Monday, July 28, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - July 27, 2014 (Shout out from the Rock!)

Oh hey!
Guess who made it to Mindoro?! That's right, WE DID!! Haha I didn't say anything on Thursday because I didn't want to jinx us. :P But we got here on Friday morning with really no problem at all. Flying in was super fun (also, sidenote: I forgot how much I LOVE air travel! Being above--and within-- the clouds is one of my favorite feelings ever, and such a great way to put things in perspective), and landing in San Jose was kind of like flying to the Soo--just one runway with a little tiny one-room airport. But the surrounding here is gorgeous. So green! And so many palm trees! I saw the ocean for the first time in years (we are going to be beach later today) and basically just love it. I think I am glad that I was never assigned here, because the mission culture is a lot different, but I am so happy for this experience to be here and to get to work with the sisters all this week (we are here until Friday, which was unexpected, but delightful). 
Life in the real province is definitely different than life in the mainland province (Morong). There is legit nothing here in terms of the kind of civilization we are used to. But they do have a Jollibee! Haha and apparently some kind of Mexican restaurant we are hopefully going to for lunch ("Cantina"). Basically, we are in the "capital" of this half of Mindoro, and it is like the smallest southern town you could imagine. Everyone is just chill and doing their thing and so nice. :) Oh, and we got free fish from some of the sisters' investigators! (#win)

This weekend has been so fun and so full. When we got here on Friday we went to the sisters' apartment, and then straight to zone interviews, followed by zone conference (same day, because we missed interviews last transfer). It was so inspiring! I absolutely love being a missionary, and missionary work. Sister Cutia and I got to give a workshop for interviews that we called "OYM", but instead of "Open Your Mouth" like we are used to here, we talked about "Open Your Mind!" and how we need to open our spiritual eyes and see the work the way the Lord sees it, if we are to accomplish all that He needs us to accomplish. It was a fun workshop, but honestly, I think I got so much more out of preparing for it than we were able to share in the 25 minutes we had. Basta. It was good. :)

We also got to attend their branch FHE ("family home evening") on Friday night, do service on Saturday morning, and attend District Conference on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Conference was SO GOOD!! I don't think I have been that well-fed spiritually in a long time! I forgot my study journal, so I was taking notes in my planner and nearly ran out of room both days (and my writing was tiny). It was a cool experience too, because I was able to receive revelation throughout the conference both for my work here in Quezon City Mission, and what the Lord expects of me when I get home. I know that my work as a missionary will not end when I get back to the states, but actually, the Lord is just preparing me to be the kind of MEMBER that He needs to establish the church in the U.S. as well. The goal here is for Mindoro District to become a stake, and everything they were talking about, I just kept thinking about how to apply that to Traverse City District. Even though I never really lived there, I'm starting to feel more connected to it, and thinking about all the work that needs to be done and how I can help the missionaries when I get back. 

One thing that really stuck out to me in the conference, though, was the huge focus on LOVE. How love is the essence of the Gospel (like Pres. Monson shared last conference) and should be the center of all we do. This morning, I was studying Pres. Monson's talk and pondering a thought that had come up yesterday: Christ says that the Second Commandment (loving our neighbor as ourselves) is "LIKE UNTO" the First (loving God with all our heart, mind, and strength). I was thinking, how are those two related, and how do they connect with who we are personally? One thing that occurred to me earlier is that loving ourselves is instinct--that is the Natural Man within each of us, to look out for ourselves first. It is the purpose of the Gospel to help us put the Lord first, above all, and then to put our fellowman second, next to ourselves. We shouldn't have to force ourselves to love others. Christ teaches that, like loving ourselves, it should be a natural part of who we are. That is the power of the Gospel and the Atonement. Through Christ, we can get to that point, of having true charity for all our brothers and sisters. 
Another quote I loved from conference was shared by a sister who just received her mission call: "God has no phone, but I talk to Him. He has no Facebook, but He is my friend. He has no Twitter, but I follow Him." :) 
Finally, there were several speakers in the conference who made comments about how they served in the "best mission" in the world. Elder Arduro (sp?), the area seventy who was presiding, explained that we can claim our mission as the best mission only if that is the mission in which we have GIVEN OUR BEST. He then said that we should all feel that the mission in which we CURRENTLY LIVE is the best mission in the whole world. To me, that highlighted how we, as members, should be invested in the work that the missionaries are doing in our home wards and branches. After all, we are the heart and soul of the Church, missionaries are just appendages sent to help hasten the Lord's work. We have to remember, too, that WE don't share the Gospel, the LORD shares the Gospel THROUGH us. :)

