Monday, February 28, 2011

Hello my dear momma :) Hello my dear family and friends :) Thank you so much for all of your wonderful birthday wishes. Can you believe I'm 24?!?!!?!? I tell everyone "matanda na ako!" And they just shake their heads.

This week has been a good one. Tuesday our district meeting was on having the Spirit ALWAYS in teaching in walking in praying in eating breakfast in riding in a tricycle. After saying a heartfelt prayer on my knees to HELP MEEE, I shared those things with Sister B, and honestly, the difference is drastic. That day we had some beautiful lessons. We say all of our prayers together--morning, night, at meals, before we leave the apartment, etc.

And do you know what? Once we made these changes, people have been coming to us. A man on a tricycle asked US when we were available to come share with him. As we sat waiting for an investigator to come home from his work, his next door neighbor came and asked us who we were and told us he's been listening to us teach from his window. Another woman, about 30, told us she has a tumor in her stomach and wants to find the true church for her children. I am so sad to think of the things we could have missed had we not made those tiny changes. Can you imagine the blessings we could be missing out on by not doing little things--like reading scriptures, or praying, or carrying a bag of groceries inside for an old lady.

President Carlos came into town on Friday to do some interviews with some special cases and asked to interview us as well, as a companionship. Sister Carlos observed our companionship planning and when Sis B was in the bathroom, told me that she really felt the spirit in our planning and she knows this is a divine companionship:) President's words were so beautiful and inspired and I appreciate him so much. He treated us to McDonalds and wished me a happy happy birthday. YUM! I never thought that I would ever actually like to eat at McDonalds ;/

Saturday we had a baptism!!! Sister Agnes Ambrose. All of her children were baptized about two months ago, and she's gained a beautiful testimony since then. For the most part, my birthday was a secret to everyone, but she knew and apologized profusely that she didn't have a gift for me. I told her that her baptism was the most beautiful gift she could give me. At her baptism, all of her children bore their testimonies as well as her. We saw her later in the day by chance around town and she said that she felt so happy.

We taught about 7 lessons on my b day. One of which was with Sister Katherine Lopez--the woman with the tumor. In our first lesson with her, we talked about priesthood authority, in our next we talked about prophets, and in our last on Saturday, we talked about gospel dispensations. I saw a light turn on in her head when I showed her another crappy drawing of mine and photos of all of the prophets from the time of Joseph Smith. She asked about a million questions--one being "Why are all of them American?" Cuuuuttte :) and we left with a commitment to her to pray for an answer. She didn't know it was my birthday, but sent us home with four free, fresh, cleaned Tilapia. She is lovely.

We had a PEC meeting with the branch president and one of the auxilary leaders there was flipping through a calendar and casually asked, "When's your birthday, SIs Fort?" I said "Ngayon araw." They didn't believe me for about 10 minutes. Then president told me to treat them all to Jollibee, and he wrote "Happy Birthday Sister Fort" on the chalkboard.

My birthday night, the Elders here made me dinner!!! Tacos. We went to their apartment and ate on their terrace. Elder Apin cooked, and gave me a Tagalog comic book and Elder Miller decorated a trompo (top) for me with a big box of candy. They made me play this game called Ooga Booga and tried to get me to sit on a balloon filled with water, but I wasn't stumped. I made graham/mango dessert for everyone (make sure you tell Sister Morgan I provided the dessert :) ) and went home smiling from ear to ear. It was such a wonderful day!!

Today we went to Banaue again and I bought the most beautiful light-wooden carved nativity set, and I found some wooden carved owls too! We actually hiked the steps this time and my legs were shaking from exhaustion by the time we were done. It is so lovely there, even though its brown this time of year. We took pictures with the native ladies there again that say "yay!!!" every time you count down to take a picture and now I am here in this stinky, smoke filled internet shop.

We have a baptism next saturday too. :)

I am sorry to hear that you have all been sick over there. I will attach more pictures.
Tell Matt I don't miss him at all and to write write write.
Tell grandma I love her!!!

I love you all so much!!! Thank you all for being such a great support to me 
I will send you more pictures.
Sis Pork
I'll be out 7 months March 4th.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Hello mommaaaa! FAMILY and FRIENDS!! I am so happy for the opportunity once again to write to my favorite momma in the whole universe! Tell Pop I love him, huh? I thought about him the other day, and I just want him to know that. I really really love him.

