Alright so this week we had our Mission Tour! Elder Arden and his wife (a Quorum of the Seventy) came to the Naga Mission to tour the mission and speak to us. So half of the mission was on Wednesday, and my half was on Thursday. We had to get up at 3 in the morning to get ready and ride an hour and a half jeepney ride to Naga but it was still great. So we got there an hour early cuz the leadership positions had a meeting. Well while I was waiting… Sister Joy Javier came and surprised me!! AHHHHHH!! I started to cry I was so happy to see her. I love her so much. Well she heard I was coming to Naga and so she came to see me and give me this super good pili nut jam stuff. Well anyways she and her mother, Victoria, just seem to be doing awesome in the church. She loves her calling and she is just growing in the Gospel!
Well then we had the Mission Tour and it was so incredibly uplifting and motivating. Elder Arden and his wife are from New Zealand, he served a mission in France and they have been in the Philippines for 3 years and will continue to work here until they get a call from Salt Lake telling them where they’ll go next. They sacrifice lots like being away from their kids and grandchildren, but they are so faithful in the church and I learned so much from them.
Here are just a few things I learned from them and also from President and Sister Reeder’s talks. First of all, Sister Reeder read 2 Nephi 25:26 which I have always liked. But she said that we, as missionaries, especially need to be always testifying of Jesus Christ. So I know I do sometimes in my emails but I’m going to try to testify of Him every week now in my emails. It might get a little old but I just want everyone to know that I have no doubts that Christ lives, that He suffered for us, and that only because of Him, can we return to our Heavenly Father. So last year in the Philippines, there were about 2450 missionaries. Now there are 4100 missionaries! Yeah the work is being Hastened! One thing that I thought would be good for all of you to hear is that ‘every soul is great in the sight of God’ (D&C 18:10). Now as members we hear that scripture many tons of times. But Elder Arden said that we should think to ourselves about everyone, ‘well there goes someone of great worth.’ EVERYONE! So for me and for you, we need to remember that everyone we interact with, talk to and see are children of God. They need the Gospel just as much as we do and so please everyone, continue to pray for your own, personal missionary moments. Never be afraid to share what you know. Elder Arden told us the story of when he was called to be in the first Quorum of the Seventy and it really stuck out to me that even he felt at times, unqualified and nervous! I had the opportunity this week to read through some of my older journal entries and there were so many times where I felt nervous and unqualified to be a missionary, even a representative of our Savior, Jesus Christ. But it is so true that the Lord qualifies who He calls. I have felt so much power, strength and growth as I have been striving to rely on my Savior and become the missionary He has called me to be. I have grown so much and I know that by the end of my mission, I’ll look back where I am right now and feel the same way. I will always strive my hardest to change my life to become a better disciple of Jesus Christ.
Well there was so much that I learned and I have so many new goals and things I am working on but I think those were the main things I felt I should share. So after the conference, an Elder (Elder Simmons actually that knows Morgan Sanford I guess) came up to me and thanked me for my hard work in Naga! He’s now in Naga second and he said that he was able to talk to Francis (who has now invited friends to listen to the missionaries who are supposed to be baptized in December!) and Sister Casilda and he said that he could just really tell how much they appreciated me. Awww! He said that Francis said that he always knew that I cared. I love all my investigators!! So even though my Tagalog was absolutely terrible when I first got to Naga and a lot of times I wondered if my efforts were even doing anything, it was neat to see this week how I did make a difference in Naga and how much the work is moving forward in that ward!
So Wednesday we had exchanges! I was with Sister Viola (I lived with her for two transfers in Naga) and it was so fun! I learned a lot from her example. She goes home in 1 1/2 transfers as does Sister Simbol!! Soooo weird but it is just incredible how fast missions are. She really doesn’t want to go home. But she was so sweet because she told me how much she has appreciated my example to her and she cried a little bit because we’re not sure when or if we’ll get to see each other after she goes home.
So if this week wasn’t good enough, I had a neat experience of being led to a less active. On Thursday we were kind of having a rough day with a lot of punts and it didn’t feel too successful. Well I told Sister Prakash that if we just kept working hard and doing the best we could that day, that the blessings would come. So like 10 minutes later we were walking down a street and of course there were lots of people outside staring at us and yelling stuff at us (I don’t think I’m gonna miss the attention when I go back home… Sometimes I just wish I could fit in! haha) but anyways we started to walk past this older lady who was working her ukay ukay (clothing stores outside, almost looks like a garage sell but that’s how you get most clothes here). Well I said, “Maray na Hapon po” (good afternoon in Bicol) like I usually do and I felt like we should stop. So I blessed her (wow lots of little cultural notes I have to stick in here so you can understand… you bless the elderly here by putting their hand to your forehead.) I was just gonna bless her to show respect but then I felt prompted to talk to her. I started talking to her and Sister Prakash started talking to a younger lady that was also outside. Well I found out she was less active! We have no records of her anywhere so I have no idea how else we would have found her. And then the other lady Sister Prakash was talking to was okay with us coming back so now we have a potential investigator. Neat!
Alright just a few more things, I taught primary yesterday and spoke in Sacrament meeting again with just a few minutes warning. It’s baranggay elections right now (a branggay is like a big neighborhood here and they always elect captains and things like that) and so lots of people didn’t end up going to church. Luckily though I had my Plan of Salvation with me for the primary kids and I think both ended up going pretty well.
Alright! A really long email but there was just so much that happened this week that I wanted to share. Hopefully I have some things to tell you guys about when I get home since I seem to put so much of it in my emails haha. The Philippines Naga Mission is absolutely the best mission in the world. At least it is for me and should be for all of the missionaries here 🙂 I love it here and am so happy. Gotta keep being just a little more diligent, obedient and loving but I’ll work on it. Thanks for all the prayers and support! Write me letters when you can!
(Sorry no pictures from this week. She couldn’t get the computer to upload any.)