Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - December 29, 2013

Hello again!!

Are you as excited for New Years as I am?! The anticipation has been building up all weekend, as we've been sharing messages about making changes and setting goals, but I feel like it's reaching the brim and about to overflow inside me. :) I don't think I've ever been as excited about a fresh start (or restart) as I am this year. I CAN'T WAIT!!

I think it would be an understatement to say that this week has been one of the most difficult and most incredible of my life. I have never felt so hopeless and frustrated, but consequently, having survived it, I can also say that it has taught me so much and though I'm not sure how, I can even see within myself how much I have grown. I still love Morong! Last week was really frustrating for me, for a lot of reasons I won't get into (they aren't important), but mostly just because I knew the Lord was expecting more of me than what I was giving.
I had kind of a breakthrough on Saturday morning though. I was thinking through everything that I'd been feeling, and trying to figure out what would even be the solution. I will admit, emergency transfers kept going through my mind, but then I knew it would be selfish and impractical to transfer Sister Medina and let me stay (I really do love it here--I hate the thought of ever being transferred). I was almost accepting the thought of being transferred though, if it meant I could escape how I was feeling, when I started thinking about who could replace me that would be able to actually help the branch. As I was trying to figure out what kind of missionary the branch needs, it occurred to me that I AM that missionary. There is a reason that the Lord placed me here at this time, and there is a reason that Sister Medina and I are together. I realized that I just needed to figure out what kind of missionary the Lord wants ME to be, to help the Morong Branch reach it's potential. And I realized that all my experience in the San Isidro branch is probably vital to helping these members here as well. My revelation/insight was confirmed Saturday night when I was able to get a Priesthood blessing from our District Leader. I was reminded that the Lord gives us trials to help us grow, and that I have the strength to handle this. :)
In Sacrament meeting yesterday, for some reason I was thinking about what Batman says in the Dark Night, and decided that I may not be the missionary that the Morong Branch deserves, but maybe (hopefully) I can be the one that it needs right now. ;) 
With that attitude adjustment, my weekend since then has been so fulfilling. We are working on preparing an incredible family (the Andres family) for their baptisms on Saturday, and I was able to share a very personal experience yesterday talking to the mother to help her with something she was struggling with. It's something I have never shared before with anyone here, and when the Spirit prompted me to share it with her, I just felt that maybe that is one reason why I was sent here at this time, and why I am the one who is privileged to help teach their family.
Sister Tingey, one of my kabahays who I absolutely love (she really has been a lifesaver for me since I got here) also expressed to me that she is glad that I came here with the attitude that I did (wanting to work hard and be exactly obedient) because it has helped her become more motivated as well. So now I've just become more determined to do all I can to be an example of exact obedience. All 4 of us, I think, are catching the spirit of New Years and wanting to improve. Though I know there will still be trials and hardships ahead, I am excited for the coming weeks (and I really am starting to love Sister Medina--we are learning to work together and understanding each other more I think). :)

BUT on to more exciting things! My Tatay (Elder Argyle) is now one of our Zone Leaders here in Morong, and he finally got here from Mindoro (there was some kind of problem with the airlines and they couldn't get flights for transfers) on Christmas. I still haven't seen him, but I got to talk to him for a bit on Thursday and I'm super excited that he's in my district again! :)

Also, a story about cockroaches: I'm usually okay with cohabiting with them (i.e. I ignore them and let them live as long as they stay a decent distance away from me), but mostly just because I don't like getting close enough to kill them (they're too quick and I don't trust them). But I went to go to bed last night and one scurried out of my blanket onto the wall (I'm on the top bunk) and then started flying around and finally disappeared behind our dresser. It was pretty traumatic for me, actually. I've been so nice to them--like the one that I let chill on my desk every night my 2nd transfer since I wasn't using it--but my bed is another thing! That's just low. But it was a good reminder, because I've been neglecting to pray at night not to be attacked by anything. I used to (and will again) pray every night for divine anti-critter protection, and that alone is a testimony that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers, since thus far I've been safe. :)

One last thing because I'm almost out of time! Our branch president gave a talk yesterday and he talked about the tower of babel, and how it was being designed to reach the heavens. He talked about the pyramid-type building structure back then, and how the base would have had to be giant for it to actually be that tall. I don't remember what the point of his talk actually was, because I got distracted by his point of what an engineering marvel that would have been. I remember him saying, though, how the base, the foundation, has to be the biggest and the strongest part of the structure, and how it takes many many people working together to build it. He then related it to our spiritual progression and how if we want to reach heaven, we need a strong foundation. I was thinking, then, about converts to the church (which really includes all of us), and how they are working to build their foundation. I loved President Ika's comment, too, about how it takes many many people to build a foundation. It occurred to me that really, that is why fellowshippers, home and visiting teachers, and member support are so important. If they have to build this giant foundation all by themselves, they will undoubtedly get tired, frustrated, and maybe even give up. We need to help them press on, we need to help BUILD THEIR FOUNDATION, we need to help them keep the vision of the end result--that one day they will reap the results of all their hard work, and make it to Heaven, to Eternal Life with our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I just want you all to know how much I love being a missionary. The greatest feeling ever was last week when I realized that as much as my gut instinct was to get away, I had no desire to go home. Everything in me still loves being a missionary and wants to work as well as I can while I am here. Our district leader shared a cool experience with us in our district meeting last week: I can't remember if it was an investigator or just someone they OYMed, but they were asked, "why do we see you walking everywhere? Is it because Jesus walked everywhere?" We all laughed about it, because we know the real reason is just that we're cheap and can't pay for transportation all the time, but at the same time it was beautiful to see the parallel. As Elder Anderson (our District Leader) said, "Sure. We're trying to be like Jesus. We bear the same message that he bore." It's amazing, but true.

It's so humbling to realize that we really are here as representatives of Christ. Humility is probably the #1 thing I am learning here in Morong, especially since there seems to be such a lack of it (myself included). A super cool quote from a confirmation that was given yesterday in our branch though: "Humility is a virtue that Heavenly Father wants [us all] to enjoy." And as Sister Garcia used to say, "there's no harm in being humble." I'm trying to make that my motto this transfer (one of them). So I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Alright, I'm actually over time now, so I have to go. I love you all so so much, though!! I hope you had a great Christmas and I hope you have a SPECTACULAR New Years!!!!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

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