24 February 2014

Letter 17: Training is Over, but Life is still Crazy

Dearest Panimalay Kag Mga Abyan,
Next week I was going to write you all about my First Baptism.
But as you can probably tell. . . I won't be.
Sister Massé and I made a List of "For Sure Persons To be Baptized"
1: Never showed up to the baptism.
2: Mother Refused to give permission for the Baptism.
3: Is now residing is a Safe-house.
So here's the story about Candidate Number 3:
He came to church about a 5 weeks ago and said, "I want to be baptized." So basically we've been teaching him every week and making sure that he wants to join the church for all the right reasons, etc. Basically after 5 weeks of knowing this person, if you were to ask me about him, I would have to quote a member of the ward, "He's a good man." Like seriously, he's so giving, and great faith.
So he passed his baptismal interview, and has his baptism date for this Saturday. But because it was Stake Conference today, we didn't see him at church. So last night we called him to check up on him, and set up appointments for this week. When a police man answers his phone.
So apparently there was a huge drugs bust in his neighborhood (we knew there was drug dealing where he lives, which is why we only taught him at the church, at his request. He didn't want us in that part of our area.) And it was a big deal and everything. Of course our baptismal candidate wasn't apart of it, but as a witness to everything (and probably one of the people who reported it. Like I said, he's a good man, he believes in doing the right thing gid.) he is now with the police, in safe-house for his only well-being for the next couple weeks.

We ended the call and just sat there going, "What just happened? What just Happened?!" Needless to say, Sister Massé and I were a bit confused, but we know that things happen for a reason. So we're trying to see this all as a blessing. All we know is that this man is determined to be baptized. So for now, we'll just have to wait and see God's plan for him.
Anyway. That all happened about 13 hours ago. So It's a bit hard to think about all the things that happened this week. Really. Yesterday was just crazy.
The stake Presidency was reorganized. Elder Arden of the Area 70 was there (I think he went and shook everyone's hand.) The Bishop of our ward is now the Second Counselor in the Stake, So now we're all just waiting for Sunday to come around so we can find out who the new bishop of the ward is. 
We dropped an instigator we really didn't want to drop yesterday (lots of things happened yesterday). Like, you know someone really isn't listening when you've told them for 5 lessons that gambling is a sin, and that God commands that we keep that Sabbath day holy, and still doesn't get it when Sister Massé says ,"Your Justifications will cost you your Exaltation." (he justifies everything he does 'God understands me. I'm only human" and stuff) It was a really hard thing to drop him because he is so close to everything, but refuses to accept it (basically, the most hardheaded man I've ever met.) even though he loves us visiting us (we are the Two Angels, and the Member that works with us is the Guiding Star. I'm completely serious. He's told us that several times.)
But when the Spirit tells you to tell him that if he doesn't follow all God's commandments then he isn't serving God. And if he's not serving God, he's serving the adversary. And he STILL doesn't get it, there's not much else you can do. .
Congradulations to Sharly on her MISSION CALL! Arkansas Little Rock is gonna be taken by storm :). Also, speaking of ASL serving, we met three deaf persons the other day. Sister Massé just turned to me and went, "Ready?" haha, Nope, but I tried. They were very patient with my slow signing, and they don't actually live in our area, so we gave them a pamphlet.
Literally so much happened this week. I can't even write about it all. We were so punted one day. We had a less active work with us. It was great!
We Finished the 12 Week program. I'm officially done training (Unless I get a follow up trainer. If I train after 12 weeks like Sister Massé I might go into shock.)
I have to try Balut within the next three days before transfers (I promised I would)
I love reading the Bible. It's so amazing. I LOVE the Word of God! Even if it can be confusing and hard to understand. I love the Life of David. I love the son of Saul, Jonathan. I think he's my favorite. I hope to be as good a friend to others as he was to David.
I love these people. I LOVE this mission. I seriously am so thankful for the age change, because this is where I'm meant to be at this time in my life.
I know that even though Sister Massé and I have had so many trials, we'll see the rewards too.
I love you all so much, and I know that without a doubt that this gospel is true.
Have a great week!
-Sister Smith

A Book of Mormon from 1961. An instigator we started teaching last week said to us, "I started reading a book." "Oh really?" and then he places this on the table in front of us. It's his brother's. We were in shock, it was like looking at an ancient artifact.

I wore thru my first pair of rubbers shoes. I guess that's what 50 pesos will get you, 2 transfers worth of walking. But hey, at least my feet dry after they get wet. 

Mom's note: I love the misspelled words in each of her letters. I think it means her brain is doing Ilonggo while she is typing in English. With this letter I enjoyed the use of the word instigator instead of investigator, at least she used the same word each time.

