Monday, January 27, 2014

The Ice Age‏

Welcome to San Jose

KAMUSTA PAMILYA AT MGA KAIBIGAN?!?! This week wasn't too exciting, but it was cold. You could see your breath in the mornings! I thought I was back in Utah for a second, but then I heard the karaoke and saw a giant spider in the palm tree. But really, it's soooo cold! I finally gave in and heated up some water for my bucket shower. Also, because it's been so cold Sister Banzali got a cold and lost her voice so I am now learning a 3rd language, sign language. Needless to say, it was a pretty funny week! 

We don't really have any investigators at the moment, so we went tracting. And found a giant egg. And Elmer. He is almost fluent in English and he was very interested! We're pretty sure it's not the message he's interested in though because he managed to work in the fact that he was single every few minutes... haha :) The stares I get are pretty funny, I almost caused an accident this week because these guys weren't watching the road, just the Americana. Sister Banzali thinks it's hilarious. Hopefully this week will be more productive in the teaching area!

We also had a service project this week at a less active member's house. She is the cutest thing on the planet! Her name is Nanay Patron and she is 79. She was baptized in California and is probably the most faithful woman I have ever met. She can't come to church because her husband had a stroke not too long ago and he can't be left alone for more than an hour and they don't have any other family around. She told us every Sunday she just reads her scriptures and sings Hymns from her Hymn book. She better go straight to the Celestial Kingdom with Nanay Pataueg! 

And finally, remember the vision of San Jose becoming a stake? Well, this month the branch will be becoming a ward!!! YAY! And within the next few years, it will become the Batangas Stake Center. The church is awesome. And true. 

Mahal na mahal kita! 

XOXO, Sister Brown

Elder Abad, our Astig DL
Who knew pineapples grew like this? And who knew I would have a pineapple bush in my backyard one day?
(Ahhh more spider pics!)  What Sis. Banzali calls "just a normal housespider"!
For comparison I put my head next to it (This from my daughter who wouldn't go downstairs to her room if there was a spider on the wall!)
Then I decided to hold one (where is my daughter and what have you done with her? hehe) 
Our Branch Mission Leader, Shem and Bro. Noli Scooby Doo
My companion with a Filipino lawn mower...
Getting us some guavas, best Branch Mission Leader ever!!
These are not American sized hammocks
My new friend, Jared
The Smith's our awesome couple missionaries here in Lipa 
Service at Nanay Patron's
Our beautiful little chapel

(The kind of pictures moms don't like to see...luckily she says she has another foot cover!)

Monday, January 20, 2014

I'm having a baby!‏

I love how they all match Elder Neilson!

Kamusta? This week I found out I'm having an anak! Which is what we call our trainees in the mission. So yeah, I'm training. And yeah, I'm terrified. I know that it is going to be a challenge seeing as we have hardly any investigators right now and I still don't really speak Minion. But I also know it is going to be an awesome opportunity to grow and to learn and I'm thankful for the opportunity and for the trust Heavenly Father is placing in me. I am going to need His help. Pero kaya ko iyan! It'll be really fun if I get an American because then our house will be white washed!

So this morning I woke up at 4am to the alarm clock of San Jose, a screaming pig being slaughtered next door. Earlier this week, I lost a game of Cuchara, Tinidor and had to sing a solo of Joy to the World at FHE. And then I rode home in a Jeepney next to some chickens and a bucket of live fish. This week we also got a call at 6:30am from a random Elder who invited us to a funeral in his living room. We went. I am so happy I am in the Philippines, where else would I get to experience things like this?? Haha :)  

This week was Mae Ann's baptism. It was such a great experience! Her whole family came and the spirit was so strong. The 6 young women sang "I Am His Daughter" and as they sang I couldn't help but feel Heavenly Father's love for them and I knew that they were truly each one of His daughters. Then Mae Ann bore her testimony and brought everyone, her parents included, to tears. Mae Ann is an amazing young woman and even though she's still young, she is going to be such a strength to the San Jose Branch. 

