Monday, May 29, 2017

Week 65: Teaching the Word

The weeks go by fast but the days have a way of dragging their feet. My companion says it’s because I'm counting the days, but that doesn’t really factor in as I don’t know what number I'm supposed to be on right now. I've never been very good with numbers… anyways we got punted (had appointments that fell through) so we did a lot of finding this week. Like 60+ finding… which is fun to say but it's killer on the feet and the shoulder. I got to weigh my bag today and apparently it's about 5 kilos. That’s heavy. And it's just sitting on my shoulder all day because we can't seem to get a sit-down teaching appointment. But it's all good, its a vocational hazard.
I’ve got a few fun stories for this week one about Honey Rose, Michaella, and one about Edita. So Honey Rose is just taking off! She is reading and praying and had a rather interesting question. So before I get to her question I should explain at the beginning of every lesson we always ask how they enjoyed their reading and if they have anything they learned or wanted to share. There are two usual responses:
Investigator “Oh yeah I read, I learned a lot.”
Missionaries: “What would you like to share out of what you learned?”
Investigator: *suddenly gets shy and has nothing to say
Investigator: “I'm too busy, I didn’t read.”
Missionaries: *begin to read with them where the assignment was for them to read and explain we are not here to push our religion down their throat but if they want to know if what we are saying is true they have to try it out themselves. *

However, this is how it went with Sister Honey Rose:
Missionaries:  “How was your reading?”
Honey Rose: “Great! I'm on page 12!”
Missionaries: That is awesome!! Do you have anything you’d like to share, or do you have any questions?
Honey Rose: …actually I do. Why did Nephi kill Laban?

Bam. Sister Banham looked over to me (Honey Rose was flipping to the verse where Nephi beheads Laban) and the look basically said “awe heck to the yeah” which was how I was feeling. We went on to tell her about how God had commanded him to do so to ensure that they had the scriptures- which turned into an incredible discussion about the scriptures. She even said “When I feel bad I just go and read and I feel so calm.” That is the spirit! So you can imagine the lesson was just incredible. We actually ended up teaching about The Word of Wisdom (how we are to take care of our bodies by eating healthfully, and not using certain things such as alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, tea, and harmful and illegal drugs.) She was surprised we included coffee with alcohol and illegal drugs but said “I used to just drink hot milk in the morning- I think I’ll just do that now.” She felt the spirit in the lesson and was immediately able to choose what she wanted. She may experience some withdrawal but she is very determined to follow the commandments of God. She just amazes me.
Then there is Michaella, when she told us about her reading she went on and on about what she learned and how she applied it in her life already and the blessings she has already seen. And she had a big karate tournament planned for Sunday and her mother was arguing with her trying to get her to go but she bore her testimony to her mother that no matter what she was going to go to church because of the feelings she had there and she prayed about her choice to go to church and on Sunday morning as she was dressed and heading out the door to go to church she got a text from her sparing teacher saying the tournament had been moved! When she told us about it she cried saying how she knows this church is true. It was a super powerful lesson, and she is teaching us more than we are teaching her! *see attached picture. She is just awesome.
Editha also amazes me. She is a bit older and is hard for her to read but she reads every day and she said at first reading caused her a slight headache but now it's easier and she feels like she is being strengthened. She is good friends with a part-member part non-member family that we are teaching/activating and she had planned to ride with them since they have a car (having a car in the Philippines is an extreme luxury) but that family went down to Manila and so she walked about ½ a kilometer before she was able to catch a trycee to get to church. She said she enjoyed the talks and recognized a not of people- I believe she listed off 3 names, and is excited to come back! She is awesome and I hope we will be able to teach her grandson who sometimes ‘steals the book of Mormon and reads all night.’
Over all it's just that once you start reading the Book of Mormon and really try you will receive the blessings. I don’t convert, I just try my best to get people to read.

I should also mention that we had a fun time… yeah so we walked up to one of our investigators we have been teaching for a week or so and he just straight up said “This will probably be the last time you come here.”


“I was listening to the radio and this guy said Mormons weren’t true and I felt enlightened so I don’t want to listen to you anymore.”  We bore our testimony of Joseph Smith and invited him to keep reading from the Book of Mormon and he said he would. THEN we ran into him again later that day and he said “I keep thinking about what I said and I can't get this bad feeling to go away- so I guess you can keep teaching me.” Then he just smiled.
So life is just all hekkledy-peggledy and I have tons of other things I’d like to say but I’m flat out of time.

From the sister who can't think of a way to sign off

Sister Eldredge

Monday, May 22, 2017

Week 64: So Hungry, So Grateful, and So Stinking Wet!

