Monday, March 30, 2015

Aloha!! Joke lang ha

Studying with Sister Maagad
Hello family!!

Mom was asking about the pictures of me washing my feet so I will tell you the story because I forgot to tell you a couple weeks ago.  I went on exchanges with Sister Taufa and I have worked in their area quite a bit because of exchanges.  Anyway.... A few months ago when I went to this one neighborhood it was all flooded and all the houses were surrounded by water and so you had to walk on a bunch of bamboo to get from house to house... do you remember those pictures?  When we went back a couple of weeks ago, we were contacting a referral from the office (which I later found out was given by me... haha pretty cool.  The woman was like... hey! You were the one I talked to on the jeepnee! haha so it was cool to see some fruit coming from the referral I gave) and the water was gone but the place was covered in this really smelly deep mud. 
I took a step towards her house and thought that the mud was hard but it ended up being completely soft and my foot sunk in!! Ughhhhhh so gross.  I shiver when thinking about it again.  Haha my shoe was completely stuck in the thick mud so I had to stick my hand in and fish it out.  Haha the investigator took me to a nearby well and helped me wash it off.  Haha pretty embarrassing but I couldn't stop laughing.  I guess I'm still "clumsy clara!" (arrested development/Rod haha)

But ANYWAY!  It's been another great week in the blessed land of Sta. Cruz.  Brother Pamilacan has officially passed his baptismal interview and will be getting baptized this Saturday.  Raymond still needs to get interviewed but as of now should be getting baptized at the same time.  This will be two completed families in one day!! But I feel like we really didn't do much... we owe it to those missionaries who planted the seeds before.
Sister Koi, Sister Taufa,Sister Dula & Me
Sister Connie did get baptized last Saturday but it was such a sad event!!! Hardly anyone showed up.  Our ward mission leader was an hour late and the person who was supposed to be baptizing didn't even come! Luckily Ding Barcenas was there and so we asked him in the moment of emergency to exercise his newly received priesthood powers and baptize her.  I think that was a cool experience for him.  But I was so worried about Sister Connie and if she had a good experience.  We really tried to coordinate with the ward but it was one of the most stressful/sad baptisms I have had on my mission.  In the middle of it, Sister Maagad whispered to me, "hey... you should sing to make it more special for Sister Connie"... haha so I did! It was crazy but I just sang a solo for her with no piano to accompany me.  Nevertheless, I think that it brought the spirit.  I just hope the ward will do more to reach out to her and fellowship her.  We are going to try a lot harder this week to make the baptism special this Saturday.  It is one of the most important days in these people's lives.  There first step towards accepting the gospel - the gateway to Heaven. 
France, Cloven, & Aldine
But we did have one miracle last week.  The Gatdula family.  A less-active brother randomly woke up Sunday morning and decided that he needed to go back to church and introduce his wife and three sons to the gospel.  They came to church, we talked to them, and were in their house by Tuesday.  THEY ARE SO PREPARED.  I am serious.  Sister Gatdula especially.  All of her questions were perfect. Why are there so many churches?  Why do we only have scripture from Jerusalem?  Are they the only loved and chosen people?  What about other countries?  How can my family be closer and stay together? etc.  The lesson was so powerful and her questions are slowly being answered.  At the end of the lesson, her 15 year old son gave one of the most sincere prayers that I have ever heard.  They came to church again last Sunday and I have confidence that they will continue progressing.

Anyway... the work is still progressing here in Sta. Cruz.  Sister Maagad and I aren't perfect and we have lots of things to work on but I am amazed at the way he can take us, weak instruments, along with all the other missionaries in the world, and hasten His work.  The work really is moving forward and I really do feel that I was foreordained in the pre-earth life to be here at this time.  I don't want this to end:(  I love all of you and pray for you all the time.
Love, Sister Rasmussen

There are statues at one of our oym's (open your mouth's) houses.

With Sister Maagad.  

At the palengke.  I was grossed out by the chicken and asked the girl selling if I could hold it and take a picture.

Calamares... it is like octopus?  Fried octopus?  I can't remember the name in english... hahaha
Sister Maagad hates
 her picture being taken

Fish that we ate one lunch.  The woman selling them skinned and killed the fish in front of our eyes. 

