"Good morning everyone, This is your captain speaking. It is the 175th anniversary here on the Axium. New on the menu is the sep-tu-wa-sen-tenial cupcake in a cup! hey look at that." (Please tell me you can name this movie) But this week begins the 2017th anniversary- while incorrect date wise- of the birth of Jesus Christ and the beginning of a new year. Or as Daniel our investigator would say 'the day Jesus turns 2017 years old.'
This week was Goodbye to Sister Ganaden (Ga-na-den) and hello to Sister Panugao (pan-new-g-ow) and yes I did just have to look at her name badge to get the spelling right. Since Sister Ganaden left Batac at 8am and sister Panugao arrived 5pm I spent the day on the beach. joke. I worked with Cathy and tried our best to find- but we ended up finding a member's home.
This is the funny thing. I am working because 1) I am a missionary and this is what I'm called to do 2) this is prime finding time 3) if I don’t work I will melt into a puddle of emotions and I am tired of having a headache from crying. So despite really feeling physically and mentally awful we were out working. I felt that we should knock on one door and the grandpa who opened the door kept saying 'she is in the back.' and directed us to his wife, who is a member. She hadn't been to church for two weeks as she had only just gotten out of the hospital yesterday- Monday. Cathy- the member I was working with- did not know that a member lived there and neither did I. But the Lord did, and we got to bring her come comfort and love.
Then this Wednesday we were out in brgy Palongpong finishing re-teaching our RC's Mery-Jane and Jennifer. When Mery-Jane found out that we are back on the 3 hour church services (we only did one hour because last week was Christmas) she jumped up and down in her seat calling out with joy. I can't remember when I was 11 years old and being that excited about church! In fact I mostly remember playing sick on Sunday mornings and my mother dragging me out of bed!
Then we got to meet with a part-member family, the father is a member but he has been going to a different ward instead of Batac. At first the mother sent her youngest son to go get the father from a party he was attending but after 5 minutes we heard the son singing on the karaoke machine they were using at the party so we didn’t think he was coming back. It made everyone laugh pretty hard. During the lesson the mother opened up how much she wanted to go to church but how she was scared to go. She was scared because someone had been mean to her and she was scared that person was still mad.
Let me just say, everything we say has an effect on someone. Whether consciously or subconsciously. That is something I find absolutely fascinating with words. That a pattern of 26 characters and sounds (in the English alphabet at least) in almost random sequence can stream together to create… anything. Like this letter you are reading right now. My thoughts and emotions are portrayed to you through this pattern of characters, and through this pattern I can create worlds (creative writing) relay information, bring comfort and even harm someone and never even have to look at them in the eye. It was with The Word that God created the earth, seas and sky. He created everything simply by The Word. Words are powerful, use them carefully.
This week was also Daniel's baptismal interview. I've seen baptismal candidates take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours in the interview and for Daniel it was a quick 20 minutes. Which is wicked fast, especially for a kid of 10 years. His member mother accompanied him and I know through her guidance he will always have the foundation of the scriptures and prayer in his home. Daniel is what we call a part-member investigator I 1st started working with my first day here in Batac back in August so it's amazing to see him finally prepared for baptism. We can only hope his cousin- who lives with him and his mother- will soon follow his example. His baptism will be this Saturday, Jan 7 2017, and hopefully next week we will have two more part member children enter the waters of baptism.
I thought New Years here would be about the same as in America but boy was I wrong. The Filipinos are NUTS about new years. It's impossible to sleep with all the 'Filipino pop guns' (which sound like shotguns) and an all around view of fireworks all around the building. We also had a few members stop by periodically throughout the night to give us food. (we returned to our apartment at sundown and were under expressed command to not leave the apartment again until 8am the following morning.) I did my best to sleep but in all honesty I didn’t fall asleep until about 2am due to the noise. But what absolute beautiful fireworks. We also had a few- I can only guess they were drunk- guys running up and down the streets shouting out 'whooo hoooo' as it approached midnight. Then the following morning- fast Sunday and the first day of the new year- there were, at the beginning of sacrament meeting, about 30 members. But by the time Sacrament ended the building was once again full of members.
During sacrament meeting the members were mostly speaking Ilocano, the village language and the craziest thing happened. I totally understood what they were talking about. Now, I cannot say what they said in Ilocano or translate word for word but, boy I could understand the gist. Now, to make it funnier, I had just been thinking about all the things I had ever fasted for and trying to remember if I had ever seen a result of my fasting- which is a no. But it struck me how I had never stopped fasting- even without the desired results. I knew the doctrine was true so I followed in faith, not knowing if I would receive the blessings I was searching for. It was as soon as that thought came to mind that I started to be able to understand. Due to time difference this was before my family had started their fast, as they said they would fast to help me understand Tagolag. The Lord has blessed me to understand not only Tagalog now (even if it's just the gist) but Ilocano as well. Blessings are all around us, you've just have to keep an open perspective about it.
from the sister keeping afloatSister Eldredge