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


This week our IBD Jovilyn Castro, had her baptismal interview and she is all set to be baptized this Saturday! She is a truly converted individual- she loves to learn and she loves to ask questions and she really applies the gospel to her daily life. She's even been sharing with her neighbors and friends that she is "Mormon" now and explaining to them what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints really is. She is amazing and I really love her! We got permission from the branch president to have her baptism in the ocean in Calape rather than having it in the chapel in Tubigon- they're the same distance away, but here in the Philippines the ocean is a way better location than anywhere else- it's going to be a memorable day!

At the beginning of my mission I made a goal to share my testimony in sacrament meeting every first Sunday of my whole mission. And I've done that.....up until yesterday! The members here in Sagbayan are all recent converts and there is a family here that just got sealed in the temple- in other words, the level of conversion and enthusiasm for the gospel is very high. I didn't even have a chance to bear my testimony, and I wouldn't have taken time from them for anything! I feel so blessed and so grateful to get to be a part of the history of Sagbayan branch- they are a truly converted group of saints nestled here in the "bukid" of Bohol!

As for the biking, I'm getting a little better at the whole mountain-biking-in-a-skirt thing....good enough that I can high-five all the kids as I ride by them without falling over! But just as I though I was the greatest biker in the Philippines, it rained on us yesterday (really hard) and I may have crashed my bike and gotten a few scrapes to show for it!

And last, I wrote a poem about conversion and I'd like to share it with you all because it's in English so everyone can understand!

"All is counted filth and dross;
What I once called gain I now call loss
Here in me resides soul fire
To refine and purify my heart's desire.
Forsaking all to pursue this quest-
To faith I cling and forget the rest.
Faith tested and tempered, tried and true
Edifies and fills me through and through.
If carefully nourished, carefully grown,
Things once hoped for now are known.
This knowledge fills me with God's light:
An expanding joy in what is right!
All else is counted filth and dross,
For truly my gain far exceeds my loss!"
(Lectures on Faith 6:5 Phil 3;8-9, Alma 32)

I know this is the Church of Jesus Christ and I know that even though the world is ever-increasing in wickedness, sorrow, and confusion, if we seek the Spirit in all things and follow the commandments of our Heavenly Father with exactness, we will be kept safe and guided toward peace and happiness. Tinuod lagi kana.

Love you all!

sister bertoldo

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sacrifice Brings Forth Blessings

This first weekend serving in Sagbayan has been a lot to take in! The biking is so fun- beautiful landscapes, wind, exercise! But when we get off the flat roads and into the jungle-y hills and off-roading trails, I admit, it's a challenge! But I'm getting better at it! The very first thing I did on my bike the first day was fall off it when my chain broke, haha, so I've come a looong way in the last few days in my "mountain biking" skills!
As for the work, we have a wonderful IBD and her name is Juvelyn Castro! She is really good at reading the Book of Mormon- she's already in Helaman! And she's always telling us what she's learned! It helps that the Bisaya here is really..... deep Bisaya the people understand the Basahon ni Mormon really well! She is special though- very prepared by the Lord. She is getting baptized this Sept 10!
The branch is also very impressive- they are few, but they are active. The Gambe family just got home from getting SEALED as a family in the Cebu temple the day after I arrived! They and the other members here have sacrificed so much and endured a lot of questioning from family and neighbors about why they joined the "Mormon" church. We are teaching the members and recent converts how they can answer others' questions and how they can work with us to teach their friends. We are planning a "Meet the Mormons" movie showing at the little meeting house we have here to invite more people to learn about and feel comfortable with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints and hopefully we'll find new investigators from that!
The members here, to me, really embody the efforts of the early Latter-Day Saints in establishing the Church. As Joseph Smith taught:

“For a man to lay down his all—his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ—requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God. It requires actual knowledge, realizing that when these sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest and be a partaker of the glory of God.”
I always want to be like the members I'm meeting here- willing to sacrifice and consecrated my all for the gospel of Jesus Christ! It's not easy, not for them and not for us, but as I see their happiness and hear their testimonies I know that the sacrifices we make for the truth's sake are worth it.
Amping mo kanunay!