We went to Banaue today. It was kind of a last minute decision. The
sisters in the other district were all going together, so we decided
to go with them. We are going again as a district next week also, the
28th. We rode a jeepney the whole way there and back which can be
somewhat rough on our bodies through the swirly twirly mountain roads.
Right now I'm kind of in a dizzy spell, but I'll be fine. The views
were incredible. It's moments I have in beautiful places like these
where I take a deep breath and think, "Wow, Heavenly Father really
knew I would love this. He is so kind to have chosen this beautiful
place for me." At the rice terraces you can "hike" up and down them if
you so wish. There are stairs--steep, steep stairs--but no rails. So I
went until the railings ended, which wasn't far. And said if anyone
else wanted to go any further, I would try scooting down on my butt?
The sisters ended up deciding to stay right where we were, and the two
elders we were with plunged forward (they regretted it later when
their legs were sore from going up and down 50938708937 steps.). We
took many pictures on the steps that I think you might see soon. (I
dont have a camera connection to attach my pictures here in solano. I
always used Sister De Fiestas...) GUESS WHAT! SISTER DE FIESTA WAS
THERE!!! With the AP's. I squeezed her so tight, and I dont think she
could breathe for like 10 seconds straight. I love love love her so
muchhhhhhhhhhhhh. We took some great pictures.

The members have been wonderful to us. They've fed us and welcomed me
in as their own already. They invited me to bear my testimony on
Sunday, and after I did they were all surprised that I have only been
here 4 whole months.

Our toilet here was clogged for three days straight. It was absolutely
revolting. We tried plunging it, we tried pouring boiling hot water
down it, we tried pouring laundry detergent down it (a member told us
to try?), and nothing worked. Finally we texted the elders about the
problem--our district leader and his companion--and they were like
"we're passing by there..." and we were like "are you serious. you
would do that for us?" and sure enough, they came and plunged our
stinky toilet for us. It took them prob 20 minutes to finally get it.
And we laughed so hard at their reactions. I couldn't believe they did
that for us :) and soooo grateful!

I am realizing, the more and more we are teaching the investigators
here, that no one has been taught the restoration TO THEIR
UNDERSTANDING. I asked a man the other day who Joseph Smith was, and
he said, "a prophet." So I asked him what a prophet was, and he had no
idea. All of the things on their teaching records that people have
marked off as taught, haven't been taught. They've been shoved down
throats and people don't know whether to swallow or spit or choke. So,
after using a finger puppet and a crappy drawing that I made in my
planning last week, I saw a light turn on in this man. Those lessons
are pure beauty.

It's amazing the things I've learned in the mission--and even at the
writing center before--that you have to find where people's
understanding is before you can ever introduce something new to them,
like the restoration. Questions are so important. Questions to see
where people are and what they understand from what you've taught--to
see what you need to teach, how you need to teach it, and if you maybe
have to teach it again.

A kind, kind woman feeds us every Friday at lunch time and works with
us for half the day (her husband is Willy Wonka man). She asked me
last Friday what my favorite here was, so I told her Tilapia, kamote
and malunggay, and guess what. She made that for us this week. I was
so touched.

After we ate, we went to an appointment and I felt something deep
within--a somewhat painful stirring inside. I told Sister Banks I
needed to go back to the apartment for a little bit to see what was
going on.. you know. So we went back to the apartment and saw the
elders on the way home. They offered to give me a blessing, which said
I would be fine to work. So I thought, “okay, I’ll just lay here until
the pain subsides and we’ll go out in a second.” I prayed and prayed
for it to finally be overwith, but I kept getting this
impression…”just rest, Sister. Just rest…” So I closed my eyes and
fell asleep for a little bit. When I woke up, I felt achy all over,
and I took my temperature. I didn’t have a fever, but my temperature
was elevated by two degrees, and I knew something was weird. Plus the
pain in my stomach hadn’t gone away. The more I rested, the worse and
worse I got and I kept thinking about my setting apart—how my body
would be resistant to all diseases. Sister Analyn, our fellowshipper
sat outside of our house for the four hours I laid there, to make sure
I would be okay and that I didn’t need anything. She went out an
bought me a gatorade, and by the time she came back I was so out of
it, I couldn't even say thank you. I could only rush to the bathroom
to vomit three times. I went straight to bed after that, my body being
so weak. And the next day, we went to our baptismal interview for
Sister Agnes (her baptism is feb 26th) and to our PEC meeting, and
because my body was still aching all over. I kept hearing, "just rest,
just rest." We rested the whole day on Saturday. Sunday morning, I
felt one hundred percent better! And I think Tilapia and malunggay and
kamote might notttttt be my fave anymore.

