Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21, 2014 Hello!

Me and my comp at the ocean at low tide. Super pretty!

Aren't the goats cute?!! I was afraid that the mom would not like me touching her baby but she was nice. Not gonna lie I was a little bit afraid of the mom...she had horns! 

Hello Family!

Well, this week was pretty normal. It’s funny how fast time goes by when you are transferred to a new area.  You’re so busy trying to learn the place and the people and get to know your companion…it goes by fast.  I can’t believe it’s P-day again.  Crazy.

We had two neat experiences this last week.  One was with Brother Arselau who is the husband of a member but she was baptized and then never went to church again and that was years ago.  At first, they thought that she was an investigator and then found out that she'd been baptized.  So we're teaching them and trying to activate the wife and teach the husband.  They are in their 60's and seem really excited to see us when we come to teach them.  We keep asking them if they've prayed to know if Joseph Smith is a true prophet and they say that they are every day, but haven't gotten an answer yet.  For me, I thought that we probably just needed to continue on with the lessons. I didn't really know what to do because they said that they were praying.  But Sis Empalmado just kept going back to their prayers and said that if they were really praying with real intent, they would get an answer.  She kept asking them questions and eventually, we found out that Brother was praying as he was laying in bed about to go to sleep and was looking at the stars (so he wasn't closing his eyes).  We taught him that he needs to sit up. It needs to be quiet and he needs to close his eyes and ask SPECIFICALLY if Joseph Smith is a true prophet.  At the end of the lesson, we asked him to pray and right then, ask God if Joseph was a prophet.  So he did and he asked God to give him a sign so that he could know.  After his prayer, we were quiet for a minute and looked up at him and his eyes were teary.  He quickly brushed them away and said that he got smoke in his eyes (there was no smoke).  We asked him what his feelings were right then and told him that was his sign.  That signs don't usually come in the form of angels or God speaking directly to us, but our feelings.  He was quiet and said, "Maybe that's my answer."  We were so excited!  The spirit was so strong in that lesson!  We are really going to push him to be baptized in May, I really feel like he could be.  I was very grateful for my companion that she listened to the spirit and we were able to find out why he hadn't gotten an answer yet.

With Sis Empalmado and Jerome,a member that is really great at working with us

Our second neat experience was with a less active.  She has been visited by the missionaries for a long time and the two sons are recent converts.  She never really wants to let the missionaries in and often will say "Oh next time sisters."  She also doesn't want to pray or read the BoM and isn't really serious during the lessons.  So we went back to her last Friday and started the lesson and then suddenly she started to cry.  She eventually told us her story that she had argued with her father a couple years ago and they were both angry at each other.  Then the next morning, her father died.  She hadn't gotten a chance to say sorry. So she went to go work in Saudi Arabia to provide an income for her family and kind of to run away and try to pay for what she had done.  She said that she stopped praying and reading and of course in Saudi, they are all Muslim.  She said that she hardened her heart and kind of let the customs of Saudi sink into her.  And then when she returned, she didn't open up to anyone and created a shell for herself.  She said that She kept wondering why the missionaries kept coming to her because she wasn't very nice to them and wouldn't be serious in the lessons.  Then she said that she went to her uncle's house on Monday and happened to be there when they had Family Home Evening.  She heard her uncle pray for her and that she would feel the love of Heavenly Father in her life and return to church.  She said that something cracked in her when she heard that prayer.  And then we came to her on Friday and she just dissolved into tears.  She said "I used to be so active.  And I hardened my heart and turned away from everything." and she said that she doesn't want to pray because she doesn't feel it in her heart. We testified about the power of the atonement and the power of prayer and that is the thing that the adversary uses against us: that we aren't ready or aren't worthy.  She looked at us and said she was very sorry for all the things she had said to the missionaries before and that she wasn't very nice.  And we testified that we had been sent to her because her Heavenly Father loves her even though sometimes we turn away from him.  At the end of the lesson, she even gave the closing prayer.  I really learned (again) the power of prayer and for this sister, the power of others' prayers.  Her uncle came up to us on Sunday and said that they have been praying for a long time for her.  Just like Alma the older, sometimes it takes a long time but God hears our prayers, especially for those around us.  We don't know what kind of effect our prayers can have for others.

