Sunday, March 30, 2014

First Transfer

Hello all!

It's been really exciting being in the field! I can't believe I'm actually out and doing missionary work. It's truly the biggest thrill! There's SO much to say and I don't know where to start! My first area is Caloocan City, La Mesa ward in the Dela Costa/Capitol subd. It's not nearly as bad as the area we tracted while in the MTC. Even though it's cleaner, it's really dangerous. Sometimes I wonder how I'm allowed to be there. XD There was a shooting and a stabbing in my proselyting area over the weekend. Not to worry though, I know grandpa and grandma are my angels here. :)

It's soooooo hot. I just so happened to come at the peak of summer... Philippines summer. It's pretty brutal. We each have a small fan in our apartment but it just blows hot air. It feels like being at girl's camp because we take cold bucket showers (which actually ends up being refreshing in the heat...) and we always feel dirty. But it's been the best experience! I absolutely love it. :)

The mission Pres. and his wife are the best!!! So full of love and patience. I loved them from the moment I arrived at the mission home. (We only spent 6 hours there the first day - we went out to work the very first night!) Recently (in the past 6 months) the President had to deal with something huge - a group of missionaries in our mission started a secret combination, literally. They decided to band together to see who could break the biggest rule without getting caught. They were communicating through letters so they wouldn't get caught. Pres. Sperry didn't want to send them home because he has such faith in the power of the atonement, but the church sent them home. 

I live with 5 other sisters and they're all from Utah. We have the biggest apartment in the mission. It's kind of like living in a zoo! We're surrounded by goats, wild pigs, chickens, and even a monkey. We named him Chaio (spelling?) based on The Testaments. It's beautiful around here. I love our morning runs because it's like walking around a nature park. I'm so grateful that I got to experience room mates because I was already used to living with lots of girls (Lauren - one of them is a ballerina!). My companion/trainer, Sister Surio, is absolutely amazing. She was born in the Philippines and moved to California at age 9 so she speaks perfect English AND perfect Tagalog - score! :) We're so similar that it's kind of scary. Studying the same subject, both music lovers, we have the same glasses, love the same shows... she's Asian me. Or I'm Caucasian her. (We're getting t-shirts made about that...) Anyway, we're definitely gonna be best friends by the end of my training! We had to do a spur-of-the-moment musical number in Sacrament meeting yesterday and it was amazing. She sings like Mandi Moore - no joke. We're a great team! 

The people are fantastic. The members of the church are so kind and so loving. They feed us something every time we stop by. We have 5 investigators with a baptismal date so I came at a really exciting time! One of them is a family, They make a great sacrifice to come to church on Sunday because the father makes a living off of his ice cream cart that he rides to the mall each day. If he doesn't work, they don't eat. They live in very small quarters with no furniture. There's cardboard to cover the floors and one lightbulb. When we were teaching them the other night, they pulled out what little food they had left and shared it with us. I couldn't take it from them seeing the 3 small kids. The spirit was so strong and I don't think I've been happier in my life than when I was sitting in their home. It's so bizarre that by the end of the day, we're dripping sweat, covered in mosquito bites and dirt, exhausted from walking and being chased by stray dogs 2-3 times a day, but we're just so happy. It doesn't make any sense. This really is the Lord's work and I was called here by inspiration. We experience so many tender mercies every single day.

Hmm... I think the funniest thing that's happened so far is with this little toothless old lady. She's like 80 and she was out wandering around. Me and my companion helped her get home. When we got there, we asked her how her BoM reading was going. She said, "Well it was good but I didn't understand the end so I just started over." She was reading the index. Lol! We asked her to come to church with us and she said, "I can't. I'm so old. And I have to pee all the time." 

Today we got to play sports with our zone. Our mostly American zone so of course we played football. ;) It was a blast. They're fantastic! I love them all! We went to the mega mall to have lunch together afterward and now I'm here. I think that's it for this time. So yeah, everything is going great and I am completely in love with my mission. :) Not to worry. Mahal ko kayo! Stay safe.

Sister Wilson

Friday, March 21, 2014

Into the field...

