Sunday, July 24, 2016

Week 21 In The Philippines Laoag Mission

Because the power was out all the town was out.  The kids and adults were all out in the streets playing games.  These are my neighbors who are playing "steal the bacon".  

July 25, 2016

Hello! Me again! Well obviously its me, but regardless....
This has been a pretty amazing week, but at the same time the LONGEST week of my mission so far. We didn't get as many lessons taught as I would have liked due to having to go back to the hospital to have my foot looked at (for the athletes foot) and after sitting in the waiting room and then randomly asking for a blood and other samples I was told that I was as healthy as a horse but would still feel tired until this Saturday as my body was still recovering. That's not exactly what I wanted to hear, but then again I'm always hoping to hear the words "do you want free chocolate?" or "Here is a free AC unit!" So I'm not surprised at not hearing what I want to hear! haha. But while I was sitting in the waiting room I was staring at the welcome mat that had some water stains. I eventually realized that it had the exact same shape as the profile of Christ in a drawing I did a while ago! So I was impressed to pray and just be grateful for what I have instead of wishing for what I don't have: free chocolate, air con, or total strength back. I know that the more we trust in God the more we will be able to have the strength we need to face the requirements for the day. That also applies for stress, stress is a form of fear, and fear cannot reside in a place where faith is. That is not to say that people who struggle with stress are faithless, just that we all need reminders to trust in the Lord. yes this life is incredibly stressful but if it wasn't hard we wouldn't grow much and that would defeat the point of life!

Frame 1: It's so nice to be well and out of the hospital.
Frame 2:  OUCH!
Frame 3:  You have athlete's foot!
Frame 4:  I'm NOT praying for patience anymore...

    That leads me to this week. It's not about what I want and it's not about me. It's about the people. Of course I know that before, but like a sunset every now and then the clouds align in just the right way to make way for something bigger. I hope that makes sense... What I mean is we know that the sun sets every day, it's kind of obvious, but sometimes we take the time to watch it go and glory in its parting. That almost sound poetic, i'm rather proud of myself. The more I get to know the people in the Sarrat area the more I love missionary work. I'm not here to just teach lessons and learn a language. reciting memorized lines of perfect and grammatically correct sentences. It's not about me. It's about if we have the spirit with us as we teach, find, and greet the people around us. I'm not just here to invite others to come unto Christ, i'm here to invite them to want to and to help them feel His love in all times in all things and in all places.

A Sarrat Sunset

    So the week began slow, having to rest for a few more hours than I would have liked but in those moments I was able to meditate (as I couldn't get myself to sleep) and read the few Liahona's that I hadn't gotten to yet. I was also able to write a few letters that had been nagging me in the back of my mind. I think the Lord was trying to get me to do that.

    I think my favorite thing that we did this week was helping Nanay Modesta. She is 80+ and Iv'e been meeting with her since I first arrived in the mission field as she is the guardian of one of the recent converts in the area. She was shoveling a pile of dirt in her driveway to try and clear it out of the path, as the recent rains and children playing on it had slowly pushed it into the road. The shovel she was using, the wooden handle part ha broken, so it was like using a garden spade to move a mountain. We approached and offered to help, and after a bit of reassuring and taking the spade from her we began working, we borrowed a real shovel from her neighbor and took turns with the shovel and spade and quickly moved the pile into a more manageable shape. I was sweating so hard sweat was dripping off me at a rather impressive rate. (If I have not mentioned it before the people here enjoy pointing out my nose. My nose flips up while theirs is more flat on their face.) So it was funny as the sweat dripped off the tip of my nose the children that had gathered to watch all laughed, saying that my Pinocchio nose was crying. Did I mention that we also had no power in the whole town due to some electrical lines being checked and ensured that they were safe? It was the best day ever.

    Next week will be so fun and I can't wait! We are going to have a Zone baptism (where all the baptisms in the Zone are arranged for the same day place and time and all the missionaries and members come to support all the new converts) this Saturday and this Friday we are having a branch movie night! We are going to make a bunch of flyers and pass them around the town and invite people for movies and popcorn. The movies we will show will be The restoration and Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration, both of which have Tagalog subtitles.

