Monday, November 7, 2016

Enjoy to the End

I don't really want to have a last email. Or a last week in the mission! Or leave the Philippines! But I DO want to share with all of you how much I love missionary work, how much I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And how much I KNOW that it can change human nature! Because it changes mine everyday!

This past week, Elder Haynie of the Quorum of the 70 came and spoke to us! He taught about how to be more successful at "finding" by using all our resources as missionaries, all the time. He focused a lot on finding "scattered Israel"! I was so inspired by his humility ("I am a product of the Atonement of Jesus Christ") and love for each of us- before the meeting, he took the time to great each one of us one by one!

But the highlight of this week was getting to leave all the meetings and get back to the bike, back to the work. Joenalyn was baptized and confirmed, and the best part of my week was hearing her share her testimony for the first time right after her baptism! I later asked Jovilyn how she felt now that her sister was also converted? And she said she was happy, but she still has 9 other siblings and she gave us all their names and addresses as referrals!

We also have 3 new IBD's, Justin, Joel, and JimCarlo! I won't get to be here long enough to see their baptisms, but I'm still so grateful to get to find, teach, and help prepare them for it!

Missionary work- God's work of gathering in His people and sanctifying them- will go on with or without us. But by participating with all our heart, might, mind, and strength, we receive so many blessings and so much joy. As we "lose ourselves" for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we truly begin the journey of "finding ourselves" and finding our way to eternal life. (Luke 9:24, Matt 16:25).

I know that missionary work is not just done for 18 months or 2 years, it is continuously done in small and often quiet ways everyday as each of us live what we know to be true. Yet, as the world gets increasingly LOUDER in wickedness and sin, we should "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:25).

A scripture that's been on my mind lately:

"Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah..." (2 Nephi 2:8)

I know that I can't get anywhere without the merits, mercy and grace of my Savior, and neither can anyone else. How grateful we are to Him and the chance to bring anyone and everyone to know Him!

-sister bertoldo

Jovilyn and Joenalyn on Sister Bertoldo's last Sunday in the mission!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

His Will

October is going by so fast....I'm really NOT "feeling 22" because I feel like time is frozen in summer of 2015 and I've just lived in the Philippines my whole life!

We have a lot of new missionaries in our zone here in Calape, so for our Zone Training Meeting Sister Varias and I gave a motivational workshop using the Mormon Message about the currant bush from the talk "The Will of God" by Elder Hugh B. Brown. As part of our workshop, we also asked one brand new, fresh-from-the-MTC missionary and one about to go home to share their testimonies, which was really neat to hear!
Sister Varias and I had a great week biking in the rain! There is a typhoon that was supposed to hit Cebu, but it looks like it's actually heading toward Manila (again). We're lucky to be assigned here in Cebu/Bohol because storms rarely get worse that heavy rain and loud thunder! Still, it definitely slows our work down, and people are constantly telling us to "Uli, kay ulan!"
This week we found a new family to teach, the Lianto family! They are busy working in their rice fields ALL day, but they keep inviting us to come back at night! It's great to gather around their candle in their one-room balay to teach them the Gospel! They haven't made it to church yet though, we're still working on that.
Jonalyn has decided to be baptized! We are still fasting and praying for her, because her husband is still opposed. We've noticed that her situation isn't getting any easier, she's just getting more confident in her faith and desire to progress in the gospel! She shared with us this week that when her sister Jovilyn first texted her telling her about the "mormons", she wasn't too interested. But she said ever since she met the missionaries and listened to the lessons, she just FELT something really good, and it's just grown and grown ever since! She inspires us so much- I've never had an investigator with MORE opposition or MORE pure desire to feel and follow the Spirit!

