Merry Christmas everyone! Since we are now in the "ber" months, it is officially the holiday season here in the Philippines. And they're serious about it. Decorations started going up yesterday and Christmas songs have been playing all day. Now if only there were snow instead of 100 degree weather. But good news! I finally bought cereal and the closest thing they have to milk this week, so I guess I'm gonna survive here. Also no one can understand me because of my Utahn accent. I guess you need T's in Tagalog... And we're going to pretend that's the only reason they can't understand me haha :)
This week was just another part of the roller coaster. I went on exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders on Tuesday, so that means we traded companions and I got to go spend a day and a night in Cabayao. The change of pace was really nice. One of the STL's investigators lived in what I consider what the Philippines is supposed to look like. We trekked through the jungle to get to a bunch of little shacks built into the hillside. Shanina, the investigator, was just so sweet and so open to hearing the gospel! After being rejected again and again, it was good to be reminded there were actually people out there who want to listen and who are ready for the truth. And guess what, I SAW FIREFLIES!!! Check that one off the bucket list. It was seriously like the highlight of my entire mission thus far.
Wednesday was our first zone meeting and I can't even tell you how happy I was to see some of my batch mates (people who came in the same day you did). There are 6 of us in our zone, what are the odds of that? And 2 of them are Elder Adamson and Elder Richards! I really wish it wasn't bawal to hug the Elders! It was so good to talk to them and to hear that they were having their own struggles and I wasn't alone. One of the sisters gave an awesome talk based on the hymn "Brightly Beams The Father's Mercy." She talked about how Heavenly Father is the upper lights, He's there for everyone to see. But we are the lower lights. There was a conference talk once that told the story of a captain who tried to come into shore, but the lower lights were not burning and in his efforts to get to the lighthouse, they hit a reef and they all died. The missionaries, but also the members, are those lower lights. Anyone can believe in God, anyone can see His light. But we have to show them the way to get to Him. Members are SO important in missionary work. So be the lower lights, don't let those you love perish in the waters because no one was there to show them the way. She also gave a suggestion that I have found very helpful. Sometimes as missionaries we struggle to teach with the spirit and we teach because we have to, we teach thinking that they aren't going to listen because no one listens. Well, pretend that that person is your sister, your mom, your dad, your brother, your best friend. And then teach them. Because they need to know how important this message is and that they are important.
After zone meeting, we all went to lunch at the SM, which is like a giant mall with everything you could ever need. AND there is a Dairy Queen with Oreo Cheesecake Blizzards, so don't worry about me, I have ice cream! And the Lord, but also ice cream.
As far as investigators go, our teaching pool hasn't grown much. We gain investigators and lose them just as fast. But I know there's gotta be someone out there that's ready and really wants to listen. Who I really want to tell you about though is one of our less active members. We do a lot of reactivating in this mission and one of our LA's is Brother Marlon Pataueg. The Pataueg family consists of Nanay Pataueg and her 5 kids, Grace, Marlon, John, Mia, and Jennilyn. Nanay's husband is a nonmember but she is so strong! She loves her family more than anything and she takes such good care of the missionaries! On bad days, I just want to hang out with her all day because she just makes you feel so loved. Marlon is 18 and has been inactive for a few years. We taught him about the restoration and my training application this week is to listen and ask inspired questions. So even though I had no clue what anyone was saying, I tried. I just asked him if he believed it. And he told me he didn't know. So I told him that not long before my mission, I didn't know either and there was no way that I was going to go tell people it was true if it wasn't so I prayed and prayed and prayed and finally got an answer. I couldn't understand everything he said but as I spoke to him I just knew that Heavenly Father loved him so much and He wanted him to come back to him and to be happy and so I told him that. I don't know if it effected Brother Marlon at all, but it effected me. Heavenly Father helped remind me that each of these people are children of God and that this church is true and that I knew it. And my desire for everyone else to know that really grew, just like I really needed it to. Marlon reminded me of my brother, I think that's why I loved him so much. I think that's why I love that family so much. They remind me so much of my own.
Speaking of home, I'm still feeling a little homesick but thank you so much for all of the quotes and encouragement! That really helps on a rough day! I know that it will all work out, just gotta take it one day at a time. Plus I got another fast Sunday out of the way so that's 3! Wahoo!
Love you all and miss you! Have a fabulous week and be somebody's lower lights!
XOXO, Sister Brown
(No new pictures even though she claims she is downloading them to Photobucket...maybe she created a new login and forgot to tell me about it because there is nothing new...just the first ones I posted! :( Maybe next week?)