17 February 2014

Letter 16: For the Love of Missionary Work

Dearest Panimalay and Mga Abyan,

Happy Late Valentines Day! PALANGGA KO KAMO GID! (I REALLY love you (plural))

It's been a Wonderful (read this as "Stressful") Week!

Where to start? Well, first of all, we learned from the Zone Leaders at District Meeting last week that there are NO STUDIES on Tuesdays or Sundays (because district meeting and church count as study time?) Which stressed Sister Massé and I out a bit because we had Three hours of planed study time that were not unplanned proselyting hours! But we followed orders and went out! We were thinking. "Wow, we have no plans, no one to teach. But we're gonna try! We probably won't have anything to write in our journals tonight."

You know how Heavenly Father loves to prove you wrong?? Yeah. That day was CRAZY. We saw Gregorio, who is the deaf man we've run into three times before. Basically, I don't remember so much Sign Language that I didn't realize he asked us if we wanted to "Visit" (what he was signing) his family. Well. . . We shared a message!

Oh man. It was so STRESSFUL. Sister Massé just turned to me and pretty much said, "Go for it." I learned some new signs, Like "Holy" (they're really helpful. I would spell something and they would teach me the sign) I may have accidentally said "Friends can be together Forever," instead of 'Families." But hey, I tried my best, (and corrected that sentence.) and the Gift of Tongues is amazing! And we'll now be officially visiting them. . Well, Looks like I'm going to be Praying REALLY hard.

We then tracked and found a couple willing to listen to us (the man was also slightly drunk. Yeah. Those are also some fun lessons.)

We taught one of our investigators that we NEVER teach without a member. Yeah, that was a bad idea. More and more stress.

Then we went to the granddaughter of a Less Active we've been teaching. She's willing to listen to us, but has lost most of her interest. But her Grandmother sat down and taught with us, and Grab-i, that woman has such a STRONG Testimony. We were so grateful to her, and I think our investigator realized that even though her grandmother is less active, this church is VERY important to her. (also. The Grandmother came to church this week. :D We were so happy to see her!)

Basically, it was a great/stressful day with no studies. We deserved every bit of chocolate we ate.

Then Wednesday was Zone Conference! It was great! It was spiritual! I learned a lot about how to be a better missionary, how to better plan and help our investigators and members.

And then we found out we would be going on splits. . .Oh, So President decided that since elders are able to have splits with the Traveling APs, that Sisters should be able to have the opportunity too!

That was a bit stressful too! Because we hadn't been given any warning (that seems to happen a bit to us) And we were happy that we had more set appointments (sometimes it's we say, "We're coming back Wednesday" and out of the 5 investigators in that area, only 2 are home or aren't busy. It's our system, and it works, but sometimes you just get punted.) Which meant we wouldn't get punted too much with Elder Kehler. But it all worked out well! (even with a second day of NO studies. ugh. Sister Massé and I were feeling a bit spiritually starved.)

With two days of major stress, we were just a bit (a lot) tired Thursday, Friday, AND Saturday. But hey, it doesn't matter that you're tired. The work moves onward!

And I've got to say. I loved this week. Despite it's stress, the craziness. I love this work, and wouldn't want to be anywhere else!

And of course, Valentines day was great! We gave out some Valentines to some of our investigators (those ones we used to make! the Knitted hearts! And Mosiah 18:21 is the PERFECT Scripture to give with them.)

hmmm... I still have time to write. . So I'm going to talk about the things I can now cook! (Filipina style!) Because all the housemates cook once a week. So I'm learning!

1. Picadillio: Carrots, Sayote, Corn, Ground Pork, all covered in spaghetti some hot sauce. My favorite, but it takes forever to dice all the Carrots. (and I make it wrong anyway. There's supposed to be more meat than veggies, but I prefer the veggies. And it's supposed to be potatoes instead of sayote. But sayote is cheaper, and I like Sayote.)
2. Mock Omelets: Something Sister Massé came up with. Basically scrambled eggs with ham and tomatoes and whatever you want to put in it.
3. Sinagon: Radishes, Carrots, Ocra, squash, Leeks, a meat of you choice, and Sinagon powder (available at any grocery store)
4. Pansit: Cornstarch noodles with cabbage and carrots (they really like carrots here.) with soy sauce.
5. Adobo Sitaw: Strings beans, Sayote, Ocra, Corn. Soy sauce.

and it's all eaten over rice, of course. Except for Pansit, which is a party food and therefore isn't supposed to be eaten with rice, but missionaries do anyway because they can. And I once tried to make eggplant omelets. . but they dint' turn out very well. I'll try again. . one day.

