Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 24, 2014 Time is getting shorter

A pomelo.  Basically a Filipino grapefruit, literally the size of dodgeballs.  They are HUGE!  And delicious


Well, this week was another good week.  Man, time is flying.  Everyone here is reminding me of when I go home.  One sister in my zone is counting down the days for me.  And all of my recent converts and the other people we visit always ask, "When are you leaving again sister??"  I'm trying not to think about it but everyone else is doing that for me! But I am super excited.

Nothing too exciting this week (just the normal missionary stuff) but we do have a family that we're excited about.  It is the Apo family.  (funny thing: 'apo' in tagalog is 'grandchild'.  Great last name!) Sonny is the husband and Marites is the wife.  We've only taught a few lessons but they really listen when we teach them.  We originally met Marites's father on the street and he stopped us because he lived in San Diego for like 30 years.  So he stopped me and started talking to me and how he is an American citizen.  (He's a VERY talkative 81 year old! He talked about all sorts of stuff about America) So then we asked if we could meet his kids.  We met Marites and we taught her and her husband and son right then.  They have two super adorable granddaughters and one of them is Mary's age.  I just love love love to teach families!

Also, Delio and James showed up in white shirts and black pants yesterday!!!  I love that!  It is so exciting when the recent converts show up dressed in a white shirt and pass the sacrament.  I have seen such a change in the life of Delio.  It is so neat to see his and James' knowledge growing and their desire to have faith grow stronger.  That is the best thing for a missionary!

Sister Lucillo and I are doing great here.  I'm starting to feel like I've knocked on every door here in Pilar but we are still finding new people.  Even though it is slow, we are seeing progress here in Pilar and the members here are getting excited about the temple.  Some of our less actives have been given callings and they are already doing great at fulfilling them.  Gigi Raguero (a less active) was called to the primary and she is so excited!  (we taught primary again yesterday. Haha I'm getting pretty good at it)  It's so great to see them when they are truly involved in the church!

Well, I hope you all have a great week!  I'm trying to work harder than ever here.  I can feel the time getting shorter and shorter and it makes me nervous.  It's going so fast.  I love this work!!!

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November 17, 2014 Youth to teach!

Out in the bukid with Roque kids.  The cart that  Karibao pull in the fields.  

Orion Zone at Mount Samat

Foreigners are more expensive
Missionaries love pictures! 

Kind of looks like me and E. Armbruster have twin Philippino sons....haha

This is what happened to Magellum!!!  He got lost sailing around the world and landed in the Philippines.  He was killed here (I think he was eaten...but don't quote me on that one) This is that scene on the Mount Samat cross.  He is being stepped on by Lapu-Lapu as his boat is sailing away.  His crew got away but he didn't make it!

Hello Hello!!!!

Well, this week was kind of a crazy week.  One day was really good and then the next was...not so good.  But it ended great so that's all that matters.

First of all, this week we found a lot of new investigators.  We found 4 youth kids that we taught on Thursday. I usually don't teach kids because if you teach kids you run several risks: 1) they don't have permission to get baptized or come to church 2) they'll be baptized and then quickly go less active because they have no parental support.  So as a rule, I've avoided teaching kids and tried to get their parents.  But these kids live really close to the church and they are 16 and 17 so they do have the ability to know for themselves if this is true and get themselves to church.  So we taught them and they prayed about Joseph Smith and then on Saturday were so excited to get a Book of Mormon.  They said that they were going to come to church on Sunday but they did ask if there were a lot of youth their age.  We only have 2 active youth right now.  1 young women and 1 young man (James!).  So we told them not really, but to come anyway.  So they said that they would.  I was super worried about church on Sunday because there was a scheduled brownout from 8am to 5 pm which meant there was no AC and no microphone and there probably wouldn't be a lot of people to attend.  But we had 59 people come to church (lately it's been in the 30's) and all of the less active youth came to church!!!!  But the Santos kids hadn't showed up yet and I was super worried that they weren't coming but then after the sacrament, five of them walked into the church!!!!  The youth leaders were so excited!  They finally had youth to teach!  And afterwards, we asked them how church was and they were so excited.  They said it was great and we found out later that they asked one of the members how they can be baptized.  We're really trying to find youth and primary right now so that the branch isn't just old people here.  It was super exciting.  And lots of people got new callings today, people that we have been working with and they are excited about it.  It is so true that you need a calling to really be active in the church and to feel involved.  Otherwise it is easy to fall away.
All the youth that came to church!  Including the Santos kids!

