(Farewell to President Peterson ... so sad ... crying crying)
Minamahal pamilya ko! Namimiss ko kayong lahat. I have a lot to tell you so as a preface to this letter I will probably have some grammatical errors... no not because I am forgetting English. But rather because I am typing as fast "as a bat out of hell" (mom's saying).
|President, Me, & Sister Peterson|
Ok so first off... ahhhh this week we had our last zone conference with President Peterson. Oh my goodness..... I haven't cried that much in a long time. Not only was the spirit strong but we are going to miss him sooo much. Him and his wife are such incredible people and I wouldn't be surprised if he is a general authority someday. I have learned so much from him and even though I have only had him as a president for 4 1/2 months, I am so grateful. And we learned sooo many incredible things at the conference, so I will try and share with you:
First, Sister Peterson shared with us the doctrine of family. Apparently the area presidency in the Philippines asked that they focus on the family during this zone conference. Siguro to help those we teach (members and investigators) create strong families, because as we know the family is the basic unit of the church and of our societies. Also, I am grateful she talked about this so that when I go home and someday have my own family I can apply the things that I learned. Plus President and Sister Peterson have been married about 40 years and they are such a great example of a strong marriage.
She focused a lot on "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" I encourage all of you to read it again. But she said there are 5 things that we must have in order to have a happy marriage
1) You must regard your marriage as priceless (consider the covenant that each of you individually made in the temple. God considers it priceless, which is why families.. eternal families are central to the gospel and our acquisition of eternal life)
2)Built on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As you come closer to Christ, you both inevitably come closer together.
3) Repentance. (ibig sabihin humility... ready to work on your own short comings and faults before you criticize your spouse. How can you both humble yourselves and repent.)
4) Respect. In great marriages, the couple makes decisions together. Completely loyal, open, and absolutely no secrets. I love this: She emphasized, "Cooperation, not negotiation."
5) Last: Love. Siyempre. President says that at the time he married his wife, he thought he couldn't love her anymore. He could not comprehend the idea that he could love her anymore than he did at that time. But he says now, looking in retrospect, that was puppy love. They went through some hard times, but the love he feels for her now is 40x that. He said, "Just imagine what it will be 400 years from now, 4,000 years from now, 4,000,000 years from now. Siguro our little human minds can't comprehend the love that will be perpetuated beyond the grave. Anyway, I am not as eloquent as them, but I hope you get the idea.
Also one little quote I love that they had hanging in their home: "The most important things in life aren't things."
In the proclamation to the family it explicitly states that at the judgement day, we will be held accountable before God for the discharge of our obligations in marriage. This is serious business haha.
Ok next. One thing that I love about President and that I have learned from him is how to connect everything to the simple doctrine. Everything stems from the Doctrine of Christ. Everything. And furthermore, everything stems from the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They proceeded to do a question and answer and someone asked: "How can you maintain a holy home?"
He said that you must avoid contention at all costs. He also said that your home should be like a triangle sliced into three parts, where the biggest bottom tier is doctrine. The middle tier (which is smaller) are principles. The very top and tiniest part of the triangle are rules. He said that you must spend most of your time focused on and teaching the doctrine. If your children understand the doctrine, then you won't even need the rule. He said that often time in homes, all the focus is on rules and so of course the children don't want to keep them - because they don't understand the simple doctrine behind it.
Someone asked him what the biggest thing is he has learned from being a mission president. He said there is an infinite amount of learning, but the first thing that popped into his head and amazed him is the fact that the Lord's work will go forward. That even though he puts it into the hand of a bunch of (sometimes stupid, immature, and humble) 18-21 year olds. The work will inevitably go forward. That this is His work and absolutely nothing can stop it. As a missionary, I can feel the enabling power of the Atonement working through me, doing and learning things that I never thought were possible.
Him and his wife also said that this is the most humbling experience that he has ever had. That as he as learned so much, they have realized how much more they still need to learn.
Something that I thought you might find interesting. Someone asked him from the time that he served as a young missionary in the Philippines, until now as a mission president, what is the progress that he has seen?
He said that back when he first served here, there were 3,500 members in the entire country, only one chapel (the rest were meeting houses that the missionaries lived above in an apartment). He said the missionaries did everything for church: presided, conducted, blessed the sacrament, passed it, gave the talk, conducted, etc. Absolutely everything. He said that they never worked with members. That all they could do was tract. Tract from sun up to sun down. Hahahah he joked that we could never give him a hard time about tracting because we have never experience tracting like him.
