Friday, February 28, 2014


From Kenna:  Find the Philippines on a map - it's in the shape of a donkey head, profile view.

First Filipino Photos

Week 2!

Kumusta ka! It's CHRISTMAS AGAIN! :D Haha not because we actually get freedom to leave the gates on p-day but because it's over as soon as it starts, like Christmas.

Time is going by so quickly! I can hardly believe it. I love it so much here! I don't even know where to begin so I'm just gonna jump right in.

Well first of all, everyone has taken to calling me Sister Snow White because I'm the whitest person here, and they're all fascinated with white skin. Everyone wants to be white. I'm so moving here.

We had a culture seminar on Sunday where they talked about what to expect out in the field. According to the branch president, a Filipino is what people perceive him to be, or his "face."  If someone says something degrading, even in joking, it causes him to lose face and it's humiliating. Even if the claim is a fact, even if it's untrue, it's a bad thing. So when a stake president or someone of high authority gets released from their calling (honorably, even!), they lose face and go inactive. It's also normal for the LDS men to have mistresses when they're married. It's a difficult thing when culture interferes with church standards. We definitely have our work cut out for us. I also learned the rules of driving out here! 1. Point (Point the nose of the car into the lane you're switching into) 2. Big (The bigger vehicle takes priority) 3. Flow (Even when there are 6 lanes in a 3 lane road, you go with the flow) and 4. Chicken (When going through an intersection, you pretend not to see each other and the first person to look at the car gets the right of way.) By the way, find the Philippines on a map - it's in the shape of a donkey head, profile view.

My companion and I are doing really well together. The spirit was so strong in one of our lessons that our investigator was brought to tears. I think we've finally learned to teach by the spirit rather than making sure our Tagalog is perfect during the lessons.

Today we got to go out and help the newly arriving missionaries. It was so much fun! Our job was to go speak to the families in Tagalog and show the missionaries where to go. It was hard to see the crying kids, elders, moms and girlfriends but I know they're gonna be so blessed! There were 3 missionaries from Utah in this intake, that's unheard of! XD 1 sister and 2 elders all from the Salt Lake valley! I'm so excited. We had lunch with them and lunch today involved pig tongue... which I was tricked into eating my first week. So I let them be blissfully unaware, as I was. ;) I'm terrible... After that there was this tiny Filipino sister who looked 12 and very lost. She needed help buying garments so we took her to the distribution center. There was nobody to help her so we had to figure it out all on our own. Their distribution center is TINY and it's not nearly as organized as it is at home. But we finally got it all figured out and to give you an idea of how small she is, her size is 20P. We got to go to the temple again which was great. Now that we're the mid batch it's a lot more laid back, which is nice. I love talking in Tagalog to the gardeners, the custodians, the cafeteria workers, and the teachers. They're all so friendly and they help so much. It wouldn't be that way if I had gone to Provo. Anyway, then we played volleyball and I've really taken a liking to it. The Samoans are soooo good at it and they've been teaching me. It's so much fun and I'm getting pretty good, except now I've got big bruises all over my forearms. XD

I found out that the MTC and the temple aren't even a part of Manila. We're IN Quezon City right now. These buildings are a part of my mission. They just call it the "Manila MTC, Manila Temple and Manila airport"  because everyone knows where Manila is. Mom - there aren't gonna be any visa runs to Hong Kong... :( they took our passports and they do it for us. Oh well! Maybe I'll get to go on the way home.

Lauren - you would be in absolute HEAVEN here. ;D If you don't know exactly what I mean, I'll be blunt. Most, if not all of our teachers are tall, white-teeth, straight-laced returned missionary ASIANS. ;) Mostly Filipino but a couple of Japanese, a few Indonesian. Quite the characters, too. ;) No joke, all of them are so funny and it really relaxes the tension and stress we all feel. The sisters in my district are starting to develop an attraction to Filipinos and it just made me think of you, sis! ;D "Sister Wilson, my heart is locked, but my eyes have to stay open!"

This part of my email is for Tom! Tom - while sitting in the waiting room of the temple today, my companion and I started talking to the brother next to us. He said he was from Malaysia and I told him that you had just gotten back from your mission there a few months ago. He asked what your name was. When I told him, he flexed his arms and started wiggling his fingers around as though playing the air piano and I said, "Yes! That's the one!" He knew you. I couldn't understand the how part of it but what are the odds? Brother Lve? I think that's what his name was. I couldn't understand well but he said it's a common name out there. It's a small world! Poor guy, the Philippines temple is the closest one to him so he came to the session 2 hours early.

