Monday, February 23, 2015

Hello po!!

Sister Japus, Sister Keleher, Sister Maagad, & Me
My beloved family....

What a beautiful week full of life lessons and miracles.  I am so grateful that I am STILL a missionary.  I get sad thinking how the time is flying and will soon be gone, but I know that I just need to make the best of every day and learn all that I can.

Well.... on Monday I was having a hard time, but then when we got home, Sister Keleher came home and started bawling because she found out 2 of her cousins passed away - one from a heart-attack and the other from an motorcycle accident.  I realized how petty my problems were and felt better trying to comfort her.  Then, later that night my companion opened up to me about things going on with her family... then did I TRULY REALIZE how petty my problems were.  I realized how grateful I am for my family - my mom and my dad who love each other and are strong in the gospel.  I am close to my siblings.  I truly am so blessed.  My setting-apart has truly been fulfilled which said that many of my companions were not blessed with a family like mine.  I think that part of the reason this has happened is so that I can learn to love and appreciate my family even more.  How blessed I am.

The next day, President came to our apartment and interviewed and gave a blessing to all of us.  I love President Mangum soooo much.  I am so grateful that he is my President - he truly loves and ministers to each one of us missionaries, and he is so consecrated.  It is unreal.  He gave me some good advice saying that judgement day is not going to be a popularity contest and that God's standards are high and they are fixed - they will not move... no matter how much the world tries to bring them down.  As soon as we take steps closer to God, Satan does everything he can to tear us down.  When we are already being disobedient, he isn't too concerned because we are already doing a good job of screwing up.  But it's when we truly make leaps and bounds that he gets concerned and starts bringing out his firearms.  He said it is natural to experience persecution and loneliness when you are trying to come unto Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ himself was the most perfect and experienced the greatest persecution - even unto death.  If we want to walk in His footsteps, we can only expect to experience some of the same thing - however small and insignificant it may be in comparison.

President then gave me a blessing which was one of the most epic and spiritual blessings that I have ever received... Patriarch status.  It was incredible.  It completely helped me to see life from the eternal perspective - starting all the way back to pre-earth life to the goal of exaltation.  He said that every area and companionship that I have had has helped me to learn very specific lessons.  It is as if Heavenly Father created a personalized tutorial for me in every situation.  I can clearly see the different lessons that I have learned and I can foresee the sort of lessons that I need to learn and apply in my life here in Sta. Cruz with Sister Maagad.  It is amazing that Heavenly Father truly is so aware of every single one of each of His children.  He loves us so much and He is the one directing His work.

The good news is that Aldine passed his baptismal interview!  He is so prepared and he will officially be getting baptized on Mom's birthday, February 28th.  When we conducted the practice interview with him our jaws dropped at his responses to the questions and the testimony that he shared.  Him and his wife France have such an awesome relationship and they support each other so much.  Whenever France is mad or frustrated, he is the one who tells her to take a brake and go read the Book of Mormon.  That is how deep his conversion is to that sacred book.

We had another small miracle with Jenellene.  Do you remember her? 20 years old, living with a 34-year-old, abused growing up, dropped out of elementary and doesn't know how to read?  Well we had taught her three times and she wouldn't even peep a sound she was so shy.  We were wondering how we would ever be able to help her towards conversion if she was to stay like that.  On Tuesday, her boyfriend, Raymond, was working and so after about 10 minutes of convincing, we held her hand and she came with us to teach her by herself.  It was like we pushed a button and she turned into a chatter-box that wouldn't turn off.  She basically only socializes with her boyfriend, and I think deep inside she really needs a friend and someone to talk to.  It became immediately apparent that she doesn't really know anything at all - not even the order of the months or the days in the week.  But we taught her a very simple lesson about the Godhead and taught her how to pray.  We asked her about 5 times, "Who do we pray to?" Every time she answered confidently, "Jesus Christ!"  And then we would explain it to her again.  On about the 6th time, when she finally answered correctly, that we pray to our Father in Heaven, Sister Maagad and I cheered!  Haha we were so excited and I gained a little bit of patience for all of my elementary teachers growing up.  It was a small miracle.  She is so humble and if she continues, I know she could learn how to read, build faith in Jesus Christ, and even become a powerful instrument for the Lord.  It is just the beginning... just a tiny little seed.

