Monday, June 30, 2014
So jumping right into things today because I'm already 1/2 hour into email time (don't know how that happens every week...). This is going to be a great week. It's already a good start, since today is a good day because (drum roll....) I GOT A HAIRCUT. :D It's amazing how the littlest things can make Philippine heat quite bearable (you wouldn't know how much long hair increases the burden of heat, but it does. I don't know how these Filipinas all go around with long, black, rebonded hair that they wear down all the time. I would die). We won't dwell on that, though, because I have a lot of good stories to tell this week.
Firstly, I have to tell a story from last week after P-day. We went to teach the Balignasay family. They are pretty special investigators to us, because Brother is such an incredible potential leader. He is the president of Phase III of their subdivision (kind of a big deal apparently), and every time he speaks, he reminds me of Brother Susa, a counselor in the branch presidency in Morong who is like the superstar member/leader there. Anyway, on Monday, we were teaching about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and specifically about Heavenly Father's pattern of calling prophets and apostles and giving them authority, etc., how the truth was lost after the death of Christ and the apostles during the time of the Great Apostasy (or Dark Ages), and how Christ restored the true authority and His church by calling a new prophet in our time just like in Biblical times. I had opened my scriptures to Ephesians when we shared about the foundation of Christ's church that he established (Ephesians 2:20), and then they were just sitting in my lap as we continued the lesson. We got to sharing about Joseph Smith being called as a prophet, and the promise that they can know of the divinity of his call if they follow the same admonition he followed (in James 1:5) to ask God in faith to know the truth. I can't even explain what happened, but as we were testifying, I happened to look down at my scriptures, and noticed that the pages had flipped and the verses now staring back at me were from Galatians. Knowing better than to ignore promptings, I shared Galatians 5:22 and explained that these are the kinds of blessings that the Gospel has brought into our lives, and these are the blessings that we want for their family as well. The lesson continued and the spirit was so strong and Sister Rimano and I both came away overflowing with excitement and smiles! I didn't realize until the next morning during personal study that I had just experienced a fulfilling of prophecy given long ago to other missionaries, found in D&C 84:85-- "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man." I've seen the Spirit working through us many times during my time here on the mission, I have been given words to say or thoughts that I otherwise never would have considered sharing, but never have I been so LITERALLY given the exact words, the exact scripture, to share. It is so cool how involved the Lord is in His work, and how if we are just doing our part, doing all we can to be prepared, He takes over and helps us accomplish His miracles. :)
Another testimony-builder of the Lord watching over this work came from our district meeting last week. This transfer, the President and Sister Revillo have been wanting to emphasize role playing a lot more in our training meetings. We talked about it at MLC (the Mission Leadership Council, with all the zone leaders, STLs, training assistants and assistants to the president) at the start of the transfer and were told that most, or at least half of our workshop time should be spend on role playing. No one, however, told our district leader, Elder Tinsley, who wasn't a part of MLC. As he was planning for the workshop last week, he said that he was thinking about a question that one of the zone leaders had asked him a couple days before "Have you asked the Lord what his vision is for your district?" Admitting that he hadn't, Elder Tinsley prayed and asked, and said he was surprised by the answer he got. He felt impressed that our district really needs to improve and apply role-playing in our companionships. And that became the topic of our workshop. It was an awesome workshop, and perfect for our district (8 of us missionaries), but the thing that amazed me even more than that is how stewardship is so real, and how Elder Tinsley, without any human influence, received the same revelation that our mission leaders have received. It was a testimony to me, as one who had been in on the leadership conversations, that the Lord truly is the one leading this work, and how the Spirit conveys messages so much more effectively than we ever could. This work is so true. It amazes me every single day.