I think that's all I have to say for now. :) Wishing everyone the best. Although it doesn't seem that I need to because I keep getting mail about the amazing things my family is doing! Regardless, you're all in my prayers.

Much love!!
Sister Wilson

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Week 1 Sa Philipinas!

Magandang hapon mga kaibigan ako!
I have no idea where to even start. Sorry to those I told that Monday was P-day... someone misinformed me. It's actuallyFriday. Well I've officially been in the MTC one week and I feel like a completely different person! In the good way. :) My flight to California was nice and short, but then to Japan and Manila it was totally miserable because they took my carry on and checked it because it wouldn't fit under my seat so I literally only had my neck pillow and water bottle. Everyone around me was watching movies and it was so hard not to... so I just played Sudoku for 14 hours... Never again. I flew by myself the entire time so there weren't any missionaries to talk to, only Japanese people. I had to communicate with them via grunting, lol.
The Lord is definitely hastening his work - I was approached by at least 2 people in all three airports I went to. The first one was this karate instructor who asked why I was flying alone. I got to introduce myself and why I was going out and he was curious about the church. I actually got to give out my pass-along cards! Then in the Japan airport I was approached by a guy traveling to Manila who was going out for business. He said he was Catholic but he admired the young people of our church. At the Manila airport, there was a guy who was familiar with Mormons because of the Manila temple and MTC, but didn't know anything about the church. He was religious and was heavily involved in a humanitarian organization, so I gave him a pass along card too! I was so excited.
Dad, you were right. The driving here seriously is an artform. You feel like you're in a human version of Mariokart, literally. I was holding my breath the whole time. How does everyone live so long in this country when they drive like that?!
So I got to the MTC last Friday and they gave me my nametag, my schedule and some shots... (mom - they don't even have the vaccine for Japanese encephalitis because that disease isn't even here.)
I had a rough start because I got sick the second day here, and Sunday morning I was called out of the congregation to give a talk on the spot. It wasn't so bad but it wasn't fun with a really sore throat and fever. I got a blessing from the district leader though and was completely better the next day! It truly was miraculous. It's gotten much better though -- our district can now pray in Tagalog, bear our testimonies in Tagalog, and even have and understand conversations. It's really exciting! We have two of the best teachers in the MTC, says the senior batch. Although we're getting better, I still wanna kick the person who decided to try and build a tower to heaven.
But back to the first day. We had a devotional and were given our language materials. Brother Bigelow was right -- President and Sister Beck are the most amazing people in the world! I've decided they're going to be in the general presidency of something someday. :) I got to know them personally on the very first day because get this -- I'm the ONLY piano player in the whole MTC. (I'm also 1 out of 3 AMERICAN sisters in this MTC. Not sure why there are so many white elders and not sisters...) Granted, there are less than 100 missionaries here (We don't even fill up a chapel the size of our small church). This has worked to our benefit because EVERYONE is friends! We've all become so close!! In fact, some of the elders here go to BYU-Idaho and I've seen them around. :) Anyway, Sister Jackson, the music coordinator, said she had been praying for me the whole week because she desparately needed a pianist and that I was an answer to her prayer. Also on the first day they made me a Sister Training Leader so I work with the District Leaders and the MTC president in solving problems and taking care of the sisters. Haha I was given so much responsibility just on the first day that it was overwhelming. We also had to teach our first investigator, IN TAGALOG, on the second day. She spoke very few words in English so it was hard to communicate with her. My kasama and I felt like failures. So our next approach was to speak Taglish and focus more on the spirit and less on the language. That was a really good idea because the spirit was so strong and we began to feel love for an investigator that we knew was just acting. We finally got her to commit to baptism. Then last night she came into our classroom and introduced herself as our new teacher... Surprise! :P She spoke perfect English, but in my defense she was a fabulous actress.
It's really weird to have my "accent"  made fun of. You never really think about how your culture is weird to other people. My companion is Australian and I don't understand half of the terminology she uses. It's funny though how we're starting to use each others words and adopt the accent.
Today we got to go to the temple! It was wonderful! It was our first time out of the MTC among the Filipinos and they are seriously the nicest people. I've had several Filipino sisters and random people on the street come up to me and say, "Ohh sister, you are so beautiful!" I love how they can give compliments without feeling like it takes anything away from that. We need more of that in our culture! It's weird to have everyone on the streets say hi to you. I forget I'm wearing the missionary badge so when they say hi, I feel like Anna from Frozen, "What? Hi me?" We also got to go to the market for the first time. They have security people with AK47s at most street corners... kinda scary. I spent 784 pesos!!! Hehe, that's under $20. ;) I was gonna be brave and try a bunch of Filipino snacks but I chickened out and got a bunch of American food. I'm scared having it in my room though because I've seen 3 huge cockroaches here in the past few days, and they bite!
Well I'm already sick of rice. I have been since day 2 because we have it with every meal. The food is really good though. Very different, but really good.
I have so much to say! I wish there were more time. It's flying by! Spiritually, it's been like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant. You get a little bit but mostly, it just hurts your face. I love you all so much and hope that you're doing well! I'm praying for all of you and hope you'll continue to keep in touch. I don't have time to respond to emails every week but I'm definitely trying.
Sister Wilson

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I'm here!

