Monday, November 4, 2013

Another pday already? I'm not complaining, but holy smokes that flew by! God really hears us all and really answers our prayers! That is something that I am gaining a solid testimony of while out here. I was running out of time so I didn't get to share, but after hearing "Cottonwood Lane" I put my head down and automatically started feeling bad for myself. I started thinking about how sad this situation is for me. I literally thought to myself "I cannot do this." And that was when the spirit decided to interject, "well duh you can't do this, that is why I am here." I am weak. I am inexperienced. I came to the Philippines thinking that all a mission would be is having no worries but preaching His gospel. I didn't think about the foreign customs, the long hours of walking in the sun, or learning a whole new language. In that moment as I was feeling sorry for myself, I gave God probably one of the most desperate prayers I have ever given. I told Him that I need Him to be with me every single moment in order for the work to be possible. And the day completely turned around. He answered me so instantly! I felt His love for me and I couldn't have asked for anything more.
     Now every morning and night I promise to work my hardest and be the best missionary that I can be if that meant that I could have His strength with me for the next 18 months. One huge difference that I have noticed is that through Him, I have turned my focus away from me and to the people. The people here are amazing. They all have close to nothing. Most of them walk around with a hardened look on their faces which can be intimidating. But as soon as I smile at them, they will give me the biggest, best smile I have ever seen! The funniest thing to me about the people is how independent they are. It gets dark here really early. The sun is set by 6 and since there is not much electricity, the street lights are either dim or non existent (which creates adventures of its own) and so the streets are often very dark. It is something that I am still getting used to but obviously it don't phase the people here. Just last night we were walking at like 8 pm and there was a little girl who couldn't have been older than 6 walking around singing a little song all by herself! The street was dark and isolated! There are constantly groups of little 12 year old looking kids walking around at night and it is still taking a while to get used to haha.
     The people at church are great. Like I said before, the ward is very very small. But each member is so loving and kind and I am really enjoying getting to know them better. The bishop is hilarious. He rolls up to church on his motorcycle with 3 or 4 of his kids hanging off the front, back, wherever. He has 6 children and his wife is such a sweetheart. They mostly speak Ilikano though so it's challenging to communicate with him sometimes. But hey miscommunication is pretty much the story of my life at the moment. Another especially great people in the ward are Brother Leonel, the 22 year old YM president/Assistant Ward Mission Leader (because our ward mission leader is inactive)/the only member who will go to lessons with us. He is also turning in his mission papers because he is a recent convert to the church so we will be losing him soon. Makes us want to cry. But he's going to be such an awesome missionary. There is also Brother Joei who he and his wife are both RMs. They are great, really enthusiastic, but they are technically in ward 1. So we get them every other Sunday which is so sweet of them because they recognize that our ward needs some help.
      But of course, my favorite people probably have to be the people that we teach. We have about 6 investigators currently and we teach a lot of less actives and recent converts. I will talk about a few of them in detail. First brother Manuel. He was a referral from a sister in the ward and he is really awesome. He has such a strong desire to understand the truth of what we teach him. But his lack of education kind of keeps him from being able to do so the way that he would like to. For example, he wants to know that the Aklat ni Mormon is true but won't read it because it is too confusing. He has a baptismal date set for the 30 of November but we can't go through with it if he hasn't shown that he will commit more to understanding the doctrine. His faith is great, but he depends too much on others and not enough on the spirit. He told us that to prepare for baptism he reads this pamphlet over and over. He held the pamphlet up and we saw that it was the Chastity pamphlet. Luckily Brother Leonel was with us for that lesson so he could explain in better Tagalog than Sister Tanner or I could. Hahaha he has the best intentions, but we are still working with him. 
      Then there is Sister Kathleen. She is from Switzerland actually so we get to have our lessons with her in English. She was a referral from another set of missionaries. She has a 2 year old son named Josh who I am officially in love with. He reminds me a ton of zeke and ah, just makes me happy to be with children. But anyway, Kathleen is amazing. She has had a ton of trials in her life including a bad relationship with her father, she has been paralyzed twice, and she is now a single mother. Her biggest trial right now is the word of wisdom. She had no problem giving up alcohol, tea, coffee. But she has been smoking tobacco since she was 14. She is now in her 30s. She literally cannot remember what life was like before she was smoking. But she has already gone from 10+ cigarettes a day to 2-5. So we see improvement and know that she can do it! She has already seen great blessings in her life since the missionaries have met with her and that is great. She has a baptismal date set for Dec 21 which will be great if she can overcome her addiction to tobacco.
     Last but definitely not least is Sister Louis! She is the first investigator who I have been here from the beginning of her teaching! She is married to an RM and just had a baby boy. Since she just gave birth, she is on leave from work so she has time to take the lessons. She accepted a baptismal date for November 23! She is sooo sooo prepared already to accept the gospel it's pretty much just a matter of getting to her house 3-4 times a week in order to teach her everything before she gets baptized haha. She is only 29 and reminds me of my sisters. Shes so fun to just talk to and we feel the spirit so strongly with her. 
     So it's safe to say things are definitely looking up here in the Philippines. Things are not easy, but why should they be? It's not called missionary "work" for nothing! I wish I could share about every person I have met here but I cannot :( and once again I cannot send pictures! Hopefully we will go to the internet cafe where we can do that next week. But for now, I love you all! Take care! Keep praying! Keep reading scriptures! I miss you guys but I know that this is where I am supposed to be.
Mahal na mahal kita,
Sister Sawada

p.s. Nbd but apparently our house is haunted. Literally, we have had some things happen that made us wonder and we asked the zone leaders for a blessing. They straight us said that it is true, the 1/3 exists! What the heck? Does that really happen? So the house is haunted, but they couldn't come into the house to bless it because it is sister's housing. So we just said a prayer that night and have been living in fear since. Haha jk we aren't really afraid anymore because we know that the Lord's power is greater than anything else.

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