Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - August 25, 2013

Hello po lahat!

This week was one of the greatest, and the hardest, that I've had so far in the mission. Incredibly, it was great and hard for the most unexpected reasons. First, there was a CRAZY storm here last week. Members had been warning us about the baguio (possibly the right spelling?) that was coming, but of course we have no access to anything that predicts the weather, so we just had to take their word for it. Monday night, the rain started. The area Sis. Campbell and I were in was already partly flooding, but only about ankle deep. It stormed like crazy through the night though, and Tuesday morning our district meeting was cancelled because of it. We got a message from the area presidency (through the zone leaders, through our mission president) that said we weren't to out and work, even if it seemed safe in our area. So Tuesday, we just stayed home. It was pretty weird actually. It was like a 2nd P-day, and somehow went really fast even though I didn't get much of anything accomplished. We ordered pizza for dinner though, with the Sisters who live across the street (Pizza Hut--turns out it's almost as good on the other side of the world as it is at home). Our area was pretty much fine, and we just chilled all day, but actually missionaries from half of the zones in the mission were evacuated and had to go stay with other missionaries or at the mission home. The Elders in our zone had some visitors that came to stay with them, and they came to our district meeting (which we were able to have) on Wednesday. I was pretty much super excited because Elder Hart (the only Elder from my MTC district that came to Quezon City) was one of the evacuees staying with our Elders. It was so fun to see him again! There were also new missionaries there too (their first district meeting) and one of them was in the district that replaced mine in the MTC, so of course Elder Hart and I had to get a picture with him (Bro. Mansfield and Bro. Calder--I'm sorry I don't remember his name, but I'll send you the picture).

Basically, the flooding was crazy in the city! We watched a video from when the elders were being evacuated and there are people walking through streets that are flooded with waist- to chest-deep water, and a random group of people just float by in a boat. It was a little sad for us that we missed all the excitement (and chances to serve! we tried to offer service here, but everyone said they were fine already by the time we were allowed out to work), but I'm also glad that all my belongings aren't trashed and we don't have to spend a whole week trying to clean our apartment up. We are super blessed. Again, I have no idea why the Lord takes such good care of me.

Other item of note: I had my first experience eating chicken intestine last week, and blood. The chicken was actually pretty good! Blood was medyo nasty though. Aside from the slight psychological aversion I discovered (I just finished reading Genesis and Exodus and learning about how sacred blood is), it's also super chalky texture-wise. The flavor was just kind of like meat, but I'm pretty sure I'll pass on it if ever offered again. :P

Also, before I forget:
Dad-- Sister Houser (a sister from the house across from us) was looking at our family pictures last week during our rain day, and she absolutely loves your mustache. She thinks it is the coolest thing ever!
Ray and Theresa (and Mom and Dad)-- Do you remember an Elder Pope being in our ward sometime around 2009/2010? The brother of my kabahay served in the Cleveland mission. Also, have you met an Elder Houser there now? He's serving in the Cleveland Stake, somewhere. He's Sister Houser's brother. I don't know how all the connections exist, but it's crazy.

Alright, so now for the best part (haha maybe! I just love this part): the spiritual thought. Basically it's just about how our experience with the Spirit is so dependent on our own personal preparation.
Real life application: Thursday evening, teaching Bro. Rodel and Bro. Rolly. Bro. Rodel is a baptist preacher that we have had two lessons with. His wife was baptized into the church as a teenager, but has been less active since she was about 20 (maybe before that, she wasn't active very long). He's very adamantly against our beliefs. Even things that we agree on in our two religions, he's determined to show that we believe differently. Anyhow, we had a lesson with him on Thursday, and it started really well. We just asked him and his wife about their family, and the role that Christ had played in their life. We talked for a while, and things were going well. We even got them to sing a hymn with us (they like the Mormon Tabernacle choir, so they know some of the songs from the hymnbook). But then Brother started asking questions, trying to get us to "prove" to him, using the Bible, that the Book of Mormon is true. We spent a little while playing his game, but ultimately it came down to the message that we came to share---a message about what faith really is, and how nothing that we say, no "scientific evidence" can prove or disprove the Book of Mormon. Our claim is that it is from God, and the only way to know if that is true or not is to ask God and have Him tell you. That's how we gained our testimony of the Book of Mormon, and that is the only way that anyone can gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. He really dislikes that answer, though.
Right after that, though, we met with Brother Rolly. We had planned to teach him about the Word of Wisdom, but then decided at the last minute to just follow up, since we were planning on coming back on Friday and we wanted to stop by another investigator before we had to head home. As we followed up, though, we asked if he believed the message of the Restoration. He said that he does, that he knows it's true, he knows Joseph Smith was a prophet, and the Book of Mormon is true. We had told him to read the Book of Mormon whenever he was tempted to drink (he already knows that's against the Word of Wisdom from before when the missionaries taught him), because there is real spiritual power from the Book of Mormon. He told us that he actually did! He was at a friend's house, and his friend offered him a drink, and he took it. He said he drank a little bit, but then he remembered what we said, and was like "I need to go home and read my Book of Mormon."
It was just incredible for us to see the stark contrast between Bro. Rodel, who is so smart and so educated, but so closed to the influence of the Spirit (he says he doesn't trust his feelings, only what makes sense in his head), and Bro. Rolly, who is just a sweet old man, super humble, with a lot of struggles in his life, but who has a sincere desire to change. More than ever, I have a testimony that we really have no idea who the Lord has prepared to accept His Gospel. Thursday night, we invited Brother Rolly to be baptized next month. Though he's nervous, and still has a lot of progress to make, he accepted, and we know that it will truly be a huge blessing in his life and in the life of his family.

I don't have time for the scriptural application, but if you are interested, just check out 3 Nephi 19:16-36 and Matt 26:36-45 and compare the experience of the Apostles in each case, and how our own personal spiritual preparation impacts the opportunity for Christ to teach us more.

I love you all! I hope you have a great week!

Sister Emma Franks

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