Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mission Tour October 30, 2014

November 9, 2014

Nakakapagod ang linggo na ito... ano ang ginagawa ko dito?

I am so... tired... turns out being a leader is hard. Heheh, who would have guessed? I've been up at 3 AMmore times this week than I would like to talk about. But being a sister training leader is so much fun! Last week I got to go to MLC (mission leadership council) and discuss the status of the mission. I also conducted my first exchanges this week with the sisters who live in my apartment. I've already learned a lot from each of them and it was neat to be able to see the progress of one sister who was a trainee when I got here to where she is now. I also gave my first workshop on Saturday at a multi-zone conference. Talk about sweaty palms... it was actually a blast though. I was given the topic of using our new OYM cards in finding. It was pretty nerve wracking having 46 missionaries, the APs, and President and Sister Bertin all staring at me with a pen in hand expecting to learn something. But I quickly said a prayer and just decided to enjoy it instead and it worked. :)

Another difficult thing about this calling is that I don't get a lot of time in my area. But despite the little time in our area, our investigators have progressed! I was so pleased to discover that they're all still remembering and keeping their commitments! Last night we visited the Fontamillas family (Baby and Jun) and taught them the plan of salvation. At the end, we asked them where they would like to end up after this life Then Brother Jun with a smile put his arm around his wife and his son and said, "We understand now sisters. How does baptism work in the church?" Good grief, it sent chills up my arms and neck and we gave them a baptismal date to which they replied with an enthusiastic "of course!" This is my first time finding, teaching AND baptizing a fully in-tact, fully functional and happy family and I am beyond excited! We also have a baptism on Saturday for the 10 year old twin girls we have been teaching. They both paid their tithing yesterday just because they wanted to after reading the tithing pamphlet! They've come so far - from not wanting to wear a skirt to church and not even really wanting to listen to where they are now. They wore matching dresses in the primary program yesterday... I was so proud! 

Our recent convert, Carlota, has also grown so much since we baptized her in August. She said how before she became a member, money was always so tight and she was sad because she could never feed us (it's a Filipino custom for them to give you merienda (or snacks - AKA any food without rice) whenever you visit). She said since she started paying her tithing and fast offerings they have had extra to spare and now every time we've been back, she's had heaping plates of food ready for us when we got there. It's not so much the food that mekes me happy as much as it is the ability to see visually the fruits of someone being an honest full tithe payer. 

In case you didn't hear, the church has released a video about the teple garment and the temple clothing. It's a perfect statement on what we use them for and it's perfectly said. You can find it on the church website or on YouTube. That's all the news I have for you this week. Please enjoy these pictures of MLC. ;)

Sister Wilson

November 2, 2014

Choir, me, and the violinist practicing the night before at the mission home.
"Three generation" picture.  Kenna's trainer, Kenna, and Kenna's trainee.  :)

Magandang hapon ulit,

This week was so much fun. The musical number for mission tour that I was in charge of was a wonderful success. The spirit was sooo strong. (The picture attached is the choir, me, and the violinist practicing the night before at the mission home.) Elder Robbins from the quorum of the 70 came and spoke to us and we got to hear Elder Oaks give his area broadcast last night. I'm grateful for inspired men leading this church. He addressed a particular issue that is crippling the family unit in the Philippines - fathers are leaving to work over seas indefinitely in areas like Saudi Arabia. It's leading to marital problems, problems in raising children, and a dependency of the women on the income of the men. They speficially advised Filipinos not to leave their families despite the money circumstances. 

Halloween was super lame sauce. I think I saw a paper sign in the window of the gas station that said "Happy Halloween" and a kid with a paper mask wandering down the street. Their holiday is All Soul's Day which is November 1 where they go to the cemetary to mourn over their deceased relatives and drink alcohol. So on that day, Sister Gison and I decided to use the pass-along card of the resurrected Christ and testify of the resurrection through his atonement to OYM people going to and coming from the cemeteries. It worked pretty well! We also experienced running out of money and scraping the fridge for food until it was completely empty so we just prayed that we would be able to get by until the next support period. And all of the sudden, people who we never expected were inviting us to stay for dinner and random tricycle drivers giving us free rides. The Lord is most definitely taking care of us. 

