Monday, December 22, 2014

Pasko Na!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
     I am feeling just a little nostalgic because I just so happen to be emailing in the same net shop that I was in when I skyped you all last year. It's the first time I have been back here since that day! Haha kind of random and it definitely makes me excited to see you guys again this week! 10 am on the 26 will work just great :) Can't wait!! Our apartment here is officially ready for Christmas. We have an adorable little felt Christmas tree set up on our wall and my new companion, Sister Mortell got an ipod sent to her full of Christmas music on it! INCLUDING a few Amy Grant Christmas songs!! I could barely control my emotions when I heard it for the first time haha.
     Yes, I have a new companion! Her name is Sister Mortell she is from Idaho. I actually mentioned her in my email a couple of weeks ago because we had exchanges together last transfer! Yes, she's the funny one who likes to feel like Indiana Jones on the jeepneys and that's when my dress ripped as we were getting off haha. Never would have guessed she would become my next companion! This is actually her last transfer on her mission! But I really never would guess it by the way that she works. She doesn't seem run down at all! She is really excited to dive right into this new area. She wants to do the most for it that she can before she leaves. Since she will for sure be transferring (aka going home haha) after this transfer, that may also mean that I get to be here in Bauang til the end of my time on the mission. I would really love that. The branch here is so great and the area is a really good challenge for me. There is so much more I want to do here! And Sister Mortell is going to be a great addition to the missionaries here in the branch.
     So this week was quite the week. I can't remember much that happened to be honest. On Tuesday, Sister Aroa transferred to Agoo zone and Sister Mortell arrived here in Bauang. We got to work and Sister Mortell is really doing her best to get to know faces, names, houses, everything because she only has 6 weeks here! It was a real tough week concerning pagtuturo or teaching. The Christmas season is wonderful and there is always a special feeling in the air. But I admit, I may have said "Christmas ruins everything" this week as we walked around frustrated because no one was home! haha I want this to be a great transfer for the area and especially for Sister Mortell's last transfer in the mission, but there are parades, fiestas, carolling and many other celebrations that are making it pretty rough to reach our goals each day. But of course, we try not to make excuses and just keep working hard.
     As for our tinuturuan (people we are teaching) they are still wonderful and I love them just as much as ever! But this week, we weren't able to teach MA or Brother Rolly due to crazy busy Christmas ginagawa (things you do). They are two of the three investigators in this area who have accepted dates to be baptized. And it is a little nerve racking to see that we missed out on a whole week of teaching and checking up on their commitments. But some good news with Colas! He is the other investigator who is set up to be baptized on January 24. He attended the youth Christmas party on Friday night and the branch Christmas party on Saturday! He is making some really great friends and is getting nice and comfortable at the church. Our main concern is really just his focus and understanding on gospel principles. We have decided we will give him a notebook for him and us to take notes/draw pictures in so that he can hopefully begin to have a more full understanding of the things we teach.
      This week we found some great new investigators! On her first day in the area, Sister Mortell and I decided that we wanted to find a family that we could teach and maybe even baptize within this transfer. We have found 2 families so far. We are not sure if they are the ones that we have been praying for, but we sure hope that as we move forward with faith and diligence, we will find the chosen who Heavenly Father is preparing for us. Sorry this week wasn't too exciting. But I hope everyone has an absolutely magical and joyful Christmas! I am so so excited to see you all this week on our google hangout :) Love you all!
- Sister Sawada
 


