Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 27, 2014 Hello!

Our investigator Arcangel Garbriel Efe was baptized this week!!!!

The baptismal font is outside here, not inside the church so that's kind of different :)

Hello Family!

Well, this week was exciting because we had a baptism!!!  Although I didn't do much to get the baptism....I just showed up here.  I kind of felt bad for the sister that left because she didn't get to see him baptized but then I realized that I left a bunch of investigators in Gua
Gua that will be baptized.  And then you realize that they aren't MY baptisms.  We are just here to help them reach baptism but there are a lot of factors going into their baptisms: missionaries, friends, the branch, who knows how many years, and of course the right timing and the spirit.  So we can never really say they are OUR baptisms haha!  But it was really exciting.

Our investigator's name is Arcangel Gabriel Efe (yes that's really his name, cool huh?).  He was totally prepared by the Lord and he is so excited to serve a mission in a year.  He is really sad that no one in his family wants to hear about the gospel but we told him that he is just the first.  Of course, through his example, they will be converted but we just have to wait for the right timing.  But he is excited to serve a mission and bring the gospel to others.  He said that this has been the biggest blessing in his life and he also said that there have been five times in his life when he should have died but he didn't.  He said that he knows it is so that he could accept the gospel and that he has a purpose here on earth and he needs to take the gospel to others.  It was really neat.  Also, something cool is that the baptismal font is outside, not inside.  That was really different for me!  I liked it....kind of like being baptized in the river and you could see the palm trees in the background :)

On the other hand, one of our investigators died this week.  That was really sad for Sister Pati-on.  We had even just had a lesson with him where he said that he would be baptized in March.  But it was also kind of a good thing because he had a stroke 15 years ago and has been paralyzed ever since.  So at least we know that right now he isn't sick and hurting anymore.  And, his heart was prepared here so he will accept it when his temple work is done.  We think that he would have been baptized a while ago but he was embarrassed because he didn't know how he could be since he was in a wheel chair and all.  His friend who takes care of him, Jimmy, is our investigator too (he will be baptized Feb 14) and he called us at 6:30 am on Sunday morning and said he couldn't come to church.  Sis Pati-On asked why and he said that Norman had just died.  We couldn't believe that Jimmy called us to tell us that.  He is another investigator who is so excited for his baptism and he knows that he has to go to church in order to be baptized.  So he made sure he called us! He is so ready for baptism too!

I seriously love this area here in Masinloc!  Life is a lot more relaxed here than it was in Gua Gua.  Part of that is because it is a province and so people don't have professional jobs.  They are fishermen or something like that.  As a result, they are lot more prepared to hear the gospel and take the time to listen too.  We also have the best branch president. He bikes from house to house and visits all the members and less actives.  He knows them all personally.  For tithing settlement, he went to each member individually, instead of them coming to him.  He is really committed to being a great leader here.  And, yesterday, we had something called the Rescue Caravan.  So at 3 p.m. all the members that wanted to came to the church and then split up with the missionaries and for one hour, we visited less actives ("rescuing the one").  They do it every fourth Sunday.  It was a really good idea!  When I get transferred to the south again, I want to do that in the branch because it is a good way to get the members involved with the less actives.  And one hour isn't that much time out of their life.

And our companionship is doing a lot better.  Our teaching is really good now and it's fun to teach with a Filipinio and I'm learning a lot of Tagalog.  I really like Sis Pati-On!  Already, this transfer is going by quickly!

Well, I love you all!  I know that this work is so important and I hope that you will all find a way to get involved...even if you live in Utah and everyone is a member.  There are so many ways and if everyone helps, the burden is spread out among many.  One thing I've learned from the senior couple missionary is that we need to feel more urgent about this work.  Time is quickly running out!  I know this church is true and that Jesus Christ is our Savior and he loves every single one of us.  He is waiting for everyone!

Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Sirrine

Friday, January 24, 2014

January 20, 2014 My Second Area!