Monday, March 23, 2015


Sister Koi & Me

Hello my beautiful family!! Well this has been another beautiful week here in Sta. Cruz.  I want to start with the best...

Monday night, President and Sister Mangum came to work with us, at our request, to Brother Pamilacan.  I think that I have given you some details about Brother Pamilacan but just a reminder... he has been an investigator for more than a year and has 9 pages on his teaching record! Hahah I have never seen anything like that on my mission.  Anyway... he really wants to get baptized, he is currently on his second round of the Book of Mormon, and he is active as far as church attendance goes.  These are the reasons that he has continued to be taught for so long.  The only thing that has kept him from entering the waters of baptism is his falling into peer pressure to drink a shot every now and then.  Anyway.... this is his time.  It has nothing to do with me, or Sister Maagad, or anything else.... it really just is his time.  Monday, President Mangum came and we found out that he has not had a drink for a month.  I think that it is his time because he did this completely out of his free will.  He wasn't forced by us or anyone else, but just chose it.  We had a lesson about the pre-earth life, who we were there, what we chose, and our agency that we still have here.  It was really cool and I don't think that either Sister Pamilacan or Brother Pamilacan had ever thought about their existence before this life, who they were, what they did, what they fought for, or what they chose.  I think it really put it into perspective.  Then President and Sister Mangum bore powerful testimonies.  President Mangum gave a great example where he asked, "When is the best time to start saving up for retirement?" Haha they stopped for 30 seconds and responded, "right now?" Haha he went on to explain that if we didn't start 20 years ago, we need to start right now.  Today.  He then connected it to this life here on earth.  He said that this is the time that we are saving up for our eternal retirement, or eternal reward.  If we didn't start 20 years ago... we need to start today.  He then said, "If we chose Jesus Christ in the pre-earth life, and it was the right choice, why wouldn't we do it again?"  I think everything really clicked for both Brother and Sister Pamilacan.  Hahah and of course Brother Pams was still his makulit (naughty/immature... I know it sounds weird in English but yeah) self.  During the whole lesson he was quoting songs or making jokes.. haha we thought that he would cool it a little bit when the PRESIDENT was there but nahhhh.. he is always just so real.  Which is cool.  But president totally understood and was laughing and stuff.

After the lesson he layed his hands on his head and gave him the most beautiful blessing.  Although the experience (lesson and blessing) was in English, I know that they understood everything.  Brother Pamilacan will officially be getting baptized on April 4th!! Ok... so it's not official until that day.... but we are pretty sure.  He also knows that April 6th is Christ's birthday so he is excited to do this as a gift for the savior.  Sister Pamilacan is so giddy that it is really happening.  He and Raymond Sanchez should be getting baptized on the same day.  Two completed families on the same day!
 Christine Mae, me, John Carlo and Sister Connie Maranan
Sister Connie will be getting baptized this Saturday.  She is really excited and is so sincere.  Then April 15th we are expecting Jhanelle and Marvin Salvador to finally get baptized... another completed family! The field is white and ready to harvest.  The thing is most of these people were initially found by Sister Burt and Sister Brown so we owe it to them... Well I guess all the glory goes to Heavenly Father.  But I am grateful to play a small part in their conversions.

After President came and worked with Sister Maagad and I.... we requested that we could both stay in Sta. Cruz for one more transfer. haha he laughed and said that it was duly noted.  BUT.  It happened.  We are soo happy!! We have one more transfer together.  I am so happy.  Sister Maagad makes the work so fun.  Haha we always have, "She loves you yeah yeah yeah! She loves you yeah yeah yeah!" stuck in our heads because our neighbor blasts the Beatles during our studies every morning.  Haha so we will just replace it with our own lyrics about the work.  Sounds cheesy but it's hilarious.  Sister Maagad won't stop calling me Barbie.  I don't know why.  And now everyone keeps saying it!!! It's the first time I have had this in my mission... grabe naman.

