Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013 Wow! Magalis ang bagong taon!

Christmas time here in Gua Gua....very hot!

Me and Rusha Tapiador.  She reminds me of Sarah and Mary!  I miss them but this is their replacement for now :)

Happy New Year Family!!!

I can't believe that it is already 2014...well in two days.  This year went by so fast.  I can't believe that this time last year, I was waiting for my call to come and wondering where I was going to be for the next year and a half.  I would never have guessed the Philippines but I know that this is where I am supposed to be!

This last week was obviously Christmas and it is very different here in the Philippines.  Apparently New Year is actually more of a bigger holiday than Christmas here (I'll see if that's true in a few days) but Christmas was good.  Of course, none of our investigators wanted us to come teach them so we just went to all the members houses in our areas.  And every house fed us. Busog na busog ako!!!!  I have NEVER been that full in my life!  Not even on American Thanksgiving. Even though we were full, they would get offended if we didn't eat the food, so we'd eat and then they'd say "More sisters! More!" Oh man.  So full.  We didn't really feel hungry for the next two days.  They say that's what new years is like...or maybe even more.  Oh dear....

We had two really neat experiences with investigators these last two weeks.  First of all, Mario.  So I think that I said that he really likes us coming to his house and he always reads the Book of Mormon.  Last week, he told us that he just didn't feel like he could make the decision to be baptized.  He knows that it is a big decision but we told him to pray to Heavenly Father.  Last week, we decided to put the lessons on hold and really focus on building his faith.  So we read with him from the Book of Mormon and explained his reading to him.  We focused a lot on prophets and how important they are for us.  It was one of the most spiritual lessons we have taught.  Sister Hausia and I were really working didn't feel like a Sister Sirrine lesson and then Sister Hausia when I stopped talking.  I feel like we were really following the spirit and there were even some things that I said that surprised myself.  I know that was the spirit guiding my words.  Then this week, we went to him and we asked him how his preparation for baptism is going.  He was quiet for a long time and I was so afraid that he was going to tell us that he doesn't feel that it is right.    Then he said quietly, "Gustong gusto ko iyan. Naniniwala ako." (I really really want that.  I believe.) Talk about a huge rush of the spirit!  I think I know what the Nephites were talking about in the Book of Mormon when they say that they are so happy that there aren't words to describe it.  I didn't really know what to say to him other than our Heavenly Father is so happy with his decision and his faith.  Then our lesson was on Word of wisdom and he drinks coffee and tea but he said that's easy to give up.  It's easy because he knows it's true and he knows that Joseph Smith is true and so of course he'll follow the commandment.  Our district leader told us that if they have faith, nothing can stop them from being baptized.  And I know that is so true!  I know that Mario will be baptized and I am so excited for him.

Then, we taught a first lesson to an investigator, Mary Ann.  She's 17 and she told us that she's studied with almost every religion here.  When we got to the part about Joseph Smith in our lesson, she read the first vision and just said "Wow." Then she looked at us and said that we are different than anyone she has talked to.  And that her feelings right then were different too.  She said that she is really curious because even our appearance or aura is different.  She said that she can't wait for us to come back and give her a Book of Mormon because she knows that our message is different than anyone else's.  It was so nice to teach her because almost every time we teach the restoration, the people say afterwords, oh that's just like the Catholics.  Of course, we believe in the Bible so explaining about prophets and Jesus Christ is what they would read in the Bible but they don't see that it really is different.  The difference is the restoration.  I have really gained a testimony here that the restoration story, coupled with the Book of Mormon is what really has power to convert people.  (And the Holy Ghost of course) When they say,"Oh your church is just like ours." I say that it is not.  There is nothing in our church that is like theirs because ours is unique from every religion.  And it's not just another religion.  This is the original church that Christ established.  There is no other.

I feel like we are finally finding some investigators that have a lot of potential.  Unfortunately, transfer day is in two weeks and I've been here in Gua Gua a long time so I probably will get transferred.  So I probably wont be here to see them baptized which is sad.  But I know that this work is so important and that there are so many people who need the message that we are here trying to tell them.  And of course, every member a missionary so it's not just the missionaries that have a responsibility to share this message with the people.  It's everyone!  I love you all and I hope that you had a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Camille Duque was finally baptized!

Oh!  And, one of my investigators back in sept/oct, Camille, finally got baptized!!!!!!  She is technically the elder's baptism but I feel like she's mine too.  Best Christmas present ever!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 16, 2013 Malapit na ang Pasco!!!

A Jeepney!!!

