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!