 Photos from Gua Gua
My favorite family in Gua Gua.  The Malig family

Me and Sis Evelyn San Juan.  She has family in America and they send her American food.  Skippy peanut butter!!!!!

Hello family!

Well, I got transferred which was bitter sweet.  I feel like I had contacted at every house in Gua Gua and there was no one left for me to talk to, so for that reason, it was good that I was transferred.  But, I do miss my investigators over there and the branch!  I got transferred to Masinloc which is in the very north of the mission.  So I got transferred from the south to the north and it is like a whole different world here! First of all, it is really cold here.  Apparently Gua Gua is one of the hottest places in our mission and here in Masinloc, it is really cool because it is right by the ocean.   It's actually hard to sleep at night because it's cold and so I've been using my towel as a blanket.  And the worst thing in the world is showering here.  It is seriously like showering in a freezing cold Utah river.  Coldest showers I have ever taken in my life. Here it is more of a province so not really very many houses like in Gua Gua.  Lots of trees and rice fields and even some mountains.  The people are super friendly here and life is a lot slower here than it was in Gua Gua. I think this is probably the prettiest area in the whole mission!  And our apartment is literally right next to the ocean. We have an investigator that literally lives in the ocean.  There's a place where all the houses are on stilts and the houses are in the ocean.  Then there are bridges going from house to house. It was really cool!  This is also the mango capital of the Philippines and I was lucky enough to be transferred here right as mango season is starting :)

Photos from Masinloc
This is standing at the corner of my apartment.  At the end of the street is the ocean!!!! What a HUGE temptation for me!

The church here in Masinloc.  It's so little!

Me and Sis Pati-On!
My companion is Sister Pati-On and I live in an apartment of 3 Filipinos.  I am the only foreigner which I am excited about because I think that will really help my Tagalog. It's good to hear Tagalog outside of our lessons because I don't really use those kinds of words everyday.  Sister Pati-On has been out the same amount of time as Sis Hausia so I am her follow up trainer.  It looks like my whole mission I'm going to be a senior companion.  I still feel like I have so much improving to do and I need a follow up trainer.  But it's okay because she's Filipino so she doesn't need help with the language, just helping improve the lessons.  I'm excited about our area because we have lots of investigators.  It's a lot easier to get baptisms and investigators here in the north because it is more provincial here, not as busy as in the city.  And the people are always home which is nice.  We have an upcoming baptism on Saturday and hopefully 3 more in February.

One of our baptisms is a man named Jimmy and he is probably in his 60's.  He is ready to be baptized but he has smoked all his life so we are just waiting for the time period to be up of him not smoking.  So far he's doing great!  My first day here we went and taught him and I loved his prayer that he gave at the end of the lesson.  It was like he was literally talking to Heavenly Father.  He prayed and said "Heavenly Father, help me avoid smoking because if I don't, I can't be baptized. And there are just so many temptations.  I need your help."  It was the most sincere prayer I have heard I think the whole time I've been here.  He reminds me a lot of Mario who I left in Gua Gua.
Mario is really good at playing the guitar!  I'm really going to miss him.  I kind of felt like he was my grandpa here.

Well, right now there's not much more to say.  It's really busy being a new area.  Learning the place, the people, the investigators, etc.  Already though, I really love this area and I'm excited to be here.  I think this will be a progressing area and the people here are so humble and friendly.
Have a great week!

Sister Sirrine

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13, 2014 Last 2 days of the transfer

The kind of brooms that they have in the Philippines.  A bunch of sticks tied together.  Actually pretty effective.

We went to the hair salon last Monday and got our hair fixed (the Philippines is actually REALLY terrible for our hair) this is the first time my hair has been blow dried in 6 months!  And it's so straight! Yay....for one day

Hello Hello family!

