Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014 Hello Hello

All the mangoes that we have been given (we're so lucky!) There's even more in the fridge.  We've pretty much lived on mangoes thislast week.,  It's been great!

The Candelaria Zone!

Kumusta ang minimahal kong pamilya!

Wow, another week has flown by and another transfer!  I'm pretty sure that I'll get a new companion on Wednesday because Sis Pati-on has been here for a long time.  I'm really going to miss her.  This has been the best companionship as far as teaching and so it's been really fun.  Not hardly stressful at all!

This last week was so awesome!  We have tons of really progressing investigators and really are really excited about all of them.  We have 10 right now with baptismal goal dates for March...hopefully that actually happens :) Yesterday in church, we had 7 investigators come!  Sis Pati-on and I were soooooo happy.  We saw the first one and we were happy, and then another walked in and another and another....and we just got happier and happier!

I can't remember if I told you about Norgito Equita.  He is 72-ish years old and he really loves when we come and teach him.  We've invited him to church before and he'll never promise, he always says it's hard to promise but we'll see.  So we went to teach him on Tuesday and found out that he had gone to the church last Sunday but he didn't come inside!  He said that he didn't see us waiting outside and he was too shy to come in because he didn't know anyone there.  So he waited outside for an hour and then he went home.  We were so sad when we heard that!  So we told him to come to church again on Sunday and we would wait for him.  He said "It's hard to promise...but we'll see."  And.....He came to church!!!!  We were so excited!  And he really enjoyed the church too.  He said that he'll come again next Sunday and he already has lots of friends.  Also, we gave him a Book of Mormon 1 week ago...he's already in Alma.  Yep.  He's beating me.  But he's also retired so when he has nothing to do, he reads.  He said that he likes it but sometimes he doesn't understand it.  But he does understand the story line.  We have high hopes for him that he'll be baptized.

Also, we have another investigator, Sonny Dait, who is also excited for us to come to teach him.  It's so fun to be a missionary when you know that they want you to come back again.  But he has so many questions, and they're deep questions too, and he listens intently.  One of his questions was what if someone was shot and were dying and then the missionaries came and taught him and he accepted it and had faith and repented of his sins and then he died.  So he didn't have the chance to be baptized.  But he would have.  "What then?" he asked.  It was PERFECT because our lesson to him right then was the Plan of Salvation.  It was such a good lesson!  We invited him to church but he said that he has to go fishing every day, otherwise his family doesn't have food.  He said that maybe in March because he hopefully will be getting a more regular job.  We told him that he needed to exercise his faith and put the Lord first. And that the Lord gave us 6 days to work and one day to go to church.  He just smiled and said maybe in March.  And then.....he came to church the next day!!!!!  We couldn't believe it when he walked in!  And he actually knows a lot of the members so he wasn't out of place and he participated a lot in all of the lessons.  I am super excited to go back to him and ask how church was for him. He really seemed to enjoy it.

Also, our two recent converts that got baptized this last month, Mel and Gabriel, have been working with all the missionaries.  It's so cool to see that they are so excited about it and they want everyone to be baptized.  (The recent converts are the best to get to work because they are still so excited from their baptism!) Yesterday, we went to Gabriel and he was so excited when we got there and he ended up teaching us the lesson.  He is anxiously preparing to be able to serve a mission and can't wait for his one year to be up.  It's so great to see the confidence that he has gained in just the last 6 weeks because when I first got here, he loved the lessons and the church but he was still quiet and not really super outspoken about it.  But now, totally different Gabriel!

I seriously feel so blessed to be serving a mission right now!  I now know what Alma and Aaron and the sons of Mosiah were talking about when they said that they felt so much joy from sharing the gospel.  I have never been so happy in my life as I have been the last few weeks, especially last week.  Of course I was happy at home, but this is a different happiness.  It's a joy that is deeper than happiness.  I get so excited to see people come to church, to see people reading the Book of Mormon, to pray for the first time.  We have three kids in the branch here that come to church every Sunday by themselves.  Their parents are less active and working in other countries too.  But by themselves, they get themselves to church (the oldest is 11).  I just feel so blessed that I get to see people here showing their faith to the Lord in so many ways and to see the change in so many people’s lives.  A mission is hard, but there are so many blessings that make it worth it!

Well, there is more to tell from this last week (it really was so good!) but wala na ang oras.  Hope you all are doing well! I love you!

Sister Sirrine

PS... One funny story: I texted the Zone leaders about that family that isn't married.  I said we had a question and asked if they would call us later that night.  They forgot to call, so last night I texted them again and said "May tanong kami kay E Batausa tungkol sa kasal.  Ayos po ba ngayon?" (We have a question for elder Batausa about marriage.  Can we now?)  So Elder called us and said "Sister!  I am not yet ready to get married!  Promise!" Basically, I proposed to the zone leader. It was just a really funny thing about how sometimes my Tagalog doesn't come out exactly how it should :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

February 17, 2014 Another week down...Another to begin!

