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. (uhhh....no....) 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!