Monday, November 3, 2014

Ang Araw ng mga Patay

"The Day of the Dead"

Pinakamamahal na pamilya (Beloved Family),
Sister Casila, Sister Hingano, Sister Martinez, & Me
This has been another crazy week here in the Philippines.  Haha to give you a taste of the experience I am having here... I thought I would give you a list of the things I took for granted in the US:

·       Flushing toilets (not using a bucket and pouring it down)
·       Toilet paper
·       Washing machines and Driers
·       Dishwashers
·       Soap in public bathrooms
·       Bacon that is actually salted and has no bones
·       Meat without bones in general
·       Not getting stared at and yelled at wherever I go
·       Being able to leave something out on the counter for 5 minutes without
         ants all over it
·       No cockroaches/lizards on my wall, cars, etc. 

But despite the living circumstances... I love it so much.  I love it here and I love the people.  They are the most generous, sharing/giving people in the world.  They are also very modest in their dress and speech.  Even when you pass by on the road, if they are eating, they invite you to come eat with them.  They don't think twice about giving you what they have.  And for the most part, even though they are pretty poor, they are a happy people.  Always smiling.  I love these people so much and will bawl my eyes out when I have to say goodbye to them.
Ryan and Joanne Martin
(investigators that want to get married and baptized)
I thought maybe I would tell you a little bit about the business/religion that is known here asInglesia ni Cristo.  To be honest, I feel that it is the church of the devil.  It was founded by a man who went to Brigham Young University.  So a lot of their practices are actually based off of some of our beliefs.  They go to church twice a week and if they don't go, the members have to pay a fee (in addition to other fees for membership), they are not allowed to read the bible or any book of holy scripture, they aren't allowed to listen to other missionaries from other religions, and they believe that the only way to be saved is to be a member of their church and everyone else is going directly to hell.  It is frustrating trying to talk to them, and they are always inviting us to come to church with them haha but the weird thing is you see a pattern here in the Philippines where if our church builds a church, they will build their church directly next to ours.  Rumor has it that right before the founder died, he admitted that the Mormon church is true (but probably just a rumor). 

We had an experience this week where we taught a family, and one of the cousins listened who is studying right now to be a Catholic Priest.  He was trying to convince us that Mary is sinless and that we must worship her.  At the beginning of the lesson he really wanted to argue with us, but when we finally taught about Joseph Smith the spirit was so strong and he was confounded.  (It is hard to argue with a sincere testimony, and we are the only church that actually claims that God appeared to and called a prophet and gave him true ecclesiastical authority).  They didn't want us to return, but the Priest gratefully took a Book of Mormon.  I know that he felt the spirit and had some questions.  I pray that he opens up the Book of Mormon. 

I cannot count the number of times I have heard "well even though we have different beliefs... we all worship one God."  To be honest... I just can't seem to wrap my mind around that argument.  Exactly.  One God... So why are there so many beliefs?  He doesn't want to confuse us.  How do we truly know what is truth?  I have truly come to realize how Satan has blinded so many people and I am grateful for the light of the gospel in my life and to be able to share it.

    We had a miracle earlier this week.  We were waiting for Ryan and Joanne to come back from home, because they went to ask their parents for permission to get married.  They seemed really unsure about it and said that they would only get married if they did receive permission.  They came home about 2 days later than expected and we were getting worried.  Finally we saw Ryan (because he works at a barber shop on the side of the road) and it seemed like there was something wrong.  We were a little bit afraid to hear what they had to say, but we just kept reminding ourselves to have no fear and whatever happens... we have our agency and our responsibility is to teach the doctrine clear and simple so they can make the right decision.  But after many prayers, we went that night and we asked them how it went asking their parents.  They said that it didn't go that well... didn't really give us details... but firmly said that they know it is the right thing to get married and they want to get married now.  We were in shock.  We just looked at each other with the biggest smiles on our faces.  This really is a big miracle because in the Philippines, it is a big tradition to have big expensive weddings, and this means that it will basically be only them two, getting married in the chapel.  And it is also a big tradition to follow your parents, and so for them to do this really does take faith in Jesus Christ.  We were so happy and grateful.  I hope I will be here to witness her wedding.

  We also found another investigator who is Inglesia ni Cristo (surprisingly enough).  Her name is Adelyne and said that she randomly had an impression to go and ask her friend Ann for some advice right when we were teaching her.  She had been praying for direction and felt there was something really missing in her life.  She took it as a sign that she coincidentally met us and eagerly accepted us to teach her.  The lessons have been going well and she agreed to be baptized but she is becoming busy with work.  I'll pray and then let you know what happens.

    We were also blessed with a referral yesterday from a less active member who randomly decided to come back to church.  Her name is Estelita and she is a 20 year old girl.  She has now come to church 3 times and really loves it.  She was super interested in our lesson about life after death and even though she is a very quiet, serious, reserved girl... she started crying as she kneeled and prayed out loud for the first time.  She is really excited about it and I know that she will be baptized.

"All Souls Day"
   So they don't really celebrate Halloween here in the Philippines, but I was introduced to a big national holiday on November 1 called "All Souls Day."  Basically everyone drops everything they're doing (work, school, etc.) and they buy flowers and food and go hang out at the cemetery all day with their family at the gravesides of loved ones who have passed.  There were soooo many people, but it felt more like I was approaching a football game than a family gathering at the cemetery.  There were food vendors lining the streets, tons of cars, and people drinking from about 9 am in the morning.  We only had one lesson that day and we had a curfew at 6 pm because there are so many drunk people.  We talked to people at the cemetery and tracted all day.  It was actually a good opportunity to talk about forever families and the plan of salvation. 

Elder & Sister Cranston

Then, since we were in early that night, we invited our favorites, the Cranston couple, over to make breakfast for dinner.  Haha we tried to make bacon, pancakes, and eggs but it didn't turn out quite as we hoped.  Our pan is pretty kawawa (pitiful) and no matter how much oil (enough oil to give you a heart attack) we put in the pan, it would still stick.  Haha so even though it didn't look or taste that good, we still had fun.  Then they stayed after and played some games with us.  It felt for a little bit like I was at home, and it's nice to know I have a second pair of parent's here.  They're hilarious.
Me, Sister Cranston, & Sister Casila

Well I am sorry if this is long and boring and I can't even describe or explain everything that I am experiencing but it is amazing.  I love my mission.  I have learned so much.  I am so grateful for you and your support.  Thank you for everything.

Love, Sister Rasmussen

                                P-day and fun at the beach!

 Elder Shaw, Elder Burbidge, Me, Elder Pulido
Teaching some Ballet -  Elder Burbidge, Me & Elder Pulido
Elder Burbidge, Me & Elder Pulido
Elder Burbidge, Me & Elder Pulido

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