Sister Bertoldo

Mission Dreams

I'm not sure where to start in describing this week, but some of the highlights were that Catherine's baptismal interview was a success! Her mom is even beginning to be more friendly with us. Catherine is a true "convert" to the gosepl: I only started teaching her because I thought her parents were members and less-active and that it would be what the missionaries call a "rescue mission". As we began to teach her, she accepted and followed what she learned with all her 11-year-old heart! Then, after we already invited her to be baptized, we learned that her parents are NOT members of the Church- just her lola (grandma). But by that point, she already had a testimony and a desire to join the Church, and with her parents consent and Nanay Minda's support, SHE WAS BAPTIZED this last Sunday! And I couldn't believe I was seeing a baptism in Danao after all the previous ones that have fallen through- but I know that a missionary's consistent efforts pay off and we just need trust in the Lord's timing and in His will!
We also had our TRANSFER CALLS and I am leaving Danao....oh how I love this ghetto little beach down here in Cebu island :) and oh how I love Sister Paget (who got HIT BY A CAR on Saturday and took it all like a champ!)
But I am being transferred BACK TO BOHOL island, but this time I'll be serving in Calape Zone in Sagbayan! Let me paint you all a mental picture of my new area- green fields of rice and corn. The famous chocolate hills. A small merkado to buy vegetables. Long walks and hikes. AND WE RIDE BIKES! I'm so grateful to be in an area that helps me be really physically active as I'm really missing fitness and gearing up to go back to it in 12 weeks!
The branch here is very new and just barely starting out, so there is plenty of work to focus on! Mostly all the members are recent converts themselves; in fact, the branch president right now is Elder Bell, the senior couple missionary! I feel so privileged to be a part of the history of this part of Bohol island, and to do it with Sister Ross as my companion again!
I love missionary work here in the Philippines because I know, and am continually seeing, that "great are the promises of the Lord unto them that are upon the isles of the sea" (2 Nephi 10:21) But I also know that missionary work is not just to be done out in faraway lands with foreign names and languages- it is best done in our own backyard and in our our neighborhood. No matter where we are, we are continually part of the "great and marvelous work" of spreading the Gospel!
Coming soon: gwapa pictures of me in my bike helmet.....stay tuned!
Nagmahal ko ninyo, ug gimahal ta sa Dios!

-sister bertoldo

Opposition in All Things

I just want to share a couple experiences with you from my week.

Yesterday, Sunday, Sister Paget and I were on our way to teach a lesson before heading to church and it was really, really sunny and hot so we decided to jump in the next sikad that came our way. So we get into the sikad (tiny seat attached to a bike). The driver knew we were Mormons and so I chatted with him and he told us he was also Mormon, which we were surprised about since I've been in the area for 4 months and I've never seen him. He said he just barely moved here and knows where the church is but he's been to shy to come to church not knowing anyone. We invited him to come to church with us, and he asked "hapit mo sa ba'y?" (can you stop by my house?) so we went and visited his home and met his wife and children. He has many fond memories from growing up in the church and wants his children too as well! Their names are Jackie and Jenivive Roca. So we invited them to come to church and then went on our way to our planned lesson. Later at the church, they didn't show up........until the last 20 minutes of sacrament, in comes this young couple and their children and we went out and brought them in the church! The ward was so great at fellowshipping them and we found out that his wife isn't a member yet, but very interested in joining the church with her husband! Later in class Jackie shared that he had been praying that he would meet a member to help him come to church, and then he said "Natuman ang akong pagampo sa diha nga nakasakay silang Sisters nako." (his prayer was answered when the sisters got on his sikad). Sister Paget and I were so overjoyed meeting them and seeing how prepared they are by the Lord to progress in the gospel! It's amazing too because our ward here in Danao sorely needs Priesthood holders, and by adding this family to the ward it would be such a huge strength!

