Monday, September 16, 2013

There's always a light at the end of the tunnel :)‏

Reunited and it feels so good...seeing these girls again is just what she needed! :)

Everyone be cool, it's just a normal day. Except that I've been in the Philippines for a month. So it's not. And I have a confession. I wore my Crocs. I broke down and wore the world's ugliest shoe brand (sorry if you like Crocs). And man, are they comfy! Also, I have found my Achilles heel in the Pines. Bakeries. On every corner. There's this one by our house that has 1 peso donuts. That's like 2 cents! So yeah, when I get home just look for the Pillsbury Dough Boy in a dress.

First of all, I must apologize. My last few letters haven't exactly been uplifting so I'm really sorry about that. But all I can say is wow, I have the greatest family, ward, and friends. I basically have a book of encouraging letters and emails and I can't even begin to tell you how much they helped! I probably won't have time to respond to all of them today so thank you, with all of my heart. But this week was much better. Since it was our 1 month mark, all of my batch got to go to San Pablo on Thursday for check up. And good news! All of District D is still alive! I can't even explain how happy I was to see my Elders and my MTC companions again! I was just so happy and it was comforting to see that same look in their eyes, that they were struggling too, but pushing forward anyways. If Heavenly Father doesn't mind, I'd love to have Sister Smith and Sister Kerr back. They are seriously angels in my life. I also got to talk to President since I've been struggling and I've been dealing with a little bit of anxiety. He told me that he knew exactly what it was like since he'd served here and then he continued to relate my experience here. Only it was his story. And even though everyone else has told me that it wasn't just me feeling this way, I didn't believe it. I was sure what I was going through was worse. Well good news. I'm not that special. Even President Peterson told me that he went into the bathroom and cried every single night for the first 2 months of his mission, resolving to call the President the next day and tell him he was going home. But he never did for some reason. And I know it will get better. To deal with all the stress of the mission, I started writing down little things that make me happy each day in a notebook. I call it my Sunshine Book :)

Investigator wise, my favorites of the week (I don't know if we're supposed to have favorites, but I do) are the Babors. They are a less active family with 4 kids. Mawin and Randoni are 11 and 10 and not yet baptized. We teach them 2 or 3 times a week. They are just so adorable! And they are so excited about being baptized and Mawin, she knows all the answers already. I really don't even care that we're mainly teaching children because it's so much more fun! Kyle was sick all week so we weren't able to teach him much. And then there's Giselle. She's 12 and also from a less active family that just moved in with their grandfather. He is crazy. The first time we taught her he interrogated us about which book we were teaching from and which verses specifically. We told him the Bible, James 1:5. He then proceeded to hide behind the entertainment center, spying on us through the shelves. Until we got to Joseph Smith. At which point he jumped out demanding we show him where in the Bible Joseph Smith was mentioned and insisted we were trying to confuse his grandchildren and that we were never to enter his house again. He was like 80. I may or may not have walked out laughing... That might not have been an appropriate response. Good story though, right?

Let me describe a more typical teaching appointment. So we take off our shoes and go into a house, about as big as our living room at home. We sit on benches or couches with hardly any padding left, and that's if they have couches. Sometimes we just sit on the floor. The floors are usually just concrete, sometimes with old linoleum to make it look a little nicer. The people we're teaching face the one fan they have towards us. And we teach. It's always noisy. There's karaoke and people selling things and kids and cats and dogs everywhere. And a lot of times it rains. Like really rains. And the sound of the ocean falling out of the sky on a tin roof is sometimes a struggle. So we yell our lessons sometimes. And the whole time, I'm watching the lizards on the ceiling, hoping they won't fall on my head. And then I try to listen and distinguish the language of the minions. And they'll say a word I understand so I'll smile and shake my head vigorously because I understood! Then I realize I understood because they said it in English... Haha :) It's challenging to say the least. But somehow, it works. Somehow there's still a spirit there that can touch hearts and change lives. God is pretty amazing.

Spiritual thought of the week, I really owe you one of these. At zone meeting on Wednesday, our ZL shared a scripture, D&C 97:8. It says "...All among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice, yea, every sacrifice which I the Lord shall command, they are accepted of me." And he drew this really awful picture of a person all cracked up like humpty dumpty. The point was, sometimes we feel inadequate. We have weaknesses. We feel that the things God wants us to do are impossible. Maybe you feel this way as a parent, in your calling, as a friend, or for me, as a missionary. But remember this. Heavenly Father knew you were broken. He knew you would struggle, He knew you had weaknesses and shortcomings. But he called you anyway. And He didn't call you to fail. He didn't just put you in charge of a child, a Relief Society, a Ward, or a mission area and tell you good luck. He is going to fill the cracks, He's going to make you stronger.

Time and time again this week, I heard about grace. I've never really understood grace and I still don't, but I think I'm starting to. My mission president gave me a talk, "In the Strength of the Lord," by Elder Bednar. Did you know there are 2 parts of the atonement? I didn't. There's the redeeming part that everyone knows about, and then there's the enabling part. I wish I could explain it all, but just read it. This enabling power is exactly what I need. It says "The enabling power of the atonement strengthens us to do and be good and serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity." Christ not only died for us, He lives for us now. He lives in us, to strengthen us. In Mosiah 24:14-15, Alma prays not that his burdens will be taken from him, but that he will be strengthened to be able to endure them. There are countless examples of Book of Mormon prophets drawing strength from this enabling power. So this is what I'm doing. When I feel inadequate or anxious or homesick, I kneel down and pray. And I tell Heavenly Father that I'm feeling weak and I just need to be strong enough to get through this moment, through this day, through whatever it is. And you know what? He strengthens me. I feel peace. I feel like I can do impossible things. Because through Christ, I can.

Well my dears, I love you and I really can't tell you how grateful I am for your support and encouragement and examples to me and for making me who I am today.

Mahal kita!

XOXO, Sister Brown

Wish I had a clue what this was all about?? Looks like a fun time though!
Crocks...ugliest shoe in the world??

Always seems to be paired up with her rivals! ;)
Wear your favorite T-shirt day?  Really wish she'd send me captions w/ these!! :/
Cool little house in the Pines... 
Now that is a BIG snail!

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