Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 35: Gwyneth's Baptism & Turning Off The Worldly Lights

Gwyneth is the Girl in Green


I have a pet. He is a small little spider about the size of my pinkie nail and I've named him Aragog. Why Aragog? Because the freaking spider tried to eat me, that’s why! I was using my two fingers to ‘walk’ towards him saying “I’m gonna get youuuu!” and then he just turned towards me and JUMPED AT MY FACE. I nearly ran all the way out of the apartment freaking out. For rude, but that’s fine, Aragog eats ants so I still like him.

“This is Halloween, this is Halloween, pumpkins scream in the dead of night!” I’m gonna start with Gwyneth’s baptism and then hop around because I can and there is nothing you can do to stop me! MUAHAHHAHAHA!! Sorry, I’m just really into the Halloween spirit and you can’t really do much when you are a missionary. Luckily there is a phrase in the Philippines of a ‘white lady’ which is another way of saying ghost or spirit so I guess I’m always in a Halloween costume here. Not as good as a live tombstone or something but it works I guess! Haha.

So this last Saturday we had Gwyneth’s baptism. It went off with a splash and soo many people from the ward showed up to support her and a part-member (her mother is a member but the rest of her family is not) sister as well. Gwyneth is simply incredible and when she received the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday (Baptism by water is Saturday and the baptism by fire thing- the gift of the holy ghost- is on Sunday before sacrament meeting.) in the priesthood blessing she received it talked about the preparation she will do and how she will be ready for her own mission in the upcoming years. Which is sooo cool. Before church even started she was sitting in the front row by herself (her aunt and uncle had a meeting in a different town so they weren’t there yet) reading the Articles of Faith.

Can I just shout how prepared this girl was to receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and begin her journey towards Him? Which, to me is funny as just a few days before we really started teaching Gwyneth at the beginning of this cycle (when Sister Ganaden started working with me 4 weeks ago) I thought  Gwyneth wasn’t all that interested and we were only teaching her on the request of her member relatives (we will not baptize people unless they want to and I prefer to teach people who are actually interested) but all of a sudden she just started to bloom and she started attending seminary (a high school course on the scriptures, they cover one book per year: Old Testament, New Testament, the book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.) and memorizing scriptures and really after a while we would sit down with her and ask ‘so we are teaching about tithing today what do you think about tithing?” and she would basically teach US the lesson. It reminded me a lot about the times when we were sitting in on the lessons with Christ Artificavitch (my now brother-in-law) and how the missionaries would jokingly ask him to at least pretend he didn’t know the answers. But Just like Chris, Gwyneth was prepared to receive the gospel into her life.
Now conversion isn’t all pumpkins and roses. It’s about repentance or a change of ways. You have to align your will with the Father and accept that some of the things in your past may not coincide with His will. This is an everyday sort of thing. Recent converts and lifetime members alike have to do this.
Honestly Gwyneth’s baptism is the only thing that happened this week. BESIDES THIS AWESOME EXPERIENCE: So I’m pretty sure I’ve told you about Tina. I also gotten to meet her husband. I had never seen him before so when he started waving at us and calling out ‘hey Mormons! I have questions!’ I was just tickled pink, thinking that he wanted to hear all about our message. Nope. He wanted to test our bible knowledge. He wanted to see how well I knew the bible and if I was a Christian as I claimed to be. And boy did he not give me much time to speak. He’d ask a question and give me about 30 seconds to respond before going on to the next. I felt like I was on a talk show or something. “Tonight on Bible Questioner we will see how fast these Mormons can answerrrrrrrrrr!!!!!” *the audience applauds* But I answered every single one of his questions with confidence and with references. I was on exchanges at the time so my STL (Sister Training Leader) would try and get a word in and bare her testimony but he was having none of that. It was really cool. At one point he ran out of questions and we finally got to bear our testimony about the Book of Mormon and the Plan of Salvation. He seemed a little surprised that we not only could answer him but ask him questions too. Questions the bible doesn’t really answer, like infant deaths and the importance of prayer. The way I’ve written this it sounds like I've won some brilliant bible bash but it's not that. I'm glad that I not only had answers to his questions, but had the opportunity to share something that is incredibly precious to me.
Later that week we met with his wife and she was giggling about how we had stumped her husband. We then went on to teach her the Plan of Salvation- that we had tried to introduce to her husband. She is a previous investigator and has questions. She doesn’t get how ‘the Mormons’ don’t believe in hell. But I think she was simply confused on the wording. We believe in God’s plan of Happiness, which is best described in a timeline.

