Monday, May 26, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - May 25, 2014 ("I wonder if this is how food feels when you put it in the microwave")

Good morning!! (or evening)

So just a head's up: I am sad to admit that I forgot my daily planner at the house this morning, so I am a bit like a chicken with it's head cut off right now. It's amazing how connected I am to that thing; not having it literally feels like a part of me is missing. And I am sorry to say that my list of things I wanted to share with you is contained on its pages, so this might be a little scattered. I will try to do my best though. :)

First things first to report: We had Zone Conference last week with the Quezon City and Antipolo zones. I don't really know any of the missionaries in those zones, except Sister Pope. It was good to see and catch up with her. The conference itself was SO GOOD though!! There were kind of two themes for the conference: 
1) How we can work better with the wards--"harness the power of the members"--because that is really the key to accelerating the work to the level it needs to be at right now. We know there is no way we can accomplish all that the Lord needs us to if it is just us missionaries. There are literally thousands of souls under our stewardship right now (as in, for each companionship), and no way we could possibly see or help even 1% of them with the limited time that we have each day. Yet it is amazing how, if we can work together, just 30 or 50 or so eager souls can create miracles with the Lord's help. 
2) We also talked about how the Atonement is related to missionary work. Of course this is one of our favorite topics, since we are learning more and more every day how much we really need our Savior Jesus Christ and how REAL He is and how powerful and necessary the Atonement is in our lives. 
Sister Revillo talked about the difference between KNOWING Christ and just knowing ABOUT Him. She shared a story she taught a lot on her mission called "the 3 spirits." It is basically just about 3 people who die and pass on to the next life. They are told that before they can get to heaven, they have to be interviewed. 
The first spirit is shown into the interview room, and comes and sits across from the interviewer. The interviewer asks just one simple question: "How well do you know Jesus Christ?" The spirit responds with a brief summary of His knowledge of Christ's life. The interviewer nods, and repeats the question. The spirit continues, specifically outlining Christ's birth, His ministry here on Earth, and His death on the cross. The interviewer nods again. After a moment, he repeats the question a third time: "How well do you know Jesus Christ?" The spirit, somewhat nervous, repeats his account, with as many details as He can think of. The interviewer thanks the spirit, and kindly shows him into the connecting room.
The second spirit comes in and goes through a similar ordeal. He is asked: "how well do you know Jesus Christ?' Confident in his knowledge of the scriptures, he tells of Christ's life and His teachings here in mortality. Upon being asked again, he shares about the prophecies of Christ's birth, the necessity of His Atonement, and how salvation comes only through His grace. The third time comes: "how well do you know Jesus Christ?" The spirit pauses to think a moment, then simply bears testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. The interviewer thanks the second spirit and shows him into the next room. 
It is time for the third spirit to be interviewed, and the interviewer beckons for him to be shown in. The third spirit opens the door, and immediately, catching sight of the interviewer, runs to Him, saying "My Lord! My Master!"
Sister Revillo used this simple story to demonstrate the importance of each and every one of us having a personal relationship with our Savior. I was reminded again that there is a significant difference between know ABOUT our Savior Jesus Christ, and truly knowing HIM. That story really struck a chord with me, because I was forced to reevaluate myself and my own personal standing. I am here as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have been called by a living prophet of God and set apart by real Priesthood authority to be a living representative of my Savior to every person that I meet or talk to or that sees me walking down the street. I am commissioned to teach His Gospel and help others to come unto Him. I bear testimony of His divinity each and every day and testify of the power of the Atonement to change lives, heal scars, and bring peace to those who follow the prescribed method of accessing those blessings (the Gospel of Jesus Christ). Yet I still have to ask myself, "how well do I really know Jesus Christ?" Can I really say that I have a relationship with Him? If He were to stand before me, would I recognize Him? I still don't know that I can confidently say "yes!" but I am glad that I can at least say I am closer now than I was a year ago. Pretty sure this will be a lifelong pursuit, but probably the most important thing is just making sure we are heading in the right direction. :)

One of the things that has been really emphasized this transfer is Faith, and the power of positive expectations. How lifting our sights helps us be more successful. It reminds me of one of my favorite motivational scriptures that I found during our 2nd round of 15-minutes-to-conversion in the Book of Mormon: It comes from 1 Nephi 17:18, when Nephi is commanded to build a ship to go to the Promised Land, and Laman and Lemuel start to doubt and question him. It says "And thus my brethren did COMPLAIN against me, and were DESIROUS THAT THEY MIGHT NOT LABOR, for they DID NOT BELIEVE that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord."
I love that verse every time I read it, because I know it is so true. All our success starts with our attitude. If we don't feel like we are capable of accomplishing whatever task we have been given (whether it's helping investigators progress toward the sacred covenant of baptism, doing our home or visiting teaching, fulfilling a difficult calling, reaching out to someone in need, or just going through the day to day requirements of enduring to the end), we have already set ourselves up to fail. If we don't believe, we don't want to work, because we only see it as a futile effort. The DOING becomes a burden, and we are tempted to complain or murmur or even just give up. Preach My Gospel teaches: "If you lower your expectations, your effectiveness will decrease" (pg. 10). I wholeheartedly believe that, because I have experienced it. However, I have found that the converse is also true: as we raise our expectations, as we increase our faith, we become more motivated, more eager to participate and work hard, and we are able to accomplish what we need to--as we rely on the Lord's power. It really is true that Christ MUST be the center of our faith. If we place our trust in Him, we can be like Nephi, as he responded to the situation with his brothers, saying, "If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done. And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship [or baptize, or endure]?" (1 Nephi 17:50-51). President Revillo's brother is a counselor in the stake presidency for Quezon City and he also came and talked to us at zone conference. He shared a lot of inspiring quotes ("If it is to be, it's up to me." "Whether you think you can or you can't, you are right." "It's not where you serve, but how you serve."), but two of them really stood out to me the most. 
First: "Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit." Never give up. We've got this! :)
Second, from Elder Richard G. Scott: "To reach a goal you have never before attained, you must do things you have never before done." (Which I also love because it correlates to one of my favorite lyrics from Steve Salazar--"if you always do what you've always done, you will end up getting what you have always gotten") 
He talked about how, if we want things to change, if we want to improve, to see miracles we haven't seen before, we need to think outside the box and try new things we haven't yet tried. 

