Hey my family!!
Okay--first I want to tell you something--we had a zone conference this week and President Fermanis talked a lot about email. He said that every missionary chats, but that it is not meant to be that way in the mission. He said, "if you are sending messages back and forth why not just call them?". I know that most missionaries might choose to chat still, but I decided for myself long ago that I was going to be exactly obedient to the will of the Lord. If it is his will that I forgo chatting, then that's
what I must do. I know it may be hard, as chatting is something we both really enjoy, but I know that exact obedience brings blessings. I've thought a lot about obedience over the last week. I read the end of Luke where Jesus says, "nevertheless not my will, but thine be done." It is amazing to me that the Savior, the perfect man, in his hour of suffering turned his will over to his father. That even though he was about to endure the hardest thing in the history of the world, he chose to follow his father's plan. I know that if I choose to follow my father's plan to the best of my ability, that I will receive greater blessings and peace here in the mission. So, I'm sorry my family! Only weekly emails from now on but know that I still love you just as much! ;)
I'm so happy to hear that everyone is doing well! I'm glad to hear sports updates, and updates on all of the rest of your lives too. Awh my family I'm so proud and lucky to have each of you. I am inspired by your individual examples of light and happiness. Your stories uplift and amuse me a lot. So thank you for being such wonderful members of the church. I love you all so much!
Okay so now to the missionary life:
Time is flying already. I'm noticing myself immersed more and more, and loving it more and more. I am thoroughly enjoying myself and witnessing miracles every day (I have a few amazing experiences to share this week!!) I'm also noticing that my thoughts
are less homesick every day and that I'm happy to be where I am. I know that I have received so much help from my Savior. Without him, I could not feel this way. I'm so grateful that he has given me peace by degrees. I'm actually glad that peace has been a gradual process. It has allowed me yo turn to my Savior a lot more, and to watch the changes in me. I'm so grateful that his wisdom is so much greater than my short sided desires.
This week we had a ton of conference! zone conference, new missionary follow up, and general conference. I felt so uplifted and wonderful!! I'll start with zone conference. With zone conference, we gather as a big group and eat lunch, listen to speakers,and have a question and answer session with president Fermanis. First of all, I love them. That couple is so happy and wonderful. We talked a lot about working with members and about Jesus Christ. My favorite quote by him was "if you are lazy, gain a testimony of Jesus Christ. And if you are still lazy after knowing everything he did for you, you are the 1/3 of heaven, but was too lazy to leave." Oh my word that guy is funny! It was also really helpful to talk with the other missionaries from my batch. All of us shared our experiences of homesickness which was really nice. It was helpful to realize that every one feels that way at the beginning and that everyone moves past it into greater joy. The others expressed a lot of frustration that their trainers only let them share brief testimony during lessons. Oh my word I lucked out! my trainer lets me take huge portions of the lesson, and now lets me lead them. For example, at member dinners I am always in charge of the message. Oh I love that guy. He is genuinely interested in making me into a better missionary as fast as he can. Love that guy. Missionary follow up was also great. President Fermanis talked about patience with ourselves during our development and that we are "new to the mission, not new to the spirit." He explained that even though we may not know how to be effective missionaries yet, we are entitled to be let by the spirit and that God would help us. I have definitely felt that a lot. I have no idea how to be an effective missionary yet, but I can see
the spirit guiding our footsteps. He also said not to compare ourselves with others. he said "what makes the gospel so wonderful is that we are all different." missionary work isn't about becoming like the other missionaries in my zone or like my mission
president. The mission is about becoming like Christ and becoming a better version of YOU. We each have unique talents, desires, and gifts that allow us to be good missionaries. Reading Moroni chapter 10, we are each given different gifts. God is the author of diversity. I will focus on being the best version of me that I can be.
