Monday, February 10, 2014

Week Labing-Wal​o: Goodbye Jaya

Today is my last day of my training in the field. I've officially been in the Philippines for twelve weeks, and now I've "graduated" in a sense to the real missionary mantel. This is brilliant in some aspects, such as not being viewed as the greenie as much (which trust me, with my last name, I get enough jokes as it is), I'll hopefully have a little more self confidence, and perhaps as a missionary with the newly bestowed privilege of taking off my training wheels, I'll have the opportunity to show my leaders that I'm ready to step up to the challenge. This new page is rather bitter-sweet though, since my trainer, guide, and companion, Sister Jayasekara, is going home. Her eighteen months are up, her mission over. Yesterday was our last real day of missionary work together, which was beyond surreal. It was odd to have little reminders of "the last time", like "this is the last time I'm going to triple check with Sister Jaya if she has the keys", "this is the last time we'll teach a lesson together", and "this is the last time we'll be hideously rejected together". The past twelve weeks with Sister Jaya have been wonderful, tearful, stressful, hilarious, and spiritual. A mixture of ups and downs, but always ending with a smile. Sister Jaya has taught me so much about patience, obedience, and humility. She was, is, and always will be a fantastic missionary. She is returning with honor for sure. I am super blessed to have her as my trainer, and even more blessed to have her as a friend. Today is our last day as companions. Tomorrow, I go to the chapel in the morning to meet and pick up my new kasama. I'm excited, but also kind of scared as this entire week, my mind has been plagued by the anxious and childish question: "What if they don't like me?" I know, so much for taking off the training wheels, right? I mean, I know I'll be fine. My more logical state of mind is telling me I'm silly for stressing about this. I've just never been one super stoked about change, and the horror stories (or mountains to climb) that I've heard about clashing companionships are enough to make me nervous. The suspense is killing me! Whatever. It's all going to be good. Next week you'll get to here about the new kasama and me having adventures and teaching up a storm.

It's quite warm here in the Phillies. My parents sent me pictures of their snow storm in Japan and I nearly died from wanting it so bad. You know how a few weeks ago I was telling you all how I heated water so I could have hot showers? Yeah, no more of that. Now, the cold bucket shower is the ultimate relief from the heat. Right now, my best friends are my fan, my bucket shower, and my water bottle.
This week was fun. Very frantic with a lot of change going on, but fun all the same. We taught Laarni again, who I am basically jiving to teach again (tomorrow!), because ugh, does she have potential. She doesn't just sit passively and nod and pretend that she's understanding or listening. When we had her read things for us, she would stop mid sentence and ask for the definition of a word immediately if she didn't know it. She's really great about asking questions, and she seems genuinely interested in the gospel. Tomorrow, we're watching the Restoration video with her. I'm really excited for her, I think that she's open-minded and humble enough to progress. 

Sister Jaya and I really upped our game on OYMing (open your mouth) this week, which is when we just walk up to random people and ask if we can teach them. On a day of low lessons, when everyone had cancelled on us (again), Sister Jaya and I just started tracting and OYMing, and we met three different people, and all three of them in a row let us teach them! Progressing! Love it! I also was on a Jeepney the other day and there was a woman and her daughter sitting across from me, and even though I was nervous I just felt prompted to talk to her, so I did and we gave them a pass along card. She said we could teach, but she wanted to ask her husband first. So hopefully she calls us.

Sister Jaya had to go to a departing missionaries career workshop, so two sister missionaries, the companions of the other departing girls, were entrusted to my care. So me, the greenie, led around Sister Fabia and Sister Iqbal - two great missionaries. Sister Fabia is an adorable Filipina with great english who looks like she should be Disney's first Filipina Princess. She's basically adorable, and I love her and how she can so easily talk with other people. She really helped me during language study pronouncing words and helping me phrase doctrine in my own style. Sister Iqbal is from Pakistan and she is even more determined than me to get into houses! I waited for five minutes, occasionally calling "Tao po!" to a house, but then I sighed and made to leave, but then Sister Iqbal hammers on the door for another five minutes, yelling "TAO PO!" every ten seconds. Wow, she is determined, and I like that a lot. 

I really wanted to impress these sisters, and show them that I'm a competent missionary, so I perfectly planned out a good full day of lessons for us and was confident in that plan. I just really want to show everyone that I can do this, since a lot of the time, I'm tempted to feel like I can't. Stupid nagging thoughts, go away! Anyway, after this perfect plan, guess how many lessons we taught? You guessed it. Zero. Zip. Wala. We went to every house, texted every available investigator, and tracted more than five houses, but no one let us in. For six hours, we had nothing to show but exhausted feet. I was practically beside myself with frustration - I had just wanted to show Sister Fabia and Sister Iqbal that I was a good missionary, and even though they assured me that the investigators using their agency in a less than ideal way was no fault of mine, I still felt upset. But then, a thought popped into my head. I had been so self-absorbed all day. I had wanted to teach all those people to prove myself a good missionary, not because I wanted to further their understanding of the gospel. I had been supremely selfish and prideful, and oh, the realization was enough to humble me to the dust. From now on, I'm not doing anything for me. It's time to rid myself of pride and just serve for others, not for some thinly veiled desire of praise. I hadn't even realized I was doing it, but that day, I had forgotten my purpose as a missionary. The experience was a wonderful and essential lesson for me that I know God gave me to learn. I'm ready to change for the better. Time of be an unprofitable servant (Luke 17:1-10).

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In other news, I mastered making perfect pancakes for my roommates. Okay, I know that this is a childish accomplishment compared to the one I mentioned above, but it's a big deal for me! I always either under-cook or burn them at home, so I'm really excited that I discovered this secret of the universe. In the future, prepare yourself to be invited to a lot of pancake parties.

We also went to Cena Una this week again, as most of a district with the Nelsons, our senior missionary couple. Twas I who created the event, and since I knew that the Nelsons love Cena Una, I used the opportunity to visit my favorite restaurant. I'm hoping my next kasama will love Cena Una too. The Cena Una experience was delicous and fun, and a proper send off to Sister Jaya and Elder Laurente, who we are losing to the real world. It also helped us gear up for transfers.

Transfers are terrifying. You never know what the Assistants to the President are going to do with you, whether or not you'll stay in an area for eight months or whether you'll be rooted up after only six weeks and shipped off to an island where all they eat is fried fish. Come transfers, every missionary is on edge, their eyes on the cell phone, awaiting the message that could completely shift everyone around. The text came on Saturday. I'm staying put. Elder Wilcox is leaving our district...and so is Sister Donato. Oh my gosh, my sadness is great. I'll miss her so much, and although she assured me we'd see each other at conferences and stuff, it still is likely that I won't see her more than once before she goes home in July. I told Sister Pace, "It's like my family is being torn apart," and she only assured me that my family would get bigger from here on out. Here's hoping! Sister Pace and I both get new kasamas tomorrow! Our house is changing.

Something awesome happened. Sister Ai, a woman in my ward, was bearing her testimony, and she was talking about how she had been trying to get pregnant again for the past three years, but she had a medical condition that made it impossible. But she just kept being faithful and working hard, and she said that by a miracle, she found out last week that she was going to have another child. She testified with tears that she knew that Heavenly Father had answered her prayer because she had worked hard to magnify her calling in church and being honest in her job. She then said this beautiful testimony: "We always work so hard at work, we were so tired, but at the end of the day, I could smile. I am so thankful because the Lord has taught me that good always wins." 

Good always wins. 

I hope things are all good where all of you are. I miss and love you very much. Thanks for the occasional emails of love and support. They really do mean a ton to me. Thanks for reading these excessive emails, and I'm sorry if they're too long or too random or just crazy. I enjoy filling you in on the details, even if the details seem mundane. I hope all of you have an amazing week. Wave goobye to Sister Jayasekara! *wail*

Tune in next time for the revealing of Sister Green's new kasama!

Every person is different and has a different contribution to make. No one is destined to fail." - President Henry B. Eyring
Mahal Kita!

Sister Green

-"Lover of the Lights" (Mumford and Sons)
-"Billie Jean" (MJ) Some kids were dancing to it in a neighborhood as I walked by. It took a lot of self control not to join them
-"Leaving on a JetPlane" (Peter Paul&Mary)
-"Goodbye Stranger" For Sister Jaya

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