Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - August 12, 2013

Hello again!

So if you are wondering why this is on Tuesday, and not Monday as usual, it is because this is transfer week! Sorry I didn't give you a warning. I will give you some notice next time so you don't have to worry about my being hit by a typhoon or anything crazy of that sort. But yeah--this week has been pretty exciting. It's kind of like Christmas, we decided, with all the anticipation leading up to it, and lot of hypothesizing about what's going to happen. We had district meeting yesterday, but didn't get to find out about transfer assignments until this morning. Only one of the sisters in our district is being transferred though. Myself and the other sister who is being trained this transfer are both staying with our same companions (which is apparently kind of rare here, to have the same trainer and follow-up trainer), and Sister Doucette, who is just one transfer ahead of us, is training a sister from the Manila MTC. So pretty much, my life will stay the same for the moment, except that our area is being split, so there will now be 4 of us in the branch instead of just Sister Campbell and I. I'm glad there is another companionship coming, because we need them to handle all the contact we have, but I am sad that we will have to lose some of our investigators to them when the area splits. Thinking about how we are going to split the area has made me realize how much I love all of the people that we have met and been able to teach in the past 6 weeks (by the way, I can't believe it's been that long already, but I'm not going to dwell on the whole time-flies thing :P).

Firstly, I have to say, I found mangoes. And I am 100% satisfied; they are pretty much like heaven on earth. The only downside is I haven't figured out a way to eat them that doesn't result in me being covered in mango juice. I tried to seek advice, and follow it, but I've decided there's just no good way to stay clean and still ingest as much of the deliciousness as possible. I'm tempted to try to find a new fruit to experience, but then I just think about how good mangoes already are, and decide they're a better use of the funds they give us for nourishment. :P

Secondly, the pianist in our branch wasn't at church on Sunday, so Sister Campbell kindly offered me to play the piano. I was pretty nervous about it, and it was a super humbling experience, for sure, considering I've only played piano twice since entering the MTC, and none of the songs on the program were part of the 6 that I learned how to play for seminary. But all things considered, it went pretty well. It was a cool experience for me, too, to realize how the Lord uses us in whatever capacity He can. Even though my piano skills are far from exceptional, the fact that I can play and sight-read at all is a huge blessing, and not just to me but to the other members as well. Yesterday in our district meeting, Elder Howard, who usually plays for us (he is really good!) wasn't there, so his companion, Elder Argyle (who has been trying to learn, and has learned the soprano line of two hymns so far) played for us, and it was actually really wonderful. Even though several of us in the zone play piano, or know how, it was awesome to see him play the little bit that he could, and even though it wasn't perfect, I was inspired by his courage, and so excited for how well he did! I am pretty certain that the Lord feels the same way about us. Even though He is perfect, he is still excited by every effort that we make to improve, and every time we use the talents that we have, however small or insignificant or imperfect we may think they are. Like Elder Uchtdorf talks about in "Four Titles", we are all just like toddlers learning to walk. The Lord loves every effort we make, no matter how often we stumble, because with each attempt we get a little better, and become a little more like Him.

Third, Sister Campbell was sick this weekend (Friday, though we still worked, and Saturday). Because she was sick on Saturday, we stayed home, and I had the whole day to myself. I spent most of it reading Genesis, because I've decided to finally read the Bible in its entirety, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. There is so much that I don't remember learning before, and a lot that I probably just wasn't prepared to learn before, but because I've been able to study the scriptures so much here, and with an increased dose of the Spirit, I've been able to become a lot more familiar with the scriptures and the doctrines of the Gospel, and make connections that I never have before. Personal study is honestly one of my favorite parts of every day.
Also, this is just a side note, but I'm in Exodus now, and I realized that the movie 10 Commandments really does not need to be as long as it is! The whole first half of the movie takes place in like 6 verses. I'm actually pretty impressed with how much of a plot they were able to make out of it. Tangent over.

Fourth, Jojo, one of our investigators. He is 26 and was pretty wayward as a youth, but was able to turn his life around and is now a baptist preacher. He knows and loves the Bible, and loves to question our doctrines based on what he has been taught from the Bible. We have been teaching him for a few weeks, and I didn't feel like we were really getting anywhere, until yesterday. It was raining, and since we usually have our lessons outside (his house is just a single room hut where he sleeps), we were able to convince him to let us have our lesson in the church building, just down the road from his house. We were able to give him a church tour, to talk about the classes that take place, a little bit about the organization/leadership of branches/wards, and to talk about the Sacrament. He had a lot of comments, but we and the members that were present with us were able to answer his questions.
Afterward, we taught him about the Plan of Salvation. The lesson was a little scattered at first, and got into some deep doctrine, but it finally struck me that we needed to get back to the core doctrine. So I just kind of cut off the conversation, and went back to the main points of the Plan of Salvation and bore testimony of the importance of it and how it helps us in our daily lives. I know with my whole heart, especially since coming on this mission, that the knowledge we are given from the Lord is given to us for a reason. There is a reason that we know where we came from, what our purpose is here on Earth, and where we are going after we die. That knowledge helps me every single day in my life. It gives me purpose. It gives me direction. It gives me strength to do hard things, or to resist temptation. It is a gift from our loving Heavenly Father to His children (us).
For the first time since we started teaching him, I felt as though Jojo was truly listening to us, and giving place to consider what we were teaching. I'm not sure how long it will take for him to fully open his heart to the Gospel and to recognize and accept the truths we are teaching, but our lesson yesterday really inspired me and has given me so much hope. I truly believe that it was due in large part to our location, too. I felt the spirit so strongly in that lesson, and I hope that JoJo did, too. My testimony of the sanctity and holiness of every church building has been strengthened. I know that the Spirit of the Lord is present there, and it is a tremendous blessing to us in our lives. We may not get to continue to teach Jojo, with our area getting split, but I will definitely continue to pray for him, because I just know that the Lord has a plan for him, and that Jojo can be a powerful instrument in the Lord's hands.

Those are all the adventures I have time for today. I just want to say, also, that Priesthood Blessings are inspired. The promises that were made to me in my setting apart as a missionary are already being fulfilled, and I am so humbled by the countless blessings the Lord continues to give to me every single day. I echo the prayer of Jacob/Israel (Gen 32:10)-- "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant." I know that this Church is true, and that the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the Earth again. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that there is NOTHING that is possible without Him, or impossible with Him. Prayer is a miracle, and the greatest gift and tool we have been given in our lives.

I love you all and pray for you every day. Stay strong, remember the Lord in your lives, and involve Him in it. He loves you so much, and He wants to help you with every single thing you go through, if you just invite Him to. (Sorry if I'm starting to sound too much like a missionary--I guess it's just a side effect of the work...I just know it's true).

I hope you have a great week!!

Sister Emma Franks

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