Hi all! 

I have like 5 minutes to tell you that I've arrived safely and I'm now in the MTC.   My oh my it's been a LONG 24 hours and I'm SO tired but I'm having so much fun; it is heaven on earth here!!!   I miss you guys already!  I'm sorry I rushed goodbyes!  I'll be able to talk more on Monday.   I love you! :) 

 Sister Wilson

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My first post! And my last...

Hello, world! 

My name is Mekenna and I've made the decision to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Wow, this is exciting! I would NEVER have guessed a year ago that this is where I would be today, but I know it's the right thing for me and I couldn't be happier! And let me tell you, it has not been easy getting to this point.

During my first semester at BYU-Idaho, something felt off. You know how some people say that when you go to that school you're meant to be at that it just feels right? Well I didn't quite feel that way. I felt like I was supposed to be serving a greater purpose but I had no idea what. Everyone around me seemed to know exactly what they were doing with their lives, and then there was me, hiding in my little corner hyperventilating about which major to choose, not knowing where I was supposed to fit in. I was so frustrated... I changed my major 3 times in my first year of school. I experienced having several room mates get their mission calls while I lived with them and I got the same feeling each time one of them opened their call -- paramount excitement and extreme desire to get me one of those! (No, but really.)

Then I started going to BYU-I devotionals. All of the sudden, all I could get out of each meeting was "missionary work, missionary work, missionary work!" Whaaaat? There was no way. I felt so inadequate. I could barely share my testimony in church or give a presentation in classes. How was I supposed to go and preach the gospel to complete strangers? It took months of praying and thinking to come to the conclusion that I would take a leap of faith and go for it. Everyone told me how much I would grow and how there was no better thing I could do for myself. 

It was frustrating trying to ask the Lord if this was the right thing to do. I finally decided I would just tell him my plans and he could confirm them for me. Once I let the Lord know my plans, I started noticing scripture passages that calmed my feelings of doubt and inadequacy. It took me a while to realize that those feelings are from Satan -- he doesn't want more missionaries and he does everything he can to make you doubt yourself. I read my patriarchal blessing again for the first time in about a year and it spoke to me in completely different ways than the last time I'd read it. It seemed like every reason I had not to go was refuted in my blessing and I was told to go! Heavenly Father answered my prayers in very different ways than I had imagined. Life was so great! I finally knew what I was doing with my life! It felt right when school didn't cut it for me! I had it all planned out. At the end of the semester in July, I would submit my papers and be gone by the end of summer. HAH!

Heavenly Father was probably giggling at how I thought I could control my own time table. There was a lot that I needed to learn first. I needed to realize my dependence on the Lord. I needed to develop a closer relationship with Him. Of course, I didn't know that yet! Over the next 6 months I experienced loss and hardship. It was confusing because it came at a time when I felt like I was becoming my best self. I was swallowed up in it for a while until I overcame it all with the help of the Lord.

It's all a matter of perspective! What can seem like a tragedy can also be a tender mercy depending on the way you choose to see it. It took me forever to come to this realization; nonetheless here I am, ready to go on my next big adventure for 18 months. Through all this, I learned to rely on my Heavenly Father. I learned to recognize His hand in my life. He truly answered my prayers and I grew closer to Him through these trials. I testify that if you turn to him in prayer and in study, you will grow to know him better and see the ways that he speaks to you and influences your life. He wants you to turn to him so badly! And if you feel unworthy as I did, know that however far you've strayed that his hand is always outstretched towards you. "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." (2 Nephi 19:21)

In case anyone was wondering about the mission thing (no big deal, right?), I was called to the Philippines Quezon City North mission, Tagalog speaking, on October 22, 2013. I will enter the Manila MTC on February 14, 2014. Happy Valentine's Day to me! As such, my mom will be taking over this blog and posting my weekly letters here for those who want to read them.

I hope that the things I say will touch someone's heart, and if you're contemplating a mission yourself, don't waste your time hesitating like I did. Go! There is no greater joy than the joy you will find in the work of the Lord!

See you in 18 months.

    Sister Wilson