Today at Banaue, I saw a couple who looked American. It took me a
while to remember how to ask "Where are you from?" and what finally
came out was, "Where y'all from?" They said "Fraaaahnce" And I said,
"OO, sobrang ganda doon!" Woops. HA!

Don't worry about my birthday. I might want to buy some little light
sweater things? So maybe like 30 dollars in my account will do it? It
takes a little while longer for me to get mail here. You can always send
me nuts. Walnuts mmmmmmmm. I put them in my oatmeal in the mornings.
Also lipton soup is always welcomed. And even other soup things like
that. Sauces you can put with just veggies. A cute watch? Socks?
Whatever. Nothing is urgent. I can live.

I've attached some pictures for your enjoyment.
I love you sososo much momma. I miss you incredibly so much
Pray for me, ha? b/c...

SO MUCH LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Michelle, Gordon, Alainna, Justin, Kily, Joshua, Gabriella, Jared, Nichelle, Madison, Riley, Hunter, Nathan, Lindsay, Adelyn, Benson, Brynlee, and my GRANDMA, XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX I miss you all! All my GREAT Friends and extended FAMILY TOO! God Bless you all!

Sister Aly

Monday, February 14, 2011


Hello momma. I am soooooo happy for this wonderful opportunity to
write you on VALENTINES DAY!!! Happy Valentimes! Will you be mine? :)

Transfer day went smoothly. I didn't realize how hard it would be for
me to leave Sister De Fiesta until it actually happened. Before the
transfer meeting, we went to Chowking and got ourselves halo-halo to
enjoy with one another one last time.

During the meeting, they show your areas with pictures of
companionships on a big slideshow. When they got to the Solano
slideshow, I knew that was it. It was our time to part. I squeezed
Sister De Fiestas hand and sat down by my new companion. At the end of
the meeting, we sang the mission song, which was what Sister De Fiesta
and I would sing obnoxiously as we'd do laundry or clean the house,
and my eyes clouded over a little bit. Then my companion and I and our
district rode a jeepney for 4 hours to Solano. It was freezing and
rained most of the time, and the exhaust from the jeepney made me
nauseous. We finally arrived in Solano around 7:30, planned, ate
dinner at Analyn's house (former convert of Sister De Fiesta! We both
talked about how wonderful she was and how much we love her.) and went
to bed.

I see so clearly now what a wonderful companionship Sister De Fiesta
and I had, what a wonderful example and trainer she was for me, and how hard working she was. I will miss serving with her and I'm grateful for all that she taught me and the wonderful spiritual relationship we shared.

My new companion is Sister Banks. She is my follow-up trainer. She is a sweetheart and has a sweet desire to serve. My first night she helped me lug my huge, 70 Ib bags upstairs. She also squished a cockroach for me with her flip flop and made my bed for me while I was unpacking my things in a different room. Her personality reminds me of Sister Pratt.

That first night, I poured my heart out to my father in heaven. I know that this new area is going to be a great challenge to me and my new companion.

The next day in my personal study, I read from Alma 32:8 "I behold that you are lowly in heart." I thought, yes Heavenly Father, I am.
The next verse, "What shall we do?" Yes, Heavenly Father, what shall I do?!! I read on. Alma 32 is all about faith, and nurturing our faith with patience and diligence. I got the impression that along with having to nurture my own faith, Sister Banks and I will be nurturing one another. In Alma 32:42-43 I saw what I have to do.

I continued reading in my study through chapter 34:26-27. I had been praying to my Heavenly Father in my secret places.

She tells me that I will lead the area after this cycle, because she's
been here for 6 months of her mission already. Eeeee. Also, we've
vowed to exercise every day and have language study every day, no
exceptions. This'll be good.