Okay I loved general conference. I have never felt the spirit o strongly during it. The speakers all talked about finding healing in Christ and about enduring through trials. What a beautiful message. Christ is the source of our relief. He is where we can turn to for peace. I loved elder Ballard's talk. His talk was focused on family and overcoming the pain of separation through the promises of eternity. Oh my word his talk was beautiful. When he talked about Joseph f Smith's experience with the loss
of his oldest son, my heart broke. His saying the words " I am numb with grief. my heart is broken. I thank God forever for him, but oh i needed him" my heart seemed to break within me. For me, this message was a message from God. The joy that we can have of knowing that family is forever can shatter the pain of temporary separation. I am so grateful for the plan of salvation and for Christ's atoning sacrifice. I also loved Rasband's talk, Eyrings, and Andersen's too. The conference was so focused on Christ. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I love the name correction of 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" I love it. This church is led by and centered on the atonement of Jesus Christ. It is not centered on Mormon, or Joseph Smith, or anyone else. I love that we are making an effort to demonstrate our love for him through correcting our past errors. I love the Savior. My testimony of this church stems from my testimony of Christ. I know that he lives. I know that he is the master of healing and that he is there to calm our broken hearts. I have felt his healing power more times in these 11 weeks than ever before in my life. I know that he loves me. I know that there is no problem, no trial, and no person unworthy of his love. He suffered everything so that we could never be alone. So that he could walk with us through life and carry us when our strength fails. I am so grateful for his mercy. That he chose to take upon him the pains of the world, in an effort to redeem us. This gospel is centered on joy! I am so grateful that we have a living prophet. I have a testimony that Russell m nelson leads this church today and that God still speaks to us. Miracles have not stopped. God still loves us. And the coolest part is that we live in the most important gathering period in the history of the world! I feel so blessed to be in the mission field at this point in time. Missionary work is hastening and developing in ways that it never has before. people are ready and yearning for the truth, and the love of Christ. I'm so grateful to be a member of this church.
Transfers are on the 31st and I don't anticipate anything happening. I hope to stay in this area for a long time so we shall see!
Now for some of the cool experiences I have had:
On Wednesday we had exchanges with the district leader, so I took him to my area. As part of the plan, I led him through planning, lessons, and the going ons of the day which was really fun. He is from Vancouver Washington and is a super great guy! His name is elder bickmore. We had a lot of fun together. During the day, one of our appointments fell through. We were supposed to visit the family that I mentioned in my last email. They are called the Poot family and are super prepared for the gospel. When we showed up, they weren't there. Disappointed, we carried on with our day. hours later I had the feeling that we should go back to their house, but hesitated because the area was far away from the area we were currently working. I voiced my thoughts
to elder bickmore, and he replied "would you like to stop and pray about it?" we stopped there in the road and I offered a prayer to my father in heaven. After the prayer, I decided that we needed to go back. After travelling the distance, we knocked on their door. the family opened the door, and ushered us in. The family explained that something had taken them away from the lesson this morning, but that we had come back at the only time they were free that day. The father said that he had left work early that day and that we had showed up at the only time they were all home. at that moment i said a silent thank you to my heavenly father, for guiding me to where I needed to be. We began the lesson with a prayer. I began to offer a prayer for the lesson.
In my prayer, I prayed for the Poot family that they would feel the spirit and peace in their home. At that moment, sister Poot said aloud "oh lord, thank you!" surprised, I finished my prayer and then asked them what they felt. Sister Poot replied that during my prayer, she had goosebumps and a feeling that came over her. Brother Poot described similar feelings. What a cool experience so far! we talked about the holy ghost and identifying that feeling, before beginning lesson 1. We taught them the restoration and the family listened intently. Afterward they all committed to baptism on November 3rd! Sister Poot said that she would commit but wanted to read more , pray more, and attend church every week in preparation. Perfect! That's exactly what we had hoped for! We talked a lot throughout that lesson and the family said that their door is always open to us. What a wonderful family!! I'm so excited to see them progress even more. Afterward elder bickmore expressed his happiness that I followed the spirit. He said
that the hardest thing for a new missionary to do is to trust that they are being led by the spirit. He said to trust those feelings and desires. That 99/100 times it is the spirit. I was very grateful for that experience. I am grateful that God has all wisdom and that he will carry out his plan in his time.
The rest of the exchange was really fun! we talked a lot about missionary work, how to work with members, and then about people we are teaching. I learned so much and had so much fun!
Another cool experience I had was last night. We have a person we are teaching (we call them tinituruan) named virgel valdez. He is always super friendly and kind but was never keeping commitments, has a word of wisdom problem, and was always busy. We were considering putting less focus on him and moving on. Last night at the end of the day, my companion asked if I was ready to go home. I responded that I felt that we should visit virgel first. He said okay, and we went to virgel's house. Virgel was there and we shared a message about the joys of keeping commandments and how to overcome weakness through Jesus Christ. He lit up like never before. He expressed his difficulty of keeping the word of wisdom and how he wants to change. he said that in
the moment, that he was feeling super happy and wanted to feel like that all the time. We talked with him about overcoming his challenges and about changing through Christ. We tore out a piece of paper for him to put in his wallet. On it, we wrote a promise
that he could be happy always if he kept the word of wisdom. That way, when he opened his wallet to buy cigarettes, he would see the promise, and hopefully keep strong. he committed to church and offered the closing prayer. In his closing prayer he thanked the lord for "the two angels that god had sent him" the spirit was so strong. I have never seen him so happy and so committed to change. This gospel is true. anyone can change through the atonement of Jesus Christ. It is there for all who put their faith on him. pray for virgel back home. I know that if he chooses to staty strong that he will feel the joy of the savior.