We got to attend the district meeting here this morning with the other missionaries, and I had another really inspiring revelation. The question that was posed to us was,"why do we work so hard now, when we could just wait until the millennium or baptisms for the dead?" We were put into pairs and had to discuss it, and at first a few missionaries even said, "well, duh!" but then as we had to find an answer, I started to think more deeply. Why is it that it is so important to know the Gospel while we are alive? Why is it not enough just to get the ordinances done at some point before Judgement Day? There are a lot of pieces and a lot of answers to that question, but the one that was most powerful to me is one I found in Alma 34:34, based on what my partner, Elder Tan, said about how the Gospel blesses our lives and we need to have a knowledge of it and live it now. Actually, I don't remember what he even said, but somehow the Spirit used it to remind me of that scripture, which says,"Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis [final judgement], that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that SAME SPIRIT which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that SAME SPIRIT will have power to possess your body in that eternal world." When I read this scripture before, I thought it was saying that whoever would accept the Gospel here on earth will accept it in the Spirit World (the next life, before the final judgement), so in a way, it doesn't really matter WHEN we hear the Gospel. Only today did I really grasp the fullness of what this verse teaches. Yes, it means that good people who want to follow Christ and who will do all they can to live according to their knowledge will not be denied the blessings of exaltation, but that doesn't mean everyone will automatically be saved. The reason they say it is easier to repent in this life than in the next is because, during this life, WE STILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE OUR NATURE. Through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can literally decide and change WHAT KIND OF SPIRIT possesses our bodies at the time we leave this life. We can literally ensure, through our application of the principles and ordinances of the Gospel, through learning to submit our will to the Lord's and becoming like are Savior Jesus Christ, that the spirit which possesses our bodies in "that eternal world" is one which is worthy of Celestial Glory. Like Amulek taught,"this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32). NOW is the time to work to accomplish that goal! And it is only possible, for us and for everyone, through a knowledge and correct understanding of the Gospel and Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is why we MUST share the Gospel. That is why we must warn our neighbors and rescue the lost and wounded and starving souls of the world. We are the only ones capable of offering true and lasting and complete peace and a fullness of joy in this life--and the next. We are the ones who can fill the hole in the hearts and souls of our brothers and sisters that they may not even realize is there (see PMG pg. 156).

Basically, I am just so excited to be a member of the true and restored Church of Jesus Christ, and to have the chance to invite everyone I meet to experience the same joys and blessings that I receive every single day from it. :) I know without any shadow of doubt that this Gospel is true--it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it because I have seen how it has changed my life, and continues to change and refine me every single day. Sometimes I am intimidated when I catch a glimpse of the kind of person the Lord wants me to become, and who He is shaping me to be, but I know that as I put my trust in Him and give everything to Him, He will make of me something so much greater than I could ever imagine, and He will lead me on a path that may not be easy, but ultimately will lead to the greatest joys and eternal life that my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are preparing for all those who are obedient, faithful, and diligent. 

Another blessing of being here in Mindoro is getting to spend time with the sisters. Sister Garcia, my anak and one of the best companions ever, is here and I got to work with her yesterday. It is such a blessing to see her again (first time since I left San Isidro in December) and to realize how strong our connection still is and how much we still love and respect and trust each other. I am so happy and grateful to see how much she has grown and what an incredible missionary and leader (even just by example) that she is. I pretty much just feel so spoiled right now. I honestly don't know why Heavenly Father is so good to me, but I am so very grateful for all the blessings and little miracles that He treats me to each day. 

Working with Sister Cutia is still great, and our members in Antipolo are AWESOME! Even through we aren't going to be in our area for over a week because of this trip, they are really working to help out our investigators and less-actives and help them feel loved and welcome. 

