Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Sister Franks in the Philippines - August 25, 2014
I don't know about you, but it is hard for me to believe it has already been six weeks since I wrote to say how excited I was about getting to be companions with Sister Cutia again! And now, in less than 24 hours, I will be having to say goodbye to her again, and Sister Tehei as well. :/ On the bright side, though, Sister Tehei is now going to be an STL in Quirino, with my old companion, Sister Rimano! She is scared still, but she is going to be awesome!! She is a great missionary!!! We also found out last night that among the new STLs is my beloved daughter, Sister Garcia! She is going to be companions with Sister Doucette in Taytay Zone. :D AND, guess who is coming here to Antipolo with me? SISTER FAKA'OSI! Remember way back when (i.e. last year) when we were kabahay for basically my whole life in San Isidro? It's going to be like a reunion, but better, because we get to work together in the best area in the whole PQCM and we both know a lot more what we are doing. I'm pretty excited! I just feel like I am getting more and more blessed every transfer. Of course, I know these next 6 weeks will bring their own challenges, but I also know that the blessings will far outweigh the trials.
This week was really great, honestly! First of all, we only had one day of exchanges, and Tuesday was a holiday so Sister Cutia and I got to go on splits with our ward missionaries. It was such a fun and productive day! And we found two new less active families! One of which is a part-member who wants her two teenage sons to go on missions (we've got our work cut out for us there :P). Thursday was also a holiday, which included a baptism from our kabahay's area, and a birthday dinner at a member's home, where we got to hear one of the most amazing Filipina voices from the birthday girl. (Like, seriously, she was a performer/singer in Korea, but now just chills and sings karaoke at home. Dad, I wish you could hear her, you would have loved it. She's so tiny--like 5 feet tall and maybe 110lbs--but her voice is so powerful and mature. The greatest part was watching her sing with so much passion vocally, but her body was so relaxed--definitely a professional).
The experiences I most want to share come from the weekend, though. It was stake conference weekend, for one thing, which was so fun because I got to see members from San Isidro again! Haha the DelVal and Tarun family all said they thought I had gone home already. :P But Gel said instead of going home I could just come live with them if I want. No worries, though, as tempting as it is, I wouldn't do that to you. :)
After the Saturday session of conference, we had a REALLY rough lesson. Sister Cutia and I both came home spiritless and frustrated and just so worn out emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Knowing it was conference again in the morning, I decided to fast in order to get the spirit back so I could get out of the stake conference what I needed to. I just prayed that I would feel the love for missionary work that I used to feel. The Sunday session of conference was good, but nothing extraordinary to me. At lunch, I was hesitant to even break my fast, feeling I still hadn't gotten an answer/result. But I just went with it anyway, and kept praying. One of the members had come up to me after church and asked if we had be able to visit a certain less-active family. We haven't (I still don't know where they live), and he asked if he could take us there to meet them. So we went out to meet him first before our appointments, but ended up having a schedule too crowded so we asked if we could just stop by our investigators first on the way. He agreed, and we were able to teach Roell and Michelle and invite them to FHE at their fellowshippers house the next day. We were then late for our next appointment, so we apologized and asked if we could see the less-active member family later. He readily agreed and was like "let's go! where is the next appointment?" We were a little confused at first that he was just going to come with us even though he was just supposed to be there for the less-actives. I admit, I was actually kind of hesitant to let him come, since our lessons after were part-members so we didn't technically need an extra member to come. But we just explained the protocol of him having to walk separately from us during travel to the appointments, and it ended up being a huge blessing that he was there! He actually served here in our mission, before it split, and is definitely a great missionary. He is an even better member missionary, though, because he just quietly observes and listens while we teach and waits for us to invite him to share. I was so glad he came, ultimately, because everything he shared was so perfect for our investigators.
The highlight of the week was, of course, meeting with RJ. We had brought a simple object lesson to teach about prayer, scripture study, and the importance of keeping the Sabbath Day holy. It turned into a great discussion of how the Gospel strengthens our families. The moment that really hit Sister Cutia and I the most was when he stopped us in the middle of the lesson and was like, "I just have to say this. Do you remember the first time you came here? You asked me what it was that I expected from you and your teaching." Of course, we did remember that. He had said how he just wanted something to strengthen his marriage and his family (raising his 8 month old daughter). Then he smiled and said, "THIS is what I expected." I was blown away, once again, and just told him, "That is honestly the nicest thing you could ever say to a missionary." We are just here doing what we've been called to do. Our message really isn't ours--it is from our loving Father in Heaven and our Savior, which is why it works--but hearing/seeing someone realize the truth and blessings of the Gospel is basically what we live for! There is nothing at all like it!
We had another great lesson yesterday with a new investigator (she came to church last Sunday, but we weren't able to teach her until Saturday, then Sunday, then yesterday). In the 24 hours between our visits she read the entire Restoration pamphlet (Saturday to Sunday) and Introduction to the Book of Mormon and testimony of Joseph Smith (Sunday to Monday). And she prayed about it! Our lesson yesterday was so great. We just talked more about the Restoration and shared with her about having living prophets and apostles today. I showed her the pictures from the conference issue of the Ensign of all the general authorities, and when I put it in front of her, she just stared at it for like 90 seconds. We sat silently and let her read their names and look at their pictures (probably my coolest experience with the "power of the pause") and afterward as we were talking about how she was feeling about our message (from her reading and her prayers) she said, "I just can't get over that there are living prophets and apostles. I always thought that ended back in the time of the bible when they all died. I didn't know we had a living prophet today." We asked her how she felt, knowing that we do in fact have a living prophet to guide us today, what she would say to him or ask him if he were there in the room with us. She said, "I would ask him what message he has from the Lord. I want to hear his words and all the counsel he has for us." It was honestly one of the coolest experiences, seeing how much and how quickly she is progressing, just by doing the littlest things that we invited her do. Like really, it's not that hard to read 10 pages of a pamphlet, or say a prayer, but because she is sincerely thirsting for the truth, she has gotten so much more from those simple actions than many others who have taken the same steps, faithlessly, and missed all the blessings. I'm so excited for her baptism! (October 18 is the goal we invited her to, but I have a feeling she will be ready much sooner at this rate).
I've got to email President now, but just as a closing, I'll share this link that Gladys shared with us today. It's from our FHE last weekend with the Baluyot family--they asked us to do a special musical number like the elders used to, so we sang a very impromptu "Nearer, My God To Thee." Also, at the end, you can see their dog--the cutest golden retriever ever! :) Just don't mind my awkwardness. I promise I am not usually that awkward. :P
I love you so much!! I hope you have a great week (and Labor Day, since I won't be emailing until Wednesday next week--temple day!). You are in my prayers and thoughts and, of course, my heart always!!
Sister Emma Franks