Speaking of the San Jose Branch, their new chapel was dedicated on Sunday by the Area President, Elder Neilson. That was another amazing experience! These saints have been waiting 15 years for a chapel and now they've got one. Watching President Scooby-Doo while Elder Neilson spoke was awesome. He's been the branch president for 15 years. He's watched his little branch grow. And it was even better because Elder Neilson told us all that that chapel was built with the intent that it would one day be the stake center of the San Jose Stake. The feeling that I got when he said that was one of absolute peace and I know that one day the little San Jose Branch is going to be the San Jose Stake. 

I continue to love this place and this work, despite the struggles. I need to say some thank you's to all of you who for your support and love and prayers. Thank you Jilien, Dad and Zee, Carmen and Daniel Skidmore, Westlake Primary and Activities Days Girls, Grandma Pat, and Aunt Kim for the packages! I got them all and I loved every one. Salamat din Sione, George, The Brown Family, Sister Stark, The Wahlstrom Fam, Kylee, and Grandpa Brown for the letters. Letters seriously make my day and I am so thankful for the support that I have at home! I am a very blessed missionary. I love you all and hope you all have the best week! And hopefully an opportunity to share the gospel ;)

XOXO, Sister Brown

Mae Ann's baptism :)

Spider close-up :(

As close as she dared get to take a comparison picture...

P-day hike to Mt. Maculot

Sis Brown and Sis Banzali

Taal is out in that lake.  It's the world's smallest volcano.

Mt. Maculot

Everyone needs a cool name tag pic!


Monday, January 13, 2014

If the Savior walked the streets of San Jose...‏

Hellooo pamilya at mga kaibigan ko! This week was great! I milked a coconut, met Michael Angelo, convinced my district leader me and my companion had been fighting spiders and we were bitten and dying, and ate some chicken innards. And on top of all that, I was the only one in the house who did not get sick this week. With that being said, we couldn't go out a couple of days and I was really sad about it. If that would've happened my first couple of months here I probably would have danced for joy. And I don't dance. But here's the thing, missions change everything. I love these people, I love this place, and I love being a missionary. I don't even know how to explain it. Most of these people have so little, but they are so happy. Most people in America have everything and then some and they still can't seem to figure out how to just be happy. The culture of the Philippines is one of simplicity and we Americans could learn a thing or two about that. 

About our investigators. Next weekend, Mae Ann is getting baptized! She is only 15 but she is so amazing and she is such a light to her family! Her mom and her stepfather have been listening to the lessons and the more they see Mae Ann changing, the more interested they are in learning more themselves. They were even joking about just getting in the font after Mae Ann haha :) They have some great potential. And then there's Jessie. Jessie has been taking the lessons for a long time. He's in his 20's and he's got Word of Wisdom problems and he hasn't really been able to get over them. But we retaught him the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity and extended a baptismal goal date, which is something the other sisters had never done. He asked us if we really believed in him, that he could be ready by that day and then with our assurance, he took out his earrings right then and there and told us he could try to quit smoking by this week! And he finally came to church! Other than that, our teaching pool is kinda sparse. So looks like more tracting for the San Jose sisters!

This week we also had zone interviews and zone meeting. It was much needed. I just want to share something that President shared with me in my interview. He looked at me and said, "Sister Brown, if the Savior was walking the streets of San Jose, what would He do? How would He treat the people?" The more I think about that question, the more I love these people. Because they are all my brothers and sisters. They have divine potential. We came to this earth with the same goal; to get back to our Heavenly Father. It's not a race. There isn't only room for so many of us in the Celestial Kingdom. We are here to help one another achieve our goal. We are all on the same team. So next time some guy cuts you off or your co-worker gives an unwanted opinion, think about them the way the Savior sees them. I promise you it will change your perception of everything. I've tried it. 