The funny thing is that we got to church and after sacrament, the Primary president went home so there was no one to teach primary.  Usually, Sis Domingo would teach primary and I went and helped out in gospel principles class.  But yesterday, there was no choice.  We had to teach it.  I was actually really nervous to teach primary (we all know how I am with kids...)!  But we grabbed the primary manual and we actually had a pretty good lesson.  The Santos kids brought their little brother who is 6 and he was the best kid in the primary class!  He answered all the questions, participated in the games, did a great job at drawing and then I taught them 'Book of Mormon Stories' and he sang along and did the actions too.  He was really excited to come back next week.  The Lord really does help us in our weaknesses!  I guess that I can survive teaching primary

And Jocelyn finally came to church again!  Her day off from work is Sunday, but lately with all the occasions happening here, her boss has made her work on Sunday.  Jocelyn hasn't felt like she could refuse her boss because if she does, she'll get fired and they will have no work.  So we did a couple lessons about praying and having the faith to follow the commandments and the Lord will help you.  So FINALLY, this week, she told her boss that she can't work on Sunday because her husband is angry and she needs to go to church.  Go Jocelyn!!!  So she was able to come to church again after several weeks of not being able to and now hopefully her baptism will really happen in December.  Kind of a scary thing to do, but she put her faith in Heavenly Father and her boss accepted what she said.  No more work on Sunday!

Mount Samat!  My new companion Sis Lucillo
I'm loving being companions with Sis Lucillo and our work is getting better!  We found a lot of new investigators that were taught before by previous missionaries and we're hoping that now is the time for them to accept the gospel.  Just keep praying!!!  Love the work!  Love my area!  I love being a missionary!
Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Sirrine

Photos from trip to Manilla

Bus station going to manila at 2 am. We look so tired..

In the Manila immigration office.  Apparently I'm an alien...

We found a restaurant that has Mexican food.  It's called ArmyNavy.  Best food of the mission!
Manila bay!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 10, 2014 If you can drive in Manila, you can drive anywhere!

Hello Hello!

Well, as you can tell from my subject line....we are in Manila!  So crazy!  We had to go to the mission home last night and leave at two this morning to get on a bus to Manila so that we could go to the embassy, or something like that, and get fingerprints done so that we could leave the country.  And the driving here is like NOTHING you have ever seen.  We thought we were going to die but somehow we made it out alive.  I will never ever drive in Manila. Man.  It's getting real.  there were 9 of us sisters that went and we definitely stuck out: 9 blond, white sisters walking around together.  We are so tired but that's okay!  Afterwards we were able to stop at this restaurant called Army Navy that has MEXICAN FOOD!!!!  It was a unanimous vote to go there.  We are all really happy right now.

This week I got a new companion, Sister Lucillo who is a Filipina from Bikol.  I was actually housemates with her in my second area when she was a brand new missionary and now we are companions!  She is the sweetest sister ever and she is so nervous with her new calling as an STL and tells me all the time "tulungan mo ako, sister!" (help me sister!) but I know that she is going to do great.  And I'm excited that she is my last companion. It was an answer to my prayer because I really wanted a Filipina as my last companion.  So it's going to be fun.