This is the branch president's family.  They are so awesome :)

This is Mel Francisco! Baptized Feb 14 :)

Wow!  This week was exciting because we had a baptism!!!!!  Again!  The work is so easy here in Masinloc...the people are so prepared and ready even before we get to them.  Our investigator Mel Francisco was baptized on Feb 14 (Valentines Day!) and he was so excited.  He is the same age as Dad (I know now how old you are...surprised to find out not 40 anymore!) and he has been ready to be baptized since lesson 1.  His best friend is the branch president and so right there, he has an amazing fellow shipper.  The branch president answers all his questions that he thinks of when we aren't there anymore so he didn't even have a chance to start doubting our lessons when we weren't there.  And, we went to go teach him tithing (the second hardest lesson in my opinion) and he already knew all about it and all the blessing that come from paying tithing.  If only that's how missionary work was all the time!  After the baptism, he bore his testimony and it was amazing.  I just know that he is going to be one of the priesthood leaders here in the branch really soon.  And he's already asked if he can work with us and come with us to other lessons.  One of my favorite parts about missionary work is seeing them after they have been baptized and confirmed.  They literally have a glow about them and a new confidence too.

This morning, three policemen stopped me in the street as we were coming home from playing basketball.  They asked if they could take a picture with me.  The people here are so funny!  I have never been so popular in my life, joke lang.  Also, the good news is that here I am losing all the weight that I gained in Gua Gua.  My secret: mangos!  Everyone says that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, I'm going to have to say it really is Masinloc.  The branch president here told me that this is the mango capital of the world and the sweetest mangos come from Zambales, Philippines.  Also, all the members and investigators have been giving us mangos!!  So we just eat mangos mango mangos!  It's great.  I'm going to be really sad when mango season ends again.

We found lots of new investigators this last week and lot of our investigators accepted baptismal goal dates.  We have 10 hopefully for March 22.  If all of them really are ready then, that would be the most exciting day ever… right???

One of the investigators that we found this week is actually a family.  For a long time, the father has really, really wanted to get baptized.  They said that they've had lots of missionaries teach them but they still haven't been baptized.  They said that they all got transferred or the Americans went home and then they lost contact with the missionaries.  So I'm thinking, "Hmmmm...if they really wanted to get baptized, the missionaries wouldn't lose track of them. Especially when they had dates too."  So I asked when they got married and they said that they haven't been married yet.  That's why.  Unfortunately, they are super poor.  Probably the poorest people that I have met here on the mission and literally don't have the money to get the birth certificate and registration needed for the marriage.  Especially because the father is from Cebu which is far away.  Sister Pati-on and I were so sad!  They committed to a date and were so happy but now we don't know how we can make this happen.  In other branches, I know that members have donated money to help a wedding happen, but here the members are all really poor.  Most are fishermen.  There aren't any professionals here.  Something else that made me sad is that the family doesn't know that the problem is that they aren't married.  They think that the missionaries got transferred or went home and they lost track of them.  But the father said that he hasn't gone to any other church because he knows that this is the right church and there is only one correct church on the earth.  It just doesn't seem fair that they want to be baptized so badly and they I'm sure are willing to get married but they can't because they literally don't have the money.  Sometimes I feel really spoiled as an American.  Even though I feel like I am a poor college student, I'm not poor.  My trials back then seem silly sometimes compared to the trials that the people here face every day.

But despite that, I know that Heavenly Father will help us find a way.  When there is a will, there is a way!  I know that this church is true and this work is a happy work, even when there are some letdowns or kind of bad days.  We have to know sadness and frustration to truly know happiness and joy.  I love you all!

Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Sirrine

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014 Hello! Hello!

                                    Sunset in Masinloc

Our investigator's husband is a fisherman and she gave us these two big fish!  Aren't they unique?

Also, people here lay out the tiny fishes on nets in the sun to dry them out. And then they eat them.  It's called toyo and it doesn't smell very good but I eat it anyway.

Wow, I can't believe that it's Monday again.  Time goes by really fast in your second area.  It's probably because you are so busy trying to get to know people and places. So,so fast!

So this week was a little different because I spoke at our investigators funeral.  I've never spoken at a funeral before so that was exciting.  The branch president assigned me to talk on the Atonement and of course our investigators family is all Catholic.  The next speaker spoke on the plan of salvation. So I prepared my talk in Tagalog and then we got there, and the district president came up to me and said that our investigator's kids and wife were here from America (our investigator used to be a surgeon in America but then he had a stroke and they divorced and he moved back here) and the kids don't speak any Tagalog.  So the district president told me to speak in English.  So all my notes were in Tagalog, and I feel much more comfortable talking about the gospel in Tagalog (it sounds weird now in English) so it was pretty hard to talk all in English.  But I managed.  There were still Tagalog words in there.  The good thing is that the people here mostly understand English if you don't talk really fast.  So hopefully they understood a lot of what I said.