Now, there are 700,000 members in the Philippines (many of which are involved in the work), two temples (and one on the way). The Philippines is the fastest growing area in the whole world for the church. Of course with that there are problems, like the large amount of inactives... but still!! It is pretty incredible to hear about the progress.
He focused a long time talking about Priesthood keys (another area I need to spend some time studying... I realized how much I don't know about the priesthood haha). But he finally explained that the new president has the keys to be our President. That he will come and will be qualified to help move this work forward, and his last assignment for us to welcome him with love and excitement and be completely loyal to him. I think President Peterson knows how much we love, respect, and look up to him. He has been such an AMAZING president, but he wants us to show that same kind of love for the new president. It will be hard, but I know that I will love him too and will have lots to learn from him as well... for a whole nother YEAR!!!
At the end President Peterson gave all of us a hug and I was crying so hard I couldn't even look at him but he just stopped and thanked me for my faith and example on this mission. He made me promise that I would write him at the end of my mission and give him a report. I want to visit him when I go home! ahhhhh
That's my next point. I have now (well in two days) been serving a mission for 6 months. I don't understand. That went by SOOO FAST. Holy cow. I am so grateful that I have another year to continue to learn, improve, and of course serve these beautiful people here in the Philippines. It's true - I am so happy. Probably the happiest I have been in my life. And not to sound naive, but I thought I had a pretty happy life before. I have learned sooo much. I am pretty happy about my language skills... I feel as though I can say and understand almost everything (which I have worked for but the gift of tongues is so real. It feels like I have known this language forever). But overall, I think I have just really learned what is important in life. We can't let the insignificant and trivial things in life take priority over that which is the most important in life - our families and the gospel. Our first priority every single day should be our scriptures and prayer. We need to keep the Sabbath day holy every week. It is just those little daily decisions that will not just help us get by.... not just help us get through... or not even just help us to repent and receive forgiveness.... but also to help us grow. Grow at a faster pace. Learn all that we can. Really come to know Jesus Christ. Because after death... we can't bring with us all of those little things. Those little insignificant things. We bring our relationships and our knowledge - so why do we so often put those things at last priority. It is easy to forget in the midst of normal life but we must force ourselves to remember.
So I commit all of you right now to read your scriptures every day (even if it is just 15 minutes... we all have 15 minutes) and KNEEL and pray twice a day. Why? Because we have faith in and love Jesus Christ. Because we have faith in following His example and keeping ALL of his commandments. At least. Anyway... you probably already all do this. It's just that as I have been here, I have realized how backwards my priorities were before I came.
Anyway.... ok! So on Monday this week, we went to this restaurant for my birthday, and the two zone leaders because we were all within one week of each other. It was this restaurant on the beach where we could see the entire view of the ocean and beach and little islands.
INCREDIBLE. And the food was delicious. I got chicken curry because I miss Thai food so much and it was masarap. Haha but I will send a picture. We went with our little family of 6 here in Calapan. (since mom asked, it is pronounce cah-lah-pahn), Super fun and for a second there I didn't even feel like I was on a mission but was on vacation.
Later that night we went to teach one of their old investigators and she ran out and wouldn't talk to us. Haha she basically threw the Book of Mormon back at us and said that her pastor wouldn't let her talk to us. My companion was pretty bummed about it but to be honest, it was just kind of funny to me and I thought... "Sweet. We were almost out of mga Aklat ni Mormon so now we can use this week with our other investigators." Haha but we just laughed it off and realized that whenever one door closes, another opens.
Tuesday, we went to Lipa and we had to catch the 2:30 boat so we just spent the day there kind of hanging out because we didn't have anywhere to go until the Sisters got back so we could go and sleep at their apartment in Lipa. Wednesday was the zone conference and then Thursday, we had exchanges with the STL's. It was a great birthday. I learned so much from Sister Lacanienta and then we got ice cream and the sisters bought a cake and some pants for me.
It was simple, and just super fun. President also called me which made my day. The last time I will be talking to him before I go home.
Then we just worked in our area the past few days. It has been a little bit of a weak area but I know that we will be able to exercise our faith and it can become successful. We had 5 investigators come to church which is good, and we are excited. I will have some cooler stories about people as I actually work in my area this week.
I love all of you so much. Thank you for your support and for helping me to have a good birthday.
Love Sister Rasmussen