One of our families the Laxa family!

Three of our investigators: Mary Ann, Jinky, and Liza. 

Hello Family!!!

Well, everyone here is in the Christmas spirit and now I am too especially after watching the First Presidency Christmas devotional yesterday.  It was sooooo good!  Especially Elder Nelson!  I loved his talk.  I loved it all!  I have to admit, I saw everyone wearing sweaters and the lights on temple square and I got a little bit homesick for a minute.  But then I got over it!  It's kind of hard for me to really believe that it is Christmas because you just see the decorations and hear the music and you don't smell pine or cookies or see snow.  It just doesn't seem like Christmas but it's fun to experience what Christmas is like in a different part of the world.  We've already had so many people invite us to their house for Christmas....I can tell I'm going to be so full!  And we had one investigator invite us over for new years eve to drink.  We told them that wasn't allowed for us.  (we haven't gotten to Word of Wisdom yet...maybe we'll wait until after the new year....haha)

We found two investigators, a couple, that I am so excited about!  Mario and Mary.  I think I wrote about Mary last week but this week we had a chance to teach her husband.  We went to teach Mary and she wasn't there.  So I did the normal "Oh!  We'd love to share with you too!"  Not really expecting him to let us because Mary wasn't there.  But to my surprise, he said "Tuloy kayo!"  (come in) I was so surprised I said "Now??" So we went in and he had seen the pamphlet that we had given his wife and started reading it.  And he'd started reading the Book of Mormon too!  He is just so ready!  When we asked when we could come back, he said he would love it if we came there everyday.  (That always makes a missionary feel good...especially when there are so many other people that are avoiding us...) The only problem is, his wife doesn't want to come to church until she knows that it is true.  I guess our explanation that you have to go to church to know if it is true didn't really click yet.  But, we're going to try and get some fellowshippers out to her.  They're also kind of nervous to attend a church where they don't know anyone.  So hopefully that will help her feel comfortable about attending.  I have a really strong feeling that they will be baptized, although I think that I will be transferred before they are baptized.  Oh well...

We also had another lesson with an investigator that was one of the hardest lessons I've taught but I think it turned out okay.  She is studying with Jehovah's Witnesses too (That's always tough) and she has a lot of questions.  Lots of questions.  Like, what is God's name?  If we are praying to him, we should know his name.  And, "If a man sees God, the Bible says he will die.  I don't believe that Joseph Smith saw god" and "Joseph Smith isn't in the bible.  If he's a prophet his name should be there." and lots of other questions like that.  Those lessons are super hard not to immediately just answer the question, but you have to not do that because they don't have the doctrinal foundation for the answer and then it turns into contending about the Bible.  So, we just have to bear our testimony about our message and get back to the lesson.  She also didn't want to read the Book of Mormon because it says that we should not add to the Bible.  I was praying so hard for Heavenly Father to help us in that discussion because I can see that she really wants to know and she is just lost right now as far as the truth.  We just kept bearing our testimony and we told her that if she doesn't read the Book of Mormon, she can't tell us that it isn't true.  And that she has to give it a fair chance.  Eventually, at the end of the lesson, she was very quiet and agreed that she couldn't say we were wrong if she didn't read the book.  And she agreed to read a little bit everyday.  She still doesn't believe us, but she is willing to try the promise of Moroni and she read the chapter summary from the reading assignment we gave her and she said "Oh! that's true!".  I honestly could not believe that she agreed to read and try to do what we told her to do.  Usually those kind of people are emphatic about not reading the BOM.  But I know that the spirit was there and she felt something.  I know that there was nothing that we said that could have changed her mind, only the Spirit.  And it's amazing to me to see how powerful a testimony is.  People will always have a contending answer for anything you say except when you say "I know this is true for myself".  They are always quiet after that.  They don't have anything to say when we bear testimony of truth.  Whether they believe it or not.

So those were two of our really neat experiences this week.  Life here in Gua Gua is good.  Sister Hausia is doing great and she's doing really well at Tagalog.  She is learning so fast!  And we get along really great.  I don't know what I'm going to do when one of us is transferred in January!  Something funny about her though is that she is DEATHLY afraid of frogs.  Like seriously.  It's actually a little ridiculous because there are tons of frogs at night and so it's almost a little hard to be out walking.  But the good thing is that I am not afraid of frogs and so I fearlessly walk past them and she hides behind me as they hop away.  No matter how many times I tell her they are harmless, she is still afraid of them.  So strange.  And.....I have gotten her to start eating vegetables!!!!  Her mother is going to be so happy!  (I just threaten her with my eyes when we're at a dinner appointment because it's too rude to leave food on the plate)  She's up to eating 4 vegetables willingly and she'll swallow the others without chewing them.  By the end of her mission she'll like them all!