    Sorry for how short this letter is but that basically sums up my week...
From the sister who is fully healed and working on getting screens on her windows to keep the stray cats, mice, bugs, and mosquitoes out,

Sister Eldredge

P.S.  I FORGOT TO SAY:  My branch just got back from a three day temple trip (12 hours drive down and up so two days just for travel) and I gave some money to my branch president and he got me baby scriptures! They are soo tiny and sooo cute and they will be perfect for proselyting as now I won't have to try and hide my name from the investigators and they will be lighter to carry. All my study and notes will go in the bigger ones but these will be my carry around ones

P.P.S.  I also forgot to say:  Roman is doing great! He has even asked us to move his baptism up from August 20th to the 9th. A young girl in the ward is turning 8 that day and will be baptized with him on her birthday! Franklee and Rica are amazing as always but they are struggling to come to church, every time Franklee gets time off work there is something that calls him away: a death in the family, a storm that knocked down a tree that he wanted to clear away as he had the day off work and such. We will continue to emphasize the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy but so far if this continues he will have to be baptized on a different day, though his wedding is still a go!

A HUGE spider, the size of my face.  It's non-venomous and etas bugs and mice so I named it squishy and it is my squishy and he shall be mine.  

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Week 20 in the Philippines Loaog Mission: Another Week of Rest

A "Get-Well" Lei from my Zone Leaders.  The Elder in the picture on the Lei is one of my Zone Leaders.

July 17, 2016

Well it looks like I have survived another week! haha i'm kidding. This week has been much of the same, being stuck in the house. It was quite funny because as soon as I stepped foot into our house after being released from the hospital my left foot started acting up. i did not have a day between getting released and my foot getting bad. It is true when they say once you have finished done trial you begin another! Apparently I have athlete's foot and because I have not taken care of it it has gotten pretty bad so we went tot the hospital to have it checked out and I was told shoes are bawal (not allowed), and to keep the foot covered in ointment and to give it plenty of air. Needless to say it has been another week in the house. We went out to teach on a few occasions and My health is improving so it was not extrenious.

So a basic wrap up of the last few weeks:
Our main focus in teaching is on three of our investigators: Roman, Franklee and Kimberly.

   Tatay Roman is 50+ and his entire family are active members. We had hoped to have had his baptism this last Saturday but he had some things he needs to work out first before he is ready for baptism, namely his addiction to alcohol. He quit cold turkey after receiving a blessing several months ago and he is aware of the temptations. The coolest thing is that he knows what he wants to do to prepare for his baptisms and is willing to truly repent and come clean. He will be baptized, I have absolutely no doubt about it, it only depends on the when. Our goal as of now is August 20th.

    Next, Kimberly. We hope to have her baptized next month and she is simply golden. She is 18 with a now 2 month old baby named Dimple and she began reading the book of Mormon from the beginning without being invited to do so and always has questions or insights about reading assignments. I am only concerned that she doesn't come to church. I think that she is scared to come, but once we put some effort into helping her have fellowshipers she will feel more confidant in coming and knowing that she will have help at church with her adorable baby.

    Finally Franklee and his wife Rica. They are going to have a three way celebration on the 10th of august. Their baby's 1st birthday, their wedding and Franklee's baptism. Its not a Saturday like baptisms usually are but it is an awesome day. Its been about 6 weeks since we last went over the Baptismal Interview Questions with him so it is understandable that he is a little rusty but I have never seen this amount of conviction. As he is again struggling with his addiction to cigarettes he asked for a priesthood blessing and has been doing great since! He is a true miracle; no matter the obstacles no matter the drawbacks or bumps in the road he has been converted since we began teaching. In all honesty I think he was converted before we began teaching him!

    While teaching our one of the recent converts in the area, Nanay Myrna my mom away from home, we met her grandson Kevin who was a previous investigator. Iv'e taught him before but there was something different about him this time. He was receptive and discussed how some things were not going right in his life and he knew that by attending church he would be able to receive the guidance he needed to get his life back on course. When he attended church this last Sunday we asked how he felt about the service. He talked about how he felt so much lighter, like a burden had been taken from him. I am excited to extend a baptismal goal date to him next lesson and to help him begin to progress towards reviving the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that it will truly bless his life.