Since yesterday was the 5th Sunday of the month of June, it was Missionary Sunday in our ward. Sister Rimano (my wonderful and masipag companion) gave a talk in sacrament, along with one of our ward missionaries, and our ward mission leader. Her talk was awesome, but one thing that really stood out to me was how she talked about how the Church is emphasizing "HASTENING the Work of Salvation". She then talked about how the opposite of "hastening" is "delaying" or "procrastinating" and referenced President Uchtdorf's talk in Conference about "Sleeping through the Restoration." One thing that I started thinking about during her talk, and the one after her (Daniel, our ward missionary, who shared from D&C 4), was the statement that "the field is white already to harvest". Usually, when we talk about that verse we read it is in, "the field is white. it is ALL READY to harvest." But that isn't actually what it says. It says it is "to harvest" ALREADY. As in, right now. I thought of what happens veggies in our garden that are ready to be picked, but don't get picked. Or the trees on the side of the road surrounded by rotten fruit that was once prime and delicious, but never harvested, and eventually over-ripened and fell down. THAT is what the Lord is telling us about missionary work. He is saying "I am already preparing my sons and daughters to hear the truths of the restored Gospel. They are ready! But you need to go find them and help them ASAP before Satan's substitutions get to them first and they are no longer willing to accept the message." That is why the Work of Salvation is being HASTENED. Because we have no time to lose. Thinking of that is a little overwhelming to me. Like, "oh man! What if I don't get to the other fruit in time because I am busy trying to harvest here?" But I find comfort in the next verse, verse 5, which tells us that "faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, QUALIFY him for the work." Meaning we CAN do this! But only if we have the faith and the desire and seek the Lord's help. I know that that is true. We CAN do this! Because if we couldn't, we wouldn't have been asked to (see 1 Nephi 3:7, and 1 Nephi 9:6). Our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ are very hard-working. They have not left us alone to do this work of "bring[ing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39), but rather have invited us to work ALONGSIDE them, to be one with them in this divine purpose. WE ARE SO BLESSED. I can't even get over it!
I need to end this pretty quick, but I just want to testify again of the truthfulness of this Gospel and especially of this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In teaching a wonderful less-active member yesterday, I had a realization of the power of church attendance in my own life. I thought of the time when I struggled the most with being true to the Gospel. The time when I was the farthest from my Heavenly Father and my Savior. The time when I hardly ever read my scriptures or prayed. Though I had a really hard time, and struggled a lot spiritually, I never stopped going to church (mostly because of my pride I think? or just because it was such a part of me, like a habit I didn't even notice). I realized that that one little act of obedience was SO SIGNIFICANT. In fact, I think I can attribute everything about where I am today to that one subconscious decision. I think about what might have happened to me, paths that I've seen my friends go down that led to even more trials in their lives, if I had neglected my duty to participate in this one true church. It seemed like a little thing to me at the time, but the power of being fed spiritually at least once every week (by people who were much more in tune with the spirit than I was) had a profound influence in my life. Though I knew I was making mistakes, I never forgot who I was. I think that was the biggest thing that gave me the strength I needed to get my life back in order and repent and recover and return to the loving arms of my Savior. I realized that we might be able to "survive" not reading our scriptures or praying every day or having family home evening, but if we neglect or disregard our obligation to attend church and partake of the Sacrament of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are willfully shedding the very armor we rely on to get us through the endless temptations we face every day.
This work is so true. It is so incredible, and it is so amazing to be a part of helping others realize and partake of the countless blessings that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings to our lives. It is so cool to see how, in testifying to others of these blessings, I realize more and more what a profound role this Gospel and this Church have played in my life, in shaping who I am, in giving me the strength that I need to endure joyfully.
In case you haven't noticed, I am still loving life here. :) I hope you are doing well, and that you have a great week!! You are in my prayers! I might be late emailing next week because we are going to MINDORO this weekend for zone interviews and exchanges (the island away from the mainland where everyone wants to go daw) and don't fly back until Monday.
HAPPY (advance) 4TH OF JULY!!!!
