Monday, August 26, 2013

Seeing what He sees

Story of the week - 

The experience I'll attempt to write about was a very enlightening, spiritual and overwhelming moment for me.  To some it would seem like just another ordinary opportunity that comes along with the territory of a "mission experience," but for me - 
It was the moment I had been praying for.
It was the moment I recognized and understood the love of Jesus Christ.
It was perfect.

It started Thursday morning at 7:30 when Sister P and the other Sisters left the house and headed down the block to help with the "feeding program" at the elementary school.  We had been asked by the bishop the night before, and we gladly jumped at the chance to be a part of a different kind of service that morning.

As we waited for the bishop at the school, I took the opprotunity to absorb my surroundings.  Lots and lots of kids, all dressed in their school uniform, running around and independently fulfilling their personal responsibilities before heading to class.  You could feel the hype of curiosity as the kids walked past us and exclaimed "Americanas!" (Sister K and I).  The only thing I could really do was smile and say "hello!" or high five them as they passed by.  It started to rain a bit, so we headed to the big pavilion that was centered in the middle of the campus.  There was a practice going on for some kind of upcoming program, and students were scattered around.  Right away this bunch of 9 individuals caught my attention.  They were a lively crowd and close enough to where I could clearly see them, but far enough away that I couldn't hear them.

    What first caught my attention was this little boy,  about 8 years old, wearing raggy jeans and a tattered t-shirt, not a uniform.  He was talking with 2 others.  I could tell that he was talking about someone being fat and swinging on a rope.  Not through his words, like i said - I could not hear them, but through his actions.  I pointed him out to Sister P and said, "Look how animated and imaginative this little boy is."  We both watched for a moment longer before recognizing that the two other students he was communicating with joined in on this "pictionary-like" discussion.  They spoke through actions too - these kids were deaf.

As i continued to watch, I picked up on a few things...1. this little boy was hilarious.  kind of a little punk.  you could tell that he was the only boy, the youngest, so he had successfully established the role of being the "little brother" figure of this small class.  He was very good at teasing the girls and being goofy enough to make them laugh.  2.  At one point he started to dance for all the girls.  He was one of the most incredible little dancers I have ever seen.  Impersonating Michael Jackson or Elvis, he had mastered dougie, gangham style, and the stanky leg like an expert.  He even threw in some salsa dance moves for some added flavor.  It was amazing.

I was obviously in awe, and after a few minutes of intensely watching him, this little boy caught me staring at him.  I know this got him excited because he quickly alerted the others and described me through motioning stripes on his shirt and by rubbing his arms (my white skin).  Then, he pointed at me - so that really gave it away.

But after telling the others, he ran over, stood about 10 feet in front of me, and just stared.  All I could do was stare back and smile in awe (I was just as starstruck as he was).   Finally, I motioned for him to "come here," and I reached my hand out to shake his.  The smile he got on his face, with his broken teeth and all, was perfect.  He shook my hand and I 'blessed him' - (putting his hand to my forehead.  It's a sign of respect that children give to their elders here in the Philippines.  I often do it to the kids cause they get the biggest kick out of it).

The other eight roared in laughter from across the pavillion.  Only one little girl had the courage to follow him.  He signed for her to come shake our hands.  She ran and gave us a hug instead.  We took a picture and they ran off and continued to reek 'silent' havoc amongst the seven others through their sign language.  It was incredible to watch these kids converse with one another.  They used their entire bodies and faces to speak.  Their spirits were illuminated through their conversation. 

it was beautiful

After a while, the little girl that had approached us earlier returned.  She opened her hand, and on her palm she had written the words "mahal ko kayo"  (I love you).

Honestly, one of the most tender moments I've ever been a part of.  As the kids continued to play and converse with each other, I went from thinking, "wow, this is cool!" to the point of where I had tears streaming down my face with so much to think about - 

I spend EVERY day in frustration of my inability to speak with these Filippino people.  Learning this language is exhausting and so annoying most of the time.  As I sat and watched these kids, I thought about them.  How it must feel.  To not have the privilege or ability to talk to very many people around them.  To live in a silent world.  Yet, this little girl was still willing and made the effort to express that she loved us.  I don't speak Tagalog just yet...and I definitely don't know sign language.  But this little girl can't even  hear words.  Music started playing and it broke my heart just knowing that this little boy couldn't hear the music.  But the way he danced - oh!  it was like he had music on replay in his whole soul.  

It was their example that truly changed me.  their enthusiasm, their love and their smiles.  they were happy.

Now - I don't know if this story made sense, and it's nearly impossible to express the impression it made on my heart.  Words cannot explain the clarity, feelings and emotions I felt.  But I was able to see through these two children the light of Christ and the love of God.

I'm seeing the world a little bit differently each day that I'm here.  I'm growing in a knowledge that I didn't ever think existed. Alam ko - so naive and sheltered.

But I am blessed.  We all are.

-Sister Frame
When I get home will someone go to Disneyland with me?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sisters, like mine

Hard couple of weeks, but I'm proud to admit, this week was back on track.  
ALMA 31: 31-38 saved the day.  Scriptures seem to do that.  But, honestly, I've spent overtime on my knees just talking to Heavenly Father.  Just telling Him what was on my mind -

He definitely heard me.

Tuesday was quarterly interviews with the president.  President Rahlf is a champ.  Really.  I love that man.  We just talked and had the most open conversation about the mission, and I left with a clearer perspective of this all.  So, I checked my attitude at the door and went to work.

I studied my brains out this week on Christlike attributes.  Kind of discouraging because...holy cow...I have a lot of work to do.  But each day as I studied, prayed, read, and applied different attributes, my mind was clear.  An attribute that I recognized I am seriously lacking is - charity.  so...I am now working on developing my charity.  Because without it, i will have no success as a missionary...or a human.  I will continue to pray, study, seek, ponder, and develop charity until I can look at any person and see them as Christ would see them.  I want to have the pure love of Christ for everyone.  

We were teaching charity to M. and N. this week.  As I was talking, I was literally teaching myself the lesson. I was starting to understand it, now I just need to develop it.

and with of my favorite scriptures this week is Moroni 7:45-48.

N. and M. are baptized!!!!!! Holy cow...I saw miracles this week.  Sister P. and I were talking one night as we were going to bed, just reflecting back to when we first met N. - how she was so shy and was too nervous to ask any questions...and now she and M. are seriously our best friends.  I think I am so obsessed with them because their relationship as sisters is Laren and I to a "T."  Loey and I are the American version of them.  It's scary.  So many personality traits, mannerisms and the way they interact with each other- it's all practically identical...and makes me miss my sister.  

But just to think - they are members of the church now!

It is incredible just to see the progress and the testimonies that these two individuals have developed in the last month.  They're happy.

On to miracles - N.'s husband, Mk.  He is usually working when we're over there, but we had met him a few times while teaching N.  He never had a lot to say when we did see him, but I think he is just shy.  Anyway - N. told us last weekend that Mk. couldn't come to their baptism because he had to work.  

And because he had no pants or shoes.

                                    Well -

that was simple.  It only took a few texts to the elders and a "Please and Thank You" to solve the clothes issue.  By the end of the night we had more church clothes than we knew what to do with.  Mk. had endless options of pants and shoes, neckties and shirts to choose from.  And they were all his!

Now M (19) is the CUTEST girl in the world and we have had a blast introducing her to the most handsome RM's in the stake and making sure one of them picks her up for institute each week.  We have gotten her very involved with all the single adults.  On Friday-Saturday there was an overnight YSA conference with 15 stakes at Water World Resort about 30 minutes away.  We arranged for May to go, and we were SO excited, but it conflicted with her baptism.  

So - we simply pushed the time back - 

She could have the best of both worlds:  The activity and getting baptized later than night.  Moving the time back opened the door for the 1st miracle.  On Saturday night, Mk. showed up to the baptism, all dressed up in perfectly fitting church clothes to his wife's baptism.  He was able to get work off the second half of the afternoon.  It was awesome.