Life is good! God is great! There really is nothing like the joy of serving the Lord by serving our fellowman (see Mosiah 2:17). :)
I love you all! I hope you have a great week!!! I miss you, and you are in my prayers! 

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - July 23, 2014 (Dream team reunited)

First off, just have to share some pictures from our adventures the past week! (I love working with Sister Cutia again! For real this time. We have so much fun all the time, and our area/ward is seriously the best!!) Shout out again and thanks to Gladys for the pictures!

1. In high spirits after a great teaching appointment (Roell and Michelle accepted a baptismal date!)

2. On the way down to their house in the middle of a rain storm--a little muddy, but we love them just THAT much! Oh, the things we do for the salvation of souls!​

3. This is their little got super torn up by the bagyo (storm), but brother Roell has worked really hard and fixed up and reinforced their roof and walls. (This is the kind of house they call "house with no nails", it is purely tied together with ropes. Pretty impressive actually)
4. Dinner at the Martinez house with Gladz after a great lesson with Ruby and the Roberts (Gladys' cousins) and a quick jam session with some of Bro. Martinez's instruments.
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Basically, I am just loving life right now! 

The storm last week was an adventure. We were told we weren't allowed to leave our house (or sleep). So basically a whole day with nothing to do. 

Things that got done:
Kabahay breakfast
Videos of the rain storm and our neighbor walking on his roof
Playing makeshift scatagories
Creating a mission version of the cup song from pitch perfect(?)
Singing hymns in Tagalog
Playing pinoy henyo
Commissioning a member to buy soda for our sick kabahay (and ice for our melting fridge)
Watching mormon messages (once the power came back)
Celebrating our last day together before transfers

Things that didn't get done:
Language study
Updating my journal
Cleaning the house

Then on Thursday, I bid farewell to Sister Rimano and welcomed my beautiful, masipag, beloved new companion, Sister Cutia!! At first, it was weird being companions again. She is more hyper than I remember, and SUCH an incredible missionary!! I was a little intimidated at first, but of course, she is so humble and patient and loving and open and we somehow settled in super quick. This past week has been one of the best of my whole mission, and I am pretty sure it is just going to keep getting better! I am so pumped for this transfer!

I still absolutely love Antipolo, and our area is doing amazingly well! I really do love being companions with Sister Cutia again. We are already so unified and have so much fun working together. She is a great leader, especially by example, and is really helping and inspiring me to reach my potential as a missionary. It is cool to see how much we have both grown and changed since the MTC and I am so grateful to have the chance to serve with her again. I really feel like we are so blessed to be together and to be serving in our area--there are so many amazing people who have truly been prepared to receive the Gospel. And the best part is that the members are even better at finding and nurturing them than we are! Our ward has truly grown so much in their willingness to be involved in missionary work. As a future member-missionary, I am so inspired by all that they do to support and help us in our work! 

Alongside the hundreds of other blessings we experience every day, we have 3 different member referrals (6 investigators, referred by 3 different member families) that feel very promising. They really are so prepared. We started teaching Roell and Michelle last month and they still need to get married before they can be baptized, but they agreed to prepare themselves to be baptized on September 20, and I think they will be able to reach it. Another are 3 siblings who are cousins of one of our best member missionary families. Ruby is 16, Obet is 11, and Robert is 10. They accepted a baptismal date for August 23, so we are going to work hard to help them reach that. The last is a part member, RJ, (the husband of a returning member who just recently moved back to the ward--she didn't like going to church in the ward they lived in before I guess) who we just met on Sunday through one of our ward missionaries. They are such a cute couple and RJ is so eager to be taught and accept the Gospel! It is clear that he has already seen the blessings of it in their family and in his wife, and he wants it so badly for their daughter (7 months old) as she grows up. Even from our first meeting, I feel like he is willing to do anything it takes to gain a testimony for himself and prepare for the covenant of baptism. I know he is going to be a great priesthood holder and leader in the church. :)

There are so many stories and miracles I could share about finding and teaching and working with members, but pretty much it all comes down to the fact that THIS IS THE LORD'S WORK, and He is truly hastening it!! I can feel it; I can see it. I am SO GLAD that I get to be a part of it!!! This is going to be an amazing transfer and I am so excited to see all the miracles that the Lord has in store as we build our faith and unity and teaching skills and truly learn to harness and apply the power of the Spirit in our work. :)
P-day is on Monday next week, so I'll save the rest for then if there is anything I forgot. Talk to you in a few days! Have a great weekend!! Love you!!