Sister Emma Franks
Monday, June 23, 2014
Happy Monday!! :D
This week has been so good. So full, too, because we got to go on exchanges in (wait for it) MORONG! It was so fun but so odd to go back. The weirdest thing was realizing that there was a whole transfer (6 weeks) that I was in Taytay before coming to Antipolo. Meaning it's been about 2 months since I left that glorious area. It's weird to see how many things have changed. I hope it is all for the better (I have to trust that it is, because the Lord puts missionaries where they are needed. Doing things differently isn't always bad).
One of the coolest things about being back in Morong, actually, was getting to have exchanges with my old companion, Sister McCarthy. I think it probably wasn't the most effective exchanges for her, because it pretty much felt like we were just out working like before. But I guess maybe that's a good thing, because at least we were both comfortable. We went on a mission to explore part of Morong (we pretty much just working in Cardona the whole time when I was with her before) and find the members from the branch directory that we hadn't met before. It turned out to be really fun--we got to OYM some people, teach a member lesson to the district president and his family, and find a less-active who actually let us in and talked to us and is willing to let the sisters come back!
We also got to go back and teach Rafael Pacheko (if you remember my story about "breaking in" to find the less-active who turned out to be a celebrity). He was so cute and apparently remembered me because when we got there he saw me and was like "it's been a long time! I was waiting for you to come back and see me!" I had to explain that I had gotten transferred the week right after we found him, and I'm actually assigned in Antipolo now (so it's not like I can just stop by whenever I feel like it), and he was really good-natured about it, but I'm not 100% sure he actually understood. :P
Fun little spiritual insight from my language study last week (been a while since I got to share one of these):
The word "bayaan" means "to allow" or "to permit." (Such as "I was permitted to go cliff-diving as long as I was home by 12.") The word "pabayaan" means "to neglect" or "to abandon." The interesting thing about these two words is not just that they share the same root ("baya"), but how intuitive it is that they SHOULD be connected, as we gain a deeper understanding of the Gospel. Even not knowing the details of Tagalog grammar, I think you can still see the cool relationship here. There is a negative connotation to the idea of having too much freedom. Parents (or anyone) who allow too many things are neglecting those whom they should be protecting. The longer I am here on the mission, the more I can see that this is exactly true, especially when it comes to commandments. Our Heavenly Father, because He LOVES US, gives us commandments not to restrict us, but to help us. If we didn't have commandments, we would just be wandering through life, trying to figure things out for ourselves, but with no guidance or direction to go by. The fact that our Heavenly Father doesn't tolerate sin (hindi tayo binabayaang magkasala) shows that he cares and has not abandoned us to be overcome by things which will hurt us (hindi rin tayo pinabayaan ng Diyos).
I'm so grateful that we have a loving Heavenly Father who understands what is best for us, and who doesn't hesitate to inform us of what we need to do to be happy. That is what the Plan of Salvation (AKA the Plan of Happiness) is all about. It is a guidebook--an instruction manual--for us to know how to live life in accordance with "the nature of God", or in other words, in accordance with "the nature of happiness." (See Alma 41:11).
That is all I have time for today. I'll throw in some pictures to make up for my lack of words today.
Hope you all have a great week!! I love you and miss you and am praying for you!!
Sister Emma Franks
(Thanks again to Gladys Martinez--our #1 ward missionary/photographer--she's the girl in the front row farthest to the left)
Just a big, happy Filipino Family Home Evening!
