Monday, December 29, 2014

Too many miracles


Sister Napitupulu, Me & Sister Oldem
Oh my goodness.  I already get to talk to you again! I was so happy to skype you and you all look beautiful and happy and I am the luckiest girl in the whole world because of my family.  At zone conference this week, Elder Johnson explained simply and perfectly,".... no matter what shape or size your family is... no matter what you are going through or how alone you feel... there are always those people who love you and care about you and they are your family."  I am so so so grateful for temples and that we have the chance to be together forever.  I love all of you so much and I am so grateful for your friendship, support and love.  I miss you but it will be a blink of an eye and mother's day will be around the corner.
Sister Mangum, Me, & President Mangum
Words can't really describe how blessed I feel.  Wednesday, we had our Christmas Zone Conference and it was perfect.  They had tons of musical numbers and Sister Williams and I sang "Be Thou My Vision" and Sister K played piano.  Because it was Christmas, we were allowed to be more trendy and the melodies/harmonies were super cool.  The only problem is I felt totally fine until I walked up to the microphone and I got SUPER scared. Haha pretty sure President, the AP's, and those others sitting on the stand thought I was dancing because I was SHAKING.  Haha..... I think it turned out ok but haha I haven't been that nervous in a long time.  That's the next fear I am going to overcome...... singing in public.  Haha but I have it recorded so you can listen to it when I go home.  We had an incredible workshop about how families can be together forever.  That really is the best and biggest difference of our church to all others.  Because in the true church of Jesus Christ.... we can live together forever in happiness.  Although... it is conditional to our faithfulness to our covenants in the temple, it is possible.  Baptism is not the goal.  The temple is the goal.  Then, President gave a sweet workshop about repentance and how calling to repentance is an act of love.  Sometimes when we know someone is doing something wrong or sinning, we are too shy or too worried about "ruining a friendship or relationship" by letting them know.  But that is only selfishness.  If we truly love them and desire their peace, happiness, and ultimate salvation, we will have the courage to reach out to them and call them to repentance.  It was a good reminder for my calling.
Me, Sister K & Sister Ott--"My dearest friends"
Then, the departing missionaries gave their final testimonies.  To be honest, I am surprised I didn't cry.  I watched Sister K and Sister Ott up there on the stand and realized that all of my dearest friends here are going home.  How did that happen so fast?  Sister Hingano, my trainer, goes home tomorrow.  Ahhhhhh.... Actually she got permission to call me and say goodbye to me!  Something she promised to do back when we were in Rosario.  She was so happy and said that she was able to return to Rosario.  She said that all of our converts and less-actives there are strong and she had some INCREDIBLE news.  I think I actually wrote home about this a long time ago... but one day she and I were tracting and I had the impression to talk to this girl who was holding a brand new baby.  Myla.  We were really excited about her... and she was fairly interested... but in the end she wasn't progressing and we had to drop her.  Well, Sister Hingano was excited to tell me last night that she is BAPTIZED!!! She is super active and cleans the church every week.  It is amazing and helped me to realize that no effort is wasted.  Who knows when she would have accepted the gospel if I had decided to be lazy and keep my mouth closed.  So happy:)

Me & Sister Ott
After the testimonies, we had a delicious lunch and there was a giant roasted pig on the table.  I am sorry.... I forgot to take a picture.  Fail.  But it was awesome and then we played games.  Sister Ott and I were acting like girls in Jr. High when we got put in the same group.  We were super makulit together... which basically means super hyper/happy/etc.  Haha it was the last time when I would really hang out with her before she goes home in 3 weeks.  I am going to miss her so much!! Mom, Dad, and even Beau you HAVE to go to her homecoming.  She would love to meet you.  And yeah... she's my best friend... so.  Nuff said.