Basically the whole conference was so inspiring, and went along well with my focus this transfer of trying to use time more wisely. I've just been feeling such a wave of faith--this area here in Taytay is amazing and the work is progressing SO well and SO fast!! I am 100% confident in the possibilities and potential here, my goal is just not to get in the way of the Lord trying to do His work. I just want to be the best instrument I possibly can, because I have been so blessed to be assigned here. And seeing all the miracles I have been seeing here, I feel like every second is so precious. There are so many souls that have been prepared, who are just waiting to hear the news that the same church that Jesus Christ established here on the earth has been restored, and that the true priesthood authority necessary for ordinances of salvation is available to us! 

I am running out of time, but just want to say our investigators are all doing well! I still love the work!!

The last highlight of my week this week was getting to go back to Morong to witness the baptism of Brother Erwin (the bakla we taught), and his aunt and cousin, Sister Madel and Sister Joy. It was a great baptismal service, and SO GOOD to see them finally at the point that they have been working towards for SO LONG (they were taught for over 8 months). And to add to it, several of us missionaries who taught them were able to come back and witness it (Sister Maagad, Sister Kahui, Sister Tingey, and I). Madel, Joy, and Erwin all bore testimony at the baptism, and it was beautiful, but of course, Erwin's was my favorite. He has made so much progress in changing his appearance to look more like a man, but it has been really hard for him. It was so sweet though, in his testimony he talked about his interview with the mission president before his baptism, and how President Revillo talked to him about how the physical changes are secondary to the spiritual progress he is making, and how the most important thing is understanding who he is as a child of God. He said that when he heard that, that was when he felt "I really am accepted here." It was such a tender, sincere testimony, and I really just wanted to hug him (no worries, I know he's male and it's bawal and I ignored the thought). It was just so exciting to be there though, and celebrate with them!
This Church is so true!!! God is so good!!! 
That's all for now. More next week on Tuesday (can you believe it is already almost transfer day again?! I can't!!!). 

I love you all!! I hope you have a great week!!!!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - May 18, 2014 ("I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22!" -- but kind of not)

Hello again!!

This has been a week full of miracles and growth for little ol' Sister Franks. It's strange, but cool, I am really starting to recognize how Heavenly Father is using this time on the mission to shape and refine me. Never expected it would actually be this successful. :P 

On Wednesday, we got to work with the Sister Training Leaders here. Sister Sanders (one of my roommates in the MTC) and Sister Tibungcog (a Filipina from our batch coming to the field). I've never really been excited to work with the STLs (except Sister Houser), but it was a really good day. I got to work with Sister Tibungcog (from Mindanao--the part down south that's really dangerous, where they don't let foreigners go), and learned a lot from her. She's so fun and down-to-earth and so humble. She's a great missionary--great at being bold and sharing our message with simple testimony, but also good at connecting with investigators. We were actually able to have a LOT of lessons, even though our time was shorter than a normal work day, and even found some new investigators! One of the biggest realizations I had while working with her though, is how confident I am becoming as a missionary. In previous transfers (especially the first half of the mission), I kind of dreaded working with STLs because I was so self-conscious about them judging me and my teaching skills, or my ability to lead the area, connect to investigators, teach people not lessons, etc. Last week was the first time that I was able to just let all of those preconceived notions/inhibitions go and just work like I would with any other companion. I think, as a result, all our lessons went much better. The respect we both have for each other led to a sort of automatic unity that really surprised me, since I had never really met or talked to her at all before that day (just knew her name from other sisters who served with her). It was a really fun day, and SO good for our area, because Sister Morrell and Sister Welling have been sick the past couple of weeks so we haven't been able to work as much as we would have liked to. 

Immediately following our great, successful day with the STLs, Sister Morrell and I experienced THE HARDEST DAY of our entire missions!! It's hard to even explain why it was such a hard day, really. We left the house at 11:30am (did all our studying back-to-back in the morning, instead of how our normal schedule is of working 10-12 and then having language study after lunch) and went to lunch at the house of one of our recent converts and his less-active family. The lunch was good (sinagang! mmmm... :D) and we were able to share a message with them about missionary work from Lehi's dream (1 Nephi 8:12) and invited them to be fellowshippers to some of their friends who we are teaching. Overall, a good experience, should have been fine. After that, we had a bunch of lessons planned, but the schedule didn't work out quite how we had lined it up. Long story short, we just walked A LOT (like probably 5+ miles--no joke--throughout the day) and I swear it was THE HOTTEST DAY of the summer. On the way to one of our lessons at like 2:40, we were both just exhausted and hot and talking about how crazy our lives are as missionaries here in the Philippines and just both started laughing (the preferred option to crying). It was kind of an amazing turning point for both of us, though, because we talked about how strange missionary life really is, that everything in your body and spirit--every part of our "natural man"--is telling you just to go home or give up or whatever, but just we just keep walking. We just keep pressing on. It was the first that either of us had experienced what it truly means to let our wills be "swallowed up in the will of the Father" (Mosiah 15:7; see also PMG pg 120). Honestly, I was surprised. That was probably the start of my realizing how this mission has changed me. For those that know me, you know how I have never been good at diligence or perseverance. When things get hard, I basically do all I can to get out of it, quit, or at least make it as painless and easy as possibly (doing the "bare minimum" required to get by). Who would have ever thought that little ol' ME would get to a point of mental stamina to just turn everything over to the Lord and follow His will, trusting Him entirely to get me through it? Apparently Heavenly Father did. I still can hardly wrap my mind around it. My respect for returned missionaries has once again skyrocketed. I know I am not the only one who has had that kind of experience (probably every Elder and Sister does at some point), but it still amazes me. I wish I had words to convey my feelings, but I don't. I just hope I will remember this experience when I get back to real life and have to go through finals, or finding a job, or raising a family. It's like what Kristen and I used to tell each other all the time: "YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS." :) We really can, if we remember to rely on the right source: our Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement. 

Speaking of the Atonement, Sister Morrell was reading a Sunday School manual last night and found this beautiful quote that we really liked: “The wounds in [the Lord’s] hands, feet, and side are signs that in mortality painful things happen even to the pure and the perfect, signs that tribulation is not evidence that God does not love us. It is a significant and hopeful fact that it is the wounded Christ who comes to our rescue. He who bears the scars of sacrifice, the lesions of love, the emblems of humility and forgiveness is the Captain of our Soul. That evidence of pain in mortality is undoubtedly intended to give courage to others who are also hurt and wounded by life, perhaps even in the house of their friends” (from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland).
She read it to me as we were getting ready to say our nightly prayer, and it reminded me of the story that Leo tells Josh on the West Wing. How there is a man who falls in a hole and is trapped. He calls out for help. One of his friends passes by and he shouts "Hey Joe! It's me. I've fallen in this hole, can you help me out?" The friend quickly jumps into the hole with him. The man says, "Are you crazy? Now we are both stuck down here." The friend just says, "Yeah, but I've been here before and I know the way out." 
That story had never struck me before as such a beautiful analogy for the Atonement, but last night I realized how true it really is. Christ went through all that He went through "that he may know ACCORDING TO THE FLESH how to succor his people according to their infirmities" (Alma 7:12, emphasis added). He knows what we feel not just in a hypothetical sense, but in a very real, literal, physical sense. Sister Morrell has had an ear infection for two weeks, and last night cut her finger on one of our fans, and we were talking about how Christ knows that pain. He knows the sting of her bleeding finger, the ache of her clogged ear, and everything else on top of it. But because He felt that, He has the power and ability to heal her, to heal us all, to take away that suffering, to lead us out of the hole we have fallen into. 
This Gospel is beautiful. The Atonement is incredible. 