Friday, we had our very last zone conference ever and both of us bore our testimonies.  It felt pretty anti-climactic because my release is so far away.  But it was an awesome conference and they talked about the new focus of the church... "because HE lives" (for Easter).  Should be SUPER cool and it starts on March 28th so I encourage all of you to look at the website and share:
Anyway... the work is really progressing here and I am so happy.  I can't believe how fast this has gone and I feel that there is so much still to accomplish - here and within myself.  But the work never ends.  The mission ends... but missionary work does not.

But I just want to bear my sincere testimony to you that I know that God is our Heavenly Father.  Literally.  He directs this work.  He is above, around, and in everything.  His love is eternal.  I know that He suffered just as much as Jesus Christ did.  President Mangum said that he would have done anything to stop the suffering of his daughter when she fought cancer and eventually passed away.  If he had the ability, he would have.  Heavenly Father had the ability to help Jesus Christ at any second, but didn't step in.  But I know that because of this expression of love, we can change.  We can become just like them someday... become perfect.  I also know that these two perfect beings appeared to Joseph Smith in that grove of trees and that he became the instrument to restore the only true and living church on earth.  I really know these things because of my experiences and mostly because of the Book of Mormon.  I can't explain how much I love this book.  I know it's true because I asked this morning.  That's the cool thing is we can keep asking and searching and strengthening our testimonies. I know all of these things are true.
I love you.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sister Rasmussen

Two transfers!!!

Ps earlier today we had a boogle fight - they just stick all of the food and rice on a giant banana leaf and everyone digs in and eats with their hands. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hello beautiful family

Sisters Richman, Dula, Keleher, koi, Taufa, Krisubanu, Cortez, Tzanis, Me, Maagad, Japus, & Lorente

Hello!! How is it Monday again?  This is going too fast.

Earlier this week, we were able to teach Raymond Sanchez and he is progressing wonderfully.  Haha he is hilarious in the lessons.  He is really talkative and is always joking.  He says that he likes to laugh and have fun in the lessons so it's always a riot.  Haha he told us that apparently when he first met the missionaries he didn't want to be taught.  It really is just because he was shy/ashamed that he didn't know the answers to any questions about the gospel.  He also was struggling with Word of Wisdom and he knows that it is a commandment in the church.  Haha he said that missionaries used to come to his house and they would be all sweet and smiling and saying in a high voice, "we're soo excited to teach you brother!" hahaha and then he would respond in a high sweet voice, "me tooo!!!" hahaha but deep inside he was dying and didn't want to at all.  Haha then apparently he didn't want to have me teach him because I seemed strict or serious...? Hahaha (apparently I haven't been smiling as much lately? ano ba iyan?? which I didn't even notice or realize was happening but it's my new goal. Smile always.  That's not me?)  Anyway, after getting to know Sister Maagad and I he realized that we're not like that.  Every time after the lesson he is always surprised and says he feels like he's left on a cliff-hanger... he always feels like the lessons are too short.  So last time, he stayed and listened in for Aldine's lesson too.  Haha Aldine also said that it was only to me that he was able to really start reading and progressing.  They were attributing it to me but I know that it really is just the timing of everything and the spirit working on him.  But still, it felt good to know that there are some people prepared for me to teach :)  He's so awesome and is really excited about his baptism.  He has already stopped drinking coffee and smoking and has such a strong desire to be sealed in the temple.  iyaaannnn.

I went on an exchange earlier this week with a new missionary.  She is really struggling with Tagalog and it brought back memories of my first few months out here in the mission.  At some point you just have to laugh it off.  Haha I really admire her because she is so confident with what she is saying.  To be honest, sometimes I couldn't understand anything she was saying, and I am pretty sure that the investigators had no clue... but the spirit was really strong.  Because her testimony is so strong and she had so much conviction in what she was saying, you could really feel the spirit.  In the end I know that is the most important thing that needs to happen in the lesson.
Sister Conching & me
Sister Conching has been working with us quite a bit and I think she is getting a little tired from all the walking but she says she loves it and it makes her feel younger.  I was quite impressed with her agility at age 60 as we were walking through the rice fields and across bridges.  She ended up just going bare foot part of the way.  She says she loves it and she sees so many blessings in her life from being a member.  She said that at one point, she didn't think she would have enough money to pay her tithing.  She was really praying that she would have some customers (she is a seamstress) and this week she has been blessed with an overflow of work.  She now has enough money to pay her tithing and she has a good testimony of prayer.  She has also already finished the Book of Mormon.  As I was working with her yesterday, she said how although she has only known the missionaries for a short time, she feels so close to them and knows that she will have a life-long relationship with them because they have changed her life.  She says that we are her adopted daughters.  I can't wait for you to meet her!!
 We did an FHE and used charcoal to put on the face
 if you lost for a punishment