Our toilet seat cover looks like its been out in the sun for 30 years
and is peeling and cracking. I have yet to let my skin touch it. We
have little baby worms that come up from the cracks of the tiles and I want to puke every time I see them, but I just douse them in
permetherine instead--and today I cloroxed the entire place. Our drain doesn't drain, so when you shower, you're standing in a puddle of your own grime, sometimes baby worms. We have to walis ting ting the water out after every shower. Also, the door knob is so rusty, when I opened the door once, it just came off into my hand. Sister Banks doesn't cook, so I have decided to try my best and cook what I know how. We've killed 3 cockroaches since I've been here. They're the size of my thumb and I pray every night in my bedtime prayers that nothing will creep on me as I sleep. I think Heavenly Father has blessed me so far.
Maybe they're creeping on me and I just don't know it. Either way, I'm just glad I don't know. And at least we don't have mice. I think I'd really die then :(

Church on Sunday was beautifulllllllllllllllllll. People have planned
lessons and talks and our attendance is about 95. People came up to welcome me and we've already had three dinner appointments. Mostly with Sister Analyn--she is a SWEETHEART. She loves the missionaries and takes such good care of them. Her faith is a mountain. She was converted when Sister De Fiesta led the area. She has three children, and when she can find someone to take care of them, she comes out with
the missionaries as often as possible. Her family has basically
disowned her, but she hasn't missed one Sunday. There's a man in the branch who acts like Johnny Depp in Willy Wonka; he creeps me out kinda.

I had a McDonald's quarter pounder today, with french fries, and a coke zero float. I almost died of deliciousness. I never thought I'd be so happy to eat McDonald's??

Thats all. I asked for a memory card reader from the man here at the counter and he said he'd bring me one, but hasn't. So, I can't attach any pictures this time. I really haven't even taken any good ones to share, so don't worry, you're not missing out.

Oh also! Before I left, the Marinduques fed us like three times, Nanay
Luming made me ginataan, and I took pictures with everyone. Oh I actually do have good pictures to share of my beloved Naguilian
people. Sa susunod na lang. Sorry. Next time.

We are going to Banaue the Monday after my birthday. We have THREE baptisms ON my birthday. Yayyyyyyyy! What a birthday present, huh!?

I totally love you, momma! I totally love my Savior. He's right here
with me, on my right hand and on my left. I am so guided by him and by His spirit every day. I am grateful for their companionship.

I hope you have a happy happy Valentine's Day. Eat a whole box of delicious chocolates for me. Or get TCBY or something. Kiss Dudley and hug pop for me. Kiss my whole family for ME after you all get better again ;) I love you ALL so very much!! Thank you for all your prayers and love sent to me. I Love you GRANDMA and pray for you every day. Thanks for your prayers :) And give Matt a firm handshake for me. :)

So much love.
Sister Fork (another one I got this week)

P.S. Pray for me to be strong.
P.P.S. Victoria goes to Armenia the 24th! She says she is really struggling with the language. I love her.
Her letters make me LOL. She's written me about 4 times now.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Hello momma. I hope you are feeling somewhat better from your sicknesses. I'm sorry to hear that you have not been feeling well. Please know that you are always in my prayers. Hearing about all of the food you made makes me so hungrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy fort your cooking :). I miss your rolls!! I'm fine with the food here, though. I'm learning how to cook everything that Sister De Fiesta has made for me--I'm compiling all of my Filipino recipes in my cute little Asian, Hello Kitty notebook. Honestly mom, at this point, I am so confident with buying foods and veggies and meats and cooking. Don't worry one bit about us Americans. Once you've been in a place as long as this, and had a Filipino companion especially, you're fine. And its not like there is no civilization here--there are grocery stores and gas stations.

I also feel like I can communicate pretty well what I need in Tagalog. It's like a rollercoaster. I have days where I feel so confident in the language and Sister De Fiesta tells me my Tagalog is straight, but then I have days where I am confounded and cannot speak a word right. It reminds me of when I'd play my violin for concerts and things. If I knew I had a problem with a spot in a piece of music, and thought about it as I was playing, I'd mess up for sure. But if I just relied on the time that I had practiced, and trust in my practice, I would play it perfectly. It's was all mental. In this case, it's probably all spiritual.

Speaking of violin. There is a woman in our ward--the Relief Society president, Sister Arleen Tanyon--whose husband bought a violin from Japan for her daughter. She said she's been looking for someone to teach her daughter something on it, and asked if I could. So, Sister De Fiesta and I gave an hour of our Sunday, and I taught her 9 year old how to hold a bow correctly, how to sit up straight and hold her instrument, and what the parts of a violin are called. I tuned her violin and rosined her bow for her, and taught her the basics that I remember Mrs. Vanlandingham teaching us our first day. I gave her the assignment to practice her bow-hold 30x a day for the next week. :)

I am still in Naguilian until this Thursday--transfer dayyyyyy ahhhhhh! I have no idea what to expect from my new area, except that Sister De Fiesta calls it the promised land. So, I'm thinking it will be pretty nice. It was her former area. I don't feel nervous or scared or anything about the transition. I know that this is Heavenly Father's design. And I know that I will always be kept safe, as long as I am obedient. This was promised to me in my setting apart. So don't worryyyyy!!!