 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Photos 12/16/14






Siya ang Regalo

Hey it's me again!
    It's a beautiful and hot morning here. I am emailing in San Fernando this week rather than Bauang because we are going to have a district lunch mamaya (later on) in San Fernando. We are having a district lunch because tomorrow is transfer day and we are pretty sure there will be a couple of missionaries will be transferring from our district :( President has introduced a new system for transfers. Before, transfers were on a Thursday or Friday and all of the missionaries transferring would wake up early in the morning to be ready for a hired jeepney that would drive to each apartment and individually pick up the missionary, load on their luggage, wait for the missionary to say goodbye to their housemates, and then once every who was transferring from the zone was on the jeep, they would go to the chapel in San Fernando. All 9 zones, even those from far away like bangued and baguio would meet at the chapel in San Fernando for transfer point. At transfer point the missionaries found out where they would be going, and then would meet up with their new zones, get into the jeepney going to their new zone, and leave. Of course they would see some of their friends, chika-chika (talk story) take some pictures, and president has come to realize that this process is not only very expensive but it also wastes quite a bit of time. To be honest, most missionaries enjoy the opportunity to see their friends from the mission, myself included haha.
    But now, transfers for the sisters will be on Tuesdays. Today, or on Monday, we find out if we are transferring (we haven't gotten a call yet though) and where we are going and all of the information that we need. And then on Tuesday, we are in charge of getting our luggage onto a jeep or tryke or bus or whatever we need to get to our new area, and then we just go! Haha and then the zone leaders will meet us in our new zone at the main chapel in their zone. Then the Elders will do the same but on Wednesday they travel. Does that make sense? Is this even important for you all to know? Not sure, but I thought I would share haha. I am my mother's daughter right? hehe.
     Before I start I have some things to say. THANK YOU SO SO MUCH FOR THE PACKAGE! This week was our Christmas conference. I was bummed because it is so soon before Christmas. But once we got to the chapel and we saw all of the christmas decorations, and were uplifted by the messages and workshops given to us about Christ and this christmas season, we started to really feel the Christmas spirit. And then at the end of the conference I was told that I had a package to pick up! Seeing all of the pictures and getting the yummy yummy senbei and other snacks I was overwhelmed and just so grateful for you guys. Thank you so so much. The dress is ADORABLE. Already wore it yesterday at church of course haha. I was never good and putting off wearing new clothes. And thank you so much for the Plan of Salvation t shirt that is the coolest thing I have ever seen! Also, do we have new couches?? I am wondering if that was supposed to be a secret/surprise but I saw a bit of what looks like a new couch in one of the pictures you guys sent! Hahaha if we do, that is hilarious and I am very happy for the family that after 10+ years, we now finally have new couches. It also means that my new years prediction will be correct! Yay :)
     So the tytle of my email today is Siya ang Regalo or "He is the Gift". I am pretty sure that is the theme of many emails coming from missionaries this month. Maybe because LDS.org and the mormon advertisements are doing such a beautiful job of highlighting the true meaning of the Christmas season. Yet no matter how many times I hear that Christ is what Christmas is all about, no matter how many times I may agree that He is the focus, I have realized that I really don't understand it. At least it really hasn't shown in my actions that I believe that He is the only important Gift that was given at the first Christmas so long ago and at any other Christmas since then or any other Christmas to come. Didn't I just mention about how I didn't feel the Christmas spirit until I got my package ? Haha I guess it's good to see I am still human. 
     But this season, and in general at this point in my mission and in my life, I am really working on my relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ. Last night, we got to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and the messages given were really inspiring. Of course I feel such love and admiration when messages about Christ are shared, but I can't help and see how much room I have to improve in my personal knowledge and relationship with Him. In my personal study each morning I am trying to give a good chunk of time to gaining a greater knowledge about Jesus Christ. He is so important! Words cannot describe His importance right? So this season and for the rest of our lives, let's strive to get to know Him better. Come to know what a blessing Jesus Christ is in our lives. And as we have been encouraged, let us share this gift with the people around us.
    Once again, just a short message this week :( I have so many pictures to send! I hope I can give a better update on the area next week. Okay love you all! Have a great week! Until next time!
Love,
Sister Sawada

