Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013 Kumusta Pamilya!

Kumusta pamilya!

Wow!  We’re in the last week of this transfer.  Time is certainly going by fast.  This week was really good, although we were punted for several days.  But we found some new investigators and we are really hopefully about a few of them.  It is still too early to tell, but I think that one family will be baptized in December.  Hopefully!

We had one really funny day this last week.  We went to an investigators house and the adults sent the little kids out to tell us that he wasn't there (even though we knew he was).  So we left and went to the next appointment.  The next few appointments weren’t at their houses and so we did street contacting.  We ended up walking past his house again.  I guess he felt safe that we weren’t going to come back that day because he was standing on his front porch smoking.  When he saw us walking down the street, he RAN into his house so fast.  All of his neighbors starting laughing and said “Oh, he just ran into the house!” We weren’t even going to him!  But yeah, he is definitely avoiding us.  I guess he’s not interested…haha

We also went to the mission home this week for follow up training.  It is always so happy when all the missionaries get together, especially in the mission home because the food is so good!  They separated the trainers and trainees. With the trainers they asked us how the training was going.  I realized in that meeting that I was blessed with an amazing companion.  She is so humble, always applies my suggestions, works hard, is willing to walk all day in the sun without any appointments, loves the people and tries her very best to teach in Tagalog.  I realized that not all the trainers were so lucky as I was.  And we get along personality wise, which is probably the hardest challenge of all if you don’t get along.  So I made sure I thanked my Heavenly Father for such a great companion…especially because we are opening an area!  That is hard enough without having a hard companion.

Also, when we went to the mission home, I was talking with one of the Filipino elders who has been out for 8 months.  He is from Tacloban (the place where the super typhoon hit) and his mother, father, aunt, cousin, and pretty much all his friends died.  Me and another sister were listening to his story and we couldn’t believe that he is still here on his mission.  He really is so strong.  I don’t know if I could do that and have the faith and the desire to keep working as hard as he is.  Also, we heard the story of the sisters during the storm and couldn’t believe that.  I was very grateful that I was assigned to the Olongapo mission.  I can’t even imagine what that experience would be like.

Also, I gave my first talk in church yesterday.  It was kind of stressful to have to give a whole talk in Tagalog.  It’s very different than teaching a lesson.  But, I was able to speak Tagalog the whole time and I think I got the message across.  Who’d have thought that after four months here I’d be speaking in church?  My topic was on Christlike attributes and I chose to talk on Hope, patience and diligence.  Basically the Christlike attributes that I have been trying to develop here on the mission.  That’s the fun thing about giving a talk... You learn way more than the people you are speaking to.  And, then afterwards, the teacher for gospel principles was gone so they asked me to fill in.  Again, a little stressful because the lesson wasn’t one of the missionary lessons that we’ve been studying and of course, I was winging it.  But I know that Heavenly Father is truly helping me here.  He has definitely given me the gift of tongues and I know that there is no way that I could do this without His help.

Well, I am loving my area and I am going to be so sad when I am transferred.  Transfer day is next week but I am pretty sure that I won’t be transferred because I am still training.  So safe until January!  But I love the people here and there is nothing like the feeling that you get when you see someone accepting the message and being excited about it.  And nothing like the feeling you get when they tell you that they feel like our message is true.  Alam ko po na totoo ang simbahan na ito at ito ay ang gawain n gating Ama sa Langit!

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013 Hello! Hello!


This week was pretty good.  We are finally getting investigators and less actives to visit and so our week was actually full of appointments.  It was so nice after weeks of street contacting and days of having no appointments.  We also had companion exchanges this week and it was funny, the whole day I was so worried about my companion wondering if she was lost, how the lessons were going, if they were punted, etc.  But she was alright and only got a little lost.  Ha ha! I felt so responsible for her as her trainer!

Also, this week we had an interesting experience.  We were going to an appointment and a man stopped us and asked (in English) if he could ask me a question.  Of course I responded in English and he asked if I knew how to speak English.  He had grown up in New York although he is Filipino and had a New York accent and everything.  He was very curious and let us teach him right then.  And he wanted us to teach him in English.  I couldn't do it!  I couldn't teach the lesson in English!  I tried as hard as I could but I ended up speaking a lot of Tagalog.  He couldn't believe that I'd only been here for 4 months and felt more comfortable talking in Tagalog.  Over and over he said "Just speak in English!"  But I guess when you've taught the same lesson in Tagalog everyday for the last four months, it really gets ingrained in your head.  He was Born Again so they have tons and tons of questions and even if you can show them that what you said is in the Bible, they won't believe you.  Too bad.  I felt like he really was interested at the beginning but it became apparent that he just wanted to Bible study.  It's really hard to not argue and debate with people but that's the first thing you learn here.  DON'T DO IT!  You will never win and it only brings the spirit of contention.  Just bear your testimony because they can't argue with that.