Life is good and I miss you all, but I know that the work here is important.  And I also know that there is lots of work to do all around us!  We just need to open our eyes to the needs of others, just like they said in the Christmas devotional, and think less about ourselves.  Basically, we just need to act like Christ would act which is always thinking about and serving other people.  Never Himself.  I love you all and I know that the Church is true!

Ingat kayo!

Sister Sirrine

Friday, December 13, 2013

December 9, 2013 Hello!

Driving a tricycle! joke lang
Ice cream!  15 pesos lang sa 7 11!!! I love it!

Glydel Roque just turned 13
The Yambao family
Hello Family!

Me and my two Polynesian children!
So this week was pretty good.  One of the Sisters finished her mission and so she went home.  And so we were in a trisome until Sister Makihele got her new comp.  It was really funny to be in a companionship with two Tongans.  All of us foreigners!  I realized the reason why you should never put two polynesians in a companionship.  They laughed and laughed and laughed the whole 3 days!  It was really fun.  And It was super funny because the people always talk to Sis Makihele or Sis Hausia (because they look like they could be Filipino) and then I'm the one that answers (because I can understand them!).  I wish you could see the faces of the people here when I'm the one that talks to them in Tagalog. It was especially good that we were in a trisome of laughter on Tuesday because we were punted the entire day.  As in no appointments.  Everyone was gone.  But masaya pa rin kami!  We just laughed and so everyone probably thinks we're crazy here!

Sister Makihele &  new comp Sister Gabelo, Sis Hausia & me.  
But we found several new investigators this week that I am excited about.  One is Mary and she is sobrang magaling!  She asks a lot of questions but they are all the right kind of questions (not the kind trying to get us to trip up).  And she is very welcome to having us come back.  A lot of times they'll say "Oh next week, same time" but she was willing to let us come back a few days later.  Hopefully we will be able to teach her husband and her children too!  She really wants us too!  We've really realized how hard it is to convert a sister if her husband isn't converted too.  Or at least listening to the missionaries too.  Because the father is the head of the household and so it's important for him to feel respected or at least be okay with our teaching.  Pretty much if the father joins...eventually the family will follow.

Me and sis hausia
Also we have one family that I really really really want to see baptized.  I can see that they aren't entirely happy in their family right now but I know how much the gospel will bless their lives.  We've really tried to focus on the husband because the wife is more than willing but the husband is hesitant.  They promised they would come to church but unfortunately that didn't happen.  We don't really know why...hopefully mamaya we will know.  That really is the hardest thing!  The investigators say that they feel what we are saying is true, but they don't come to church!  We had 9 investigators promise they would come and we had zero show up.  A little disappointing but we just keep praying for them and trying to see what we can do better in our teaching to help them realize how important coming to church is.  I'm a little worried that my teaching isn't effective because week after week, we have no investigators at church.  And of course, Sis Hausia follows my teaching pattern because I'm her trainer.  I still feel way too new and feel like my teaching needs so much improvement!  But I guess that's where the spirit will take over.  Of course we can't teach this gospel like it should be, and so that's when the spirit will testify to the them that what we are saying is true.  Even if it was said in very ugly Tagalog or didn't completely make sense.  I just keep praying that I am worthy enough to always have the spirit with me because I have definitely seen what the lessons are like when the spirit is not there.  Not good.
Ouc\r branch presidency...and John Malig.  Four of the most helpful members here!

Other than that, we are trying to find new investigators but I think we've finally got a set teaching pool.  It's been kind of hard because everyone is willing to listen to me because I am American, but they're not always interested.  So the last 6 weeks has been a lot of teaching the Restoration and filtering! But I think we've got some promising investigators....still early to tell but I have faith!

Oh, and also, for all you who were wondering, Gua Gua is pronounced Gwa Gwa.  Also, mom, look for the Philippines Olongapo Families facebook page.  President Querido updates pictures and stuff on there.  And he recorded a video of me saying hello to you.  And I spoke in all Tagalog so you can hear what it sounds like....with an American accent of course!  So look for that.  And also, just to give you an idea of how much rice we eat...7 kilos every week.  Just an interesting fact :)

I love you all and I know that I was definitely called here to Olongapo mission and the Gua Gua area for a reason.  I have already seen a change in my testimony and I know how important this work is.  Have a great week!

