Monday, July 28, 2014

11 days in the dark‏

First rainbow I've seen in the Pines
Wait, didn't I just write to you like yesterday?? Welcome to the fastest week in the history of my mission. This week started out with the opportunity to be interviewed by our new mission president during another typhoon. I really like the Mangums, they are super great people and they have a lot of experiences to share that are going to help a lot of missionaries :) Oh and the typhoon was just a rainstorm. No worries. It's name was Henry and he had nothin' on Glenda. Speaking of Glenda, taught a lot of lessons this week in which we were being rained on... inside of people's houses. Everything for the most part is getting back to normal, but the Filipino people continue to amaze me. Like I just can't explain to you how much I love them. There is just no one else like them and they will always have a big part of my heart. On another note, I tried banana fries this week! They are the most delicious thing since ice cream! Too bad there are no more standing banana trees in Sta. Cruz... But there IS power! We went for 11 days without power. When it came on we were in a lesson and everyone started shouting and our investigator's son came out of the house with the look of a kid on Christmas and said, "We have an electric fan!" I am super glad we have a fridge now, but I feel really 1st world. I kinda liked the candles.

Last week I mentioned I got a new companion. Can I just tell you how much I absolutely love her? Sister Burt and I lived together in Canlubang for 3 months, then when I got transferred to San Jose, she took over my area in Canlubang. Then when I got transferred to Tayabas, she got transferred to San Jose and took over my area there. And now we are companions. And it is awesome. We've basically had the same mission. She is very much helping me to enjoy the work and learn to listen to the spirit. She is an amazing missionary and an amazing friend and I am SOOO thankful we get to be companions! I also love Sister Hopkins and Sister Mahoni, my beautiful, hilarious housemates. We have too much fun sometimes. I got to go on exchanges with Sister Mahoni again and it absolutely amazing to see the improvements she's made in less than 6 weeks. It's amazing to see how God really makes us who He needs us to be.

And finally, the investigators. We have one couple, Gilbert and Vergie Salvador. They are referrals from our Stake President. And they are what ya call "Golden." They are so excited for their baptism in August! It's like everything we teach them just makes perfect sense to them. They are so prepared! Last night we taught them about the word of wisdom and Sister Vergie told us she read the pamphlet we left and she's already stopped drinking coffee and Gilbert was making a plan to stop smoking before we even asked him if he would! The best part of his plan is that when we asked what he would do when he felt tempted to smoke he said, "Hahawakan ko ang mga manok ko." Which roughly translates to, "I'll just hold my chickens." Hey, whatever works ;) 

I love Sta. Cruz. I love my companion. I love my housemates. I love every one of my investigators and each of the members here. I LOVE being a missionary in the Philippines San Pablo Mission and I know that this is EXACTLY where I need to be right now. I wouldn't trade this for the world. I love all of you and I am so thankful for the support that you continue to give and for the prayers you send my way. Have a great week and be grateful for the little things :)

XOXO, Sister Brown
We got electricity after 11 days....we couldn't turn the lights off!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The day I met Glenda‏

Kamusta po kayo lahat? Buhay pa ako, don't worry. This was a week that I probably won't be forgetting any time soon. It kinda changed my life. Why? Because I met Glenda. Let me tell ya about her. 

Wednesday morning I woke up at about 1 am because someone was screaming outside my window. It was the wind. Wind that went from screaming to roaring. Sleeping was a lost cause so my companion and I just watched out the window as the giant mango tree out front danced pretty violently, so much so that it started to snap, crackle, and pop and we were sure it was coming through our window at any moment. We ran into the other sisters' room to find them doing the same thing so all 4 of us sisters went downstairs, lit some candles, and watched out the window as trees snapped in half and metal roofing was torn from houses. I just kept thinking, "It has to stop soon." And it did eventually. 8 hours later. It was the strangest feeling to step outside into silence after 8 hours of constant roaring. It was even stranger to me to see these downright amazing people start coming out and picking up pieces and rebuilding their lives. 

We had no cell phone service and no electricity and so we decided to spend the day checking up on all of our members and investigators. Now this Glenda had nothing on Yolanda, but I saw things that I have never seen before and that have changed my outlook on life. The path to our first member was no where to be found. It was covered with fallen trees. And so was their house. They were all okay, in fact they were just acting like it was any other day. Only there was a tree in their house. 