Another miracle happened when we were planning for a lesson for Connie.  Even though she hasn't drunk coffee for about 2 weeks, Sister Maagad said she felt like we should ask her when the last time was that she drank coffee.  We went to the lesson, we asked her, and she shyly admitted that she had earlier that day!! My companion was totally inspired.  It's amazing the way the spirit quietly inspires and guides us to help people to repent and come unto Christ.

We also had an AMAZING first lesson with Aldine's brother-in-law Raymond.  He had been telling everyone that he is not interested in listening to the missionaries.  Before we went to his house, he told France to not send the missionaries there.  But Sister Maagad and I still felt confident that we should go and try - his name has continually come into my mind for about 2 weeks now.  We went and Sister Maagad went right up to the window, "woooo hooo!! Hello brother!!! Tao po!!" Haha he couldn't hide from us now.  He let us in and we had a beautiful lesson about temples.  He totally opened up to us and had a change of heart.  At the end, he gave a prayer and asked for forgiveness for never praying.  Then in his sincere prayer, he promised Heavenly Father that he would change, be baptized, and GO TO THE TEMPLE!! It was awesome.  After the lesson, Sister Maagad and I tried to hide our excitement but we left and celebrated in the street.  Haha so many miracles.

One last miracle... Sister Maagad and I went on splits yesterday with members because we had too many appointments.  Apparently she went to teach Adrian Sosong, and at first he started in his sarcastic, prideful manner.  But in the lesson he all of sudden opened up with all of these questions and finally admitted that he doesn't know who God is.  At the end of the lesson, he finally accepted the invitation to read the Book of Mormon, and Sister Maagad said that the defensive, sarcastic face was swept away.  Although I wasn't there, I know this is an answer to our prayers that his heart would be softened.

I can't capture all of the miracles that I see and everything that I learn in one week in this little e-mail, but sufficient to say... this is a miraculous work.  I know that it is real.  I believe that Heavenly Father lives and that He is all-knowing and all-powerful.  He loves us more than we can comprehend.  His gospel is perfect.  I know that Jesus Christ is His son and that because both of them love us so much, Jesus Christ atoned for our sins.  Now it's up to us.  We have the agency to accept it or not.  I pray that you will do the little things every day in order to apply His atonement in your life.  I know that it is the only way to be happy and to return to them someday.  I love you!!!

Love, Sister Rasmussen

Sister Japus, Me, Sister Maagad and Elder Alos
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Sister Japus, Me, Sister Maagad & Elder Alos

Monday, February 16, 2015

Majo nahihirapan ako pero masaya pa rin

"Majo difficulty but I'm still happy"
My beloved family....

 Me, Sister Krisubanu, Sister Keleher, Sister Koi,
and in the back is: Sister Taufa & Sister Japus.
Along with my companion Sister Maagad,
I live with Sister Keleher & Sister Japus.

Kumusta po kayo?  Nandito pa rin ako sa Sta. Cruz.

Too be honest it has been a little bit of a harder week and I don't have that much too tell you... but I have learned a lot.

Sister Krisubanu & Me
After Sister Kekauoha left, I became companions with Sister Krisubanu (from Malang Indonesia) for about 3 days.  She wanted me to ask Uncle Rod if he ever served there?  I think there is still only one mission in Indonesia.  She said that the members there believe that if you are an American missionary serving there and you eat a lot of spicy food that you will be able to speak Indonesian easily.  Haha I thought, "Uncle Rod must have been fluent because he loveeees his spicy food haha."  Anyway.. you should pass it on to him.  I have only met two missionaries from Indonesia but I love both of them.  I would love to go there someday... and now I have a couple flats I can stay at. :)

Me, Sister Oldem, & Sister Krisubanu
 Transfer day I met my new companion and she is AMAZING!! Ahhhh I love her so much.  She is way different than what I expected.  She is Philippino but her attitude and everything about her is like she is American.  She has a raspy voice and is super funny and I feel like we're going to have a crazy transfer (maraming kabaliwan at kalokohan).  She is from Dumaguate Philippines.  Anyway, she is a crazy good teacher.  Soooo inspired and personal and she uses all of these really creative and interesting examples.  I hope I can become like a human sponge and soak up as much from her as possible this transfer.  Hopefully we can become master teachers.  I know for a fact she was called here by revelation to help me, the sisters, and all those we are teaching.

