Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 55

:( UGH…I've been sick this week. FOUR DAYS we didn't work. It’s frustrating MOSTLY because, no matter how hard I try, I can never always remain fully in good health. It's always gotta happen to ME…Not my housemates, not my companion, just Sister Seastrand. It's like when you hear about someone getting really sick with something and you feel bad for them and then a week later YOU get it. It's always just my luck, I guess. WHO KNOWS?! I was out 4 days this week with a high fever and some other uncomfortable sicknesses going on inside. But in spite of being frustrated about being sick, I was able to receive a priesthood blessing that really opened my eyes to some interesting truths. Just some great tender mercies! The Lord really does love me. He's helped me to recover slowly but surely over my sickness and I know that He is looking out for me. Something I want to share is from that priesthood blessing I received was that "There are people beyond the veil who are with me here in the Philippines, helping me as well as those we are teaching." That was great. I immediately thought of Aunt Carolyn. I bet she is here with me helping me. And of Grandma and Grandpa Openshaw. Same with all our other ancestors. It was nice to hear and think about. It made me a little emotional to think about it because I need those angels with me every day. There are some days when I just want to go back to Utah, but then other days when I wake up and see the Philippines and really love my mission. Here’s some of the new perspectives my priesthood blessing gave me:

FIRST: Our loved ones and friends that are beyond the veil really ARE here with me in my mission--Helping me, those we teach, encouraging me, etc. I don't know why I never realized that before, but it's been made known to me that there really are angels beside me helping me.

SECOND: Heavenly Father really actually does want us to reach our full potential. Sometimes we feel that He is not giving us things or opportunities that we think we want to do or be, or stopping us from being "happy." But we never know what it is He has in store, we just should know it’ll be better than we could have planned.

THIRD, OUR JOB: Keep our eyes and hearts toward heaven and our ultimate goal, which is going back to His presence. (Maybe if I learned that a long time ago, some of my choices would have been different.)

Also, I just really love our mission doctor, Sister Gallbraith. She is so kind and helped me feel better. I called her last night for advice on getting better and I just felt peace as I talked to her and love from Heavenly Father. I'm grateful for mission leaders and helpers that help me know things will be OK!

I was able to speak in church on Sunday even though I was just recovering from being sick, it was a really cool opportunity to speak in STRAIGHT Tagalog. Maybe it wasn't all completely correct, but I'm pretty proud of myself, nonetheless. My topic was ‘Becoming a Witness of Christ.’ When we want to be true witnesses of Christ, it first starts with our FAITH in Christ. We can assess our faith regularly, and try to see how we can strengthen it. It also requires that we take upon us HIS name through the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we do that, we become His true representatives! I think that the best way to always REMAIN a witness of Christ is to repent and be sanctified with the Spirit. The Spirit is the way to know all things and to be able to testify of all things that are true, right, etc. It's like what our beloved mission president said: "Teach BY the Spirit, WITH some Spirit." How true…he nailed it.

It's been awesome because Sister Rafi and I are receiving some pretty good referrals lately. And they all live super close to the church, which is golden. No excuse for not attending church, ha! We're really praying that these members will prepare and think about those they can share the gospel with so we can help strengthen their testimony.

I guess we never really know why we're in an area, until we stop and look around at all the aspects of missionary work. It's very easy as a missionary to get caught up in two single important indicators: Baptism and confirmation. BUT that truly does not define success. I think that knowing you are a successful missionary is defined as giving your all to the Lord, no matter the circumstance. It's all about you and the Lord, no one else, and He knows the best we can do. So we must never give up. Never, never give up. I know that the Lord is stretching me to help me grow and I can feel it. BUT like I've said before faith is painful at times, spiritually. It's the first thing that helps us to act and to do what the Lord wants. So if you feel other aspects in your lives are maybe out of place, take an inventory of your faith in Jesus Christ. :) He has the power and capacity to HELP and STRENGTHEN you. I have learned that here as a missionary! Like Bry said, I've learned the love of God more on my mission than I could have anywhere else- and what could ever replace that?! NOTHING. I'm so glad to be here, trials, tests, and all! It's truly a test of endurance but I'm willing to pay the price to endure to the end of this service in the Lord's vineyard.

