and wants me to serve. I know if I am obedient and diligent till the end, I will have peace of mind knowing I gave it my absolute all. I'm learning and growing all the time. I only have a short time left! I know Heavenly Father will bless you all. I love you. Thank you for everything. Talk to you in 6 days again :) 
Sister Seastrand