Me & my new companion, SISTER MAAGAD
 We ended up going back to Ralph and Angelica... that poor couple that tried dropping us?  Yeah. We're not taking no for an answer YET.  We went back to them and they let us teach them a short lesson.  Angelica is already in Alma in the Book of Mormon.  She STILL READS every day and they both have such a strong testimony that both the Book of Mormon and the church is true.  They just feel so much pressure from their family and they don't want to cause any problems.  But they agreed to ask in prayer if this is the church they need to join and to act on that answer.  So we'll see what happens.  To be continued....

Sorry... that's about all I have to share this week.

Lesson of the week:

"It's more important to fear God than to fear people"

This week has been a little bit harder for me.  My companion got here and told me that she really really doesn't want to be an STL because she feels a lot of pressure from other missionaries.  It's like there is this attitude that it is bad if you are too serious/obedient/consecrated as a missionary.  She was feeling a lot of peer pressure from those other missionaries warning her not to "change" or "become one of them."

As I was listening to her, I was just trying to wrap my head around the idea.  All I could think is that it is so fun to be an STL and to help the sisters.  And that she literally just arrived in the promised land of the mission - the people are so receptive here and the ward is amazing.

But as the days passed and I started to come to know some of the things that apparently other missionaries have been saying about me... I let it get to me.  There has been a combination of things that have happened in the past few days and I have had a hard time, sometimes feeling alone.  But I just keep feeling peace and hope from knowing myself and my own intentions and knowing that Heavenly Father is proud of me.  The more I ponder, the more I realize that there is always going to be opposition/gossip/peer pressure along the way.  Choosing the right is sometimes a lonely path but you know you can be sure that you will be happy.

I feel that through these small little trials I am getting stronger and more confident in my desire to serve with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength.

I am not sure if this really makes sense, but it has made a serious impression on my mind and heart this past week.

Me & Sister Oldem
 I love all of you and I am so grateful for your love and support.  Don't worry... I am still the crazy, loco Sister Haley!  The church is true! I love you.

Love, Sister Rasmussen

Sister Krisubanu in our kitchen

 Me, Sister Krisubanu, Sister Keleher, Sister Koi,
and in the back is Sister Taufa.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Endings and new beginnings

Hello my beautiful family!

Wow.... this is already the end of the transfer.  I never cease to be amazed at the way time flies.  This means I only have 3 transfers left.  I am sad... but I also feel like this is the climax of my mission and I want to make the most of every single second.

So.... I have been struggling to fight off thoughts and feelings of home this week as Sister K and I have now separated and she is currently in the mission home preparing for her return back to Hawaii.  By the end of the week, I wasn't thinking about home anymore.  It was a good test of my consecration and self-control.  In some ways her going home makes it seem more real, but then part of me feels like that day will never really come for me.  The ironic thing is this last week was very anti-climactic.  Haha.... we got punted soooo many times and there were lots of setbacks and disappointments... but the great thing is because we knew we were being exactly obedient and doing absolutely everything in our power... we were not discouraged or anything.  In fact... we were equally just as happy.  I was surprised to see how we just maintained a smile and positive attitude day after day... and each night as we talked about the day, we still found many blessings and miracles.

Me, Nanay Conching & Sister Kekauoha
Monday night, while waiting for one of our investigators that never showed up, we were chatting with Francis, one of the YSA of the ward.  I referred to Conching by just saying her name.  Haha he was shocked and gave me such a hard time!! Apparently, when you refer to older Philppino's you MUST have a title like Nanay (mom) or Tatay (dad) or at the very least Sister.  hahaha I was so embarrassed because I have been doing this my whole mission.  This whole time I should have been saying Nanay Conching.  I felt so bad as I reflected on all of the times that I texted her, "Conching!" or every time I saw her just saying her name.  We dropped by afterwards and apologized to her about it.  She didn't seem as concerned about it as Francis was but she wanted us to call her Nanay anyway because we are so close to her and she basically is our mom out here.  By the way... she made me a beautiful dress that you will see in the pictures I sent home (the turquoise one with the white collar).