Me & Sister Cortez

Me, Sister Cortez, & Sister K
Christmas was another absolutely perfect day.  Went to my favorite member's house... The Cortez family.  Sister Cortez made us classic Filipino spaghetti, fried chicken, and then we had yema cake.  And yes... this was all for breakfast.  I got to skype my lovely family and then while Sister K was skyping I sat chatting with Sister Cortez.  She is my favorite... super loud and funny. Then Sister K and I went to the hospital to carol and visit some of the patients.  It ended up being a little bit of a fiasco trying to figure out who to talk to and get permission.  The hospitals here are nothing like the hospitals in America.  It honestly looks like something you would see in war.  Maybe I am being dramatic, but it was really dirty and had broken windows and just seemed unorganized.  Sad.  But finally, we got permission from the head-nurse and we went around and started visiting with some of the people and singing Christmas songs trying to cheer them up.  At first it was a little awkward haha and at times we got lost, but overall it was fun and it felt good to try and do something to fulfill my purpose.  I don't know if we really made a big difference, but it was fun.

The Hospital 
Then we studied and went to Conching (Mom.... sometimes she reminds me of you or Grandma Mac.  I can't wait for you to meet her.  I think my favorite RC ever).  We ate a little soup with her and then her daughter-in-law came home in perfect time to watch the Restoration with us.  She has been really hard this entire time but is slowly warming up to us and to the message.  I know that she felt the spirit while she was watching.  Afterwards, she just kept saying, "I don't know how to explain how I feel..." Then, she started trying to defend her beliefs and explain why she is not interested.  We told her it was fine and we respect her beliefs.  We aren't trying to force her to do anything but we know that this message will bless her life.  It was a tiny miracle and I think an answer to Sister Conching's prayers who REALLY wants her son and his family to accept the gospel.  Then we had to go home early (early curfew) and Sister K and I just chatted and hung out.  She really is the best.

But Saturday.... this is the biggest miracle of all.  We returned to teach this guy that we talked to last week.  His name is Adrian Sosong and he has been inactive for a long time now, and at the time was smoking.  His wife and two kids aren't members and he agreed for us to come back.  What happened next exceeded our highest expectations.  When we came back on Saturday he excitedly welcomed us in and told us he had been waiting for us.  His wife and two kids were there ready to listen.  His wife explained that her husband already told her that this is where he wants his family and that he wants her to be baptized.  Of course she was a little hesitant, but we explained to her that we wouldn't force her to do anything and that she definitely would not get baptized unless she knew for herself that this message was true.  The spirit was so strong the entire time and it went perfectly.  Mary Jane (the wife), Lexus Paul (son), and Andrea Rosett (daughter) all accepted baptism for January 24th.  This is officially the first golden family I have found on my mission.  Sister K and I tried to keep our cool walking away from the lesson but when we got around the corner we started freaking out and hugging each other and laughing.  Hahahah it is seriously a miracle and an answer to our fasts and prayers as both a companionship and a mission: to find more families and potential priesthood holders to teach.

The next day, all of them came to church.  All of these relief society members reached out and fellow-shipped Mary Jane.  I think they had a great experience at church.  We are so excited, but I feel like it is too good to be true.  I am just praying that there won't be any random trial coming that will keep them from baptism.  I am so happy for them and we are going back to them later tonight, so I will keep you updated.  Feel free to keep them in  your prayers:)

I am just shocked that even though we had a baptism last week, our teaching pool has immediately filled up again with lots of potentials... especially families.  We feel so blessed right now... and again... truly "unprofitable servants."

Some other experiences I had this week: first time I have taught a lady in her 70's wearing a shower cap... that was an interesting lesson.  I also ate the core of a coconut after Brother Gilbert Salvador whacked at it and ripped it apart like a wild-man.  That is true talent.  Haha it tasted so weird.  It didn't really have any taste.. was slightly sweet, and had the texture of STYROFOAM. I have a sweet video to show you.