Speaking of which, our bishop randomly got reassigned to Davao for his job, so we have no bishop right now! We are trying to do our best as the missionaries to support the ward and keep the work running smoothly until they call a new bishop!

One other experience: earlier today we held a Sisters' Activity with Sister Maughan at the mission home and Sister Paget and I had each sister (12 total) stand and one by one and give a "shining moment" for their companion. I think nothing brings the Spirit stronger or in more abundance than helping others to see and appreciate their individual strengths and Christlike attributes!

I am loving the missionary work- Catherine is still progressing and coming to church, though her baptism keeps getting pushed back since her parents aren't too sure if they want their daughter to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints since they are Catholic.

I think the hardest part of being a missionary for me is this: the work demands more of me that what I feel is in my power to give. Between the spiritual and physical and organizational needs of the ward, the mission, the sisters, my companion, and each and every individual person that I teach, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and inadequate. But one thing my mission is teaching me is that "the gospel of Jesus Christ does not profess to eliminate stress and none should think it will. But it will give meaning to the opposition and resistance that we meet in this life and enable us to grow "in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).
Also this week I caught a glimpse of someone's TV while the swimming Olympics were going on and there I stood for about 3 minutes in the mud under the palm trees entranced at seeing a piece of my former life on a stranger's tv set through an open door at the end of a narrow alleyway. It was like "worlds collide!" haha!

I hope you all have a great week and know that as we do our best to serve God as missionaries, students, parents, etc, he can magnify our abilities and multiply our blessings because He is God and He loves us!

Love you all
Sister Bertoldo


Monday, August 1, 2016

Teaching Model and the Miracles of Missionary work

I'm a day late emailing because yesterday we had our first MLC with President and Sister Maughan! They are so wonderful and inspired about how to lead the Cebu East Mission! One of the many things they shared with us was the "teaching model" given by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to the mission presidents. It consists of 3 parts:

1. Prepare to Learn- giving the learner something to think about or study ahead of time.
2. Interact to Edify- questions, activities, participation that facilitates personal understanding
3. Invite to Act! Giving the learner a clear and simple commitment that helps them apply what they've learned.

Every missionary already knows this basic format of teaching, but we were also encouraged to use it in training other missionaries and in our companion studies.

As for the work this week, just another week living the mission dream! Nanay Minda is now reading the Book of Mormon, and she stayed for all 3 hours of church, class, and RS this Sunday; all because a young woman invited Catherine to go with her to class which then influenced Minda to stay as well! Member fellowship and interaction is so invaluable in missionary work! Every member is, in fact, a missionary and the influence of ward members is miraculously effective.

We taught a woman named Emma Hermoso this week, our third lesson with her so far. After teaching her the Restoration (as she took careful notes on a scrap of paper, so cute!) We asked her what she felt about our message, about the Church. She shared with us that she had prayed about a month ago and asked God to send her someone to guide her to the truth. After saying that prayer, she left the house and walked the highway to deliver her puto, biko, and banana-que (that's her business). That same, Sister Allen and I had decided to walk the miles of the highway from Guinsay to Suba even though we normally ride a trayke. We both just felt like we should walk and TC the people. As we walked that day, there were no people- just two missionaries walking the highway. We felt pretty stupid for walking. Then we halfway ran into a cute woman with a big bag of puto, biko, and banana-que. She was wearing a pink sunhat. We introduced ourselves as missionaries and she asked us to please come visit her balay. Weeks later when we finally found her balay (walay address in the Philippines!) Sister Paget and I found out that she had prayed that day for guidance and we had been an answer to that prayer. Missionary work is a subtle miracle. We don't always see the effects of our labors, but every once in a while you get to see the ripples of effects and I just know this is the Lord's work!

Also, our house is infested with friends: a mouse, tiki lizards, frogs somehow get in, and today I found a little girl with a sundang (machete) who had scaled our wall to harvest the malunggay that grows by our back door! 