I feel so blessed that I get to be serving a mission and have experiences like these.  I told Sis Empalmado that these kind of things make up for all the punted appointments, the hours of walking in the sun with no lessons, and all the disappointments of investigators not keeping commitments like not coming to church.  We do what we do for those one or two moments when people really feel the atonement in their lives and feel the truth of the gospel.  It is so true in D&C 18 that the worth of just one soul is great in the sight of God!

I love you all!  I know this church is true and this is the only way to obtain true happiness in this life. there is no other way.  Have a great week!

Sister Sirrine

April 14, 2014 Hello Family!-Transfer

FHE at President Tugas's house just before transfer day!  So happy!~

The baptism of Rossel last friday.  She is 18 believe it or not

Hello family!

Well, transfer day was last Wednesday and I was transferred.  I had a feeling all week that I was going to be transferred so I was prepared for it so that was kind of good.  I thought that I was going to be transferred really far away but I was luckily transferred to Santa Cruz, which is where we would go on P-day to buy groceries.  So, really close!!  I was super happy because everyone came to the Santa Cruz chapel for General Conference because it is the district center.  So I was able to see everyone from Masinloc again.  I was especially happy to see Melvin and Ellen.  The two little kids of Ellen ran up to me when they saw me and gave me the biggest hug.  I’m really going to miss their family!  But, on Tuesday, before the transfer day, we went to them and another one of Ellen’s sons listened in along with their friend.  I just know that the entire family is going to be baptized.  They are all super spiritual and really understand the scriptures.  They are also definitely going to be leaders in the church someday.  I was so happy when I talked to Melvin on Tuesday because he said that he was going to Santa Cruz for General Conference.  He is a boxer and is going to go professional probably next year.  At the same time as General Conference was the Manny Pacquiao fight which on the days that he fights, the ENTIRE Philippines watches.  Literally.  It’s a huge national pride thing.  When he fights, usually our church attendance is really low.  Melvin said that he really wanted to watch the fight, but he wanted to watch the prophet more and said “I’ll watch the fight on YouTube later.”  I was so happy that he really understands where his priorities should be and I was so humbled by his faith that even though he was only baptized two weeks ago, he’s already making the sacrifices to be a faithful member!And he’s excited about it too!  It’s not a sacrifice for him, he’s excited for it.

Our note to our investigator what time conference starts because he wasn't home

So my new companion is Sister Empalmado and she is super cute!  I’m super excited to be her companion and I feel like it will be a good companionship.  We’ve already had a baptism here in Santa Cruz.  I laughed because every time I get to a new area, the next Friday or Saturday there is a baptism.  Every area.  I feel bad for the missionaries who didn’t get to see their baptism.  But I was impressed here because all the young men in the branch attended the baptism.  No one else.  And not just because it was a girl being baptized, but they are really supportive and always work with the missionaries.  I’m really impressed with them.  They’ve already worked with us almost every day since I’ve gotten here!  And they are all really strong in their testimonies and sharing of the gospel.  I hope I can be like them when I go home from my mission!

Also, something neat was that on Thursday, we were looking for people to teach and we got to teach this family.  They seem like they might have potential.  The one son is Iglesia ni Cristo which is a pretty hard religion to convert but he had lots of questions.  We invited them to General Conference on Sunday and he said he would come.  Then we went back on Saturday but he wasn’t there and we talked to their neighbors who are relatives of them.  We couldn’t teach them but we invited them to General Conference and said that we had a living prophet that would speak.  The next day at Cnference, we were shocked to see that Erik and Mark had both come!  And they stayed for both sessions!  We haven’t even taught Mark a lesson yet, but he still came!  It’s also so interesting to see the reaction of people when we say that we have a living prophet on the earth.  Immediately they are interested and a little doubtful but it definitely gets their attention.  Hopefully they will turn out to be baptismal candidates!