Sister Sirrine

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December 1, 2013 Tapos na! Another transfer...

Sunset in Gua Gua

Walking with Sister Hausia to a baptism.

Dear Family,

Kumusta po kayo?  P-day ulit!  Sobrang mabilis talaga ang transfer na ito pero sobrang masaya din.  At yata hindi ko malilipat....sana!

This week was really good.  Nothing very much out of the ordinary to report here in the Philippines.  Haha the Philippines is now normal to me. Actually right now, something funny is that as I am typing, the song outside in the mall is God Bless America and that song "but should auld acquaintance be forgot, keep your eye on the grand old flag".  And I realize that they actually play American patriotic songs a lot here.  Hmmm.

Sister Hausia is progressing which makes me super happy as a trainer.  She will (hopefully) be ready to have a new comp by the time our next 6 weeks is up.  This week has been a little frustrating because most of our appointments haven't been home when we show up to their appointment.  But then we do street contacting and find new people.

At one of our lessons with a less active Erika DeLeon (she's 12), she gave the closing prayer and said "At sana, magiging katulad nina Sister Hausia at Sister Sirrine ako, at tulungan ako sa aking paghahanda sa aking mission." (And hopefully, I will become like Sister Hausia and Sister Sirrine and help me prepare for my mission)  It was one of those times when I just realized how much other people look to the missionaries and how big our responsibility is.  And we're just kids!  I realized that I need to do everything that I possibly can to be the best example for all the people, especially the kids here, because they watch what the missionaries do.

One sad thing was that we dropped our golden investigator Sheila.  She is totally ready, but her husband wont let her come to church.  And she's afraid of her husband (he drinks) so she won't let us talk to him and share with him.  So we finally had to tell her that although we feel like she is ready, maybe this isn't the right time because the missionaries need to respect the father and head of the household.  And of course, our purpose is to help people be baptized and she can't do that if she doesn't come to church.  So it was really sad last night, but hopefully the next missionaries who return to her will baptize her.  It's just sad because she is so ready.

But on the up side, we showed up at the home of one of the families that texted us and told us that they would text us when they had time again.  They were a little shy and said they would text us when we had time but we were persistent (I have learned to be REALLY persistent here) and kept asking when.  Then I asked (kind of awkwardly) if there was a problem.  The husband said no really quickly but the wife hesitated.  They said they would text us.  So we said good-bye and the wife walked us out to the main road and halfway there, she said that they did have a problem and she really wants her husband to change and she feels like our religion can do that.  And she totally opened up to us.  And then she said we could come back on Friday.  So we were able to teach them again.  For some reason, I really really feel like this family needs the gospel.  So we are going to be persistent with them.  Looking back, I feel like I followed the spirit when I asked if there was a problem.  I never ask that and it was a very awkward question but I've come to realize that sometimes the spirit isn't conventional and sometimes a little awkward to us.  But that is the question or the statement or the thing that that person needs and we just don't know it.  And of course, she totally opened up to us.

Last pics before Sister Alvero finished her mission. 

One other thing that was really spiritual this week:  Sister Alvero (the Filipino in our house) left to go home because she is done with her mission.  Her family is from Tacloban (where the super typhoon hit) and their house is gone, everything is gone so they are starting from scratch and hopefully moving to Manila.  But in Relief Society, just before she left, they said that if anyone had any donations for her family it would be nice (of course, she was totally embarrassed).  But sisters brought food and clothes and money.  And then one sister, a recent convert, came forward and gave her money.  We know for a fact that she gave all the money that she has.  All of it.  I think that it was only 20 pesos but I know that sometimes she goes days at a time without eating or just eats a handful of rice with a lot of water (basically soup).  But she gave everything that she has to Sister Alvero, even though Sister Alvero is probably better off than she is.  I was just struck by how humble and giving these people are.  It is truly amazing.  They are so willing to help everyone and yet they have nothing to give.  But they give it.  It made me think of the story in the Bible about the widow who gave her two pence and Christ said that she gave more than the rich men who gave a lot.  That is how I feel about the people here.  They give way more than I do.  Hopefully, by the end of my mission I will learn how to be more like the people here.

Well, the work is moving forward here!  I counted up all the baptisms that Gua Gua has had since I have been here:  10.  10 in just 4 months!  The church is growing!  I know that it is true and I love you all.  Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving (I forgot about it...the couple missionaries reminded us the day after. But my Thanksgiving was good) and I love you all!

Sister Sirrine