We were also blessed to go on 2 exchanges this week and being an STL is so rewarding as we learn from each others' strengths and weaknesses. I've realized as a missionary what the "law of consecration" means for us today: To develop and cultivate talents for the purpose of helping others and building up the Lord's kingdom, and it must be done with "an eye single to His glory" and not for our own gain. D&C 82:18-19

I love this Gospel and our Savior Jesus Christ and I know that when we fully open the door to Him in our lives, we can not only overcome our trials but have such joy in this life.

Love you all
-sister bertoldo


Catherine is still coming to church, but we are extending her baptism another week so that we have enough time to teach her everything. None of our other investigators came to church!

We received a referral this week for a 21 year old girl who moved in with a member to take care of their sick older parents.  Her family are all less-active members and she has been interested in the Church for years, but since she had a live-in partner was never able to be baptized. Then she decided to break-up with him because she couldn't take his drug addiction, and now she is living here in the house of an active member in our area- and it's amazing to see how well she has been prepared by the Lord to really receive the gospel! 

She is interested in the gospel primarily from how she's felt while the missionaries have taught her: in the US, we typically describe the Holy Ghost as a warm or burning feeling in your heart. A good feeling, one of relief and conviction. But here in the Philippines- understatement of the year- it is VERY HOT. When I asked Juvelyn how she felt during the lesson, she described the Holy Ghost: "morah bugnaw akoa pamati, Sister, nigaan!" (I feel cool and light). To her that is the feeling of relief and conviction from the Spirit, and I thought that was so beautiful that the Spirit speaks to us how we'll best understand it.

Also this week, Roger's father got ELECTROCUTED at his job painting buildings. He told us that he set a habit to pray before work everyday for safety. When this happened, he and 3 other men grabbed hold of a main line wire and the miracle he experienced was that the current ran through his hands and legs and out through his hands and feet, but did not pass through his heart! He was only in the hospital one day! He has some scarring and can't walk long of far yet, but he teared up as he told us he knows God preserved his life so he can continue to provide for his big family and keep God's commandments. It was a powerful testimony!

This Sunday we did a caravan with the members after church and Sister Paget and I were late since our sikad driver wanted us to teach his daughter so we spent time getting his information and setting a schedule to teach her. When we finally arrived, they had all already left. We decided to teach the first person that came to our mind, and....there were the members! We got to join with them for the remainder of the day visiting other less-active or sick members!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Not Yet Full

Maayong hapon!

There's no time, but my first few days with Sister Paget have been upbeat and full of miracles. We have a new baptismal date for......*drumroll*.......Roger Jr.! He finally came back, and he still has the desire to be baptized, he just had to be found and asked, which is why full-time missionaries exist in the first place! I love the Maningo family so much, and I want them ALL to receive the blessings of the gospel. I am really hoping and praying I will still be here in Danao to get to see Roger's baptism, but it is set now for August 20th!

Catherince and Minda are still coming to church and last Sunday they brought with them 2 of our other investigators who are their we are really happy about that small miracle! Sister Paget and I started off our transfer with a companionship fast!

As for STL responsibilities, we have a great group of 12 sisters this transfer! Two of which are BRAND NEW MISSIONARIES! One of the new trainees is being trained by Sister Dayhop, so she is technically my "apo" (granddaughter) in the mission :) I guess that means I'm old now!

I am so grateful for the scriptures and the teachings of modern day prophets and apostles in our lives!

"When we go to serve and comfort anyone for the Savior, He prepares the way before us." -Henry B. Eyring

Sister Paget and I are full of companionship goals: sisters' activity with Sister Maughan, the mission president's wife, hiking, riding a caribao, and of course, helping people to prepare for baptism :)

With 3 transfer left on my mission, this scripture keeps playing through my mind"And verily mine eyes are upon those who have not as yet gonup unto the land oZion; wherefore your missiois not yet full." (D&C 62:2) There is still so much more I want and need to do, and the time.... dili maigo!

love you all,
sister bertoldo

Danao pa more!

