Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - November 5, 2013

Hello all!!!

***edited intro*** I was writing this earlier (at a normalish time), but there was a brown out (power outage) so all the computers shut down. Actually, our whole area lost power, stores and everything. Fortunately, since we had planned to proselyte during the afternoon already, we just went to work a little earlier and adjusted our schedule accordingly. *return to original email*

I am starting with this email, because I have a lot to say and don't want to run out of time (our email time is about 15 minutes shorter today because we have a teaching appointment to go to right afterward). If you're wondering why this is on a Tuesday (maybe you aren't and you're just used to our schedule getting switched all the time) it's because TRANSFERS ARE TOMORROW! It's the day we've all been waiting for, some with hope and excitement, some with disappointment. Before I tell you what's happening with me, though, I have to tell you a couple of stories first.

We were scheduled to have our interviews with the mission president two weeks ago at our Zone Interviews meeting, but we were combined with another zone and ran out of time (not sure if I told you this already), so they had to be rescheduled. We ended up not being able to have them until yesterday afternoon, we got to go to the mission office with the other sisters from our district and meet with President Revillo there.
I was in a really good mood yesterday, for a couple of reasons, but mostly because of what happened on Sunday night. We and the other sisters in our branch held a fireside for the branch missionaries and auxiliary leaders. Only a handful of leaders came, but there was a great turnout of ward missionaries (all YSAs). We were really excited for it! When we were talking about it and planning, we decided our purpose for the fireside was to help members want to be involved in missionary work, and the way were going to go about it was to deepen or rekindle their own personal testimony/conversion, because that is where the desire to share the Gospel really comes from. We were planning to show the Restoration video, and then show clips from the new Hastening the Work website, about members and missionaries working together. A lot of what we had planned fell through, because of the holiday last weekend (more on that later), and then the video format of the videos we downloaded wouldn't open on the DVD player, so we had to do a quick readjustment. It turned out to be fantastic, though.
We had chosen Alma 29:9 as our scriptural theme for the fireside, so I started out by reading it and explaining how it really is a blessing to be an instrument in the Lord's hands, but that we don't have give up 18 or 24 months of our lives and become full-time missionaries to receive that joy in our lives. As members of the Church, as those who have been given a knowledge of the truth, we are commanded to share it, but it really is more of a privilege than a burden. That honestly is what I am realizing the longer I am out here. All that missionary work is is just inviting those you love to experience the same joy and peace and sense of purpose that comes from an understanding our Heavenly Father's plan for us and the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. I then explained that our hope for the fireside was to help them strengthen their own testimony, because that is the start of all missionary work. Sister Pope then introduced the Restoration video, and invited them to reflect on their own personal testimony of Joseph Smith and the Restoration, and their experience when they were first taught it by the missionaries (almost every single adult and teenage member in the branch is a convert). After the movie, Sister Faka'osi bore a beautiful testimony about how love (for others, for herself, and the Lord) is what motivated her to serve a mission, and how we need to share the Gospel with those we love if we want to have them with us for eternity. Sister Garcia concluded, inviting them to act on their faith and share their testimonies. We were going to close then, but the primary president asked if instead we could have a question-and-answer session about how to share the Gospel. We were so surprised by how excited the members are to be involved in this work! They genuinely want to help, but like most of us I think, they just don't know how or where to start. So Sister Garcia had the brilliant idea to start a "mini-MTC" to better equip our member missionaries! The first session will be held next Wednesday, to help them learn how to use Preach My Gospel (I LOVE LOVE LOVE PMG, btw!!!), and how and what to teach.
Anyhow, the spirit was so strong at the fireside, and we were so overwhelmed by how well it was received by the members and how eager they are to work. The energy and excitement of missionary work here is so contagious. When President asked me yesterday how our work was going, all of us just told him how excited we are for the response of our branch and how involved they are becoming (I feel like the branch has changed so much since I got here 4 months ago! It is so amazing and humbling to see testimonies growing and lives changing. This Gospel is so incredible!).
It was an interesting experience, actually, having interviews with President the day before transfer announcements. Theoretically, the assignments had already been made and emailed, but this transfer has been really interesting, because the assignments have gone out later than usual (i.e. trainers usually find out they are training on Sunday, but Sister Acostan didn't get her call until Monday afternoon). When I was in the interview with President, at the end, he said "don't ask me if you're transferring!" (which I wasn't going to...I know we have to wait until Tuesday morning to find out) "because I don't know. Well I do, but it's on the computer. But I don't think you are." Haha so that's what I had to go on. I was about 90% sure I was safe, but there's always that chance that I've been confused with Sister Doucette again (seriously, people ALWAYS get us mixed up! Especially Filipinos. It's pretty fun, and not actually annoying because we're super great friends).
Then last night, we got a text from our Zone Leaders saying that there were changes in the transfer assignments so the calls would be delayed because they had to wait until morning to get the new announcements. I probably shouldn't forward speculation, but we suspect that our interviews had something to do with that, because after each interview President made a phone call. :P Anyhow, it's hard to describe my feelings right now. Last week, I had this sinking feeling that I would be transferred. Actually, other missionaries were saying it too, that Sister Pope and I would be transferred, and it was actually really sad. Last transfer, I was so ready to leave, but I've so fallen in love with the people here, with our investigators, with our work, and this branch. I really didn't want to leave when I feel like the work is finally starting to progress! But fortunately, we got our calls this morning, and none of the sisters in our district are leaving! The 7 of us are staying, and Sister Acostan is training so we will have one more (to replace Sister Houser, who was emergency transferred about 3 weeks ago--can't remember if I wrote about that). I am so excited for this next transfer! I love Sister Garcia, and I am so grateful to have the chance to keep working with her, and to get to really do all we can to help our investigators progress in this Gospel. I really feel so blessed. :) Today is a good day. And I love that I feel that way pretty much every single day. I honestly don't know why I am so blessed.