Well, that’s about it.  General Conference was so good.  I feel a renewed commitment to try and serve the people more.  Focus on the small acts of service.  And to be more obedient and more WILLINGLY obedient.  If we are just obedient because we are obeying rules, we will not enjoy the blessings of being obedient and being happy about it.  There is a difference there and I have really learned that here on the mission.  There are a lot of rules here but they are for our good and we should not grudgingly follow them.  We should follow them because we want to and we know that they make us free.  Not bind us down.

I love you all!  Hope you have a great week!
Sister Sirrine

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 7, 2014 Hello!

Melvin Jakaran's baptism! March 30 2014

Picture of all of us at Melvins baptism

This is the Estipular family

Hello Family!

Well, this week was crazy!  So busy.  The highlight of the week was that last Sunday, Melvin Jakaran was baptized!  He was seriously golden!  After the first lesson with him, he came to church that next Sunday and every Sunday since and had no Word of Wisdom problems.  Unfortunately, his mom wasn't able to get baptized with him because we're working out her marriage but she will be baptized too.  This family is future leaders, I can tell!  Also, the next Sunday (yesterday) we came to church and Melvin was dressed in a white shirt, tie and black pants. All that was missing was a name tag!!!  I was seriously so happy!  We could tell that he felt a little awkward and when his mom came to church, she didn't even recognize him at first!  But he got used to it and he loves being at church.  He's 21 so he has potential to serve a mission.  Hopefully!
Melvin the next week at church!  He went and bought church clothes!!!!

And then last Monday, we had a mission activity because we achieved the standard of excellence for baptisms in the mission: 188 baptisms.  188 missionaries.  It was fun to play at the mission home and we kind of had a water fight which felt SO GOOD.  Holy cow, it is hot here.  I thought it was hot when I got her in August.  Little did I know.  I'm just glad that I've gotten used to the heat and sweating all the time because it not, I'm pretty sure I would melt.  I'm pretty sure there is nothing like the heat here in the Philippines in summer!

At mission activity: This is a real pig's head.  They barbecued the entire pig in banana leaves
Also, yesterday we watched the RS general broadcast and for those of you that watched it and saw the video where everyone was singing I am a child of God, they filmed here in the Philippines!  And the little kids sang in Tagalog!  That was kind of fun :)  I'm excited to watch general conference next week! Also, I was watching and realized that everyone looked really weird on the TV screen.  I couldn't figure it out and then I realize that it is because everyone is SO WHITE!  They have no color!  haha I've gotten used to the Filipino skin :)

And, Sis Salado and I kind of had a miracle here in the mission.  So every month, we set goals of how many baptisms and less active returns we will have for the month.  We didn't have any goals for less actives but we put down that we would achieve 2.  Then we did a lot of praying to find the goals and we asked all the members who they knew that was inactive.  Last week we had 5 less actives come to church.  This week, we had 9 come to church.  Two weeks ago we thought that we had no goals and had no idea how we were going to achieve what we put down but we are seeing the help of the Lord talaga in our area!  We might be able to achieve well above our goals for this month!  I know that sometimes in life, we just need to make a goal, put our trust in the Lord and although the end result might be different than we thought, it will actually be better.

Ellen and Merlina and their kids.  I love them so much!!!!

The mission is the craziest adventure that I have ever been on.  I've met the craziest people, people that have the craziest ideas, done things I would never do in America, eaten things I would never eat in America, and so much more.  But I have also had the neatest experiences here, and I've had a chance to see some amazing changes in the lives of people here and seen a lot of miracles.  And here in Masinloc, I've been given the chance to find two golden families: Ellen and Melvin Jakaran and Alona Esico.  I feel so blessed to be here in the Philippines serving a mission for our Heavenly Father!

I love you all!  Hope that you have a great week!

Sister Sirrine

I don't know them on the motorcycles....they're members from a different area but when you're a missionary, everyone loves you.  Even if they don't know you

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March 30, 2014 Surprise! I'm Online! (a day early)

Hello Family!

