Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 25, 2014 Progress in Pilar

Our aso (dog in Tagalog).  He really wants to come in the house but of course he can't :) 

With my little companion, Sis. Domingo.  She's actually 4'9"

Hello everyone!

Well, this week was pretty good we had a lot of investigators come to church which is always really exciting but most of them have the problem that they aren't yet married.  Some of them don't have birth certificates so it's not an easy fix.  But we're relying on the scripture in 1 Nephi 3:7 that if there is a commandment, there is a way to accomplish it.  We can do it!  We can get it done!

And, really exciting, Delio passed his baptismal interview and  is getting baptized on Saturday!!!!! Woooohhh!!!!  And hopefully, his family will follow in September.  Man, he really does have a solid testimony of the Book of Mormon.  He quotes from it all the time and anything he reads in there is absolute truth to him.  We asked him if he believed that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and he said yes!  There is no way any person could have written this book if he was not called of God to be a prophet.  So I'm really excited for him and I can tell that he is going to be a Sunday school teacher some day.  He is really good at interpreting the scriptures.  We've never had to explain scriptures to him but he still understands the meaning.  Like the prophecy in 2 Nephi 3 about Joseph Smith, he understood all of that by himself without any explanation.  I'm super excited for him.  I keep thinking there's got to be something that is going to come up because it's almost too good to be true that he is this ready for baptism.  But there you go!  The Lord really does prepare people.

And I had a neat experience this week about the power of the Holy Ghost.  We met this man who was taught years ago by the Elders.  To this day, he still reads the Book of Mormon and the gospel principles book.  He believes that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true.  But he wasn't baptized.  He said that he did his commitment and prayed to know if this is true and right and if he should be baptized but so far, no answer.  So we tried to figure out why and found out that it is because he is Catholic and his family has always been Catholic so that's where he is staying.  He said, "That's my decision." During the lesson with him, I was praying really hard to have the Spirit give us what we should say to him.  and I felt like I should share Moroni 10:4-5 to him.  So I did and then started to explain the scripture to him and explained it in a way that I had never explained it before.  All I can say is that the words were not my own.  I was amazed at my own explanation and how I said it.  In summary, I told him that if he asks but doesn't have true intent or if he's already made the decision, is God going to give him an answer? If we've already decided, God knows whatever he tells us isn't going to make a difference but we're already closed on the decision.  Celso was quiet for a minute and then said "I get it.  So that's why I didn't get an answer." We asked him,  if God gave him an answer that this church was true and he should be baptized here, would he follow that answer?  And he said, "I don't think I can answer that." As of right now he's not willing to follow the answer when God gives it to him, but he realized that he is being his own obstacle.  And he even said, "Someday I'll come to church and see what's there." So he's slowly opening up to the possibility.  I am so grateful for the spirit!  I know that we are not good at explaining or discerning problems and reasons but the Spirit is.  It is so important to have the Spirit with you always!

Anyways, I love you all and I'm have a great time here in Pilar.  It is progressing! Our sacrament attendance was 74! It just keeps going up and up.  I can definitely see the Lord's hand in the work here!
Well, love you all! Patuloy lang sa pagsunod sa mga utos ng Diyos at pagtitiis hanggang sa wakas!  Marami ang biyay na ibubuhos ang Panginoon sa atin na hindi masasukat!!! Basta, matapat tayo sa kanya at tatanggap tayo ng kanyang plano. Kaya ninyo iyan!

mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August 18, 2014 Hello!!

Hello po family!

Well, this week was transfers and it was Pres Dahle's first transfer as a mission president so we were all curious what was going to happen.  Sis Leakehe and I were certain that neither of us were getting transferred because we were both pretty new.  The other set of sisters in our house have been in Pilar for 5 months now, so they were sure that they were getting transferred.  On Tuesday, they washed their clothes, organized their stuff and got ready.  They both felt they would be transferred.  Sis Leakehe and I just chilled.  (Well, not really because you don't ever 'chill' as a missionary).  We got the text that night that Sis Leakehe was transferring and neither of the other two were.  So that was really sad and she didn't want to leave.  she wanted to finish her mission here, but.....she got transferred to my old area in Sta Cruz!!!!!  So I'm really excited that she'll see all the recent converts that I found up there.  (Also, I've gotten news from the sister who was transferred to Masinloc when I left....the families of Merlina and Melvin/Ellen have been baptized too!!!!  Wooooohhhh!!!!  I was so happy to hear that!)  And so of course, I got a new companion, Sister Domingo from Bacolod city.  She is the shortest companion I have ever had.  4'10". I feel like I am walking around with my 10 year old sister but she is actually 24.  She is really really good at teaching and already in the first few days I have learned so much from her.  This will be a transfer with a lot of progress for me.  And she was called as a new STL so I have to help her know what to do as an STL.  I still don't feel like I know what to do as an STL but oh well, we'll do our best here.