Well I guess they've decided it's time to kick us out into the real world and leave our safe haven in the MTC. It seems so soon! Thinking over it, I'm so thankful I came here and not Provo. We have so many advantages over the Provo missionaries who come here. 1. We got over our jet lag a month ago. 2. We've been taught by and are surrounded by native speakers of our  mission language. 3. We got to adjust to the food before going out. 4. We got to go out proselyting so we know what to expect. I feel so blessed to have stayed here. It feels like a home away from home and I will miss all the people here so much! Luckily we get to visit the MTC once a month after our monthly temple session (which both happen to be in my mission boundaries. Score!!).
Our proselyting activity this week was more positive than the last. We went to Quezon City (the neighboring mission to mine) and I felt a lot more confident. I was able to stop thinking about myself and focus on helping the people around me. We took a jeepney to another jeepney to a tricycle to the area. Those tricycles are... umm... hard to describe. You have to put your feet in first so you can actually get in, and how we managed to get 5 people into it  I'll never understand. Anyway, we (they) got 3 new investigators as a result of the OYM'ing we did. The funniest thing happened when we met the QC missionaries at the chapel. I turned the corner to walk up the stairs and who should be standing there but Jacob Smith from Copper Hills!!! I had most of my AP classes with him as well as symphonic & jazz band. He was an SBO one year so maybe some of you might remember him. When he saw me, he clapped both hands over his mouth, started jumping up and down, ran down the stairs to jump up and down and then ran back up. We were so excited! What are the odds? He's been out for 7 months. (As a side note to cousin Taylor - I met someone for your mission! A former Elder Garcia. He works here in the MTC and said you told him I was here!) The world just keeps getting smaller... So yeah, the OYM's went really well. One was an older man just sitting outside. We taught him a mini-lesson on the spot and even though he was a born-again Christian he said, "So tomorrow, when you come back at 6 to teach me..." Wow! (Missionaries- teach on the spot, don't ask if people have a minute because it gives them an excuse to say no.) He said he had thyroid problems and had to have it biopsied the next day and he had been praying for some comfort when we came along. The poor guy had a bulging spot on his neck from it and said it caused him a lot of pain on a daily basis. The next person we talked to was an older lady and already a member. She lived in very very humble circumstances but spent all week making and selling Filipino delicacies so she could feed her neighbors a nice meal on Sundays. It's so humbling to meet people like that. I also got a kick out of this little kid who followed me for a bit with his little buddies telling them, "That's my future wife!" in Tagalog. So I turned around and said, "You're a little young for me. We'll see about 10 years from now." He went wide eyed and frantically shook his head, "I was just kidding!" and ran off. People are so surprised when foreigners speak their language. The missionaries told me there was an elder who had to be emergency transferred from the area because some girl's father threatened to cut his head off if he didn't marry his daughter. Lol...
Funny story! In relief society, Sister Beck asked me to read one of her favorite scriptures aloud in Moroni 8:3. So I opened up to MORMON 8:3 to read, "And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father. And whether they will slay me, I know not. Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not." I looked up and asked her what in the world she got out of that. Hahaha! We laughed to the point of tears.
On Tuesday we were privileged to hear from Elder Brent Nielsen of the Quorum of the 70 and the Asia Area President and his wife. Their messages were nothing short of powerful and inspiring. They based it off a very basic "Filipino-ism."  Filipinos often say, "I will be the one (to help)" rather than, "Here, I got it," as an American might say. Sister Nielsen talked about how Christ stepped up and said he would be the one in the premortal existence and so did we when we sent in our papers. She committed us to say, "I will be the one to never give up and go home. I will be the one to learn the language. I will be the one to keep the mission rules," etc. Elder Nielsen talked about how a mission will be difficult, but we need to endure trials with the attitude, "give me another mountain to climb." If we aren't being stretched and growing, we aren't fulfilling our purpose on Earth. Even Christ was overwhelmed by the challenges of mortality when he asked his father to let the cup pass from him. But he allowed his will to be swallowed up in the will of his father and he endured to the end. That's the example we are to follow. I loved that so much.
I have so much more to say but I'm running out of time! Thank you for the prayers, I can feel the affects in my life. Advice to future and potential missionaries: fall in love with the scriptures right now! As I become fully immersed in them and see how they truly amazing they are, it makes me wonder why it was so hard to read a few pages a week in seminary. I testify that when you seek personal revelation through them, it will home.
Oh yeah and I got hit by a 6 foot long leaf that fell off a palm tree and it was really scary. Ok bye! :)
Sister Wilson!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A tall Filipino, two regular sized Filipino sisters, a Samoan, and me.. ;)

Another Week Gone...