Sister Emma Franks :D

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - July 14, 2014

Good morning from the land of sunshine and smiles (and rainstorms)!
There is a bagyo (typhoon) on its way to us later today, so hopefully I can get all this put together before we lose power. The mission has been working really hard to ensure that we are all prepared should a disaster ever hit ("72 hour kits" that could probably feed us for about a month--or just our whole ward for a day), so I am actually not concerned about the storm, just about getting all our errands done before stores start closing and trike drivers take cover. :P

So, as you may have realized from my lack of email yesterday, it is another transfer week already. I am thankfully not being dragged away from Antipolo (I love it here! For sure my Philippines hometown), but I do have to say goodbye to my beloved companion, Sister Rimano. I am sad, because I have really grown to love her in the six short weeks we have been together, and I have learned more from her than any other companion so far, I think. Especially as far as Christlike attributes go. She is amazing, and I know she will continue to be an incredible STL for the sisters in Quezon City (she is transferring to Cubao--which means she will have to be working in the office, doing favors for Sister Revillo, which she's not excited about). She is going to be companions with Sister Sanders (if you remember her from my MTC stories), and Sister Sanders' previous companion (my MTC companion) Sister Cutia is COMING HERE TO ANTIPOLO! Haha the Zone Leaders called last night to tell us transfer announcements and they wouldn't tell Sister Rimano who my new companion was until I came to the phone. In a super delayed and dramatic fashion (not out of character for our beloved zone leader, Elder Romney), he said "your new companion is a female....she is a Filipina." Thinking it was a new sister, I asked if I knew her, but I don't think he was listening. "Well, she's only kind of Filipina." "Is it Sister Cutia?!" "Yes." "Wait. What? For real?! Is that really true?" "Yes." Let's just say I was super excited. I still can hardly believe it.  
The most ironic thing is that, every time I've seen Sister Cutia at mission gatherings, we always talk about how we should be companions again now that we kind of know what we are doing. When she became STL, I was super excited, because I thought I would at least get the chance to work with her sometime--then she was assigned super far away from my area and that hope died. But now it's legitll happening. I'm a little nervous, because I know she is super magaling and I'm still trying to figure things out, but I am trying to ignore all that and just remember how great it was and how much I learned from her in MTC and how much more I will get to learn from her now that I've figured out more how to be humble and teachable and get the most out of our time together. :) SO EXCITED FOR THIS TRANSFER!

Other than that, this week has been the most productive, fulfilling last-week-of-the-transfer I have had my whole mission. Even though Sister Rimano had to have her wisdom teeth out last Monday so we missed work on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, we were super punted (as in, every single lesson we had planned fell through), but we were able to make it up with the appointments we missed on Tuesday and it was still a great day. Thursday, we went to go contact a referral (that was our only plan for the two hours of work in the morning), and found out that she actually moved back to the province. Since we knew we would need to do some finding in the morning anyway, I had already put myself in the mindset for it, so we weren't thrown off. Her mother-in-law was the one who told us that she had moved, and so we asked if we could teach her instead. She accepted and we had a good lesson. She was pretty upset about them going back to the province, and I think that might have distracted her a little from what we were trying to help her understand about the power of the Atonement, but at least she recognized us as representatives of Jesus Christ and trusted us enough to open up about her life and feelings and struggles. 
After lunch, we had lots more appointments set up but they also fell through, 100%. We tried to make up for them by making back-up plans of less actives and other investigators we hadn't seen for a while. In my heart, though, I somehow knew that all that was useless, that we were supposed to be finding that day. Since we have had so many exchanges and days we haven't been able to work, I kept telling myself that we should take care of the investigators we have before adding more, but of course that isn't the Lord's way. Thankfully, we didn't fight the promptings too much, and we did get to OYM and teach two sets of new investigators. After, Sister Rimano and I were talking and she shared that she had been having the same feeling I was (that we should be finding instead of trying to teach people we already know) and we both felt bad that we hadn't embraced that prompting. We were still able to reach our zone goal of 6 new investigators (weekly, but we found them all in one day), but I am pretty sure we could have found even more if we hadn't been so prideful and hardheaded. Blah. The Natural Man in us is so obnoxious sometimes! But still, I consider our day a success. :) 

We also got to have another Temple Tour on Saturday with our ward. Most of the investigators from our area ended up cancelling or not being able to come (i.e. overslept :P), but it was still so worth it because of the ONE investigator who did come! James, the boyfriend of one of our ward missionaries, has been doing so well in keeping commitments. He reads everything we ask him to, the only hard thing is getting him to come to church regularly (he comes like every two weeks), because his parents are super active in their church and still not super sold on him being "Mormon." He has been working on it though, and Saturday seemed to be a breaking point, or at least significant for us in realizing his sincerity, because he came to the temple tour all by himself, even though his girlfriend had to work and wasn't able to come with him. Thankfully, there was another ward missionary (Gladys, the one who takes all the pix) who was able to come and she fellowshipped him for the tour until she had to leave for work.

After the temple tour on Saturday we got to go to a baptism for two investigators in Sister Tehei and Sister Tipasa's area, as well as the grandson of one our returning members. It was a fun baptism, and after we went out to try to teach some more lessons, but ended up not being able to, so instead we just went around to people we hadn't seen for a while and invited them to church. Another good day, with the regular stress of missionary work and people not understanding the eternal impact of their choices, but also the joy of seeing faith being nurtured and sprouting and growing. :) 

All the rewards of this unexpected week came on Sunday though. First of all, we had SIX investigators that came to church (only happened two other times my whole mission)! And they all have fellowshippers!! (Sidenote about working through the members: DO IT! We work so hard to help the people we have found on our own to come to church, and it is so difficult! But the investigators that are found through the members seem to automatically understand the blessings and importance of coming to church). The best was Brother Peralta. Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned a less-active returned missionary that we met super by chance? Well we (mostly the ward leaders) have been working to try to help him come back to church (he hasn't been to church for over 20 years because he said he didn't know where the church was here in antipolo), but his work schedule changed to night-shift last weekend so he finally had Sunday morning off and he said on Saturday night that he would come to church on Sunday. I hate to admit that I was a doubting-Thomas, but I wasn't actually surprised when we got to Church on Sunday and he wasn't there. I WAS surprised, however, when I happened to look out the window as the Sacrament was being passed and noticed him waiting outside the Sacrament hall! I pointed him out to Sister Rimano and when the Sacrament passing was over, we hurried out to welcome him. We invited him to come in for the rest of Sacrament meeting and I started to lead the way, he was hesitant to follow and I could tell he felt awkward/unsure of himself and if he should, but just at that moment, our ward mission leader Brother Wilfred happened to notice us and caught sight of Brother Peralta (who he had met when he went to visit them) and rushed over to welcome him, grabbed him in a handshake, put his arm around Brother Peralta's shoulder and led him in to the chapel in a way that said "what are you doing outside? you belong here!" It was such a perfect, touching display of Christlike love, fellowship, and true missionary spirit. We went and sat back in our pew and I just put my face in my hands, ready to cry almost, and said a silent prayer of gratitude. I honestly wish I could have videoed that scene with Brother Wilfred though. It keeps playing over and over in my head and I just keep thinking "This is what it is all about! This is the kind of spirit/vision/whatever it is that every member needs to catch!" Just reaching out to those who are lost and reminding them that THEY AREN'T LOST TO US. They belong with us. They belong in the Church of Jesus Christ, where we are all struggling to overcome problems and weaknesses together, with the help of our Savior. 

