So my new companion…. Is Sister Gerrard! An American! Of course I knew I would have some American companions so that isn’t too crazy. The real crazy thing though is that she is FROM MY SAME BATCH! Which means we went into the MTC the same time, we have been the Philippines for the same amout of time and we both are not yet fluent at Tagalog!!! Haha so at transfer announcements on Tuesday, my new companionship, and then another companionship of two foreign elders from my same batch as well (Elder West and Elder Hausia), are like the crazy ‘can they really do this’ companionships. President asked me how long I’ve been in the Philippines and how my Tagalog is in front of everyone to which I responded “2 1/2 months and Ayos lang!” (Just great!) I’m the senior companion and am leading the area. Oh my goodness! I was so shocked. But this week has been so incredible because I have felt so much strength from Heavenly Father as I’ve had to lead pretty much everything; OYMs (open your mouth), directions, planning, talking with leaders and with the Bishop, figuring out baptismal details (yes we have a baptism TODAY!) and leading in every single lesson. Of course Sister Simbol getting sick wasn’t a good thing, but I think that really prepared me for this companionship because I am pretty much on my own with a lot of things.
Sister Gerrard is awesome and it’s actually her birthday today! She’s from Henderson, Nevada, 20 years old today, has 6 siblings, went to BYUI before her mission and she’s pretty fun. She’s been struggling a bit with the language but that means I can really help push her to learn. So yes, I have to speak a whole lot of Tagalog now.
So our biggest struggle so far hasn’t actually been the language (I still don’t understand everything but we’ve been able to get by and we’ve been teaching! obviously), but it has unfortunately been the trust from the members in the ward. I think the Bishop thinks and feels that we can do it, but mostly probably because yesterday we went to his house to discuss names that we weren’t sure if they were less active or if they had moved, and we just straight up told him that we’re willing to do whatever he needs and asked who he needed us to visit. So that is good. But already we’ve had three pretty big instances with members showing that they don’t trust us to do this work. Pretty hard having the members feel that way! And of course not all of them do, but the worst was our ward mission leader. But after leaving our meeting crying yesterday, Sister Gerrard and I felt pretty bad for some of the things he had said to us. But Sister Gerrard taught me a pretty good lesson about being the bigger person and forgiving others even if we’re not totally in the wrong. So we both have decided to really try not to let this distract us, and that has given us more motivation to work hard and show those ward members that even if we can’t speak the language very well, we have been called of God and we are still very capable of moving the work forward with the Lord’s help.
I really know this is true because of an incredible miracle that has happened over the past few days. So I’m not sure if I ever mentioned the beginning of this story so I’ll just start from the beginning just in case. So probably about a month ago, a padyak driver (I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s spelled but I’m pretty sure you could Google a picture) drove up to Sister Simbol and me wanting to give us a free ride. He insisted so we got in but still were planning on paying him. Anyways he told us about how he had to work every day so that he could barely have enough money for food and school for all 7 of his kids. So of course Sister Simbol shared how the gospel can help. We got his contact information and referred him to the Elders in a different ward because he wasn’t in our area. Well I think the Elders had a hard time finding his home so he never was contacted. Well Saturday, Sister Gerrard and I were walking and we saw him! I didn’t totally understand everything he was saying but it seemed like he wanted to give us a free ride again. Well as he was riding, he told us that he had moved to a new house. Then when I told him to turn to go to a less active members house, he didn’t turn and kept going straight. I was kind of confused but then I realized that he had moved into our area and he was taking us to his house! We were a little worried just because he was a man and he wasn’t going where we wanted haha, but I asked if his wife and children were home and he said yes. So he took us to his humble home and we taught him and his family the whole first lesson by candle light. We challenged them to read the Book of Mormon and to pray and I just said they were welcome to come to church the next day. Well the sister doesn’t seem to have as much of a desire now, but the brother has seemed interested the whole time. So because I knew he had a desire to go to church, which is sometimes the hardest thing to get people to have, I knew that Heavenly Father could provide a way for him to go to church. So Saturday and Sunday I prayed really hard that he would be able to go (we’re lucky if a new investigator goes to church after like 3 or 4 visits sometimes). Well Ward Conference started yesterday and he wasn’t there. I wasn’t thinking about it too much though because I had to be the backup pianist again (I did terrible because they were Hymns I hardly know and I was nervous with the Stake President being there and everything!) Well after the sacrament, I looked back and Brother Gilbert was there in a Denver, Colorado Nuggets shirt with one of his daughters. It was a miracle! He seemed a little nervous and uncomfortable, but he ended up staying for all three meetings and he met some people in the ward. I was so happy! Of course I’ve been trying to not get too excited because the second visit is always the real test, but I feel like this family with 7 kids is such a miracle.
President Reeder asked all of us missionaries at transfer announcements to not only pray to be able to find those people prepared, but that they will be able to find us. Sister Gerrard and I have been doing that. I testify that miracles do happen and that the Lord is in the very details of His work. I am not yet fluent at Tagalog, I may sometimes feel like just some little white American girl lost in the Philippines (well I am 😉 ) and I am still learning to be a missionary, but I have been called to this area, Sister Gerrard has been called as my new companion and I know that I can do whatever the Lord asks of me as His missionary.
Alright now for some other random things that happened this week… Mice have been coming up through the drain in our apartment! We finally figured out how they’ve been getting in. Sister Gerrard and I have set companionship goals for this transfer so we are going to work our hardest! Sister Willard is Sister Viola’s new companion. She’s an American (so yes three American sisters in my apartment… weird!), her parents are Mission Presidents (well dad but yeah) in Bolivia, she’s from Arizona and she seems super sweet. I’ve been trying to help her adjust cuz she just started her training and just got here. So in my district, we have 2 elder companionships that are in training, Sister Gerrard and I and the zone leaders. Pretty much the whole mission is getting “younger and younger” because so many more missionaries are coming in than those that are going out. The work is hastening! But there is a very good chance I could be training next transfer. Sister Donna came to church yesterday and we taught her again (Allan had work but said he would have come if he didn’t have work). Brother Francis… oh my goodness so after every lesson he always asked where he can read next for a reading assignment. So yesterday I thought it would just be good if he just started reading at the beginning. Well then he told me that he had already started and is already in 2 Nephi! Crazy! Sooooo many great things have been happening even if it is still challenging. Sister Joy has had July 22 for her baptismal date for a long time (her birthday!) but we haven’t been planning too much for it just because she had to pass an interview with President Reeder. Well last Monday night, she had her interview with President and she passed! Sister Simbol and I were actually able to go in for part of the interview which was neat. President Reeder is so incredible. Anyways so we’ve been trying to get baptismal details figured out so hopefully it starts on time today at 4 pm!
Well sorry for another incredibly long email but family… this Gospel is true and some of the things that have been happening are proof! I love you all but most of all I love our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. One of my goals is to work purely off of motivation for my love for Jesus Christ and for the people (stole that from the missionary broadcast). I hope you all have a great week!