My birthday was kind of strange, but good. One of the coolest things was waking up on Saturday morning and realizing that not only was I turning 22, but that nearly my entire life as a 21 year old was spent as a missionary and representative of my Savior (I was set apart the day after my birthday last year). I was just so overwhelmed with gratitude as I thought on the past year and everything I have been through, all the blessings I have received, all the miracles I have witnessed. It's kind of sad, almost, that I won't be able to say that about this coming year. And it is still weird to think that I have already been gone almost a year. It's good at least that the effects and memories of my time here will last a lot longer than my visa and ministerial certificate do. ;)
Saturday was pretty much a regular day (even did my morning exercise like the diligent little missionary I should be): we studied, went to work, got punted, followed the Spirit and found new investigators (that story to follow shortly), made a yummy lunch of homemade Five Guys style burgers (and Puregold, the grocery store here, finally got green olives! Best birthday gift Heavenly Father could have given me!), studied some more, went to work again, bought a couple shakes (more like icees) between lessons. When we got home though, my kabahays had prepared a little party for me, including a yummy chocolate cake, and cookies and cream ice cream (the best!). So we all sat around on the kitchen floor (our "living room", if you will) and had cake and ice cream and talked about birthday traditions. They are so cute, and it was so sweet of them to make such an effort to make me feel so loved. :) It was a good day.
Okay, so about our great finding story on Saturday! The mission/wards/stakes here have given us, as missionaries, these lists of people that used to live in our ward but that moved away and left no forwarding address for their church records. So we have been given the task of trying to go find people who knew them before they moved (from their old neighborhood or whatever) and trying to find where they are now. Well, after we got punted on Saturday morning, we had some time to kill before going home for lunch. Being the diligent missionaries we are, we knew that meant some kind of finding activity. :P We happened to be just a couple of blocks away from where one of the "lost members" (people that moved with no new address) lived, so we decided to go try to find them. We found the right street and started asking people if anyone knew them. We were eventually redirected to a tindahan (a house with a little storefront for selling snacks and drinks), where we asked help. The teenage boy who we first asked was apparently scared by two white girls talking to him and went to get his parents. They came out and we explained what we were looking for, and they started shouting to all their friends/neighbors to try to find out if anyone knew the people we were looking for. No one did. But despite the lack of success in locating the members, we were able to talk to the parents a little bit and explain that we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (better known here as "Mormons"). We were about to go try the other end of the street, but asked if we could come back to share with them our message, about Jesus Christ and intended for families. They said yes, and I went to get their information (names, etc, so we could come back), but then Sister said "just come in! It's so hot outside!" So, of course, we went in! We talked to them and got to know more about their family, and they agreed to let us share a short message with them. Turns out Brother has a LOT of questions, especially about why there are so many churches/religions, and Sister is looking for something that will help her know how to raise her kids to be obedient and grounded and grow up to be good people, even though she herself is imperfect. Sister Morrell and I just kind of looked at each other, thinking "this family is golden!", and testified to them that this message is exactly what they are looking for! They also happen to have 3 kids, all youth age (a 15 year old boy, and two girls, 12 and 13), who are really sharp. They agreed we could come back, but said Saturday would be best (so we have to wait a whole week to see them again!). I think Sister Morrell thinks I am a little overly optimistic about them, but honestly, I just feel like they are so prepared for this Gospel, and it is exactly what they need and are looking for in their lives. I am so excited to see what will happen and what the Lord has in store for their family. :) 

Being a missionary is THE GREATEST! We also happen to have a stinking AWESOME ward here! We had ward council yesterday, and I have literally never seen a ward council so strong and so eager to help the work move forward in such a productive way. I just feel so blessed and motivated to be assigned here in Taytay. The Lord really is hastening His work, and it's so inspiring to be a part of it, and seeing how things really are coming together to provide a way for us mere mortals to be successful in our endeavors. 

I hope that you all have a great week!! I love you so much and think of and pray for you always! Thank you for all your love and support!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - May 11, 2014

Hello! So this is short and not that exciting, because I don't have much time. Here's a little taste of my week though. More next time!!

This week has been another great week! As you know, I just pretty much love my life as a missionary. This has been a good week for the saving of souls. We had two baptisms we got to witness, but only one actually in my area here in Taytay. Saturday morning, we got to go to Morong to the baptism of this sweet old Tatay we taught for a long time there (as in, he investigated for a year and a half, I just caught the end part where he really started progressing), a husband of a new member (now a member for over a year). Nanay was so happy, and the two of them were so cute! They are so wonderful, and I am so happy that Tatay finally decided to take this step, even though it has been hard for him to get to the point of being ready/prepared. I am so happy that they are continuing on the path that they need to follow in order to be sealed for time and all eternity in the temple of the Lord.
On the other end of the scale, we also had a baptism here in Taytay on Saturday night for the son of a less-active family that we have been helping to return to activity. John Paul is turning 10 and is so magaling. He is so sincere in his desire to follow the Savior and keep the commandments. He was so excited to finally be able to be baptized. Hopefully this will be a great help to his family, as well, and they will be able to keep coming back to church and stay active so he can fulfill his desires of growing in the church and eventually serving a mission. We are still working on getting member fellowshippers for the family. The ward is really great though, and are so good about helping us when we need it. I'm still working on learning everyone's names though and trying to get to know the members here better...

