Monday, October 27, 2014

Hello po!!

Hello Family!!! 

Well I am doing much better this week.  It has been a very busy but very rewarding week.  I have learned that it truly is not about success but is about sacrifice.  And when you are sacrificing everything you can, you are so happy and the Holy Ghost is telling you that what you are doing is pleasing to the Lord.

This week, Sister Martinez and I jumped back into the work full force.  It has been a focus in the mission to "open your mouth" with as many people as possible.  This week, Sister Martinez and I set a goal to share 100 times... something I honestly didn't think was possible before on my mission.  We reached our goal and I realized that not only was it possible but it wasn't that difficult.  We are going to try and hit even more this week.  Again, it's not about the number but just the fact that we are finding more and more souls who are prepared to receive the Restored gospel.

Another thing that I have realized this week is that people won't understand everything.. and they don't have to.  I think as a missionary, or even just as a member you come to understand how logical and perfect the gospel is.  You understand the doctrines and principles and history and how it is all so perfectly related.  You want the person you are teaching to understand everything at once... sometimes I feel like I just want to put my brain in their head.  "If only they understood THIS... then they would KNOW."  Anyway.... I have come to understand that it really doesn't matter that they understand everything.  Of course I know that it is more important how they feel, but I have come to understand this concept even more this week.  Especially in our first lessons, we are really trying to find their biggest interest, concern, or question and just try and help them to have a spiritual experience.  Help them truly feel the Holy Ghost to motivate them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  Anyway, it's hard to truly explain everything but our teaching has been NIGHT and DAY different.  It is completely by the spirit and has been so powerful.

For example, we contacted a referral this week, Arlene, who was previously taught by the missionaries but she wans't that interested and had no desire to go to church.  But our first lesson with her was sooo simple but completely focused on her.  The spirit was so strong and afterwards she was excited to come to church.  I don't really know how to explain it all but I  LOVE teaching and every aspect of missionary work has become more fulfilling as we try and work more by the spirit.

We taught Ryan and Joanne twice this week and they are so converted. Ahhhhh! They really really want to get baptized and married but they went home last week to explain to their parents about it and we find out tonight what happened.  I hope that we can help them understand that whatever their parents say or do... they still have their agency to choose the right and follow Jesus Christ.  If they can exercise their faith, even if right now it is difficult with their family, in the end it will all be ok.  I guess the beautiful lesson made up for the fact that I was freaking out walking to and from their house because the alleyway is CRAWLING WITH COCKROACHES.  I'm sorry but I can't handle it and I will never get used to it.  My companion also laughed at me as I screamed and ran out of our house when I saw a giant one right above her head.  I don't understand how they don't bother her but she is deathly afraid of frogs.  Haha...
We also had another miracle with Erika and Randy.  RJ Bisaya came and worked with us to teach them and shared a very simple but powerful message about how through small and simple things, great things come to pass.  (always better with members)  Since then, Randy has gone 4 days without smoking, and they have read and prayed every day.  Yesterday, they were at church before us haha.
Wednesday night we had interviews with President Mangum.  I thought that I couldn't love anyone more than President Peterson, but I am so happy and grateful that President Mangum is my President.  He is a man of understanding and so humble.  He knows just what to say and how to say it - it's not all sugar coated but straight to the point.  I also didn't think it was possible to be more strict than President Peterson... haha but I was definitely wrong.  I think President Mangum is one of the most strict Presidents that are serving now.  But honestly I love it.  I wouldn't want it any other way.  I am starting to understand what it means to completely give up your will for the Lord's.  The more obedient and consecrated you come the more the Lord will bless you.  It's like the law of gravity.  You throw something up and it will always come down.  You obey God's commandments and you will always be blessed.

Another miracle happened with Sister Dorina Ting.  She owns a shop across the street from our house and was baptized a year ago yesterday.  The problem is she started drinking after she got baptized, was ashamed, then got really sick and stopped coming to church.  We would always try and set appointments with her and she would avoid it.  I was starting to lose hope for her and her kids but earlier this week we went and taught her with the Relief Society President, Nanay Norma.  I think she felt obligated to let us in because we were with Norma.  But we had a super spiritual lesson and she was at church before us as well on Sunday.  Reactivation and retention is just as fulfilling work as teaching investigators.  We will keep working with her and trying to retain the fruits.

