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

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