I'm having so much fun out here. The week went by so fast. It is hard work, but every time I feel tired I think of how hard I would want the missionaries to work if my family was on the progress record. We are so blessed to live in this church. I am so grateful that we are all sealed in the temple and being raised with the knowledge of Christ. I feel so blessed that I was raised by such wonderful parents and have such wonderful siblings.
Leading was really fun this week. It has helped my confidence and helped me witness the lord's blessings in my life even more. Elder bickmore said that he wouldn't be surprised if elder armadillo is transferred and I am asked to lead the area. I certainly don't hope for that! i love my comp and hope we stay together fore a long time! WE got to eat at a bunch of member's houses this week which was fun! the members are so nice! they pile up the food like no other people I've met. They are not satisfied if you clear your plate once or twice. They will physically keep piling your plate. For instance, the other night they had forced me to eat 3 plates of food and a bunch of bananas. I thought I was done. I thought i was free. Until after ten minutes of sitting and chatting they exclaimed, "okay elder round 2 is ready!" oh my word they love missionaries here. Every dinner is like that. They are such wonderful people. I've noticed that my comp has even started backing off a little during dinner conversation. I think he is doing that to help my confidence, so the entire time i am talking with the members. What a wonderful guy. Love my good ol' trainer.
Alright now some info on the PI. I will try to do this every week for a little more insight into life here:
First off, I must say that I always feel bad about missing my family here. You wouldn't believe the amount of families who have members working abroad. Members of their family will move away for years and years, sending money to support them, but never
getting to visit them. My ward mission leader told me that his mom moved to america, while he was on his mission, and that he hasn't seen her since. Its been 16 years. Oh my word. My heart breaks for these families. How self centered am I to worry about 2 years, when countless families have to spend years apart. Other families have spouses in America and plan on reuniting in 3 or 5 years. I have met so many like that. I feel so heartbroken for them. it breaks my heart to hear that. I cannot wait for the second coming of Christ, where all these families will be reunited again. I am so grateful that even though their separation is much harder, it is still temporary. In the scheme of eternity, our suffering is so small.
Okay on a happier note, I'm learning to navigate here! I know the area really well. And you have no idea what that means. Finding places here in the Philippines is madness. addresses make no sense and there are endless houses. For example, one house
may be 10 v cruz street, but the next two are numbers 554, and 676. So confusing! it is impossible to find places. But through the spirit I feel like my terribleness at directions is going away. I wonder if it will come back after the mission? we shall see! whats even worse is that the Filipino culture is to give very vague directions. When you ask "where is this house", they will ALWAYS respond with a point and say "over there", which could mean a couple houses down or neighborhoods away. They don't do it to be rude, but that's just their culture. Its like a giant game of hot, hot, cold. It feels like every time you get directions they are saying, "you're getting warmer" so funny! I love the people here. They are all so friendly in the streets.
Another thing is that they all have nicknames. Everyone here has a nickname. They love nicknames a lot. So when you are finding houses, you have to know the nickname because they wont know the person by their real name. And the nicknames aren't even
close. like, we are teaching this girl named jenny. Her nickname is beng beng!! what even? oh man, the culture her is hilarious and fun! I'm still getting used to being the tallest and whitest. I don't know if i will ever get used to that. In sean's last email he said, "who knew that kareem was a white kid from Lakeridge this entire time!" so good! love that guy.
I am extremely happy here. I am loving lessons, eating a ton, and just becoming a better servant of God. I have a testimony that this church is true and that we are led by our savior. I'm so grateful for the abundant blessings I have had so far, and cant wait for more to come. I love you all and hope that I updated you a lot!!
the poot family
mj marcelino (for permission from her dad)
I love you all my dear family!! you all mean so so much to me! I'm so grateful to be sealed forever with you! keep working hard and stay strong in the gospel. Your big brother loves you with all his heart!