Monday, December 8, 2014

Agyaman ak

  I am sorry this is going to be so short. Our internet cafe didn't have connection for the longest time! :( but anyway the title of this email is Agyaman ak which means "I am grateful" in Ilokano. I may be catching onto the thanksgiving spirit a little late this year. But better late than never right? The first thing I am grateful for is your email mommy. It's actually what has inspired my attitude of gratitude today :) of course I am grateful for the emails from all of my friends and family. I am actually especially happy because I am online right now at the same time as Madison! I have missed her so much. And of course thank you Lexi Turley who so devotedly emails and chats with me every week! You're the best Lex :) Also, Monique emailed me this week as well! Monique I will reply next week! I don't have enough time this week :( but you can imagine how happy I was to open my email and see messages from some of the people I appreciate most in my life.
     Some other great news that I am so grateful for came from our MLC meeting when I got to talk to Sister Perez about what is going on in Narvacan. The Claveria children (I sent their picture before from my last day in Narvacan) are getting baptized on the 13th of December! This is a quick part of Sister Perez's email that she sent to me this week. an excerpt from my email.
Fourth, Sunday-- our IBDs' dad (Brother Claveria), who is an LA, came to church. We were amazed as he stood up and bore his testimony. He bawled and expressed his gratitude for Sister Sawada and I, because we found their family. He said that he felt that he needed change and we came. :) It was so heart-melting.
     When we found Brother Claveria, we knew that God had placed him in our path. He knew all of the doctrine that we taught to him and his children, and his children were the most receptive investigators I have every taught! It's just that he was ashamed for falling back into his past habits of drinking and smoking. I am sure it wasn't easy for Sister Perez and her companion now (Sister Campos) to finally get him to come to church. But I am so so glad and grateful that he is now coming to church and taking the action to repent and change his life for the better. And this time, he is helping his daughter and son enter the waters of baptism. And then there is Mhay, we all remember Mhay right? She will be getting baptized on the 19th! Of course I am way bummed I won't be able to be at their baptisms, but I am so grateful to be able to hear about their progress as they strive to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, I have been writing back and forth to the Bamba family and they are doing just great :) They continue to attend the church activities. Stephen really enjoys seminary. And they continue to be so loving to the missionaries and give them referrals all the time! They really just want to share the gospel with everyone.
     Well it's a little obvious I got too excited chatting with my friends and I have run out of time! :( I guess I will just quickly say that I know that it is easy for me to be grateful at this time because there are so many obvious blessings that I feel being poured out in front of me. I am happy to say that I feel that I deserve to feel this happiness because of the hard work and time that I have put into working with these people. But before I come off as proud or boastful I would like to close with the words from one of the best missionaries in the Book of Mormon.
 "do not boast in my own strength,nor in my own wisdom; bubehold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joyanwill rejoice in my God. Yea, know that am nothingato my strength am weak; therefore will not boast of myself, but will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all thingsyea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which wwill praise his name forever.
Love,
Sister Sawada