Meanwhile, Jovilyn now has a calling as a primary teacher! I love seeing her teaching all the cute primary kids things she's just barely learned herself! She's doing great!
This Saturday the Jandayan family is getting baptized, and we invited Jovilyn and Jonalyn to come too. We know that her seeing their baptism and hearing their testimonies will really inspire and encourage her to go forward with her own decision to be baptized!
I'll finish real fast with a quote from that talk:
"Many of you are going to have very difficult experiences: disappointment, heartbreak, bereavement, defeat. Youare going to be tested and tried. just want you to know that if you don’t get what you think you ought to get,remember, God is the gardener here. He knows what He wants you to be. Submit yourselves to His will. Beworthy of His blessings, and you will get His blessings."
Love you all, have a great week!
sister bertoldo

Collective Faith

This morning I got to check another "mission dream" off my bucket list: riding a carabao! We woke up early and biked out to Tatay Gambe's and he let us ride his carabao- it has to be in the morning so he's not all dirty yet from working in the fields. It was seriously so cool.

Sister Varias and I did a service project this week helping an old Filipino tatay build the foundation for their CR (bathroom). We got to chop down bamboo, mix cement, and dig a hole. Afterwards, they fed us fresh coconut! As we were hauling rocks, cement, and tools, it struck me that just as physical tasks are made easier with the combined efforts of many people, many of our spiritual goals and tasks also require the collective, or combined, faith of many people. That's something I've really seen as a missionary. It's so much easier for an investigator to exercise faith when their faith is sustained and fortified by the faith of the missionaries, the members, and others! That's why right now we ask every member we visit to include Jonalyn and our other investigators in their prayers!

The Jandayan family was baptized on Saturday! And Jonalyn was able to come with us and watch the she observed, she told me she wants to move her date up to November 4th and that she wants to be baptized even though her husband doesn't want her too. I'm so amazed at her faith....and the faith of the members of the branch in supporting her!

We have a new IBD this week, Joel Mibato. He is a young 18 year old man who recently quit his job in Cebu a couple weeks ago because he didn't want to be around men who drink and smoke anymore. We were originally teaching his younger brother, who just wasn't progressing. But Joel is so ready to hear and accept the gospel in his life at this time. We taught him Saturday night with Marjunelo (a recent convert who is also 18) and taught him all about the priesthood and the foundations of Christ's church. The next morning, guess who was there early sitting in the back with his Basahon ni Mormon? Brother Joel! The talks in sacrament were all about family, being a good influence in the world, and the priesthood. Marjunelo, our member present the night before, was one of the speakers. It was basically catered to his  needs! We have planned to have him be baptized this November 19th!

"An individual with great faith can draw upon the powers of heaven, but the process is facilitated when more than one person lends faith to the same desired ends.....In missions, stakes, wards, families, etc., where groups begin to exercise collective faith, the outpourings of the powers of heaven result in the lives of thousands of people being blessed...."
-Grant von Harrison

Love you all, have a great week!
-sister bertoldo

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Best for Last

Transfer calls came and went and I'm staying here in Sagbayan! That means this will be my last area, and I couldn't be happier to end my mission here- there is something really special about this branch. The members are so unified and willing to help one another. I'm so grateful to be serving here.

My new (and last) companion is Sister Varias, from Cavite. She was part of my batch coming into the mission, and I'm so grateful to have a native companion again because we just speak Bisaya 24/7. I wouldn't want to end my mission any other way! She's a new STL so I get to show her the ropes, and I know she is going to be so amazing!

We have two new sisters in our zone, one from Minnesota, USA and one from Luzon, Philippines. It's so nindot to see the new missionaries, and I just think "Here is the future of this mission!" I'm excited to get to go on exchanges with them and help them come to love this mission as much as I've come to love it!

Last Sunday Jonalyn came to church again with her sister, and I love when investigators come on the first Sunday so that they can hear all the testimonies of the members! Jonalyn cried, though, before church started and told us that her husband was mad she came to church. But the members really gathered around to support her and offer advice and encouragement! Later, Jovilyn also got up to bear her testimony for the first time since her baptism, and the Spirit was so strong! I sat with Jonalyn the whole rest of Church and watched as she took notes, listened, and observed. 

