We have a Zone implementation to focus on teaching college students. We are teaching one young man, Vince, who is in his fist year of college. The previous missionaries have only taught him twice, but when we met with him he gave us an overview of the Restoration of the gospel, just from the pamphlet! He is VERY interested! I felt the Basahon ni Mormon burning a hole in my bag, so I gave it to him. He carefully took it, brushed the cover, and began skimming through! Then in his prayer at the end of our lesson, he said "Thank you, Father, for this precious gift the Sisters have brought me. I will treasure it forever and be happy to learn it." Awww!
Another great teaching moment: there is a member here in the branch that used to be SUPER active, but after a mistake she made, refused to come back to church. Missionaries have been working with her to tears. At the beginning of our lesson with her, she pounded the table and said, "okay, sisters, what are you going to tell me today because I've heard it all! I know the scriptures, I used to teach them! What do you have to say to me?" I don't know all of what I said, but I felt it being fed to me line by line in my mind. Then I looked at her angry face and I reached over and grabbed her hand (Part of me was like, Haley, don't touch her she's angry!! haha) and told her that Heavenly Father loves her and she needs to have faith and come back to church. It's not the "missionaries" that want her to come to church to fill their statistics, it's her Heavenly Father that wants her to return to his loving arms. But to partake of His love, she has to have the faith to ACT. Then I read Alma 32:40-43. The whole time she's just staring at me with pursed lips and a knit in her brow. Then she cut me off. My heart almost stopped haha. But she said, "Sister, I will take your challenge. I will come to church. I have so much fear inside me. But what will happen if I let go of this fear like you say? I will take your challenge. It is the fear inside me, now I can see that. I need to have faith." My companion and I were shocked.
Yesterday, she showed up at church and stayed all 3 hours, and participated!
Branch Activity: Family Day! We designed it like a giant Family Home Evening: opening song and prayer, then each family breaks into smaller groups according to which baranguay they live in for a lesson taught by missionary companionships and then food and games! We had a giant obstacle course! Each group also had T-shirts in a different color and the missionaries had gray t-shirts. It took up the WHOLE day, because....Filipino time!
New Cultural Experiences:
1. Rambutan fruit! maybe you can google it, but better to taste it!
2. Budlefight- I like to watch.....not participate.
3. Dampa, a game all the kids play with rubber bands. I'm getting pretty good.
4. Bisaya word of the day: singot haha
5. Everyone here thinks my name is a Filipino apellido
"We inspire others not by our perfection, but by how we deal with our imperfections."
I'm all settled into my new area. It's in the same zone as my first area, so the members always joke with me like "laayo kaayo ba siya?" haha. My new area is small, but has many more members. They are still a branch so there is plenty of work to do in helping them progress and grow! The exciting new things about my area are:
1. Naa'y aircon nga chapel na!
2. I now live with Sister Weech, who was in the MTC with me and is also from Colorado and BYU! and her trainer gihapon :)
3. there are showers in our apartment...not very CLEAN, but still, a shower!
4. My new trainer, Sister Fernandez, is bisdak kaayo (very good at Bisaya, native) and is like a walking dictionary for me :) Also, she used her language study hours to practice sentences with me, teach me new words, and help me with my language study. She says I will learn Bisaya by MAKING MISTAKES, by trying. We made a language wall and she made me sign a paper saying that I will only speak Bisaya from now on....sorry about all the English in this email Sister! haha
My trainer and I are whitewashing the area, which means that we are both new and have to learn where everyone lives and who everyone is. We have been walking and wandering a lot! They don't have "addresses", we just know which buarangay (neighborhood) and then we ask random people who point us in the general direction until we find their home. It's kind of fun, actually.
KINAMOT: With my last district we marinated and barbequed pork and cooked rice. Then we went outside and ripped off a giant banana leaf. We piled the rice in the center then spread the meat ontop. Then we gathered around it in a circle. I was just about to ask, "should I go get plates and forks and things?" when my district started grabbing the rice and meat with their hands! It was a lot of fun, but my parents probably wouldn't approve.
"What you think about is either conducive to faith or distracts from yuor ability to exercise faith. Your thought with respect to faith cannot be neutral. If your thoughts are not productive or edifying, you have the responsibility of replacing them with productive or edifying thoughts."
I ate pig brains this week! In my defense, I didn't know that was what I was eating until my district told me AFTER the fact! I'm ashamed to admit that....it was delicious.
The people here are very playful. They love pictures and engaging activities.So we set a companionship goal to incorporate more media into our lessons. We now sing, in Bisaya, hymns to open each lesson. It really invites the Spirit and the people here LOVE singing and music, so they really appreciate it! I love singing for them!!! They aren't shy to join in sometimes too. We used to sing in English, because that is what the members do here, but it's better if they can understand the words. We also use the gospel artbook to show pictures as we teach specific scripture stories or principles. We've also started bringing sticky notes. We give a reading assignment and write a couple of questions on the sticky note and leave it in their scriptures. It helps them to have a very specific assignment and it prepares them for our next lesson! We also are now bring a little DVD player into the investigators' homes to play the Restoration video. It's the only video we have that is in Bisaya!
I had my first "D&C 50:22 moment" this week. We've been teaching an old Catholic woman. On our second lesson, her daughter joined in. We taught about the nature of the Godhead, the focus of the gospel on families and finished with teaching how to pray sincerely, not from a memorized script. Then we asked the daughter to say the closing prayer. She offered a very sweet, simple, but genuine prayer. After, we noticed tears in her eyes and we asked her what she was feeling. She said that that was the first time she's felt she was really praying to her Heavenly Father. Beautiful moment! We are excited to continue teaching her.
There was a storm a couple nights ago (blindly bright flashes of lightning and ear-splitting thunder...so scary!) The next day we went out to work. It was rainy slightly. While we were in the home of a woman we had just met that day, the torrential downpour started. We were in the middle of getting to know her and see if she's interested in being taught, and then the rain on her tin roof was so loud that we couldn't hear the sounds of our own voices! So we helped her shut her windows, gather her laundry inside, and we just sat in her house saying nothing for about 20 minutes, waiting out the rain. He son comes out, in his boxers, and starts cooking food. She falls asleep. We still can't hear anything or open the door to leave without letting in a flood of water. So we just sit and wait haha. So awkward. When the rain slowed down a little, we asked for plastic to wrap our bags and we left, after getting a return appointment, of course! We worked the rest of the day in the rain, but it wasn't as hard....there were some bent palm trees and corn stalks though, from the wind!
I love the Philippines. I love the warm wind, the ocean, the starfish, the seashells mixed into the farming soil, the loud music emanating from tiny huts at any hour of the day, the giant tropical flowers, the butterflies, the motorcycles, the people! Isaiah best described being a missionary here:
"Sing unto the Lord a new song and his praise from the ends of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles and the inhabitants thereof.....Let them give glory unto the Lord and praise Him in the islands" (Isaiah 42:10, 12).🌴
Well this has been a long enough email! I hope you all have a great week!