Hello momma! And all of my FRIENDS and FAMILY :)!!!!
I am thankful that God is answering prayers of mine. I miss you too! I am trying hard to allow myself to simulate into what God wants me to be. IT'S HARD. Will you watch It's a Wonderful Life for me? And A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? And Moonstruck? Those movies all came to mind this week. :) Goes along with our Christmas holiday spirit, remember? I will be with you, sort of, as you watch them for us ;)
Apparently, your package arrived this past Friday. I haven't been able to retrieve it yet. I will get it tomorrow at the latest. It also arrived with a package from Kiliana. THANK YOU. I love my family so much!!! Thank you all for thinking of me and praying for me! I need all the prayers I can get!!
Thanksgiving whizzed past. I didn't remember it was Thanksgiving until I sat down to write in my journal that night. I wrote things I am thankful for: the clouds, the stars, your emails and others' mail, gummy vitamins, toothpaste, papaya. You know, the usual things. It's a given that I'm thankful for the gospel in my life and for the knowledge of where I came from, why I'm here, and where I will be going. For the knowledge that I have an Eternal Father in Heaven who shapes me and blesses me every day, who I can communicate to as often as I want to and need to, anywhere I may be. Isn't that amazing? As the dust of the earth, we can communicate with the most powerful, most loving being in the universe.
I have a picture of the Savior up in my room. And maybe its just because I see the picture every day, but every time I see it, His face seems so much more familiar.
I had a long talk with President and Sister Carlos this week and was able to get a blessing from President. I've missed being able to get blessings from Pop whenever I want. I expressed concern to him about the language and feelings of inadequacy and really I think Satan tries hard to get to me. In the blessing he said something to the extent of, "The people here are able to feel the Spirit through you. Through your smile, through a simple touch of your hand. The Lord is accepting of your service." I felt overwhelmed with God's love and with the love of President and everyone who is supporting me. I am so imperfect. And I am amazed at the love that God and my Savior have for me.
Last week in planning, I looked through our less-active member's names in our area book. I kept thinking of one of the names: Benito. We continued our planning and I almost did not put Benito's name on our plan of people to visit in the week. But again he came to my mind. So, we wrote it in our planners. The day we went to visit him, it was raining. We wore our new rubber shoes and walked along a slippery muddy path, having no idea where we were going, but asking people where Benito lived. Here, if you are in the neighborhood, you can ask anyone where anyone lives and they will be able to tell you. The path was sloped downward and Sister De Fiesta and I held on to each other as our shoes slipped and collected mud and pebbles. The dirt here, when wet, is like clay--it is so slippery. We laughed and laughed, and saw a woman at the turn in the road, with a big yellow umbrella. She came to us in her rainboots and held our hands to help us onto stable ground. We asked her where Benito lived and she pointed into the distance, "doon", (this is like the boondocks) She led us to her outdoor faucet to wash the mud from our shoes and invited us in. She told me I looked like Drew Barrymore. She also told us that as few years ago she was feeling lonely and depressed in her home (she lives in a big house and her husband is always away) and she prayed that people would come to visit her. Then two elders showed up, asking for Benito. She bore testimony to us that we were sent from God, because she was in despair again, praying for visitors, and we showed up asking for Benito. She said she saw us from her window, and came to get us because she knew she wanted to hear our message. Her name is May. We taught her that God is our loving Heavenly Father and left her with a Book of Mormon.
Tatay Marinduque is well and back home now. We visited the family again and Tatay welcomed us into the home, smiled the entire time we taught about Sabbath day, and even participated in the lesson. Nanay fed us sopa. Later on in the week, Tatay rode a bike over with Ian to bring us ginataan--sooo delicious. He is so smiley now, and warm with us.
Yesterday was probably the most terrifying and humbling day of my mission. First of all, one of the speakers in sacrament didn't show up, so Brother Macutay asked me to speak on cleasing ourselves, body and spirit. I prepared a 15 minute talk in 5--record! Of course it was with the help of the spirit. I spoke, in Taglish, about how our bodies are temples for our spirits, and because God loves us and wants us to always have the guidance of the Spirit in a dark world, he has given us commandments--Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, Sacrament.
That wasn't the terrifying part though. This is: Sister De Fiesta and I were on our way to pick up a fellowshipper (a member who comes to lessons with us) and another member told us she could come with us. So, with two fellowshippers, Sister De Fiesta decided on the spot that we would do a companionship split. I would go with Krista to teach Lisa, Jannise, and Violetta, and she would go with Nanay Luming to teach others. This meant I would make conversation on my own with the investigators (in Tagalog), start the lessons (in Tagalog), teach gospel principles and ask questions (in Tagalog), and set up a return appointment (in Tagalog)...at the same time, following the Spirit. I didn't feel ready. We hadn't studied yet in the day. I had never traveled here on my own in the tricycles, etc. I prayed and prayed silently to myself and--I hate to admit--cried. (Honestly, I was a little upset with Sister De Fiesta.) But I found the courage somewhere. The first lesson with Violetta was a disaster and I'm pretty sure we left her even more confused than she was in the first place. On the way to the second lesson, in a tricycle, I prayed even harder to have comfort and the Spirit with me. I remembered the scripture that talks about how we, "treasure up the words of life and in that very moment it shall be meted unto you." I can't remember where that is. In the second lesson with Lisa, I just asked questions, and listened intently to her answers. Finally, her concern came out, and I was able to answer her questions. Later on in the split, our last appointment wasn't home. I had no idea where to go or what to do. I felt so alone and scared.
I remember when I went on the Brit Lit tour, and we were at DunAengus in Ireland. I was hesitant to go to the edge of the cliff like all of the other students and lay down. Brother Samuelson grabbed my hand and slowly guided me to the edge. It was terrifying, and I remember him telling me that I would have moments like that on my mission--where my companion would grab my hand and pull me to the edge when I wouldn't want to go. I've remembered that moment in the back of my mind and have kind of been waiting for it to happen. Well it happened. And I'm sure it wont be the last time.
I cried myself to sleep thinking about why God gives us trials like these. I was/am so humbled by the experience and I see that it happened so that I can be a stronger missionary. Sister De Fiesta talks about how here, when they want a tree to be strong, they hack it at the trunk with a machete. I know that through our struggles, we grow.
I read a talk by Elder Uchtdorf in the 2009 Ensign, talking about breaking through the clouds and storms in an airplane, then we can see the sun. God always sees the sun. Sometimes all we see are the clouds and the storms. He is all knowing. I love my Heavenly Father.
I love YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU! Tell Victoria to BE STRONG! One more week til the MTC! AH! I wrote her a letter that she will get in the MTC. Tell Lindsay HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Tell all my babies that I love them so very much, and squeeze them so tight for me. I want pictures!!!!
With so much love and so many prayers and so much more to say that I don't have time for.
PS--Where should I send Matt Hoffman's letters next semester? Same place? For now I am sending them to his home address in California. Hi Matt!!!