Me & Brother Salvador

But, I just want to end with my testimony that I know God lives.  Moses 7 is now one of my favorite chapters of scripture, from which I have gained many new insights about the nature of God.  Enoch is currently my favorite prophet, who I feel I relate to.  He first questioned why he was called and admitted that he was slow of speech and was hated of all men.  But slowly as he "walked with Christ" was made strong and powerful through the atonement.  Finally, Enoch talks to God face-to-face and his word moves mountains.  He beholds the wickedness of the world and asks how God can weep.  God has sooo many creations... beyond our comprehension... and Enoch couldn't understand how Heavenly Father a perfect, and perfectly happy being, could feel so much sorrow for the bad choices of these seemingly insignificant people.

God responds:

 32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them theirknowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
 33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;
 35 Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also.
 36 Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all thecreations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren.

Although God is All-powerful, all-knowing.... although there are so many creations and so many people...He knows us.  He knows us by name.  He loves us more than we can understand.  And every time we choose to sin, he feels sad and weeps.  He only wants us to return to Him but knows that the only way is through our own good use of our agency.  He respects us enough to give us the freedom to choose.  I know that Heavenly Father lives and that because He loves us He sent His son Jesus Christ to provide the way.  I hope that we can remember to keep the eternal-perpective in mind on a daily basis so that our little choices will reflect our eternal goal.
I love you!! 
Families CAN be forever.
Love, Sister Rasmussen

Me & Sister Lero
Sister K, Sister Mangum, & me
Elder Johnson
And Me

Me, Elder Kulhmann, Sister Johnson, Elder Williamson, & Elder Wooden
Elder Milligan,  Elder Burbidge 
& Me

Me & Sister Napitupulu

                 Playing Games
Me & Sister Oldem & Elder Photo Bomber
Sister Dula (in my zone) & Me
Me & sister Oldem
Sister Kekauoha, Elder Burbidge (AP.. I was with him in Mindoro.  One of my favorite Elders out here), Elder Mallari, Me & Sister Williams)
Merry Christmas from our Zone
Me, Sister K, & Sister & Brother Cortez
 Sister Virgie Salvador, Sister K & Me at the ward Christmas party

Fried Chicken, Sister K & Me

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry merry merry Christmas!!! Maligayang Pasko!!!

Me, Sister Conching & Sister K

Oh my goodness Christmas is here.  How did it come so fast!! I can't wait to see all of your beautiful faces this week.  I have lots to tell you.  This has been an INCREDIBLE week and I couldn't ask for anything more for Christmas.  It was a very very white Christmas.  I am so happy.

So something that I forgot to tell you last week is that we had zone p-day and I can't believe I did this but we played the game where there are a bunch of eggs and some are boiled and some are raw and you all smash it on your foreheads at the same time.  Haha well.... I TOTALLY THOUGHT mine was cooked.  But nope.  Completely raw.  I totally smashed an egg on my head and it was absolutely disgusting.  But I sent a pretty good picture that captured my reaction.

Me & Sister Conching 
So maybe I will start with the very best and most beautiful miracle of the week.  So it starts with the Barcenas family, and my beloved Conching Baluyot.  So the Barcenas family have been anxiously awaiting their baptism and were so excited.  Especially brother, because he has been waiting for about 10 or 15 years, and everyone at his job always assumes that he is a member.  So he couldn't wait to be "legit."  Sister Conching was filled with a light all week waiting.  She was so prepared.  As we were teaching her more about the gift of the Holy Ghost, we touched on gifts of the spirit, one of which being gift of tongues.  She told us that while she was interviewed by President Mangum, normally she struggles understanding English.  But she had such a peace while in the interview and she said she understood absolutely every word.  She also felt divine help as she was responding back to him in English.  She bore testimony that it wasn't herself, but the Holy Ghost guiding her.  It was a great experience for her.

Me, The Barcenas Family & Sister K
The baptism was on Saturday and was absolutely beautiful.  We passed out invitations all week and tried to do everything we could to coordinate with our WML and other members to make it really special.  When we pulled up, there were tons of members there and all 5 of those getting baptized were already dressed and ready.  They truly looked like angels.  There were lots of members there and Conching's daughter-in-law who is not a member (and is a little bit anti-mormon came for moral support).  The members made all of this food and programs for everyone. 