Well, we got a text in the middle of the day saying to go email at 8 pm because we aren't going to have time on Monday.  Our mission achieved our baptism goals of 200 baptisms in 1 month and so we are having a mission party on Monday.  Crazy!  We were super surprised. I don't really know what to say....I haven't planned it out like I usually do.  Just kidding.

So this week was pretty good.  We were kind of punted this week but we found some new investigators.  We run into some really interesting people here in the mission because we literally talk to everyone.  We talked to a lady yesterday whose name is Resurrection.  Yes.  That is really her name.  She was very talkative and very religious, Born Again I think....not quite sure.  Unfortunately we had a member present who was also very talkative.  We didn't do much teaching and eventually we just ended the lesson.  She was very nice but some people think that us going there is a chance for them to share too....haha

One interesting thing that happened was that we went back to a less active that we had stopped going to because she was just not progressing at all.  She was very offended by the district president here and so became less active because of that.  I remember my first lesson with her, I think it was an hour and a half, and she spent most of the time being angry and offended and telling us her story of what happened.  She now goes to the Iglesia Ni Cristo church although she knows this church is true.  And it always seemed like we were such a bother to her.  She was never happy with whatever time we went to her.  So we stopped going to her.  But the last two weeks, I kept thinking her name when we were in her area.  So finally one night, we were punted on our last appointment and it happened to be right across the street from her.  So I told Sis Salado that we would try her.  So we went there and immediately she let us in and said "Why did you stop coming?  I thought that you'd been transferred.  I read the reading asigment that you gave me and was ready to share what I learned."  She was so nice during that visit.  She said that when we had been going to her in January, she had been feeling like this was probably God telling her that she needed to go back to church.  And then we stopped coming to her.  And then she said, "If I go to church on Sunday, will you come back more often?  Every day even!"  I tell you that I spent the whole lesson in shock!  This was not the Melody that I knew back in January!  I literally said hardly anything the entire lesson because I could not believe what I was hearing was true.  Afterwards, I told sis Salado, "That is a different person than I knew!"  Back in January, if you'd have asked me, I would have said that she was too offended and that that if she came back, it was going to be a long time.  But this just goes to show that we really can't assume about other people.  We don't know their thoughts and we don't know how the Lord is working in their lives.  In fact, she admitted "I turned my back on the Lord and rejected him but the whole time he is still waiting for me." And I am so glad that I listened to the Lord's prompting to go back to her.  It was a lesson to me to listen to the small thoughts in my mind because the Holy Ghost really is quiet and sometimes it isn't apparent that that is the Holy Ghost.

And also....Herson is progressing!!!!!!  We went to him on Thursday after not having been to him since last Saturday.  He told us that on Sunday, after hearing the talks in Sacrament meeting, something changed inside of him.  He said that he doesn't know what happened but something changed and he really wants this for himself and his family.  He set a goal for himself that he is going to be totally smoke free by April 16,his wife's birthday.  He said that even if we are transferred, he is going to be baptized.  He is down to two a day and tomorrow he is going to try zero.  Before, he never wanted to set a date or goals of how many cigarettes in a day because he was afraid that he wouldn't be able to fulfill his goal.  So he didn't want to set any.  All the goals would come from us and he would hesitantly agree to them.  But now he has set a goal for himself and he is excited about it!  I am so happy for him!  I just know that he is going to be baptized!  Something has truly changed in him and he really wants this for himself and for his family.  And although he has lessened his smoking, he is happy.  This is seriously a miracle.  Prayers really do work!

Sometimes we would joke that our purpose is to force others to come unto Christ by receiving the gospel and dragging them to the baptismal font.  And maybe that's sometimes how it starts out but ultimately, it has to be our individual commitment to follow Christ.  No matter how committed the missionaries or other people are, it is everyone's individual commitment to obey the commandments of God and come unto him.  Sometimes it's disappointing as a missionary when you are so so committed to helping a person be baptized and ultimately they decide they don't want to.  But I've realized here how important free agency is in our life, otherwise our actions don't mean anything to us.

Well, I love you all and hope that you have a great week!