    Personally, I am feeling great! I'm still easily tired and my foot itches like I stepped in a fire ant mound but its healing and I will be able to really start teaching again. Mainly what I have learned from being cooped up in the house for 9 days was patience and the importance of repentance. If we compare my athlete's foot to sin, we get a sort of analogy for life: If I had been...
1) Aware of my problem and
2) Had the courage to admit that I needed help and that I could not do it on my own
    I would not have been confined to the house for as long as I have been. Its a terrible analogy but that is the analogy I've got. Putting off repentance is like getting stabbed and then convincing yourself that you can just YouTube how to stitch it up. No, don't do that; that's dumb. Take your problem to someone who has the ability and the authority to help and you will be healed! Its literally that simple. Doctors don't get mad at patients for being sick and bishops don't get mad at people for their mistakes. We all mess up and we all need the help, so just get the help and start getting better!

    I did get a blessing from the Zone Leader's in our area and while I did not receive a miraculous healing like I had hoped I did receive what I needed. I was told to be patient and to be at peace. (One of the reasons I was sick these last weeks is due to stress.) So I'm working on new ways to de-stress as well as staying healthy. After the blessing the Elder's joked that I should give them athlete's foot so they could have a turn resting! It was quite funny.

From the sister who is tired of resting and ready to work

Sister Eldredge

My Hospital Room Last Week

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week 19 in the Philippines Loaog Mission: My Hospital Stay


July 10, 2016     

     Yes i am in a hospital, no I don't need to go home, and yes I am just fine. No it's not from mosquito or from diet or from anything. I have kept my hands clean and I basically swim in hand-sanitizer every day and I wear shoes, an all those prevention things. I got a virus, and while the hospital is unsure which virus it is I am feeling 90% better but that may be because I am on medication. I am being released today and will be resting the rest of this upcoming week. Right now I am emailing off my mission president's wife's phone. Did I ever mention that she was a nurse? So don't worry about me I am completely fine and am just a little home sick, but being sick does that to a person. I don't want to go home and will be back to full strength and working full hours by next Wednesday. I feel fine, just tired all the time. 

     So this week has been interesting.  Sister Hermosa and I were quite ready to hit the ground running and do our best to not only live up to the mission standard of excellence but our personal goal in finding was to find 40 new investigators. We started the week out right on track and every day we doubled our total lessons and although we were behind in out goals for finding we were setting aside time specifically for finding as well as speaking and teaching everyone that would listen to us! I think that we were very well on our way to fulfilling our goals. But life never works out the way you want it to. It may be becaus I keep praying for opportunities to be more patient. So I became a patient. How much more patient can a person be than when your very title is 'patient?' Haha

     Apparently I have some sort of virus, but I'm feeling fine now. It's been interesting, annoying and amazing all at once. Being confined to a hospital is interesting as you are still set apart as a missionary so you still cannot watch movies or tv or anything like that so it's mostly just reading "Jesus The Christ", sleeping, drinking water, and sleeping again... But you are still set apart as a missionary and you constantly worry about your investigators and who will sit with them at church, and who will help them with rides, or who will greet them...Of course being stuck in one room from Friday to Monday can be frustrating and annoying; I like to think of myself as an independent person and don't like having people waiting on me or doing things for me. I seem to have the mentality of "I have to do it for you" and have never taken well to having others help me. But this is what happens when you ask to be blessed with patience. It's been amazing as I got to see the reaction of the mission and the Sarrat Branch. We received the Branch President, his family, our Branch Counselor and his family and several of the youth of the branch came to visit. Their concern, their kindness and their generosity has truly touched me. I am also extremely grateful for President Andrada and Sister Andrada coming to visit so many times despite how busy they are with the transfers, general mission business, and the new trainees, and those going home all flooding the mission home and mission office. They are truly amazing and I thank Heavenly Father every day for their guidance and care and to bless their family.  

     This week has been fun, for the few days we were actually out working as missionarries. I got to experience  Filipino 'cheese cake' which is litterally just a muffin that tastes like cheese. Not at all what I was expecting, but at the same time who knows what I was expecting. I really ought to not expect anything when trying a new food as that will lesson the confusion but you can;t help but have expectations when trying something. Speaking of food, last Monday was the 4th of July and my companion made me American Pancakes for breakfast!! She is so sweet, and she has been so patient as I've been out of commission this whole week. 

