Monday, May 23, 2011
Momma, Thank you for your email. It was beautiful. The weather here has been crazy. Scorching hot from about 8am to 4pm and pouring rain and thunder from 5pm to 10pm. We still walk in the rain and in the heat and in the mud and on the hot pavement. Either my rubber shoes feel like they’re melting into my feet or they’re soup-full of water. We press forward still, every day, even when all of our appointments fall through--they're sleeping or hiding or out or “next time na lang” which is polite for "don’t come back."
The other day, I found out that Sister Roncal had lice. I noticed little white things attached to her hair folicals as we were waiting for one of our investigators to answer our knock. We immediately went home and I shampooed her hair with R.I.D. (good thing you sent those mom! You may send a few more, just incase. I told the mission nurse that I had a RID kit and she said, “That is some mom you have.” It's true. I am so blessed.)
We had to wash ALL of our clothes and bedding with boiling water (because there is no hot tap water of course). We have a stove that only fits two small pans. We boiled water and as we were in the middle of everything, ran out of gas. We had a new gas tank delivered, and shortly after, our electricity turned off and our water supply was cut. We continued and pumped our water from a pump out front. Our mission nurse called. I told her what was going on, and up until that point I was just silent, thinking...k, this is hard, but it has to be done. Sister Roncal voiced how hard it was. When I told our mission nurse, it sounded like she was almost crying on the other end saying, "Oh no you poor thingssss" And then I sobbed quietly.
We were out of work for two days because of our laundry and slept without pillows. I just kept thinking...this could be worse. I could have three babies with lice and carpet to clean. This mission is like mommy prep.
The next day, I picked nits out for 4 hours with my Revlon tweezers and Sister Roncal thanked me and cried. I shared the story about you and Pop, and she told me a similar story about her parents. It’s weird. There are people on the other side of the world experiencing the same things in a different culture and different language. Her dad is also 73 and her mom around 60. I think the lice thing was a way for us to grow a little closer together.
I had my first encounter with a sixth sense this week. Sister Roncal and I were teaching Brother Nelson in preparation for his baptism. We usually teach him at a members house, but the member was in the hospital having her baby, so we taught him at his antique home—which he is always saying that he doesn’t want to do. When we first entered, there were people gambling in the front, and the feeling was heavy. We taught him in the back room of the house—just us three—and in the middle of our lesson, I heard something like a screen squeaking on the outside of the back door. Like there was wind outside, but that night was perfectly calm. Nelson said, “Go away, we don’t want any visitors.” And I was kind of like….Huh? (confused face) and we kept teaching. The sound got louder and louder, and we ended with a prayer. Right when the prayer ended, the lights were turned off in the room, but in all of the other parts of the house the lights stayed on. As we left, Brother Nelson told us about a lot of his experiences in the home and said there was a bad spirit there. I got spooked on the way home and grabbed onto Sister Roncal, when a frog jumped out into the street in front of my stride.
Elder Miller went to Cauayan this past week. I told him there may be a package waiting for me and he said he’d bring it back to Solano. He texted me while they were there and said how HUGE the package was and “did he have to?” I thought maybe he was exaggerating and said that I’ve been waiting for this package my whole life and if he would bring it, I would have dinner ready for them all when they came back into town. He agreed.
Well, he wasn’t exaggerating. Hahah. It was HUGE. I felt really bad that I made him take it on the bus--which he said broke down and they had to all get off and wait for another bus. But I made them sopas and they were happy.
The package was from Michelle. THANK YOU SO MUCH MICHEELLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE I LOVE YOU!!!! I am going to write her a letter this week. I love everything.
Nelsons baptism was this past Saturday. There was a huge storm during the whole thing and right after his actual baptism, there was a brown out. I was conducting the intermediate hymns and right when the lights went out, the singing stopped also. We all just sat in the dark, waiting for the lights to come back on. It must’ve been a challenge for the baptized to re-dress.
Sunday we woke up at 530am to stop by some of our investigators homes to remind them to come to church. Of the four people we went to, none came to church. Sitting in Sunday school, I thought to myself...0 at church, again. Then the door opened and in came Perla Cadaboda. She lives the absolute farthest of all of our investigators--even members. She has a son who joined the church while away at school and is now serving a mission. We thought for sure she wouldn't come to church this week, but she showed up and attended all four meetings. In sacrament, she leaned to me and whispered, "my son is going to be so proud of me that I am going to church." :)
President emailed us this week about a storm coming to our mission. He sent us a lot of emergency preparedness things that we need to do and I am not worried one bit. I know the lord watches over his mssionaries. Just pray.
I love you so much and I hope you are all well. Happy birthday to my beautiful Sister and handsome Brothers. I love them all. Thank you again Michelle, Gordon, and Alainna for all the wonderful things I really needed them, THANK YOU!!!!!
