Monday, July 20, 2015

Tears, Trials, Trust, & Testimony


Every morning I wake up, like, I wonder what I'm going to see/eat/hear/and do today? And sure enough it's always an adventure!

This was a very unusual week! We went on STL exchanges, worked with the senior missionaries, had Zone Conference, and even got flu shots!

Today we were blessed to help with a CSP (community service project)! We went to a less-active family's house and helped them dig a giant hole for a septic tank. "Digging a hole" really meant cheseling away and shale and mud and rocks haha. So from 6-10 AM we did that. Then they made us breakfast and it was the single greatest meal I think I've ever eaten:

1. rice
2. tiny fish straight from the boat into a frying pan
3. mangoes
4. a dash of soy sauce mixed with hot peppers
5. and for dessert....a pile of coconuts with a machete! We got to hack off the top, drink the juice, then hack it in half and eat the meat! so fresh!

Okay, now for the "spiritual food" of the email. I was having a particularly rough time one day. "How can I teach people and get to know people without speaking the language?!" is the main concern. But on our tryke ride to one lesson, I said my own personal prayer (we had already prayed as a companionship of course) that I would be able to speak by the Spirit during this next lesson. That I would be able to have a meaningful contribution. Later during the lesson, I had no idea what was being said- none at all! But the lull in the conversation came and my companion turned to me, and her eyes were saying "your turn!" haha. So I started to continue what we had planned but instead I stopped. She was looking really downcast. Her son was there and her mother-in-law. I realized I didn't know anything about her. So instead of our plan, I asked her a bunch of questions like, "How is your family?" and "What role has religion played in your life? How has it affected your family?" She answered the questions vaguely at first like she had been the whole lesson. But as I kept asking more questions, she talked more and more and soon she was looking into my eyes and crying as she detailed the answers. I was a little bit shocked at how much she was suddenly participating. I didn't know what she was saying, but when she finished we jumped the lesson to the Atonement of Christ. Later I asked my companion what she had said? And she said that her extended family is far away and that she has been dealing with missing her relatives and she has made many mistakes in her life and she doesn't know what to do about the feelings of guilt she's been dealing with. It was EXACTLY the part of the lesson we had switched course to. Even though I didn't really understand her, it didn't matter. The Spirit teaches both her and us, the missionaries. The gospel of Jesus Christ applies to everyone, in every language.

Fun experience: I got to play with a group of kids. It went from throwing a ball to one kid to playing full on soccer with about 20 of them! So much fun to hear them yelling "Sister! Sister! Sister!" haha

"Success is rarely simple. Generally it is preceded by tears, trials, trust, and testimony...servants of God take comfort from the Master's assurance: "I am with you always". This magnificent promise sustains you. It comforts you during those moments of discouragement, which come to all" - President Thomas S. Monson

-Sister Bertoldo

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Week 2!


 So I learned that I'm the first American sister missionary to serve here, which explains all the pointing and staring haha! I hand washed and line dried my laundry for the first time! And found (and killed) my first giant cockroach!

 The work was good this week! We met lots of new investigators. We had one really cool lesson with a small family of four. They were referred to us by the Branch President so he came to the lesson with us. It helps so much to have members work with the missionaries. They add support and testimony and it's just pinakamaayo!

 Funny story: we have one less-active sister that we meet with to read the Book of Mormon. She used to be very diligent in reading it, but now she always says, "Nakalimut ko" (I forgot). SO we made her a reminder sign :) then on our next lesson she wasn't home. As we were leaving (trekking back through the bamboo jungle) I said to my companion, "let's go back and put up the cute sign we made her...then maybe she'll come home, see it, and read the chapter we assigned her!" So we did that! Homes are like that here....very open. To enter someone's home, you just walk in and say "Ayo!" What I love most is that even though they often have no walls, the Spirit still fills those homes as we teach them the Gospel. Hopefully it fills their hearts too.

 The language is still hard! My companion had this analogy for it: learning a language as a missionary is like a man trying to win the heart of a woman. Even though he buys her flowers, visits her everyday, and showers her with affection, she still plays hard-to-get. But eventually, she sees his efforts and comes to love him in return. Haha. Cool experience: While I taught a lesson about Faith in Christ, little baby chicks wandered into the home and I got to hold one :) Favorite Filipino food: eggplant mixed with eggs and cooked like an omelet. Served with soy sauce and rice. Also....turon. Sometimes I buy bananas and freeze them. They stay soft and sweet but they help with the heat!!! Lami gyud kaayo!

 Have a great week everyone! Amping Mo!

 -Sister Bertoldo

Funny Stories!


 P-days on Mondays from now on (Sunday back in America). San Remigio is termed the "wilderness" of Cebu East and for good reason! It is beautiful here. We often teach lessons in homes that just have a tin roof and maybe two walls. Chickens, goats and stray cats and dogs freely wander in and out of these homes.

 Top lesson distractions of the week: 1. We were teaching a fairly new investigator and a tiny, black puppy squeezed its way into the house between the dirt floor and the bamboo walls! He came right up and started licking me! 2. We were sitting on a bamboo mat and removed our shoes, and a goat came up and started to try to chew on my shoe! I had to chase him away but I saved my shoe!!! 3. the chickens are usually scared of us, but in one home a very bold chicken kept hopping up on the edge of the house we were sitting on. While I was sharing a scripture, he jumped up on my bag (which was in my lap) and flapped his wings in my face! hadlock kaayo! 4. We were teaching a sweet less active mother while her son was next door at some kind of band practice and then her husband came home super drunk laughing at everything. We talked with him for a while; he got up and left as soon as I said we wanted to share a message with them though. 5. Mosquito bites. I put tons of insect/mosquito repellent on, to no avail! The itching is very distracting! I'm being eaten alive! 

Coolest lessons so far: 1. We taught about the importance of prophets to a corn farmer by using the analogy of a farmer guiding a carabao. To plant corn here, they have a carabao (looks kind of like a cow) attached to a plow and the farmer holds the reigns and directs it to plow in straight rows. If the farmer isn't guiding it, the lines won't be straight and the farm land will be chaos.The farmer is like the prophet, the carabao is us (people) and the plow/farmland is the world/our lives on earth. 2. We have planned a "Surprise FHE!" It's where we schedule teaching appointments with all the less active members and then they all show up together and we're like, "Surprise! FHE!" haha. 3. I invited an investigator to be baptized for the first time and she accepted, so we have one baptismal date! They don't have a baptismal font here so if there are baptisms, they are conducted in the ocean! The language barrier is lisod gyud kaayo.....that's all I'll say about that! I feel like I'm in a really cool movie but I'm the only one that doesn't have the script! I always talk, but I rarely understand. Update on our porch cats: I fed them some leftover fish from lunch, so we're becoming friends.

 Motto for the week: Aspire, Perspire, Inspire! (written on my water bottle label and I thought it fit missionary work here perfectly!).

 -Sister Bertoldo