This week I'll be learning how to make some Mongo beans!

Umbrella Shade
One must always carry an umbrella (not a towel. haha) in case of dogs, plants, rain, or sun. For me, it tends to be Sun.
Sister Smith is a Clutz
I may or may not have run into the end of a bamboo shoot yesterday. Luckily I carry alcohol with me where ever I go, and was able to clean out the wound. Sister Massé was more worried about my leg, while I was just upset that there's now a hole in my skirt that I have to sew up today. But at least I can sew. I think now that I'm comfortable in my area, I'm becoming more of a clutz again.

The Gospel's true!

Until Next week!

-Sister Smith

10 February 2014

Letter 15: Just another Normal Week

Dearest Panimalay kga mga Abyan,
It's funny how I've been living on Panay for 2 months now, so things are just. . Normal. It's all still crazy (because missionary life is always crazy) but it's funny how the crazy becomes expected and you aren't botherd by it in the least.

Well, I made it a week without SUGAR! but I didn't make it with the Gluten, we went to teach our Bishop's helper and Bishop's wife insists on feeding us whenever we come over to teach (lets call her. .) Gina. (which is nice, because we never have dinner appointments) She was disappointed when I told her I was gluten free too, because she'd made me a sandwich. So Sister Massé gave me permission to eat it, and I promised to go one extra day without gluten. Which means I won't be eating the spaghetti or the cake at family home evening tonight, but that's okay. After all, I love elephants, and we should all strive to be like Horton. "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An Elephant's Faithful,  100 Percent."
Due to the Apostasy of Sugar (haha, this week is the Restoration) I had to try something else for breakfast besides oatmeal (which doesn't taste good unless it has SOME sugar in it.) So I went for Eggs! But No Ketchup allowed (as in, the ketchup I have is literally called "Sweet style" and has more sugar than really should be necessary.) So Sister Massé and I really got into Smoothies this week. Filipino smoothie stands are okay, but for some reason Pinoys like more ice than fruit. So in making my own, it was great because there was more fruit than ice, and it was DELICIOUS (gotta love those super sweet bananas and pineapple slices)

hm... Really, too much hasn't happened this week. Sister Massé and I refuse to say "WHEN Sister Massé transfers," only "IF One of Us Transfers." (because for some reason everyone has been talking about transfers this transfer, even though they aren't until the end of February. And since Sister Massé has been in this area 6 months, everyone is VERY sure that my Nanay will be leaving and I'll be leading the area)
We started teaching the man who came to church two weeks ago and said, "I want to be baptized." Basically he's really prepared but we have to teach him all the missionary lessons before he can be baptized. Hopefully everything can be done in an orderly fashion. (what am I kidding? Orderly Fashion doesn't exist here)
The other sisters in our ward had a baptism on Saturday :) It's so great seeing others come into the church!

When it rains it RAINS. I've still yet to actually have a day where the street floods, but it rained for 2 hours on Saturday, and No one was home, so Sister Massé and I walked around in the rain for probably an hour and 15 minutes trying to find someone to teach us. Yeah, I got pretty wet by the end of it. (and by wet, I also mean it got cold when the sun went down.)
Sister Massé and I have discovered one of our greatest challenges. We both always strive to be "Exactly Obedient," and it actually isn't too hard. The hard part is when those around you are using their agency and choosing not to be. But isn't that what this is all about? Our agency! Showing others the gospel of Christ, and allowing them the CHOOSE whether or not to accept it.

Well, I know The Gospel's True! And I love you all! 

Until Next time, 

Sister Smith 

I love the kids here, they're so cute! Whenever we walk down the street the group of them (which normally has several more kabata-an (children)) always call "Seester!" Gotta love it when everyone knows your name. Haha. 