Sunday, November 30, 2014

By the power of chika-chika

Happy December Everyone!
    I guess it was thanksgiving at some point last week? Haha not much celebration over here but Sister Bircher my house mate is American and wanted to make a thanksgiving lunch. It was way yummy! She bought "chooks to go" which is a rotisserie chicken place, made mashed potatoes and a kamote (sweet potatoe) dish with marshmallows on top haha. It was fun and I think it made her really happy so that's good! It was another great week! I will get started na.
    We had exchanges again! This time we were in my area in Bauang. Sister Mortell was my companion for the day. She is from Idaho and is so hilarious! We had some fun experiences together on our exchanges. First we taught a woman named Aileen. She was being taught by the Elders in our branch but they decided to have us teach her instead because she had a crush on the Elder that was teaching her, but since he has left, she has stopped progressing haha. They think switching to sisters might help. The thing is, Sister Aileen is def and mute. I had taught a def man before and so I wasn't too worried about teaching her. But to make a long story short, we struggled haha. I am so scared to go back to her again! Where we struggled was with getting her to answer our questions. Because she is able to read, so we type things down on her tablet, but she won't type to answer our questions. She is only willing to answer yes or no questions. So we are going to have to really pray and study hard before we go back to her again.
     Also, when we ride on jeepneys we rarely ride in the front seat, it is higher up to climb in, and then we usually have to squish up against the driver and sometimes they enjoy that a little too much haha. So we usually just sit in the back. But Sister Mortell said she likes to feel like Indiana Jones so we sat in the front. But as we were getting out, my dress caught on something and ripped up the side! Luckily it wasn't too high so we just got on the first jeepney we saw going back to our apartment so that I could change haha and then got back to work. Before our exchanges started she said that crazy things usually happen when she goes on exchanges (when she went on exchanges with Sister Tanner, their umbrella got struck by lightning) Anyway, I thought our exchanges would be an exception, but they were pretty crazy.
    So the title of my email is by the power of chika-chika. Which here, chika chika is the term used for like "talk story". And my companion Sister Aroa is the most professional chika chika master I have ever met! haha on our first day together, she walked up to a lady and started talking story with her. It was fun, we told her we would come back to visit her later on in the week. When we were walking away I asked if she was a less active or investigator. Sister Aroa said she had just met her that moment! I thought for sure she already knew her. She talked with her like they were close, like friends or family...did it just click for you like it clicked for me? It's alright because it took me 3 weeks to finally realize this.
     In the 3 weeks of our companionship I have learned so much from Sister Aroa, but this is by far the biggest lesson I have learned. She treats everyone like they are already her friends or family. Like she knows them. As Jesus interacted with others and taught them, He knew them. He knew their thoughts, hopes, intentions, concerns, He knows us all. When I go out proselyting with Sister Aroa, and we see a group of people sitting out on the road, we will stop to chika-chika. We pull up any empty chairs we may see and make ourselves comfortable haha. Luckily in the Philippines this isn't rude or intrusive. In these 3 weeks we have found about 30 new investigators and I am in awe at how it happened. With past companions, we have struggled to reach the standard of the mission which is 5 new investigators each week. Last week we found 17. It's not because we are magaling (amazing/talented) missionaries. We are just doing our best to literally represent Jesus Christ. To do the things the way that He would do them. I shouldn't surprised that as we did our best to obey Him when He said to be "even as I am", that we would see improvement.
     I was also able to witness a sad example of someone not being like Christ and the way that it affected those around her. We have an investigator named Colas. He is 17 years old but is actually only studying 1st grade. I am not sure why. Maybe he stopped studying and has decided to start again. But anyway he over all just a normal teenage boy! He just takes a little longer to teach but he has great friends who are members and they come to the lessons with us. They help him read the segments of the Book of Mormon and everything. He even came to church this week! But unfortunately in their youth class, there was a young woman who kept laughing at him. Later on on Sunday we went to teach him and he said he liked church, but he was really bummed about the girl laughing at him. We did our best to explain how the gospel is what is perfect and can help us, and sometimes the people in the church aren't the best examples. Luckily he doesn't seem so hurt and he said he is willing to try going to church again next week.
     I have a testimony of our Brother and Savior who is Jesus Christ. He loves us and has given us the perfect example. So let's follow him people! Haha that is my invitation for you all :) I love you guys so much! Have a great week! Until next time!
-Sister Sawada

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pictures!