Our investigators are doing great and we have several baptisms this month and several lined up for next month.  The work is so easy here in the north!  The people are just so ready and they are more humble here.  And less busy since they are fishermen so that helps too.  One of our investigators, Merlina (the one who gave us the pretty fish), is really excited for her baptism.  She knows that it's true and she really wants to be baptized.

Also, something that is exciting is that we have lots of investigators coming to church.  As opposed to Gua Gua where we were excited if even one came.  In fact, yesterday, we literally did not fit in the church building.  We used all the chairs and people were sitting in the hallway and all the missionaries were standing at the very very back.  I think that it will be very soon that we will split into two branches.  So as missionaries, we are preparing for that and will be redividing our areas in preparation.  Which of course is sad because there are lots of investigators that we will have to give to other missionaries. But that's okay.  The work moves forward!

Other than that, pretty normal week here in the Philippines. Sometimes I can't believe that I'm living in Asia.  That always seems weird to me.  But the church is the same here as it is in America (although in  a different language) and the people here are children of God too and so important to Him.  I just hope that I am working hard enough here in the mission because the time is going fast and I know that before I know it, I'll be released and no longer have the privilege that I have right now of helping in the work.

I love you all!  Have a great week!

Mahal ko po kayo!

Sister Sirrine

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February 3, 2014 Wow! Another Week!

These are houses built on the water...don't know if you can tell very well

This is right by the sea in my area. Pretty huh?

This is a huge hanging bridge in our area.  It's kind of scary because it sways back and forth really bad. But fun too!!!

I am in Zambales so that was just a cool bridge

This is our pet that I caught last night.
Well!  I feel like so much happened this week!  It was super busy.  First of all, we had an investigator accept a baptismal date and it was so exciting.  She had a really hard time committing because of her husband. Every lesson, she just wouldn't commit and she always looked like she was worried or had something to say.  We were just about to drop her but we went back again and asked if her husband had agreed.  She said no.  So we talked to her for a little bit and then she said that she was worried that if she was baptized, she wouldn't be able to come to church all the time.  And then she said that she really wanted to be baptized.  We asked her to commit to March 1 and she hesitated for a while and looked kind of scared but then she said yes.  Afterwards, she smiled so big and looked so happy.  And all of our lesson afterwards she has been so happy.  She even told us that before, her mind was really troubled when we would have lessons but now, she just feels happy and excited.  And she came to church and just was so happy.  And she just keeps mentioning her baptism in March.  So now we are praying for her husband but we know that the Lord will soften his heart and let her be baptized because this is a commandment to her.

We also had a crazy morning on Thursday.  I was chopping vegetables downstairs when Sis Pati-on yelled "Sisters!" from upstairs.  We went to go see what was wrong and walked into my bedroom and there was water all over the floor and water shooting out of the wall in the shower.  Sister Pati-on was in a towel frantically trying to scoop up the water from the floor and put it into the laundry buckets.  Somehow, the shower handles had broken off while she was showering and so water was spraying out of the wall like a fire hose.  Sister Ila ran to get the owner of the apartment but he was still asleep so she ran to the apartment of the missionary couple and they woke up the owner.  In the meantime, we filled up laundry buckets with the water that was shooting out of the wall and ran them to the other bathroom.  the owner came up, the missionary couple came up, plumbers came up and eventually the water was shut off.  While the plumber was surveying the damage, he laughed and said "May baha! Pero walang unlan!" (There's a flood but no rain!) So we spent the next 30 minutes mopping up the water in our bedroom.  Luckily none of our stuff really got wet that was important.  But it was a crazy morning!
This is the shower after the incident.  Those two holes in the wall are where all the water came spraying out.  It was crazy!!!

We also went to the viewing of our investigator who died last Sunday.  Here in the Philippines, their viewings (Or wakes....) are for several days.  If you are rich, it will be a long time and if you're poor, just a few days.  Our investigators wake is for 10 days (he was rich).  They literally are there night and day with the casket open and people just come to sit with him for a while.  And the custom is to feed everyone who comes a snack.  Funerals are expensive here! Sister Pati-on was really sad when we went to see him but hopefully he'll get his work done soon.

Also, I got everyone's Christmas cards this week.  Merry Christmas ulit!  Haha it was fun to get them and see everyone.

And we found two more investigators this week that we are really excited about.  One is an older man who's wife died two years ago.  We told him that he could be with his wife again and so he listened to our message.  We kept focusing on them being back together again and at the end of the lesson, he committed to be baptized.  He looked so so happy afterwards.  He just kept smiling and told us to come back any day, any time.  His name is Chidorro.  I think that is one thing I will really miss when I go home: seeing them so happy because they know the truth and they have a new hope in their life.

Well, there was more from this week but time is short!  I know this is the most important work right now and I'm so grateful to be a part of it! Love you all!

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine