Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Miracles and Ice Candy‏

Maligayang Pasko to all of you lovely people! Hopefully you're all sharing the gift and remembering the reason for the season. This week started out a little discouragingly. Because of all the meetings that we had going this week, we only had 1 full day to work. And what do you know, that was the day I got sicker than I'd ever been my whole mission. On top of that, Bishop is still mad at us and investigators are dropping like flies. So naturally, I prayed. And prayed. And I asked for a Christmas miracle. I think it's safe to say I got one.

 Because this was my last Sunday in the field, I got to choose an area to visit for a couple of days. And even though I was just there, my heart is in Sta. Cruz. Those 2 days in Sta. Cruz were my miracle. But more specifically, Sister Conching was my miracle. Let me tell you about her.

Sister Conching
One day, Sister Burt and I had been punted and we had a little extra time on our hands. It was hot. We needed ice candy. So we "tao po'd" and OYM's our ice candy lady. She let us in and every time we taught her, she had some great question of the soul that was perfectly answered by the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can't forget the 2nd time we taught her and at the end of the lesson she just paused and then asked, "How do I ask? How do I ask so I can be sure I get an answer if it's true?" I love that lady. Then there is the Barcenas family. A few days before I was transferred, we had some extra time once again and we decided to contact a referral we'd been given earlier. They let us in and we taught them a quick lesson. They listened but seemed reluctant for us to come back and as we walked away I remember Sister Burt telling me she wasn't sure if she should go back. 

Fast forward to Saturday, December 20, 2015. The day Sister Conching and the entire Barcenas family were baptized. I have never attended a baptismal service in which the spirit was so strong. Maybe it was just so strong to me personally because I very distinctly felt the spirit testifying to me that I had been an instrument in the hands of the Lord and my eyes were opened to just how perfect God's plan is. Sister Conching loves her story and she stood and shared it with everyone in the room, and ended it with, "All because of ice candy." Brother Barcenas cried as he spoke of how excited he was to enter the temple with his family in one year to be sealed for time and all eternity. Their are no coincidences in the gospel. Only miracles.  

I didn't get the chance to see Sister Edlyn or Sister Joan, but Vergie and Gilbert are doing great and their children are both being taught by the missionaries and have baptismal goal dates. And the Pamilacan family is just as amazing as ever. Brother Makulit is still makulit but he's changing. Something that I realized this week as well was that some people need just the 2 missionaries that find them to be truly converted. But some people need 3 or 4. And some people, like Brother Edward Pamilacan, need 10. 
Pamilacan Family
Salvador Family

I just want you all to know that I know God's plan is perfect. And that He knows best. He knew that I needed to serve a mission. He knew that I needed to be assigned here in San Pablo. And He has continually guided me to the right place at the right time and given me the words to say that would change hearts. Sometimes miracles are hard to see in the present, but when you look back you realize that your life is abounding in miracles. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have to serve. Even for one more week.

Love you all, thanks for all the prayers!

XOXO, Sister Brown

Ramos Family
4 hours of travel later...
Aco Family

Sis Conching

Christmas party


Maricris and Zeram
Sheryl Lyn Medoza and RJ
The Vilela!
Sister Flor Carandang
Riza Alilio

Service, cleaning windows


Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Hola my dearest friends and family! So this week was a week full of surprises. Like the letters from Kelsey and Kylee Hurd and the packages from the Activity Day Girls and mom. Thanks, it was much appreciated. Or like Ruby. The typhoon did actually show up late Monday night so we couldn't go out. It was loud enough to keep me awake but not strong enough to rip anything but leaves off the trees. It's been really cool to hear all of the people here telling me how they know the storm weakening was an answer to thousands of prayer. I know that that is true. 

This week we also sent one of our amazing YSA to all of you in Utah. Elder Gonzales is heading to the Provo MTC and will be serving in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission. They are lucky ducks! It was an interesting experience to talk to him about how he was feeling and to realize that the roller coaster of mission emotions starts and ends pretty much the same. I'm excited for him and a little bit jealous he's just starting out.

What I really wanna talk about though is Christmas. And presents. Who doesn't like presents? So listen up. This week I've started to use a new question in my OYMs. It goes like this: "Christmas is to celebrate Jesus' birthday right?" "Right." "So what are you going to give Jesus' for his birthday?" And then they get a little embarrassed and giggle a little bit because they haven't really thought about it. But you think about it. How would you feel if it was YOUR birthday and every one brought presents for everyone else at the party, but no one brought anything for YOU? Remember that the Savior has given us the greatest gift that anyone could ever give with his atoning sacrifice, a way to find peace in a troubled world, and a way to return to our Heavenly home and live as families for all eternity. He is the Gift. 

Since this Christmas I'll be on the other side of the world and it would be kind of hard for you to get me something for Christmas, this is what I want instead.