These are the baptisms that happened yesterday!  Rica and Regine Tapiador

We also had a baptism yesterday:  two kids that I started teaching, and taught almost all the lessons to, but then my area was changed.  So technically they don't count as my baptisms, but I'm going to count them!  The elders only taught them for about 1 week.  But it was such a good baptism because their step mom is a member and she was so incredibly happy to see her children be baptized.  That is definitely what the gospel is about: families.  Of course, she cried during her testimony and it was just such an awesome spirit there.

Other than that, this week was pretty normal.  Lots of appointments, lots of street contacting and we had a lot of less actives in our area come to church yesterday.  It was exciting!  People that hadn't been to church in years came!  The branch here is really progressing and I feel really lucky that I've been here in the branch to see it progress like this.  The work is definitely moving forward!

Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Sirrine

Answers to Parent questions about Typhoon:

We didn't get anything here.  Just a little bit of rain.  One of the sisters in our apartment had family over there.  They are all safe but very hungry.  She was really worried for a long time.  And all the missionaries have been transferred to other missions.  We got 15 of them here in the Olongapo mision.  It's been all that anyone has been talking about for the last week.  So so so sad

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 11, 2013 Halfway through the transfer!

Us eating banana cue!  Super yummy!
These are some of my favorite investigators Glydel, Rommielynn, and Erika (less active)

Kumusta Pamilya!

Grabe!  I can't believe that we are halfway through the transfer and that somehow I've managed to be okay with a brand new missionary.  I was certainly worried at the beginning but I know that the Lord has truly strengthened me and helps me every single day.

Something I've learned here on the mission is that everyday is an emotional roller coaster.  This week, we had some days where no one was home and all we did was street contacting and no one wanted to listen to us.  And then the next day, we had lots of appointments and people practically came up to us and asked us what our religion was and let us teach them right then.  It just goes to show that the days that seem to not go right or be productive are days that we need to just have hope and diligently work and try our best.  If we have hope that everything will work for our good and will get better, it will.  Hope and patience.  And a good attitude.  Something I really like from preach my gospel is that it says that we need to be energetically diligent in all our doings and work until we have done everything we can, even when we are tired.  I know that is so true!  If we are not energetic about the Lord's work, our efforts are wasted and it is way harder.  Happiness is the key!

We did have one kind of disappointment, but kind of funny thing, happen this week.  Our golden investigator who is excited for baptism didn't come to church.  We told her that we would meet her at a certain place and we waited for 40 minutes for her and then she showed up just having got back from the market.  She said that her husband had come home from work early and didn't want her to go to church.  (a lot of the husbands go away for the entire week and they're only home on Sat/Sun) So we carried her groceries back to her house for her and tried everything we could to get her to come to church. Unfortunately she wouldn't.  But we just kind of hung around her house for 10 minutes trying to get her to come.  Thinking about it now, missionaries are kind of awkward sometimes!  I mean, who does that?  Who just hangs around someones house like that trying to get them to come to church.  And then since we had waited so long for her, we had to literally run to catch a jeepney.  So here we were running down a rickety footbridge and up a bunch of stairs and over to the jeepneys.  (I'll have to send a pic of the footbridge next week) Missionaries are weird!  We were late to church but that's okay.

So this week was exciting because we had an amazing amount of people come to church.  173!  It used to just be 110 or 115 but 173 yesterday!  Every set of missionaries (there's eight of us) had several investigators and lots of less actives come to church.  I was really excited to see a lot of the less actives in my old area (Sta Rita) come to church.  A lot of the time, when Sunday would come around and no one from my area had come to church, I would feel like I wasn't being an effective missionary and I was doing something wrong because people weren't coming to church and keeping their commitments.  But then yesterday, I saw almost all the less actives that we visited come to church.  And I felt like my efforts the last 3 months haven't been wasted.  Although they are not technically "my" less actives and investigators, I felt a great sense of happiness and accomplishment because they were all the people that we had been visiting for so long.  So yesterday, I had the realization that a lot of times in missionary work, we don't see the result.

