Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - February 9, 2014

Oh hey there!
Nice to see you again! How's it going?
It's been a while, eh?
I'm doing well! You know, just living life, one day at a time. :)
Actually, the Philippines is great! Every day is an adventure when you're on a mission. You see so many miracles and get to experience so many wonderful things, yet still somehow become more and more aware of your shortcomings every day. I'm not 100% sure, but I think that's probably a big part of why we get sent out at 18/19/20/21 years old. There's not many better places to find yourself than in a foreign environment surrounded by strangers, trying to share a message about Eternal Salvation.

Yep, I pretty much think I hit the jackpot when I was assigned to labor here in the Quezon City mission.  Time really does fly when you're having fun--and when there's no clear change in the seasons. They say that summer here is March to June, so we're hitting the end of the "cool season" right now. Sister Medina keeps saying every day when we walk outside that summer is here already (because it's hot), but I'm reluctant to believe her, because I think summer is going to be the season that I've been dreading since I got my mission call--where it's just hot, all the time, even at night. Sister Pope described it as being the time when she can't ever remember a time that she wasn't sweaty. :P Haha at least the Lord gave me 10 months to get used the climate, so hopefully I'll be more prepared when it hits.

The work is going well. Actually, I don't really know. Sometimes I feel like things are going great, and sometimes I feel like "what are we even doing here?". But I think that's just how missionary work goes. At the very least, I am excited because our zone leaders (Elder Argyle still, and Elder Hall, who I just met but who is super great and also from Utah) have designed some legit zone goals for us for this transfer and next transfer. I've also decided to apply Ether 12:27 and take my biggest missionary weakness (Finding) and turn it into a strength! ...We'll see how it goes. ;)

It's Fiesta time here in Rizal. The cities around here have been celebrating for the past few weeks (they seem to all go right in a row, with a different city every weekend). Fiesta, though I'm not super knowledgeable about its origins, is a Catholic tradition apparently that has become a national one here in the Philippines. Basically for all of us foreigners/non-Catholics (and even the Catholics nowadays) it just means FREE FOOD. Families make tons of food, and all their friends are invited to come eat and visit. It really is kind of crazy. The traffic is ridiculous, because people come from all the neighboring cities to join in, and I swear there is a party at every 3rd or 4th house. Yesterday was the fiesta for Morong, so we went and had lunch at a member's house in Sister Dudas' area. Next weekend is the fiesta for Cardona (our area). I'm not sure if I should be excited or not that we are probably going to get fed at every single appointment we go to (hopefully we'll at least be able to teach). :P I do kind of wish we had Fiestas in America though. I think it would be a super fun experience for anyone who isn't a missionary. :)

I have a new favorite object lesson/spiritual thought I think. It actually comes from the "I am a Child of God" wristbands that Mom sent for Christmas. I started wearing one of the white ones every day and noticed after a couple of weeks that when we came home at night, the wristband actually was glow-in-the-dark. Initially I was just pumped because I love glow-in-the-dark things. Over time, though, I started to think about it in a more metaphorical sense and realized that it's an awesome symbol for us in our own lives.
First, let's consider the "technology" of things that glow in the dark. Why do they glow? Of course, science never was my specialty, but as far as I understand, it's because they absorb the light energy from the sun or light source they are exposed to that "charges" them. When they are then surrounded by darkness, the light energy they absorbed previously remains, causing them to "glow." Over time, the energy disperses and the glow fades, until it is again exposed to light and can reabsorb the requisite energy.
As for us, in our lives, we absorb Light every time we choose to follow our Savior and keep His commandments. Every time we study our scriptures, pray, attend church to partake of His sacrament, serve someone, sing a hymn, offer a listening ear or shoulder to cry on, etc. we are becoming more like our Savior, and His Light more fully becomes a part of us. Christ himself stated: "I give unto you to be the light of this people....therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (3 Nephi 12:14,16). We absorb Light through righteous living so that we can radiate it to others who have not yet found the Source. In a world of Darkness, we radiate the Light of Truth, and can help others to find their way to a better, happier, more peaceful life. Just like my bracelet, though, we must continually seek to recharge ourselves spiritually. We can't expect our Light to stay strong and vibrant if we fail do those things that bring the Savior into our lives. We must stay diligent and faithful and press forward patiently every day. :)

I've also been pondering this week about the Lord's love for us. In looking for a spiritual thought last week, I came across a scripture I had marked in 2 Nephi 26. What really stood out to me as I reread it was verse 24: "[The Lord] doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation." Then as I was reading 3 Nephi 12:42-45 during my 15 Minutes to Conversion study, I was struck again by how loving our Father is, that He gives blessings so freely to us, even to those who curse His name or claim they don't believe in Him. He is still there, watching over them always. I know that there is nothing that we could ever do to "deserve" the love that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ give to us, yet it still amazes me how perfectly aware and caring they are to every single one of us, even despite our many weaknesses. I am coming to feel for myself the reality of Paul's claim that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).

I know that this Gospel is true. It is real. This work is so important--I just want every one to come to feel about our Savior the way that I have come to feel about Him and His Atonement. The Philippines Quezon City Mission (PQCM) has been renamed by our mission leadership as the Philippines Quality Conversion Mission. It stemmed from the initiative to help our investigators be better prepared for the covenants they will make at Baptism, to help them become more established in the Church and the Gospel, so hopefully they don't fall away like so many others here have. I suspect though, that the Leadership here was also aware that along with the changes that have been made to improve our teaching, we as missionaries are being blessed as well to receive a true Quality Conversion.

I love you all! I pray for you, and think of you often! Thank you for all your love, prayers, and support!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

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