Sunday was an awesome day because we had 6 investigators come to church and 9 less actives.  And, our sacrament meeting attendance was 60! I remember the first week I got here and the attendance was 30.  There was hardly anyone there.  I remember thinking "Oh my goodness.  How is this branch going to survive? How are we going to get new converts with this little people here?" But I have been blessed to see the progress here.  We have several less active families coming to church again and there are lots of our investigators that are coming to church each week.  I'm thinking that by the end of the year, they can hit 100! The Lord is truly working a miracle here in the Pilar branch and the members are now excited about it too.  At first, they were pretty negative about how the branch had just split and I remember them saying all the time "when are we going to back together again?"  Now they see the progression and every member is involved in visiting the less active members and working with us.  It's been so great! I get assigned to some pretty great areas.

The work is moving forward.  I am learning and growing so much here in the Philippines.  I know that the gospel is true.  I know that our Savior loves us so much and because of Him and what he did for us, we have a chance to return to our Heavenly Father.  That is so amazing to me because here in the mission I see so many of my weaknesses and think how could I possibly get to where I need to be? But I have seen the power of the atonement here; the power of forgiveness and the power of healing here in the mission.  And the power of miracles.  I know that our heavenly Father is still a God of miracles!  And I know that the fulness of the truth was restored to the earth in our day through a living prophet.  We are so blessed!

I love you all so much and I am so grateful for this time to serve my Heavenly Father and the people here in the Philippines!

mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 11, 2014 Hello!

Missionaries of Pilar branch with District President Samson and Brother Narding

With Brother Narding

Hello family! Kamusta na?

Well, it is the few days before transfer day.  I'm pretty sure that I'm not going anywhere because I just got transferred here.  I'm really curious to see if Sis Leakehe will be transferred and what all is going to happen with the transfers because we have a new president.  I've only had 1 comp for more than 1 transfer but maybe this one will be different.  I wouldn't mind it because I love sis Leakehe but I just hope that she won't get sick of me....

With Sis Leakehe

Also, this week was an interesting week.  We were punted Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.  Pretty much every appointment we had were not at their houses.  So of course, when you are punted, you start knocking doors and try and find someone new to teach.  Palpak.  Thursday was the worst.  We knocked on doors for HOURS and NO ONE would talk to us.  Most people wouldn't even come out of their house.  They'd just look at us and walk back in the house.  We've never really had that happen before to this extent.  Usually people are hospitable here and at lease a few will talk with us for a minute before saying they're not interested.  And usually we'll eventually get into a house.  But not on Thursday.  It was crazy.  Sis Leakehe was a little disheartened (well we both were), but honestly it was like being back in Gua Gua. And now I really realize just how hard it was in Gua Gua!  I'm glad that was my first area :)

But we had a good day on Saturday!  We got a text from the Relief Society members that they were going to visit people and asked if we wanted to join.  So we did splits and got a lot of appointments in.  And of course, it is soooooo helpful when the members come with us.  We had a set back with Lizette about their marriage because her dad doesn't want to agree to it.  he wants a wedding and do all the traditional stuff here so he wants it next year.  So they texted us and said that they'll do it next year.  We took the relief society members to them and it was so good because they understand the traditions here and said just get married legally right now and then next year, have a big celebration.  And they gave them all these reasons why it is beneficial for their family for taxes and salary and all that stuff.  So it was really good because of course we don't understand all that.  I think they are going to try and talk to her dad and convince him that they need to get married.

We have this one investigator named Al that is so hard headed!  but, we are making progress with him.   We can tell that when he converts, he is going to be a stake president someday.  Anyway, his progress is slow but we can see it!  He still doesn't believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet and uses the excuse that the bible says no one has seen god.  So we showed him the Restoration video and we totally felt the spirit.  And he felt it too!  he said "Sisters, I almost believe that he is a prophet.  Almost, but not yet." Then he ruined it and started saying "but he had like 30 wives...." but he never used the excuse that no one has seen god again.  He's getting there!  we just need to get him to read the Book of Mormon.  It is so true that in our day, there are miracles.  This man is so stubborn and hard headed and doesn't believe but for some reason, he keeps letting us come back, and slowly we are seeing him change and start to believe.  We may not see miracles of people coming back from the dead but we see the miracle of the gospel changing people's lives.  That in and of itself is a miracle!

