So this week has been incredible. The first few days Sister Hermosa and I stayed in Laoag for the Training and to prepare the cake for President Andrada's birthday. Have I discussed this before? It took me about a month to plan alongside with Sister Andrada, and we had to travel to cook in 'the Mansion' as that missionary apartment actually has an oven. and a microwave. and a shower. and screens on their window. I'm not jealous. nope, not at all... But the oven cooked the cake uneven so there was a lot of stress and cutting off burnt pieces and hoping that there would be a cake left over after I finished cutting all the burnt pieces off!! But in the end the cake turned out great the the AP's gave us a ride to the meeting in their truck so I wouldn't have to try to not ruin the cake on a trycee ride!!
I also got the opportunity to work in Laoag with Sister Owen, the STL's companion.
(For those of you that don't know the mission is set up like this. The mission president is called of God to serve for three years in a specific area. He then calls Office Elders and AP's -or Assistants to the President- to help in the general running of the mission. There are zones that are governed by ZL or Zone Leaders who report to the AP's how the missionaries in their areas are doing, within every zone there are several districts and the DL or District Leader reports how the missionaries in their portion of the area are doing to the zone leader (which is how he gets his information to send to the AP's) Along with the ZL's there are STL's who take care of all the sisters in the Zone -STL standing for Sister Training Leader- The whole reason why sisters get a separate leader to report to is because of exchanges and just emotional differences between male and female. Exchanges are where two companionships - 4 missionaries- swap companions for 24 hours. This is to evaluate the individual missionary on how they are teaching and to make sure true doctrines are being taught as well as making sure that they are following the rules and such.)
So that in and of itself was a trip. It was the afternoon after our Quarterly training from President Andrada so we were all pumped. We just went right out and started finding. Find Find Find!! and wow was the spirit strong! We got home rather late so we just ate, updated our records, prayed and passed out. The next morning we realized we had not planned for the day!! We talked about each person we were going to meet and discussed where they were at and how to best help them grow closer to God. That is the end goal, in all honesty. Exchanges was awesome as I finally got to work in a area besides Sarrat! I love Sarrat, but it was nice to just get out of my usual routine and realize what I can do better. You tend to act different around people you know and people you don't know so I was able to evaluate myself and see what I needed to improve on.
The training was absolutely amazing. We talked about John 21 a lot, and we talked about how as Jesus was on the shore waiting for his apostles to come back so he could tell them off for going fishing again he cooked them breakfast. In all honesty that stood out to me the most. He could have been exasperated with his apostles, after telling them over and over again that they had been called to take care of His fold, not to fish, but he helps them fish, cooks for them, and reminds them of their love for Him. He does not yell and tell them what to do. He simply reminds them that they are so much more than just fishermen. That is the moment that Peter goes from the 'cutting off people's ears' Peter, to the the Peter that people lay in the street just so his shadow can pass over them to be healed. It's not about telling people what do do and them doing it. Its about reminding them of what they can be and letting them.
That leads onto the next big event: Lorenzo's baptism. People kept coming up to Sister Hermosa and I congratulating us, but I did nothing. I simply talked to him and he converted himself. (kudos to anyone who can catch the quote "I don't want to ____ you, i'm going to talk to you, and you are going to ____ yourself.") Lorenzo is the shyest person I have ever met, but his understanding of the restored gospel is astounding. Its like 1+1=2. It's a simple fact, everyone knows it. But now relate it to the gospel. Gospel is truth, and truth is unchanging- like facts. Lorenzo sees the gospel as facts. He simply knows. He put in the effort to pray and think about what we taught, applying our teachings to his life, and he knows. Pure and simple. I did not convert him, God extended His hand to His son though us and we were able to teach him despite rain, work, heat, language barriers, and distance. I wish I could truly describe the simple and overwhelming joy last week when he quit smoking, and when he passed his Baptismal Interview. This joy simply fills you up and you feel like dancing (but dancing is bawal- or forbidden) so you simply hum and explode from happiness. Lorenzo was baptized on June 25th 2016, as - I guess- a sort of birthday present for Sawyer! haha! Happy birthday!
Did I ever stress how important visiting and home teaching is? What you are doing when you do your home/ visiting teaching is making a child of God feel welcome in the social aspect of the church. The Gospel is true, and I have a few investigators who truly know and believe, but cannot get over the social aspect of going to church.
Next we have Tatay Roman, the miracle. Sister Hermosa and I were on splits with some youth from our branch when I got to teach Tatay Roman again. He isn't hiding from us anymore so that is super duper. Sadly though we had to move his baptismal goal date as he needed to meet with us more to finish all the lessons and he has to come to church four Sundays in a row. (I'm not the one who sets up the requirements for baptism, if you have questions ask your local missionaries or simply pray about it.) He was super sad that he had to have his goal date moved but is super amazing and we will be able to meet with him more now!! Can I just say how amazing his wife is? She has been a loyal and active member of the church basically her whole life, she visits with our Recent Convert Nanay Myrna often, and simply radiates love for her family and for her husband. She truly is amazing.
Well that is this week in a nut shell. I'm slowly loosing my English, which is both a good and bad thing. It's good because that means I am finally learning Tagalog, but it sucks as English is kind of a big part of my identity. I'm a writer, it's what I want to do as a career, and If I can't do it well I can't really do it for a living now can I? I'm glad I have the opportunity to write these letters to practice my grammar, check spelling and just keep the language in my head. I'm almost done with my 12 weeks, I'll finish in two weeks! I'm excited to finish my training but I don't feel like much will change besides more proceliting time and less time stuck indoors studying.
Well goodbye from the Sister who may or may not forget her native language..
Did I mention that I am a Disney Princess? I MADE A COMIC ABOUT THIS BUT I FORGOT TO ADD IT, MOMMA COULD YOU JUST ADD IT LATER? SORRY A baby bird flew into the apartment and was quite confused on where the sky went and I just walked up to it and it got scared of me so I simply chirped at it and it chirped back and we had a connection. I picked him up and was able to get him back outside. It was quite fun.
During the training I also got to meet up with my old MTC companions! They are doing great and Sister Rosser is actually serving in the Area where Brother Franklee and Sister Rica just moved to so we were able to help them find them and they will be able to get back in touch with the missionaries!! I'm so excited for them! It was so nice to be able to meet up with my old companions, and I hope that we will be able to be companions again in the field!
DESCRIBING THE BIG OPEN FIELD AND THE PICTURE OF MY HOUSE So the range of housing in Saratt can go from dirt floor and no electricity to three story monster houses with AC. Sister Hermosa and I live in a two story house basically in the center of Sarratt, which is really nice for walking. I love our house, I just wish we had screens to keep the wild critters out. (not that I'm complaining about Baby Cakes, Grumpy Gills and Scardy Pants (the three cats that like to come into our house and make a mess and eat rats) it's more a bug problem. Not to mention the treasure trove of forgotten luggage in the attic. Love that. It's really crazy here in the Philippines, with a shack living next to a three story building.