So, this morning I woke up to a monster in my room. It was a cockroach the size of ME just chilling on my wall when I opened my eyes. I sat up so quickly that my entire puny little metal bunk bed almost tipped over. I didn't scream though. I just ushered it out the door and didn't invite it to come back...or to come unto Christ.
(woop - there it is).
I feel like I've been here for 100 years, but then I realize that I still don't even completely know my way around this place. But this last week, I really focused on my attitude. I studied the scriptures so hard and drowned myself in studying the characteristic of Christ. Then, I tried to apply those to myself.
I'll be honest...it's freaking hard. Especially when my natural reaction to many of the things I face each day would be to just roll my eyes, say a sarcastic remark, cry or even swear (wait. what?)
But this week, when we would get lost, or punted, or when we would not understand what someone was saying to us - basically whenever we were in a pickle - I would just think, "oh this is hilarious. This is way better than 'Keeping up with the Kardashians' - I wish my family could see this."
It takes a lot of motivation and courage to get out to work. Like in Santiago, it used to be I was anxious to get the morning studies done so we could go out and find people and teach...But here in Solano, I find myself cherishing every minute I get to study. And when time is up I think, "I'm scared to go out and face the world - I wish I could just do language study for the next 100 hours." But that lack of courage has helped me...I know it has...because I literally have to plead with Heavenly Father to take care of me. I plead with him every morning before we head out to work to help me, to be my companion, and to send angels to walk with me. He's pulled through for me. He always does.
I saw a miracle this week.
In our area we take a tricey out to our furthest point and then walk our way back as we stop by those we teach. I've gotten used to getting punted 98% of the time. And on this particular day I was seeing that kind of outcome as we got rejected about 13 times in a row.
As we were walking down the highway, Sister Nawere stopped at a gate. I asked who we were seeing. She struggled to answer me, but tried her best to explain that she had never really met the lady before, but knew that she had been baptized, but wasn't coming to church. So, this Nanay came out and looked at us like we were strange. She was hesitant to open the gate and asked why we were there. I proceeded to introduce who we were and asked her name and other 'get to know you,' questions. She let us in, but her attitude was hard. Which just made me work even harder to get to know her. The miracle....she knows English. Super well. Like at one point I just stopped speaking in Tagalog and spoke to her in English.
We talked forever, and as time went on, it was very apparent that her heart was softened. She opened up to me about how she stopped going to church because she didn't feel completely accepted. She told me about how after the missionary that converted her went home...nobody ever loved her so much. She didn't feel welcomed. She said church was uncomfortable because she felt alone. It broke my heart. Because I was thinking about M. and N. and M. and T. and the other investigators I had in Santiago and how much I loved them...and how my final last words to Sister L. were "L - take care of them. They are so important to me."
It made me think of this missionary that she talked about, and how sad he would feel if he knew that one of the people he taught and baptized and loved so dearly wasn't feeling the love that she needed. Nanay E. showed us pictures of this Elder and told me stories of how incredible and close he was to her family. As I stared at the pictures, I could only imagine him saying the same thing to me, "Sister Frame - please take care of her. She is so important to me." It then clicked. All of it. I could just picture the Savior saying it to me, about all the people I meet here in the Philippines. "Mads - please take care of them. They mean so much to me."
My love for Nanay E. was overwhelming. I just wanted to tell her, but couldn't even express it all in words. So I did my best.
I told Nany E. a few things. The first being that she was a pure answer to my prayers. I told her about how I'm new to this area, and not completely comfortable, and how even as a missionary I'm looking for friends. And how I was praying to meet her. I had been praying ALL week to meet someone that I could talk with. The second being that I loved her. I just simply stated that. And then I bore testimony that I know her Heavenly Father loved her.
We've been back each day. She's very special to me. Heavenly Father really had my back that day.
I really got to know Sister N. this week. She's a sweet girl. I tried to put myself in her shoes. I put myself in the situation of not knowing Tagalog which took no effort at all, but also not knowing English. I have it easy compared to her. So my love and appreciation for her diligence and work and smile grew ten fold. I'm grateful for her. It doesn't change our ability to speak, but it makes the days easier, more peaceful, and more enjoyable.
The work is scary, frustrating, hard, and at times feels impossible. But it has the most happy, spiritual, rewarding and peaceful moments that make it worth it. I'm grateful to be a part of it.
Have the best week - Merry Christmas - I love you.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Monday, December 2, 2013
We don't have Thanksgiving here in the Philippines, but naturally, I've been reflecting on the things I'm most thankful for.
So, I figured, I'd send a list of a few:
I'm Thankful for the weather: It was actually like 102 this week. Seriously - so miserable. Then on Thursday Heavenly Father wanted to do me a solid favor and He made it super cloudy and windy. and no rain! It was the coolest. Sister L and I were walking down the roads passing the fields. We stopped and sat down on a hill for a little bit to soak in the perfect day and share what we are grateful for.
I'm Thankful for Sister L: She's my best friend. She's afraid of dogs....which supplies a whole lifetime of laughter as we work. There are a lot of dogs in the Philippines.
I'm Thankful for the colors in the Philippines: It's beautiful. This place is beautiful.
I'm Thankful for Nanay V: She has beautiful eyes that light up the world. I don't know if I'm ever gonna see her again. I will hold on to the memory of hugging her goodbye yesterday after church. I didn't have the heart to tell her I was getting transferred. But, I can hang out with her in heaven one day.
I'm Thankful you can J-Walk in the Philippines: Technically you can't. But nothing happens if you do.
I'm Thankful for "heaven pictures:" Loey taught me when I was in high school.
Heaven pictures are for when you don't have time to take a picture with a real camera.
Like when you are in the moment of walking down the road and a tricey with 17 school kids hanging off of it as it drives by.
Or when you are sitting at your desk studying, and you look out the window to see a 90-year old, 4 foot nanny walking by with a basket full of things that weigh 6 times more than her on the top of her head.
I've taken millions of heaven pics. I CAN'T WAIT to see the slide show of them all when I get there.
I'm Thankful for the lesson we had with Tatay C on Saturday: This really was a miracle. T.C. is one of the smartest men I've met here. The C family used to be active in the ward. Each week. Lots of kids. Then.....? Every missionary fears T.C. Nobody has the patience or confidence to teach him.
On Saturday, Sister L and I went over there. He asked us who we came to teach. Somehow, Heavenly Father gave us the courage to say, "Ikaw na lang T!" (you!)
He seemed shocked, hesitant. Then he agreed. I turned to Sister L, so nervous. I was praying really hard.
We just talked with him. Not as missionaries. But as fellow siblings. As children of God. And we listened to him. The spirit was stronger than I've ever felt it. really.
On Sunday - he came to church. for the first time in 13 years!! It was incredible. It being the first Sunday of the month, he stood up and testified of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the coolest moment to be able to witness.
I will never forget the feelings I had in that lesson and in that testimony meeting for the rest of my life. This work is so cool.
I'm Thankful for classic Filipino kids: Sister L and I were lost in our own world of enthusiasm after the lesson (mentioned above). After a few minutes of talking with each other I turned to notice 16 little kids, barefoot and giggly following closely behind us. Trying to be sneaky. When they noticed they were caught they started laughing even harder. So...I started running...and they started chasing. This white girl running down the dirt roads of the Phlippines being chased by a gang of 4-10 year old. (don't worry. i turned to take a heaven pic). It was so fun. It's these moments I love. The moments that make everything worth it.
I'm Thankful for Costa Vida and washing machines: enough said.
I'm Thankful for my family: obviously. you're all astir talaga.
I'm Thankful for the memories of Delta Phi 47th and the incredible friends/roommates I've been blessed with. You have taught me more than you know. I'm grateful.
I'm Thankful for this Gospel. It's all we need to be truly happy.
"A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment." Elder Bednar
Favorite Scripture this week: 1 Thessalonians 5:18