I love you all! Have a great week!! I always think of you and pray for you.
Sister Seastrand

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 54

Mostly every week tends to be like a rollercoaster ride. Sometimes it's like that brand new rollercoaster with pads on the sides of the seats, and sometimes it's like the old wooden ones that were the first ride built in the entire park back in 1890. I guess I can say that this week felt like it was more like the second option. How many times a day did I think to myself, "OK I'm a 14 month missionary now. I can handle this investigator." OR "I'm 14 months now and I know how to deal with this problem." Reality check to ME: I sometimes really can't. No matter how many months- I can't afford to even think about relying on my own talents, tagalog, many experiences, everything. And Humility check to ME: We need Heavenly Father's love and approval more often than we might think. So even tho it's been a rickety rollercoaster ride, this week has been a wonderful experience. 

We had an investigator who we've been teaching for quite some time come to church today! It was so wonderful to see her walk in the door with her son. I know that she is changing. It made me think about how Heavenly Father feels when He sees us change every day. The way I feel when I see those changes in people's lives is indescribable. It's so humbling and joyful to focus on helping people to come unto Christ. HOW MUCH MORE joy our Heavenly Father must feel.

This week I've had a wonderful chance to come unto Christ again. I sometimes really have no idea what I'm doing here...seriously. Sometimes I really love it, and sometimes I just feel small and insignificant to the lives of these people. I'm trying to be sincere in my efforts even when I feel heavy inside. But I share all of it to Heavenly Father and I know He gets it. I think I tend to just get overwhelmed and upset at times, or truly discouraged inside, and it is a pretty heavy feeling. But I felt the Spirit telling me to draw nearer to Heavenly Father through prayer. I am growing in my testimony of prayer. There's the hymn that says "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire." What is my soul's sincere desire? Every time Sister Rafi and I teach about prayer, I always ask myself, "What is the soul's sincere desire for this person?" All of us have sincere desires and ambitions, goals, dreams, etc, and the PERFECT example of reaching goals and dreams is our Father in Heaven. I know that He listens to me and understands my heart. That's a great knowledge I've gained from my mission that I love testifying of: He knows us. All in all, I LOVE it. I have been able to come unto Christ in so many ways.

This week also had a WAKE UP CALL MOMENT for of the members shared her testimony on family history work and BOY let me tell you, probably the most powerful thing I've heard for a long time. She shared about how our family history is not necessarily being able to see the immediate blessings, but more so on the eternal side of things. She gave me a whole new look on doing family history/ temple work for the dead. It's pretty amazing to think that Heavenly Father is expecting us to help both sides of the veil. What a great joy it will be to meet those spirit children who received the blessings of the temple. So. DO YOUR FAMILY HISTORY. If you haven't, get started.

Sister Rafisura and I are just having this growing desire to FIND! We are hungry for some new investigators and prepared referrals. We are taking this week on some of the days to visit with and teach members.  It's going to be a great opportunity to build unity and trust with them. Trust and unity are KEY to missionary work in the ward. I'm hopeful as we go into this next transfer cycle.  The finding begins- the glasses are ON and clearer than ever. We've already got a new referral to contact and teach. YES!

Sometimes I really don't know how to express everything I'm learning. I know I only have 3 cycles left as a missionary but I'm going to make it the most celestial part of my mission. Who knows what the Lord wants from me in these last months of my service. Like you said Bryan, I'll give ALL I've got! I've gotta leave it all in the vineyard. I literally picture myself that way. With gloves and harvesting tools for the vineyard every day. I want my work to be approved. It's not easy, but it's fulfilling. :) I love it and yet I want to cry my eyes out at times. Sometimes that happens at my study desk--haha--and my comp is like, "Sister!! What is happening!" haha. She's been a good support to me. As President Peterson always said, "Work, work, work that is the secret!"  :)

Love you all so much!

Sister Seastrand

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 53

OK FIRST HIGHLIGHT: Conference was awesome. And I really loved the main themes of all the speakers. I feel like the main theme this time was about Accountability. I really personally appreciated Elder Richard G. Scott's talk. It always goes back to the simple things. It's always prayer, temples, scripture study, and following the prophets that gets us through the hard times that come. I'm so grateful that we have living prophets to guide us. 

