Monday, August 11, 2014
Sister Franks in the Philippines - August 10, 2014 ("Napakalakas ang swag ko")
Happy Week 4! :D
There is a lot that has happened this week--I'm not really sure where to start honestly.
This has been a great week for our work with the other sisters. Not as much for our own area, but consequently, I feel like I have grown a lot in terms of my perspective and feelings toward my calling as an STL. I had a hard time last transfer, because I had truly fallen in love with missionary work during my time in Taytay and learning to give my whole heart, mind, and strength to my area and my ward. When I got here to Antipolo, I fell in love with the area right away, and had a hard time adjusting to being away from our area so much on exchanges with the other sisters, especially when we have so many amazing, promising investigators. In trying to cope with it, I kept reminding myself of what both Sister Rimano and Sister Cutia told me: how as an STL, serving our sisters needs to come before our investigators and our area. I realized some more while we were on exchanges in Morong. I was talking with Sister Dickison (my batch going home) about how the longer we are in the mission, the more we see the bigger picture and realize what a tiny role we play in the Lord's plan. Especially in going back to previous areas, I have recognized more than anything that the work still goes on, even without us. We really are just instruments and tools that help get things done. The mission experience is more for us than anything else--because "losing our lives" in the service of others is the only way to truly "find" ourselves and become who we need to be. That is the miracle that I have seen taking place in myself. I can honestly say that I am a different person than I was when I came here. Not just my attitudes and actions have changed, but even my nature and instincts. I have finally become truly converted to this Gospel. In thinking about that, Luke 22:32 came to mind as we were on the way to church yesterday: "But I have prayed for thee," Christ says, "that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren [and sisters]." I thought about the transfer I had right before I was called as STL and how that was the transfer I truly learned to let go of myself and give everything to this work. In a sense, that is when I became converted to missionary work. Now, it is my chance to strengthen my sisters (and brothers) and try to help them have the same experience; to help them learn to love the work without holding anything back. The greatest joy I have ever felt has come from investing everything in the work and witnessing the miracles that happen as a result.
One miracle is that, even though we only had about 2 days in our area last week, we were able to have a baptism! (My first baptism in Antipolo; the first baptism in our area since it got whitewashed). Brother Joeferd (9), is a part-member whose mother is less-active. He has wanted to be baptized for quite a while but we had been struggling with finishing all the requirements for his preparation. Nearly a month after his initial goal date, he was finally able to be baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday morning. It was such a sweet experience--mostly just because I know how long he has wanted to be baptized. Even though his family weren't all able to attend (not enough money for them all to come to the church), they were all so excited for him, and it was just a happy day. :)
Our exchanges this week were a lot of fun. I got to work with Sister Tehei (my kabahay) and to go back to Morong(!) and work with Sister Faka'osi and Sister Delasan, and Sister Dickison. Morong was especially fun, because both Sister Cutia and I served there, and she hadn't been back since she left there after our second transfer. We had so much fun with the sisters there (Sister Taufa is there now--she is so sweet/fun too). We even got to have dinner with the Susa's again on Friday night before we left. :)
I was so happy to work with Sister Delasan this transfer. She is from Bacolod, and so cute. She looks like a Latina, actually. So pretty! For a new missionary, she is doing REALLY well! She is already great at following the spirit and trying to listen for the needs of her investigators. I was surprised when she said during evaluations that she struggles with lack of confidence in herself. I shared with her about how Satan tries to bring us down, especially before and after spiritual experiences and invited her to read Moses 1, about Moses' experience fending off Satan. We talked about having faith in the Lord and in the Spirit to direct us and not doubting the authority of our calling. It reminded me a lot of my time with Sister Garcia when I felt so inadequate and unqualified. I remember emailing President about it one week, and being so shocked and humbled the next week when I got on my email and read the first line of his response: "Sister Franks, there is no room for negative thinking in this mission." Haha I have told myself that over and over since then, whenever I am tempted to let Satan bring me down. I know he is working so hard, but I am determined not to let him win!
I also had a great spiritual experience while working with Sister Dickison. We were on the way to one investigator, when we ran into another one who asked where we were going. We told him and he asked when we were going to come visit him. We explained that we could come right then. So we went in, and taught him and his mother who is recovering from a stroke. Our lesson started out about prophets and priesthood, then went into Christ's earthly ministry. In a way I had never experienced before, we started out talking about the Atonement, and then I made a statement that Christ didn't just DIE for us, His whole LIFE was for us, too, to show us a perfect example. The Spirit, at that point, spoke directly to Sister Dickison and she (thankfully) listened and responded, showing the picture of Christ's baptism and explaining Christ's example of being baptized. We shared from 2 Nephi 31 and John 3:5 and had a really good discussion with them about the need for baptism by authority. We invited them to be baptized if they come to know our message is true and they both accepted! It was one of the coolest lessons I have ever had. We were both amazed, talking about it after, how much the Spirit really guided the discussion, because it was not one that either of us had been expecting.
We had Zone Conference last week, too, which was wonderful as always! I am running out of time though so I don't think I will share my insights this time around.
We have another busy week of exchanges this week, but I am looking forward to them, and placing my trust in the Lord that He will care for our investigators and help us do all we can in the days that we are here. I just truly love this work. I am the happiest I have ever been in my whole life. Every day is so fulfilling and I can see myself changing so much. I still have a long way to go and a lot of weaknesses to overcome (I have been working on Repentance this week, something that President talked about at Zone Conference), but I am just so grateful for this chance to serve and to love others more than I ever knew I could.
I love and miss you all so much!! Hope you have a great week!! You are in my prayers always!
Sister Emma Franks