Thank you for your love and your prayers. I love you all to pieces! I know that this is the true church of God on the earth today. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet and through him, our loving Heavenly Father restored the gospel so that we wouldn't be lost. He gave us the Book of Mormon as kind of an instruction book to life. And I know that He's given us a Savior, even Jesus Christ, to show us the way and to make the whole thing possible. I love the gospel and I am so thankful for the amazing experiences I'm having sharing it with my brothers and sisters! 

Mahal na mahal kita!

XOXO, Sister Brown

That's our recent converts house back in the jungle

Welcome to the jungle....

We love roosters in the Philippines!  Did you know they actually cock-a-doodle-doo all night long, not just at sunrise! :/

Monday, January 6, 2014

Team Tempura and the Amazing race!

Happy 2014
I can't believe it's 2014, the very year I will be back in Roy! It's been 6 months since I got dropped off at the curb of the MTC, how did that happen??? So New Year's Eve in the Philippines is a bigger deal than Christmas. Everyone cooks all day long which was awesome because everyone we visited had food. Mostly everyone had the same food actually. Spaghetti with banana ketchup as sauce and corn flavored jello with cheese on top. It wasn't as bad as it sounds. We had a curfew so we came home at 6pm and washed our clothes in buckets. Watch out, we're party-ers. We did make Christmas cookies though! Thanks mom for sending us the stuff! And then we stayed up til Midnight because even if we had wanted to sleep, it was impossible. In the Pines, we believe the more noise you make, the more luck you'll have in the next year. So the whole hour before midnight there are fireworks and karaoke and people revving their motorcycles and honking their horns. It's kinda fun :) We also believe if you jump up and down on New Year's Eve, you will grow. I tried it so we'll see what happens... Haha 

Today was our zone P-day and it was in our area so we planned it. We had an "Amazing Race" and it was awesome! My team, Team Tempura (that's a type of food), won! We also hosted a baptism for the Cuenca Elders because they don't have a baptismal font. And guess what! President and Sister Peterson came! And they made me translate for them. It was sobrang mahirap! It really helped me to realize that I definitely have a lot to learn, but also that I know a lot. And on another note, I have been told I was sexy by multiple people this week, one of them being a woman in our branch. The word sexy is very normal and is actually a compliment in the Philippines but it just makes me feel uncomfortable and like I need to buy some uglier clothes or something. 

And finally, I just wanna tell you more about Michael. He is sobrang astig! This week we taught him the Law of Chastity and Eternal Marriage and he told us that you can handle the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity kind of the same way. He told us there are always temptations and when he was trying to quit smoking and he would think rationalizing thoughts, he would leave that room and go read the Book of Mormon. And when we committed him to prepare for a temple marriage he thought very seriously about it and then told us he would, but it wasn't for a long time haha :) And so we brought up a mission. And he told us how much he really wanted to serve a mission but his parents really need his help. So he talked to them and they told him it was up to him and that they could see the change in him. Then he decided he wanted to refer his parents to the missionaries in Davao so he's bringing us their info next time! Every time he talks you can just tell he knows. He knows it's all true and he knows what he needs to do. He is amazing and he is going to do wonders for the church in the Philippines!

Well, have a great week and start the new year off right! Be kind to people and smile a lot :) You'll live longer. 

Mahal kita!

XOXO, Sister Brown

New Years Eve cookies

We are talented!

Happy New Year ^-^

The language options at the ATM, proof Tagalog isn't even a real language! haha

Inside the mall

No caption..not sure what this pic all about?

Wow 6 months already!

Me and Sister Elsa Scooby-Doo

Choosing Tributes for the Amazing Race/Hunger Games

My kawawa team before they knew who they teammates were

Drinking vinegar, fish sauce and bitter corp (?) shake

Making their way to the Promised Land

Tower of Babel

Sister Miranda struggled on this one.. haha

Follow the Spirit.  It was really funny because the "spirit" was only helping one of them and wouldn't answer their questions.

Elder Wise was the champ at the Battle with the Lamanites challenge

My awesome team!

Team Tempura, Champions!

Our Zone Leader, Elder Calling

Poor Elders

Team Tempura
The pig next door prepped for slaughter, poor swerte :(