Lastly, we are teaching Brother Pamilacan much more frequently these days.  He is a year-old investigator and is only a few occasional shots away from getting baptized.  That is his only problem... the social pressure of drinking.  The reason he has been taught so long is because he comes to church every Sunday, reads and prays.  We feel that this is his time... AND President Mangum is going to come work with us and teach him tonight.  We invited him to come and be a member present so it's going to be a very interesting/spiritual experience.  I'll let you know how it goes.  I really feel that Sister Maagad will be the one to help him though.  Apparently her and Sister Smart had a similar investigator in their last area who had been taught on and off for 10 years (or maybe longer?) but they were finally able to baptize him.  We are praying for him like crazy... and I know if it happens it will also be the answer to sweat, blood, tears, and prayers of many missionaries who have preceded me.

But this area is so beautiful.  I would be so happy if it were my last area... even if that meant I would be here for 7 1/2 months!!! But I doubt that will happen.  I have never felt so unsure about what will happen next transfer... but I have a feeling that I will be staying one more.  Sister Maagad and I still have work to do here.  I love her so much and we are learning tons from each other.  With lots of laughing our bums off along the way.
I love all of you!!! 
Oh and by the way.... it is my last zone conference on Friday and so I will be bearing my testimony...How is this really coming to an end?  I am still in denial.
But I really do know that this is the true church on earth.  I know that the gospel is the only way to happiness.  I know that sometimes we feel down or struggle, but as we endure and continue in our faith in Christ, He will someday welcome us into his presence, as families, to live with a fullness of joy.  Let's not forget our real goal.

I love you!!!
Love, Sister Rasmussen

There is a well at the house of one of our investigators.  That is the water they use! Well water! And that is how they get it out.
Sister Rasmussen & Elder Rasmussen

Monday, March 9, 2015

Nakapunta pala ako sa Manila!!!!

"I've turned in Manila !!!!"

Back row:  Sister Beaumont, Sister Rickets, Sister Johnson,Me, Sister Mahony & Sister Kinikini
Bottom row:  Sister Vaka, Sister Kelleher & Sister Taufa
Hello family!

I have some crazy news.  Earlier this week, the office contacted us with some ambiguous instructions to get 6 passport pictures taken and put in an envelope for quick access.  Then Thursday, they texted us and told all of us foreigners to be packed and ready to go to Manila Friday night to have our fingerprinting done Saturday morning.  I was super shocked.  Before, they had all the foreigners go and do that before they went home, but they are changing the system so they won't have to keep sending the missionaries there.  Apparently, this was the very last batch to be able to go and there were 46 of us missionaries.  Crazy.  I got to see the Manila temple, but we didn't get to go in. Friday night, after two long bus rides, we finally arrived in Manila and I was SHOCKED. 

We stayed in such a nice hotel.  The beds were ginormous... I dove in.... and I enjoyed my hot shower for a good 20 minutes (didn't realize how much I miss that).  It felt like I was in America.  So weird.  They had a bunch of American restaurants too so we were able to go and have dinner.  I guess I had kind of forgotten what conditions I am living in.  I think I will really be shocked at the
quality of everything when I get home. 