One funny thing did happen earlier this week as we were talking with some people at a BRGY Hall one of the lady's kept telling me I looked like Barbie and was grabbing my face and squeeling like I was a baby.  Sister Martinez couldn't stop laughing because she said she could tell I felt super uncomfortable and had a pretty fake smile on my face.  Then she proceeded to call in all these men off the street to come in and meet me and it was sooo awkward.  Haha I wish I had a video of the whole situation but we got out of there pretty fast.

Sister Martinez and Me
I love Sister Martinez so much.  She is so dramatic and funny and always makes me feel better.  Lately I have been punishing her (if she deserves it) by tickling her.  Hahaha she immediately drops to the ground and begs me to stop.  It is so pitiful I have to stop... We have lots of fun cooking together.  We eat all sorts of fruits and vegetables - papaya, banana, mangoes, rambutan, lanzones, mangustine, pineapple, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, other leafy vegetables, squash, green beans, tomatoes, and onions and garlic every single day.  I wonder if you will like the food here because they ALWAYS use garlic.  I hope you do.  I think you will. We have been teaching each other a lot of sayings in English and Tagalog and cultural facts about the different places from which we come.

I will be sad to part from her.

I love it here.  I love you all.  It won't be long before we skype!! You are all in my prayers.

Love, Sister Rasmussen

Monday, October 20, 2014

Growing through trials

Elder Cranston, Me,& Sister Cranston

Well this has been one of the hardest weeks on my mission.  It seems like just when Sister Martinez and I were getting really excited about our vision and plans this last transfer here in Calapan, is the time when the trials came.
I had gotten sick last weekend and I thought that I would be all better and ready go for this week.  Monday night, we were really excited about a family home evening that we had planned with the district president and Randy and Erika.  They had made all of this food and the district president was planning on giving Randy a blessing to help him quit smoking.  When we went to pick up Randy and Erika they weren't ready.  Long story short, they got in a fight while we were there, because Erika had not done their laundry earlier and all he had to wear was a shirt that was half wet.  He literally didn't have anything else too wear and was too embarrassed to go.  They started arguing... yelling... and as we were waiting outside the door Randy hit Erika in the head.  She ran out bawling and we went out to comfort her.  She wants so badly to be baptized but this was just confirmation of the feelings that we were having about Randy... he is not yet converted.  She ended up still going to the family home evening and district president ended up giving a blessing of comfort to Erika.  She said that while they were blessing her, she could feel the "bad spirit" and anger leave her body.  She wants to get baptized, but she can't until they get married, and we know that we really need to help resolve Randy's concerns.
That night, the Cranston's gave us a ride home and they were really concerned about my health.  I was really congested and had a cough in my chest but I just figured that I would get better within a couple days.  After talking to Sister Galbraith (the mission health adviser), she said that I should just go to the doctor to get some medicine and make sure it's not serious.  Well that ended up taking a good 4 hours, and the doctor didn't run tests or anything.  I felt like he just looked in my mouth, patted me on the back, and then said I had an infection in my respiratory system.  He prescribed me all of this expensive medication including an inhaler for asthma (which makes no sense haha).  The next day, I thought I would be better and we went to the district meeting but I couldn't even think and I was having so much pressure on my ears (the feeling you have when you go on an airplane).  The zone leader suggested that I just rest for the day.... but of course... I was feeling a bunch of guilt for staying inside and not going out to work.
Thursday, we went out to work and I was trying my best to work normal but I couldn't think..... hahah I was so awkward every time we were talking to anyone because I didn't know what to say. hahahha I wish I had some of those conversations recorded.  Everyone was asking me if i was sick.  This whole time I was feeling so frustrated.  I was losing my faith and hope in the work and started having negative thoughts about the work that I had done so far on my mission.  I just felt really unmotivated and pessimistic.  The next day I talked to President Mangum and he explained that I just need to rest until I am 100% instead of going out at 60% and then staying sick for two weeks.  It gave me peace of mind after talking to him and so we ended up resting for two more days.
It is hard to explain how I was truly feeling during all of this.... and perhaps to you it seems a little dramatic.  But I just felt such a desire to go out and work.  I did have many epiphanies during this time of contemplation.  At one point I was looking back on my mission and wondering if I have even been effective because of my number of baptisms.  I have only had 4 baptisms so far on my mission, ... but I realized that 4 people that I found and taught got baptized after I left Rosario and I can still find and teach others who will get baptized here in Calapan.  But through more pondering and prayer I have really come to understand that it is not about numbers.  And even if there are things that I wish I could have changed in the past.... it doesn't matter.  You can't change the past.  All you can do is repent, change, and make use of the time now, looking forward with faith to the future.  I feel humbled and I have gained a greater measure of charity as I helped Sister Hingano through a couple emotional breakdowns (because of the work and family), even when I myself felt downhearted.  I felt that even though I was suffering, I could see and sympathize with those who are also suffering.  AND I truly do feel that our teaching is going to change dramatically.
I talked with the zone leader and spent a lot of time studying how to follow the spirit and teach people, not lessons.  From now on, Sister Martinez are going to change a lot of things about our teaching.  We are really excited to see what will be the effect and we feel that we will be able to help more people reach true conversion, faster.  I feel a new sense of faith and hope and although (because of the things happening these past couple weeks) I won't see any more baptisms here in Calapan (before I get transferred), I know that I can still prepare our investigators and find new investigators to enter into the waters of baptism.
Missionary work is hard and I feel more aware of my weaknesses now than ever, I also really realized that I CANNOT compare myself to others but I am so grateful that I am here.  I still have a good 8 months left, and I will make use of every second.  I miss all of you and appreciate your prayers and support.

