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

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