Time is short because our email time is now only 1 hour and 20 minutes. But here are the highlights:

1.  Transfer calls- I'll be staying in Danao as STL over  Lacion, Liloan, and Danao. Sister Paget, also one of my  MTC batch, is my new companion and I'm SO excited for our transfer together! I know there's still more the Lord wants me to do here in Danao, and I feel so calm and hopeful for further progress in this area- I have come to love the ward and worry for it's success.

2. Catherine was able to come to church with her lola and her baptism is set for August 6th. Also.....Roger Jr. came home from work, so we're planning to jump on this opportunity to teach him again and hopefully reschedule his baptism- he is a little shy of us, because he got some crazy haircut at the influence of his friends, but we assured him that we don't care about his hair, just his salvation!

3. Ruby, meanwhile, has officially "backed out" as an was a heartbreaking moment for me, because she knows the Church is true, she has the desire to follow Christ and live the gospel, but she can't see how she can overcome the trials in her life right now. Now she is working in Lahug and we can only hope and pray for her. But I did get in some last words to her, and I told her that she may doubt herself, but we don't doubt in her and God has a plan for her.

4. Nanay Minda, who was a stubborn less-active just a few short months ago, told us she has a plan to go back to the temple. Her husband had been through the temple before he died, but Nanay Minda hasn't yet. We started to talk about the temple with her and before we could even get the lesson out she teared up and expressed her desire to be sealed to her husband. It was a powerful moment for me, because even though I know there still so much Minda doesn't understand, I could feel how sincere her desire was, and that's half the battle.

5. As for me, I'm 14 months in the mission! In the last two weeks besides teaching I have seen dolphins playing in the ocean, eaten intestines and a bbqed chicken foot (a Filipino favorite), climbed a palm tree, and eaten avocado cake which was to die for.

6. Back in May I had felt prompted to write a letter to Carla, back from Baclayon, and encourage her to go to school. Then I heard from the missionaries there that she had been debated whether or not to go to school when she got my pouch....she's in school now! We are so grateful for promptings of the Spirit.

7. Cebuano word of the week: langob. This week, we taught a family living in a langob...

Have a great week!
Sister Bertoldo

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Farewell President and Sister Tanner!

The big news this week is that our mission president, President Tanner, finishes his 3 years this June 30 and will be leaving us!! He left us with these words:

Elders and Sisters, these are your days! This is your time! You were chosen to live now because you were strong spirits and our Father knows you can stay strong in mortality even in the face of adversity, IF YOU CHOOSE TO FOLLOW HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON. Please "open the door" (Revelation 3:20) so the Savior can enter your life more abundantly.

We love you all and pray for your eternal joy and peace.

Our new president, President Maughan, will arrive this week and we'll get the chance to meet him at a Zone Conference this July 7. We're all so excited to welcome a new president and help him in his new calling! We hear he has already been studying his Cebuano too!

This week we went to work down in Liloan because one of the sisters has been sick and they needed us to go on splits with them in their area to keep up with all their work. That meant taking time away from our own work, but somehow everything we needed to do got done because as we sacrifice to serve others, God is always there to magnify our own goals and abilities! As of yesterday, we have a new IBD, Catherine Hermosilla, set for July. We used to teach her lola, grandmother, who is a less-active. As we taught and came to love Nanay Minda, she started expressing a desire to come back to church. She came with her granddaughter, who we are now teaching. We also found the home of her daughter, Lesel, who is also not a member. It's really so effective to work through families and referrals in missionary work- the whole purpose and focus of the gospel of Jesus Christ is, afterall, family.