Love you!!

Love, Sister Rasmussen

Monday, October 13, 2014

Maligayang Kaarawan kay Gregorio!!

"Happy Birthday with Gregorio !!"

Hello po family!!!

I first just want to say Happy Late Birthday to Greg.  I thought about you all yesterday, but I guess that I can still send this in time for it to arrive to you on your birthday.  I hope you know that I love you so much.  I am so grateful for your example and everything you have taught me as your little sister.  I am so proud of your hard work and the things that you are accomplishing in your life right now.  I love you and I am excited to visit you again para maglokohan and magtawanan tayo.  (which means in order to go crazy, make fun of, and laugh together).

Well this week was severely halted with crazy utility problems.  These were definitely not the types of trials that I anticipated before coming on my mission.  Basically our water bill has been 500 pesos, give or take, every month for the whole year.  But last month it spiked up to 2,800 pesos which means it was almost 6x as much!!  We went through a lot of trouble trying to have them come check the meter and ended up spending about 3 days, 4 hours each, in their office.  Finally, they came to the conclusion that the meter IS broken.  But, because it appears to be moving slowly, we still have to pay the full bill, AND pay for the meter test, which makes no sense.  But.... I guess that is just one aspect of living here in the Philippines.  There are some good things and conveniences about living there in America:)  (Beau... haha)

Anyway... I guess it is just Satan's way of attacking the work.  On top of that I got really sick for a couple days and am still recovering.  But this week Sister Martinez and I have set some really high goals and have recommitted our faith in the Savior.  We are really excited about what is going to happen.  I got another blessing for my sickness.... I know.... kawawa.... but it said that if I would consecrate myself more to the Lord, then I would be healed and would see miracles in our work.  So.... we are both committed to consecrating ourselves this week. I still have about half my mission ahead of me and I want to make use of every minute.

Sister Lero got replaced by Sister Casila (another Philippina) and she is super sweet and funny.  There is a completely different feeling in the apartment.  We are all laughing and loving one another.  It sounds silly talking about it or that that even has to be an issue among missionaries.

