Monday, February 29, 2016

There is a God

We are still preparing Carla for her baptism this March 8, and she even comes to kuyog lessons with us! The only problem is that her cellphone broke, so there's no way to get in touch with her...but we keep seeing miracles happening- somehow, we've been able to teach her all the lessons we need to. It's so great to see how her curiosity in the "Mormons" turned to faith in Christ's restored gospel, and to see that faith growing into a testimony!

This morning we went to visit Edith Delphin, she is in so much pain now from her breast cancer, she can't leave her bed. We talked with her, listened, and sang her her favorite hymns. As we sang (my companion's voice is amazing) tears just streamed down her face! Then we shared with her from Alma 5:14-16 and that lesson was probably one of my favorite lessons, the Spirit was so strong! Nanay Edith has had such an amazing life, and even though she is much too young to be having these health problems, she is a huge example of faith and trust in God and his will for us! 

So much more happened this week, but suffice it to say that we ate tropical fruits, attended birthday parties, taught tons of lessons, taught Sunday school, gave talks in church, found new investigators, got called "imposters" by old Catholic men, and came home each night dirty, and tired, and with so much joy in heart in doesn't make sense :)
As I am surrounded by these beautiful foreign people, in this stunning foreign land I just think of Alma 30:44 "all things denote there is a God" and D$C 101:16 "let your hearts be comforted, for all flesh is in my hands; be still and know that I am God". With all the trial and change this life brings, one thing is constant: our Heavenly Father, His eternal plan, and His love for us!

Love you all!
-Sister Bertoldo
Pictures: Carla and I, Jaden's birthday dinner, a jackfruit (nangka), and one of the many stunning sunsets

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Week of Miracles

This week was full of miracles.
We have 2 IBD's scheduled for March 8, Bernadette and Karla, and I am just so proud of the branch here in Baclayon for how loving and welcoming they are to the investigators we bring to church. That.makes.all.the difference! They've come to church 2 Sundays now and REALLY enjoyed it :) They both came that first Sunday at our invitation just by themselves, but now they are friends with each other, friends with all the other teenagers in the branch...they even have a crush on one of the young men haha. But they are really understanding the lessons and so excited to be baptized!
We had FHE with a less-active family and it was a really spiritual experience for them. For the lesson I compared their home to a city and told them an attacking enemy was headed our way, what should we do? They said, shut the doors, defend the house! Then we read Alma 50:1-6 and discussed how just like a city has to great barriers, defenses, and even some offensive tactics to thwart an enemy, a family has to also create spiritual protection if it wants to overcome the many, many evil influences of the world today. Then we played tons of games and they ate tons of food haha.
There was one night this week we were traveling home from a late appointment and at night there is rarely a dyeep to catch on the highway. We had 3 small children with us, running around and we're trying to keep them in control. After an hour, I'm like really worried now, it was DARK. And LATE. And FAR. Then, Queen, the little girl we were with who is a recent convert, says to me, "Sister, why don't we just say a prayer?" So of course, I'm like sure. And she's like who should say it? And I thought to myself that the prayer would be stronger coming from her since she has such a pure faith and isn't all stressed like I was. So I told her to say it. She said a short simple prayer and opened her eyes, and immediately, a single djeepney turns the bend. He was on his way home but let us jump in. Prayer works, but we have to have the faith of a child! 

Bohol is amazing. I don't know how I got so lucky to be assigned to serve a mission in Bohol/Cebu, one of the most beautiful parts of the entire world? The sunsets are just can't be stressed anymore while staring at them!
A major focus for me in my work right now is
1. asking inspired questions that really help my investigators make connections and LEARN
2. cultivating an attitude of constant gratitude!

"Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven!" -President Monson

Amping kanunay!
-Sister Bertoldo
Pictures: Queen Ahat, and our FHE group picture :)

Pinay Ko!

