Monday, October 13, 2014
Sister Franks in the Philippines - October 12, 2014
Today is the first day of the first week of the best transfer ever!! :)
We just got to Mindoro this morning (there were no flights on Friday for some reason, which I will get back to later), and still haven't gotten to our new home yet. We woke up at 2:30AM, got to the airport at 4AM for our 6AM flight (had to wait on the elders a little bit but it's all good!) and then went straight to our district meeting (after a quick bi-district breakfast at Jollibee--the one food chain restaurant here on "the rock"). It has already been the best day though! :) I got to meet a woman on the plane who is from here in San Jose (didn't get to talk to her as much as I had hoped because she was sleeping, or at least had her eyes closed, most of the flight...but at least I got to give her a pass-along Mormon.org card), and we had an awesome district meeting. Elder Horsley, one of the senior couple missionaries, shared a thought/lesson about the power of testimonies and witnesses, and President Barlow (a counselor in the mission presidency/senior couple missionary here in San Jose) talked about our vision for helping Mindoro become a stake and what needs to happen to accomplish it. We definitely have our work cut out for us, but I am so excited!! More and more, I am realizing the immensity of the task and trust that has been given to us sisters in Magsaysay.
I don't have any experience to report yet, so I will just share what I've been told:
-Magsaysay has never had sisters before.
-Magsaysay is the second largest branch in the mission (membership-wise), with the lowest sacrament attendance.
-In the past, the elders are the ones who have blessed the sacrament every week, because their priesthood holder attendance is so low.
-Magsaysay is SO EXCITED to have sisters! They are the ones who requested it, and they have already started making maps and things to help us get to work right away. :)
Sister Panugaling, Sister Alailima, Sister Panis, and I are SO PUMPED to get to work here and take part in the miracles the Lord is preparing for this wonderful branch and district!! :D
It is not only a groundbreaking occurrence that we get to be the first sisters in Magsaysay, but President Revillo made it very clear to Sister Alailima and I while we were waiting in the mission office last night that his main concern here is helping to build the priesthood foundation in the branch here, and that is to be our focus. We are to build and sustain and support the new branch president, nurture the less-active families, and bring back those who were once strong but have faltered a bit. It's been made clear that as we focus on building up the members, the investigators will come with it.
It is beyond my power of expression to tell you how grateful I am that the Lord has blessed me with such an inspiring task for my last transfer. We haven't even seen our new house, but I can already tell you I am going to hate the day I have to leave Mindoro. Heavenly Father is SO SO good!!!
Now, to rewind a little bit and review my last week in Antipolo. I got to be in a threesome with Sister Faka'osi and her new companion, Sister Lopez, for the week. It was fun, and I already love Sister Lopez! But it was also an interesting challenge. Firstly, because I am no longer an STL, but I was in a companionship with 2 of them. It was a hard adjustment, because even though in my head I knew I was released, I still felt the same. So when Thursday came around and we knew I wouldn't be leaving on Friday, we had to figure out what I would do while my companions were in MLC. We asked if I could come with them (just to listen in! haha I can just sit quietly, promise!), but was informed I would need to stay with our kabahays. Thursday night was pretty tough, honestly. That is when it really hit me that, whether I was ready or not, my time as an STL was over. I just felt super in limbo, because I wanted so badly to be here in Mindoro, and I just felt like an awkward 3rd-wheel, like I didn't belong there, but that's where I was trapped. Thankfully though, Heavenly Father is wonderful, and our day on Friday (I got to work with Sister Verdeflor and her anak/trainee) was exactly what I needed. It was so fun and productive and a blessing to all of us, I think. I won't share the specifics, but I will just let it suffice to say that the spirit confirmed to me that there was a reason I was supposed to stay home and work with them that day instead of tagging along to MLC and spending the day hanging out at the mission home. :)
Saturday and Sunday were General Conference, which of course was wonderful!!! My favorite talks were from 1) Jorg Klebingat (best talk on celestial living I have heard my whole life! I am so inspired! Haha I am listening to it again right now :P) 2) Lynn G. Robbins (again, living what we believe!) 3) David A. Bednar (I wrote a note to myself: "this is exactly why I am on a mission!" he said it so well!) 4) D. Todd Christofferson (tie in with #1 and #2, agency and integrity). It was interesting to see the themes that emerged this conference, but more than anything, I was so grateful to hear our leaders speaking so boldly the truth and how we can and MUST defend it, in a Christlike way! :) I hope you are all as excited as I am to review and apply the counsel we received from our Savior through his appointed servants.
Sunday morning, Brother R.J. had his baptismal interview! He will be baptized on Saturday, and even though I am sad I will not be there with them (they were pretty heartbroken to find out I was transferred), I feel truly blessed that I was able to be with them through the entire preparation process and there when he passed his interview. I was reminded once again, as Sister Leslie (R.J.'s wife) teared up that he was finally being baptized and how grateful she was for us teaching him, of the warning/prophecy shared with us in the MTC: "You will be somebody's missionary." They both confirmed what we were told, that they will never forget me. I believe it too, because I know that I will never forget them. I feel like they are family, my love for them is so strong. Once again, it is true what they say: Filipinos teach you to love with your whole heart. In ways I don't even understand, I love these people so much! I have no idea what the future holds or what I am going to do with my life, but I just know I will not be content if they do not remain a part of it. Being a missionary, an instrument in the Lord's hands to the blessing of the lives of others, truly is the most incredible blessing I could ever imagine!!! Like really. It amazes me every single day.
Another cool experience, from my day with Sister Verdeflor and Sister Tapa. During companionship study, they did a short role-play/practice teaching. I took the role of their investigator. My responses felt awkward and I was sure it was a terrible role play for them, but I just said whatever came to mind. I was amazed though, when less than a half hour later, we went to our lesson and they started teaching and the responses of their investigator were almost exactly word-for-word of the response I had given in our role play. It was crazy!! I think that is the first I have really seen how inspired role-playing can be and how the Spirit really can give us insights into the thoughts, feelings, and lives of those we teach.
Also, how many of you have heard of "Meet the Mormons"? Is it in a theater near you? If you haven't heard or read about it yet, check out www.meetthemormons.com
or you can watch the trailer here:
It looks so good! I am so excited to watch it when I get back! Definitely going to be my first movie when I am released. Which is impressive that it will beat out Frozen. That is how excited I am!! :) Someone please watch it and/or tell me how it was!!
Amazingly, I am not out of time today, but I am out of things to say. Really everything just comes back to me being really, really excited to be here in Mindoro. I already love it, and am so happy. :) I am excited to be able to send you more specifics next week.
I love you all!! I hope you have a great week and remember to pray for opportunities to share with others the great joy that we have access to and experience as members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!! We have tasted of the most delicious and desirable fruit, and we cannot keep it to ourselves. This gospel is designed for the whole world to be blessed! I know with my whole heart and soul that it is true. :) The Lord has a work and a plan for each and every single one of us. Kaya natin 'to! ("We can do this!") :D
Have fun! Work hard! Enjoy our week and try not to get trunky. ;) I love you and miss you and pray for you daily.
Sister Emma Franks