Like I said, this week was just amazing. There is most I could say, but I still have to email President and Sister Revillo. One last exciting thing: I got to talk to Sister Garcia last week!! She is in Mindoro, which is under our STL route, and since we didn't get to have exchanges there, we called to follow up with them and see how things are going. It was so fun and so weird to talk to her! For one thing, I didn't recognize her voice at first because she sounds so much like a foreigner. She was already fluent in English when I was with her, but her accent is basically gone now. She is still so adorable though, and I can't wait to see her (eventually!). 

No spiritual thoughts today, but I do just want to say that I know that this Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ are SO TRUE. and the promise that families can be together forever if we just follow the process outlines by our loving Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ is the most beautiful blessing I could ever imagine. It is so incredible to testify of those truths every single day and see the power of the Holy Ghost working in the lives of others, and within me as well, grounding us in our faith in our Savior. This Gospel truly is for everyone. :) Everyone one of us is a spirit child of our Heavenly Father who chose to follow our Savior Jesus Christ before coming to earth, and every one of us was planning on hearing His Gospel here on earth. All we have to do is invite others to follow through on that promise they made before birth. :) 

I love you all! I hope you have a great week and remember to pray for opportunities to share the Gospel. :) You are in my prayers every day! 

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - July 6, 2014 ("Mistakes of the past don't define you, they refine you")

Hello!!! :D

So this week was an adventure and a half! Mostly a lot of things that didn't go at all according to plan. For example:

Monday--we went to the dentist to find out about Sister Rimano's wisdom teeth and if she would have to have them taken out. It was supposed to be just a quick consultation, but then it turned out that she had to have an x-ray (since her teeth are impacted--is that the right term?) so then we had to come into town (btw, the dentist that was recommended to us by the members here happens to have an "office" in their house--both the husband and wife are dentists and they literally just have a dental chair off to the side of their living room--but oddly, it felt totally comfortable and legit. not sketch at all like you would imagine).  So basically it took way longer than it was supposed to, but the dentist couple were SUPER NICE and gave us a ride to the x-ray place! And it was originally just going to be the husband, but we aren't allowed to ride in vehicles without another woman present, so we were about to just decline the offer (super awkwardly, because we'd already kind of said yes before we realized it was bawal), but then we just explained it to the woman and she was like "oh, would you like me to come too?!" and even though that afternoon was her only free time, she just quickly grabbed her purse and 2 little kids and locked up the house and came with us. We are so blessed!

Tuesday--Morong zone had their zone interviews and we had to give a workshop for it (thankfully, we didn't have to stay the whole time though). We thought our workshop was at 2, so we had planned all our lessons in the evening (even had members who were going to work), but then we texted to confirm and Elder Vandyke said we were actually supposed to be there at 4 instead. So that kind of shot down what we had arranged. It all worked out alright though, the workshop went well, and it was fun to get to go to Morong again. :D And then the Elder and Sister Sheffer (one of the senior couples) gave us a ride home! Saved 40 pesos! #score We had a really good lesson that night though, with one of our recent converts who is 87 and a widower. We watched the "Together Forever" DVD and talked about how we CAN be with out families forever, through the power of the Atonement and Heavenly Father's plan for us, but we need to do our part to prepare ourselves (he still doesn't really understand the importance of preparing to receive the Melchizedek priesthood). It was a really good lesson! Although really every time we watch a video it's great--the church really knows what they are doing and how to invite the Spirit. 

Wednesday--We had two awesome ward missionaries that worked with us (Daniel and Valyn) all afternoon, which was awesome! We got punted from most of our planned appointments, but the Lord of course was in control and provided us with other options, which worked out. The best was that we finally got to teach the man who came to church last Sunday, a referral from one of the bishopric members. We braved our way to his house (it was SOOO muddy!!!--oddly, the only one who slipped though was the bishopric member who was showing us the way to his house) and met his wife and their young kids. We had an AWESOME lesson, just sharing about the blessings of the Atonement and the Gospel and how it can bless their family, and at the end we invited them, if they come to know that the message is true, to be baptized. They both said yes, and said they would come to church on Sunday as a family!! (*sidenote, they weren't able to come to church, unfortunately, because one of the kids came down with a fever, but we are still super excited to see them again!*) We also had another great lesson later that night with Brother Alejandro. He was so excited that Valyn was with us, too, because I guess he knew their family before but hadn't seen her for like 8 years. He was so involved in the lesson and had a lot of questions (related to our topic of priesthood, prophets, and the organization of Christ's church) and we got to explain the pattern of Christ's true church throughout history and how that same organization exists in our church today! It was so fun! One of those experiences that makes you just love being a missionary! :)