"You're still out in this weather?"
"Oh, it's just a sprinkle!"

So hungry. So grateful, and so stinking wet.  The rainy season is not supposed to start until next month but apparently Mother Nature is in a mood or something so it's literally raining buckets (it started raining during one of the lessons and by the end of the 10/15 minute lesson the bucket the investigator had placed under the rain spout was overflowing. So, I'm not exaggerating when I say it's raining buckets. We had exchanges with the Santo Domingo Sisters this week and didn’t take that into consideration when we bought our groceries last Monday so about Saturday morning we realized we had no food. We thought ‘oh whoops no food!’ and then went back to work and forgot to address the problem. We do have about 20 green mangos in the fridge that our neighbour keeps giving us but they are super sour (like it gives me a headache it's so sour) unless you eat it dipped in vinegar or soy sauce  or salt but we ran out of vinegar and soy sauce and salt so I was out of ideas. Luckily the mission has had us prepare 72 Hour kits of food and that was extremely helpful.
This week was fun as I got to prove some people wrong about missionary work. I got into a light discussion/ argument with a few elders in the past about golden investigators. That elder posed the idea that they do not exist.  I proposed otherwise as I have been able to work with several. This week I'm adding two more to that list. Kennedy and Michella. Kennedy is a professional football (soccer) player for the Ilocos team and he is actually a referral from the other sisters who are working here in Vigan. He is half Filipino half Nigerian and when we extended a baptismal goal date his reaction was “Yeah! What day?” and he is always asking great questions about the lesson and how to get to church. For example:

“So brother Kennedy, do you have any questions about what we just talked about?”
“Yeah, what time does church start?”

So he is great! Sadly he couldn’t make it to church this Sunday because he got in a motorcycle accident Saturday night and injured his hip. (don’t freak out it's not serious) He kept apologising about not being able to make it and even said he had tried coming regardless but that his motorbike would not start anymore. That means he honestly tried! Oh, did I mention he speaks English? It's so fun to teach in English as my companion keeps speaking Tagalog at him.
Michella is dating a member and technically the elders should be teaching her as she lives in the elders area but she is too shy to talk to the elders (she gets really flustered if we suggest it) so we teach her after church on Sundays. She accepted a baptismal goal date the first lesson and this last Sunday her boyfriend came in to the lesson and wanted to ask her something and she just put her hand in his face because she wanted to listen to what we were saying. It was quite funny as the expression on her face was ‘this is life changing and I won't be distracted by anything.’ Her boyfriend’s mom has the best comments during the lessons and I can tell they are super close.
This is where it gets good. Remember how I said I had a discussion with a few elders about ‘there is so such a thing as golden investigators’? One of the things they said never happen is that after the first meeting investigators never remember Joseph Smith or the First Vision and both Kennedy and Michella remembered it. Kennedy almost recited it to us.
So life is good and beautiful and rainy.
From the sister staying dry
Sister Eldredge

Monday, May 15, 2017

Week 63: My Motto is Basically: Does This Absolutely Need to be Done Now or Can I Sleep?

Also If it doesn’t move me towards baptism then I'm not doing it. 

It's rough keeping up to date with all the paperwork that comes with missionary work but I'm mostly on top of it. I'm just not up to date in my journalist but that is something I have to live with… 

The best part of my week was me and sister Banham praying to find a family  and then finding two very promising families! We are trying to talk to everyone- even slightly scary looking guys- and its paid off!

Sometimes the guys don’t want to talk so they give fake names but its chill, we are just learning patience. Actually it doesn’t make me mad that we spend an hour looking for someone who gave us a fake name and then when we finally do find them they basically tell us to leave. I was surprised by how well I handled it and my companion did a good job bottling her anger. 

We did find this family who we first met the dad and he jumped off his motorcycle and then showed us where his house was and introduced us to his whole family and got a return appointment and they live next door to some members and it was great|!

We also had 17 people in church today that we have been working with (RC/ LA/ Investigators) so that was super fun. The sacrament meeting was pretty good and we had about 100 people there. I even gave a talk on Revelation and got to bear testimony how we believe God is a God of order and He establishes Truth through those who are of authority (they have a licence from Him- not from people or from their own understanding) and how our church not only has that authority but God's Power- that we call the priesthood. And it was fun to look into the eyes of my investigators and bear testimony of that to them in the sacrament meeting.

We are just trying to talk to everyone and so far it's paying off as we find those who are interested and those who want to be left alone. It's fun and stressful but that is life!

Sorry it's so short I have no time!

