|Hot chocolate in the Pines|
Another highlight would definitely have to be the fact that I am still in Sta. Cruz! I cannot tell you how much I love this place and these people and my companion. I am so, so, so, so, so grateful I get to stay :) Why do I love it so much? Let me tell you about the real highlight of this week. Sunday. Sta. Cruz 4th Ward has had 20 baptisms in the last 6 months. 4 of them were this last Wednesday. It was the other sisters' investigators but I love them like they were mine. Brother Ramos has end-stage kidney failure. Most days he doesn't get out of bed. But he really wanted to be baptized. So even though he had a seizure the morning of his baptism, he insisted that he could and would be baptized. And he was, along with his 3 oldest children. I think that qualifies as a miracle.
Because there are so many recent converts, it's been kind of hard to keep them all strong and supported. So that's been the focus of Sister Burt and I the last couple of weeks. One of our recent convert families, the Jupiters, haven't been to church for over a month. Not that they don't want to, they just can't. They don't have any money. We taught them about budgeting to try and help them out and it turns out they live on about $35 a week for their family of 5. The 48 pesos they needed to come to church was a big sacrifice. But they started saving. And on Sunday, they walked into sacrament with the biggest smiles on their faces :) Charice also came. She's 16 and she's the only member in her family. Her house was completely destroyed in the typhoon and she hasn't come to church since May because she had a mandatory class on Sundays. But she decided she needed the blessings she was missing out on, so she talked to her teachers and got out of the class. And then she brought her dad to church with her.
In fact, every single one of our recent converts came to church on Sunday! And so did every one of our baptismal goal dates. Including Brother Pamilacan. In the Philippines, investigators must come to church for 4 consecutive Sundays before they can be baptized. In the year that Bro. Pamilacan has been taught, that has NEVER happened. Also, his oldest son, EJ, who just got baptized in July, spoke in sacrament! And he did so great! The smiles on his parents' faces were priceless :) Sunday also brought baptismal interviews for Gilbert and Vergie. They passed! And then we taught Brother Pamilacan. He told us that he went to a funeral (which is like a big party in the Pines) and as soon as they got out the alak he told them he had to get going. He really is a changed man and I really love them so much.
This is getting way too long, but just deal with it. I'm living the dream here. You need to know all about it. Thank you for all of your prayers and support, they are felt and appreciated. Have a great week!