I love you GRANDMA! I LOVE you ALL!!
Your nit picker,
P.S. CONGRATULATIONS to Ivor and Natalie. They are getting married this 27th. Ivor wrote me such a beautifully written letter that made me cry. Please tell Sister Morgan that she is a beautiful force of a woman and has changed more lives than she probably believes. I love her.
Hello Momma friends and FAMILY.
This week was a crazy week. Lots of ups and downs.
Tuesday we had our first district meeting with our new district. It was sad to not be with the same elders as the last two cycles, but Sister Roncal and I learned a lot about making and setting goals and being accountable for them. There was little laughter. :/ After district meeting, we practiced with all of the elders in the zone for the jubilee celebration at the Bayombong capitol on Saturday. They asked us to sing Called to Serve.
In my journal this week, I wrote down all of the things I miss. I miss painting to music and playing my guitar for the few seconds I'm waiting for you before we leave the house. I miss falling asleep to a movie. I miss grocery shopping with you. I miss turkey sandwiches. It’s O.K. though, it’s good to miss everything from time to time. I’m fine ;)
Saturday we sang at the captiol. I've included pictures from it. This is our whole Zone minus the Zone leaders--they had their own jubilee celebration to attend. It was such a beautiful presentation---full of singing old Ilokano and Ifugao folk songs and lots of dancing. The Filipino culture is really a beautiful one, and I am so honored to have been blessed with such a colorful mission, however challenging it may be for me.
Yesterday we had a lot of members work with us--something weve been struggling with for a little while. We worked in Bonfal and a lot of our investigators decided to hide or were not home. So we tracted into this one old lady. We taught her about how God is our loving Heavenly Father, but she started talking about how she is a healer and heals herself and all of these creepythings., But in the middle of the lesson, a man cme around from out of nowhere and asked if he could join. He stayed silent for most of the time as we bore testimony to this old lady healer. Until I asked him if he would pray to know if what we were teaching was true. He said he would and that he's seen us go to the San Mateo's house for a while and has been wanting to join our church. We told him things he needs to do--listen to our message, come to church, read, pray, etc. And scheduled an appointment with him.
There is so much more to say and share and I'm sorry that I don’t have more time. I miss sometimes the guidance and comfort that comes from talking to my friends and family--especially you momma.
I haven't received any mail yet. :/ For about a month now.
I love you all so much and of course I pray for you always. I love you Grandma and hope that you are well. Stay healthy for me.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Hello mommaaaaaaa, My Poppa, My Sisters and Brothers and Friends :)
We are in an internet shop that is playing country music really loud. Andddddd its reminding me of those times Alainna and I would sing Sarah Evans at the tops of our lungs or the times V Burnham and I would hop around in my room at Tuscany with Taylor Swift playing so loud. I'm trying not to listen? But its impossible.
People call me Taylor Swift here.
Wednesday we had a community service project in our area...one of the farthest places in our area--P.D. Galima. All of the elders met at our apartment around 6am. I made them eggs with potatoes, toast, rice, and cut up some apples. Monday night, I baked a cake at Sister Analyn's house and there was a lot left over that Sister Analyn gave us. We fed the cake to the elders. :) Our service project was to clean around a neighborhood sign and paint it bright orange. Sister Levi knew that I was an artist and she gave me the assignment of painting--even though painting something like a neighborhood sign is pretty much a piece of cake for anyone to do, I was nevertheless flattered by the trust she put in me. She is the neighborhood captain type person and a member. Some of the elders worked on a small garden that is owned by the purok captain. They made us pancit and grape juice and we all sat in platic chairs and ate underneath a collection of trees in the heat. It has been SO HOT LATELY. But President says this is the coolest part of the mission. So I am grateful to be here.
Later that day, after our service project, the sister trainers came into town and did splits with Sister Roncal and I. They got here kind of late and hadn't eaten, so I made them some lipton soup with veggies and egg and they ate first. We did a companionship study and planning session with them and I was paired with Sister Stewart. She's American and is actually going home this week. It was a treat to work with someone I can communicate so freely with. I look up to Sister Stewart a lot. We were able to talk and relate to each other about how we sometimes feel as trainers and I got a lot off of my chest. We got about 3 hours work in, which is really not a lot of time, but we were able to catch one person at their home and teach a lesson. We showed up to one of the homes where our investigator had a baptismal date for May 14 ...we've been teaching him for a while, he's 13. And the people there were like, "Oh hes not here anymore. He went to get circumsized and wont be back for two weeks" ?!?!?!?! They were really naunchalaunt about it...And I think they may have seen from my face that I was a little shocked. I dont know...excuses like that just dont come up every day. We will go back after two weeks. Anyway, Sister Stewart shared a little something with me that made me so happy. She said that they have an investigator now in Cauayan that said knew me. She said one day Sister Jose and I talked to her and she felt something really special when I spoke. The thing is...I worked with Sister Jose once in Cauyan--we were on splits for a day--and that was my first area, so my Tagalog was probably still 2 year old style. It just helped me see, that even when I think what I am doing is for naught...its really...not. Even the smallest thing, like an OYM in 2-year-old Tagalog, can bring someone to listen to the missionaries 6 months later.