The weather is pretty moderate.  Sometimes it will rain but it hasn't affected us too much.  It just kind of seems the same haha.  I love it though and I hate going in Air Conditioned rooms.
I know that conference was a week ago for you but we watched it this weekend and it was AMAZING!!! HOLY COW.  This one touched me like none other!!  I really loved  Neil Anderson's, Christofferson’s, Holland’s, Jorg Klebingot’s and Scott's talk about faith and the emotion with which he delivered it.  I challenge you to all read it again.  I can already forsee the challenges and temptations that I will face when I go home back to BYU.  It is easy to become distracted by the things that have much less importance.  But we have to prioritize.  Nothing... really nothing... even sleep... is more important than our sincere, kneeling prayers, scripture study, and temples.  I pray for you and I to keep the resolve to not just say but actually do these small things daily, and weekly, even with all of the distractions of life.

I know that I will have more interesting things to report to you next week.  I thank you for your love and prayers.  I love you!

Sister Rasmussen

Monday, October 6, 2014

Miraculous week

My dear family,

I have been so excited to e-mail you and tell you about this week.  Let me start by saying that I have really come to understand better how Heavenly Father truly knows us one-by-one, by name.  It is so hard to understand, when there are billions of people in the world, and even more in all of history, but the Creator of the world loves us way more than we know, and knows us better than we know ourselves.

I also would like to preface by saying that I usually send you all the great things that happen each week.  Of course, there are hard days and disappointments, but there are always blessings and I want to let you know about the amazing things I am experiencing here.  I hope this isn't sending off the impression that I am a "robot missionary" haha like what Julie Webb mentioned in one of her e-mails to me.  I still have lots of hard days, sometimes I feel unmotivated, frustrated, annoyed.  I am still the goofy, silly, sarcastic, dramatic, sometimes outrageous, Haley.  Haha I truly feel that my personality hasn't really changed that much... but I do feel like my heart has changed.  I feel converted to the gospel.  Truly.

But, I guess that the past few weeks I was having a harder time than I realized.  I was falling into a relatively stressed and somewhat depressed state but I felt like I was fine and I just kept pushing on.  Finally, Wednesday Sister Martinez and I sat down to study after District Meeting and I was just feeling really frustrated and like I wasn't doing enough.  During companionship study we were looking at the "Adjusting to Missionary Life Manual" and they have a scale for stress.  I realized that on a scale from green to red, I had almost all the symptoms for orange.  It looked like I had been there for about 3 weeks, but I just kept going.  Instead of being stressed (which is actually good), I was becoming distressed and counter-productive.  I was reading all of the ways to deal with it and still felt a little hopeless.

Right at that moment the Zone Leaders and the Cranston couple (the new couple missionaries here in Mindoro, who I am obsessed with - so hilarious and the nicest people ever.  They are like our parents here on the island) came over for something with our water bill.  Elder Cranston pulled Sister Martinez and me aside and he was having a hard time getting out what he wanted to say.  Finally he just started explaining that for the last week, he kept having the distinct thoughts, "Sister Rasmussen really needs a blessing... Sister Rasmussen is having a hard time... Sister Rasmussen really needs a blessing."  As soon as he said that, I burst into tears.  I realized how much I needed help and was so grateful for someone reaching out to me.  He said that he kept pushing off the thoughts, because I "seemed fine" and was always smiling and joking around with them.  Anyway.... he proceeded to give me one of the most spiritual blessings I have ever received.  Before he blessed me, he said a prayer asking that whatever would come out of his mouth, wouldn't come from him, but would come directly from Heavenly Father.  As their hands were on my head, I could feel the spirit so strongly I could not deny it.

Through his inspired words, I realized that Heavenly Father really does know me, loves me, and is proud of me.  I realized that I was raising his expectations for me unrealistically.  I learned to be more forgiving and more charitable.  I know that all my grandparents are aware of me, are proud of me, and are helping me.  Afterwards I felt so much love, peace, and gratitude.  I felt as though I was forgiven of my sins, and was so grateful for the Atonement that we can be cleansed from our infinite mistakes.  Afterwards, (this might sound dramatic) but I just felt so much love for my Savior, and just like the accounts in the New Testament, I wanted to wash his feet with my tears.  It was amazing, and even Sister Martinez just kept saying over and over afterward... "That was a miracle sister!  wow!  The Lord really does love us!  That was a miracle!"  It might seem small, and it is hard to explain through e-mail, but it truly was a miracle.  Ever since that blessing, I have had a completely different energy, happiness, love, and drive to fulfill my calling. 

