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

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