     While we were out working Wednesday we were teaching our youngest recent convert, Mary Rose, and when we asked if she was excited for school the next day (school was out due to a religious holiday) she responded that school was canceled because there was a typhoon on its way! I got excited and looked up to the sky only to see that there wasn't a single cloud in sight. Needless to say the typhoon missed the Philippines in general and we just got some light rain instead. It was simply funny how she was talking about a huge storm while the sky was clear. 

     Our progressing investogator, Roman, asked us this last Thursday to push his baptism back again and we have been praying to know what his concern is, as this is the second time that he has asked us to push his baptism back. This Sunday he did not attend church and arrived back at his house late at night stone drunk. I have to say that I'm not even mad, I'm only sad that we did not see the signs that he was struggling with this addiction again. I hope that when we get back to Sarrat, once I'm discharged, to be able to help him see that he can always bounce back and that he has an incredible support system through the branch and his family. We texted his son, the branch mission leader, and suggested he give his father a blessing. Hopefully he accepted and can see how loved he is. 

     Then there is Kenneth, Lorenzo's best friend. Even though Lorenzo did not make it to church- despite having gotten the day off from work and working with his boss to not work on Sundays- Kenneth was willing to walk to church, which is a good half hour walk one way! Our wonderful Second Counselor was able to intercept Kenneth and bring him and his friend Lennox to church and give them a ride back. I am excited to hopefully begin teaching Lennox again, who was taking lessons back in May but stopped for one reason or another.

    Sorry this is such a short letter, but not much happens when you are stuck in a hospital for several days. 
From the sister who is still recovering but is feeling much better,

Sister Eldredge

Monday, July 4, 2016

Week 18 in the Phililppines Loaog Mission

July 4, 2016 

It seems every week is full of emotional turmoil and trials and then there are rays of sunshine and flowers blooming in between the cracks of pavement. I've been thinking about doing some paintings called 'futility' of kids throwing sticks for dogs, and flowers growing in the pavement. It's useless things that don't really add up to anything in the bigger picture, but that are beautiful in their own way. It's not meant to be depressing or anything, it's meant to show that some things are given to us by our Heavenly Father for no other purpose than to make us smile. 

I think that about sums up this week... i'm kidding!

The rainy season is officially here *dun dun DUNN* but that literally just means that it rains everyday at about 3 pm, which is the hottest time of the day so its been WONDERFUL. i swear Filipinos are part duck, when it starts raining they act like it isn't. People are still out walking in the streets, selling buying and basically just your ordinary day- it's just raining as thick as buckets of water. 

So fun story time!! We have mice! Yes, mice, not mouse.  I know that as I killed one and there are still freaking mice. I also found a cool mouse scull under the sink when I was doing some cleaning. I also found a freaking old bottle of booze next to the mouse scull but I was more interested in the scull than the alcohol- which I chucked at. I saw a mouse and was very excited to scare it to follow it to its hidey-hole so I could put poison out to get rid of it but it wouldn't scare... So I smacked it with my shoe. I honestly feel like a murderer, especially since one of my nicknames with one of my best friends is 'mouse.' But they eat my bread and they eat some written letters so i'll keep smacking the mice.... I don't know if that is actually a fun story... anyways....

So another fun story! During District meeting I heard one of the Elders jokingly say that your spouse will spend an hour in the gym for every hour you spend in the rain. So of course when it was time to go out and it was raining cats and dogs we went out! We were walking with our umbrella's at a slant to try to not get rained on in the heavy wind when we bumped into someone. Yes, bumped! Their umbrella hit mine so I stopped so Sister Hermosa bumped into me and we were all wet and laughing. The Lord will literally guide your steps to find the people ready to hear. Later when the wind died down I was able to hold the umbrella upright and found out a fun fact. My umbrella has holes; at every bend of the little metal thingies a hole has been made by constant opening and closing. So it didn't matter where I put my head under the umbrella, the rain would get through the tiny holes and get me right in the eye every time. Talk about walking blind in faith!