This week I had a neat experience.  On Friday, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize.  When I answered, there was a man that asked "Is this Sister Sirrine?" At first I was a little creeped out because I didn't know why this man was calling me.  He said something about him being taught by the elders in our zone but I still had no idea why he was calling me.  Then he asked if I remembered him.  ( He said, "Remember?  You taught me at Rey Lopez's house."  Then I remembered about two months ago, we went to our less active, Brother Lopez.  There was another man in the house sitting by a full ashtray who had long, unkempt hair, unshaved beard, and well-worn, ripped dusty clothes on.  My first thought when we walked into the house was 'Oh no.  He's going to ruin the lesson.' as I looked around to see if there were any empty beer bottles in the room.  I couldn't decide if we should teach or not.  And then Sis Domingo looked at him and invited him to listen to us.  He said okay he would listen.  So we briefly taught him the Restoration and he actually listened!  He said that he would pray about Joseph Smith and that he would come to church on Sunday (he never came).  So we asked if we could teach him again and he said that he was almost never there, he was always working in the bukid (field). And it was really far away so he only came down out of the mountain sometimes.  So right there we lost hope.  Oh well.  I guess if we go back some time and he's there we'll teach him again.  But then, I got a call from him saying that he was being taught by the elders in our zone and that he was getting baptized on November 22nd!  He said, "Sister Sirrine, thank you so much!  If you hadn't have taught me I would have never known the truth!  So much has changed about me.  I shaved my beard and I have a nice hair cut now and my whole family is going to be baptized with me."  He just said thank you over and over and said that one day he would come to our branch for church.  I couldn't believe it!  This kind of stuff never happens!  We always teach the Restoration over and over and you know that you are planting seeds and probably one day, they will accept it.  But you never get to hear the ending of that story.  Well, rarely.  I then talked to the elders at district conference and asked them about him.  They said "Oh yeah!  We kept forgetting to tell you about him and his family!"  One elder asked how they found him.  They said "One day we decided to go up the the mountains and there was a house there.  So we knocked and before we said anything, he said 'come in' and called his entire family to listen to us."  The other elder said, "You were punted weren't you?  Who would just randomly decide to go up into the mountain?"

It's amazing how the Lord helps us in this work!  There are really miracles that happen all the time!  I feel so blessed that I got to hear his story and that I got to be a small part of it.  It's amazing how to Lord also lets us know that our efforts are not going wasted.  Sometimes it feels that way as a missionary as you teach the first lesson over and over again and people don't want to accept it.  But no effort is wasted!  And it goes to show that the most unlikely people are the ones who will accept the message and we can't judge who we should share it to and who we shouldn't.

I love this work!  I love being a missionary!  There are definitely challenges but the challenges make us grow and become better people!  I know that this church is true and that Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration.  And I know that he was called of God and given the priesthood power to direct this church.  And I know that our Savior Jesus Christ stands at the head of this church and guides His living prophet today through revelation.

Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Sirrine

November 3, 2014 Teaching two by two

Sis Domingo's last supper....


Well, this week was CRAZY!  On Tuesday morning, Sis Ah Hong was taken to Manila to the hospital (because she still wasn't better) and we were told that she wasn't coming back because she is in the batch to leave this Wednesday.  So she had to get better or they weren't going to let her out of the country.  So she was taken and the three of us were left.  So we had to try and figure out a way to work in both of our areas.  Which is hard.  Trust me.  The first day we spent a lot of money on transportation going back and forth.  And I was so tired at the end of that day.  The next day, the senior missionary couple (Elder and Sister White) came and they were my companions for the day while sis Domingo and Sis Cagata worked in the other area.  I have a testimony of the importance of going out two by two.  It is really hard to be a solo missionary!  The Whites don't know how to speak Tagalog so I had to do it all: teaching, translating, contacting, etc.  (My voice was pretty much shot after that day) I am so grateful that here in the mission, I always have someone to help me (besides the spirit of course) and to be a second witness.  And a help in the teaching.  It is really not the best to just have one teacher, much better if there are two.  But we did have some neat experiences that day.  When we got to one of my areas, we got out of the car (a great bonus of working with the senior couple: they have a CAR!!!! Don't need to pay for transportation!) and a woman came up to me and said "Sister, I am a member."  I found out that she was baptized over 30 years ago and after about 6 years she fell away.  But it made me wonder because we are always in that area, so why that day she decided to come up to us and tell us she was a member? But she has had some trials in her life and she said that the best time in her life was when she was active.  She had so many blessings then.  So she wants to come back and she wants her husband to get baptized as well.  So that's kind of neat!
The Pilar sisters: Sis Ah Hong, Sis Domingo, Sis Cagata and Me!
Then on Thursday, I was working with a member as my companion and we went to a less active who hasn't been at her house for about a week now.  She said that she was angry at her neighbors so she decided to leave before she did something bad.  Then she proceeded to tell us what they did to make her so mad at them (I didn't really want to know that...) and little by little I could feel the spirit leave.  As she was telling the story, she got all worked up and angry again.  There were some words that she was saying that I didn't understand (I understood the story) she was just telling that story so fast that every time I tried to interject and turn it spiritual again, she just kept talking.  Eventually I got to share a scripture and tell her to pray everyday and she calmed down and then we left.  When we were outside, the member told me that she was swearing while she was telling her story.  I said "Oh really?  I didn't really know what she was saying sometimes but I could feel that the spirit was gone."  She laughed and said "No wonder you didn't seem uncomfortable in there!"  Of course!  I don't know swear words in Tagalog!  But it was just a testimony to me how important our language is.  Even though those words really mean nothing to me, I could feel that the spirit was gone.  It is so important to use good language even when people can't understand.  It brings the spirit.