But I know that every effort is not wasted.  Sometimes, people take a long time to change.  Not everyone is instantaneously converted or reactivated.  It takes continual and dedicated effort.  And every time we do missionary work, seeds are planted.  I feel like me and my old companions planted a lot of seeds and then the next missionaries got to actually harvest from our efforts.  I feel really blessed that I was able to see the fruits of a lot of my efforts because I know that a lot of times, missionaries are transferred before they see people reactivated or baptized and so they feel like they weren't successful.  So to all of you member missionaries, have patience!  Even if people don't immediately accept what you are offering, you are planting seeds.  It may take months or years before those seeds actually turn into something but no effort is wasted.  And always, some good comes of the missionary work, even if it is just for ourselves and our conversion and dedication to the gospel.

Well, everything is going well here in Gua Gua.  we're starting to see success in our area.  Man, opening areas are hard but I have grown so much in the last three weeks.  I know that I couldn't have grown this much in any other way or with any other assignment.  I know the church is true and that the Lord is hastening His work!  Our branch is getting ready to split into two starting January and hopefully we can turn it into two wards.

Have a great week!

Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Sirrine

PS this letter was really hard to write in English....

At the Mission Home in Subic, just north of Olongapo and Subic Bay,
the night was fairly calm. It did rain some, but not hard and with no
flooding. The power was off until about 3:00 this morning (Saturday)
which made sleeping miserable. I don't know how the missionaries live
without air conditioning. This morning it is still cloudy and breezy
(nice). We love the breezes, but they are not common. I understand the
typhoon is now leaving the Philippines and heading for Vietnam. If
this is the case, the worst is over and for us, the worst was a real
nice change. Cooling breezes are wonderful and the rice farmers would
love any rain they got.  I do not believe the storm interrupted any missionary or other
activity in our Mission.
Love you all,
Elder Gary Gorringe*

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November 4, 2013 Kumusta!

Kumusta pamilya!

Well, I survived my first week as a trainer....although there is a LOT of responsibilities put on the trainers.  I got a little taste of what it's going to be like to be a mom.  It means little to no time for yourself!  Haha.  Sister Hausia doesn't know how to cook so I've been teaching her all week, then showing her how to update the area book and doing teaching demos, etc etc.  Lots to do!  But it's been good and she is really hard working and that is a great blessing.

This week was a LOT of walking.  A lot.  Since we're opening an area, we don't have investigators and we're trying to find the houses of all the less actives in our area.  I'm getting pretty good at finding people.  And, street contacting is not my favorite thing to do but since I am the trainer and have to set a good example, I did a lot of street contacting.  In some ways, it is easier for me to street contact because I am American and immediately get their interest.  But in other ways, it's harder because they don't really listen to what I say, they're all just amazed that I can speak Tagalog!  But I think that I'm going to get skinnier in this area because we walk all the time.  Walk and walk and walk. Our stats this week were pretty incredible if I do say so myself:  21 street contacts, 18 new investigators. (for those that didn't serve missions....that's a lot of new investigators in one week)  And 12 lessons about the restoration.  By the end of my mission I am really going to know the Joseph Smith story well!

So we only have 1 investigator right now that is progressing. (that's the problem with street contacts...they're not all really interested)  but we think that she is golden!  She was taught a few lessons by missionaries when she was in high school but wasn't interested.  We actually were teaching a bunch of kids and then we had to get permission from all their parents to continue and she was one of them.  We asked if we could share with her and she let us teach right then.  She then said that she knew what we were teaching was true and she felt like it was a sign that the missionaries taught her back then and then we showed up just after she had been watching sermons on TV this week and wanting to know the truth.  When we came back for our second lesson, she had read the entire pamphlet that we left her (investigators never do that) and knew the whole lesson one for herself.  Her only hesitation is that her husband is Catholic and she doesn't know how she'll be able to go to church.  We told her to pray for her husband to be receptive to our message and she hesitantly agreed to let us teach him next Sunday when he comes home from work.  I can tell she really wants to be part of our church and it made us so excited as missionaries.

Also, I had a break through with the branch president yesterday.  He never has time to help us and although we ask him to do specific assignments they never actually get done (he is very busy). But yesterday Sis Hausia and I met with him and reported our work in finding less actives in our area (most of the members don't know them or where they live so it means that it's been a long time since they went to church) and he was very surprised.  He asked me how long I've been out here and I said 4 months and he just shook his head and said he was very impressed with what we accomplished.  And then he told my companion that I was 92% fluent (definitely NOT true...but a nice compliment).  AND!!!!! He agreed to come with us to one of our appointments.  As missionaries we've been praying for the last three months to get the leaders motivated to help out with missionary work and I think we are finally seeing the results of our prayers and hard work.  It was a very nice feeling.  I know that the Lord is hastening His work here in Gua Gua and helping to get the members more involved.  That's the key to missionary work: members!