So hell (as described in Luke 16) is actually the Spirit World, which is broken into two parts (paradise and prison) and as it says in Revelations 20:12-13 it is only a temporary place and that hell will give up her dead and they will then be judged. Cool stuff. So after explaining this all to her and asking her if she had any questions (she and her husband are reaaaly good at coming up with stumping questions) she just sat back and said. “It makes sense.” I asked her how she felt about it and she simply replied “It feels right.” Now you can't even imagine how incredibly happy I felt. It wasn’t me and my fancy smancy scriptures that explain and it wasn’t my cute handmade plan of salvation timeline that we had set out for her to look at either. It was the spirit. Only the spirit can truly soften hearts and bring about changes like we saw in Sister Tina. Now, she still didn’t come to church this Sunday and she still has a way to go but she feels at peace when she thinks about her future. And even if that is all we are ever able to accomplish with her that will be enough for me. Just as she is at peace so am I. Walking home after that (because we are flat broke) was an incredible experience. There are still areas that are not entirely back to full power, electricity wise, and so we could see the stars.
In a book I read as a child the main character was lying down in a field as he told his friend about the constellations and their stories, then after a while he looked over to his friend and she told him about her constellations from her culture, how they base the constellations not on the stars themselves but on the spaces between. But the word for starts in tagalong is ‘Betwin’ which is pronounced between. Sorry I just think that is the coolest thing ever. So, back to the story: We are walking home after this powerful lesson and stop to stare at the stars and I ask Sister Ganaden if she could see all the stars. She said yes and pointed out a few constellations she knew. Then I shined my flashlight in her face and asked her if she could still see them. She couldn’t, maybe just one or two. I said. Sister, we just turned off the flashlight for sister Tina; she can see. Sister Ganaden had me write down my exact phrasing for the next line. “If you take out the world and focus on the heavens, you can see its glory.” Honestly I wish I could better describe how I felt walking away from that lesson.
From the sister who had now worn two holes in her shoes from all this walking

Sister Eldredge.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 34 in the Philippines Laoag Mission: After the Storm

nanay salbasiyon


So this has been quite a week. You may have heard that we had a level 4 typhoon named ‘Lawin’ that went through our area (there are only 4 levels of typhoons, 4 being the strongest.) In all honesty the buildup before the storm was scarier than the actual storm. We were talking about evacuation routes and locations and filling up every single bucket and bowl and what not that we had with water and buying tons of drinking water, we were texting investigators and members to let them know the church was open for evacuation and that we were praying for them and then… THE STORM! But it was more like BUM BUM BUMMMMMM: the storm. It was about the strength of a level 1 hurricane with half the damage. Yes we were out of electricity until Sunday night, happy birthday present to me, and we didn’t work all day Thursday due to the storm but in all honesty it was fine. The only damage really that was done to the apartment was that water leaked through my window and got my luggage wet and ruined a blank sheet of paper (oh nooooooooooooooo) Everything else that got wet was the clothes at the bottom of the luggage and that is easily cleaned up, washed and dried by hand. (I cannot tell you how big of a deal it is to be able to know how to wash your clothes by hand, it would make long time camping and power outs soooooooooo much easier in the states.) Then by the time we were able to go out and work most of the cleanup had been finished. It made me think of after hurricane Ike how it took weeks for us to clear everything up, like trees that had fallen because people tied them together, and I came to some conclusions:

·         These people are accustomed to big storms

·         They have a superior drainage systems, canals along nearly every road that are strictly maintained by the owners of the homes they lay nearby

·         An industrious people.