That's all I got for today.  I hope everyone is enjoying summer.  The last few days I've felt like it is summer again here.  Hot.  But I love the people here and I love the work.  I feel so blessed to be able to be giving the people the gospel here in the Philippines!
Flood and rain!

mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine
With Sis Mappatao

Just a little addition to my letter about being punted.... This morning, we watched a talk about missionary work and the atonement and it said that missionary work is hard because salvation is not easy.  It wasn’t easy for Jesus Christ and it’s not easy us.  So when we have those days that we feel disheartened or ask why it isn't easier if this is the true church, we just need to think of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Holland said, “when you are ridiculed, spit on, rejected, for one small moment, you are standing shoulder to shoulder with the greatest person that ever lived.” And He knows exactly what we are going through.  I really liked that, and that really is what I think when I feel discouraged in the work.   I am not the first person that this happened to and it’s not anything like what happened to Christ.  So I just need to keep on pushing and moving forward, and in the end we see the blessings of our service because of our joy when we see the people that we were able to help in the Celestial Kingdom.


Monday, August 4, 2014

August 4, 2014 Hellooooo! The best week!

On exchanges with Sis Jayaweera (she's from Sri Lanka).  One year ago, I sent a pic beside a Bataan Death march kilometer marker when I was in Gua Gua. I think it was around km 89.  Now you can see how much closer I've moved to the start of it!


My investigators from Sta Cruz got baptized last last week!!!!!!  Manolito Arong, Erick Racza, and Tessie Gilig!!!!!! It's so amazing to see that the investigators that I found were finally baptized!!!!!!!!  I wish I could have been there but that's okay.  That's how missionary work is sometimes 

 We had the best week last week!  We are seeing so many blessings of missionary work right now!  So last month we had a pretty rough month as far as stats.  We felt like we were doing everything that we could but we didn't get any baptisms or LAR (less actives returned to active).  That was my first month my whole mission that I got zeros on everything (in Gua Gua I always had zero baptisms but always had less actives coming back to church).  Sis Leakehe and I were really feeling like we should be released as STLs because we have no moral authority to be advising other missionaries what to do.  We talked about what we are doing wrong and tried to see what we could do to change our work and if there was more that we could have done last month.

But this Sunday we had the best Sunday of my whole mission!  We had 7 investigators come to church which in and of itself is a pretty cool thing because several of them were investigators that we have been trying to get to come for a while.  And then the best thing was that two of our investigators bore their testimony up in the front!!!  It was amazing and I was so close to crying because the spirit was so strong and I was so happy!  One of the was Rome Justin who is 15 years old and is golden!  He is going to be a leader someday I can tell.  From the first time we taught him and his mom Lovely, he came to church and hasn't missed since and goes to seminary every day too.  He got up and bore his testimony and said that even though his parents haven’t agreed to let him get baptized, he knows that this church is true and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God.  He said that he doesn't know when he’ll be able to get baptized but he knows it is all true and he is going to keep learning and studying because this church can answer all his questions.  And then after him, his friend that he started bringing to seminary and is now being taught by the missionaries, got up and bore her testimony too.  (The kids that are members sometimes don’t come to seminary, let alone invite their friends to come.  Justin is more like a member than they are!) Our branch kind of struggles with people going up and bearing their testimony and usually there is a lot of silence and then it’s always the same people that bear their testimony.  And the missionaries always have to bear their testimony which isn't a bad thing, but we get to bear our testimony every day so we want to give the chance to the members.  And then after our investigators bore their testimony, other members got up who haven’t borne their testimony in a long time and said that they felt challenged by the investigators who weren't baptized yet but still bore their testimony.  The spirit was so strong in the sacrament meeting and we have some really amazing investigators right now!
Elena and Erika Mandi!  Our investigators