Mahal ko kayo!

sister Sirrine

March 24, 2014

Me, Sis Salado, and Jasmine Tugas

We're eating squid this week!

Hello Family!

This week has been much of the same.  Such is the life of a missionary.  But, I have really learned about the power of prayer this week.  So when we first started teaching Ellen, we were really worried that her husband wouldn't agree to the baptism because they are Born Again and he was pretty adamant about that.  Also, he doesn't really like to talk to us and when we show up there, he always leaves.  So we were really worried that he would feel like we were taking over his family.  So every day we were praying for him and that he would agree to the baptism.  About two weeks ago, we were finally able to have a conversation with him and he said if they wanted to get baptized, they could.  And then last week, we double check with Ellen and she said that he said it was fine.  (He kind of has a stern appearance so we weren't really sure.  We're a little bit nervous of him) So last Tuesday, we were getting all their information for their baptism and we found out that Ellen's last husband is actually dead.  Here in the Philippines, there isn't divorce, just annulment and it's really expensive.  So we have permission from the first presidency that if they were married before and separated and now are living with a new spouse, they can be married. If it's been at least 7 years they've been together.  So we knew that Ellen wasn't married to this man but we thought it was okay because she had a previous marriage.  But then we found out that the past husband died.  So the marriage is automatically annulled. So we were all so excited about her baptism this Sunday, but then we had to tell her that they need to be married before she can be baptized.  She got really sad looking and we assured her that we would help her.  She then asked, "What if he doesn't agree?" She said that for a while now she's been feeling like they need to be married but it just hasn't happened either for money reasons or maybe because he doesn't really want to.  So we told her to talk to her husband.  Then, of course we prayed for them.  Every day.  Every prayer.  We were a little scared to go back to them on Saturday, I was almost sure that there was going to be a problem with the husband.  We asked how her preparation for baptism was going and she smiled and said that they've got all the paperwork except his death certificate and that he agreed.  He actually said, "When is the wedding?"  We were so so so happy!!!!  So Happy. We have been praying for them so much and I realized that day the Lord did a miracle for them.  I realized that miracles don't always mean that someone is miraculously healed of cancer instantly or something of that sort.  Sometimes miracles take a long time but they are still miracles.  But it can take time to soften someones heart or heal some deep wounds that are caused by sins but the Lord will work miracles and make the impossible happen.  And I know, that prayers are powerful.  Ellen will be baptized but it will take a few weeks for us to get the marriage in place.  I hope that I am still here for the wedding!  We would get to go to it!  That would be exciting!

We've also been praying every day, every prayer for Herson and slowly, I think we are starting to see a miracle.  I think that it might still be a while before he can quit his smoking but slowly the Lord is working with him and I know that he will be baptized.  I told Sis Salado that I have never prayed so much for one person in my whole life.  I know that the Lord hears and answers our prayers but it is definitely not all at once and immediately.  If we are patient and continue our heartfelt prayers, they will be answered.  Just like in Alma.  Who knows how many months or years his father prayed for him until the angel appeared to him and his heart was changed.  I'm sure there were many people that thought that kind of change of heart was impossible.  I know that there are many people here that it is impossible to give up smoking or coffee or they don't have a desire to get married.  It impossible that that would change.  But somehow it does because the Lord is always working with them.

Well,that's pretty much all.  Of course there's more but too much for 1 email.  I know that the church is true.  I know that Heavenly Father loves each and everyone of us and that he is doing everything for us to be able to return to him and enjoy all the blessings that he has to give us.

Mahal na mahal ko kayo!

Sister Sirrine

March 17, 2014 Another week in the mission

This is our cooking demo that we had as a zone this week.  We cooked Estopado (so delicious but I felt like I had high cholesterol and diabetes afterwards!) and this is our high tech stove.  You can see how big the woks are here!  I love it!  Mom this is what we need to feed our family!

Hello Family!