One day we accidentally matched.  The branch loved it
Well, I am officially done training Sis Hausia and she is doing great.  It will be really good for her to get a new companion and learn new things.  We've kind of hit the point where I have nothing new really to teach her and it will be good for a change.  The transfers really are good because you learn new things from every companion.  I'm excited to be a regular missionary!  So far I haven't gotten out of training yet...haha/  But again, I am in a tri-some with two Tongans and it's a lot of fun.  They just laugh and talk all the time.

This week was really exciting because we have a lot of progressing people right now.  Last week, Mario finally committed to a date to be baptized (Feb 1st).  Right now, he still doesn't feel ready but he said he's going to do his best to be ready by then.  I know that he is going to be baptized!  We just have to keep working on building his faith but he is doing really great.  He hasn't had any coffee this week and is keeping all of his commitments!  Yay!  Unfortunately, he didn't come to church yesterday...we're not sure why yet.  We'll find out on Tuesday.  I hope he has a good reason...not just that he was busy.

The last day together with the Gua Gua zone!
BUT....Myrna came to church for the second week in a row!  At first, I really was not sure about their family but now we really like them.  They're really funny and they really like to have us there.  Her husband is SUPER Catholic (in the way that his parents and grandparents were Catholic...not that he goes to church) so he's going to take a while I think but he always listens and is actively participating in our lessons.  And he really likes the lessons too.  So we have hope for him!  But I really think that Myrna will be baptized and I think she really likes coming to church.  She already has made a lot of friends in the church so that's good.  We still haven't taught word of wisdom yet...that's going to be a tough commandment for them to keep.

As far as cultural notes, it has been freezing here!  I'm not sure what the weather really is here (I'm sure this what Utah feels like in the summer) but since I'm used to sweating all the time, the last few days have felt really cold.  Everyone here has been wearing jackets and coats and beanies.  It's really funny because it really is still warm here.  One other funny thing is that we went to pick up our investigator for church and her brother was outside.  We asked if she was there and he went and called her and said "Mayra! Come here!  Nicole Kidman is here!" We laughed about that.

Also, we have this one less active family that we have been visiting and we have had some really great lessons lately.  We've been really bold with them (it's kind of fun). One of our lessons we were focusing on reading the Book of Mormon and how that is important because they haven't read in a long time now.  For some reason, I told them the story about Great Grandpa Tanner and how he was doubting that paying tithing would be possible for them because money was tight.  So he experimented and wrote down how much everything would cost and the money would come out just right.  But then he paid tithing first and knew that at the end of the month, they wouldn't have enough money, but somehow, it all worked out and they had enough.  So then he always paid his tithing.  For some reason I thought of that story and told it to them with the intent of relating it to reading the Book of Mormon (they say they're busy and don't have time to read).  After the story though, they opened up to us and said, "Yeah, that happened to us back when we used to pay tithing." And then they told us their experience.  And they said they hadn't paid it in a while.  We got them to commit to pay their full tithing and read the Book of Mormon everyday.  I know that the spirit was helping me to remember that story and decide to tell it because it really didn't relate very well to what we were focusing on: Book of Mormon reading.  But that was something they needed to hear because they needed to remember their testimony of tithing.  In Preach My Gospel, it talks about how investigator needs and concerns are often like icebergs.  We just see the very tip of the problem and don't see the real problem underneath.  That is why we as missionaries need to follow the spirit because Heavenly Father knows them and knows their real problems, not just the surface problems.  I had no idea that tithing was really what they needed to hear that day, but Heavenly Father did!

Well, I hope everyone is having a great January and still working on all those New Years resolutions.  Maybe this will be my last letter to you from Gua Gua!  We shall see! But I love you all and I know that this is the Lord's work talaga!

Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Sirrine

Friday, January 10, 2014

January 5, 2014 Sobrang masaya kami!!!

One of our investigators Lizel Franche

This is what we are always doing....studying.  Or walking....

Hello family!!!