What does this have to the Gospel? Well, a lot actually.
·         This is a common trial, and as they continue to go through these storms in their lives they become better acquainted how to prepare and repair. Yes they are still scared, but they knew what was coming and were prepared. (Are you listening with your spiritual ears?) They had been warned by the watchman and had heeded his warning (see Ezekiel 33.) They also had more knowledge on how to prepare, either from past experience or from the experience of others. (Where can we learn all about the experience of others throughout time that still relate to us? Here is a hint, it starts with ‘S’ and ends with ‘criptures’ it can also be pronounced ‘talk to your parents’ or ‘grandparents.’

·         Because this is a common trial they are stronger and better prepared for it. Utah, with all its desert, would never be able to measure up to the preparedness of the Filipino people for flooding. Is that bad?  Not necessarily, they have different trials in their lives (don’t compare your trials to the trials of others, or think anyone is better because they receive ‘harder’ or ‘easier’ trails)

·         This is simply evident. God wants us to be an industrious people. He wants us to have self confidence in our accomplishments so long as it doesn’t lead to pride

I like to joke to my companion that I can relate the gospel to anything and I think this is an example of that. (Not to boast but I kinda am, sorry.) Anyways the biggest trip I’ve got for you is: “While the whole world is storming with evil, trials, and temptations of all kind take yourself and your family to the eye of the storm, where there is peace.” A brother in our ward said something along those lines during sacrament meeting and I think it applies to everyone.

Anyways on to the funny stories. So after the storm everyone was out cleaning up and we approached this sister who looked about 40+ and asked if she and her husband would like some help. She responded “Oh we are done!” but there was a large tree leaning against their house that her husband was chopping at… anyways it was kind of funny. Everywhere we weren’t they didn’t want our help so they kept saying ‘oh we are done’ and here are portions of the roof missing or a tree that had fallen… They however were happy to pray and thank God for the safety that they had enjoyed during the whole storm, so not that much CSP (community service project, it’s a wide known acronym here) but tons of new investigators which is always super fun.

Another funny story is while walking a fellowshipper home after our appointments she was complaining that she had a low bat (low battery) on her phone and then the next second a live bat ran right into her face! That in and of itself doesn’t seem too bad but the bats here are about the size of small cats (so about the size of Soren, my cat, if he wasn’t so fat) but it was quite funny.

Nothing else much to report besides that WE WILL HAVE ANOTHER BAPTISM THIS 29TH!!! As you can tell I’m not at all excited about this. Gwyneth is so amazing, and just in case I haven’t told you about her let me rehash it. She is 13 and the daughter of two less actives, we were originally teaching her and her 8 year old brother but her parents (who are working abroad) phoned and said that they had changed their minds that they did not want Jimuel to be baptized until he turns 10, as they think he is not prepared for baptism. She went to all 4 general conference sessions at the beginning of this month and is friends with all of the young women in the ward who all simply love her. We got a text from them this morning asking what they can do to participate in her baptism! She was rather bummed we couldn’t have her baptism this 22nd but this way everyone will be better prepared with talks and such. She just keeps repeating the date and time of her baptism and she is just the coolest. She just keeps repeating the time and date of her baptism to herself and to everyone else. It’s really just the coolest thing.

For my birthday I spent it how any other 21 year old would in a country where the drinking age is 18. I got up early and helped a 90 year old go to church for the first time in a decade, then after walking her home and helping her a bit going to the hospital to visit members who were sick. We ended the day teaching people about the Plan of Salvation (also known as the Plan of Happiness) and then going home to read some cards that were sent to me and eating spaghetti. Our electricity came back just in time for us to not have a candlelit dinner again, and to have the electric fans on while we slept so all in all it was a great day. I had so many members wish my happy birthday and Sister Cathy-who often works with us- even gave me a present! Since we are a little broke and had no electricity on Saturday we were content with our spaghetti and no cake. But we will think about getting a cake next month, so we will see.

Well my time is up, so Goodbye from the happy and safe birthday girl

Sister Eldredge

Typhoon Lawin Update


Typhoon Lawin Update

This is to inform you that the typhoon has passed-by. All missionaries are safe.