It's been yet another awesome week! One month down. Hard to believe... I think I've learned more the past 7 days than the weeks previous.
So this morning, President Beck and his wife approached me before new missionary arrivals, and said, "Sister Wilson, I would like to have a word with you in my office," clipboard in hand. My heart dropped down into my stomach and I searched my mind for anything that I could have possibly done wrong. I'm pretty sure I broke out in a cold sweat. He told me to have a seat and he shut the door behind him. Oh my golly, I about died. Then he sits down and said, "Sister Wilson, how is your humility?" I just stared at him, completely speechless. He said, "Sister, you're going to need it so that I can give you this huge compliment. You are the most well-adjusted and most prepared missionary we have ever seen." I couldn't think of any reason why he would think that but he started asking me quesitons and writing notes about my life. He asked me the things that I did to prepare and the such. It was an answer to prayer that he did this because the night before, I asked the Lord to help me know that I was in the right place. All I can say is wow. (And that God probably thinks he's pretty funny.)
I saw my first rain! It's so weird that it rains consistently, all day long instead of 5 minute spurts of rain, sunshine, hail, and random bipolar weather. We also got tricked for one of our teaching appointments. We were told to go wait in the garden for our new investigator, April, whom we had never before met. We sat out there for a while and she wasn't showing up but we noticed someone else who had beeen sitting there for a while but he was a teacher and we didn't think anything of it. Until our appointment didn't show and neither did his... so we went to talk to him and he identified himself as April's boyfriend. So we asked where she was and if we could teach him. He rejected the offer and we were so confused because once we went back inside, he stayed there. Turns out he was supposed to be our investigator and we were suppposed to be persistent- it was an OYM test. This is hard to detect in the MTC because the teachers are always waiting for other missionaries to come and teach them... oh well, lesson learned.
I think one of the hardest things on a mission is going to be making close friends and then they leave. This week we had some missionaries very close to us leave for the field. We became best of friends in such a short time. It's wonderful how the gospel blesses friendships and brings people together but at the same time, you make and then lose friends every 6 weeks, haha.
I hit the field in a week! Crazy! We got to go proselyting on Wednesday, which was definitely an eye opener. We went to my area that I'm gonna be serving in and it was literally the slums of Quezon City. It was complete culture shock for me. Raw sewage, stray dogs, garbage and broken glass filling the streets, and flies everywhere. It will definitely be an adjustment. It really humbled me and made me grateful for everything I have. Some peoples' homes are shacks as small as a bathroom. They would cram a family of 5 into those tiny living quarters and all the clothes that they owned were hanging on the line outside their front door. We really live like royalty and tend to take that for granted. The lady we taught was great! She was a recent convert as of November, baptized the same day she got married. Talk about a big day... her husband is still investigating and they have the most adorable little boy. She bore her testimony to us of how she wants her husband and son to feel the happiness and blessings the gospel brings and won't lose hope for them. Her faith was astounding and it was powerful, even though she kept getting distracted by Frozen playing in the background. (It took everything inside of me not to belt 'Let It Go' with her!) She showed us her list of questions that she's had throughout her life and how they had been answered through scripture study. I learned that it's rude to knock on people's doors. You're supposed to stand outside and say, "Tao po!"  and they invite you in. After the teaching appointment, they gave us pamphlets and told us to give them away and OYM a bunch of people. Of course the first person I OYM'd was drunk off his rocker. He took the pamphlet right out of my hands and pretended to be interested so he could talk about our white skin (the in-field sister was also white). Then it got weird because he was trying to touch our arms and so we got out of there pretty fast. Hopefully when he sobers up, he will read the pamphlet and still be as enthusiastic. :P
We rode a jeepney back and I don't think I'll ever get used to the driving... it's already dangerous enough without the drivers steering with their knees as they count change for passengers. When we got back to the MTC we nearly kissed the ground. It's gonna be so hard to leave this place! We have a newfound appreciation for the beautiful campus. When everyone wiped their faces, it rubbbed off brown because the air is so pulluted.
OH! I almost forgot to mention balut. Calm down, I didn't eat it. We aren't allowed. The teachers, however, can do whatever they want. So Brother Edioy smuggled balut into the MTC and ate the whole thing in the classroom. (Pics attached.) Yummy...
We had a Q&A with Pres. & Sister Beck on Sunday with our tiny group which was really nice. It was more personal that way. Pres Beck told the elders that his first impression of them was " Here is matter unorganized."  Only endowed members will get the joke. ;) They taught us that everything we need to know about the field and what to expect on our missions can be found by reading Alma 26.
Here's my spiritual thought for the week. The branch president talked about it in sacrament meeting nad it really touched my heart. Some people ask the missionaries how there can be a God when life is so hard. God is like a silversmith during the purification process. In order to purify silver, he has to put it into the hottest part of the flame. As with life, God gives us hard situations to refine us and build our character. However, the silversmith has to stay and hold it as it sits in the flame so it won't cool down prematurely and become useless or overheat. Through our tirals, God is supporting us and we need to recognize his hand. And lastly, the silver is done when the silversmith can see his image in it. I think the parallel here goes without saying.
Elder Ardern of the seventy stayed to dedicate the support services building on sSunday. He talked about rededicating ourselves to giving our very best efforts because mediocrity is a tool of the devil. Satan knows that we're ok with average and he makes average effort seem like enough. He knows that average is not enough to return to Heavenly Father so he uses that as a tool against us. Never give half-hearted efforts! God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers!  That's all I have to say. I love you all!
Sister Wilson
P.S. Shoutout to anyone who wants to send me a postcard. I'm gonna start collecting them for the Philippines Postcard Wall of Fame! ;)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