Climbing the mountains in our beautiful area (this is the area called "upper zig-zag"--you can probably guess why...there are a lot more of these curves :D)
Thursday, June 19, 2014
WE MADE IT TO P-DAY!! :D
Actually, this week has gone really fast. I think probably due to the fact that I was sick for two days last week. Probably the sickest I can remember being since the week right before I reported--super high fever, headache, body aches, nausea, the whole 9 yards. Turns out it's even worse when you don't have a couch to lay on or a mother to take care of you. My companion, Sister Rimano, is super sweet, and literally a lifesaver, but not quite mother-level yet. ;) It was actually mostly frustrating because we were scheduled to have our first exchanges on Thursday. So when I woke up with an intense headache and low fever on Wednesday morning, we had to decide whether to chance working, or staying home so I could recover to work the next day. Well, we opted to let me take it easy, and by Wednesday night I was feeling much better. We went to bed on time and everything, but then I woke up a little before 4am on Thursday morning with a spiking fever (like 103 degrees when we got around to taking my temp), but too weak and in too much pain to do anything about it. Luckily, Sister Rimano was able to wake up and get me medicine and help me take it, as well as bringing me a wet handkerchief to help bring my temp down. I was eventually able to fall asleep again and in the morning we texted the Elders to come give me a blessing. I honestly was so kawawa (pitiful). I was all tough and sat on our dining room chair for the blessing, but then like two minutes after it finished, they were standing talking (waiting for the rain to slow before they left) and I just pathetically got off the chair and had to lay on the floor. I have to say, though, the power of the Priesthood is SO REAL. And Heavenly Father takes care of his missionaries! Sister Rimano had to go to the mission office on Friday for an interview, so we really couldn't afford for me to be sick another day. The Lord really came through, though, and gave me the strength to be able to get up on Friday and even go work for a couple hours before we had to commute to the city (which was another thing I was worried about that He sustained me though). Basically, I just have to testify that we really are just living life in His hands. Or, if we aren't, we should be, because He is so much better at working things out for us than if we try to do things on our own.
We had our first exchanges this week. One with our kabahay, Sister Tipasa and Sister Tehei (I love them! They are such great missionaries! I was actually super intimidated when we started our joint companionship study and realized just how good of missionaries they are and so hard-working) and another with sisters I don't know quite as well. I was pretty nervous, actually and had to humble myself and pray a lot to get over my own insecurities and remember that I am just here as an instrument and representative for Jesus Christ--there's no room for fear in stead of faith. It all ultimately turned out okay, though, and I have been learning a lot about myself. One thing I have been learning more than anything is true humility--literally begging the Lord for help, recognizing that I can't do ANYTHING without Him. I seem to be fine with all the theoretical leadership parts of being an STL, but when it comes to actually working with the sisters, I'm just like.....bah! :P It has been a great experience though, because I have already learned that all I need to do is turn to the Lord and He is right there. I've been praying for Charity, to be able to see these wonderful sisters the way that He does, and to know how I can help them. It is amazing how powerful it really is when we follow the counsel to replace our fear with faith. There is so much available to us if we just appeal to the Lord for it.
I'm basically out of time (I'm sorry!!!!). This week has been good, though! Our area is doing alright, even though we weren't able to work in it very much last week. Our 2 investigators with a bap. date are doing well. The one is progressing really well and on track (James, 19, boyfriend of a member/ward missionary. So golden!). The other one is doing alright, but we are still working on an adult to be his mentor (Joeferd, the son of less-active/part-member family. His teenage sister is active but we aren't sure if it is enough because he has missed a couple Sundays even when she came). Also, we found/ran into/were contacted by a less-active returned missionary yesterday. I will journal that story because it is so good! If I don't find time to tell it next week, I'll tell you when I get home for sure. Anyhow, his family aren't members, so we will be seeing them on Saturday and have hope for them as well! Overall, things in our area are going well (sorry I don't have time to tell you all the stories that I wish I could! There are so many good ones from this week!!). Sorry this email has been kind of dull (I'm a little worn out from our early morning temple trip--though I know that is no excuse!). I promise I will send a better one next week!
That is all for now. I love you, miss you, pray for you! Hope you have a great week!!
Sister Emma Franks
Photo credits: Gladys Martinez
L to R: Sister Tehei, Sister Rimano, Roselyn (ward missionary reporting to Baguio mission this week), Sister Tipasa, me!
