Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Sister Franks in the Philippines - June 3, 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!!