Sister K, Sister, Me, Elder Galbraith, Sister Galbraith (mission nurse), Sister Brown, Sister, & President Mangum
(Maybe this sounds like a normal thing back in the good old state of 
Utah, but this is extremely rare here in the Philippines).  Sister K and I sang a duet, the baptisms went perfectly smooth, and then we were guided by the spirit during the workshop we gave about the temple.  President Mangum and his wife, Elder and Sister Galbraith, and Elder and Sister Moran were all there.

Sister Kekauaha, Sister Brown, & Me
 Sister Brown came back to visit this area and was also able to attend (she was the one who originally found these investigators!! She only taught them about 2 times but it was amazing for her to see the end result.  We were soooo so happy she was there.  What a sweet ending to her mission).  Then, President Mangum closed with simple but beautiful remarks about the doctrine of Christ and the temple.  The spirit was so strong and I couldn't stop smiling.  This explanation doesn't do it justice and I can't explain the happiness that I felt but my joy was full.  The thing is, I feel like I truly had such small part in the entire thing and we both just felt so blessed.  I truly am the "unprofitable servant."  It was the best Christmas present ever and I couldn't ask for anything else.

Me, Sister Conching, & Sister K
Not only that, but even though we had to go on exchanges this week and missed a few days in our area, we were still able to miraculously hit all of our goals.  It was just a testimony to me that if you put everyone else but yourself first, especially God, you are blessed two-fold.

We found a new family that has great potential.  The Sikat family (Sikat in Tagalog means famous).  Brother has worked for President Garcia (stake president) for a long time now and has come to church the past 3 weeks by himself.  He is super super interested and said that during the fast and testimony meeting he couldn't stop crying during the testimonies haha.  His wife on the other hand will take some work, faith, and prayers but I really have a feeling this family will be baptized.  Haha during the lesson, I did have a hard time concentrating at the point when his wife (who is quite large) took off her bra in the middle of the lesson and was playing with it the rest of the time.  Hahahhaha different culture.  But this family is basically the same story as the Barcenas.  Brother and his son came to church again last Sunday.  I'll follow up with you more next week:)

Brother Pamilacan, a long-time investigator, who knows it is true but just struggles with alcohol also had a change of faith... accepted his baptismal date for January 24th and committed to never drink again.  He says that he is sick of his weaknesses and wants to give this to Christ for Christmas.  He wants to get baptized so his family can be sealed in the temple.  Another miracle and the result of many missionary's prayers.

I also hit my one year mark on Thursday. Surreal!  I am sad but motivated to make every day count.  But Sister K was so sweet and decorated my desk and wrote me this really nice note.  Later that night, we took a member with us and got pizza and yema cake (probably one of the best things I have eaten in my life... grabe naman).  It was a really nice day and I am grateful to be with Sister K at this point in my mission.  I feel like this is the climax of my journey.  I feel like I have learned and changed so much, I have the language at a good place (but always want to keep learning), and I feel I know my purpose.  I am sad to only have 6 short months ahead but will do everything I can to make the best.

I love all of you so much.  Thank you for your support and love.

Merry Christmas to all of you!!!
Me & Sister Kekauaha

Sister K & Me

The Zone

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ito and kapanahonan ng Pasko!!!

"Christmas and this time !!!"

Hello po pamilya!!

All of a sudden I feel like Christmas is so close.  I don't know how that happened?  I will have been on my mission for 1 year.  I can say that this has been the quickest year of my life so far.  It feels like I just went into the MTC and I still feel like a new missionary.  But then I look back to that old Haley and the change that has taken place in me is extraordinary.  I am so happy to still have 6 months here but I am sad because I feel like it is coming to an end too soon.  It is true though.  This Christmas I really do feel like I coming to understand the true meaning of the holiday and it has taken on a whole new significance as I am serving the Lord all day every day (or at least I am trying haha).