Later in the week, as I was riding on the tricycle, it was as if I was seeing everyone through Heavenly Father's eyes.  How He truly does know each and every one of us, and no matter how righteous or how evil we are, He loves us soo much.  All He wants is that we return to Him so He can give us everything He has.  But it is up to us.  We have our agency.

I realized that once I could love myself, and understand God's love for me... only then could I feel the same for others.  That blessing truly healed me, and I feel so happy.  These past few days have been some of the happiest on my mission so far.

I know that I always say things like this, but I truly feel that we have many people who will enter into the waters of baptism soon.  We taught Randy and Erika, and they really want to get married and baptized soon.  We are going with them to the Municipial this week, so it should happen within the next few weeks.  You should keep them in your prayers.  But, in one lesson we had with Erika, she explained how much the gospel has already blessed their family.  They hardly ever argue anymore, her husband used to drink all the time and no longer drinks and always turns down his friends offers for shots.  (This also means that he is no longer getting really angry and sometimes physically abusing her).  They often read and pray together and described the peace in their family.  She talked about how much she loves going to church, but every Sunday morning it is so hard to actually go.  They both talked about how they feel there is an opposing force, or a whisper trying to convince them not to go to church.  Their physical beings even seem happier and healthier than the first time Sister Tafiti and I met them.   You cannot deny the fruits of the gospel.  If the fruits are good, the tree must also be good.  Last week, in the middle of testimony meeting, she turned to Sister Martinez and asked if they could get married and get baptized the same day.  We are so excited for them, but we are just praying that everything will go well with their marriage and baptism.

Sen is still doing great and will be baptized on November 1.  He is just a little bit immature but I think that he is taking things more seriously and really wants to make a change in his life.  We also had another miracle with his siblings, Ryan and Joanne, who want to get baptized, but are not yet married and want to wait till April so they can have a ginormous party with their whole family.  We taught them about repentance, and how we can't procrastinate our repentance, and suggested that they have a simple wedding now and then still have the big celebration in April.  They were really excited about the idea, and will tell their parents when they go home at the end of October.  Again... haha just praying in faith that everything will go well.  They want to get married and baptized in November.

THEN!!! as we have been praying specifically to find more people prepared, especially families and part member families, we received referrals for two families who are super receptive.  One of them is a part-member family who apparently after we left, the father who is not yet baptized said he wants to get baptized.  They have a really good support system and we are following up with them tonight so we are hoping that everything will continue to go well with them.

Last night, it was one of our new investigators birthdays, and we went over to visit her and helped her to cook.  It was only us three, and another member, Sister Vanjie (my favorite member here in Calapan).  She was so grateful to us and said that earlier she was sad because she didn't have any visitors on her birthday, but that we made her day better.  It felt good to know that we did something small but helpful.

Then, earlier today we had a super fun p-day where we hiked down to this cove, nearby our house, and climbed around through these caves and stuff.    

A member came with us and brought fresh young coconuts that we drank "buko juice" from and then ate the flesh. 

It was a beautiful p-day and a good way to celebrate before Sister Lero and other people from our district leave.  Sister Lero is getting transferred this week.  Things are much better between us ever since my blessing.  This morning I woke up early and was writing in my journal.  She came in and put her head on my lap and I played with her hair and comforted her while she was crying because she is getting transferred.  I love her and will miss her.

There were also some questions about Christmas... yes they are already celebrating Christmas here in the Philippines by playing Christmas music and sometimes shooting off fireworks at night.  I will make sure to keep you updated when it ACTUALLY starts getting close to Christmas and a little bit loco.

I love you all so much.  I just want to leave you again with my testimony that I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ lives.  I know they have perfect bodies of flesh and bones, and love and know each of us so personally.  As long as we follow their commandments, 1) we will blessed 2) we will be happy.  It's a lot easier to say than to actually do, but I know that through small and simple things, great things come to pass.  Through our steady obedience every day, and following the example of Jesus Christ, I know that we can have Eternal Life and Exaltation with eternal families and eternal happiness.

I love all of you and I know these things are true.  You are always in my prayers!!

With love,

Sister Rasmussen

PS:   no more lice.

The weather is good.  We did have a super strong rain storm though!!