Missionaries assigned in Cagayan areas returned back to Cagayan last Friday. It has been reported that there were no damages in their apartments. Cagayan areas have no electricity at this time. It is projected that this will last a week or two. Also, some areas do not have internet connectivity. If in case you don't receive an email from your missionary it is because of this reason.

Each missionary in Cagayan was given a solar lamp.

Thank you very much for all your prayers. Rest assured that your missionary is in his or her finest condition. Sister Andrada and I love them very much. Please continue encouraging them to be the best missionary they could ever be and to be the kind of missionary the Lord wants them to be.

Best regards,

President and Sister Andrada

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Letter From President Andrada: Super Typhoon Haima (Lawin)


Dear Philippines Laoag Mission Family,

I am writing to inform you that we are to be impacted by a super a typhoon named Lawin. This typhoon is very destructive. The Church has been observing this storm for days and has made numerous preparations for its arrival.

The main track of the storm is projected to pass over the areas of Laoag Mission and mostly to the Cagayan areas. Current forecasts show it as a Category 4 Typhoon and it is projected to reach land Wednesday night and clear land by Thursday night.

All of our missionaries assigned in Cagayan, Bangui and Pasuquin were all evacuated yesterday and they are all here now in Laoag City. They are all check-in in a hotel just across the mission home. All of them are safely gathered-in.  The rest of our missionaries are just here in Laoag City and nearby towns. Their apartments are located in flood free areas and are far away from the sea. These apartments are strong structures and can withstand the typhoon. We alerted all of them to store sufficient drinking water and food to last through Friday. They are advised to just stay in their apartments from Wednesday afternoon to Friday morning.

In the mission home, we have stored sufficient diesel fuel for our generator. We have sufficient food storage to feed our missionaries for one week.

We pray that we will be safe and protected as the super typhoon passes by in our mission.


President Robert M. Andrada

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week 33 in the Philippins, Laoag Mission: Preparing for Typhoon "Seahorse", and lots of missionary work!


So this week has been incredible. Ive lately taken up memorizing scriptures. So far I have 2 down. 1 Nephi 13:22 [and I said unto him: i know not] and St John 1:21 last line,  [and i said unto him: no.] When I was teaching Gwyneth she talked about how she is going to seminary (she is 13) and is memorizing the scripture mastery (we aren’t on the doctrine mastery yet over here) and so I felt a little silly for memorizing these scriptures but it made her laugh. I received a huge bundle of letters last week ( you may have seen the picture) and I can’t wait to read them all. Ive saved them so I can read them on my birthday. It's been fun, her in the Philippines it's not rude to ask people’s ages so basically the whole ward is aware that my birthday is this upcoming Sunday. Aiko, my best friend in the mission, and I are seeing if we can plan a mini party Saturday night so we will just have to see how that goes.

We will be experiencing a typhoon this week (anywhere from Monday through Sunday sort of thing,) not entirely sure when it’ll hit. But they named it Haima which is Chinese for seahorse. So that is cool. Do not worry about me, I’m located next to a storm drain lake as well as several canals and we live on the second floor so we will be just fine. However, please pray for the safety of my investigators and the less actives we are working with- many of who live in dirt huts or are camping in old ruins. They are much more exposed to the elements than I am.

I’ve been praying for humility and charity lately and I think my humility lessons are starting to come in. We have a new elder fresh from the states- I may have mentioned him last week- but he speaks about as much Tagalog as I do… so… but at least I actually understand when people respond? Anyways it's humbling to see how doggedly he is seeking after the gift of tongues and how he is really getting it. I have lots to learn from him. This last Sunday all the new missionaries bore their testimony (so Sister Hermosa- who is Sister Aquino’s companion, Sister Ganaden, and both the elders; Elder Nicholes and Elder Cervantes. ) That means only Sister Aquino and I didn’t bear out testimony, however it’s the third Sunday so that means a missionary is asked to give a talk… so guess who gave the talk. I think my talk was about the same length as Elder Nicole’s testimony but I hardly looked at my notes and really just spoke from the heart. It’s a big shocker but my topic was missionary work. I tried to encourage the ward to continue in their already amazing efforts to help the work progress.

