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!!
PS: no more lice.
The weather is good. We did have a super strong rain storm though!!