The baptism, of course, had a rough start.  Naturally, Satan had to make his debut and make things complicated -  Like Sister P. and I sitting on the curb in a downpour for 30 minutes waiting for someone to come open the church gates, complications filling the font, no baptisimal clothes, and last minute sprints to the bishop's house to find some - but by the end of the night - they were baptized and the spirit was undeniably strong.  Awesome.

The next day, during Sacrament Meeting, they were getting confirmed.  M. had gotten a really bad fever and they were late making it to church.  They arrived and Mk. came with such an enthusiasm to be there.  He told Sister P. and I that he had a dream the night before that "he was in a white building that was so beautiful, he couldn't describe it," and that he felt so peaceful.  He asked us to come over after church to teach him.  Then N. (in English) said, "Let's get him baptized!" I love when they do that...speak English.  

That night, M. was still VERY sick.  The home teaching coordinators just happened to be stopping by to welcome and visit N. and M.  They also gave M. a blessing and Mk. was able to witness it.  You could just see it in his face....he was so touched.  

Heavenly Father is in this work, and it is amazing to witness.  I'm grateful to be a part of it.

With the language...I've seriously let down a wall and started speaking more.  Mostly just like the things I hear my companion say.  I hit my head on the bunk bed one night and said the first thing that came to my mind.  It was in Tagalog...I don't even know what it means, but I hear my companion say it a lot.  And when I'm with other missionaries and they are teasing me, I've gotten really good at all the sarcastic expressions and comebacks.  I still can't teach in Tagalog worth crap.  But I'm keeping up with the street smarts.

I don't know why every bug and insect in the entire country of the Philippines thought it necessary to drop by our house for a visit.  They were never invited and it was so gross.  I woke up Sister P. two times to kill a cockroach the size of my face.  They are annoying...especially the millipede in the shower.

Thank you for ALL your emails, updates, love, support.  I'm serious - I felt all of your prayers this week.  And I thanked Heavenly Father for it.  There are obviously bad days...and weeks...or two weeks.  But I'm seeing the strength that comes from it all.  I'm enjoying the work.  I'm enjoying these experiences...mostly.  

                                I'm over here falling more in love with the Gospel!

- Sister Frame

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Dear Aunt Laura,

I was so happy to hear that you and Uncle Sean are teaching mission prep!  So cool.  I've been thinking all week what I could tell you - 

The mission is quite the experience.  No matter how prepared you feel like you are for a mission, uh....just prepare to be unprepared.  I felt like I was ready.  I knew the work was going to be hard, but...I didn't really.  It's a kind of 'hard' that comes from only experiencing it.  However, without the discouraging experiences, we wouldn't be able to feel the joy and excitement and enthusiasm that comes from the good times.

A friend of mine told me before I left that going on a mission is like going to the moon.  The astronaut can bring back moon rocks, memories and even photos, but the other people never get to experience the take off, zero gravity and re-entry.  It's something that can only be experienced.

Truly knowing in your heart your purpose as a missionary is what is so important.  Knowing why you're here and your responsibility as an individual who wears the title of 'Sister' or 'Elder' 

on the SAME tag that states you are a representative of Jesus Christ

is the most important thing.  We are giving ONLY a year and a half or two years of our time to dedicate and share what we know to our brothers and sisters about this Gospel.  We have to learn to love this work no matter what the day is like or where we are.  And in order to love this work we have to be truly converted to this Gospel.  We ourselves have to have the testimony.  Coming on this mission I thought I had a pretty solid and strong testimony.  But EVERYDAY I'm tested and my faith is tried, and my trust in Heavenly Father grows.  But - I love it.  I love this gospel.  In the purest sense of the word, I love this Gospel.

A mission is tough.  But, it's worth it.

also - thank you for saying in your letter - "Heavenly Father doesn't need us to be totally capable - just willing and diligent."  That was an answer to my prayers this week.  I have it written on the front of my journal.

Sister Frame