Me, Nanay  & Sister Kekauoha
 Wednesday night we had a powerful lesson with one of our families.  We started the lesson just sort of teaching a standard lesson on repentance, not really teaching them personally.  In the end, we asked Brother why he wants to listen or why he wants his wife and children to be baptized.  I was literally shocked by the things that came out of his mouth in response.  It is like he has gotten even HARDER than the first time we visited him.  He explained that he has searched a lot of religions and that they all basically teach the same thing.  That he just likes Mormons the best.  He said he wasn't even sure if this was the only true church on earth.   He doesn't want to give up his vices that go against the word of wisdom.  Finally I just bore a bold testimony to him that these things are true and that he needs to repent.  Sister Morales, the member working with us, then bore an incredible testimony about the Book of Mormon.  How Sister K and I wouldn't have come all the way hear, on our own support or the support of our parents, and struggled to learn this language, if this book is not true.  That it is the most important book on earth and how she never learns as much at church, or even from us missionaries, as she does when she reads the Book of Mormon.  I don't remember everything she said but I just felt the spirit so strong.  I cried for the first time in such a long time (partly because of the spirit and partly because I am just so sad about Brother and his blindness... I was thinking about Nephi how he says his tears water his bed at night because of the wickedness of his people).
I couldn't even look him in the eyes, but Sister Morales committed him to read and he accepted.  Afterwards, she said that she could feel the Lord in the room, literally speaking through her.  She said that she could tell in his eyes that he now had an intention to read the sacred book.  They still didn't come to church... so I guess we will see what happens.

 Sister Morales & Me
Connie... I am not sure if I introduced you to her last week... but she is doing INCREDIBLE!!! ahhhh I am so happy and excited about her.  She is reading and already had a spiritual witness that it was true.  She said she asked in sincere prayer and couldn't stop crying.. she said she cries when she is really really happy.  She came to church on Sunday and I was so happy with the members welcoming her in.  The only thing getting in the way of her baptism is her husband, who isn't against it, but is just always working and always busy.  Connie is just worried about her family splitting up, especially when it comes to belief.  I don't blame her... it's against God's plan of happiness.  We are praying for her and her husband.

Me, Sister K, Sister Krisubanu & Sister Williams
Saturday was a special meeting where President Ardern (Philippines Area President) and Elder Beck came to speak to us.  Almost all the missionaries in the mission gathered to listen to them, and they actually followed Elder Bednar's lead and did a question answer panel instead of sharing.  Of course it was amazing.  President Ardern is from New Zealand and is so articulate!! Haha I loved listening to his accent and the way he would word his sentences.  It reminded me of Beau as he would seriously say things like, "Well that was a splendid edition wasn't it!!" after someone made a comment.  But really, these leaders, AND THEIR WIVES, are so knowledgeable in the gospel and in the scriptures.  It makes me excited and hopeful for the future and glad that I can and will continue to study and learn every day my whole life.
"All Food Has A Story To Tell"
-Ma Nay Chefs

Sister Krisubanu & Me
That night Sister K and I went to go teach her last few appointments here in the mission.  You remember Tatay Vitaliz?  Well you will be glad to know that he is doing amazing.  He has stopped smoking, is coming to church, and gave us 2 really great referrals. We also taught the Barcenas family and they made us Philippino spaghetti and bought us yema cake (our favorites!!)

Me and Sister Krisubanu
Sunday, we went to church, I sent Sister K off (feeling emotionless.. I couldn't cry? It just doesn't seem real) and then I met up with Sister Krisubanu.  We will be companions for a few days until transfer day this Thursday.

I will be companions with SISTER MAAGAD!!! I am so excited.  She is philippina which has been my prayer and she is amazing.  I have heard she is nice, funny, and crazy... haha so I think we will do JUST WELL together!