So, the work is progressing here and slowly we are getting investigators.  I know that the Lord is definitely helping us and that this is His work.  If it wasn't, it would be impossible to do what we do as missionaries everyday.  And no one would believe our message.  But I know that through the power of the Holy Ghost, people are converted to the amazing story of Joseph Smith and the restoration of Christ's church.  I love you all and hope that you have a great week!

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Sunday, November 3, 2013

October 28, 2013 A Humble Hello from Gua Gua

Me and Sister Salado in the Jeepney
My last day with Sister Salado in the beautiful Sta Rita area

Dear family,

So yes, I am training a new missionary right now and I have only been out here for 12 weeks.  And....she is Tongan.  So she is a foreigner too.  Needless to say, I felt very overwhelmed when I got the text Tuesday night saying that I would become a trainer the next day (yes I got about 12 hours notice) and then I felt very overwhelmed when I got to the mission home and President Querido assigned me a Tongan, Sister Hausia.  I thought to myself, "I'm a foreigner!  How can I train a foreigner?? And I don't even understand the people all the time and my Tagalog still isn't very good."

I was scared out of my mind and even scarier is that we are opening an area too, which means that we have no investigators or less actives.  So we have to go search for them.  Which means lots of street contacts.  But on Thursday, the first day of our proselyting, I had one of the most spiritual days of my life and experienced an amazing miracle.  I was so nervous in the morning because I didn't know where we were going to go or what we were going to do because we didn't have any appointments.  So we pretty much just had a list of less actives to try and find.  I had no idea how this day was going to go and I was so scared because I knew I didn't understand the people.  So we set off to our area and I was praying to Heavenly Father to help me be bold and talk to everyone and to understand.  So the 1st man we saw I started talking to and it was like magic.  All of a sudden I could speak Tagalog and I could understand the people!  It was amazing.  I spent the whole day being amazed.  I got no blank stares that meant they didn't understand me and they didn't look at me like I was new here.  In fact, they asked me how many years I had been here.  We did 20 street contacts and I feel like I've never talked to so many people in my life.  It was like I seriously woke up and could understand and speak Tagalog.  I know that the power of prayer and trusting in the Lord is so real.  I have also never been so tired as I have been in the last few days because we have walked and walked and walked trying to find people to teach.  And of course, Heavenly Father blessed us with some investigators yesterday and one of them I feel is a golden investigator.

Although I am definitely not fluent and I still have things that I don't understand I know that I have definitely been given the gift of tongues this week.  I just hope that I can keep progressing my Tagalog without the help of a Filipino and help my companion progress her Tagalog too.  It's kind of funny because my trainer was Tongan and now I am training a Tongan.  I guess I am meant for Tongans!  Sister Hausia isn't quite as good at English, but she understands it which is good.  I don't know how we would survive if she didn't understand English!

Me and my new comp at our baptism on Saturday.  She is 8 and the child of a less she doesn't count as an investigator baptism but still fun!
Also, I forgot to write last week that I got lice for the first time. I made the mistake of wearing a ponytail and all the little kids played with my hair.  And they all have lice.  But I was paranoid that night that I would get lice so I went and used some lice shampoo and brushed out the lice.  I had some lice but I was able to get them out before they really set in. Sister Fuentes said "You are officially a real missionary now!  Welcome to the club!"  Ha ha.

So I really miss my senior companions and it is really really hard to be a senior companion to a brand new missionary but I know that Heavenly Father has really been helping me.  I know that it is going to continue to be really hard but I know that I've been called to do this, so I can do it with the help of Heavenly Father.  I think one of the hardest things about this transfer is going to be that my companion doesn't eat vegetables and neither does the other new companion in our house.  And my companion doesn't know how to cook.  Grabe!  So I have to teach her how to cook too.

Well, that's kind of all for this week.  This might have been one of the hardest weeks in my mission but I feel really hopeful about one of the investigators that we found.  Her name is Syra and we gave her a pamphlet and she read it before we got to our follow up appointment and new all the answers and says she wants to be a member.  Oh, and she started reading her friend's Book of Mormon. She is so amazing.  She's only 15 but she is a college level student and she takes care of her 3 siblings because her parents are always working.  She's amazing!  So I think we might have a baptism for November! Yay!

Well, I know that Heavenly Father knows and loves all of us individually.  He is very aware of our capabilities and our challenges.  We just need to trust Him and trust that He will help us.  And I know that He will.  I love you all!

Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Sirrine