Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - March 23, 2014

Hello po!! Happy Monday!! :)

This week has been wonderful!!! A lot has happened, and we unfortunately weren't able to work as much as we are used to (we moved to a new apartment--which is absolutely fantastic--and have all been battling sickness throughout the week), but I feel like the work we were able to accomplish was probably some of the most meaningful and productive that I have experienced in my mission. This transfer is so great, and I have already come to recognize changes in myself and my views of this work. I have come to truly love each of our investigators (even ones I would have been ready to drop before), and am becoming so invested in and eager for their spiritual welfare. Our planning has become so much more than just scheduling lessons--we actually talk about the needs of our investigators again and how we can help them. I just feel like everything is starting to fit into the Lord's way of doing things, rather than us imperfect humans trying to accomplish things on our own (which we all know never really works out). Consequently, though the number of lessons we were able to teach may be down, the progression of our investigators is amazing; I think largely due to them seeing and feeling how much we care for them and from the Spirit they have been able to feel. I just love being a missionary!!

Highlights from the week:
I think a few weeks ago I told you about Laurence, a new investigator who was a school adviser to one of our branch missionaries. We gave him a Book of Mormon in our last (second) lesson with him two weeks ago. We weren't able to see him last week, but we were able to go back yesterday and teach again. I was nervous at first, because he had said he really wanted to come to church, but hadn't come either Sunday (last week or yesterday), and I was a little scared that maybe he had lost interest. When we went to his house though, I was surprised and glad that he welcomed us cheerily. We sat down and started talking and quickly found out that he has been facing a lot of trials in the past couple of weeks. He lost his cell phone (or rather, his cousin took it and lost it), his brother was in a motorcycle accident and then developed an allergy to the medicine in the hospital, and his friends, who frequently ask money from him, have decided that they aren't interested to be friends anymore if he won't keep giving them money. Needless to say, he has had a lot on his mind. Despite all that has happened, though, he has still been reading the Book of Mormon. He read each of the sections in the beginning (the introduction, the explanations, the testimonies) multiple times, because he said he didn't understand when he first read and he really wanted to get everything straight. Listening to him talk, I could hear behind his words the testimony he had been developing of the Restoration. I asked him if he believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and he said yes, followed by an interesting and impressive explanation of all his thoughts and feelings that have led him to believe so. He really respects Joseph Smith as the man that the Lord selected to restore the fullness of the Gospel to the earth once again, and he has felt the Spirit as he has read from the Book of Mormon (he read from Galatians 5:22 and said that those are the things he has felt which helped him realize this is true). We talked about trials, and how we all face them, especially when we start to make the effort to come closer to Christ. He said that he knows that, and he has been thinking a lot about it, and how he knows (the Spirit told him) that even though a lot is happening, he can handle it.  We invited him to act on the testimony he has been receiving and prepare to be baptized on May 17. He readily accepted, and just kept saying how grateful he is that we are here as the Lord's instruments to help people come to know the truth.
Pretty much, I just feel like Brother Laurence is a treasure. He is so prepared, and so ready to accept this Gospel. I know that he is probably going to face a lot more trials as he continues to progress, and I just hope we and the branch members here can help support and encourage him to hold fast to his faith. I truly feel like he has the potential to be a great leader in the church here. He says that he also wants to become an instrument in the Lord's hands, like Joseph Smith was, and like we are. We testified that he can, and that is exactly what our Heavenly Father wants for him. :)

We have also been teaching Tatay Sulpicio, the husband of a sweet, adorable recent convert (Nanay Presentacion). She is 80 and he is 82. Neither of them can see very well, and Tatay has a hard time hearing, so they both speak kind of loud and forcefully (at least to our cushioned foreigner's pretty normal here to be loud). Tatay has A LOT of questions, but accepted an invitation back in February to prepare to be baptized. Due to our own neglect and scheduling conflicts and probably a lot of the Lord's Hand in things, we haven't been able to teach him enough for him to reach the original date that we set, but we have been focusing more on him since the new transfer started and we all love going there. I used to think that Tatay's questions were just him trying to "test" us and our knowledge--just to see if we would be able to answer, not because he was really interested. Since our promise to him, though, was that we would answer his questions, I started writing them down, and was able to see the points in the doctrine and the missionary lessons that he hasn't come to understand yet (even though it may have been taught). So we went through and started to reteach some things, and I discovered, as we were in a lesson and he interrupted to ask a follow-up question, that his questions really are genuine. He may have a rough-sounding voice, which makes them sound insincere, but he honestly just wants to know (things like: where do people go after they die? What kind of god is God? Is there hope for us to see peace on earth?). He is searching for the truth, for answers to his lifelong questions, and we have been sent here to deliver to him just that: a gospel of answers.
I used to dread our appointments there, but now I look forward to them. He has come to church 3 times, and even though he probably can't hear anything that goes on there, he still always has a smile, and when we ask him about his experience he just says it was fun/happy and the people are so nice. He is the cutest little old man (still works as a guard for the barangay--"neighborhood"--even though I can't imagine him being able to fight off anyone if there was some kind of problem) and I am so grateful to be one small means of helping him come closer to his Savior.

Things in our companionship are getting better. We are getting better/more used to teaching together, and really, I just love my life. :) Sister Strebel and Sister McCarthy are very different, but I love them both, and we have a lot of fun! They are both tall, too, which is entertaining, because people love to comment on how I look like a little kid now when we walk around. :P Also, no pictures today, but I LOVE OUR NEW HOUSE!!!! It is beautiful, and there is so much more spirit there than I ever felt in our old apartment! I really just don't think life can get much better. :D

That's all I have time for now! I hope you all have an incredible week!! I love you!!!!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

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