Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rays of Sunshine‏

Kamusta na po kayo lahat? Hope you had an absolutely terrific week! Our week was... interesting. Sister Burt and I actually got stoned. Like in the Bible, when people throw rocks at you. We were walking home from church and this little 4 year old boy yells out, "Hi sisters!" and hurls a handful of rocks at us. Haha okay so that's pretty funny :) Not a whole lot happened this week. We dropped all of our not progressing investigators, some of our recent converts started to hide from us, and transfer week is this week and I have no idea what will happen so I've been a little anxious, but I hope with all of my heart that I get to stay. I also went on exchanges in Sta. Cruz ward 1 with Sister Dadivas, who is the cutest thing ever and we got punted all the day long. But somehow, even with all of that, I still just felt like Heavenly Father was right there. There were always miracles to be found, there was always a ray of sunshine.

Something that I noticed this week was that every single night, we would walk out of an appointment and there would be an absolutely beautiful sunset. I really love sunsets. Especially this week. On the days where everything was going great, it was just a perfect ending. But then there were a few days where everything seemed to be going wrong and the beautiful sunset just didn't seem to fit. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it made sense. On a good day, I think gorgeous sunsets are Heavenly Father's stamp of approval. And on the not-so-good days, I felt very much that it was Heavenly Father's assurance of a brighter tomorrow. I love the miracle of sunsets :)

Another ray of sunshine was our Family Home Evenings. We had one with Vergie and Gilbert and ALL of their neighbors and it was so much fun and so powerful. At the end, Gilbert stood up and said, "Thanks sisters, this was a night we will always remember." And of course, he added in how great of teachers we were ;) That's what makes it all worth it :) We also had Family Home Evening with the Pamilacan's, which is always an adventure. And usually, at the end Brother stands up and says something funny and closes it. But this time, he started out with, "First of all, I want to thank Jesus." And we were like, "Whoa, we're at the Oscars." But then he went on to say thank us for our patience with teaching him and his family about the gospel and helping them come closer to Christ. He is so ready. He told us. We taught him about the priesthood the other day and I said, "Brother will you prepare yourself to..." and he cut in and said, "Sister, handang handa na ako para sa aking binyag!" Which translates to, "I am SO ready for my baptism." That wasn't my question, but I never thought I'd hear him say that. His kids found out about his baptismal goal date too and they are super excited! I just love that family so much. We are going there later and Brother is going to teach us how to make pancit! 

Have a great week and don't forget to look for your rays of sunshine. 

XOXO, Sister Brown

Sunday's sunset

Ward activity

P-day with the ward
Jay and Mark
House skirts
Our seamstress
RS photo shoot with the stars
The Ramos kids

Exchanges with Sta. Cruz sisters
Sta. Cruz River
Sis. Dadivas

FHE at the Pamilacan's
Thursday's sunset

FHE at the Salvador's
Vergies and Gilbert's sign of faith

Wednesday's sunset
Theme of my life
Zone P-day

The Cortez couple

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dreams Really Do Come True‏

Joan Garcia's Baptism
Did you know that miracles are real? They are. This was a week of miracles for me. Miracles and other things. Like the fact that my little brother turned 18. Happy Birthday Jaden! Or the fact that we randomly went all the way to Pakil just to have companionship study with our sisters there and like having exchanges with the Sta. Maria sisters! I got to go with Sister Cowley, who used to be my STL in Tayabas. I was kind of nervous since she is basically missionary perfection but she is also the kindest, most hopeful person I have ever met. I loved spending the day with her and I learned so, so much from her! I am still 100% convinced this whole STL thing is just for me to learn all the things I was supposed to learn long ago. But onto the miracles.

Miracle #1, Joan got baptized! I'm gonna be honest, when I first met Joan I didn't think that was ever gonna happen. She would hide from us when we would go and visit her and I'm pretty sure she didn't listen to a word we said when she did let us in. But somewhere along the way, she had a change of heart and I have loved seeing the changes in her life and the light that has grown in her eyes and the hope and happiness that just emanates from her. Her baptism will be a memorable one too. It was supposed to start at 5:30 but as is custom in the Philippines, disasters must happen before any baptism can take place. The font had been turned on, but also forgotten. So we spent some time bailing out the swimming pool that used to be the primary room. And then we spent some more time waiting for Bishop to show up so we could rescue the baptismal jumpsuits that were locked in a room upstairs. And finally, at 7:00 Joan Garcia got one step closer to having her eternal family :)

Miracle #3, Vergie and Gilbert have a tindahan. And it's been really hard for them to close it on Sundays because the nearest tindahan is really far away and they don't want their neighbors to be mad at them. But this week we showed up at their house Sunday night to a little handmade sign that said, "Closed on Sundays." And whenever people would come to ask them if they could just buy one thing really quick they would just shake their heads and smile. It was so cute and funny. They are really full of faith :)