1. Watch this video.

2. Print this.

3. Send me a pic of you and your gift :) 

This is also a test to see if you actually read these emails. I love ya all and am so grateful for all of your prayers and support! The best po kayo talaga! 

XOXO, Sister Brown

Elder Gonzales

Pinoy Sunsets

Labid Family
Sister Rita Catarining

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Just Smile it off :)‏

Kamusta po kayo lahat? So first of all, I'm still alive. No worries. Just freezing. I am literally shivering while I type. On Thursday we were informed there was a Category 4 Super Typhoon the size of Typhoon Yolanda heading straight for Batangas. That's where I live. So we went out and bought enough food to last a week and filled every available container with clean water and then we waited. And waited. And waited. Until this morning. Ruby took so long to get here that she is now down to Category 1, which means it's raining and there's a nice breeze. We are actually a little disappointed, we were ready for an adventure! But I know that it was stronger in other parts of the Philippines and they could definitely use your prayers. I am thankful that all of the people here didn't have to experience the crazy stuff that happens in typhoons. 

Typhoon Ruby wasn't the only disappointment this week. At the beginning of the week, we had 6 people who were going to be baptized in the next couple of weeks. Somehow, we are now left with none. Thursday was a particularly rough day. Member after member bailed on us and we got later and later for our appointment and then our dear Bishop topped it off by calling us over and letting us have it about how we don't support the ward or the members because we didn't go to their activity (Because we were doing missionary work) and how he likes Filipina sisters better. Trials are plentiful here in San Jose. Luckily, I read a great talk by Elder Neil L. Anderson all about Trials of Faith at the beginning of this week. No matter what happens, it's nothing we can't handle. Alma and Moroni and Nephi went through way more than I ever will and they never lost hope. There are so many things to be happy about! Why allow ourselves to be disappointed? You just gotta smile it off.

Thus, I am thankful for the little miracles and blessings of each day. Like the little kids here and how everyone is always smiling, even in a typhoon. I love the Philippines. I love being a missionary. I love all of you and am so thankful for all of your support and love. 

XOXO, Sister Brown

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Trunky trip

Kamusta na kayo peeps? Happy December! WHAT??? How did that even happen? This week was AWESOME. Why? Because we went on our trunky trip! That's when you and all the people that go home go to Manila for a couple of days and get fingerprinted and meet all kinds of cool people at immigration and you all talk about how you remember being on those very roads 17 months ago and what you thought about the Philippines, then vs now, and how you don't want to go home because who would've thought that 17 months later you would have come to love so perfectly and completely everything about the people and the culture and being a missionary. And you see that there's a Jamba Juice and an Ihop and a Wendy's in Manila and then you make a list of places you need to go when you get off the plane. But none of that was why this week was awesome. It was awesome because for the first time in 17 months, I set foot inside the temple. I can't really express to you how lucky you all are in Utah to have a temple at every turn. Walking inside, it was as if the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I felt so close to Heavenly Father and I couldn't stop smiling. I love the temple! If you haven't gone for awhile, go. If you can't go, do something about it so you can go. You NEED the temple.
There comes a time when all trunky trips must end though and
you return back to good old San Jose. And you have yet another Chooks-to-Go chicken for Thanksgiving dinner at 10pm. Only this time, you didn't hire the neighbors' kids to buy it for you... It was Sister Tzanis and Sister Cayacay's first Thanksgiving experience and they loved it! We all went around the table and said all the things we were thankful for and I think we all just realized just how blessed we were to be where we were doing what we were doing and for everything that got us to that point.

All of our investigators are doing great! We had 8 of them come to church yesterday! We have one new investigator, Jofal, and after we taught the Word of Wisdom he not only stopped drinking coffee but he went out and bought some fruit and vegetables so he could eat healthier! He's a gem :) However, my favorites are probably the Vilela's. I don't know why, but I just love them so much! Christian is 20 and he is a recent convert. He knows pretty much everything about the gospel and he works with us all the time. He is the reason the missionaries first went to his house. Long story short, he was studying but had to stop because his family was struggling financially and work instead. One night he switched shifts with someone. That was the night the hotel was robbed and he got shot in the head. He was the only one that survived and it was truly a miracle that he did. He believes it was so that he could be a missionary and share the gospel with others :) His family is super poor, but they are sooo magaling! His brother made the most beautiful  plan I've ever seen to follow the Word of Wisdom. We are teaching his mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, sister and younger brother. And each and every one of them has some huge trial to overcome. But I know that they can do it!

That's all for this week! Hope you have a great week and start thinking about the reason for the season. Love you all tons!

XOXO, Sister Brown

(Sometimes I wish she'd put captions...but maybe I don't want to know!)

Manila temple

Biggest mall in Asia

Second rainbow ever in the Pines!