Well, this week was busy and there was lots of work for us.  It was nice because we were kind of punted last week but this week was good.  First of all, I am so EXCITED for Ellen and Melvin to be baptized!  They are seriously golden investigators.  Sometimes  I kind of don't believe that they are really going to be baptized because they are progressing so fast.  We literally taught them and the first week they came to church and keep all the commitments that we give them.  Also, when we taught them word of wisdom, Melvin stopped immediately and Ellen cut down from 7 cups of coffee a day to 1.  And then we told her that she has to stop altogether to be baptized and so far she hasn't had coffee.  The only set back was that yesterday, Melvin didn't come to church because he hadn't washed his clothes and he was embarrassed to come to church in just t-shirt and jeans because he saw how formal everyone is.  But he was really sad that he didn't go to church and we think we have permission to get him baptized if he'll come to two more Sundays, since he is so ready.  Also, it's so great when we go there because they complete their reading assignments and THEY UNDERSTAND!!!!  It's crazy!  They tell us exactly what happened in their reading.  And, the last few times, Melvin's little brother has sat in and even though we are halfway through the lessons, he started reading the Book of Mormon too and basically has his passages memorized.  They are really smart and totally ready to be baptized.  And that's how the whole family is!  They are very spiritual.  Even though Melvin and Ellen will be first, I feel like the whole family will be baptized eventually.

This week we had 18 new investigators.  We were really hoping to get to 20 yesterday, but it didn't quite happen.  And we had 5 investigators at church.  After 6 months in Gua Gua where it was a miracle if even 1 person came to church and was progressing, this is like a missionary's dream area.  I feel like there's got to be a challenge coming soon....

We went and taught Merlina (who was baptized Feb 28) and were reviewing the WoW and Chastity lessons with her.  She said that on the day of her baptism, when we went to her house in the morning, and she wanted to move her baptism to Mar 8.  She said it was because there was a birthday party on Mar 6 and she knew there would be alcohol and she wasn't sure that she could keep the word of wisdom.  So she wanted to move her baptism.  Of course, we pushed her and she was baptized on Feb 28.  Then she said that on Mar 6, she went to the birthday party but didn't drink.  She told her friends that she had become a good girl now.  But she said that if she hadn't have been baptized, she is sure that she would have drunk.  I felt the spirit so strong in that lessons because originally, her date was March 8.  But then our baptism for February fell through and so we pushed her to Feb 28 to be able to meet our goal.  I knew then that there was a reason that the other baptism didn't happen and that pushing Merlina forward two weeks was inspired by Heavenly Father.  Because she was able to obtain the spiritual strength in those two weeks to be able to keep the commandments of our Father in Heaven.

Also, Merlina's two daughters came to church yesterday!!!  They are SUPER shy and never come out of hiding when we are there so we haven't been able to teach them. But now we have hope!  Merlina really wants her family to accept the gospel and hopefully this is going to be the time for her two daughters!

Herson is doing okay but still can't give up the smoking. We're trying everything we can think of and then we had a lesson with him last night and I felt inspired to tell him that the Word of Wisdom is a revelation from God to his prophet Joseph Smith.  Then for some reason I asked him if he believed that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.  He said that he didn't know.  We realized that he couldn't keep the word of wisdom because he doesn't really know if this is a commandment from God and he doesn't have a testimony of Joesph Smith.  I was so thankful for the Holy Ghost in that lesson that prompted us to talk about prophets!

Well, I just feel so blessed to be on a mission right now.  This really is a special privilege from the Lord.  One of the members here in Masinloc just returned from her mission and worked with us one day. We went and visited a less active who is an RM. They both told me and Sis Salado how hard it is to be an RM, that there are more challenges AFTER your mission.  I don't want to be an RM! haha.  But I know that a mission is a big blessing and I have already learned so much here.

I know the church is true and I know that Joseph smith was a prophet of God.  I know that hanggang ngayon, nagpapahayag ang Diyos sa kanyang propeta si Thomas S Monson.  At alam ko din na ang ebanghelyo ni Jesu Cristo ay ang makakatulong sa atin buhay. Kahit anuman ang problema at pagsubok natin!

Have a great week!

Sis Sirrine