Our investigators are honestly so great!! There are so many promising and progressing ones. We have a few relatively new ones who have shown a lot of good potential. One, the one I mentioned last week, I think, is a member referral and so open to our message. Sister Edith. We taught her last week and were able to follow up on her prayer. She prayed about Joseph Smith and felt good daw after her prayer. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and committed her to read and pray about it as well (we felt impressed to wait to invite again to baptism/set a date until both her and her husband were there). She said she was more than willing to read and would read whenever she had free time (she has 5 kids, so that's not always, but she's really sincere about it). Then she said "the only problem is, I don't have a Book of Mormon...what should I do?" We gladly explained that we were there to give her one. :) I just love her so much!
Another of our investigators, Jhey (who will be baptized on the 24th), is progressing so well too!!! He, without any prompting or direction from us, decided to go buy himself a white shirt so that when he is a priesthood holder he can match their "uniform." He wore it to church on Sunday (instead of the black coat he usually wears) and looked so good! He even came to church by himself, because his fellowshipper (an RC who referred him) wasn't able to come. We are SO excited for his baptism!
Basically, I am just coming to realize how much I LOVE being a missionary. Regardless of where or whom I am serving and teaching (I was able to do splits a couple of times in the past two weeks because Sister Morrell and Sister Welling have both been really sick), the spirit of this work is just so strong and so powerful, and it is amazing how, the longer I am out, the easier it is to see people for their potential and not just where they are right now. This work is so true, and we are so blessed to be a part of it! :)
Hope you all have a great week!!! I love you all!
Love always,
Sister Franks

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - May 4, 2014

Hello po!

It's hard to believe, but I swear every week just keeps getting better and better. I know I just emailed you on Wednesday, so hardly any time has passed, but I still have so much to share from our week this week! I love Taytay! Missionary work is the greatest! :)

Wednesday night, after our P-day, we went out to work (as per always) and got to teach a great young mother named Anita ("Neng"). She has 3 kids (ages 7, 5, and 2, I think?). She was taught a couple of times before, but hadn't really shown much interest or progression so far. My first day here, though, we were able to go teach her and her husband (who hadn't been taught yet). We basically just talked about all the blessings from the Gospel and how it can help their family, and testified of the truthfulness of the message. She and the husband were both attentive and Sister Morrell and I both felt really good about the lesson. Last week, when we went back, the husband didn't join the lesson (he was resting, daw, because he had to work early the next morning), but we talked to Sister and found out that she had read part of the pamphlet that we left with her! We asked if she had any questions and she said, "Just one. Kind of a question, kind of a thank-you, but why are you so patient? Why are you so willing to come teach us always? Even though it's late, you still come see us." It was the sweetest question I think I have ever heard. We just explained that it is because we love her, and care about her and her family, and we know this message will help them. We testified of the love of our Savior and our Heavenly Father and explained that we are here because they love her and want her to come closer to them. We had a great lesson after that, talking about Heavenly Father's pattern of revealing His Gospel through prophets, and how, because we all have freedom to choose, sometimes people don't accept the prophets and they turn away from the truth and apostasy occurs. It was so perfect. She had read the section in the pamphlet about Christ's earthly ministry and how He established His church here on earth, so we talked about that and testified that this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is THE SAME church that Christ established back then, and how it is built upon the same pillars that Heavenly Father's truth has always been built upon: living prophets and apostles, divine priesthood authority, and continuing revelation or communication from the Lord. After the lesson, Sister Morrell and I were both just on fire for the Gospel and missionary work! We were so unified in our teaching and the Spirit (the real teacher, we all know) was so strong! We both agreed, though, that the changes we saw in Anita had little to do with anything we said, and everything to do with what she felt. More than anything, in fact, we both felt that it was due largely just to the fact that she could feel that we truly love her and are here for her not because we have some kind of "quota" to fill of lessons taught, but because we know she is a beloved daughter of our Father in Heaven and we want to help her return to Him. And we know that this Gospel is THE ONLY WAY to do that. :)
I was reminded of what Elder Richard G. Scott shared in General Conference about the importance of loving those we wish to help:
"We must be sure to sincerely love those we want to help in righteousness so they can begin to develop confidence in God’s love. For so many in the world, the first challenge in accepting the gospel is to develop faith in a Father in Heaven, who loves them perfectly. It is easier to develop that faith when they have friends or family members who love them in a similar way.
"Giving them confidence in your love can help them develop faith in God’s love. Then through your loving, thoughtful communication, their lives will be blessed by your sharing lessons you have learned, experiences you have had, and principles you have followed to find solutions to your own struggles. Show your sincere interest in their well-being; then share your testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Following that, on Friday, we had another breathtaking teaching experience. We met Sister Edith on Monday. She was a referral from one of our ward members, and we had been unable to contact her on Sunday because our day was so hectic. We ran into the member on Monday who had referred her and he asked if we had visited her yet (involved members are awesome! If you give a referral, it is a great idea to follow up on it. Sometimes we missionaries have a hard time balancing and prioritizing everything on our plates...even though we should. :/ Just a sidenote). We apologized that we hadn't yet been to her, and immediately repented and told him we would go right then (fortunately, we weren't TOO far from her house). It ended up being a huge blessing, because the member and his friend (a newly called ward missionary) were able to come with us. We met Sister Edith and her 5 children (the oldest is 8, the youngest just 3 months) and had a great introductory lesson about the blessings of the Gospel and who our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ really are, and how much they love each of us. The members both bore testimony (the ward missionary is a returned missionary, and the one who referred her is a convert) about how their families have been blessed by knowing the Gospel, both temporally and spiritually. It was a solid first lesson, and we set up another appointment to come back on Thursday.
We ended up not being able to teach on Thursday because (once again) our schedule got thrown off. We stopped by to reschedule with her though and she told us that they had been waiting for us all day (the kids kept asking when we would be coming) and it broke my heart that we weren't able to teach! I felt so guilty and so sad (especially when I remembered it was one of the kids' birthday), but Sister Edith is so sweet, she kept saying it was fine. So we set up to come back on Friday. When we got there, we were happy to see that her husband was home too. I was a little nervous when we first got there, because he went outside right away after she invited us in, but he soon came back when we started the lesson and was actively involved the whole time. We had planned to teach the same kind of foundational lesson about prophets and priesthood that we taught to Sister Anita, but right away, they had a question for us about baptism, and what baptism is like in our church. So we got out the picture of Christ's baptism and explained that there are 3 really important things we learn from the way Christ was baptized that we follow in our church: 1) baptism by immersion--we want to be entirely made clean, not just a little bit 2) baptism by proper priesthood authority--Christ went to John the Baptist, even though he was far away, because John the Baptist was the only one who had the proper authority to baptize and 3) baptism after the age of accountability--Christ was not baptized as an infant; he was baptized as an adult, as one old enough to understand the importance of the decision and one capable (though he didn't need it) of repentance. They were so receptive and excited and we introduced our first lesson (the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) as a story/explanation of how the correct priesthood authority that Christ taught us we need for baptism has been restored to the earth. We ended up sharing not just about prophets and dispensations and Christ's church, but also about the loss of authority after the death of Christ and the apostles when the people rejected the truth once again. We shared about Joseph Smith being called as a prophet and how he was used as an instrument of Jesus Christ to restore true priesthood authority here on the earth again. We invited them both to pray, and ask Heavenly Father if our message really is true, and if this really is His true church restored on the earth. They said they would. We asked then, if Heavenly Father answers that this is in fact true, if they will follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone who holds the proper priesthood authority of God. They kind of looked at each other for a minute and then said "yeah, why not? I mean if it's true, there's no reason we shouldn't be baptized." It was so beautiful and humbling to witness such pure intent; such a desire to find and accept the truth. We are going back to teach them again on Thursday and I am so excited! I am just in awe of how amazing our Heavenly Father is and how He works so well and so efficiently to prepare His children to hear the message we are blessed to share. This work is so real! And it is so much bigger than any of us realize, I think.