Thursday was MLC, and actually the only day that went according to plan. EXCEPT that we forgot our phone charger at the house here in Antipolo and our phone died about an hour after we got to the mission home in Quezon City...and we weren't supposed to be back here until Monday. So after MLC and errands at the mission office, Sister Rimano and I just went and chilled at 7-Eleven for like an hour and charged out phone at the nifty little charging station there. We met a really nice young woman from Marikina though, and got to OYM her while we were all waiting. Even got to introduce her and her husband to one of the Marikina zone leaders, and hopefully the elders will go teach them soon. :) 
We stayed the night at the Quirino sisters apartment, which means seeing not only Sister Cutia and Sister Sanders, but also Sister Racaza and SISTER TINGEY! Which was perfect, because Sister Tingey is actually flying home today (leaving a week early for a family reunion), so it was the last chance to see her. I love that sister so much!

Friday morning at way-too-early-in-the-morning, we got picked up by the office elders and APs (and Mindoro zone leaders) and drove to the airport. Everything went really smoothly for our flight, EXCEPT the fact that we never actually made it to Mindoro. We never actually made it off the tarmack, because our flight got cancelled (as we were sitting on the plane waiting for take-off) due to bad weather in Mindoro. So instead we just calmly collected our bags, got a taxi back to QC, dropped the Revillos off at the mission home and then went to the mission office to catch a jeep back to Antipolo. On the bright side, though, we got to eat the krispy kreme donuts the Revillos had bought to take to interviews, got to nap (thankfully) for a couple hours when we got back to the house, and actually finished our weekly planning on time!! 

Saturday--we were supposed to be in Mindoro. Obviously, didn't happen. We decided to use the time we had already freed from our schedule to finish our mainland exchanges with the other Antipolo sisters. The only thing unexpected in our day Saturday was that we accidentally stole Sister Tehei and Sister Tipasa's house key, thinking it was ours, so we ended up getting a call from them asking where the key was, only to discover that we had brought both sets with us, and were now almost a half hour away from our apartment. Luckily, Elder Johnson was able to come rescue them with their copy of the key! (Though he wasn't too excited about having to give it to them). 

Sunday--yesterday was just a great day! Gladys worked with us (which always makes my day), and we had some great lessons. Especially with the Decrito family! Last week we left an assignment for Brother Decrito to read Alma 32, and when we got there yesterday we discovered that he had not only read it, but he understood and remembered basically all of it! We had a great lesson about faith, and asked where they are in their personal "growing process." Sister said she is still at the "experimenting upon the word" stage, trying to plant the seed, but Brother is already to the nourishing stage! :D It's SO COOL to see how people progress in the Gospel, and to literally see the changes that take place in them as they keep commitments and their faith starts to grow. I love missionary work so much!

Sorry this is so scattered. Basically, the moral of this week is that, even though things may not go according to OUR plan, they always go according to the plan of the Lord! He is really the one in charge, and we are all just instruments (hopefully not malfunctioning ones) in his able and confident hands. This Gospel is so beautiful, and there really is no worldly substitute for the joy it brings to our lives. :) I love you all. Hope you have a great week, and know that you are always in my prayers!! 

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

P.S. Just a quick spiritual thought (since this emailing is lacking a bit of that): "It is the celestial glory which we seek. It is in the presence of God we desire to dwell. It is a forever family in which we want membership. Such blessings are earned through a lifetime of striving, seeking, repenting, and finally succeeding." -President Thomas S. Monson
Learned a fun trick from testimony meeting yesterday for persevering through hardships: "Always expect the biggest/worst trial you can imagine. Then, when trials come, no matter how hard, you can say 'well, this isn't [as bad as] what I expected!'" :) Perspective really is everything.