Magandang umaga pamilya!!! (Good morning family !!!)
Well I am sure that all of you are anxiously awaiting details about Typhoon Ruby. I'll first let you know that we are very safe and honestly... I don't have any dirty details because we didn't experience much. It just seemed like a really heavy rainstorm. But that's it. Sunday, President Mangum informed us that we would be evacuated from our area to a chapel a couple areas away.
This was due to the fact that our area is known for flooding easily. So after church we packed up and headed to the chapel with 72-hour kits and giant water jugs. Haha I don't know if you can imagine but it was quite the adventure with us four sister carrying all of this stuff on and off of jeepnees. Luckily people are super nice and helpful. The speed and size of the storm kept changing and so they thought that it would come Sunday night but didn't end up hitting us about Monday Night. It was a really weird situation because almost all the Elders and Sister in our zone had to sleep at the chapel haha and it was basically only my companion and I who went to bed on time and kept the study schedule. When we got there, we were still waiting for some other sisters and so Sister K and I decided to OYM as many people as possible outside the chapel. Because of a bunch of setbacks this week, we were still far from our goal of 125 for the week. But we stopped EVERYONE on the street... even if they were in a hurry to share a short message. We know that the gospel is the most important thing for them. Haha we were trying to make it fun and asking people what they would give Christ for Christmas this year. It ended up being a thought provoking question and not very many people could answer. We also rounded up some sisters together to sing Christmas carols outside the chapel to try and get people's attention. Haha it was pretty kawawa (pitiful) because there weren't very many people watching and it was a pretty cheesy missionary moment but it was really fun. It helped both us and those passing by to remember the true meaning of Christmas.
So all of Monday we weren't allowed to leave the chapel so we spent the day singing, playing piano, watching Mormon messages, writing, studying, and eating canned foods (not my fave but haha we were hungry). Monday night when the storm actually hit us, there wasn't really any wind just TONS AND TONS of rain. I have never heard/seen anything like that. Now I understand the idiom "raining cats and dogs."
Actually it was pretty sad because before the storm hit, we found this tiny little abandoned kitten outside the chapel dying. We tried making a tent for it and gave it a little food and it survived the storm. It's super sad here though. If someone has a female cat, they get pregnant every month and they just throw the babies away wherever. Which is why there are so many stray cats and dogs and they're so kawawa. It was a really long day and another night but I am glad to be home. It doesn't look like we were hit too bad with wind or anything here. Just lots of rain and there are just a few places that are flooded. That's about it. I did hear that Calapan and Lopez were hit really hard :( It makes me especially sad because I know in some of the areas that I was working in in Mindoro.... Sooooo pooor. I am sure that their already small and weak houses are completely gone. I hope they are doing ok over there. I guess I will count my many blessings that I am safe, fed, and healthy. Hahah sorry that I don't have any other exciting details to share.
|Sister Johnson & Me|
BUT.... before all of this mess... we did have some cool experiences earlier this week. I went on my second exchange this week with the Pakil sisters on Tuesday. I got to exchange with Sister Johnson from my batch so it was super fun to be with her again. They are struggling building up their teaching pool so we did a lot of tracting but at the end of the day, we were walking down the street where the chapel is and this guy came out to feed his dogs right as we passed. Even though him and his wife live so close to the chapel, he has never met the missionaries. He immediately let us in and it was the first time in months and months that we taught the lesson in complete silence (the Philippines is one noisy, busy place). It really invited the spirit. When he turned off the TV and we said the opening prayer, you really could feel it. When we opened our eyes he said he could feel the Holy Spirit enter his body and that he just randomly went outside when we passed buy and thought that it was meant to be. He said how he didn't know anything about our church but was always impressed with how perfectly organized it is. The lesson was amazing and because of the storm, the sisters still need to follow up with him, but I have a feeling he will be a golden investigator.
It was fun for Sister K and I to go running in the mornings and explore a new place. We forgot our camera, but on Wednesday morning we randomly decided to go hike up to this place called the cross. We didn't make it to the top because we were running low on time, but it was so beautiful and refreshing. I am sooo so grateful for a companion who will go running with me in the morning. It feeds the soul.