The last thing that I am going to do in my e-mails from now on is something called... "Life Lessons."  This is what Elder Ardern counseled us to do in the back of our journals.  At the end of each week, write one simple statement or lesson learned that week, and then underneath that describe the experience that helped us to learn it.

So this week:  "God answers prayers"

Ok so you probably won't be surprised at this.... but you would be so proud of me until this week!! I am so much more thoughtful and careful with my things and rarely lose anything.  Well anyway... if there were two things on my misison that I wouldn't want to lose it would be 1) my retainer 2) my scriptures (which are re-leather bound by this philippino lady and full of my revelations that I have written in them.)  Well this week I lost both.  But not at the same time.  One morning I realized my retainer was gone... I looked everywhere (not even freaking out like I would have had it happened before my mission... I remained faithful, hopeful, and kept my cool) After looking for quite a bit, I knelt and prayed for help.  Despite having looked in the garbage twice... I looked again and found it!!!!
Then, at the special meeting, while saying hi to some friends in the mission before the meeting, I set down my scriptures.  I didn't have them the whole meeting and didn't know where they were.  I started second guessing myself thinking that I left them on a tricycle or jeepnee, in which case I would have no hope of getting them back.  I started praying that I would find them.  After the meeting I was anxious to check the seats when all the missionaries were gone, but to my horror the room immediately started filling up with members who had a meeting right after ours.  BUT... I remained faithful.  Finally, an Elder came up to me and handed them to me.  So grateful.

God answers prayers.

I love you so much!!1

Love Sister Rasmussen

Sister K, Me, Sister & Brother Espiritu and Family
Sister Morales, Me, & Sister K
Sister K playing the piano
Me and Sister Williams

Monday, February 2, 2015

Mabuhay February!!

"Live February !!"
Magandang Buhay! (beautiful life)

Hello my beautiful family.  I am still amazed at the way each week flies right over my head.  How is this going so fast?  I only have 3 more transfers left :(  But..... I will make them the best.  Thank you for writing me and supporting me.  It means a lot.  

As this was one of the last weeks that Sis. K has here on the mission, we really pushed ourselves.  This last week we got 200 OYM's.  Haha I never even dreamed of talking to that many people in one week.  Every night we basically fell into our beds... but so happy knowing that we did our best and talked to as many people as possible.  The interesting thing is... you would think that because we had talked to so many people we would have had less lessons, but this week we had the most lessons that either one of us has ever gotten on our mission.  We really exercised our faith this week - and I think that is why we have been so happy every day.

This has been another awesome week.  I went on exchanges on Tuesday and we went to visit Conching.  Originally she said that she was too busy for us to come because she is a seamstress and had a lot of projects.  But then she changed our mind and let us come teach her.  During her lesson, one of her friends was there visiting her and Conching convinced her to stay and listen to us teach (she is so anxious to share the gospel).  Then as we were leaving, she decided to come with us to visit a less active and another investigator.  CONCHING IS AMAZING!  Honestly, my cheeks hurt after she worked with us because I was smiling from ear to ear for 2 hours straight.  She would just come in whenever she felt prompted by the spirit and she has such a strong testimony about every principle of the gospel.  She herself would extend the commitments to those we were teaching... example, "I invite you to exercise your faith in Jesus Christ and come to church this Sunday.  Will you come?"  Hahaha Sister Williams and I were watching with our jaws to the floor.  Members never do anything like that.  It was perfect.  To our investigator Girlie, who at first didn't want to come to church, Conching bore a strong testimony of keeping the Sabbath Day Holy.  She said that before, she would work every day of the week.  That she would be too tired to leave the house.  She always felt weak and tired.  But now as she sets that day apart for the Lord, and makes time every day for sincere prayers and serious scripture study (She is always reading the Book of Mormon or gospel Principles Book), she has so much more energy, she is actually making more money at her work, she takes pride in her appearance and goes out often.  Because she lives the doctrine she has such a firm testimony because she knows it is true.  She is a walking example of Ether 12:6.  She is such an example to me.  Mom and Dad... I can't WAIT for you to meet her.  Anyway, by the end of that lesson, Girlie felt the spirit and desired to come to church.  One of the members sort of joked with Conching and said, "Conching maybe you should go on a mission!"  Conching replied, "If that's the Lord's plan for me... then of course!"  She is so serious.  I don't care if I had 300 baptisms.... nothing is as fulfilling as seeing someone converted.  Not just baptized.  I'm not even saying it is me or Sister K.  But Conching has followed all of those little promptings of the spirit until she is coming to the point of full conversion.  In those few hours we spent with her... I felt a fullness of joy.  I can't wait to stand with her at the last day, knowing that I played a small part in her conversion.