For Investigators we have Gwyneth and Jimuel, Daniel and Andria, and Mery Jane and Jennifer. They are all getting close to their baptisms and are studying the BIQ’s (baptismal interview questions.) However yesterday when we visited Gwyneth we not only had to re-extend the day of her baptism to the 29th instead of the 22nd but they had received a call from their mother (they stay with their aunt) that she didn’t want Jimuel to be baptized. Its heartbreaking as he was so excited, but he was able to negotiate with his mother so he will be baptized next year when he is 10 (he’ll turn 9 later this year)

Then we have Nanay Tina. She has been investigating since 1991 (or at least that’s the date written in her Ti Libro Ni Mormon) and she has TONS of questions. Mostly ‘why are all the prophets American’ and ‘why America, why not the Philippines?’ At first we thought this may just turn into a bible bashing, as she would demand us to prove things out of the bible and when we asked her to do the same she would brush it aside. However when we got to the Book of Mormon, talking about how God not only spoke to those in Israel but in ancient America (Why America?) she started to listen a bit more. I talked about the temples they constructed and how they can still be viewed, but that those temples are all in Mexico and how they have legends of a great white God who will come and establish peace and perfection when he comes again (thank you sophomore AP History class, Uncle David, and Joseph Smith History which all talk about this) She began to understand that when we say America we don’t mean USA we mean the North and South American continent. We discussed the stick of Judah and the scattered 12 tribes of Israel. In order for some to be lost they would have to travel to areas unknown to the world at that time. She listened and when we shared similar scriptures from the bible and the book of Mormon (3 Nephi 15:21 and St John 10:16) that’s when the spirit hit. It was so powerful and I know that she felt it. In our previous lessons the spirit has been just as powerful but this time I know she not only felt it but acknowledged the fact that it was the Holy Ghost testifying of truth to her. It was incredible to watch the turn around. She went from debater to a touched soul.

Of course there is Nanaly Salvation; we wanted to take her with us to church this week but we missed her son who had already gone out to work by the time we arrived at 7am to help her get ready, so without the son’s permission we can’t take her anywhere. It was super sad because as soon as we told her we we’re there to take her to church she began fussing around to find a dress suitable for church but couldn’t find one. Luckily we had brought a dress (a leftover one from a giant bag we have at the apartment- whenever sisters don’t want clothes they just put it in the bag. So when she was the dress we brought she started crying, saying it was too beautiful. We did our best to console her and tell her that we would send the brothers later so she could still have the sacrament even if we couldn’t take her. Before we left we asked if she would like us to pray with her, she insisted she prayed and in the prayer she asked God to bless us as she pitied us having to walk everywhere, even in the rain. She thanked God that we can visit her so often and that we will always be safe. It was really touching to see this 80+ woman pouring her heart out to God asking Him to bless us! It was so strange, but she has such a powerful spirit. After church we held a meeting to talk about investigators and were able to arrange for special sacrament to be brought to her as well as for someone to help her go to church so it will be her visiting teachers bringing her every week. So sadly we won’t but it will unify the ward. And he son will probably bit more trusting to the locals than to two sister missionaries from far flung places.

We also got a referral this week who’s house just happened to be only accessible by bridge. And guess who is scared of bridges? Not me! My poor companion is scared stiff of bridges. It was after 6 so the sun was hiding behind the mountains so I just waltzed across the bridge and shouted encouragement as she inched (or more like centimeter-ed) her way across the bridge. Eventually I jogged back to her (the bridge bouncing as I go) and then told her to only look at me while I walked backwards to cross the bridge. She may or may not have punched me for running on the bridge but we made it across in a quick 20 minutes… only to find that the referral didn’t even live there !! Sister Ganaden didn’t think it was as funny as I did.