03 February 2014

Letter 14: The Beginning of the Apostasy

Dearest Panimalay kag mga Abyan,
It's been a week? Didn't I email you yesterday? Where is the time GOING? It is going way too fast! (Sobrang ka dasig na!)
This week we had Trainer's and Trainee's Meeting! When Sister Massé had it with her training, it was back in the first few weeks here in the field and it consisted of a lot of, "Don't go Home! What can we do to help you? This is how you cope with Homesickness." For me it was more of a "Well, You're almost done with training. So here some things you should remember." Kinda like any normal type of training.  Elder Stacey (one of the APs) had us do a trust fall, he made our trainers step back. Let's just say Sister Massé and I are a bit shorter than S Jenkins/Nonu and S Quent/Paul, and I got a bit closer to the ground than I might have liked. . . BUT Sister Massé caught me, so that's the important thing. And I think Elder Stacey got his point across about needing to have trust in your companions.
You know what's fun about only having two other sisters in your batch? Our meeting was fun and small! Complete with breakfast and lunch!
President Aquino is so GREAT. He was very careful about getting food that Sister Massé could eat (No Gluten allowed!) which means he couldn't just order MacDo. So of course we got onto the topic of allergies during lunch, but instead of focusing on all the things Sister Massé can't have, it was all about the things I'm allergic to instead! Apparently it's very hard to believe that if I see at cute little puppy I don't have the urge to pet and play with it. And everyone was surprised that I really shouldn't use the laundry soap here (but do anyway, because how else am I supposed to clean my clothes??)

Speaking of food. I tried Ube icecream. It's delicious. I also tried Cheese icecream. It's definitely. . . Filipino. Well, I'm sure it will be my favorite flavor by the end of my mission. (Jokes. Mango icecream is the best. and Ube is hard to beat.)

Sister Massé hit her 'One year Left Mark" (and my 1 year and 3 months left mark) last week and we Celebrated with Halo-halo! Which broke Sister Massé's month without sugar and my trying to eat sugar discreetly in support of her. So basically we've both been buying from tyunggis for the past week, and when we hit 1 Feb we decided to have an Apostasy of Sugar (For we will not be hungry for bread or water, but for the words of God . . . I mean, Sugar.) We're going Sugar Free for a week together! Which is going to be really hard, because EVERYTHING contains sugar here.
I'm also going GLUTEN Free for a week! In support of my Companion's allergy. She's excited to see if I can do it. Which means no more SkyFlakes (crackers I normally eat as my daily snack) for me! Yep, this is gonna be fun :)
One of Sister Massé's and my investigators are having troubles. :( She had a baptismal date, but because she's 17 she needs permission, and her parents won't give it. It's been very sad for all of us, because she really wants to get baptized, but when she turns 18 and chooses to, it will most likely create problems between her and her parents. :(
But on a happier note, we had a man who came to church last week and said, "I want to be baptized." Well brother, I'm sure we can arrange something! Basically he's taken the missionary discussions before, and then he moved, and decided he wanted to be a part of something solid and important. I'm sure we can help him see that this is the most solid and important thing in the world, the Church of Jesus Christ :D
*insert a frustrated face here* We just had a brown out at the last computer shop we were at. We were super worried that our emails hadn't saved. And annoyed at the woman who made us pay money for the email time we might have just wasted. So we just went out to lunch (Gluten and Sugar free!!) and are now in a different shop. *Insert Happy face here* BUT My email saved automatically, and I don't have to rewrite any of it!
Yesterday was a . . . Holiday? Well, basically there was a parade celebrating all the barancays and no jeepneys, so we had to walk to our area. Not fun, as in, there aren't really sidewalks, so we were these two Mormon American Sister Missionaries trying not to walk with the parade, but going in the same direction of the parade where there are no sidewalks. Oh. I should probably mention that there were speakers blasting a Hiligaynon Catholic prayer (at least that's what it sounded like to me.) So Sister Massé and I may have accidentally walked along a Catholic parade. .. . Yeah, I'm still trying to figure out what happened.
Well, lets just say is Pretty Crazy in the Philippines. (Buong gid sa Pilipinas.)
Well, Kabalo ako nga matuod ang simbahan. Magbugay ang ebanghelyo sa atom tanan. Palangga kita sang Dios, kag Gusto niya para sa atom nga mangin pinaka malipayon diri sa kalibutan. Ini Obra, ang obra sang mga missionaries amo ang obra sang Dios. Sa ngalan ni JesuCristo, Amen.

(I know the church is true. The gospel blesses us (all), God loves us and wants us to be the happiest here on earth. this work, the work of missionaries is the work of God.)
Palangga ko kamo gid!
- Sister Smith

Also, THIS is Halo-halo. Basically it's Shaved Ice and Cream, with whatever they want to put on it. Generally there is gelatin (They like just gelatin. . .without any flavor.) and Ube Paste (The dark purple stuff). There can be Bananas, coconut, or mango. A piece of flan. They even put corn and beans in it :) I don't mind the beans and corn, but this is my favorite kind I've found. It's massive for a good price, and comes with Ube Icecream AND flan. To eat it the right way, you mix it all together and just eat! It's great!

The Inside of a jeepney! (And my new skirt from Ukay-ukay shopping)

Ps. There is no purpose to this goat, other than he is ALWAYS in the road.