Miracle #3, I can't tell you yet. So we taught Brother Pamilacan on Tuesday and we were surer than sure that he was going to tell us he was a changed man and he wanted to be baptized like tomorrow. We had fasted and everything. But we got there and taught him an awesome lesson and at the end, he told us he just couldn't promise us anything. We went home a little heartbroken, but catch a glimpse of my awesome companion. As we walked in the door she says, "Hey don't worry, we have faith in our fasting, right?" And I was like, "Yeah, she's right. Maybe it just wasn't supposed to be tonight." That's because it was supposed to be on Friday night. We taught him another awesome lesson about the atonement on Wednesday and how if we really love our Savior, we will follow him, no matter what it takes. Sister Burt asked him what it was he wanted from us because he'd been taught for a year now and he had 7 teaching records and he basically has the Book of Mormon memorized. And in the end he came to the conclusion that he actually really wanted his family to be sealed. And on Friday, we taught about temples. And he told us that he wanted his family to be sealed ASAP. So we asked him why it was that he didn't want to be baptized and the words, "Gusto ko," came out of his mouth. Meaning "I do want to." His wife, who had been reading the scriptures next to him whipped her head up and her mouth fell open and Brother Makulit went on to set himself a baptismal goal date and also committed himself to tell his friends he was no longer going to drink because he was going to be a Mormon. Brother Pamilacan is getting baptized on September 26! I don't know if I have ever been happier in my entire life. 

He came to church for the 3rd week in a row, which is a first. And just so you can get a glimpse of who Brother Pamilacan is, in gospel principles class, Sister Mahoni asked him what we needed to do to prepare for the 2nd coming and he said, "Make spaghetti! He's coming from really far away and He's probably going to be hungry." Haha :) The class got a kick out of that. But then there was the real Brother Pamilacan, "No, but really it's simple. We just have to follow Jesus Christ. We just have to do what He did."  I love that man and his family so much and I can't wait to come and see their little family be sealed :) Because I'm definitely coming back.

Miracle #4, my whole entire life I have been striving to grow my hair out to my bum. After a year in the Philippines (yeah, I got off the plane a year ago) it has finally made it there. 

Dreams really do come true. 

XOXO, Sister Brown

Garcia Family

Joan and Jon Ezekial
Exchanges with the Sta. Maria Sisters
Exchanges with my STL

Cool church in Pakil

FHE at Espiritu's

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Bursting Heart and Butter Fingers‏

Worn out foot number 2 :(
Well my dearest family and friends, I don't know how to say all the things I felt this week. So I'll start out with that one time where we were making puri in memory of Sister Meti and The 'Bang and I stuck 4 of my fingers in boiling oil. How does that even happen??? I don't know. But my fabulous housemates advised me to smother them in butter because it would make it feel better. So I did. And guess what, it worked. And then I just started laughing and crying because the whole situation was just so ridiculous haha I love missions :)

So many good and wonderful and amazing things happened this week! But I don't think I can adequately describe the way I feel. It's like my heart is just bubbling over with happiness and bursting with love for this place and these people. Joan passed her baptismal interview and her husband, Dave, who reactivated himself and was how we found Joan, is going to baptize her! When we taught them about priesthood and family sealings yesterday I can't even explain to you the joy I saw on Joan's face. She was like a little girl on Christmas, she got all giddy and put her hands on her face and so sincerely said, "THAT is what I want. I can't wait." Okay. The heart bursting starts there. 

Then there's Brother Makulit. Oh how I love that man and his family. It doesn't even make sense how much I love them. So this week we taught a few really good lessons on prayer and I was reminded of my own testimony of prayer. Before I knew any of the rest of this stuff was true, I KNEW that there was a Heavenly Father who heard and answered my prayers. And I just wanna testify again that prayer is realer than real. I know that because of Brother Pamilacan. I don't remember what exactly I've told you about him but who cares, I'm telling you again. He has been taught over the course of the last year by 8 different missionaries AND he was taught years ago by Elders when his wife was baptized. His 3 oldest kids were baptized in July. They really, really want an eternal family. But Brother likes to drink. Not a lot. Just a shot or two on special occasions. He also only likes to keep commitments to read the Book of Mormon and pray and come to church every once in a while. The thing is, he knows it's true. He knows that he has to be baptized in order to have that eternal family. And he knows eventually he is going to say yes. But the resolve is never there.

So we've been spending a lot of time this transfer just building our relationship with him and he is totally changing. I wrote once about the light of Christ and how it is a very visible thing. Well, I see that in his eyes. We weren't able to visit them much this past week so we were worried about him coming to church. And at first, his family walked in and sat down. Walang Brother. And then he comes swagging in with his sunglasses on and me and Sister Burt both started laughing because we were both pretty much in tears we were so happy. That's 2 weeks in a row. And he's reading. And last night I saw a new resolve in his eyes. He promised to pray and ask Heavenly Father to help him know which day in September he should be baptized on. We'd been praying for him all week. Even when we blessed the food. And I know with all my heart that Heavenly Father answered our prayers and touched his heart. I know that people can and do change. And I know that families are meant to be together forever. I love the gospel and I absolutely love that I have the chance to do bring families into the possibility of eternity. 

Love you all, have an amazing week!

XOXO, Sister Brown

Dr. Burt
Artista ay Sister Burt
Brother Gills is the best!
Jupiter fam at Irish's bday

Mutant Grasshopper

We were all in the same district at the very beginning of our missions and now we are all STL's!

The Hansen's

That is some leaf!
Playing ninja of destruction