On a somewhat lighter/stranger note, I am realizing just how powerful the gift of tongues is playing in my life. For someone who had THE HARDEST TIME learning languages in school, Tagalog really has become so natural for me (thinking back to my time in the MTC and when I first got here, I don't think I even truly believed that would happen). Last week, we were teaching one of our 19-year-old recent converts about enduring to the end, and I said something about how we need to be masigasig (hard-working/dilligent), and he stopped me a few seconds later to ask "what does masigasig mean?" We and his mother managed to explain it to him (it's not like a super obscure word--I've heard lots of Filipinos use it so I know it's not super "deep Tagalog"--the younger generation here are just a lot better with English than some of the less common Tagalog), but we had some good laughs at the irony of the situation.
I was also asked last week if my mother is from Bicol (a province here), or if I was pure American. For anyone who looks at me, it should be obvious from my stark white skin that there is no Filipino blood in this girl at all. :/ But it was a compliment, and I didn't mind correcting her and admitting my true heritage.
One of my kabahays here is from Utah, Sister Welling. She is adorable, and SUCH A GREAT MISSIONARY (I got to go on splits with her yesterday because Sister Morrell has a really bad ear infection), but she has the hardest time with Tagalog. I feel like it is such a blessing to be here with her though, because I feel like I finally have a chance to help share the blessing that Heavenly Father has given to me. I may not have had the severe breakdown that other missionaries have, but I do remember the frustration of not understanding people and feeling so inadequate. So I am excited to be here and get to try to help her a little bit to gain confidence in herself (because she really knows a lot already, she just doesn't realize it). I feel like it's the least I can do to try to "pay it forward" in gratitude for the help the Lord gave me when I was struggling.

Well, that is all I have time for today. I just want you all to know that I love and miss you and think about you often, and I am so happy here. This work really is the greatest work to be involved in, whether full-time or just as a member-missionary, and this Gospel truly is the most incredible adventure ever. I KNOW that CHRIST LIVES. HE IS OUR SAVIOR and HE KNOWS AND LOVES US so immensely and personally! I hope you all have a fantastic week, and HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

Sister Franks in the Philippines - Pictures 7

We had 3 baptisms on Saturday!! From left to right: Grace (9), John Michael (19), and Carl (15). Sister Morrell, my new companion, is the tall one on the left side.

A small group of people trying to reenact the crucifixion on Good Friday in Antipolo... :/ Did I mention in my last email how no one does that in the city? Because apparently anyone who volunteers to be crucified gets assassinated. The whole thing is strange to me still.

My favorite view on the jeepney coming from Antipolo into Morong... This world is such a beautiful creation! I don't know what city that is that we are looking at, but I love it. :D
Farewell to the Andres family

Sister Franks in the Philippines - April 30, 2014

Hello again!

So I guess by now you are probably used to my inconsistency in emailing/p-day schedules. The good thing is that I am late in emailing this week because we FINALLY HAD A TEMPLE TRIP P-DAY!! For the first time in almost 5 months, I got to go to the temple, and it was just wonderful. :) So glad I was able to get my recommend last week--just in time, it turns out. We left at 5 this morning to get there, though, so it's been kind of a long day and we're pretty hot and sweaty and tired now, so I apologize ahead of time if this isn't the most exciting email. But rest assured, I am a very happy camper today. And every day. As you will soon discover.

I am now serving in the Taytay 2nd Ward (yes, I am in a WARD! It is crazy!) There are so many people!! Everyone is so great though! And our ward mission leader is awesome! I'm still trying to adjust to having people be so excited about missionary work (we've gotten more referrals from members here this week than I think I got the whole 4 months I was in Morong). It's so cool, but also puts the pressure on us a lot more to step up our part of the work. I am really excited for my time here. I've already learned a lot and witnessed miracles, and I know this is just the start. :)

I love my companion, Sister Morrell. She is from Centerville, UT, went to BYU, and loves soccer. She is gorgeous, but doesn't realize it, and it actually just super chill. I was surprised actually, and humbled to realize, that she is not at all who I judged her to be at first appearance (not that my judgments were necessarily bad, just incorrect). We are a lot alike though, and get along really well. Teaching with her is so fun, too, because the language was tough for her at first, so she had become more accustomed to short, direct statements that I find to be really powerful. I am learning a lot from her teaching style, and I can tell the Spirit is really strong in our lessons.

Saying goodbye to Morong was hard (especially the Andres family), but I feel like I left everything on good terms, and the goodbye/house blessing we had with them the night before I left (with Elder and Sister Johnson) was so perfect. I couldn't have asked for a more loving, tender, spiritual evening. I love that family more than I ever imagined I would be able. If I somehow never get married and miss out on exaltation, they are the family I'm choosing to be a ministering angel to. ;)

Luckily, I should get to go back at the end of this month for the baptisms of Erwin, Madel, and Joy (the Honrado family), and Michael and Laurence. *fingers crossed that schedules work out*

That's it for now though; I'm going to try to send more pictures.
I love you all!! I hope you have a great week!! Happy MAY!!!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

Sister Franks in the Philippines - Pictures 6

I'm a little lazy today, so there will just be a lot of pictures....worth lots of words, right?)

Walking through the rice fields, trying to save time. Not sure it worked too well, because we ended up having to walk a lot slower...but it was a fun adventure. :)
 Sister Tardio at U-ugong Park (the art foundation where Rafael Pacheko lives). It is absolutely beautiful there! It's so sad things are so worn down--I really just want to go do a service project and clean everything up again. :)

 The gate at U-ugong Park that we "broke into." (View from the inside). You can tell why this was such a daunting task...