From the sister who is perfectly safe and loving the Philippines
Sister Eldredge

Apparently sister Ganaden is scared of bridges. it took her 20 minuets to cross this bridge to get to a refferals house. i may or may not have run across the bridge just to make it shake... but i was trying to show her that it could hold her! hahah sorry, that's mean

the kids are fishing for frogs.  the frogs bite the bit of rubber and they fling the frog into the air and catch it.  its funny because the frogs are freaking out as they fly through the air.  they sell them at the market.  we are thinking of buying some from the kids to fry up and eat.

A chicken tree.  idk, it's just funny.  Back home we have chicken trees, but here when they say chicken tree, they really mean it!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 32 in the Philippines Laoag Mission: Nanay Salvation Espiritu, The Queen

Some of the p eople we have been teaching.

10/10/2016’s been 220.5 days in the jungle. The little ones are beginning to lose hope. We’ve slowly been getting picked off by the rabid chickens (the natives call them ‘the dreaded manok’) and I’m beginning to think it’s more about the grave than the gravy with these birds. We’ve recruited the use of two Elders in our search for scattered Israel, however they are heavily scattered and at times we fear the manok will find them before we do. Sister Gabut has been lost to the manok, but I managed to find a replacement. Her name is Sister Ganadan from Quezon City. She is trying to find solace but without queso she is lost. She is fluent in dog and often tries to speak to them “Hi dog! Why are you barking, dog?” So far we have had no success in communication with them but soon we will earn their trust and be able to stop stepping on their bombs, which are placed sporadically throughout town..  We were able to find shelter in time for the General Conference where we received further instruction from our leaders. We are sure of success in the future and will soon destroy the enemy manok and save the scattered Israel.
Well, that all but sums up the week. It’s been something else, since Sister Gabut got transferred to the opposite side of the mission and we got two new elders (one is fresh out of the MTC and makes me feel old in the mission as I realize that I know way more Tagalog  than I think and notice how my accent has changed to match the natives. It’s mid October so obviously that means bats and owls and witches hats right? Nay nay, obviously it’s time to break out the carols and sell all the Christmas decorations. It’s strange, but I like how much emphasis the Filipino people put on Christmas. We always talk about keeping Christmas in our hearts year round but here it’s not only in our hearts it’s on the walls and  it's… everywhere. And this is only the beginning.
For this week you’d think the greatest event would have been watching General Conference and a portion of The Best Two Years (between sessions)  but really, the best thing about my week and the defining moment was Nanay Salvation Espiritu. So in English her name is Saving Spirit. (Nanay is another way of saying mother, it’s a title used for  respect to older women) She is in her 70s or 80s and cannot stand. She is a less active not by choice but by circumstance. She is healthy as a horse, just old and unable to walk or push her own wheelchair. Because of the area split I’ve had a lot of ‘well, now what do we do?’ moments but luckily we have Cathy- the resident and permanent fellowshiper (a member who accompanies the missionaries to a lesson) she works with us every day and the Elders are begging to borrow her as she knows ALL the investigators of Batac city. We ended up with some free time and so we went and visited Nanay Salvation. So I already told you her age and health, now let me tell you about her living circumstances. She lives under a pavilion with 2.5 walls. Her only surviving son lives in a hut that makes up one of the walls of her house. Her son and his family basically ignore her and she is incredibly lonely. I think she is helped to be bathed once a week by her daughter in law, but I'm not so sure. When we first went to visit the smell of BO, excrement and the various ducks, chickens and other animals that passed through were very prominent. It was night so we used flashlights to read the Book of Mormon with her and afterwards we had to return to the house so I could change my skirt as I had sat in something I will not name.

The next day we got punted (that’s what we call it when we show up to our appointment and they tell us they’re busy) so we went back to visit Nanay Salvation and  she seemed so surprised that we were back, and asked help to cut her finger nails. One of her hands is curled up in a ball and she can’t open it anymore so she has do everything one handedly. We did a CSP (community service project) and basically cleaned everything. We did all her laundry, scrubbed the floors, the chair and bucket she uses as a toilet, and I washed her hands and feet and trimmed her nails, which had grown over an inch in length and in her curled up hand had begun to cut into the skin. I kept calling her Nanay Reyna (queen) and brushed her hair and talked about how she met her husband and what their courtship was like. Her husband left her after a year and then only one son survived, the rest all died. This woman has gone through so much and she is not in the best of living conditions but let me tell you something, she doesn’t complain. She is so eager to continue to learn of the gospel and to talk and chat and giggle about the love notes her husband sent her during their courtship. She is optimistic and loving. Anyone else could have turned sour and loathing towards others and God but she simply rejoices in the little things.