I'm really dreading my first workshop on Saturday... by myself. Sisters never do it alone so everyone is joking that I'm the "Sister District Leader." Pfff,

Also attached is the "generation picture" of me, my momma and my daughter. Other than this there is nothing to report, not much time today.. I love you all! (If you want you can read what I wrote to the president: I took up Elder Robbins' challenge to read 1 Nephi 1-5 to better understand h"ow revelation comes, and to figure out why the sons of Lehi took 3 trips back to Jerusalem. One insight I gained is that the first time they went, they relied on themselves. They cast lots and based their plan on a game of chance and went forth to Laban without a plan. The second time, Nephi was "led by the spirit, not knowing beforehand" what he should do. He trusted in God and was receptive enough to the spirit that he was able to hear the spirit tell him to kill Laban. If he had not allowed himself to be guided by the spirit of revelation, with his character, he would never have been able to kill Laban, nor would the thought have ever crossed his mind in the first place. And if he had not killed Laban he most likely would not have obtained the brass plates which revealed Lehi's genealogy. The plates would have never gone for to all of Lehi's seed or been a benefit to them as promised in 1 Nephi 5:18-22. Without the brass plates as it says in Alma 37:9, the Lamanites in 74 BC would not have repented which would have changed the course of history. Needless to say, personal revelation is essential!"

Sister Wilson

Edited to add, from a later email:

Mission conference went amazing! It was soooo fun to have all the musical missionaries in the mission home to spend the evening practicing and then sleeping in the mission home with all my closest friends. The song was GORGEOUS. Go to (I think that's the site) and search "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" and listen to the mp3 of the arrangement. I forgot to record it -- sorry! I'll send pics that sister Bertin sent us from the mission home in a sec. :)

October 27 (and 21. She forgot to hit send last week and we never received our weekly update.)

Rice shovel. Got rice?

Boodle fight... again... this is my "no other choice but rice" face.

Only hands are allowed

Yeah, we were definitely meant to be house mates. 

Our districts got jerseys made. We play together every p-day! Dad - guess what number I had put on my jersey? Yep, 24!!! My lucky number. When I wear it I never miss!!

We all ended up wearing floral on the same day. I bought this outfit at the street market

Sorry everyone, I didn't hit the "send" button on my email last week! My apologies. This is what it said:

On Sunday, the mission president came to our meetinghouse for stake conference. When he said he had "something to discuss with me in private after the meeting," my heart relocated itself to my stomach. After the meeting he told me that he wanted to do something very unusual by making me a sister training leader while I'm still only 8 months in and still training a new missionary. There are only 3 companionship's of STLs in the mission and then there's me, the lone STL. I won't have a trainer to teach me how to do this calling, I get to teach myself. My responsibilities now include taking other sisters from different zones around the mission on exchanges and helping them improve, help sisters with problems, go to leadership council meetings to discuss the needs of the missionaries, and occasionally give workshops in zone training meetings and mission conferences. I am overwhelmed and feeling so unqualified. At the same time, however, I'm humbled and grateful for the opportunity to grow. I can't wait to get to know the sisters of this mission better.

The work itself this week has suffered a bit because of all the meetings we had. Our greatest success this week was probably the Fontamillas family who came to church on Sunday as a family and had a wonderful experience. We've only taught them twice. They loved the focus of families in our church and as they explained it, "ang sarap ng feeling dito!" or in other words, "the feeling here is delicious!" They couldn't believe how happy and friendly everyone was. We got to introduce them to President Bertin and the bishop brought them into his office to eat brownies and meet his family. Then our ward mission leader gave them a church tour. They left feeling so happy that they came. I really feel that they will accept the gospel. 

