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

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