Sister Franks in the Philippines - April 21, 2014

Happy Transfer Week, everyone!! :)

This has been an interesting and exciting week. Firstly, I met with President Revillo on Friday to get an interview for a new temple recommend (I kept forgetting to ask him when I saw him last transfer and at zone interviews). It is so nice to have one again! Even though we don't get to have temple trip p-days here in Morong, it's just nice having a recommend in my possession. :)
Anyhow, during my interview with President, he was talking to me about our area and confided that it would not be staying a foursome (i.e. it's not going to split, sadly), but that one of our threesome would be transferred--mostly like me, daw--and Sister Tardio would just stay here until she gets her new call and goes back to Davao. I have to say, I am starting to see the wisdom in not telling us transfer announcements until the day before, because knowing 5 days in advance was SO HARD! It's so hard to be invested in investigators and members when you know you are probably just going to have to leave them behind. :/ But even despite that, I still find myself loving everyone and not wanting to leave. Especially a less-active returned missionary that we met yesterday who (though not quite sober yet) was deeply touched that the Lord had brought us to him (it was purely chance that we happened to find him). He said he knows he needs to and he really wants to come back to church, and he begged us to help him. I've never felt such an immediate love for anyone, as I looked into his teary eyes and could see the pain residing there. He loves the Gospel, but he was offended by a member/leader once upon a time and can't find it in himself to forgive him. Talking with him yesterday, I realized more than ever before how true it is: "holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies." This once-faithful, former-branch president, has been spiritually decaying for the past 4+ years, and has nothing but sorrow and guilt to show for it. My heart honestly goes out to him. I'm so sad I won't be here to see and help him progress and come back to his Savior, and this church, that are just waiting with open arms.
So yes. I am being transferred once again! It's hard to believe that's possible, because I still feel like I just got here!! The past 4 months are really just a blur. But I am going to Taytay, which is still here in Rizal (the "province"), though Taytay is a lot more like the city daw. I have a lot of mixed feelings about leaving Morong (I still feel like there's so much potential for me to do good here!), but I am excited at the same time. My new companion will be Sister Morrell, who I have only met once, but she is actually the sister that my trainer (Sister Campbell) trained the transfer right before me. So she's like my big sister here on the mission. :) And I have only heard great things about her! The one time I met her, she was really nice, so that is good. I at least don't have to worry about getting along with my companion. I don't know anything about the area yet, but I am sure I will love it, because that's already what I have decided, and attitude is everything, right? :D

Just a few stories/thoughts for you from my last week here in Morong:
1) I met my first ever Filipino celebrity last week. We were told by one of the members from a different branch (the wife of a counsel in the mission presidency) to go find and check up a man named "Rafael Pacheco." We found his address in our branch directory, and last Tuesday, Sister Tardio and I went to find him. We found his "house" (in quotations, because that is an understatement. It says "art foundation" on the outside gate, and it really more like an abandoned resort--it's huge!), but the gate was locked and there's no doorbell or anything. Some neighbor girls were helping us out though, and they said it's unlocked earlier in the day, so we decided to come back on Thursday. When we returned, we were blessed to find that the gate was indeed unlocked, but still closed. We awkwardly debated with each other whether it would be appropriate to just let ourselves in, and ultimately decided that was the only option because no one can hear us from the gate (which is pretty far from the house). So we pushed the gate open and apprehensively walked in. It only took about 30-40 feet for both Sister Tardio and I to start questioning our choice--we both felt very uneasy--and as we continued walking, we were less-than-excited to be greeted by a very vocal dog running toward us. We both froze and grabbed each other's arm. Not knowing what else to do, I silently said a prayer pleading for help and protection, and Sister Tardio finally just spoke to the dog and asked: "where's your master? Go get him! Tell him we're here!" Haha it was a perfect ice breaker, because the only thing going through my mind at the time was how I was going to explain to President and Sister Revillo about breaking into someone's house and then getting outselves bitten by their dog. Fortunately, one of the caretakers of the house came up just a few moments later and we inquired about the member we were looking for. He invited us in and everything was okay after that. EXCEPT I had no idea who we were there to see! All I knew was his name--which, as a foreigner, meant nothing to me! And I gathered by the place where he lives that he's pretty rich. But when we finally met him and started talking to him and the woman who takes care of him (he's 81, and was sick for a while, though he's a lot stronger now), I started to realize that HE IS ACTUALLY SUPER FAMOUS. Like, Sister Tardio knew him from TV, being all over the news and what-not. It turns out he's like one of the most famous Filipino painters ever. He's mostly a finger painter (though the art is beautiful and you'd never guess he didn't use a brush), but he also does sculptures and architecture and was in a couple of movies when he was younger. It was kind of a really surreal experience actually. The coolest/craziest thing for me, though, was that even as I came to recognize that I was sitting in the presence of a celebrity, the only thing that I could think about what how to help him come back to a knowledge of his Savior and the true Gospel of Jesus Christ (he didn't even remember that he had been baptized, or anything about the Church). Far from being star-struck, I felt like we were possibly the only people in the world, besides his family, that could really see past his fame and treat him as our brother--a beloved child of our loving Father in Heaven.
We gave him a pamphlet about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which has a picture of Christ and the lost sheep on the front, and he was so touched. He loved the picture! He kept saying "thank you for this beautiful picture!" Haha we had to inform him that there were actually words on the inside that his caretaker should read to him, along with the pictures. :) He was so nice though, and said we are welcome to come back anytime! I am sad I won't be able to return for the follow-up, but I feel so blessed to have had that experience. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!!

2) I don't know if you remember Laurence, the school adviser/teacher that I met while on splits last transfer. He is very close to my heart, because of all the experiences we have had teaching him, but he has had a really hard time since we found him. As you may remember, after our first lesson with him (when we came back for our follow up lesson) he was really sick. The next week when we went back, we found out that his cell phone had been taken and his brother was in a tricycle accident. The next time, we learned that his mother had had a stroke and was in the hospital. Last week, I was excited to get to go teach him, but also kind of nervous, because of all these bad things that have happened and I don't want him to associate missionaries with this apparent "cursing." When we walked up, he greeted us and I asked, "how's it going?" His only response: "Something else has happened." He invited us in and we started talking and found out that his brother was in the hospital with Typhoid Fever (which they now think might actually be dengue).
We had a good lesson--he's so brilliant and really loves the Gospel--and in the course of it, he said something that really surprised and humbled me. He said that he has had a really hard past few weeks (couple of months actually), but he is so grateful to us. He said that he knows that we are instruments of God, because every time something bad happens to him, the missionaries always show up to help comfort and uplift him and remind him of the Gospel. It was kind of another spiritual slap-in-the-face for me, as I realized that my perspective had been entirely faithless--seeing our visits as the CAUSE of all his trials--where his perspective was so much more faithFUL--seeing our visits as the REMEDY for his suffering.
He wasn't yet able to come to church on Sunday (he has to stay home and help take care of his recovering mother still), so he won't make his May 17 baptismal date, but I am so excited for him whenever he is finally able to be baptized, because he will be a GREAT addition to this branch!