SO BIGGEST RAIN STORM OF MY LIFE!! We're just doing our thing, trying to find some former investigators 
and out of nowhere like it usually does the rain just pours and pours and pours. We're soaking within 5 seconds, so we just get a trike super fast to the nearest 7/11 and walk in all soaking. It was definitely embarrassing to see all these Filipinos staring at a soaking foreigner missionary. On the plus side, we got some snacks and found a less active from San Pablo. Not even the rain can stop us finding people! (This was the second highlight of the week.)

THIRD HIGHLIGHT: Our investigator, Jen, is doing great. We had a spiritual lesson with her once again. Honestly out of my entire mission I've never felt the spirit stronger than I have when teaching her. It's the best feeling EVER. I think mostly this week, I'm just overall feeling the approval of the Lord. I only feel it when I'm giving my all because He knows how much we can give to Him. I have a stronger testimony of obedience and I know he is making it a strength for me.

FOURTH and FINAL HIGHLIGHT: Sister Rafisura and I are STILL companions. We laugh at least 10 times a day if not more. She makes the work here more fun and delightful. I know that we're building up this Zion here in the church for the people of Candelaria. Here's to another transfer cycle in the beautiful Candelaria. Viva Candelaria!

There's not much to report this week, except I LOVED General Conference. I loved the new language thing. Don't worry we watched it in English. Every talk was my favorite. Maybe for me and my personal life, Richard G. Scott's talk really hit the spot for me. Especially about Prayer. I have gained that personal testimony here in my mission about prayer. It's our tool to use to literally tell Heavenly Father how we feel. Sometimes I don't always open up to Him about my feelings that are deep especially about the work because I don't want to complain or waste His time. But I know that He loves us and it's up to us if we "stay in the old ship zion" haha did you like how I put two phrases together? :)  I also was touched by Elder Ballard's and Elder Anderson's was touching for me. I loved it all! I loved about revelation, especially from Elder Uchtdorf's talk.

I'm doing well. My health is better. It's just part of mortality right? I have one more transfer cycle with Sister Rafi, and then I think she'll be out. It'll be her 6 months in the mission, and in the area! It's been fun and HARD to be follow up trainer. There's been a lot of work that we have put into our area. It was left in shambles- relationships with members, NO investigators in our teaching pool, people not coming to church, people who are potential but not married, etc.

So something that really touched me this week: We went to go to our appointment with an investigator but got punted. So, we went with our WML to a member. She said something I'll never forget. "I love when missionaries come to visit me because it's like Christ is visiting me, too." How often do we leave that impression on people when we visit them in visiting teaching? helping a friend? or sharing the gospel? People should ALWAYS feel like that. Especially members of the ward we are in. I know that we can do that for others when we visit them. So many people need us but we never know. Like President Monson. He always answers people prayers when He serves.

As I reflected with Sister Rafi this week about our work, I felt Heavenly Father's love for me. I know that HE is approving of my efforts. This area has grown so much and what's more for me as a missionary- my companion has grown. It's so fulfilling for me to watch that. I've had a lot of rough times in my mission, but this area has stretched me. My second time being a follow up trainer has taught me a lot about building foundations. Our companions, our areas, the people, the members. I know that as I keep working hard, I will feel the approval from My Heavenly Father Himself. And I want to feel that way again this cycle :) This area is not yet where we want it, but I know it's getting there. We're building up Zion. I only have 3 more cycles left. OH NO! I just need to GO GO GO :)

Sister Seastrand

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 52

A week in the life of Sister Seastrand and Sister Rafisura:
Lots happened. Every week everything happens.  Overall, a pretty great week. Thanks to the spirit, and obedience, I know I'm learning and growing in this gospel of Jesus Christ, His message of eternal happiness.

Sister Rafisura sprained her ANKLE while cleaning last Monday. She's such a great sport.. So tough! We didn't go to work for a couple days, and I think Sister Mangum has had about enough calls from Candelaria 1A to last the rest of her life. That was my first lesson in Charity. Haha I'm so grateful for leaders in my mission, especially the doctors and mission president's wife. What would we do without them!