Also this week we had an old British man tell us that we weren't helping anyone by teaching and sharing the gospel- that we should help people physically, not mentally- and that as for himself, he believed in "Mother Nature", not God. I thought, how sad it is that although he can love and appreciate mother nature, he  knows and loves and thanks not the Father in Heaven who created her (Mosiah 4:9, Alma 30:44, Moses, Genesis, etc.) Also, I have seen so many hearts, and therefore lives, change from simply hearing the gospel, reading the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and living the principles taught therein. Including my own.

I know that this work is the Lord's work. Sometimes it can be frustrating or disappointing to see people reject the truth or fail to live up to our hopes and expectations for them, but God has given each of His children our agency for a wise purpose- he "hath given us a knowledge, and he hath made us free" (Hel 14:30-31). I also know that when his children realize their mistakes and come unto Him in repentance, he is ALWAYS there to receive us (Alma 5:33-34); a pretty big role to emulate as a missionary!

Also this week, Sister Allen and I realized we have a frog swamp living behind our house (the croaking of frogs sounds like straight out of a horror film!), we made stove top 'smores, and we now get called "Amerikana'g Bisaya!" instead of just Americana :) 

I 💙 the Philippines!

Have a great week!

Love, Sister Bertoldo 

Pictures: starfish!, I love the Tanner's!, exchanges with Liloan sisters, and being reunited with Sister Dayhop!

Cebu Temple

Today marks 13 months in the mission.....This week may have been one of my busiest so far in the mish! 

Monday: We met with our sisters in Liloan to go over our STL implementations. Then we had our STL meeting with President and Sister Tanner, and I got to be reunited with some past kabalay and companions!
Tuesday: This day started out with attending a session at the Cebu temple! It was my first time getting to go, so you could say I was kind of excited! The temple really is like a university of sorts- there is always so much more to learn. After the temple, we had our Missionary Coordination meeting with the other zone leaders and sister training leaders, and the best part was at the end. There were 8 missionaries who are going home this transfer, so they all got up to bear their final testimonies- it was one straight hour of listening to such pure and powerful testimony, and I love it! Then getting home we took a 2 hour bus ride (standing up, no more seats!) And that night, the sisters from Camotes came over to start our first set of exchanges.
Wednesday: exchanges! with my former trainee, Sister Dayhop! Oh how I missed that fiesty Filipina! :)
Thursday: Sister Allen and I travelled down to Consolacion to meet with our sisters there and go over our implementations. We also participated in their Zone Training Meeting and gave a workshop about what Sister Tanner taught us in MLC- Sister Allen and I have grown a lot in our companionship unity, and it's been so fun to teach together! Then that night after our work sisters from Liloan came to our house for our second set of exchanges!
Friday: Exchanges! It involved all of our lessons miraculously working out and really getting to hear the heart of these sisters' concerns. I love being an STL because I love learning from the other sisters, and helping them to see their STRENGTHS and how to magnify them!
Saturday: We woke up early and headed down to Liloan again to help with the stake "mini MTC" activity for the youth. Each missionary took 2-3 youth and taught then the basics of missionary work. Then we went out in the city and helped them talk to people and pass out the Book of Mormon and get referral information! They were so cute and nervous, but also excited to share with the people we met! I was blessed to have Sister Tanner come along with me and my group too! Later the youth had a Filipino cultural dance show, but we didn't get to watch, we had lessons and work to do, of course :) 
Sunday: We started the day off with weekly planning, and then I gave the talk in curch since the called person didn't show up. I love giving talks because I get to look out over all the members in the ward and just speak their beautiful language and feel how much God loves them!

The only new news this week is that Ruby is back! Her boss took on another helper. The problem this week is that Roger Jr, right before his baptism, had to take a job in Cebu and now we aren't sure when we'll be able to schedule his baptism. We just continue to pray for him- he wants to go to school and be baptized and go to church, but his parents need the money, they need him to work.

I love this work. Our lives are hard and there are many distractions, fears, concerns, and things getting in the way, but I know that "when we put god first, all other things fall into their proper place, or drop out of our lives" -Ezra Taft Benson

-Sister Bertoldo