This is the courtyard where we get to teach our investigator lessons and hang out after lunch and dinner. There are aaaalways gardners out there planting more and more flowers by the minute. Ya jelly? ;)
This one is of me and my companion, Sister Funaki. She's from Australia but was born in Tonga as I've mentioned before and she's one of the sweetest people ever.

In the courtyard of the Philippine MTC.

This is the view from my bedroom window. At night, those buildings sparkle all kinds of crazy colors and they flash and it's so cool! A picture wouldn't do it justice. Also, the sunrises and sunsets are spectacular. Usually they're bright pink and fiery. I can't even describe it. It's just so beautiful!!

Literally how close we are to the temple.

Week 3 Already!?

This is crazy! I feel like I was just here emailing you all yesterday!
I don't have as much to report this week. We get to go proselyting in the real world on Wednesday and we're all dying to get out there! The group ahead of us came back from proselyting totally high on life. They reported a lot of crazy things though, like having to walk across a plank over the sewer, and meeting a family who was eating one of their puppies. Crazy stuff... otherwise it's been an average week. I got really really sick on Saturday and lost 5 pounds because of the stomach flu. Luckily I was one of the first to get it. It's going around the MTC now. The nurse says we picked it up from the temple because some of the workers had just gotten the virus. Talk about blessings of the temple, right? ;) Being sick away from home is the worst thing in the world! It makes you so homesick! Not only is mom not there to take care of you, but you also don't have the comfort of your own bed, no access to fluids or food that you can eat or anything like that. You can't watch TV to get your mind off of the pain, you can't read because you can't focus. I basically laid in bed all day staring at the wall because I couldn't sleep with the pain. And since the MTC is so small, word gets around fast. Everyone decided to come and visit me. Even my evening teacher came up. Which is the last thing sick people want... But I'm so grateful for how kind everyone was to me, especially my companion and the MTC nurse. My companion had to miss a temple visit because of me and the nurse had to keep running up and down 4 flights of stairs to bring me medication. She even made a trip to the store to get me some Sprite and crackers. Now that I think about it, I'm sure that it was a blessing that I got sick here in the MTC where we have flushing toilets, beds, hot showers and air conditioning rather than the field where none of that is a guarentee.
We also got to have a member of the 1st Quorum of the 70 come and speak to us. It was Elder Ardern (spelling?) from New Zealand and his wife. When I shook his hand, he told me to tell my mother that he says thank you for allowing me to have piano lessons. So there ya go, mom! :) Really though, thank you! It's been a huge blessing to me and I've been able to help a lot of people because of it. He was such a powerful speaker! He talked about how key repentance is in the gospel of Jesus Christ and how we really need to make it a priority in teaching investigators. The accent made it even better, haha.
I just continue to be amazed at how hard working and humble the Filipino people are. When the new missionaries were dropped off, we found out that there are hardly any jobs here in the Philippines that pay enough to support families, so the father or the mother has to leave their family and go work in the US. That was the case with most of the people we met. Also there are janitors and gardeners here who live 3 hours away in the provinces and make the trip at 3 AM to get here by 6 AM. Some of them are pretty high up there in age. Their testimonies are so strong, though! It's such a humbling thing to see.
So that's pretty much it! We didn't get to go to the temple today because they're cleaning it. We miss the missionaries who just left for the field but the new batch is a lot of fun! There's a sister who went to American Fork High School and lives right near grandpa's house. There's also a really sweet hearted elder who has a bit of a learning/social disability and is really homesick. But everyone has been so warm and loving to him. It's amazing to see how the gospel brings people together.
Have a safe week. Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Wilson