9 months in, 9 months to go!
Missionary work can be summed up in one simple phrase: "What a responsibility, what an honor!"
This was a great week in Baclayon! Two of our investigators came to church this week, Bernadette and Karla, ages 14 and 16. Sister Smith and I are really on a roll teaching the youth of Baclayon. We have 3 scheduled baptisms this first week of March, but a lot of it depends on if they keep coming to church and a lot of that depends on their parents, so it's hard. But we don't give up! :)
We are teaching one investigator, Rommel, and it turns out he is a famous actor here in the Philippines. Since we have never seen Filipino films, we didn't recognize him! But he said he left the show business because he didn't feel it was the right way to find true purpose in life. Now he is a videographer specializing in studying different religions, so he is really interested in learning about the LDS church and the Book of Mormon. He speaks Tagalog and English though, so we teach him in English! That was my first time teaching in English and it was really, really hard haha!

I walked around all week without an umbrella (unheard of in the Philippines) because I left mine on a dyeepney and as a result I've gotten a lot tanner. I have to admit that swimmer tanlines are a lot cuter than missionary tanlines....haha. Now the Filipinos are all like, "Are you Fil-Am? Are you half Filipino?" And I think of my mom and dad, and I'm like no, they're definitely not Filipino! haha. But in a lot of ways I AM Fil-Am now, haha, at least at heart!
This Sunday we had a special sacrament service for a member, Edith Delphin, who is suffering from breast cancer. I have to say, she is the most amazing woman. Her whole life she has sacrificed for the gospel and as a result of her example, blessed the lives of SO many! She embodies the quote,

 "Our focus should be righteousness not recognition, service, not status. Visibility does not equate to value." -Howard W. Hunter
I love when we sakay a dyeep and I'm all squished in with the Filipino people and they are shy because I'm a foreigner and probably just here on vacation and only speak English. I love asking them a question? Paying a compliment. Something so that I can watch them open up and I can get to know them. After the "why do you know Bisaya?" routine I can direct the conversation to be about our purpose here as missionaries, about Christ, and it usually results in a new investigator or a referral. The people here are so humble and so friendly and missionary work here (though it definitely has its challenges) is a privilege!
There's so much more, but I have to save some things for after I get home.
-Sister Bertoldo

Walk in His Footsteps

In the 1970's,Bohol was about to be closed for missionary work because there were no baptisms (It is VERY Catholic here). The mission president said he would send his best missionaries and give them 6 months. If there was even ONE baptism, they wouldn't close it.
He sent Elder Gary Lee Frandsen and Elder George Cannon. They baptized one Catholic man, last name Cacho. Later, his family was baptized too, despite their deep Catholic roots. That spread to more baptisms, until there were 3 small branches on Bohol. Today, there is now MANY wards and branches and a Stake!
To this day, I still meet some older people who tell me, "Mormons? Oh, yeah I knew a Mormon once, back in the 70's. Elder Frandsen. Buoton kaayo."

That man's son, Jerome Cacho, is now the Stake Sunday School president and he came to Baclayon branch yesterday. After I gave my talk in sacrament, he said, Sister, I'd like to refer members of my family and friends to you. He also said, just go out and develop friendship with everyone, even if they won't let you teach them. He said the work we do here now will continue to open the way for future missionaries.
I've been thinking about, "how can I follow in the footsteps of those past missionaries, like Elder Frandsen? What did he DO? And then I realized, he just did what Christ did- He loved and served the people, he gave himself for them. I can do the same.
"A new commandment I give unto you. Love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34-35)
This Sunday we gathered with all the members and split into groups and visited all the less-active members. I love those lessons. I love seeing them rekindle old friendships. People just need to know you care about them. They just need to feel that.... pagpangga.
Sister Smith and I are really enjoying our companionship. She has an amazing singing voice, we have long talks, we laugh, we speak Bisaya outside and English inside the apartment, we eat the same foods, and we both want to go running in the mornings!
Love you all!
-sister bertoldo
P.S. I survived Dengue fever! It's over now, so no need to worry, Dad.
(Here is a picture with Queen, a recent convert, and Annie Ugboc, a member that works with us every week. Sorry, I don't have a picture yet with Sister Smith, maybe next week.)