OH! San Mateo family! So...remember how I said brother had to go to Santiago to meet with president? Well, Sister Roncal and I fast for them to be able to be baptized as a couple. Right after our fast that day, Elder Miller texted us and said that President said he woudln't have to anyway...that his faith was sufficient because he was ready to make the trip. What a blessing! We texted the San Mateo family the news and they responded in all caps and exclamation marks that they were so happy. They were baptized on Saturday as a couple and bore the most beautiful testimonies about how much their lives have changed since they've been learning about the gospel. They cried as they spoke. Brother gave the closing prayer, and it was so personal, thanking Heavenly Father that he was baptized. I am SO HAPPY FOR THEM. I love them.
Saturday night and Sunday morning we watched the jubilee celebration. The church has been in the Philippines for 50 years. They honored the first set of missionaries here, and it was cool to think that I am a tiny tiny part of that growth. You know...how the work of the Lord will go forth with or without your help? Well...I'm so glad I'm helping. I'm so grateful--however difficult it gets sometimes--that I was blessed with this time to serve my Savior and Redeemer. To help him bring lost sheep into his fold.
(The San Mateo family are the two holding the babies)
I get to talk to you all this weekkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkYAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY1!!! You can call me Sunday morning and Sunday night. Like you did around Christmas. This is my number: 0639274982114. Type that exactly into your phone.
Also Sister Breese wants me to tell you that she is from Houston! Shes adorable. I love herrrrrr. She reminds of you. :) I will have to visit her when I get home. She and Elder Breese work in the office with other couple missionaries.
Also I haven't received any mail since the last time I told you. No one from Cauayan has come here since. But this Tuesday theyre coming and I should have the package from Michelle.
I love you so much. This week, the 4th, I'm HALFWAY!!!! Can you believe it?
Our struggles sound like the sisters. We find lots of people who are willing to listen, but they dont make the effort to come to church. Take pictures of them! I wanna see them! Tell them I say hi. I dont know what else to sayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
Oh we have transfers this week. I'm not sure what will happen, but I'll let you know when you call.
Tell poppa I loved his letter. I sent you all a letter to Sister Manzone to give to her for me. I love you all so much, hug and kiss everyone for me, and extra hugs and kisses to all our little babies that I miss seeing grow. PICTURES would be so WONDERFUL! Thank you all for being such a great support to me in every way. I feel your prayers and need them. Thank YOU! Tell Jillian I love her too, and thanks for her letters.
Momma, I get to speak to you on Saturday your time Sunday my time!!!! YIPPEEEEEEEEE!!! I can hardly wait to hear your voice and Pop and whoever else might just be around. I love YOU, Momma, you are the best Momma ever :) and I miss you too!
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Dear momma and all of My Family and Friends,
I sent you pictures of a CSP we did last week. We harvested rice for
an investigator in Bayombong. I took my sandals off, squished my feet
in the mud, and used a machete to cut the bundles of rice. We were
there from 7 to about 10, then ate monggo beans and ampalaya that the
investigator cooked by their charcoal stove.
This last Wednesday, President and Sister Carlos came into town for
our Nueva Vizcaya zone meeting. The meeting was on small and simple
things—how if we focus on the little things as missionaries, like
study and prayer and obedience, the outcome is great. Elder Miller and
I prepared to sing, “I know Heavenly Father Loves Me”..the primary
song. Elder Miller “doesn’t sing,” but I roped him into it. No one in
our zone plays the piano, so it was acapella. It was so simple, but it
turned out not too bad. Sister Carlos cried. She shared with how we
need to talk to everyone and told us about a mission that strives to
do 30 oyms in a day—which is kindddddaaaaaa a lot. The highest Sister
Roncal and I have gotten is 23. But we are always striving to improve.
President Carlos shared a clip from an address Elder Holland gave to
the MTC this past January about a dialogue between Peter and Christ.
Christ asked Peter three times if he loved Him and Christ told him to
feed his sheep. The address was powerful and brought me to silent
tears. President interviewed every one of us and I told him that I am
so hard on myself sometimes. He said, “I know you are Sister Fort.
Stop it.” And he gave me some beautiful counsel. He asked if there was
anything he could do for me, and I asked for a blessing. The blessing
said that I am here in this mission, in this area, training Sister
Roncal for a reason that will be revealed to me at another time. It
said that my service is accepted by my Heavenly Father, and that there
are people waiting just for me. It said for me to continue in my
service, and my teaching will become “masterful.” It also said that I
have always been guided by the spirit and will continue to be guided
by the spirit.