And Delio came to church again with his wife and he is still really excited to be baptized.  His friends are already calling him Mormon but he is okay with that!  And another investigator, Lizette, FINALLY came to church.  She was supposed to be baptized last May but they were waiting for birth certificates and stuff to come because they have to get married first.  And then she just stopped coming to church and stopped doing the commitments that we gave her.  Sis Leakehe wanted to just drop her because she was making no progress but I said "no, we need to stick with her".  She is so close and I can see that she does want to get baptized.  Last Tuesday, we went to them after not going for a little while and I was kind of bold with them and told them that it was a commandment to get married even if they can’t afford a big wedding with food and stuff.  Even if it is very simple and only have juice and crackers as a little snack.  And that we are doing everything we can for them because we want them to be able to go to the temple.  So we left it at that and then went back to them last Friday and there was a change about her and her "husband".  They said that they have picked a date to get married (August 16) which is the first time I have heard them say that.  They usually keep pushing it back saying that they don’t have money.  And they are really excited about the goal to go to the temple.  And then on Sunday, they walked into the church and we were so happy!  Every week that I have been here they have said that they will go, and this week they finally did!!!!  So now we get to plan a wedding!  Which will be kind of fun.  So that’s our big plans for the next two weeks and then she’ll get baptized on August 30.  Yay!!!

We are finally seeing the progress here in Pilar.  We were a little disheartened last month but I think that the Lord was wanting me to learn patience and learn that it is all in His timing.  I think August will be a really good month for Pilar but we needed to learn that even though we are STL’s, we are still on the Lord’s errand and His timing and no matter what we do, if it is not the will of the Lord, it will not happen.  It was a good reminder to me.  Although, to be honest, I don’t know why I have this calling and I have felt that way since I was made STL.  There are a lot more sisters that are way more talented and have lots of baptisms and lots of success.  But I guess there is a reason for it and I just need to try and do my best. Well, I love you all!  Summer is coming to an end (which is weird because it is winter here.  And I am FREEZING!!!  I thought the Filipinos were crazy last August saying that it was cold, but it really is cold now that I’m used to it here.) Everyone have a lot of fun for me! And my challenge to you is to follow the example of my two investigators and share your testimony once this week to someone that you come in contact with.

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Wawa destruction still


July 28, 2014 Hello Family! More investigators!

A bridge over in Wawa.  Some of the stuff here is a little sketchy but it's funny, as a missionary, I have no fear.  Like literally.  Really weird....

Hello Family!!!!

Well, this week was another week in the mission!  And it was a pretty good week.  We had 6 investigators at church yesterday and 8 less actives! The branch president was so happy .  He was practically beaming.  Every week our sacrament attendance gets higher and higher.  I think by the time I leave here it will be a pretty good branch.  It’s so fun to be assigned to a branch were so much progress is happening!  We’re hoping that this August we’re going to have baptisms.  It’s been two months here that there hasn't been a baptism.  But we’re pretty sure that Delio is going to be baptized this month.  He is so excited about it and he really understands what we are teaching him.  We asked him how his reading the Book of Mormon was going and he said it was good.  Then he proceeded to tell us about all the things that happened and even quoted some scriptures like 1 Nephi 14:10.  He said “So there’s only two churches pala in the world.” And he even told us some things that a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo told him and then he said “But it says here in Nephi….”  And totally used the Book of Mormon to dispute what they had told him.  And over and over he just kept saying, “this book is true, this book is true.”  We’re really excited about him and he is excited about his baptism.  And he seems to really enjoy church and the members have been really good about fellowshipping him.

This week we got 27 new investigators!  Me and Sis Leakehe were on fire!  It was awesome and we found two families that we were able to teach that had been taught years ago by the elders.  And they really seemed to love the elders back then so they were very welcoming to us.  Hopefully this is their time to accept the gospel.   We’ll see about that, but it was really fun to teach families.  The teaching just feels a lot more complete because this message really is for families.  This is the way that families can be together forever.  I have seen so many people here in the mission that only one or two are members and they are really happy, but kind of sad because they know that it means they can’t be together with them forever unless they accept it too.  But, the Lord knows when people are ready and He will give them many chances because this is so important!!!
Wawa destruction

Over in Wawa which was our area that was hit really hard by the storm.  This is one week after the storm and you can see all the debris that is still there.

We got two new investigators that live over in Wawa which was our area that was hit hardest by the typhoon.  We went there one week after the storm and it was still so crazy.  So much destruction.  As in, we didn't even really know where we were because the whole look of the place had changed.  Where there used to be houses, there is now ocean.  But we were able to find some new investigators including Elena and Erika Mandi. They were taught in Lubao and then moved here and the Sisters referred them to us.  They are golden and hopefully will be baptized this month.  We’re just waiting to help get them married first and then they can be baptized.  Hopefully everything goes smoothly and we can get their birth certificates quickly. Cross your fingers!  No wait, pray…that’s more effective.