So more about my week last week! They don't have the same kind of Halloween here that we have, but they do celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day (Nov 1 & 2, I'm not sure which day is which though). It's really the coolest cultural event I've seen. Because it's a national holiday, pretty much no one has work, but they all just go to the cemetery and chill there all day and night (there are tons of candles on the graves so it doesn't really get that dark) with their families and friends and neighbors. Since everyone goes to the cemetery, we received instruction from the APs not to proselyte on Friday and Saturday, but to spend as much time as possible in the cemetery trying to OYM people ("open your mouth"--meaning just talking to people and introducing them to the Gospel message/asking if missionaries can visit them). We went on Friday night after our planning, and I learned so much. Mostly that I'm really bad at OYMing, and that being shy as a missionary is awful! But I also realized that we really can't be shy, because we know the truth, and if we don't share it, who will? We are here, in this place, at this time, and it is our responsibility to try to give everyone the opportunity to learn about our Father's plan for them. I'm glad I'll have another chance next November (hopefully I'll be more fluent by then, too) to be more bold about sharing what I am so blessed to know.

Also, if any of you know missionaries who are looking for new investigators, I would suggest that they start by looking for the less-actives in the area, especially part-members. We started looking for less-actives this week, in part to update our directory (knowing who still lives here and who has moved away without transferring their record), and in part because the less actives we've found this transfer have actually become our best referrers. Teaching part-member families is so powerful, because our message really is centered on families, and how families can be together forever (CAN, not WILL, because we have to do our part). Having one family member who has already taken that step of faith to be baptized by true priesthood authority really helps the investigators to realize the importance of their role in helping the whole family progress.
It has also really taught me the truth of the statement in D&C 18:10 that "the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." Every single soul is important to the Lord, and to the Church, because that one soul is connected to so many other souls, and our spirit family will never be complete if any soul is lost. That is why we do missionary work. That is why we find (talking to strangers, seeking referrals, contacting former investigators and less-actives, however awkward it may be), teach (they can't embrace or have faith in something they've never heard), and baptize (the first ordinance of the Gospel necessary for Eternal Life).

Mom, I just want to say how much respect I have for you for working to faithfully with the primary!! I was asked to play the piano for the primary presentation in the branch at the end of the month, so I've been at their practices the last two Sundays. Having a group of children in a giant room together and trying to get them to sit quietly and pay attention for and hour and a half is already difficult, but then add in the fact that there's no food (usually they have treats in primary here, except apparently when we are in the chapel, so we don't get any :P) and it really is a test of patience. After this past Sunday (fast sunday), I have a new found respect for the angelic women who work with the primary. I'm generally a pretty patient person, but when I haven't eaten for 20 hours, my tolerance level drops. I was so grateful that I only had to wait to be cued to start playing, and didn't have to actually try to get the kids to behave. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all that you do. I guarantee that Heavenly Father is SO aware of all that you do!!

This is pretty long, so I'm going to send another email with some pictures. :) I love you all! I hope you have a great week!!! Stay strong, read the scriptures, nourish your testimony and share it. :) It's the best gift you could ever give yourself.

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

No comments:

Post a Comment