And then on Sunday, we got to watch a Philippines broadcast because Dallin H Oaks came to the Philippines.  It was so good and I learned so much!  They really stressed how important it is to feast daily on the scriptures.  It makes a huge difference in your personal conversion, even if you already believe.  And that you won't fall away if you regularly study the scriptures.  I know that is true!  Opposition is working hard against us but the scriptures are the tools that Heavenly Father has given us to win the battle every day and come out stronger.  I love the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon!  I know it is true with all my heart because I have read it, studied it, and asked if it was true.  And I was answered that it is.

I love you all!  Keep reading your scriptures especially the Book of Mormon.

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Sirrine

Last pic with the Trajano family.  Hopefully Marilyn will be baptized this month!

October 27, 2014 Baptism of Juzzmin Trajano

Baptism of Juzzmin Myers Trajano!!!

Hello family!

Well, this week was great!  It was a little strange because Sis Ah Hong was still having to stay at home and rest, so Sis Domingo and I took turns staying home with her and then we halved our time so we worked half the day in our area and half the day in their area.  It was really hard.  We were just trying to get to as many people as we possibly could.  I have been praying so hard about our goals for next month because since our work was kind of disrupted for a few days, we didn’t have any goals really for November.  I have been praying so hard that although our time is only half of what it should be, that we would find some people or the people that we have been teaching would start progressing.  I want to bear testimony that the Lord answers our prayers and he is aware of our situation and if we are giving our best, He will help us and make it enough.  We found a golden investigator that was actually a former investigator and even though we taught her one lesson, she came to church on Sunday.  Two of our investigators that we’ve been teaching started progressing and overcame some challenges to be able to come to church. And a part member has started coming to church with her family who are recent converts.  All of a sudden, we have several possible goals for November and just last Tuesday I was wondering who could possibly be our November goals because we haven’t been able to really work in our area.  And the amazing thing is, the same thing happened to the sisters in the other area.  They had absolutely no goals but some amazing things happened and they have several goals now.  The Lord is really aware of us and He knows when we are trying our best.  Those things shouldn’t have happened with how little time we spent in all of our areas but they did.  We definitely saw a miracle in Pilar!  And now we just have to continue to give our best so that the goals actually happen this month.

And of course, the other exciting news of the week is that Mark Trajano's daughter, Juzzmin was baptized on Saturday!!!!  She was super excited to be baptized.  We really tried to get her older brother to be ready as well, but for some reason he likes playing basketball much more than listening to us.  Sigh.  We'll keep working on him.  And, Mark's wife, Marilyn has been coming to church the last two Sundays.  Hopefully by the time I leave here, she will be ready to be baptized as well!!  I love that family so much!  And Mark is so awesome.  He is really looking forward to being sealed in the temple and does everything he can to get his family to listen to us and read and come to church.  He practically begs his wife to come to church on Sundays.

Well, this is my last week with Sis Domingo.  She is going home next week.  That is so weird.  She is frantically packing all of her stuff (it's not going to fit in her suitcase....) and getting ready to leave.  But this week we are going to work really hard to find more investigators and help the ones that we have to progress.  Even though I have been here for 5 months, I haven't gotten tired of the area yet which is amazing because it is pretty small!  But there are a lot of people here that the Lord is preparing for the missionaries.  The work is really progressing and the prophecy is so true that Joseph Smiths name will be had for good and bad.  EVERYONE is hearing his name!

Well, I love you all! Hope you have a great week!

Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Sirrine