Sister Kekauoha & Me
Do you remember the Dela Cruz?  That super poor couple that was progressing like crazy? Well out of NOWHERE they told us that they don't want to listen to us anymore.  I think it has something to do with Angelica's family being Catholic.  She still reads her Book of Mormon all the time, but they said they really don't want to listen.  We convinced them to let us teach them one more time on Wednesday... so we'll see what happens.  But after that appointment, we went and taught Connie who has turned out to be an amazing investigator.  Sometimes so amazing, I don't even know how to take in everything she shares with us.  She only read the first 12 verses of the Book of Mormon, and at first we were a little disappointed, but then she shared everything she learned, dissecting each part of the story, and applying it to her life.  I haven't taught anyone yet who has understood the scriptures like that.  She has a son who is handicapped and has sort of been searching for the truth her whole life.  She is super interested in the Plan of Salvation and everything that is going to happen after we die.  The only problem is she really wants her whole family to be taught and baptized but we can't find the time to teach her husband!  It's not that he doesn't want to, it's just that we can't find the time.  As for Connie, she said that every time we teach her she feels so different and it's like she doesn't want to let us leave.  She really ponders everything we teach her.  I have a good feeling about her future!

Thursday, we had interviews with President which went really well.  While we were waiting, Sister Mangum and Sister Galbraith prepared a presentation about food and health.  They are trying to get the missionaries to eat more fruits and vegetables.  They showed us how to make 3 easy quick meals and then let us try them.  Apparently most missionaries are malnourished by 6 months out on the mission.  Haha I felt pretty proud because I always make sure to eat fruits and veggies.... haha even packing them and taking them out while we're proselyting.  It is difficult here though... I am pretty sure all the Philippinos are malnourished.  Their diet consists mostly of bread, rice, and meat.  Anyway... just an interesting fact.

I think that are next baptism will be Aldine.  He is progressing super well and is really excited for his baptism.  His wife, France, is a member and is always cooking for us.  Anyway... he originally wanted to be baptized on his wife's birthday but missed church for a couple weeks so he is set for February 28.  He will hopefully get baptized with Jhanelle Salvador (the daughter of the couple that Sister Brown talked about in her homecoming).  It was awesome - last night we did a Family Home Evening with the Salvador family and the Barcena's family.  We were basically crying laughing it was so fun.  It was so good to see that they were building friendships too as we still feel like they both don't have a lot of friends in the ward.

Me & Sister Kekauoha

We have a lot more investigators that we are really excited about, but we'll see if they progress and then I'll let you know next week.  This morning, we went to TayTay falls as a zone.  It was BEAUTIFUL and I sent pictures.  We got to walk in the beautiful, crystal clear water and then we played games on the way home.

That's about it.  I love all of you so much!! Thank you for your love and support!! I know that this work is 100% true.  I feel it in my bones.  I can't deny it.  Despite all of our weaknesses, mine included, this work will push forward.  Jesus Christ is at the head.

Mahal ko po kayo!!

Sister Rasmussen

Sister Koi (hahah she is getting trained right now. she is AWESOME!), Me & Sister K
Sister Koi & Me
Me, Sister Dula, and Sister Williams
Me, Sister Dula, and Sister Williams
Sister K, Me and Sister Krisubanu
Front - Sister K, Me, Elder Wanoa & Elder Alos
Back - Elder & Elder Adamson

Elder Hart, Elder Adamson, Me & Sister K

Me & Sister Dula

Sister Williams, Sister Krisubanu, Sister Koi, & Sister Kelleher
Me & Sister Kekauoha