 Our week was filled with so many miracles.  I couldn't be happier.  First off, let me tell you about the 5 baptisms that we're having!!! (It's a white Christmas) So the Barcenas family are so prepared and ready.  We visited them and taught them what a testimony is and how to bare one.  Afterward, we had a testimony meeting and the spirit was sooo strong.  Ding, the father, has been working for a construction company for the church for like 15 years and has built many many churches and has come to know many leaders at church.  Through all of his friendships and work experience, he has been praying to become a member of the church for about all 15 years.  His wife was not interested at all and he was praying that the Lord would soften her heart.  The crazy thing is there are so many members that live in his neighborhood and the missionaries always walk by their house but he would always ask himself, "when are the missionaries going to knock on my door?"  Anyway...Sister Burt and Sister Brown knocked on their door one day.  It ended up being an answer to Carol's (the mother) prayers as well because she was feeling that she wanted to come closer to the Lord.  It took a while for her to receive an answer about the Book of Mormon, but now she can't go a day without reading.  She said she has come to realize how blessed you are when you make the sacrifice to keep the sabbath day holy, and especially go to church.  She feels that is her biggest sin her whole life and is so excited to finally be a member.  The 14 year old daughter, Clarisse, now loves to read the Book of Mormon and has lots of friends at church.  They are so so excited for their baptism.  The fourth is Claire, 8 years old, who does have her own testimony as well.

Conching is one of my favorite investigators ever.  She is almost 60 and is so excited to get baptized.  She started crying as she bore her testimony with us for the first time and explained that she has never felt so close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  She is so prepared.  President Mangum had to interview her and he even said that he could tell that she was extremely prepared and ready to enter the waters of baptism.  It just feels good because we're especially focusing on conversion, not baptism.

The thing is, I know that I really only had a small, small part in their conversions.  Along with the other missionaries, it is the spirit.  Haha and I just slid into home base and came at the right time to witness the baptisms of these special children of our Heavenly Father.  Sooo so excited.
Me, Tyrone, & Sister Kekauaha

Tyrone... I think that I told you about him last week?  Oh my gosh he is amazing.  There are some pictures I sent you.  He is the black guy from New Jersey who went to Afghanistan last Saturday.  We had another incredible lesson with him before he left.  He was in a huge hurry and had lots going on but was so excited to give up a few minutes for us to share another message with him.  He was super intrigued by the fact that we have a prophet and 12 apostles today and just kept thanking us for sharing such a simple, clear, and powerful lesson.  He said how with every other missionary that has taught him he ends up being left even more confused but he just kept saying how our message made so much sense.  We assured him that it wasn't because of us but it was the Holy Ghost witnessing to him that what we were sharing with him was true.  He wants to read the Book of Mormon and seriously ask God if it's true and he said that when he goes back to Georgia, if he finds out it is true, the first thing he will do is find the missionaries there and get baptized.  I am sooo confident that that will happen.  It was an amazing lesson and felt so good to teach in English.  (and I am pretty sure that the gift of tongues took place there because at first it felt so awkward to teach in English) We got his facebook and e-mail information so that we can keep in touch with him when he goes home.  Such a good guy.  I will never forget him even though we only taught him twice.

We had another miracle where we weren't able to see Brother Salvador (recent convert) for about a week and a half.  He had fallen back into old smoking habits after his baptism and was trying to quit again forever, but having a hard time.  He really wanted to prepare to be worthy to baptize his daughter.  We had a powerful lesson with him but weren't able to follow up with him for sooo long.  But I had a feeling of peace about it and we kept praying for him fervently.  Our prayers were answered when he came to church last Sunday and had an interview with Bishop and passed.  He hadn't smoked since!! I know that it was an answer to our prayers.

Of course I think about you and miss you a lot during this time of Christmas, but I am so excited to skype with you and I would not want to be anywhere else.  I am soooo happy.  I love all of you!!!

Ingat po!!
Sister Rasmussen

Pizza in the Philippines

Hahaha...Elder Adamson
Me & Elder Tabbilos
Me & Elder Wanoa
Elder Minas & Me
Me & Sister Kelleher

Sister Napitupulu, Me, Sister K, Sister Kelleher &
Sister Oldem


Sister K & Me