So let me tell you about our new investigator named Jen, our light and hope in our area right now. Her boyfriend is a less active member, who really is less than excited to talk to the missionaries when we go to their house. We've been praying and friendly-ing it up every time we teach, asking him about everything, making some small talk.  Which he only ever just smiles a bit and walks out. We FINALLY got him to LISTEN. He put a nice shirt on and turned the TV off and everything. Missionary work has a big part in being friendly. I'm a firm believer in getting people's interest in our message by just talking to them like a normal person and making some small talk, even if they don't seem interested at first. Come to find out, he really understands a lot about faith, and Heavenly Father. I'm hoping to continue teaching them since  this is a BIG focus family for Sister and I. PRAY ON

So Sister Rafisura and I found some NEW investigators! YIPEE! We've been going back to our former investigators in our area book and finding some teaching records of those who were taught before that might have potential again. And we found two who were taught before that want to be taught again. I love finding. It's makes me excited everyday to just go out in this big world and somehow, someway, be led to just the people that God wants you to talk to. How does He do it?

So this week in my personal study I've learned about charity. Sometimes we might only think of it as kindness, long-suffering, pure love, and all that important stuff. But sometimes we miss the parts, "is not puffed up, envieth not, seeketh not her own." Basically, I've learned some big lessons on those three things. Sometimes we see others with lands and gold and investigators coming to church, being baptized, etc. and we say to ourselves, "What about me? Why do they get all the success? How come all the members like them? How come God isn't smiling upon me and only them?" These are probably the WORST questions we could ever let come into our minds. BECAUSE First of all, God still loves us and is smiling upon us for other things. Just because He is smiling on them doesn't mean He is trying to frown upon us. Don't be an attention seeker. When we have charity, we "rejoice in the truth" So meaning that we rejoice when others rejoice. We mourn when they mourn. We stand in place of the Savior when they experience life's joys and sadnesses as a missionary. I know that Charity is more than just kindly loving people and being patient with them. It's Rejoicing for them, mourning with them, and standing as a witness of God. It really all goes back to our baptismal covenant. As we keep our covenant(s), we can more fully understand and have true charity in our lives that will make our work as missionaries more full and satisfactory.

I was able to watch the General Women's Meeting which ROCKED. The main theme: Obedience to temple covenants and claiming our eternal exaltation. I know that exact obedience means living the higher law. What IS the higher law? It's simple: The Gospel of Jesus Christ. What a privilege to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in Candelaria. I love my mission.

I'm feeling better this week. Don't even worry! (But Mom, you can still be motherly :) please and thanks!)  I've regained strength and things are doing alright. Just plugging along in the work that I LOVE! It sounds like Grandma Jan's had quite some rough health issues this week. I hope she feels well soon! Tell her I love her and am thinking of her and Grandpa. Remind her that I sent their letter finally in the mail. I'm so sorry it's been so long!

Conference is coming up!! YAY! We will be in Lucena City which I'm excited for. It will be broadcast in  English and we'll meet at the stake center. It sounds like you had a great time. I can't wait to listen to the talks. I've been spiritually hungry for this time to come. 

Happy Birthday to Grandma Seastrand!! She is such a great woman. I love her so much. 

Anyways, things have been good this week. I can see my obedience and hard work paying off. Heavenly Father knows each sacrifice we put into our lamps to fill them. We've been finding new investigators, trying to build trust with the ward, everything. I know it takes time, but I'm grateful for the things I'm learning this week. I've felt the spirit a lot, and especially as I read the Book of Mormon. I know it is true. I had an investigator this week ask me about my experience in praying about Joseph Smith, which I haven't had anyone ask me my entire mission. It was a reminder to me that we ought to ask God if those things are true, even if we believe it. I LOVED the women's meeting! We were able to watch it during Relief Society on Sunday. WONDERFUL! My eyes were open wider and I understand things better. I loved it. 

Thanks for all your support. I love you all so much! I'm doing fine this week. I have faith in Jesus Christ. I love finding, teaching, everything. The downs are part of mortality. It's the best time of my life. I know if I am faithful and obedient, I will be happy. It's as simple as that. Can't wait to talk about conference with you all :) Have a great week this week!!

xoxo, Sister Seastrand