Us and the ward missionaries (and our ward mission leader on the far right) after missionary correlation last Sunday
Monday, June 9, 2014
Sister Franks in the Philippines - June 8, 2014 (For unto her of whom much is required, much is given. (baliktad nang konte))
So, I think it's been a while since I mentioned it, but just know I am still amazed at how blessed I am and how lucky I am to be serving here in the Philippines Quezon City mission. :) This week has been so full! I must say, being an STL is completely changing the way I view missionary work. I think there is something about being back in Antipolo, too. It kind of feels like a replay of my first transfer, though of course I know so much more this time around. Though it has only been a few days, I already love the area here, both our investigators and the members. I can see that there really is so much potential here. I love my new companion, too. Sister Rimano is so masipag (diligent/hard-working) and I am already learning so much from her! We are both so excited to work hard and do all we can to help this area. Though of course we are different, she really is the most wonderful companion I could have asked for! We are working the hardest I have ever worked and come home every night purely exhausted, but it is the best feeling in the world. :) I don't think I have ever felt so fulfilled in my whole life. I'm pretty sure this is what being a missionary is all about. :)
One of the families that we are most excited about in our area here is a young couple (Anna and Ruel) with two young children (a 3-year-old and an infant). They had FHE at a members house last week, and we taught them about the Restoration last night with one of the sisters from the member family. It was such a powerful lesson! Brother Ruel had a lot of really good questions, and most of all, we could tell they are truly sincere. Every time I spoke, Brother Ruel would look directly into my eyes and I could see in his that he was truly absorbing every word (this is a rare occurrence--honestly, most of the time it is so hard to get people to even look in your eyes while teaching, let alone get them to maintain eye contact like that). Sister Anna was just as genuinely interested as well--we could see at the end of the lesson that she was near tears. The Spirit was so strong. I felt prompted to share my experience of how I came to know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and as we each bore testimony (us missionaries and the member with us), I could see in their eyes the desire that they have to know for themselves of the truth. Brother's job hasn't given him a day off (he is new) for the past two months, so he has been unable to come to church, and Sister has only come once without him, but he has a day off tomorrow, and we are praying he will be able to arrange to have Sundays off so they can come to church together as a family. Sister Rimano and I are so excited to see their progress!!
Another family that we are really excited about is one that we just found on Wednesday. We were OYMing a sweet nanay when her neighbor across the street came out and struck up conversation with us. He had a lot of questions about the church. After getting to know him a little more and meeting his 12-year-old son, we asked if we could come back and teach his family. He agreed, and invited us into his house to meet his wife. At first we were just going to say hi (we had another appointment we were supposed to be heading to) but as we started talking to his wife, Sister Jasmine, both Sister Rimano and I felt we should take the time to share with this family. We asked if we could share a short message and they both eagerly agreed. They had seen missionaries pass by their house before, daw, but never got to talk to them aside from just greetings. We started with a general introduction to who we are as missionaries and what our purpose is, and I felt impressed to ask how their relationship is with Heavenly Father. Brother Alex expressed that he is very religious, and believes in God and knows the Bible, but he still doesn't feel like he is "100%" in doing all that he could do. I asked/clarified that he felt like there was something missing in his relationship with the Lord and he said yes. We testified that this Gospel is what he is looking for, that it is the fullness and that it will fill the gap that he is feeling. We also testified that it was not an accident that we had come in contact with each other. I honestly know that is true. We know that God has a plan for each and every one of us. Each one of us knew and accepted the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ before we came to this earth, and we were planning on learning it again here in mortality. I truly believe that every person we are led to meet is someone who is being prepared by our Heavenly Father to be given that chance to hear and accept once again what they knew and lived in our pre-mortal life. As for Sister Jasmine, she said that she believes in God, but doesn't really know that much (not like Brother, who was very active in a lot of churches growing up). She has never really read the Bible and they only sometimes go to church. But she really wants to learn more, daw, and is eager to come to church and to be taught. Sister Rimano and I were so excited to see how prepared they both are. We introduced the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they committed to read the pamphlet we left and pray about it, and to come to church on Sunday. Unfortunately, they weren't able to come to church (they texted to inform us that Sister wasn't feeling well), but I am so excited to meet with them again and see how they are progressing.
