Thus far in Sorsogon...it's a beautiful morning with rain and humidity. And the rain continues to fall...
This week has been really great...we started with a wonderful Christmas Eve, with so many eating appointments than I could ask for. I think in total we went to three houses that night for "dinner". And the families are so generous in telling you to continue to eat...even if you are full. And it is so hard when the food is so delicious ;P
Christmas Day was quiet when we woke up....which was really surprising...but it soon became cluttered with the sound of little kids blowing horns and screaming around in the courtyard of our compound. We went to visit several of our recent converts and investigators...it was great to go out on Christmas and have the chance to share with others the joy that the Savior brought to us on that day. Christmas was also full of eating appointments...I was somewhat prepared for the continuous eating, but still suffered for eating too much. The rest of Christmas day we spent teaching less actives...a lot of them were receptive to our message of love and guidance of the birth of our Savior. Many people were out still celebrating the holiday season when we got home...Christmas is such a big thing in the Philippines...it will last until February :) We visited one of our investigators that was going to be baptized on December 29th and he was so excited to have us teach him more. When we entered into his family's hut, he went to the other room and grabbed a bag. After we sat down he gave my companion and I a gift. This had to be one of the most touching moments for me...This young boy is 11 years old. His family lives in very poor circumstances and I wouldn't be certain to say if they have what it takes to meet their daily needs. But here he was giving two missionaries, gifts that he has purchased with money he had saved. I will always remember this example of service from one who was not even a member...and the love that he showed to us. I only hope that I may be able to give back to him, that which he has given to me :)
On Wednesday we went to visit some recent converts...they live out in the middle of the jungle. And just our luck a tropical storm was coming through that day. So the day was really wet. Rain + Jungle = lots of mud! I never thought that I would have so much mud on me, when I was trying to stay out of it. Even after several days....there was still large puddles of water and mud everywhere. I got the chance to Skype the family for Christmas...it was great to talk with you and update you on the service in Sorsogon :) I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Thursday we went back out to the jungle to teach one family. The Larcie Family...both parents are less active and we are in the process of teaching two of their children. We invited the children, two boys, to be baptized and they accepted. But they were concerned because they said that their parents would not allow them to be baptized. When we returned, the mother stated why she did not want here children to be baptized in our church. It was very sad to listen of the circumstances that lead to her choice. It took only a offence from a member to turn this mother and father away from the gospel and then to reject her children's choice to follow their desire in following our Savior. One of the young boys told us that he desires to become a missionary someday...I hope that the seeds we are planting will someday allow for that dream to come forth. It is hard to remember sometimes that we must never give up on certain people, because they may be set...we must always remember that they deserve every ounce of blessing from God.
Friday we had interviews with our Mission President and District Meeting...lots of time to prepare and reflect in what we are doing as missionaries. We were given a challenge to become teachers like our Savior...striving to always teach with Christlike attributes and to meet the needs of those that we are teaching. My Mission President helped with my concern with the language...I must strive to do my very best! I am still really fresh in the mission and it will all come with time. I still think that the hardest part for me will be that I am not able to say what I want to say, to those around me...but with patience and diligence :) After our meeting we went out to contact some of our referrals we had received from our recent converts ( we had one convert give us 7 referrals, another 2 and another 1...still trying to contact all of them!)
Saturday morning we went out early to teach some recent converts and less actives. One family we were visiting has child that is sick with asthma. This child was laying on his stomach and you could see that he was struggling with every breathe that he was taking. We did not stay longer, because the mother was busy, but we left them with a prayer. My companion volunteered me (as she always does...for my practice :)) to say the prayer. It was so hard to say the prayer, because I sat there on the bamboo platform trying to think of how I could ask for Heavenly Father to give them a proper and sufficient blessing for health and all their needs. I started to cry because I just felt that it was so unfair that I was not able to give them what I knew they needed the most.I thought about it after we left their house and I know that Heavenly Father knew the intents of my heart and He will bless them with what He sees necessary. The most I can do is try my best.
As we have gone out this week, I have learned so much from my companion, the people, the language, the gospel and so much more. I have gained more names...Sister Mukha, Sister Pokerface, Sister Pace, and Sister Face. I have learned that the language is difficult, but when you have the words of God in your heart and you are seeking after the desires to bring others unto Him, you are able to say the right words, through His Spirit. I have learned that mud in the Philippines is not friendly...in fact it can be rotten at times, but you must continue forward, because that is what the Lord would have you do. I have learned what love is, for it is in the face of the Philippino people daily. I have learned that there are great responsibilities as a missionary and we must stand up to our positions...but we can do all, for "through God all is possible"(Matthew 19:26).
I hope that you all enjoy the update of the week and I can't wait to share with you the experiences to come this week.
Happy New Year's to you all!!
The pictures are of our two converts. The older gentleman is Antonio...the most stalwart person I have ever met. He is the only member in his family. The other is Arjay, who is 11 years old, and his sister. He is such an example to me :)
living quarters with two other sister missionaries
this is where laundry is done
this is the bathroom