(Happy birthday to me! Just joking .. haha)
Oh my goodness I have so much to tell you in so little time. But let me just first say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who wrote me a letter or a note for my birthday. That was sooooo sweet and nice of everyone and I loved it. I love having handwritten letters as well. Thank you so much. I did receive the package early so of course I have already opened it... that's ridiculous... haha but I will read those notes over and over. Thank you! I love you all.
|Sister Tafiti & me sitting in the computer shop right now.|
OK! So I will start with the biggest news. Ahhhhh.... I GOT
TRANSFERRED!!! So amazing. AND... not only that.... I got transferred to Calapan, Mindoro. Now, I am sure that doesn't mean anything to you but let me explain. Mindoro is one of the two islands in the mission and everyone refers to it as the "promised land." It is soooo beautiful here. I have always heard people rave about Mindoro and I can't believe I was one of the chosen ones to get sent here. In fact, all last transfer, Sister Hingano was saying that she wouldn't mind getting transferred as long as she got sent here. I feel so blessed.
|On the boat ride to Mindoro|
It has started to rain and I loveeeee the rain. But when it rains and we ride on the tricycles I am too cold. I hate that. I'm like... I thought I came to the Philippines where I would just be warm and happy hahahaha.
|Sister Tafiti & Me|
The new branch is also amazing but there is a lot of drama because the old President would just let anything go and would often go over budget. Well a lot of members are offended because the new President goes strictly by the Red Handbook, so he is not so laid back. He is a very good and effective President (not like my last Bishop).. but yeahhh.... Philippinos get offended very easily. So we are trying to deal with that. There are lots and lots of less-actives in this area. Lots of work but my companion and I made a new vision for the area on Friday and set some good goals so we are excited to get to work! In this branch there are two elders, the ZL's and us four sisters. So we have a little family here in Calapan. In fact yesterday we all cooked Sunday dinner together but the elders aren't allowed in our apartment so they just stayed outside (the stove is outside) and then we brought the table out and all ate in front of our apartment. It was fun and it's nice to feel like we have a family here haha am living with Sister Bennion who is from Orem and Sister Lero who is Philippino. They are both so sweet and hard workers so I am excited to live with them and learn from them too.
|we weeded gardens at an elementary school. Kinda fun.|
We have some investigators here that we are really excited about. Brother Wayne is 19 and grew up in the church, but now is family is broken and they have all found different religions. He is searching for the truth and still remembers the feelings he had while attending the Mormon church when he was young. He is super interested and I honestly think he will be baptized within the transfer. We have another referral named Sam who is 31 and is all alone (his dad left a long time ago and all his family has moved to different parts of the Philippines). He is living with his aunt who referred us to him, and she is a very active member. I also just think it is good timing for him... he is prepared and we're excited.
And lastly Alex....oh Alex.... Alex is about 40 and lives on the beach. We went to teach him Friday but he was passed out drunk outside of his house. We went back to teach him Saturday and he was so embarrassed and just sad. He just asked us, "why is life like this? Why is life so hard?" He kept saying how he just feels like he has so many sins and they are so heavy. His wife left him a long time ago, and you can tell that his alcohol addiction really affects his two sons that live with them... they're super sad about and embarrassed of their father. He really really needs the atonement. He is humble and ready for the truth, but he needs to overcome his alcohol addiction in order to be sober enough for us to really teach him and of course so he can eventually be baptized. I hope to be able to help him make a change in his life. Seeing things like this just really makes me hate alcohol... well really just sin in general. Satan is so good at making something seem appealing and like it will bring you happiness until he can just catch you and drag you down to unhappiness.
That's the best part of being a missionary, is to witness that change in people's lives. To see the atonement work on them. When I was on an exchange with Sister Ika, we visited one of her recent converts. He is a living testimony of this. He is about 75 years old, and when they first found him, he was completely blind, hunched over, only looking down, he had no roof on half of his home, he felt completely hopeless, and on the very day he was contemplating suicide. His first wife died and his second wife left him with all of his kids. When I met him, he was smiley, standing up tall, and had a glow to his countenance. For a service project, some of the members in that ward built a roof for him, for which he is so grateful. He can now see a little bit (if he holds up images or things really close to his eyes) and is able to walk to church every Sunday. Even his neighbors notice the change that has come upon him. One of the members in the ward reads the Book of Mormon to him every day. It is just incredible. He is so happy now and views himself as a son of God with value. He has such a strong testimony, and while teaching him I could feel the spirit so strong. That is the sweetest part of missionary work. To see the change, the atonement in their lives, and the blessings from the gospel. To know that you are really making a difference.
I love all of you so much. Thank you again for the letters. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else for my birthday. I love Jesus Christ and His gospel, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share it with my brothers and sisters. Oh, how much I have learned and how much I still have to learn.
|In front of my apartment|
Just as Cynthia Haller says, "A mission is college for the soul." Tell her thank you for her incredible example to me and support. I often think about what an incredible missionary she must have been.
Love ya tons!
|Sister Tafiti did my hair super cool!|