|All of us with our flight plans.|
Back Row: Sister Patolo, Sister Temwaaka, Elder Wooden, Sister Ramsey
Bottom Row: Me, Sister Johnson,Sister Carter, Elder Williamson
A lot has happened this week so I am excited to tell you.
Ok so Tuesday night I went to choir practice, for the devotional that night, and it became obvious that we were having a very special guest. Besides the choir director explicitly telling us that we had an amazing speaker that night, he wanted us to sing for the occasion and was directing us with the spirit.
We sang "Nearer My God to Thee," which is already one of my favorite hymns but with some background about it and his testimony, he gave it so much more meaning. I had no idea, but the song is about Jacob and Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of pottage. He told the entire story like I had never heard or studied before (and I urge you to read it again: it starts in Genesis 25).
Anyway everyone was so engaged in the story, and then he talks about how after Jacob received the blessing from his father, his mom told him to run away into the forest before Esau came back to kill him. He ran with no belongings into the wilderness, with a rock for a pillow. That night he has a dream that he climbs up a ladder into Heaven with angels surrounding him. The choir director said that one of the G.A.'s (can't remember which one) explained that he was receiving his endowments. Jacob wakes up and feels that place is so spiritual that he dedicates it and calls it Bethel.
Anyway, I developed a much deeper love for the song and the simple, yet profound lyrics. Singing it with the MTC choir is an incredible experience. When we sang the climax, with like 6 different harmonies, chills ran down my spine. It was so powerful and the spirit was so strong. And it set the stage for... guess who...Elder Bednar!! AGAIN!!! He was the last person that I expected to walk into the room because we didn't think that we would be getting another G.A. speaking to us, but he JUST CAME on Christmas.
It was amazing and there was gasp across the room when he walked in. Such an incredible surprise. He said that when he came to speak on Christmas, he received around 1,000 questions from missionaries across the world. So him and his wife prepared to answer what they thought were some of the most important and heartfelt questions.
It was amazing. He is definitely one of, if not my favorite apostle now. Wowzaaaas. They definitely had a theme of faith going. He stressed that Belief does not require action, but faith DOES. It isn't faith if you know beforehand the outcome. You must act and then power comes after. I am trying to strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ and that sa pamamagitan Siya, at pagbabayad-Sala niya (through him and his atonement) I can become the missionary that I want to become. I can bring others to Christ and fulfill my purpose.
Another thing that I loved that he said was, if you ever get into any situation where you don't know what to say on your mission, you feel tongue tied or like you don't know how to answer a question, he said that you should bear testimony of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith. Nothing brings the spirit more. He also bore his own testimony about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the spirit was so thick, you couldn't miss it.
Later that evening, we had a devotional within my little 8 person district, and I did that very thing. I bore my testimony of the restoration and I could feel the truthfulness of it in my soul. I know that it is true - the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored again on Earth.
Anyway, the next day I was so excited to host the incoming missionaries at the MTC, but unfortunately I was experiencing some health problems. I have always considered myself blessed with good health and when I heard of other missionaries having health problems I felt sorry for them, but never really put myself in that situation. I ended up having to leave the MTC to go see a specialist and it was definitely a trial of my faith. He said that I would possibly have to stay at the MTC for another 2 or 3 weeks which was the last thing that I wanted to hear. I was feeling pretty down, but I just remembered that I need to have faith in Heavenly Father and His plan for me. His plan is perfect. My teacher wrote me a note sharing her own experience - when she was in the MTC, she had to home for about 5 months to get surgery on her leg. She gave me some scriptures and bore her testimony. It helped a lot. Now, everything looks good and I will be leaving with everyone else Monday, January 27th!!!! I am so grateful and excited to embark to the Philippines. I didn't get to host any of the new missionaries, but I will be able to next week! :)
|Me & Sister Temwaaka|
Another funny thing that happened after we went to the Temple last Monday...I told you about the protester who screams at us the whole time we walk to the temple right? He is yelling at us about how we aren't Christian and things like that...kneeling down and screaming. Anyway, we went back to class later that day and Brother Langer was teaching and someone brought up the protester. Sister Temwaaka started imitating him and said in a loud low voice, raising her hands above her head, "I love you Jesus!!!" It was so unexpected and all of us couldn't help but burst out laughing. My teacher seriously could not stop laughing. You know that if you can get Brother Langer to start laughing then you have done a good job. She didn't really know it wasn't very appropriate but it was totally fine. We just laughed it off, but I had tears in my eyes.