From the sister who is apparently patient now,
Sister Eldredge

Monday, May 8, 2017

Week 62: God Knows What is Needed

Oh how I love the smell of mangos in the morning. For some reason Mangos are very expensive here even though they are everywhere. It’s like you live on the beach and they sell fish… they are everywhere but not everyone has a boat- and in the case of mangoes a long bamboo stick with a net to both harvest and catch them. Luckily we have amazing members here who give us free mangos because I’m too cheap to buy my own! Haha

Nothing outrageous happened this week besides the fact that it’s me and Sister Banham, so there have been a lot of kids yelling “Americana!” and people thinking we are tourists, so they are surprised when I speak Tagalog and Sister Banham is close to fluent in Tagalog and the village language Ilocano. I also realized that I’m not as fluent as I thought! Throughout my mission I've asked my companions to correct me if I say something wrong and I guess they didn’t… But now I have a companion who is not afraid of correcting me and knows what I’m actually trying to say so corrects my grammar. It's humbling, slightly, but I’m just so grateful I have a companion who is willing to help push me to be better.

We are getting a little rushed to find a baptism for this month as no Investigators came to church and they have to have 4 consecutive Sundays in a row (with one-week allowance) and since no investigators came last week I knew that if we didn’t get any again this week we would be sunk, unless a miracle occurred and we found someone who had received all the lessons previously, had the consecutive Sundays… and remembered everything. So that is a possibility because God is in charge but percentage wise… it's rare. So we fasted (skipped two consecutive meals with a purpose in mind) praying that God would accept the fast and that we will be able to bless the specific investigators we have, and that they will have the desire to go to church so we can not only help them but help the members get excited about missionary work. So it was a bit of a downer when we had no investigators in church. After church though we had a sister walk up to us basically saying ‘hi I’m an investigator, teach me and my three brothers’ so miracles do happen! Sadly, her brothers are not in our area but we can teach her, so the elders are super stoked as now they have three priest-age (16-18 years-old) men they get to teach and our branch president is getting excited! Not to mention one of the Elder’s investigators was interviewed this last week so even if we (the sisters) don’t get a baptism at least there will still be one in the branch.

I have learned a great deal of trusting in the Lord’s plan. It makes life a LOT less stressful. I can trust He has got the reins, He knows what is needed and gives that, not what is wanted.

Love you all! Sister Eldredge

Monday, May 1, 2017

Week 61: Two Baptisms and Another Week Down

This week we didn’t get to work as much as we had a Zone Conference (we had 2 zones meet in Paoay… which is a 3-hour drive for us and there were about 100 missionaries) we keep losing huge groups going home and then only about 5 are new so we are getting a little stretched for missionaries! This week was fun and a little stressful as it’s Fiesta here in Vigan so there are NO people at their homes because they are all at the parties and stuff… I don’t like being a party crasher so we mostly just did finding.

We did have a great double baptism this week though! Mark Adrian (8) and Vanessa (12) both of their birthdays are in May so it's more like 9 and 13 but, technically Mark Adrian is a child of record and not a convert… so we can’t count him as a convert. Saturday morning, we went to clean the chapel before the baptism went down and we basically spent all morning cleaning! They assign the cleaning schedule by ward and not by family so it's been a while but we have already talked to the branch president about the cleaning schedule. The baptism was great and we had so many people there, especially the felowshipers we had with us in the lessons! While Sister Bustarde and I were walking to the chapel for the service we did some finding and tried to contact some Less Actives who live near the chapel and lo and behold we ran into one of our investigators we found just last Saturday! We were walking down this dirt road where there are about 50 sleeping dogs so we are trying to walk as quietly as we can so the dogs don’t wake up and charge at us (sometimes they are scary and sometimes they are scared of you- it just depends… but regardless sister Bustarde is terrified of dogs) so we are walking as quietly and sneakily as we can and then in comes Vicky:

“SISTEEEEERRRSSSSS!!!!!!” Thus ensues chaos as all the dogs wake up and start barking and we throw rocks at a few so they go away.  But she went with us to the baptism even though we went 30 min early! She met basically the whole branch presidency and the people who often work with us and it was just fun! BUT THEN WE HAD NO INVESTIGATORS IN CHURCH EVEN THOUGH WE HAD TWO AT THE BAPTISM!! But it's ok because we had about 6 returning LAs at the church which is something.
This week was hard emotionally for me as it’s the last week of the transfer (every 6 weeks is grouped into a cycle) and I now have to say goodbye to my friend Sister Bustarde, and she will be working in Laoag… but now I get a new companion! But not so new as she was my companion in the MTC! YUP I’m companions again with sister Banham! I hope she is ready for this! Hahha But yeah now I have officially lead the area in all of my areas except Santo Domingo but I was only there 1 cycle anyways!!

From the sister living in the 7 wonders
Sister Eldredge