And this was what I wrote to the mission president in my letter this week if you'd like specifics on the work:

We started off this transfer on a great foot. We have 5 investigators preparing for baptism this coming couple of weeks. Marvin is the husband of our recent convert. He's amazing -- he has read from the title page all the way through Jacob in this fast pew weeks. Last time we taught him, we asked what he had learned from all this reading and he basically taught us The Gospel of Jesus Christ from 2 Nephi 31. He doesn't need coercing or constant reminding, he just genuinely wants to know. The only problem is his work schedule. His family is pretty poor and they need work (he has no days off) and his wife stays home to care for their one autistic son. He came to church a few times but they couldn't stay because the son with problems could not physically control himself. He has panic attacks around large groups of people and they were embarrassed at his behavior. Most of the time they can't find a babysitter so one parent has to stay home. So we're working through that issue, and the ward is doing everything they can to help as well. 

We also have Hershey and Kaycee, a set of 10 year old twins from a part member family, who are pretty rowdy in lessons but keep their commitments nonetheless. We just baptized their cousin last month. 

Then we have Brother and Sister Fontamillas who are attending church and taking lessons but not reading which concerns me. I was trying to decide whether to feel excited or disappointed when they said, "The relationship we have with you two is not purely religious." I don't want them to come for social reasons so we're going to start cutting our lessons shorter and reminding them the purpose of our visits. 

 The highlight of our week this week was when we felt prompted to visit an LA that had not come to church in 4 months. Sister Gison really felt what missionary work was all about in the lesson. Brother Alberto is almost destitute with no wife and 9 children. They don't even have all 4 walls. So Sister Gison wanted to teach him about how the gospel could bless his family. The spirit was so strong and I could tell Alberto felt it. The next Sunday, we climbed into the jeep and there he was, in a white shirt and tie clutching a Book of Mormon with his kids surrounding him. I was amazed. 

Anyway, this week there was a leadership training at the mission home and I ended up being companions with an elder for a day just for traveling. That was pretty weird. The best part was seeing Mama Surio!! She really feels like my big sister. As for the sad news, Dallin H. Oaks ended up receiving a more important assignment so he will not be visiting our mission after all... BUT Elder Lynn G. Robbins who spoke in conference about which way you face will be coming instead. 

Here's a few fun facts for this week: I finally got my hair re-bonded (chemically straightened) so it's beautiful now! Also, I met a Filipino on the jeep last night who, get this: lived in West Jordan for 24 years. He spoke Tagalog until he found out where I was from and then suddenly he turned into an English speaking Filipino with a UTAH accent. It was the weirdest thing of my life. I told him where my house is and he told me the exact coordinates. \And if eating balut the first time wasn't bad enough, Sister Carlota made us eat it again but this time it was fried and on top of rice with vinegar. You'd think that would be better but it's definitely not. 

There's not tons to say beyond this except alam ko na totoo ang simbahan na ito! Sobrang masaya ako dito sa mission. Mahal ko kayo at sana kayong lahat ay maayos. Ingat sa linggo na ito. 

October 12, 2014

Mekenna:  What you see here is the result of stress trying to catch a frog that's harrassing you.  Mom:  Another life skill you would have not otherwise learned....frog catching.  Up for spider wrangling when you get back?  ;)

Spiders? PFFT! That's the easy part! I crush at least 5 every day. They're in my bed sometimes and it's gotten to the point that I don't even care, I just brush it away with my hand. Does no use killing them.
During our weekly planning, a frog jumped through the window onto our desk menacingly. Enjoy this photo

Her District.  Notice she is the only American.  When I asked if they Spoke English or Tagalog, she responded:  "Tagalog. The mission president and wife are annoyed because they put Americans in all Filipino districts to help them learn Enligsh better through practice but they won't do it."