She is seriously the best though. Such a good example to me and sometimes her advice is so simple, but wise and powerful. One day, I was feeling frustrated, and we weren't communicating very well. I pulled her aside and we were talking about it and she said, don't be sad. Just forget about it, take it, and throw it away. And she motioned in the air like she was grabbing something from her head (the problem, and then throwing it away behind her). It's true, you can't let something get you down. You just need to put it out of your mind and move on. She said that she thinks sometimes, "Satan try to separate us, so sometimes I hate you. But then I take it, throw it away, and I love you!!" Haha you'll always have, even small issues in your companionship, but we always work through it and we love each other a lot. We are both so sad that we only have 7 more days together:( I hope that her next companion takes good care of her and helps her with the language.
We have been working a little bit better together in our lessons, and we committed challenging Toni, our strict Catholic investigator, to baptism. It felt awesome, even though I know that it is all fake. I can't imagine what it will really feel like in the field.
The new district came into our zone and they are ALL ELDERS. Nuts. Haha but they are the best Elders. So dedicated and driven. Mabuting Mabuting mga halimbawa sila para sa akin. They are amazing examples to me.
|Me, Sister Carter, Sister Patolo, & Sister Johnson.|
Sister Patolo, me, and one of the new elders decided to sing together on Sunday. We ended up singing "Nearer My God To Thee" again. We couldn't find someone to accompany, and so we decided to sing lahat acapella. We practiced in our building in the stairwell because it has a little bit better acoustics, and I have to admit that our voices blended really well. The Elder has a really nice deep voice. Anyway, we were practicing really fast, and all of a sudden other Elders on the floor below started singing with us in another language. Then another Sister came and was singing with us Sa Tagalog and pretty soon there were 15 Elders and Sisters all singing together in different languages. It was such a cool experience and just put a smile on my face. I love music so much - it is one of the things that I miss the very most and it brings the spirit so strong. We sang it in sacrament and it went well I think. I also had to give a talk in Tagalog!! Haha I was pretty nervous!! I think I had a good poker face because I asked everyone if they could tell I was nervous and they couldn't. But one of the presidency came up to me afterwards and said he could see my skirt shaking in the back. He said I was having the Nephites behind the stand (my knees shaking back and forth fighting each other). Haha I tried to cover it though!! So funny...
My teachers told me they are happy with my progress in the language, that I have the grammar down, but I just need to work on increasing my vocab. So that is good news but I know that I still have a long way to go! I will just keep working hard but hopefully being immersed in the Philippines it will become easier to master. It is still frustrating and difficult but I know that through Jesus Christ I can do it in order to love and serve the maraming mga tao sa Pilipinas (many people in the Philippines).
Anyway, last thing I will tell you about is last night. Sheri Dew came to speak with us and it was amazing. She asked, are we exercising our agency to allow the spirit to communicate to us? It felt like her talk was directed at me. One of the biggest things that I am trying to work on my ability to recognize and act on the spirit and personal revelation. As she put it last night, I am trying to become fluent in the language of personal revelation. I hope to continue to develop that ability so that I can best invite others unto Christ.
This morning we went to the temple and saw the new movie. I actually loved it. It's different, but they're all the same.. ya know? I liked it and the spirit was strong.
I love and think about pamilya ko all the time. You are always in my prayers. I am so happy to hear about all the amazing things that are happening at home.
Sister Haley Rasmussen
P.S. I memorized the first vision sa Tagalog. Only me and another sister did it in our district. I feel pretty cool. But I'm not getting prideful. Love you:)