The members here in Antipolo are really great--especially the leadership! I have only been here one Sunday, so I am still trying to learn everyone's names, but my goal this transfer is to really get to know the ward here (my weakness). I am excited already for how involved the members are in our work, and I know that as we become more united, we will all be more successful and witness miracles in this area.
Fun little tidbit about my mission family life: both my "Mother" and "Father" returned to their first area a year into their mission. Like, the exact same area. I've not entirely followed in their footsteps, since I am in a different ward, just the same stake in the same city. I have discovered though, in the 4 days I have been here, that I am actually working in my Tatay's old area. Back when I was in San Isidro, our ward had Elders, and that is where our district leader and zone leaders were assigned. My current area is the area where my Tatay was born (his first area) and where he came back to when I was born last year. It's been kind of a fun/odd experience to hear about him from the members and recent converts here who knew him.
We actually met a less-active member who was found by Elder Argyle, taught and baptized by other missionaries, then taught by him again as a recent convert when he was reassigned here. I imagine that was a really strange experience for him. :P She is still struggling to stay active, and has a really hard life now. It was actually heartbreaking to hear her story as we talked to her (we just met her on Saturday) and realize how stable and blessed her life used to be, and how it all fell apart just due to a few poor decisions and bad habits. I just wish that everyone, everywhere had this Gospel and situations like hers could be avoided. It is so amazing to me to witness how the simple counsel we are given by church leaders (like not drinking or not gambling or prioritizing our family relationships) can have such a profound effect on our livelihood and well-being.
We met another less-active last week, too, that I really hope I never forget. She has been less-active for a while (over a year), because she was offended. She has just recently started coming back to church (two weeks now. Not yesterday, but the two weeks before I got here). We met with her and asked how it was going to church. She said that it was so good, that she learned so much that she had forgotten, and that she really missed church during the time that she has been away. We shared about how the word of God is like a good seed, and when it starts to grow (when we foster our faith through obedience), we feel joy and peace and happiness and we want more (it becomes "delicious" to us). She agreed, and she said that she recognized how weak she had become since she stopped coming to church. She had broken some of her covenants and was no longer temple worthy. She started to cry as she told us how bad she felt that she had neglected to pay Tithing for a whole year, because she hadn't been coming to church, and asked how she could possibly make up for that. We explained that the past isn't what matters to the Lord. What matters is our future, and what we choose to do going forward. As I looked into her eyes and testified very simply that this was the power of the Atonement in her life--that all her guilt, all that she felt she needed to do to make up for her disobedience, all that weight and debt has already been compensated for by our Savior Jesus Christ--I myself even started to tear up. I don't think I have ever witnessed so directly the power of the Atonement, working in the life is a precious daughter of God who needs it so badly. Moments like that leave me in awe. It amazes me how I could have lived my whole life never having experiences like this if I had chosen not to serve this mission. And I would never know what I was missing. There simply aren't words to describe how grateful I am for this opportunity to be serving my Heavenly Father and my Savior.
Just one last spiritual thought before I close. This was shared in church yesterday. It is the story of two buckets. One bucket was complaining to the other about their role in life. He said, "It's just so sad. It's so cold and dark down there (in the well) and no matter how many times I come up full, I just know I always have to go back down empty. It's awful!" The other bucket responded, "I see it differently. Life is good, my friend. Because no matter how many times I have to go down there empty, I always come back up full!" The speaker who shared the story talked about how attitude and perspective really is everything. Life is hard. But LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL!! We just have to choose which way we want to see it. :)
Sorry this is so long. On the plus side, this is probably the longest email you will get from me for a while, because we are starting our exchanges with the other sisters this week, and I will have to start reporting to both President and Sister Revillo, so I might not have a lot of time for emails. Also, we have temple day next week, so I won't be emailing until Wednesday. I hope you all have a great week!! Happy early Father's Day!! :) Remember to send your love and gratitude to both our earthly fathers and our Heavenly Father! Love you!!
