There's nothing like being a missionary, in the Philippines, during Christmastime. There's no snow, just tropical heat, palm trees, flowers! Maybe slightly more wind because it's the rainy season haha. There are star lanterns everywhere.
But you mostly feel really- happy. Like you've never understood so well what Christmas means. A question I ask frequently as a missionary is "Kinsa si Jesukristo sa imo? Who is Jesus Christ to you?
The greatest thing about being a missionary is learning the answer to that question for myself while simultaneously helping others to realize it. I am learning that we can literally "cast our burdens" on the Lord and continue in faith even DURING difficulty, discomfort, and trial. I'm learning that through Christ, I can actually feel....happy....during trial, something I don't think I fully knew before.
Our Zone got to watch the new 2015 Christmas Initiative, before it's been released to the rest of the world, it's released to the missionaries! It was so wonderful- they're launching a new Christmas video, website, and pass-along cards. I can't WAIT to use it to tract, teach lessons, and bring people to baptism! That's the only kind of "white" Christmas I need!
I only get one Christmas here in the Philippines as a missionary, so I am REALLY excited :)
We went on splits with the STL's so I got to go back to San Rem for a day. I helped them find a former investigator that they hadn't been able to find (she lives in a tiny bamboo balay tucked away in the vasts expanses of a sugar cane field) and she was like, "Why haven't you visited me?" and she had written in the back of the Basahon ni Mormon we gave her tons of questions she had about God, the Godhead, life after death, baptism! It felt good to help them find a person so prepared to learn the gospel. And to see the work we started be resumed.
We just went through realignment so our area will probably be combined with the other sisters' area next transfer. For now, we are just TALKING TO EVERYONE and trying to strengthen less active members while adding new investigators to our teaching pool every week.
Just this morning I dropped off my sheets and bedding at a labhanon (place where women handwash laundry as their job) and the woman was so excited that I could speak Bisaya so we talked bout that for awhile. She said "you must be so smart, foreigners NEVER learn Bisaya!" and I told her that it is only possible to learn a language fast if you have good motivation to do it....namely, the Gospel. Then she opened up to me that her brother-in-law used to have a terrible drinking problem. Then he joined the LDS church and now it's gone! She said she is so grateful for our church. We got her address we're going to visit her and start teaching her! I can't wait to introduce her to the Gospel of Change, the Gospel of Christ. Because it is only through the merits and mercy of Christ that we can truly become our best selves.
We also had a "miracle lesson" last night. We've been working with a less-active member, a 17-year old lalaki, Paul, whose mom is preparing to go to the temple and whose sister is newly returned from a mission. But all of our carefully chosen scriptures and testimonies of family members failed to bring him back to activity in the church. Then last night we bumped into one of the active young men of the branch. We felt prompted to ask him to kuyog with us, and even though it wasn't in our plans, we felt prompted to visit Paul. It was a miracle lesson. He had been childhood friends with him sa una. He had missed him. He opened up to us about why he hasn't been to church. He opened up to us that he had a desire to return. He finally promised he would come. The Spirit filled that room.
It is so important for the members to reach out to other members. It is SO much more effective than missionaries alone. Every member IS a missionary.
I hope you all have a great week. I know the Gospel is true. I know Christ is our Savior. I know that kon iapply nato ang iyang mga pantulun-an sa atong matag kinabuhi, makabaton ta og hingpit nga kalipay, bisan unsa ka dako ang mga pagsulay.
Love you all, labi na my Filipino brothers and sisters :)