3) I forgot to tell you last week, but Erwin (my favorite bakla) cut his hair!!! He cut it to shoulder length about a week and a half ago ("little by little," he said, because it really is hard for him to let it go) and cut it again this past week to even shorter! :D I am so pumped for his baptism as well!!!

4) EASTER IN THE PHILIPPINES is strange. It honestly didn't feel like Easter at all... but the culture here is the strangest. The focus of Easter here is not so much the Resurrection of Christ, but just the Atonement and death. In fact, in memory/"celebration" of it, some people choose to go around whipping themselves. They show videos every night depicting the crucifixion (in a very graphic way, according to the other sisters--I was blessed not to have been exposed to it), and on Friday (Biernes Santo, or Holy Friday) some people even parade around carrying a cross and then are literally crucified. It is awful and heartbreaking to see so many people who claim to love and honor the Savior Jesus Christ, and yet so completely miss the point of what Easter is all about. :( They are so concerned with making sure we realize the awful agony and pain that Christ went through when He atoned for our sins that they miss the beauty and the peace and the joy that is available to us because of the realization that HE LIVES. HE WAS RESURRECTED. BECAUSE OF ALL THAT PAIN AND SUFFERING THAT HE BORE ON OUR BEHALF, WE DON'T HAVE TO SUFFER, IF WE WILL JUST REPENT AND ACCEPT THE GIFT OF THE ATONEMENT THAT HE WHOLEHEARTEDLY OFFERS TO US.
Witnessing all that I have witnessed this week has made me SO GRATEFUL for the knowledge and understanding that I have of the Atonement and the Resurrection. I will honestly never see Easter in the same way again. I hope never again to take for granted this beautiful holiday... It truly is a gift, a sacred and divine treasure, and I hope that I can honor its sanctity in my own personal observances in the future.

5) Bro. Andres finally got a job!!!!! After nearly 5 months of being jobless, losing their home, having no money for food or travel to church, they are finally reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. I am a little sad that I'm being transferred right when things are starting to look up, yet it also occurred to me that I am probably the luckiest missionary, because I have been able to see their consistent and diligent faith and hope, through all these seemingly endless trials. I am the one who has been blessed to try to help them in these darkest days, and I have learned SO MUCH in the process. I truly love and respect that family so much.

6) Frankton (our most active branch missionary) went home to visit his family for summer vacation (they live in Palawan--a province in Manila mission). We said goodbye to him last Monday and already miss him. He's a typical, immature, 18-year-old boy sometimes (a little obnoxious), but he is so solid in the Gospel and is going to be a great missionary once he hits his year mark in October! I'm going to miss that kid, but I'm definitely going to keep tabs on him when I get home, because I just know he has a lot of potential to do great things with his life, and for the church here in the Philippines. :)

7) The worst thing about being transferred, I think, is leaving Sister Strebel! We have become such good friends over the past 6 weeks! Sister McCarthy's Australian accent has led both Sister Strebel and I to speak in British accents...pretty much all the time. It's really become quite a habit (possibly not a good one), so much so that one of the counselors in our branch presidency asked me on Sunday is S. Strebel was from England. We both had quite a laugh about that and explained that it's really just a bad habit from speaking in accents so much at home. She is so fun though, and such a great sister missionary, and I think I have learned more from her than any other companion so far. I honestly can't tell you how blessed I feel to have had the chance to serve with her.

8) My newest favorite investigator is one that we have been trying to teach since before Sister Medina left. He is from California and is a trike driver here in Morong. Well we finally found time (when we became a foursome) to go try to find his house (which is in the area far away from everything). We weren't able to teach him last week, but ran into him on the street while he was driving and he told us where his house is. So we went there last week and finally got to teach him (and meet A LOT of his family, who live right around him)! It was the first time I have actually taught a lesson in English, and IT WAS SO FUN!!! He is so great, though! HE HAS SO MANY QUESTIONS! He had LDS friends back when he lived in California who introduced him to the church a little bit and told him a little bit about the Book of Mormon. He is SO INTERESTED in the Book of Mormon. As he said, "I feel like you know something that no one else knows that you just aren't telling people." It kind of made me laugh, actually, because I told him: "That is exactly right! You get it! Except we ARE telling people! That is why we are here as missionaries! We WANT to share this great additional knowledge with you!" My only regret is that we didn't make it a priority to go teach him sooner. But at least I know I am leaving him in good, fluent-English-speaking hands. :)

9) Halo-halo is the most delicious, inexpensive summer treat in all the world. It really needs to be a thing in America. It's like the most extravagant snow cone you will ever taste, and is the perfect thing to get you through a deadly hot summer day. :D

That is all I have time for now. I will have many more tales, I am sure, next week! Wish me luck in my new area (and packing... :P)! I love you all!!! Hope you have a fantastic week!!! Happy late Easter! And Happy Finals/End-of-Finals to all my beloved college friends!!!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

Sister Franks in the Philippines - April 13, 2014

Hello again!!

