Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - March 31, 2014

Hello again!!

Wow. It is hard to believe that another week had already passed, and it is almost April!! Hope you're all gearing up for tomorrow--I wish I were clever enough to have come up with a trick to celebrate, but sadly, it'll have to wait till next year. :P I feel like every day time is going more and more quickly, and I am loving life as a missionary even more. This week has been so full of wonderful missionary experiences (both the joyful and stressful kind, but all rewarding). I love Morong so so much, and I love my companions! Sister Strebel is seriously becoming one of my favorite sisters here. It's weird actually now to think that there was a time before we were friends! I feel like we've just known each other forever. I am learning so much from both her and Sister McCarthy though, and realizing a lot about myself.

One fun tidbit: Sister Avila (my "niece" in the mission) is our kabahay now too, and she is working on learning English (all the native missionaries are required to learn English for their language study). She actually knows a lot already, grammatically, but the pronunciation is the hardest! We have been trying to help her, and Sister Strebel and I are pretty much just coming to realize that ENGLISH IS HARD!! Like really, we have the craziest vowel sounds and out-of-nowhere pronunciations that don't make any sense at all. Yet it's so intuitive to us. I feel so bad for everyone who tries to learn English as a second language. I really think it's true how they say it is the hardest second language to master. But she is so cute and working so hard on her accent. Sometimes when we are just sitting around she will, out of nowhere, start saying "terrific. terrific. winner. winner." (the "i" sound is hard--it sounds like "terrefic" or "weener"). I really admire her diligence--she is improving a lot!!

Also, the sister training leaders came to work with us last week and I finally got to work with Sister Houser! We were ka-district for a while when I was in San Isidro, so I was pretty pumped to see her again, and especially to work with her, because she is a sister that I have always really admired. We had a great day of work together, and serving with her was so inspiring to me. I am so impressed by her diligence in learning and using Tagalog. I remember that she struggled a lot with the language when I served with her before, but she is really skilled now, and I can tell that it is because she has worked hard to learn and improve. That was a good motivation for me, because I haven't been the most diligent in trying to improve my language skills (because I haven't really struggled like other missionaries--Tagalog for some reason came fairly easy to me). It was nice to be reminded, though, of how I really need to keep working on my language skills, because I should probably be a lot more fluent now than I actually am. :P

It feels like since the transfer has started, people have just been coming out of the woodwork here. We have a new key indicator we are supposed to report each week for how many people we OYM (that accept a return appointment), but honestly I feel like other people tend to OYM us before we even get a chance to try talking to them. I don't know if it is just a blessing of being foreigners here in the province, or just that we have the Spirit so much more than before (and people notice), but it is so fun (and just a little overwhelming). We have been trying really hard to meet with all our investigators and figure out which ones are really interested to progress towards baptisms, and which aren't quite prepared yet, so we can make time for all the new investigators we have been finding.
There is one new family (the Raya family) which we are really hoping will progress. We met them one day when we got lost trying to find a member's house, and ended up having a really good discussion with them (they were just sitting around in the street and invited us to sit and talk with them--so of course we accepted!). They had a lot of good questions, and we were able to share our beliefs about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and a little bit about the Restoration. We left a pamphlet with them and they invited us to come back for their son's birthday party. The husband/father said he is an apostle in their church, but their church is small (just a meetinghouse type, rather than a church). He was really nice though, and interested in learning about our beliefs. And he says he had lots of friends he can introduce us to. :) We stopped by for the birthday party and came to realize that the family is actually pretty mayaman (rich). They own a piggery, along with some other kind of farm work, and pork is huge here, so they are pretty well set. Their house (which we really only saw the outside of) is beautiful. And huge. The best part, though, is that the husband said he read the pamphlet! We weren't able to sit down with them and discuss it (they were busy with the party), but we were able to talk to the 23-year-old son a bit, and the wife introduced us to one of her friends and we now have a return appointment with her as well.
It's kind of crazy, but I am coming to really feel the importance of this work, and seeing how the Lord truly is hastening it. Every day that we go out to work just seems to fly by. I am blown away actually, because we see and meet and teach and work with so many people every week, and yet each one of them is special to me. Every lesson is personal to me and I want to do all that I possibly can to help them progress and come to accept this Gospel. I know this Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is true. It is real. It really is everything that we need in life, and without it, no matter what substitute we may be able to find, there will always be something missing. WE ARE SO BLESSED!!!! We really are the luckiest, that we have this beautiful knowledge, and we get to share it with the world. :D

Also....I made bagels last week! It was a success, too. So just another reason this week was fantastic (and delicious). Today I am going to make egg rolls (but mini sized because they don't have the right wrappers so we are improvising). :) I really can't get over how much I love our new house, especially the kitchen.

I'm almost out of time, but I want to tell you really quickly about Michael. He is the husband of a recent convert (Cathleen) and has been an investigator for a while. At first, he couldn't come to church because he worked on Sundays. Then he was able to change his schedule so he only worked during the week, then lost his job so he is now a trike driver. He wants to be baptized, and be sealed in the temple with his wife and kids, but he has a pretty strong addiction to cigarettes. We have been trying really hard to help and encourage him though, to help him quit so he can prepare to be baptized. In the time I was here with Sister Medina, he cut down from 30/day to only 14/day (it really is amazing to me that he could smoke that much and still be alive...). We talked to him about the Book of Mormon and how it can help him, and prayer and church and everything that will help him, but he still wasn't making much progress. Last week, though, we were able to have a good conversation/lesson about goals and faith and the stepping stones to accomplishing our goals. He has a goal to be baptized and quit smoking, so we invited him to set a date by which he would be completely cigarette free (4 weeks before his baptism), and to work to smoke just one less cigarette each day until he could reach that. When we met with him on Saturday, he was just one behind his goal. I still am amazed at the progress he is making though! He came to church the week before last, but only stayed for Sacrament meeting. Yesterday, they came and he stayed for the whole 3 hours! It was so exciting for us, but I think it meant even more to his wife, who has such a strong testimony, but with 3 kids (one of them being a newborn), it's hard for her to come to church by herself. It's just beautiful to see them starting to apply everything and really live the Gospel, and see how much happier they are as a result. :)

That's all for now. I just am so so happy, and so excited for another fantastic week of serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Lord's Kingdom here on earth! Thank you so much for all your emails--I am sorry I don't have time to respond to them individually. Your love and thoughts and support mean a lot to me, though. I love you all so much! Hope you have a great week, and enjoy getting to hear from our living prophet and apostles at General Conference this weekend (don't send too many spoilers--we don't get it till next week)!

Love always,
Sister Franks

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