That's the thing about the Filipino people. Throughout the day, we visited members who had swapped roofs with the neighbors, some who were missing walls, and some whose houses were completely blown away. I pulled people's walls off of the very few possessions they had in the first place and I lifted someone's front door from a pile that used to be their home. But even though these people were in a pretty desperate situation, they were still smiling. They started rebuilding one another's homes and doing anything they could to help. One member built a room onto their house that very day so that their neighbor could live their until they could rebuild her house. They were worrying about us, asking us about our home and making sure we had water and all the things we needed.I have never seen such a faith-filled, resilient people in all my life. Of course, I'd never been to the Philippines.

We are on day 7 with no power. I've been planning by candlelight all week. We had to throw all of our food away. I have now experienced a level 4 typhoon. That was the first of 6 typhoons on the way. (But don't worry mom, most of them are smaller) But never have I loved the Philippines so much. Never have I been so grateful that Heavenly Father called me here. I am so grateful for the eternal perspective that the gospel gives. I am thankful for the lessons that I am learning from these people about what's really important in life. 

On a less exciting note, transfers were this week and I got a new companion! Guess who! None other than the incredible Sister Burt from Canlubang! I love her to death and I am so excited for this transfer~

 Thank you for your prayers, love, and support. I love you all. Have an incredible week and remember what's really important.

XOXO, Sister Brown

Watching Glenda

That's their roof

The Jupiter Family

Rebuilt Mamu's fence
But we aren't very good....

The church

New companion :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Even On Our Worst Days...‏

So first of all, how on earth is it Monday again??? This week was pretty busy. And pretty sweaty. I don't really know why they call it rainy season. It should just be called sweaty season. Because I sweat way more than it's rained! But I'm not complaining. Sta. Cruz is awesome! 

Let me start with the big news first. So much amazing stuff happened last week I forgot to tell you that EJ and Ella passed their interviews! EJ is 14 and Ella is 11 and I love them with all my heart. They were baptized with their 8 year old brother, Jhed, on Saturday. And what a baptism it was! Let me just tell ya about it. So we get there and we start at the standard Filipino time of 30 minutes late. That's fine. Then the speaker doesn't show up, so our amazing ward mission leader throws one together because he's the bomb. Then we're told the ward missionaries and us are doing a musical number so one of the ward missionaries stands up and calls out all of the ward missionaries by name until the majority of the congregation is standing at the front of the room stumbling through "I Love to See The Temple" to a tune all their own. 

Finally, it's time for the baptisms. Open the font! And lo and behold, there in the font is the water from the Elders baptism earlier, and as is the norm to Sta. Cruz, it is brown. And I mean BROWN. But those kids are super stars and they got in anyway. And they stayed there for awhile. Because CJ, our baptizer, was a first-timer and it took him a few tries to get them all the way under the water. It didn't help that everyone in the room was shouting, "No, no, his foot! No, no, his hand!" After Jhed went under 3 times, EJ twice, and Ella 3 times, their dad (Brother Makulit) puts his hands up in the air and says, "Perfect!" Haha :) Since Jed is only 8, he was confirmed right after his baptism. By the Bishop. Who was wearing his street clothes. And gave the blessing in pure English. I'm sure Jhed understood. OH wait! We speak Tagalog in the Philippines! 

By this point, I was a little bit frustrated. But that's when each of the kids stood up and bore their perfect, little testimonies. And I remembered something I heard once: Even on our worst days, we are still the true church of Jesus Christ. And NOTHING can change that. And nothing can stop the spirit from testifying of that. So there, ya have it. The church is true. 

I got to go on exchanges with Sister Johnson this week. She's been out since the end of January and I LOVE her! It was just fun to talk to her because she's so... real. Sometimes missionaries tend to feel like they can't be themselves, they have to be perfect and super-human. Especially STLs. But Sister Johnson gets it. She reminded me that I need to make the work more fun and just be myself. She reminded me who I was :) 

We also had MLC. But I'll save that for another day. I love you all tons and I am so thankful for the love and support you give to me. I feel your prayers every day. Mahal ko po kayo! 

XOXO, Sister Brown

Exchanges w/ Sis Johnson
Rainy Season

Walking through puddles
Pres and Sis Mangum

Irish and Ina

Kitty cat siomai

The baptismal font