I have a lot to say, so I will just jump right in. This week was a great week! Firstly, I LOVE SISTER TARDIO!! She is from Mindoro, and was originally called to the Philippines Davao Mission, but after just one month there was medically released. She is fine now, though, and is just waiting to receive her call to return to Davao, so she is serving short-term here in Quezon City Mission. She actually came from the area in Quezon City where two of our other batchmates are (Sister Rupp, one of her companions there, and Sister Cutia, one of her kabahays). She is 20, and seriously just the cutest, sweetest, nicest little Filipina ever, and such a wonderful, loving missionary. We (Sister Strebel and I) weren't super excited when we found out we would be getting a new sister, but as soon as she came home with us on Tuesday night, we all pretty much fell in love with her right away. She is so happy and excited to be a missionary, and it is really refreshing. She is also pure Tagalog (it is the language her family speaks, not just a language she knows because it is required in school), so she loves serving here, because teaching is so much easier (Davao is mostly visaya speaking--so it's basically the equivalent of one of us foreigners getting to teach in English instead of Tagalog). She's not the best at English, but she's so cute that it doesn't even matter. We just help both her and Sister Avila to learn how to say things correctly, and we are all very patient with each other when there is a word that none of us knows in the other language.
The other thing that is super fun about her being here is that, since she is only here temporarily and may get transferred any day, our area has not technically split. We are a foursome who just happens to be able to split every day for teaching. :) So we still have all our companionship study and planning time together. It has been a HUGE blessing to our area!! (Haha just a fun tidbit: Sister Tardio loves the song "Have I Done Any Good In The World?" and is currently listening to it with her headphones and singing along to it here in the computer shop. Sister Sikotilani is a little bit annoyed and keeps shushing her, but I just think it is really funny. :P)
Though we've only had a handful of days together as companions, I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to serve with Sister Tardio. One of the highlights of our week, actually, is the finding we were able to do. We had an appointment fall through on Wednesday evening, so we decided to use the free time to go tracting here in Morong (who would have ever thought we would CHOOSE, voluntarily, to go tracting, rather than visit recent converts and less-actives, who were the intended backup plan? Just goes to show how much I am changing here). We stopped at several houses--as directed by the Spirit, hopefully--and talked to several people. Though we weren't able to actually teach any of them, a couple of them accepted the invitation for a return visit, and one particular family (the husband is who we mostly met/talked to, the wife was ill, and their newborn baby daw is in the hospital) has a lot of potential I think.
Then, on Thursday, we had planned a few hours of finding in the afternoon in an area that missionaries have not been to for a really long time--Butig, a neighborhood between Morong and Cardona. Our other appointments from the first part of the afternoon lasted longer than we anticipated, so we ended up only having about an hour and a half, but we were able to bring one of our branch missionaries with us to help us find the area, and it turned out to be pretty close, actually. We were hoping to be able to locate one of our OYMs that we haven't had a chance to visit yet, but we didn't have his address, so instead we just walked around and talked to whoever we could. Everyone we talked to accepted a return appointment for Tuesday, so we will be going back there tomorrow. I have felt really strongly since I got here that we needed to go visit that area, but we never found time until now. I feel like there are a lot of people who are so prepared for our message, though. The first woman that we talked to, when she found out who we are, said "Oh, Mormons! I always see their posts on Facebook and I always "like" them!" There really are countless, unseen ways that the Lord is working in the lives of these people to open their hearts and minds to our message. :)
(Sidenote ulit: don't ever hesitate to share things about the Church on Facebook--you never know who they will reach. This woman says she has never met any Mormons, yet she already has positive feelings about the Church because of her experience with social media!)

General Conference, of course, was also another highlight of the week. There are too many things that I learned/liked to list them all, so I will just include some of the personal revelation I received while listening:
*Obedience is the ONLY way to follow Christ. Obedience is the ONLY way to develop unshakable faith in Christ.
*We need to be anxiously engaged in a good cause (choose to go above and beyond), not just obey what is required/commanded of us.
*Conference this year was especially bold, it felt like. It is clear that the times are changing, and this world is becoming more dangerous, spiritually. We need to be ready, and we need to stand strong against the devil's attacks!
*The rising generation really is so important! They are the ones upon whom the future of the Church, the Lord's Kingdom, rests, and they are the ones most fiercely being torn down. They (we) need to be the most fortified.
*THE RESTORATION IS NOT A STORY ABOUT JOSEPH SMITH. He is just a character in it. IT IS A STORY ABOUT OUR SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, and all that He has done for us, and ALL THAT HE CONTINUES TO DO (like calling a living prophet) TO HELP US COME UNTO HIM. We need to make sure people know/see/realize it is about Him!!
*We must help our investigators (or our family, friends, or whomever we hope to influence for good) to feel our LOVE FOR THEM. That is the only thing that will truly, and most effectively, help them accept our message.
*Philippines Quezon City Mission is not the only place that obedience is being emphasized. It was a theme in conference, and I suspect (hope) in missions throughout the world!
*Is it possible to be too concerned about our salvation? Is it possible to try TOO hard to qualify for Eternal Life, to be exactly obedient to all the commandments of God? I, personally, don't really think so. That is the purpose of our lives. It's hard, but we should still do our best.
*"Setting at naught the counsels of God" is when we think that we know a better road or path than the one the Lord has designated. There is no shortcut on the road to Eternal Life. We must follow the path. We must live the Gospel.
*There are so many people here on earth who wait so long to receive their ordinances (they don't have the opportunity to hear the Gospel, or it takes time to repent and become worthy)--and we have the physical capability to perform them. Just think how much harder it must be for those who are waiting in the Spirit World, who do not have that physical capacity. They are truly relying upon us!
*Who was I in the pre-mortal world? How does knowing that help me in living my life and serving the Lord today?
*We are continually exhorted, in scriptures and by prophets, to "wake up!" There is a significance in conscious action versus unconscious experience.
*Who are my heroes? What am I learning from them? If I were someone's hero, what would they learn from me?
*Do what is right, no matter who is watching, or what their reaction might be. That is true courage; that is true integrity.
*General authorities close their talks in the name of Jesus Christ, because they speak and teach on His behalf. We do too--our teachings should be purely His.
*We should ALL study and love Preach My Gospel! It is an amazing resource--for members just as much as missionaries--and can help us so much in understanding and applying the doctrines of the gospel in our own lives, and knowing how to share them with others.
*How was missionary work so successful in the first stages of the Restoration? Were the people just more prepared? No--the missionaries were more on fire! More eager to share their testimonies of the great truths of the Restoration! They were more in awe of the miracle of the Restoration, and realized what a gift it was. We need to catch that fire. We must not take these truths, the knowledge we have been blessed with, for granted!

I may be a week late, but I am just glad to have been able to watch/listen to general conference! I have been so well-fed, spiritually speaking. Since Morong is the district center here, all the surrounding branches came to our chapel to watch the broadcast. It was cool to get to see the other missionaries (the elders--since we are the only sisters in the zone) with their members and investigators. And each of the other branches had their own little "potluck" in the hour between sessions. Since we are the home branch, most of our members went home after the morning session, so we sisters just awkwardly wandered around until we got adopted by another branch (from Sampoloc) and donated the little food we brought to their lunch.

That is all I have time for today, but I just want to say that I feel so BLESSED to be here, serving the Lord at this time when His work is being hastened! I can feel the urgency in the messages that were shared during conference. NOW truly is the time to prepare the world for our Savior's return. There is no work more important to our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ than this, the work of Salvation. I just feel so blessed and humbled to be one of the Lord's trusted servants. I love this Gospel so much, and more and more I am realizing what a gift it is, and I just want to share it with everyone, especially these amazing people here in Morong! :)

Next week is transfers already (AHHHH!) so P-day will be on Tuesday (thank Sister Strebel for reminding me to tell you). I hope you all have a super fantastic week this week, and take time to reread or relisten to some conference talks when you get a chance. :) I LOVE YOU and MISS YOU and PRAY FOR YOU every day!! Keep up all the great work you are doing!!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks