Monday, May 26, 2014

Week Tatlumpu-Tatlo: Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I cut Sister Sanchez' hair this week. She wanted her hair cut because I told her it'd look cute and then she said, "Do you want to do it?" And I just blinked at her and said, "Sure." So I did, like four inches. Pictures below. I think I did pretty well, considering we cut it with a brush and kiddie scissors.

I'm doing sort of well, health wise. Some days are worse than others in regards to pain, but I'm taking my medicines and trying to follow the instructions of not pushing myself too hard. That's the hardest bit right there. I have to be working or else I feel like I'm wasting the Lord's time. So "taking it slow" is incredibly annoying for me sometimes. We have work to do and I want to go do it! Cut my kidneys out already! But alas, my dear Sister Sanchez is making me rest when I feel sick. Bless her heart.

This week was stressful to say the least. We had a lot of meetings and a lot of trip to Tabaco that put us in time crunches. We had some major disappointments with investigators, like a woman named Josefine who we were so excited about telling us not to come back out of the blue. We got made fun of a lot this week by people who though what we were teaching was stupid. Baptismal dates are being pushed back because commitments aren't kept, appointments falling through, members supposedly working with us and then cancelling. Thirteen and fourteen year old investigators addicted to cigarettes and alcohol. Enough to make the heart feel heavy, right?

So on Saturday, while riding in a jeepney, I was contemplating why everything was so hard lately, what was the lesson God wants us to learn. And I remembered a particularly favorite speech of mine by Jeffrey R. Holland entitled "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence". Here's the link if anyone wants to read the full talk.

But anyway, in his speech, Holland points out that "it isn't over until it's over" and that "opposition so often comes after moments of revelation and an assurance we thought we would never lose". Now in that jeepney, I felt particularly enlightened by this thought. I'm sick, yet last week I made the decision to continually trust God, no matter my circumstance. Did I expect the adversary to just accept that and leave me alone? Of course not. Holland says, "we cannot sign on for a moment of eternal significance and everlasting consequence without knowing it will be a fight - a good fight and a winning fight, but a fight nevertheless." So I came to the conclusion in that bouncing jeep that everything seemed to be getting harder, and significantly more dreary because the adversary, that miserable being whose power cannot compare to the real think, wants us to believe that things are hard. I believe things seem tough now because we're on the right track and stupid face Satan doesn't want us to see it. Like, we had a good week too, when I really think about it, past the dreary fails. We tracted a woman named Evelyn and on her second lesson she committed to be baptized. We tracted a great family who we met by complete chance that is so willing to learn and listen. Little miracle happen that could be pushed aside if all we focus on is the bleak. Holland says it gorgeously, "How soon we forget". He then admonishes, "After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel his love and hear the word of the Lord, 'go forward'. Don't fear, don't vacillate, don't quibble, don't whine."

Yesterday, I was depressed, blaming myself and saying, "Because I'm sick we only got 33 lessons, two less than the Standard of Excellence, two less than the missionary I want to be," but now I'm looking at my week and saying, "Despite me being sick, despite the hardships, we persevered and got 33 lessons, which is beyond average and very commendable."

In Hebrews 10:35-36, and then 38-39 it says the focus of Elder Holland's speech and my musings this week:

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
...If any man draw back, my soul shall have no please in him...

...We are not of them who draw back unto perdition."

No matter if you're a missionary, the message is the same. Don't give up! Remember the good, don't falter. "Face your doubts. Master your fears...Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you." Of course it's going to get hard, but remember, you and I signed up for this with happy hearts. We are not those who give up. Sister Sanchez and I aren't giving up! We keep going. We keep fighting. 

We are all enlisted till the conflict is o'er;
Happy are we! Happy are we!
Soldiers in the army, there's a bright crown in store;
We shall win and wear it by and by.
Haste to the battle, quick to the field;
Truth is our helmet, buckler, and shield.
Stand by our colors; proudly they wave!
We're joyfully, joyfully marching to our home.
(We are All Enlisted, hymn 250)

Have a marvelous week everyone! I love you all very much. Email me, huh? I miss you! 

Love love love,
Sister Green

"Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!" (D&C128:22)

Week Tatlumpu-Tatlo: Photographs

The new Choco

STOP! Puppy time!

Weekly Mayon picture

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week Tatlumpu-dalawa: These Stones Ain't Rolling

Hey gang. It's me again, a little later than usual. This week has been so far the most confusing and tiring weeks of my mission, and probably in my life. Trying to keep my head up though, of course! 

The week started out very amazingly. I got to skype my brother and my mom for Mother's Day, which was oodles of fun and a much needed moment of home. This week though, all the missionaries were in some sort of haze - Mother's Day Aftermath, I suppose. Everyone was missing home so much. That and this week has been one of the hottest ever. My rubber shoes are melting to my feet and the pavement! 

We had some discouragements this week in our work as well. We had a lesson with three people, two sixteen year olds and a twenty-one year old. They're all cousins so we teach them together. We had a great lesson with them, and they were really pondering and asking deep questions, which was a relief since the work so far that week had been a little bit of a flop. They all committed to a baptismal date in June, which was beyond wonderful to see their nods and smiles. Before we left though, a family member of theirs stormed up, pointed to the girl and yelled harshly, "Remember Ivy, you are a Catholic!" We walked out of there feeling chastised, but we were still happy about their progression. The next morning though, we received a text from them all saying that we're free to teach the 21 year old, but sadly all three of them were forbidden by their parents to be baptized or even attend church. We were majorly disheartened by that, since we had seen their commitment as a turn-around of the week. Hopefully one day their hearts will soften. We're pressing forward though, Sister Sanchez and I, no matter the heat and the hard What doesn't kill us makes us stronger!

Speaking of, this week has been a whirlwind of humbling experiences and faith building moments. So, as some of you may know I had been experiencing a cough for a month now. Sister Guanzon, my mission mom, put me on an antibiotic that should kill pneumonia, since we figured that was probably the problem. But after five days and no improvement, and severe stomach pain when I was out working, I went to the hospital for a checkup. They did a urinalysis, blood test, and chest xray. 

Anyway, continuing the tale. I had signs of pneumonia in my lungs, but that wasn't all my problems. Apparently I had something wrong with my kidneys.

That night I had the most intense physical pain in my life, feeling like a corkscrew was lodged in my side, I couldn't even lay down, I basically passed out with exhaustion on my desk and didn't really fall asleep until after 1am. The next morning I wasn't in pain, but the Assistants to the President picked me and Sister Sanchez up and we went to Legazpi to meet up with Sister Guanzon and go to the nicer hospital there. So all the doctors were out, I took some meds, and stayed at the mission home for the night, which was like a mini-vakay so that was cool. This morning I had an ultrasound, and yep, you guessed it - I have kidney stones. It's only like .51 of a centimeter though, so yeah. That's all we know so far.

So I have some fancy new medicine, Sister Guanzon is watching me like a hawk, I have to drink like ten gallons of water, and I have a checkup in a month. But I'm going back to Malilipot to work because darn it that area needs us. I just have to be more careful about walking too much in the heat and drink tons of fluids.

So all is well, in short. I'll give you more updates as I have them. But as of now? Life continues. Mission continues. Putting my shoulder to the wheel, as they say. I know God's gonna take care of me, 'cause he always is. This is just another opportunity to build my faith and keep humble. What a blessing in disguise! I'm so happy that through my experiences here in the mission, I can become a stronger individual with stronger faith in Heavenly Father. I definitely don't see this as God abandoning me in the slightest or an indication that he's not watching out for us missionaries - on the contrary, He's with me now more than ever. 

In the Bible the Israelites had been wandering the wilderness for 40 years. They were finally approaching the promised land. Israelite scouts were sent to check out the area. The people living in their beautiful, promised home were large, fierce and frightening. Many of the Israelites were scared of the challenges that lay ahead, all except for one man named Caleb. When he heard of the troubles that faced them, he said, “I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me…give me this mountain…the Lord will be with me.” President Kimball once said, “This is my feeling for the work at this moment. There are great challenges ahead of us, giant opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, ‘Give me this mountain,’ give me these challenges.”

This is my feeling too. This week was tiring, draining, and I had a lot of moments when giving up was attractive. When I was curled up in pain, I cried out to Heavenly Father, asking for relief. Even though it may of not come all at once, it came, along with understanding of His timing and plan for me. I need these trails to become the person God wants me to be, and I am forever grateful that I am never alone in my physical or emotional pain. This is the refiner's fire. I'm being shaped into a better person, a better servant to God.

"Oh, Lord, I am yet strong. Give me one more mountain."

Have a great week!

Sister Green

Week Tatlumpu-dalawa:Photographs

Road trip with the AP's

Yeah...I drew a cartoon about my stone problem.

The trip to Legazpi was worth this view.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Week Talumpu-isa: Welcome to the Jungle

*insane amount of guitar riffs*

Hi! Welcome to another episode of "Sister Green's life is Completely Bonkers". I'm your host, Sister Green. This week we join your favorite red-headed puti in her new area, Malilipot!

I made it through my first transfer unscathed (well, mostly). I was a bouncing ball of anxiety on Tuesday morning, trying to close suitcases that weighed way more than they should and sitting down knowing my new companion was in the same room unawares. But, since God is so very mindful of me, He once again hooked me up with an amazing companion, Sister Sanchez! I had already hung out with her multiple times, so my anxiety melted away completely. Sister Sanchez is a sassy 21yrold Filipina who loves Angelina Jolie movies and thinks it is unacceptable to go through a day without eating rice. She loves laughing, she loves the gospel, and she's going to help me grow so much. Having a Filipina companion is going to help my language skills and my confidence as a missionary. Although I was terrified to transfer, now I see that it really was the inspiration of God that brought me here to Malilipot to be with Sister Sanchez. We've already had a blast together - we got matching dusters, which are like nightgowns. We picked the most pangit ones, but dang it I love them.

My "meant to be here" feeling was solidified in my mind on my third day here. We were hiking down a bundok (mountain) and I was sort of just lagging behind Sis Sanchez and a ward missionary when I looked at a random house and felt that familiar tug toward it as I occasionally do while walking. So I stopped our caravan and walked up to the house. The 16 year old told us we could share, and after the three of us broke her bench (not my fault this time!), the mother showed up and we easily made friends. She told us she had just been talking about Mormons the other day and "now you're here!" We later found out that her husband is a less active member, she is so interested in the church, and she referred us to her sister down the road who we also taught and have a return appointment with. I was just so thankful that God transferred me here. To think that maybe I wasn't? I wouldn't have been on that road at that exact time to feel that prompting at the exactly right moment. We've had many more experience in the past seven days that have just made me so thankful for the Holy Ghost and that if I can keep myself worthy of it, I can see miracles happen. 

Malilipot is so different from Daraga. It's a jungle. I thought Daraga was one, but nope, Malilipot is legitimately a jungle. It's a tiny town ten minutes from Tabaco City, which is literally directly on the other side of Mt. Mayon from Daraga. Our area is HUGE, way bigger than my old one but significantly less populated. I'm trekking through the jungle every day. A new adventure indeed. My new house is different, but I like it. It's just us two in there, we sleep on the main room floor because the bedroom is too hot, we only have water sometimes, and the bathroom is definitely a new experience. But dang it, I love it here.

There's only a branch here with about sixty people in attendance, but the members are kind. People actually want to work with us here. The area is waiting to be cracked open since our teaching pool is very small, so I'm so excited to work hard here. We got 38 lessons this week, three more than the Standard, and five more than Sister Sanchez says has been gotten here in a long time. I'm so thankful to Heavenly Father for helping us so much this week! What a crazy awesome blessing!

I hit my seventh month mark this week. Talk about bonkers. We're going to stop talking about it now.

I'm still trying to kick my cough. It's getting ridiculous how long I've been sick!

We have a new winner at pick up lines too. While weaving our way through jungle roads, we passes a group of young men. Thy wigged out (as usual) when they saw me, and one said in his strained English, "Ah! Welcome to the Philippines!" I thanked him and we kept walking, but this kids called after me, "Watch your step! might fall in love with me." Ahahhaah, progressing! Sister Sanchez and I couldn't stop laughing. Golden.

Happy Mother's Day too, to all the mommas! I love you all so much, but siyempre, I love my own mom the most. She's literally the best person I know, and I am so thankful to have her in my life. She's gone through so much, she's such an example to me, and here in the mission field I'm really seeing how much she's affected my life to bring me to this point. Thank you to the mothers! A girl in sacrament meeting quoted something she saw on facebook and it made me smile: "My mom never taught me how to straighten my hair, but she taught me how to straighten my soul". 

POWER TO THE MOTHERS! You are all so wonderful, and you are loved so much by your children! 

I hope you all have a brilliant week everyone. Party on, metaphorically speaking.

Sister Green

Week Talumpu-isa: Photographs

The companion - her nickname is Choco and I'm Gatas, or milk. :) 

The bathroom

Where we sleep and study

My new house