I taught Sunday school again this week. The lesson was on following the prophet, Elder RM Costa's talk last conference, and you know what? It was a piece of cake to me, compared to my first time teaching. People participated and understood me and didn't seem bored and read sciptures. It's amazing to see how Heavenly Father shapes people. When I was first told I would be teaching Sunday school I was kind of terrified, not gonna lie. But I feel like I've grown into those shoes, through the steady support and care of my loving Heavenly Father. After Sunday school, in Relief Society, Nanay Dulce turned to me and said, (in Tagalog) "Hopefully you wont be transfered this week. Your birthday is coming up soon. If you do have a transfer, leave us with a picture so we can remember you forever." Sweeeet. Then minutes later, Sister Arleen announced that I would be leaving. They said "mamimiss ka namin" and all of the Relief Society decided to have a small birthday/going away get-together at Nanay Lumings later tonight, after our lessons and FHE. There will be ginataan. :)) I was so touched. I did not realize that, despite my weakness in the language and teaching, I've actually touched people.

We taught Sister Sheela this week and I asked her to write her testimony for me. She got this worried look on her face and turned to Sister De Fiesta and said, "Bakit!?" (Why) "May transfer siya??" She wrote me a beautiful letter talking about all of the memories I've made with her and her family--doing laundry, cooking on her fire stove, washing her rice bowls, and doing magic for her babies--and her testimony. :) (I learned the magic from Sister De Fiesta.)

Sister Maryann had her baby on the 26th. I forgot to write about it last week. We saw her walking around one morning and she casually told us, "I'm in labor." Sister DF and I freaked out and ran around town, to members homes, trying to find her baby clothes that supplies that she didn't yet have. Her husband was out of town working, so Nanay Luming came to be with her while she had her baby. I've included a picture of her. I taught her how to swaddle the baby and some techniques that I've seen from my sister's in law, with nursing and such. It was so cuuuute to see her try to be a mommy. haha. Also, they let Sister De Fiesta and I think of some names for her. Her name is Diana Nicole.

So, at this beginning of this cycle, Sister De Fiesta had a dream about 6 people in white. I've learned, through being with her for this long, that she receives a lot of her personal revelation through her dreams. We made the goal to get 6 people ready for baptism by the end of our time together--we decided to fast every Sunday and pray for this. This week in President's letter to us, he expressed the need to extend baptismal dates. So, with every lesson we taught to an investigator--even if we had justmet them for the first time that day--we extended a baptismal date. Last night, we extended baptismal dates to the Sanchez family--five of them, the only five that were there at the time--and they accepted for March 16th! Also, Sister Hazel, a 17 year old girl who we've been teaching for the past two cycles, accepted her baptismal date for March 6th. (Also! May Rios has accepted a baptismal date for May 6th--to give her a goal to be married. Basically every time we go there to teach her, she teaches us.) Can you believe it? There are 6 people now, who we are now carefully preparing for the waters of baptism. It's amazing how things lay out sometimes. God truly is there, designing our lives, designing the lives of our investigators, and designing my mission.

Jillian sent me a letter with pictures and Chocolate mint gum and Jack Handy quotes. I didn't know if Sister De Fiesta would be able to understand the quotes, just because of the language barrier, but I read them to her last night and she laughed so hard. :) Tell JIllian thank you. I've been wearing her beautiful necklace every day.

Also, turns out I forgot how to play chess....(as you can see from the picture...) but J.R. Balbin from the branch refreshed my memory. :) We're on our second real game.
I'm allergic to mangos. Every time I eat them, my lips get itchy. But I still eat them, cause I love them with all my heart.
This is a rollercoaster mom. Some days I love it. Some days I want to go home. But I know that I am growing exponentially here in every way that could possibly prepare me for life. I want to spend my life serving my Heavenly Father and my Savior. I see the importance in it now. I see that it's the only way to live and be happy.

I love you sosososo much. Tell grandma I love her so much. I feel Grandpa with me very often :) Tell everyone how much I love them, and miss all of them! And kiss and hug the babies like crazy for me. Thank you all for EVERYTHING!!!!
Sister Fort