We visited the Barcenas family again this week (originally supposed to be baptized on the 13th) and when we followed up with their obedience to the word of wisdom, it turned out that Claurice (the one who prayed about the Book of Mormon) drank coffee that day. President Mangum and really all of the Philippines are raising the standards for baptism because there are just too many less actives and we are trying to ensure that when they are baptized, they are baptized to stay. Anyway, this would mean that their family would have to postpone their baptismal date for another whole month. When we broke it to them, Carol (the mother) was devastated. All of them were silent and didn't really understand the doctrine behind it. We left the lesson with stomach aches but also knew that it would be a good test of their faith. We were then reminded by another missionary that if she only drank once, that they could still get baptized on their scheduled date. When we followed up with them on Saturday, there was definitely a different feeling. We talked about everything and they asked if there was any way they could push forward their date and so now they are scheduled for December 20th. We then shared Ether 12:6 and I asked Carol if she has ever felt a test of her faith. She said that the baptism being extended again definitely tested her faith. She said that night she couldn't sleep. Like all of her excitement to be baptized was gone. She didn't want to go to church anymore and she kept having an argument inside her head about whether or not she should read the Book of Mormon (she normally reads everyday). She was just having a very difficult time understanding. Finally she read the Book of Mormon on Saturday, despite the whispering in her ear to not. Then, we came right as she finished with the good news about their date and she said it was an answer to her prayers. But by the end of the lesson, we helped them to realize that it didn't matter whether it was next year or in 15 years, as long as they followed the commandments and prepared themselves with the desire to be baptized. I think it was all supposed to happen for a reason and they are very ready and excited for their baptism. Conching is also very prepared to be baptized on the 20th as well so we are praying that it goes through for all of them!!
We had another weird experience as we were coming home and we heard someone yell out hello to us. It didn't sound like a Filipino voice and I almost ignored it. But luckily Sister K saw him and asked him where he was from. Tyrone Davis is a black veteran from New Jersey who randomly ended up here in the Philippines. He is actually going to Afghanistan next week but really wanted us to teach him. It was super weird to speak to him in pure english haha. We weren't able to teach him on our scheduled appointment because he had something come up but we ended up teaching his fiance's niece, Jace. Wow. Such a powerful lesson and I know we were supposed to find her. After we opened the lesson, she opened up with us and started crying as she explained that her husband is a drug addict and she has to little beautiful daughters and is pregnant with her third child. You could see that behind her pleasant smile was so much distress. As we started sharing with her, she was listening soooo intensely. I could tell that even with our sometimes ugly Tagalog, the spirit was teaching her. She is super anxious for us to return, and it just made me glad that because of the gospel in my life, I won't have to face problems like that. But I know for sure that it will bless and help her. We'll see what happens....
Then, when we saw Tyrone again, we gave him a Book of Mormon and we have been doing this thing where we ask people if they have a question of the soul... some deep question that they always ponder and then give them a reading assignment accordingly to illustrate that the Book of Mormon really can answer our questions. Haha so when I asked him, I said, "If Jesus Christ was here in this room, and you could ask him any question you wanted, what would you ask him?" Haha he jumped back with the biggest look of surprise and said, "Oh man!!! If Jesus Christ was here... man I don't know what I would ask him!" (Try and read it with a New Jersey accent ha)... and then he said, "Oh I know. I know. There is this question that has been on my mind for years........ Ok. So I know that it doesn't mention in the Bible anything about dinosaurs... but we have found their bones and things.... so are they real?" Haha Sister K and I couldn't help but look at each other and laugh. She explained more what we were looking for and we gave him an assignment but it was really funny.
THEN... Friday. My first Missionary Leadership Council. Oh my goodness. It was the most incredible, spiritual experience ever. It blew my mind. It truly wasn't like a conference where someone talks at you for a few hours but everyone was participating and I learned so so much from everyone. We had this workshop on charity and Christ-like leadership. We watched this video and all of you MUST WATCH. AMAZING.
So yeah... that's about it for my week. An amazing, miraculous, faith-building week. I love all of you so much and think about you lots. You are in my prayers. Thanks for writing and sharing all of your experiences as well.
Sister Ott & Me :)
|Me & Sister Burnham|