It made me think of Elder Bednar’s talk…about how we sometimes don’t
even realize when we are being guided by the spirit. I LOVED that
After my interview with President, he said, “find a new apartment
Sister Fort.” So, after we ate meatball sandwiches provided by Brother
Pete—who finds amazing pearls and caribou bone belts—and chocolate
cookies in the foyer of the church, Sister Roncal and I got to work.
We talked to so many people about the gospel in our search for an
apartment, and I think President’s guidance was inspired—even if he
didn’t exactly mean for us to look for an apartment THAT DAY. We
taught one lesson to a woman about forever families, and she told us
her hair on her whole body stood up when we bore testimony. We found
another family with two children who participated—both the husband and
the wife (Which is so rare. Men here can be so hardheaded.)—And
prayed. We also found a man who fixes electric fans for a living, and
who welcomed us into his home. We taught him about prophets. We also
found an apartment—Yayyy! It has tile and running water, is private,
and quiet, and lovely in every way, also, affordable to the mission.
This last Friday was Good Friday and here, when its Good Friday, no
one goes out of their houses—needless to say we were challenged to
find work. They also do that thing at night where they crucify
themselves in the streets and beat themselves with whips. I am lucky
that I saw none of that. So, so lucky.
Saturday we had a baptism! Brother Jershon Hore. He’s 12. I sent a
picture. He bore his simple testimony and closed “and this is my
prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” Cute. His father has been a
member for a long time and served a mission even, but there have been
complications with the child’s baptism until now. He is so happy to
finally be baptized, and to officially be a part of the Young Men’s
We have another baptism coming up this next Saturday. The San Mateo
family—a young couple who have two young children (ages 2 and 6
months). Sister Roncal and I have been fasting and praying for them.
They are experiencing a lot of challenges this week…their faith is
definitely being tried. But I remember this Sister when I first was
transferred here…she refused to pray. And Brother was confused about
his answer, but they have been struggling through, and Sister actually
smiles and jokes with us when we show up. They come to church every
Sunday, and the changes that have happened in their lives are SO CLEAR
to see. It is amazing what the gospel can do for people.
Brother has to travel to Santiago for an interview with President this
week before their baptism, which is far for them and costs money that
they don’t have. When we first told him this was necessary, he
expressed that it would be difficult and that he would just wait for
when President comes to town (which is not for a long time). We shared
with him about Enos, and how this was a trial of his faith. We also had
him watch a beautiful DVD about John Tanner--a man in the time of
Joseph Smith who basically gave ALL he had for the gospel. By the end
of the lesson, he committed to go to Santiago. Sister Roncal and I are
fasting for them today.
I have been reading Jesus the Christ in my personal study. President
shared once a story about a boy named Gordon who felt distanced from
the spirit and the Savior, but the answer that came to Gordon was that
he needed to learn more of the Savior and that the spirit he wanted
would come gradually. I have been focusing on my Savior in my personal
study, and it has been so refreshing. Everything else that is tangled
in my mind—my lack of faith, the things I’m doing right and wrong as a
trainer, the struggles of our investigators—it all irons out around
the atonement. If I just focus on that one simple thing—my closeness
to my savior—great things come to pass. If you haven’t read the book,
I suggest you do. It’s beautiful.
Thank you momma for your packages. I did give a lot of candy away to
Elder Miller and his companion cause I adore them so much. They were
grateful. I gave the coloring kit to some screaming kids on our street
and they were so excited to go home and do it. We just have no time to
I had a dream last night that I taught two lessons and really thought
about asking our district leader if we could count the lessons in our
KIs for the week. But then I woke up for realz. Sister Roncal said she
heard me talking in my sleep.
I feel my Tagalog getting better. I really do. Sometimes after a
lesson, I think, “Ummm…I was never able to do that before my
mission….at least I’ve learned something!” And in our language study,
I write a letter or something in Tagalong and Sis. Roncal will correct
it. And she writes in English and I correct it. She could only find
spelling errors. Yayyyyy.
I love you so much momma. Thank you for all you do for me. I think I
just want pictures from my family? That’s what I want most. I have
nothing to show anyone. Can you develop real pictures? I miss seeing
everyone. Also any kind of healthy snack. OH! Matt sent me a ton of
CDs and I listened and listened to them and guess what. My player
quit. It’s dead. I think because of the moisture here. :( I am so
upset, because music is such a relief for me here.
Yesterday I craved tortalini’s. Wah.
I love you and everyone so much! Tell poppa I love him, and tell everyone in the family how much I love and miss them too, and tell Matt I am using his sticky notes. I Love you my GRANDMA :)