WE HAD FOUR INVESTIGATORS COME TO CHURCH!!!!!! needless to say, we were happy.  Mario came to church!!!!! We were so super excited.  His lessons are going so well and I know that he will be baptized.  I think he was really nervous to come to church because he didn't know anyone and he doesn't have formal clothes.  We told him it was fine to wear blue jeans and of course everyone is friendly here.  We told him that we would meet him in the plaza and then walk to the church together.  At 8:45, he still hadn't showed up so we left for the church.  Then a few minutes after we got to the church, we saw him walking down the road towards the church.  Sister Hausia and I were so so so happy.  We thought for sure he wasn't coming but he showed up!! He is our baptismal goal for January and I really think that it will happen.

Our other baptismal goal for January (Mary Ann) also came to church.  Even though she is just 16 she is super smart and really knows what she needs to do to know if it is true.  Then, halfway through sacrament meeting, in walked two more investigators.  We were shocked!  We thought that family wasn't really serious. They just wanted to talk to an American and they just want me to marry one of their four sons.  But the wife came to church with their 18 year old son.  So, I guess they really are interested. And, I was so happy because the branch was really welcoming.  Everyone we introduced to our investigators talked to them and asked them lots of questions and was super friendly.  In the past, sometimes when we introduce investigators, the members just say "hi" and then walk away.  But we had people sit by them in all the classes and all the members said to come to church again next week.  It is so helpful when the members are friendly and welcoming and THEY invite our investigators back to church.  All of our investigators said that they would come again next week (Let's pray that that really happens).  So, everyone back at home, if investigators come to church or you see a new face, BE FRIENDLY to them! Make them feel super welcome and do it on your own initiative! It's so nice when we don't have to introduce our investigators but the members come up and introduce themselves.

Lessons with Mario are going super well.  He has definitely been prepared by the Lord.  He is living the Word of Wisdom (he's only had coffee once!) and he is already living the law of chastity.  Lots of people here aren't married but they were married, so that's nice.  And he is reading the Book of Mormon and praying.  From what I can see, he was already a good person when we got there and living many of the commandments.  We are just filling in the holes and giving him explanations as to why he felt his whole life that it was wrong to swear or drink or break the law of chastity.  It has been really really neat.

And, we found a new family this week that I think are really interested.  So now we are officially teaching four families!!!  And, in all of them, the father is present.  We are really trying to focus on fathers because they are the head of the household.  It's a lot easier to get the wives to listen but the fathers have the power to change the whole family.  And, we are in desperate need of Melchizedek priesthood holders here.  So we've been excited to get families and they are progressing families too.  They are doing their reading assignmetns and really interested.

Also, New Years is way big here.  Like super.  It seriously sounds like a war here when it is new years eve.  Everyone lights of fireworks and parties all night.  The kids are definitely way more excited for new years than Christmas.  Sister Hausia couldn't sleep at all that night ( I luckily had earplugs...I offered some to her but she didn't want them).  And the fireworks are way louder than they are in America.  They sound like guns here.  Louder than guns.

This is the last week of the transfer and then Sis Hausia will be done with her training.  Wow.  12 weeks goes by super fast.  So, next week one of us will be transferred and I'm pretty sure that it will be me because I've been here for 6 months now.  I love this branch and we are finally starting to have success.  I don't want to leave!  Especially because I'm pretty sure that our investigators will be baptized this month.  But I will go where the Lord wants me to go. I know that the transfers are inspired and that is the place where we are needed.

I hope you all had a happy New Year's and that you all have great new year's resolutions.  I know that I want to make this the best last 12 months of my mission and become an even more consecrated missionary for the Lord.  I know that this work is true at alam ko po na totoo ang simbahan ni Jesu Cristo.  Walang iba.  Isa lang ang totoong simbahan.  And we all need to be like Alma in Alma 1-9 where he worked tirelessly and went from place to place to tell the people the gospel!

Mahal ko kayo! Ingat!

Sister Sirrine