The beginning of this week we had Exchanges (where the leaders working the areas of the people they are over) so I got to work in Sarrat with the STL- last week I was in Laoag with the STL's companion so that doesn't count as I have to be evaluated by the STL. It was exhausting and hard but I learned a lot. Mostly I learned not to judge. We had just finished rearranging our schedule to fit the needs of an investigator who couldn't meet with us on any of the days we had scheduled when the STL's called and asked to do Exchanges two days early, so we rearranged our schedules again. Needless to say I was frustrated. I had scheduled and i'm more of a 'go with the flow' sort of person so scheduling is stressful for me. I was mad, but when I worked with the STL I got to see how truly wrong I was for being mad. You never know someone's background, where they are coming from or how they perceive the world. You don't know the trials they may be going through right then or in the past, and I was truly humbled by my STL's faith and diligence. 

Tatay Roman was going to be baptized on the 9th but he began to have doubts, not about the gospel, but about himself. To encourage him we wrote out a two week schedule for him to show how much he had to learn (not much) and we went over the Baptismal Interview Questions with him. I think he was honestly surprised by how well he was prepared. He answered nearly all the questions with confidence and shared insights on a few of them too. His wife, who has sat in on every lesson, was beaming by the end of the mock interview. We invited him to pray to know if he would be ready by the 9th or if he wanted to push it back to the 16th. His prayer was so heartfelt and I nearly started crying during it. It was in the village language ilocono so I couldn't understand a single word, but the spirit doesn't work in words. I was so sure he would be ready by the 9th but he called the next day and asked to postpone his baptism. He wants to sure that he is truly converted to the gospel and I couldn't respect that more. We don't baptize just anyone, we baptize those who have an understanding of the atonement and want to grow closer to God through the atonement and restored gospel of Jesus Christ, that is literally our purpose as missionaries. That is why we interview people before baptism, it's not to make the church or the gospel exclusive, but to ensure that you are prepared and willing to keep the covenants, or promises you make with God. It's rather straight forward really. 
I think the best part of this week was that Franklee and Rica CAME BACK FROM PASUQUIN!!! I had literally just given their information to the missionaries in that area and had basically just hoped that the other missionaries would find and teach them since we couldn't from Sarratt, but they are back! and they had days in mind for their wedding and Franklee's baptism! I couldn't be more excited! hopefully we will be able to have them married August 10th and Franklee Baptized the next week. 

So with these two amazing baptism's lined up I'm getting a little paranoid. I will officially finish my training next week (iv'e already finished the actual training booklet last night) and so the missionaries around me keep joking that I will be transferred soon. Every time someone suggests that I feel like clinging o the nearest tree and refusing to let them take me away from Sarrat. I love the people here and I couldn't imagine leaving them. But I'm not the one who decides, the fun thing about being on your mission is you see how very present the Lord is in the dealings of man. He is literally the head of this church and He calls those to act in his place so wherever I am called- whether I get to stay in Sarrat or if i'm moved to the furthest mission it will be the Lord's decision for me so.... yeah. But if I got a say I'd stay in Sarrat. When I first arrived the members said "welcome to outer darkness" or "welcome to the hardest area in the mission" but the branch has grown so much and so many less actives have returned. Last Sunday I had the privilege of taking the sacrament which was passed by a brother who had been less active when I first arrived. Things are brightening up in Sarrat and I know the branch members see it too.

There have been several deaths in the town so it's been an interesting cultural experience to witness the different kinds of funerals. Of course I was not present for the funerals as I don't actually know who died... Apparently they have the tradition of turning their coffins three times counter clockwise and as they lower the coffin into the ground they behead a chicken. No idea why but there you go: culture. They also have a parade for the coffin as it goes to the cemetery . Everybody gets all dressed up and the coffin is put in this horse-drawn carriage and there is a marching band that plays as they go. Quite fun. Also members of the family wear white ribbons around their head and those who traveled from far away wear black to help them travel safely back, so that is a fun superstition. But after the funeral they all cook a bunch of food and play card games or board games and sing karaoke and basically just celebrate the life, not mourn the death. Love that.

Fun Tagalog word "bigkis" big-kiss (literally sounds how its spelled) it means to bond, like to bond a marriage. But anytime I hear the word or read it I just think of Nacho Libre and him signing his letter to Incarnacio with 'big kiss, little kiss, little hug, little kiss...' Speaking of Nacho Libre I met a 80+ year old Nanay yesterday named Incarnacio. I wanted to sing 'the Incarnacio song' for her but I refrained myself. 

So that is my week, mice, baptisms, and rain. Lots of refreshing wonderful cold rain.
From the sister now looking for a new umbrella
Sister Eldredge