Monday, July 25, 2011

New Developments/Some SIGHs.....

Dear Momma, family and friends.
I wish this week could be erased for my sweet companion :(
Wednesday night Sister Roncal and I were lying in bed with the lights out, around 10:30ish, when I saw we got a text. I checked it. It as from a number our phone didn't recognize and it said,"President Malingcmot. pls tell sis.roncal to come home, her father is fast away." I was really confused for a few seconds, closed our cell phone to the front screen, then thought to reopen it. I realized when I re-read it, it said that Sister Roncal's father had died. I forwarded the text to President Carlos right away. Sister Roncal asked me who I was texting and I lied that I was texting an elder. President called about two seconds later, and told us we needed to come to Cauayan first thing in the morning--be there by 8am. So, I told Sister Roncal that I didn't know why, but President asked us to come to Cauayan. I set our alarm for 3am, and we left the house at 5 the next morning.
When we got to Cauayan, President had breakfast for us. We ate, then President escorted Sister Roncal into his office, and told her to call her family. I waited outside of the office with President and Sister Carlos. They asked me if she knew anything, and I told them she didn't. A few seconds later, we heard Sister Roncal sobbing so loudly. Sister Carlos and I ran in. I stroked Sister Roncals hair and Sister Carlos rubbed her back and shoulders as she shook and howled. She dropped the headset of the phone, and sobbed into her hands repeatedly saying, "I love my father, I love my father, my father is died." Sister Carlos offered beautiful words of comfort, and all I could do was listen and stroke Sister Roncal's hair. President came in and counseled her as well.
President told us we would stay at the mission home for a few days, until Sister Roncal was ready to leave. He made us leftover porkchops and mashed potatoes and gravy. I restrung all of the guitars in the mission home, while Sister Roncal read her pouch and letters. She had me write a letter to her stake president to read at her father's funeral--she didn't feel like writing, but she told me everything she wanted to say. It was a beautiful letter. We took a nap. I heard Sister Roncal silently crying to herself by my side. Sister Carlos invited us to make dinner with her later on. We made Thai shrimp and ate with President, Sister Carlos, and Sister and Elder Breese. Later that night we played Mexican train with them all and the APs.
We slept with air conditioning and took real showers.
The next morning, we sent the letter to Sister Roncals stake president that she wrote, and she called her family again. She's decided to stay in the mission field.
We ate pancakes for breakfast, and President let us watch a movie before we took the 4 hour busride home--4 hours, because our bus broke down. We watched The Ultimate Gift.
Work has been so difficult. Sister Roncal is having a hard time finding the will to work. She's been struggling to smile and be happy with very good reason. I wish I could be a better comfort to her. I keep thinking of what Sister Morgan might say. Maybe something like, "let her feel her pain for a little while." or "crying is good, get all that gunk out." And everytime she feels like forgetting and not thinking, I tell her to take a nap or watch a church dvd on our portable player. We looked forward to our baptism on Saturday with Sister Perlita. It was like the light at the end of our week of horror.
Well, Saturday came, and so did Perlita--she showed up at the church an hour before her baptism. Sister Roncal and I were so excited to see her there. We started the program with a hymn and talks. An 8 year old in the ward was baptized, then it was Perlita's turn. Elder Lien and Rocaberte taught brother Nelson how to baptize about 4 times before the program, so he was ready. Our district leader didn't come.
The first time she was dunked, her head didn't go under, the second time her foot, the third time, she dunked herself. She was dunked about 6 times. Between every dunking my heart just sank and sank and sank. Sister Perlita is 66 years old and afraid of water. She began to cry. I wanted to tell her to just keep her feet down and let Nelson take the lead and just relax, but I didn't know how to say any of those things in Tagalog. I was frustrated. She started to walk out of the water saying, "can we just reschedule?" Sister Roncal and I went to the back of the font to try to talk to her and remind her that her baptism needed to be done properly, and that this is the only true church--that she felt it herself. She said, "I've never had to be dunked so many times in other religions. I've been baptized before but never like this. Next time na lang."
Sister Roncal grabbed Sister Perlita's shoulders, looked her in the eye, and began to cry, saying, "Sister Perlita, I have been looking forward to your baptism for so long and I am here now to see it. I should be going home to see my dead father, but I am here because I wanted to see you be baptized." Sister Roncal began to sob, "My father died this week! I love him so much, but I am here. And you are what is supposed to make me happy. President told me to look forward to this and I did." Everyone who was in attendance at the baptism (not many of us...about 10), by this time was crowding around Perlita in the tiny hallway, and it was dead silent. No one knew why we were in Cauayan for the past two days, until this moment. Members began to sob also.
Sister Perlita turned and walked straight into the women's restroom, changed into her regular clothes, and sat back down in the room. We continued the program and Sister Roncal cried into her handkerchief. President spoke about the importance of being baptized by the proper authority. Sister Perlita stood up and said, "This is all I will say. I have never experienced being dunked in water like that at any other baptism of mine, and I will take this as a sign that I should stay true to my promise to my dead husband and remain in our church."
We had prepared a musical number for her. We stood up and sang "I Feel My Savior's Love." And I couldn't get through the song without choking. Sister Roncal still sobbed into her handkerchief.
Sister Perlita was not baptized.
I thought about maybe if we did something wrong. Or if maybe Heavenly Father was just protecting her from making a decision/covenant that she's not yet ready to make. I'm just not sure how to feel or what to think about it. I woke up the next morning, Sunday morning, with this feeling like I had had a nightmare. But then I realized, nope...that actually happened ;/
What a tough week :/
We found out from President that there will be a transfer, despite the happenings of this week. I peeked at the transfer board and saw that I will be transfered to Tuguegarao--the hottest place in the entire Philippines. HAaaa ;/ An Elder I know who served there, Elder Bates, said that every day his face was dripping with sweat. I will be follow-up training. Things are still subject to change up until transfer day, this Thursday. But this is just what I saw. Oh well, it will be alright ;/
The members here put on a little going away party for me Friday night. They blindfolded me and made me touch parts of this girl's body and guess what it was--arm, hand, ear, hair--then they stuck my finger inside of a tomato. I wanted to scream. We got pictures. They went around and each member gave me a little message--we have it recorded on my camera--and they made me sing "Come come ye saints." We've been taking lots of goodbye pictures with members. The first picture I've attached is of Sister Pancho...she is really old, but sharp in her mind. She reminds me of Mulan's ancestors in the disney movie. The last picture is of us at our last coordination meeting. It was special. I will miss everyone here.
Anyways. I love you. Keep us in your prayers always. I pray for all of my family. Tell my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, GRANDMA, I miss them and love them. Kiss my little beebees for me. And kiss Dudley for me too ;)LOL

Saturday, July 23, 2011


To my dearest momma! And to my sweet family and friends!
Thank you so much for your encouraging letters. They mean so much to me.
This last Wednesday was our zone meeting. President came into town and interviewed us one by one--our 6 month interviews. Sister Roncal went before me. When I went in and sat down, President asked me how I was. I said I was fine. He said, "Do you you know that you're my hero? You're Sister Carlos' hero. You're incredible. You've absolutely blossomed. You're amazing. You're wonderful." He went on and on and I couldn't help but cry. He knows that 80 percent of the time I dont feel these things about myself. He told me that I am so hard on myself, but that I need to know that God is 100 percent accepting of my service. He asked me what was in my mind and heart. I shared with him my memory of one of my first interviews with him. He told me a story about a girl who wanted to go home every day of her mission, but by the end of the mission, she said, "I did it!" Then I told him how I sometimes want to go home too, but I got a letter from YOU, momma, that said, "You're doing it!" And honestly, every time I've felt like I've wanted to go home this past little while, I just think, "You're doing it!" President told me about a time when he wanted to go home on his mission. He cried when he told it to me. It was a sweet, sweet moment/interview and I have been on a cloud since. I think because that interview helped me actually see so clearly what my mission has thus far done for me. I am so grateful to have had my eyes opened.
Sister Roncal came to know from President that I will be transferred this next cycle. I am heartbroken, but ready at the same time. We will see where I am going/who I will be with not this next email, but the one after. I will let you know as soon as possible. I am just praying at this point, to be in an area and with a companion that Heavenly Father knows will continue to shape and mold me into who he wants me to be. As difficult or as sweet or as whatever it may be, I am willing to take whatever Heavenly Father sees fit for me.
This Saturday, Sister Perlita Patajo will be baptized!!! I am sososososoossosososo excited for her. This has been a journey of patience and challenges and changes and shouting wrong Tagalog in her ears cause she's hard of hearing. I have seen so many changes in Perlita. She is happy. She is SO far into the Book of Mormon and has set a goal to be finished with it by her baptism. She will be baptized by...dun dundunnnnnnnn(triumph music)...Nelson Pasion! Our recent convert. As we were filling out Perlita's baptism papers, with names and things, we realized that the two of them are actually family.
Perlita has been struggling to get a distinct answer to her prayer about whether or not Joseph Smith is a true prophet. We know and feel that she has a testimony, but she has just been wanting a direct sign or dream or something. We felt impressed to have her watch the Joseph Smith Restoration movie--the 1 hour version. Sister Roncal was sent a copy from her friend in Cebu. We watched it with her and she cried through the whole thing. She told us afterwards that she received her answer.
This last week, we were really tight on money, right before our support was coming in. Sister Roncal and I couldn't afford a tricycle, so we walked from Lactawan, Sister Perlitas home, to our apartment on Yogad St. It took us an hour, and I calculated that it was probably a three mile walk? But the whole time I walked I just thought about the pioneers and about my savior (Mosiah 3:7--reciting that scripture in my head) and trudged forward in my rubber shoes. Our legs were tired and we slept well that night.
Today we went to Batad rice terraces. Which is just past Banaue. We left at 4:30am and got there around 8/9ish. We walked a bajillion steps down and up and climbed over rocks and at one point I thought I might die of fatigue. But we had plenty of water and food and that was just me being dramatic. Our jeepney driver was a hired member from Lagawe with one eye, and the roads were steep and rocky and...well...close to high cliffs and things. I prayed a lot on our journey, and was confident the Lord would let me finish out my mission. :) As I type this email now, my head is pounding. So I hope my thoughts are coherent and I say everything I want to!
What else...the branch is putting on a going away party for me on Saturday night. Sweet. :) They want me to make them ice cream.
We had a beautiful lesson with one of our investigators, Chris Peralta. After so many lessons with him that just haven't felt like they've been getting through, he sent us a text one night saying that he knows his heart is hard. Our next lesson we had planned to teach him about baptism and enduring to the end, but as we sat there and followed up on his prayer, we both felt differently. He told us he hadn't cried in so long, because he is a tough guy. Neither one of us knew what scripture we would share as we opened with our hymn and prayer, but during the prayer a scripture came to mind--1Nephi 2:16. We had him read it one line at a time, and when he read about crying to the Lord and having his heart softened, he looked shocked. This was his answer, coming straight from heaven. He came to church on Sunday for the second time in about 6 weeks!
Mommaaaaa I love you! And I am coming home in 6 months! Crazy huh??? It'll go by fast. The first picture I attached is of one of my fave families--Brother Anthony and Mila Fernandez. Brother Anthony is an investigator of ours and when I told him I would be leaving he was really sad. They want to come to my wedding. :)
That’s all I can think of??? Pray for me. I always pray for you. I sent grandma and Alainna letters last week. They should be getting them soon.
Sister Fort

Monday, July 18, 2011


Hello my Momma and my family and friends!!! I miss everyone every day!
Last Monday we went to Banaue with the other district--Elder Lien's district (For some reason my new district went last week without telling us??...meh.) We climbed a billion steps and our legs were sore until about Thursday. I miss my old districts.
Tuesday we taught Perla Cadabona about tithing. We shared scriptures about how all we have belongs to God and all he asks is 10 percent. She had a lot of questions and concerns. We did our best to resolve them. We had her kneel in prayer and ask Heavenly Father if Joseph Smith was a prophet on the spot. She did and told us she felt warm all over. We testified that what she felt was the Spirit bearing witness.
On Thursday, we went back for our return appointment with her. We followed up on her scripture reading and prayer and Word of Wisdom. She hasn’t had a drop of coffee since and has been reading the Book of Mormon every night by a flashlight, on her stairway while her husband is asleep or drunk. We asked her if she had any questions about our last visit. She said, “Well, I am meaning to tell you that I don’t want to become Mormon anymore. And I’m not going to come to church on Sunday. And our Family Home Evening here on Monday night wont be happening either.” I felt my heart drop. We asked her what has changed her mind so suddenly. She said she spoke to her husband about tithing and fast offering—which she always does…she shares with her husband everything we’ve shared with her thus far—and he said something to the extent of, “Wow, those Mormons really ask a lot, no wonder they’re all rich.” I thought about people in church history, like John Tanner and John Rowe Moyle, who gave all they had to God—who will be rich in the eternities.
We asked her if we could share a message anyways. We shared the story about Abinadi, how he testified of the truth he felt until his death. We pointed out that she had felt the truthfulness of what we’ve taught her, and that both Sister Roncal and I have seen such beautiful changes in her since we’ve been teaching her. I shared with her that I know the truth, and I would share it to my death, like Abinadi. At the end of our message, I think Sister Roncal and I were both expecting a change of heart and mind, but she repeated again that she wont become Mormon and that she wont come to church. We left without a marienda and walked the long road from her house to the highway. (Remember how I said a while ago that we felt like coming to Perla was right, even though she was so far away, because there was always a tricycle to take us back to the city. That was a little sign? Well. This last time, there was no tricycle. We took this as another sign.)
She didn’t come to church on Sunday.
We are worried for Sister Perlita now, because she always asks in our teaching how Sister Perla is doing…dah. We are working to get a good fellowshipper for her, close to her age. Her baptism is on the 23rd and we are doing all we can to get her solid and ready. She did come to church yesterday, and sat next to our branch president's wife, who has agreed to work with us the next time we go to Perlita.
We found a man named Jimmy Valdez yesterday. He was an OYM of Sister Banks and I, forever ago. We went to his house—which is really far—about a week after we OYMed him, but only his wife was there. She said they were Iglesia ni Cristo and were not interested, so we never went back. Well, back when the Jubilee was going on, the elders gave us a referral…it was Jimmy Valdez…they had talked to him about the gospel and he wanted to hear. Well, Sister Roncal and I have gone back there about 4 or 5 times, but he hasn’t been home or he’s had friends over or something something. We went back yesterday agaaain and found him! He was home, and our lesson was so so so beautiful. He shared so much of himself and his hardships and testimony of God. It’s moments like that that I LIVE for here—I love when people are honest and pure and broken. We testified of Joseph Smith and before we could even ask him to pray about it he interrupted us saying, “Naniniwala ako, naniniwala ako.” (I believe, I believe) We committed him to pray anyways, and he was like, “I promise; I’ll pray and ask tonight.” We have a return appointment this week with his whole family.
Remember Sister Fernandez and her husband? Well, we’ve taught him a bunch and have invited him to church for about three weeks now. He comes every week, but refuses to come inside…he's really shy. Yesterday, during sacrament, he walked into the chapel in his jeans and flip flops and I smiled so big. That was such a big, big step for him! After all of our lessons he’s always like, “Thanks God. Nagpapasalamat ako na nakilala ko kayo.” (I’m so grateful that I’ve met you.) It’s toughhhhhh tough tough here. The other day Sister Roncal and I watched a video about Emma Smith. She was so beautiful and strong and courageous. I wish I could be at least half of who she was.
I have 6 months left of my mission August 4th. Can you believe it???
Anyways. Thats all I can think of to send. I love you so much. Tell Matty hi! I love you all my sweet family and friends! Kiss the babies for me and tell them I think of them very often and how big they must have grown. I love you grandma! NO Pic's this time, sorry.
Your beebee,
Sister Fort

Monday, July 4, 2011


Dear momma and Pop, family and friends,
We have just gotten back from Banaue and I have maybe ten or fifteen minutes to write. I can't send any pictures because I am in a computer shop that doesn't have a memory card reader...what’s new.

I loved your emails. I am printing them off.

I want to say so much but I have no time. So frustratinggggg.

Its fourth of July! Woo. My fave holiday back home. I celebrated here by walking 109898827687262 stairs on the 8th wonder of the world and getting dizzy on the jeepney ride home. I am 11 months into the mission today. 7 months left, momma.

This past week we had our first district meeting with Elder Arabia as our district leader. He's good. He taught about the importance of helping our investigators to come to church--which is a difficult topic, because people have their free agency...if they don't want to come to church cause its raining or because they don’t want to pay a tricycle ride, they wont. After we ended our meeting, he did some magic tricks and told some jokes, and I think this will be a good cycle with him as our leader.

Wednesday we did a CSP in their area...we pulled weeds and grass for about 1 hour, then ate for about three. Don't ask how that works out. The member insisted we stay while she cooked everything from scratch. With the time that took and the time it took to get back to our area and shower, we got to work that day around 5pm! dah! But we managed to still fit in four lessons.

Our lessons with Sister Perla and Perlita are SO FUN. In the tricycle ride home from teaching them both one day, I couldn't stop smiling...I realized I was smiling...then kind of stopped to asked myself why I was smiling so much. I realized that it was because of the amazing changes I've seen in these two people for the past three months. I can see why being a mother would be such a joy. Their baptisms are going to go through, I know it. They both know that what we've been sharing with them is true. They will both be baptized on the 23rd of this month, possibly my last baptism in this area--I'm due for a transfer.

Saturday I made pancit for the first time, and Sister Roncal made rice coffee. Which is soooooooooooooooo good. I'm going to make it for you when I get home.

We are doing an FHE tonight with the Ambrose family.

Momma. I miss you so much. And thank you for sending those pictures! I thought about my little beebee nephews and nieces and how I haven’t seen them in so long and how different they must look. They are beautiful and gorgeous and everything lovely. I miss my brothers and sisters. I miss everyone.

DAH, no time. iufhoighlskwoighowijroweifjolifjlskgjorieojgoijghoij I love you and miss you and miss you and miss you and miss you and miss you. I can’t wait to watch a movie at home in my spandex pants with a big bowl of salad with YOU! Love you everyone and miss you all! I love you Grandma, stay strong for me.