Well, that’s the update here.  I love my companion and I love the work here in Pilar.  Although missionary work is really hard sometimes, it is so rewarding.  And it is an amazing trust that our Heavenly Father has given us to spread the gospel to people everywhere.  Hope you all have a great week and kept reading your scriptures every day.  Especially the Book of Mormon!  It was written for us!

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

July 21, 20014 Typhoon Glenda! Mount Sumat

Storm Glenda!!!  While it was going on

Outside our apartment after the storm
  Eating all the coconuts that fell off the trees!!!
Shredding the coconut by hand

Hello Family!!!

Well, this week was quite a week!  I don’t know if you saw on the news about the Typhoon Glenda but that kind of took over our week here.  It was a signal 3 storm (the storm that hit Tacloban last year was a signal 4) and man, it was crazy.  I just remember the storms that hit last year, lots of rain and some flooding but that’s it.  So I was excited for the storm to come and just dump rain.  But I wasn't expecting the wind.  I think the winds were around 194 km per hour is what I heard.  They eye of the typhoon came right through Bataan.  We were perfectly safe in our house, and were just watching the palm trees thinking that they were going to be knocked over but they stood.  Afterwards, the district president (our next door neighbors) went and checked on the church buildings around here.  When he came back, he brought a ton of coconuts that had fallen because of the wind.  So we had fun for a couple of hours opening the coconuts and making really yummy food.  But then we got the okay from our mission president and went outside, I felt bad that we were eating coconuts and having fun at the house because there was so much damage.  We didn't really realize it in our house but roofs were torn off, tons of trees knocked over (sometimes knocked over onto houses), trash and debris everywhere, etc.  We went to one of our areas that was close to the ocean and there are so many houses that are just gone.  No more.  They said the storm came in with high tide and the waves just destroyed the houses next to the ocean.  And so many people’s houses just got flooded too.  We went around and saw how people were and if they were okay.  No one was hurt, just scared and tired.  And the storm knocked down a lot of electrical poles so we didn't have electricity for 3 days.  (we were lucky that we had water sometimes) So it was suuuuuuper dark at night.  We got permission from the mission president to go to community service on Thursday and help the people over in Landing clean up a little bit.  We ended up washing clothes for 3 ½ hours because the sea water came in and got everything dirty.  So that was good.  Thankfully, the electricity is now on and although people are still cleaning up, it’s better now.  I was really surprised at how quickly people got out after the storm and cleaned up and just got going.  And how surprisingly cheerful they are about it.  They all say, ‘at least no one was hurt.  Stuff is stuff.  That can easily be replaced.’ And everyone is helping as much as they can.  It’s kind of hard because everyone needs help but they are willing to help everyone else too.  What a humble people!  I am constantly learning from them and hoping someday I can be like them.

In our area that was hit really hard

It gave new meaning to the wise man and the foolish man story. In the summertime, it is really nice to live by the beach because there is a breeze and it’s pretty there. And of course, you don’t want to build a cement house over there because that is hot and it’s cheaper to build a bamboo house. So in the summertime, it’s a really nice way to live. But then when baguio season hits, you take your chances with your house. Maybe it will hold up for some of the storms and maybe it will be totally destroyed and washed away. You never know. And when the strong baguios come, you are terrified and start praying a lot and wish that you had a cement house built away from the sea. This week I really thought about how that is like our spirituality. Sometimes, life is good and we don’t really have any trials or problems. So we get comfortable and we start living close to the beach. We don’t take the precautions we need to take. And sometimes, we start doing little sins, stop reading our Book of Mormon, only sometimes pray. And then a trial comes into our life, or the consequence of sins come into our life. And we start praying to heavenly Father and wishing that we’d been better about following the commandments and that we’d prepared ourselves for this. I know that it is really important to always prepare ourselves. Although sometimes we think "oh, I can do that later" or "I don’t really need to do this. I’m strong enough," we are no match for the storms of life. And as missionaries, we have an important responsibility to teach people how to prepare themselves and urge them to do it quickly. What a great responsibility!

That’s pretty much the big news for the week.  I feel like we didn't work very much because of the storm.  It kind of threw everything off but the work still goes on!  Don’t worry Mom, although this email was full of storm news, we weren't affected really by it and we were totally safe.  It was a good experience for me to see first hand some of the things that people have to go through.  Well, I hope that you all have a great week!  I love you all and know that this church is true! Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Sirrine


Mount Samat!

At the cross.

There is this cool mural at the bottom of the cross
Looking down over the Bataan valley
A canon at Mount Samat

So pretty at Mount Samat!