The next day, we went to the MTC, where they had foreigner missionaries from all over the Philippines... there were hundreds of us!  And I saw many of my batch mates from the MTC.  It was fun... and the temple was beautiful...but it just made me sad.  It made me realize how close I am to going home.  It was a really weird feeling.  We had to wait a long time and there was some time to ponder.... It hit me for the first time that all of this will really have to come to an end.  I am not ready and I know that there is a lot more work.  I also feel like there are so many things I need to change about myself.  Of course it was good to see everyone, and we had fun..... but I am so glad to be back in my area and that I still have time here.
My MTC Batch and Sister Kelleher 

Me & Sister Kelleher 

Me & Sister Patolo
from my MTC Batch
Sister Johnson & Me
from my MTC Batch

Elder Burbidge (our AP) & Elder Burbidge
his twin brother

Sister Kinikini, Sister Johnson, & Me
                                                                                                                   Sister Hale & Me

As far as things happening in my area... I don't have too much to report.  Raymond Sanchez (Aldine Teus' brother-in-law) is progressing beautifully.  We watched The Restoration with him and at the end he said it was too short and that he wanted to see more.  Haha we have an extended version at our house that we will lend to him.  But he is really excited for his baptism and is sincerely searching.  Still feels like he hasn't received an answer... but I know as he continues that it will come.

I don't know if I told you about the referral from the Barcenas family, but it is these four couples that live in the middle of a rice field (paradise).  They have now come to church two weeks in a row and are all really excited about the gospel.  Sister Barcenas spoke in church and said that it has felt so good to share the gospel with her extended family.  Aldine also gave a talk on Sunday AND blessed the sacrament.  I was smiling from ear to ear. 

Unfortunately, Connie didn't come to church... which means she won't be getting baptized on the 21st which also might mean that if I get transferred that I won't see her baptism.  But, Sister Morales and I went to follow up with her later last night and taught about agency.  She didn't have a good excuse for missing church and by the end realized how important the little decisions are that we make every day.  She said a sincere prayer in closing, crying and asking for forgiveness.  I think that she learned from that mistake and maybe it was an experience she needed to have to help her towards true conversion.

Other than that we had another good week.  Sister Maagad and I have a ton of fun together.  We often sing/rap along the way.  Today, she taught me to eat my chicken and rice like a true Philippino with my hands.  I love her so much and secretly hope we can have one more transfer together.
I love all of you!!!!

Lesson of the week:

At Missionary Leadership Council, President Mangum started with a really good example.  He asked us what we would do if we had a credit card that every single day when we woke up had 57,600 pesos on it, and we could spend it on anything that we wanted but as soon as we went to bed at night it went back to 0.  We couldn't save up or invest it in any way.  We simply had to spend it.  People were getting creative with all of the extravagant ways they could use and spend the money... travels, food, things, concerts, etc.  But finally, he explained that probably after a while we would get sick of using it on ourselves and would want to try and come up with a more useful and helpful way to spend it.  He explained that that number didn't just come out of thin air but that it was the amount of minutes that a missionary has every single day.
We then discussed how we use that time... if we use it efficiently.... how we spend it and perhaps more importantly, who we spend it on.  He asked each of us how we prioritize our time.  I realized that this is still something I could really work on and it really put it into perspective for me.  Sister Mangum gave a talk on our testimonies and made a good point that I feel like applies: "Spiritual experiences have a shelf life"
Usually the lasting effect of a spiritual experience is somewhat short.  They can be easily forgotten or pushed aside.  We need to consistently be building our testimonies and continually adding to our jar of personal experiences.  Our testimonies are built through our desire, faith, obedience, prayer, fasting, and repentance.  But, if we let the seconds, minutes, hours, and days slowly pass by without diligently striving to build our testimonies, they can slip through our fingers without us even noticing.
I guess the overall lesson that I learned is that one of the most precious gifts given to us is time... and we must make every second count.
I once heard another quote.... "An ordinary missionary counts down the days.  An extraordinary missionary makes the days count."
Anyway..... after my experience in Manila and at MLC... I have really decided to make every single day count.  I want to go to bed every night knowing that I did everything I could that day.
I think the same can apply for all of us... full-time missionaries or not.

I hope that was somewhat helpful.

I love you!!!!

Love, Sister Rasmussen

Sister Dula, Sister Koi, Sister Krisubanu & Sister Japus
Sis Koi Sis Dula Sis Krisubanu Sis Japus and they are picking egg plants. 
Sister Japus
Sister Japus picking eggplants