Love always,Sister Franks
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
It is so hard to believe that it is transfer week already!! The last 6 weeks have gone by SO fast!! I have loved every moment, though. :) My experience here in Taytay is one that I hope never to forget. The people here are so incredible! And I have witnessed so many miracles in just the short time I have been here. It is a little hard to believe, but my time in Taytay is already up! I was informed on Sunday evening that I will be going BACK TO ANTIPOLO (the first place I served)!! Not to San Isidro or Cogeo Zone, but back to Antipolo City at least. I am a little nervous, but excited too. My new companion is my current companion's old companion (haha that just sounds complicated!), and S. Morrell loved her, so I am sure I will too. :) There is a story that goes along with all of this though.
Firstly, just a quick sidenote. I have been starting to recognize a lot of changes that have taken place in my attitude the past two transfers. I never thought I would get to this point, but I think I can honestly say I finally feel like a missionary. My thoughts/desires/priorities have somehow all become centered on our investigators and less-actives and the ward. My goal this transfer was to focus on using time more effectively, and as a result, my perspective on the way we spend our time here as missionaries has completely turned around. Instead of viewing our proselyting time as a kind of "shift" that we have to spend away from our house, it just feels like doing what you are supposed to be doing. And not just that, but the most fun and rewarding thing to do! Yes, there are still difficult days, but the temptation to do anything else besides finding and teaching people the Gospel of Jesus Christ has basically faded away. Of course I am still a long way from perfect, and it's sad that it has taken me a whole year to get to this point, but I am glad at least that the last 6 months I will be able to say I have definitely given 100% to this work, and to the Lord. Okay--tangent over.
So anyhow, Sunday was a crazy day. We had a baptism after church (Jhey-ar, the best friend of our recent convert, John Michael), which was so good. It was awesome having it after church because there was SO MUCH MEMBER SUPPORT. And Jhey-ar is honestly just amazing. Multiple members commented at the baptism that they were surprised to find out he wasn't a member yet, because he has been so involved in the ward activities the past couple of months (literally since he started investigating), including going with the Elders Quorum to visit less-active members! Both he and John Michael are going to make great missionaries someday (Jhey-ar is 20, John Michael is 19)--they are already so good at sharing the Gospel and their testimonies in a very natural, casual way.