This last Sunday we visited her again, this time with 4 members and she nearly wept as she had been praying for visitors.  I have been praying to know what Charity is, and how to get it. And I feel this woman is simply filled with it. She loves and she gives everything she has to make the best of her life. I’ve also been praying for patience and I will be able to exercise patience and charity as I work with her son and try to better her living conditions as well as help her attend church. Simply, well and truly, I cannot describe this woman. She is an angel.

General Conference was amazing, especially as I listened with my investigators in mind. Gwyneth (pronounced G-wine-eth) our investigator attended which makes her all set for her baptism on the 22nd (a day before my birthday, thank you very much) and she just keeps expressing how excited she is for her baptism. The ward seminary teacher has told her that since she is 13 she can’t officially be in seminary but he really wants her to come because of the unique insights she shares in class. She is really just something else. She said her favorite part of conference was the Saturday afternoon session “the youth shall lose their thumbs.” She wants to make a poster about it. I’ll try to get a picture with her this week. Anyways my favorite talk was the one on Sunday all about Joy. It made me think of Salvation. Joy is Christ. Christ is Joy. The world offers us happiness, but true happiness is in Christ. This is only further proven by Salvation,  her living conditions are horrendous, her husband left her, her son treats her like a dog, and she is confined to a wheelchair she can’t even move on her own yet she is joyous. How? Christ. He is your best friend, He is your wingman and He is in your corner trying to coach you on, even when you don’t listen to Him, He listens to you. Don’t walk away from Him, for where else will you go? Where else can you find His Joy?

From the sister who is grateful that she knows how to help old people move around and make them feel loved

Sister Eldredge

Yummy food we eat with our hands!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Week 31 in the Philippines Laoag Mission: This Girl's Gonna Sparkle!! That's Why They Call Me Sparkle the Quick!!

Nothing Like a Letter From Home!

The 6th week is always sort of stressful, as you realize you may part ways with your companion and then you realize you should've made a bigger deal about learning locations and names... which of course I did, so there is no regret... anyways…