My anak!
I can't stop buying it.  
Add caption
Editor's Note:  I asked if those were power lines or clothes lines.  She said, "HA!  Both."
In case you wanted a visual of when the rice fields flood.  I wasn't kidding. 
It just breaks my heart when the family members of people we teach deny them the use of their agency. We've been forced to drop a great majority of our most progressing investigators because of the rift it has caused in their families. We understand and respect that their families are more important but it's so hard to hear that they are no longer permitted to listen to us and then they regretfully hand us back The Book of Mormon. I just hope the seed in them stays planted so it can be harvested some day. Fun fact: One of them was a 1/2 Iglesia ni Cristo family. In this church they believe that once you join Iglesia you're saved despite what you do in your life and being a member is the only way to be saved. You're charged money if you miss a meeting and they take attendance. They've built an arena (called "The Philippines Arena") here in Manila for when Christ comes again, probably as big as a football stadium. They're all going to flock to it at the second coming and that way all the members of Iglesia will be saved and everyone else in the world will die and go to purgatory. Go figure that one. 

I'm grateful for the guidance of the spirit in missionary life! We were having a lesson with a sister we were considering dropping until she brought over her friend. The friend did NOT want to listen to us and she made that very clear so we just talked to her and tried to be her friend. After we had established the trust we casually gave her a pass-along card and told her where to search to learn more about the church if she ever became interested. Hesitantly she replied, "Well, I do have a few questions..." We answered a few right there and then the questions continued so we asked her if we could have a short 10 minute lesson. That lesson turned into a 45 minute lesson teaching the whole restoration and her accepting a baptismal date. If people don't accept the gospel immediately, have patience and love. That's something really important I've learned here. 

Wasn't General Conference AMAZING? I wasn't expecting to be able to relate to Elder Holland's talk about poverty but it really helped me as I'm teaching people who live in the lap of poverty. I won't go into details because I know everyone watched conference... (right? ;) ) but I know that we have inspired leaders guiding this church. Never before my mission has my testimony and my faith in this gospel been attacked so much as it has been here on my mission. I was strengthened by the talks given on very basic subjects, such as not doubting your testimony of Joseph Smith and being assured that the apostles are chosen by God. I know this church is true. I was given immediate and direct answers to concerns I didn't even know I had. I invite everyone to study the messages given and find out what your Heavenly Father wants you to hear.


Sister Wilson

Editors Note:  Later that evening, a more personal from Mekenna came to the family.  Kenna has commented how the people speak Taglish, not Tagalog, a combination of Tagalog and English.  I asked her to explain the difference.  Then, she explains how she has grown on her mission and is so glad she is serving:

So for us, Shakespeare is complicated to understand right? That's straight Tagalog for them. And many people aren't educated so they don't know it purely because of their low levels of schooling. I don't regret anything! I needed this and I didn't even know it, I'll be so prepared for everything when I get home. I'm realizing everything that I really want and need and life. It's helped me realize that I can do really hard things and conference helped me to realize that I can achieve my full potential. One of the talks, I think the Portuguese one, really helped me when he said, "Is what you're doing right now fulfilling the blessings in your patriarchal blessing?" That really changed things up for me. I will go to BYU and pursue my dream of music. I want to contribute to the growth of the church through music. 

More personal letter to her family, October 5, 2014

Hi family! 

So I went and got my hair cellophaned... absolutely no difference. Probably should have gotten a haircut first but I don't want to, it's so long! It was sooooo funny though cuz there's so many gay people, mostly men being women and they're called "bakla's." It's a trend here. So a bakla did my hair and they were so excited to have a foreignay who could speak Tagalog. Like, it was the highlight of their week.  Also, can you tell me who won the BYU Aggies game? It was on in the chapel as we were waiting for women's conference and I was the only one who understood the significance or even what it was. ;) 

Can you guys send me pictures of fall? I miss fall. :'( No matter what season it's always the peak of June here. We started singing Christmas songs in sacrament meeting this week and Christmas trees started going up at the end of September. Please shoot me now?

I have a question. Did any of you think I could handle my mission? I'm just wondering your thoughts as you sent me off on my mission. I didn't realize what I was getting into but I'm getting to my half way mark next month! I can't believe I'm doing it. Crazy. 

Mom, as for your concern, I got the opportunity of having scripture study with President and Sister Bertin in their home right before we went to bed that night when the 5 of us sisters slept at the mission home. We just went around in a circle and shared a verse from our personal study and why it touched us and it lead to a discussion and bringing up spiritual experiences and other conference talks and it was amazing. If everyone takes it seriously and you invite the spirit through prayer, it will be a good experience. 