So anyway, after the baptism and lunch, went to find a less active and his family (which turned out not to be a less-active at all, but actually just a long-time former investigator), and then went to meet the girls who wanted to work with us, so we could split. So far so good, nothing to out-of-the-ordinary. THEN we get to the place we were going to meet the girls and find out there are actually ELEVEN youth and YSAs that want to work with us!! It's an understatement to say we were a little overwhelmed. Sister Morrell and I had a quick planning session and decided to go ahead and split and each take half. That was the start of the craziness. It worked out okay in the end (at least my "team"), but since none of them are actually ward missionaries, they can only bear testimony, so every lesson was pretty much just Sister Franks sharing a spiritual thought followed by a brief testimony meeting by the 5 of them. We had one lesson, though, with the sister of another recent convert (Lordrine). Lordine, as part of the lesson and one of the YSAs working with me, shared his testimony and the blessings that have come from the Gospel and how he really wants it for the rest of his family. It was such a sincere and tender moment to hear him being so open and honest with his sister, and to see how he just genuinely wants to help her. John Michael was also with us, and he just shared a simple heartfelt testimony in response to Lordrine about how he can relate (his family are less-active, and he wants them to be a part of the Church too), and how they both just need to keep pressing on and setting the example and doing what they can to help their families. It was so powerful, the Spirit was so strong. It is amazing to see the bonding that has taken place among the YSAs in the ward here in Taytay. They are forming such a solid support group for one another--I just can't help but smile every time I see them together. :)
Anyhow, we got back on Sunday night and Sister Morrell and I were caught up in conversation about our day and the different families we had been able to see and how the lessons went, etc., when we get a text from President Revillo saying "please text me when you get home." I quickly responded that we were home, and then we just sat on the kitchen floor, waiting. Both Sister Morrell and I knew what was happening, because you only get a call from President if you are going to be Emergency Transferred, or if you are going to be given a leadership assignment. I remembered my second transfer, when Sister Campbell got called about being made STL (Sister Training Leader), and knew somehow that that was going to be happening to me. It seemed really illogical, because I just got here to Taytay, but the Spirit has kind of been telling me all week that I should be prepared for this, and I actually prayed as part of my fast that I would be ready if it did happen. So after the longest half hour of my life, he finally called and we had the most awkward 5 minute conversation (I don't know why but I am so awkward with President Revillo, and then add on top of that my regular phone-awkwardness...it was pretty entertaining), and he informed me I will be transferring and serving as an STL in Antipolo.
I still have really mixed feelings about the whole thing. I'm excited, of course, for all that I will learn from these new experiences, and most of all for the chance to give back and serve my fellow sisters (I have really loved and learned a lot from the STLs that I have been able to work with so far on this mission), but also REALLY nervous! Like, way more so than in the MTC, because none of that really felt real. And I was thinking this morning about what kind of STL I want to be (thinking of all the sisters I know that served as STL) when the thought came to me "you aren't supposed to be any of them. The Lord wants YOU." and that kind of intimidates me. But all in all, it will be an adventure and I am sure I will have lots more stories to tell next week!
I have to say, I am so grateful for the chance that I have had to be companions with Sister Morrell. I have learned so much from her and the time we have been able to spend together. She taught me a lot about teaching from the heart. I love watching her teach and seeing in her eyes how much she really loves this Gospel. I have also learned a lot about myself this transfer, and the things I need to work on and improve and overcome.
Other exciting news from this week: Edith came to church!!!! Her kids were sick so she left them home with her husband, but she said next week she will bring them. We were SO SO EXCITED!!! And I am so glad she had a good experience! And we owe it ALL to the members (the ones who referred her), who brought her and sat with her in the classes--they are the best!!!! I honestly can't tell you how much I love and appreciate member missionaries and fellowshippers. Pretty sure they are worth more than....not just gold (that's not worth too much anymore) but something was more precious than gold. Like that giant diamond at Tiffany's in NYC or something.
Speaking of which, heard another great quote from our district leader yesterday. He asked one of their members, Cynthia, in a lesson: "how many missionaries do we have in our ward?" She responded, "four" (the 4 elders assigned there). He answered, "that's right. But wouldn't it be great if we had five? Cynthia, would you like to be a missionary?" He then talked about how every member can be a missionary, and how wouldn't it be great if they had 100 missionaries in their ward?! I just thought that was a really cool insight, because it is so true. When we think of the missionaries in our ward or area, we think of the ones wearing a nametag. But really, the ones who get the most work done are the ones without, the ones who just go about their lives, living and sharing the Gospel. I honestly really believe that. You are all so awesome!!
Well, I am out of time for now, and I am sure you are probably tired of reading anyway (I'm already tired of my voice and I'm the one writing this), so I'll just bid farewell until next week.
I love you all so much! I hope you are doing well! Thank you to all those who respond to these--I'm sorry I don't always get a chance to respond to you individually. I really do love hearing about your lives though. :) Hope you all have a great week!
Sister Emma Franks
P.S. HAPPY JUNE!!