At the end of church, she asked Sister Ross and I, "Sister, unsa'y akung buhaton para magpamember ko ani?" (What do I have to do to become a member?) and we explained to her about baptism and taking the rest of the lessons. She started crying again and told me softly: "Sister, nasuko jud ang akung bana....pero nabantayan nako nga mao jud ni ang tinuod na simbahan ni Jesuskristo." (My husband is mad, but from what I've observed, I know this is the true Church of Jesus Christ). The best part of all this is, we haven't even taught her about the Restoration yet! She is very sensitive and open to the Spirit. When we went back to teach her yesterday, she told us she's still not able to commit to baptism yet because of her husband. We're praying that his heart will be softened and she'll be able to make this decision with his support!

I hope we will all appreciate the blessings of the Gospel in our lives and recognize that each of us will face challenges designed to take us away from our Heavenly Father, but if we fearlessly and confidently proceed forward, relying on Him and His commandments, we'll be able to endure and overcome those challenges and draw ever closer to Him!

Love you all!
-Sister Bertoldo

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sagbayan Peak

This week we had exchanges with the Calape sisters, Zone Conference with President and Sister Maughan, and then we also had District Conference on a lot of time was taken out of our work! Also one of the sisters in our house got Dengue, so we went on splits with them too to cover their appointments as well as ours! 

This week we also tried out a finding activity by showing "Meet the Mormons" projected onto the side of our little meeting house and we set up a bunch of chairs out on the street! Then all week we've been inviting familes and pretty much everyone we talk to to come watch with us. It turned out to be pretty successful- we TC'ed a ton of bystanders and friends that the members brought and I think we have some solid potential investigators from the activity!

Jovilyn's sister Jonalyn came to church with her today, as did 9 other investigators here in Sagbayan branch! It was amazing because we had to travel all the way to Calape, but we rented a bus and all the people willingly packed in for the 45-minute drive! Two of our investigators who came, though, stepped out to get something to eat halfway through the conference and never came back. After searching for them and calling them, Sister Ross and I had to just go back and home and hope they had a way home.....we may have lost our investigators!

This morning I also got to see some....tarsiers! For the first time! They are so tiny and so cute! You aren't allowed to use flash, hence the quality of the picture, but I wish you all could see it in real life!

Scripture thought: It's tragic how many people do not KNOW the nature of the Godhead, they don't know who God is. The "spiritually fatherless" as I like to call them, because they don't know they have a literally Father in Heaven whom they can trust perfectly. Without a correct understanding of who He is and what His attributes are, we can never exercise sufficient faith in Him to reach salvation. The first thing anyone needs to understand is who Heavenly Father is and who Christ is. Think about that while reading Moses chapter 7! 

To go along with that, President Maughan has invited all of us to pray more earnestly- to start by picturing Heavenly Father in your mind, and then really, really talk to Him, counsel with Him, ask Him questions and listen for answers. I think sometimes we don't really pray as well as we should!

Love you all!
-Sister Bertoldo

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Families can be Together....still working on Forever!

Last week Jovilyn Castro was baptized, in the ocean, and it was a very sacred experience because of how wholeheartedly she has accepted the gospel into her life, despite the challenges she's faced. She was confirmed a member the next day and we also had her son receive a blessing. 

This week was National Family week in the Philippines, and it turned out to be quite prophetic! We were able to teach Jovilyn with her husband (he only comes home from work once a month), then we went to teach her older sister Jonalyn and her husband Richie. We were told that Richie won't let missionaries in to teach his family, but we biked all the way out to them anyway. It turns out that they have a pet monkey (unggoy), and so we bonded with him over talking about his monkey and we just spent about a half hour helping them "lubo" their "mais". Afterwards, we asked if we could share a short message, and he let us!

Here in Sagbayan, we are still a branch and usually have about 65-70 people in our little meeting house on Sundays. But this Sunday, the first missionary ever to come from Sagbayan came home from her mission! Due to that and the 12 investigators we had (3 new familes!), we had about 89 people stuffed in that little room! It was amazing to hear Joan Racoma's talk; she shared that when she left on her mission, there were only a couple familes in this group. She was shocked at the growth!

Today we are planning on giving Mercy a baptismal date, since she was able to come to church yesterday with her children. We're still working on her husband since he has work every Sunday morning, but they're all very on-board with learning about the Church and coming closer to Christ as a family!

Love you all!
Sister Bertoldo