Lauren, I've thought about your concern a lot too. When me and all of my house mates are praying at the same time, I'm wondering, "How does Heavenly Father hear and answer all of us at the same time as well as everyone else in the world that is praying right now?" Heavenly Father is our creator, and we have a veil over our eyes. It's meant to be that way and we're not meant to understand everything. That's the test of life, to see if we'll have faith. But he's omnipotent. He can make mountains move. He doesn't have limited capabilities like we do. We're weak, pathetic humans who can't even begin to comprehend all that he can. He has our whole lives planned out, we just don't know it. So why wouldn't he be able to hear the prayers of his children simultaneously? He doesn't have a veil over his mind, he's not confined to a mortal body, and he knows us and our hearts individually. As it says in the BOM, God is still a God of miracles. :)

I love you all! Dad, I'm glad you had a great trip and hope you get home safely. I've made it a goal this week to take more pics of the culture and cool things you guys might enjoy so you can see more of what life is like here. Signing off!\


October 5, 2014

Masayang Monday!

My faith in humanity was restored on the way here. I saw a college student on a motorcycle that we drove past on the jeepney drop his wallet and thousands of pesos fell out. He didn't notice and nearly drove away when everone on our jeep started shouting, "WALLET! WALLET!" And he scrambled to pick it all up. About 5 minutes later he managed to chase down the jeep to thank all of us. These are good people. :)

The work this week has improved a lot. The YSA we baptized last week, Jhanice, has two twin cousins that came to us saying they want to be taught and baptized. When I wasked them what gave them the desire, they said that they could see how Jhanice has changed since we started teaching her and they want to be as happy as she is. I about cried.
We visited one of our investigators with a bap date and were super disappointed to find him there with a hangover headache having been wasted the night before... this is the third time we have found him in this condition after having taught the WOW. He resisted letting us in to teach him so I had to go a little out of my comfort zone and be bold. I can't believe in retrospect that I actually said this, but I said, "Brother Pomposo, do you want to keep feeling liek this? Is this the life you want to live? Is this the life you want your family to have? Why did you accept the invitation to be baptized? You said you wanted to improve your family life through living the way Christ would have you live and that's what we're here to help you with." A little speechless he let us right in and we taught a powerful lesson on the atonement. The spirit was so strong. We recommitted him to live the WOW for his family's sake so we're hoping to see some good progress.

Sister Gison and I have gained a testimony of fasting this week. We opened up our fast really seeking progress from our investigators but instead had a bunch of new people dropped in our laps and the old one texted us not to come back. It was like Heavenly Father was saying, "Here, take these people. You don't want those ones, they're not ready yet." It was like our heads were being pulled the opposite direction. We went to visit an investigator who was not home so we went to the less active sister next door. About 60 seconds later a lady shows up at the doorstep with a BOM in hand. She asked, "Are you Mormons? I was given this book a long time ago but I have no idea what it is. I always see you two and I was wondering if you could tell me about it." Immediately we sat down and taught her the restoration. We answered every question she had in the BOM and she was amazed. After we came out of that lesson a jeepney driver asked us the same question, "Are you Mormons?" which opened up a 15 minute discussion righ tthere on the jeep! Miraculously we wer ethe only passengers (which NEVER happens) and by the end he asked, "So what are the restrictions on coming to church? What do I wear?" I cannot even describe the feelings of excitement. The next day at church was an even bigger miracle - Carlota, our recent convert, has an autistic son who has panic attacks in public so she's never been able to bring her husband or son to church. Well that morning she brought both and as a tender mercy, her son was able to sit through sacrament meeting. They're going to expose him little by little to the world so that her husband can attend church and be baptized. I am absolutely thrilled. Everyone was at church! Fasting really does work as long as we have the faith to match the desire! 

I love you all!

PS -- NO, we have not seen conference yet. We will always have a week of delay. We will see it next week so no spoilers please!

Sister Wilson