This week was slightly stressful for me as I have felt in the last few weeks that there is something that I’m missing. It’s not the 'shoot i forgot my name badge’ sort of missing something, it's 'what am I doing wrong' or 'what more do i need to do' sort of feeling. We've been working our tails off, seriously exhausted the whole week- especially when we first get home and just want to collapse. Yet, we haven't seen any progression from our investigators. This Sunday morning we got a text from an investigator saying that they decided to join the eglasia church. (Which I’m glad they decided to be active in a church- as you have to attend for 6 consecutive months in order to join that church- but still...) I’ve been praying to know what else i need to do, what more I need to become... but for a while it was nothing. Then during companion ship study (where Sister Gabut and I discuss what we studded for our personal studies and then plan for the upcoming lessons that afternoon) Sister Gabut talked about how she studied about companionship unity in teaching (you, your companion and the one taking the lesson all talk in equal percentages) And that was my answer. I'm not perfect with the language and that, and shyness has caused me to not talk nearly as much as I did when I first arrived in the area. We discussed how we would be sure we swapped off more and had questions to help the investigator speak more in the lessons so they would feel like we aren’t just talking AT them, but with them. That afternoon I seriously pushed myself to speak, and the lessons really turned out!! Wow!! What a day, what a life. I found out that absolute obedience isn't just about following all the rules (like getting up on time... which I’m actually pretty good at) but about continually striving to be better and to do better. The Lord does hear your prayers, but sometimes it’s necessary to go through a little pressure before you can become a diamond. So this girl is gonna sparkle! (Sparkle the Quick!) <-- when i was a kid I pretended to be a superhero and that was my superhero name.
    Fun story from this week, while we were walking home from a lesson (because that’s all I do, walk and teach... and eat ice cream...) this low riding truck pulled up beside us and parked. The windows were tinted and it was late at night and so I thought: “This is how I die.” I started walking faster and then the doors started to open and I was ready to book it but then the driver called out and it turned out to be brother De Leon, a member who is also a police officer, and he gave us a ride home. It was quite funny looking back but at the time I was totally freaked out until we recognized them. Brother De Leon had a good laugh about me about to run.
This week we also are beginning to see the progression of our investigators. As I said earlier it’s been 6 weeks with very little progression (an investigator is considered progressing when they do what they say they will do, like read a scripture we left with them on their own time, or pray on their own and ask God if what we are saying is true, and especially come to church) but if all our progressing investigators continue to progress we very well may have 6 baptisms this month and another 1 or 2 following in November. So that is a little gift from Heaven.
There was a stake baptism this Friday, which was amazing, there were 14 people baptized! We, the Batac Zone missionaries, got to do a musical number (Come thou fount of every blessing) and we started out with the first verse just the sister singing (so just sister Gabut, sister Arcayan, Aquino, and I singing) and then the elders sang a verse on their own and then we finished the last verse together. So… watching the faces of the audience going from “Oh!” when the sisters were singing to “Oh…” when the elders were singing was quite hysterical. The elders were severely off key and they couldn’t reach the high notes and… it was simply awful. I had to cough to cover a laugh, and several of the audience members were laughing as well, but hey. It’s about JOY, not about tune… right? Yeah, I wish we could’ve  just had the sisters sing. But it’s a funny story now, I guess!
So far we only have 4 of those 7 that are coming to church but soon enough they will… hopefully! First we have Daniel and Andria. They are both 9 years old and are the children of a returning less active. They went with us to the stake baptism on Friday. But the best part, for me, was watching Daniel, Andria and Jimuel (another investigator who went with his member aunt) run up to the font and to see the reflection of their faces in the mirror. They looked so excited and really enjoyed the baptismal service. During lessons we will ask them questions like “what is tithing?” And Andria, like Hermione, throws her hand up into the air and tells us all she knows about tithing. “Its 10% of your income and it’s for temples and stuff!” Daniel is a little shy but he is just as mugaling! (great)
Then, Gwyneth and Jimuel. Technically because both of their parents are members and Jimuel is only 8 he doesn’t ‘count’ as an investigator, but his parents have been less active his whole life and as he, and his 13 year old sister, are now living with their aunt- who is the young women's president- they were referred to us to teach. Gwyneth is just like Andria, with deep insights and her personal interpretation of the doctrines that make me wonder if this is her first time taking the lessons. She asks questions that make me go “uh, that is an excellent question… Is it alright if we answer that question next time?”  Then when we get home we tear through our scriptures trying to find an answer to her question. We know the answer; we just need the scriptural backup to verify. Well. Most of the times we know the answer and other times we simply invite her to pray about it. It’s a great opportunity for her to see that we are just like her. Just because I've got some fancy name badge doesn’t mean I am an expert!!
Then there is Crystelline. She is 40+ (here it’s not rude to ask someone’s age, which I think is a lot easier, and just trying to guess someone’s age- especially up at college when you think this one guy is cute but then the turns out to be in j.r. high and he is visiting his brother or something…that happened to my relief society president my second semester!)  She sells ballot (the boiled duck embryo that you eat out of the shell, it's super tasty) and is suuuuuper busy all the time going around town and finding people who have ducks and are willing to sell the eggs (so long as the eggs have only been recently laid) and then cook and prepare and sell them. Almost every single time we have come over she has been in the middle of doing something but is always willing to sit down with us and is just amazing. She just gets it. She has a super hyper kid in kindergarten who likes to do gymnastics (he is 5) while we are teaching his mom.
All and all this has been a crazy week and next week brings a new companion!
From the sister who is going to miss her companion like CRAZY

Sister Eldredge