ito na naman


Another Magandang Hapon sa inyong Lahat!
    Is it just me or do these weeks feel like they are going by like days? The title of my email is ito na naman which means something along the lines of "this once again". Once again, I am here updating you guys on another week here and it feels like I was just here yesterday. Well it's been such an awesome and busy week this week and I want to get right into it! 
     Monday we experienced our first pday starting from 10 instead of 12. That is our new schedule now and of course we were way excited about it! But we ended up really not knowing what to do with our extra time. We ended up going to a members house and they are studying beauty. So I cut Joyjoy's hair while Jaja gave sister Aroa a pedicure. We even brought our speakers and played EFY music and had our own little Mormon Salon going haha it was way fun. In exchange for the extra 2 hours of pday, president Balledos has required that each companionship get at least 2 lessons taught on Monday. Most missionaries mistake pday for holiday and don't get much work it. We were able to teach 3 lessons and found 3 new investigators! We have never had a Monday like that. Have I mentioned that our mission president is really so inspired?
     Tuesday we had exchanges! We also had Zone Training, but since we would be having exchanges in Agoo, we decided to attend the Agoo zone training instead of ours in Bauang. It was a great training. One of the zone leaders in Agoo is Elder Smiler who was in San Juan 2 ward with me back in my first area! It was fun to see how much we have grown since that area. He is a really great zone leader and he and his companion Elder Kartch taught about how we can recieve revelation through prayer and how we can best teach that principle to our investigators and less actives. I then had exchanges with Sister Fernandez. We worked in her area and her companion and Sister Aroa went back to Bauang and worked in our area. Bauang and Agoo are about an hour away from each other. Sister Fernandez is from General Santos, Mindanao. She is only 19 but she is a great missionary. She is learning a lot. She is about 5 months into her mission and kept telling me how easy the mission is for her and she won't have a problem doing this for a year and a half. So I was glad! haha that wasn't exactly my attitude 5 months in so I was impressed and the day was way great. 
     We met an especially great young man named Ballo. We stopped by his house to teach his family member. She wasn't home but we could see he was really sad and we asked him why. He wants to serve a mission so bad. He works with the Elders and has a really great testimony. From what I noticed about him he has a slight speech impediment and maybe a learning disability. He wasn't been able to finish high school and because of that, the branch president told him he won't be able to serve a mission. He asked us "Did Heavenly Father ever say that if you didn't finish studies you can't serve him?" I was stumped as to what to say. It didn't seem right that he wouldn't be able to serve. I was wondering if maybe a service mission he could do? But I didn't want to disregard what his leader had told him. I also didn't want to get his hopes up that he could still serve. I wanted to say so many things but nothing was coming out. Since Tagalog still isn't the easiest thing for me and Sister Fernandez just seemed to fuel his fire by sharing about how Joseph Smith only studied to 4th grade and he became the prophet. We gave him the best advice we could. We just recommended that he speak to some other Branch Presidents to be sure what the qualifications are. It helped me realize how lucky I was that I didn't face any challenges applying to come here. I still managed to complain even when given such an easy path here on the mission. It helped me to remember how we are all blessed in different ways and it's important to realize this if we want to be happy and in order to receive more blessings.
     Wednesday was exchanges again and since my companion is so sweet she stayed in Bauang again and let me stay in Agoo because I don't quite know the area well enough to lead it in exchanges. Anyway I worked with Sister Morrill. She is from Oregon. She is just 1 transfer younger than me in the mission and she is way sweet. Her area is a really progressing area as well. We had some great visits with people and one especially great man named Sonny! Sonny is from India. He was born and raised in the religion of Hinduism. He moved to the Philippines 30 years ago so is now good at speaking tagalog. To make a long story short, he has come to know that not only there is a Christ, but that this church is the true Church of Jesus Christ. He wants more than anything to be baptized but if the Hindi community ever found out that he was baptized into Christianity, his family would be shunned by them. Sister Morrill shared all of this with me in the morning before we went out to work. They decided to continue to visit him, but since he wouldn't be able to be baptized, they weren't sure how much longer they would continue visiting. When we got to his home, before we even got started with the lesson, he told us that he had spoken with his family and they are willing for him to be baptized! They are going to do their best to keep things on the down low so that the gossip in the Inidian community here won't get to India. But if it does, it is a sacrifice that he and his family are willing to make. He had even gotten white pants made so that he could be baptized that weekend! I was so taken back by his enthusiasm and strong desire.
     Later that night we were at the home of a member family and in walks a recently returned missionary who served in Hawaii! His name is Brother Rodel now but before he was Elder Villanueva who served in the Kaneohe 6th Branch! He was one of the Elders I think who taught Maya for a little bit and he was also there when my good friend from the branch Nisi got baptized! I remember talking to him one sunday in hawaii when I got my mission call and he said he lives in the Baguio mission near baguio! And there he was in the living room of the home that we were eating dinner at! haha how crazy is that? Of course he didn't remember me because I have my freakish memory of faces and things so I had to remind him of the conversations we had and eventually he remembered, or said he remembered at least haha.
    Aw man I am already low on time and I have sooo many pictures to send. Siguro this will be all for now. I am so happy to have the opportunity to spend some time in some other areas to get to meet such inspiring people! There are some super great people here in Bauang that I want to share about but I guess it will just have to wait until next week. I love you all! Now for pictures!

Sister Tapusoa is back!!! This was way back on transfer day but I wasn't able to send it yet! The classic MTC sisters pic that we have to take whenever we are at the same place together :) Sister Tapusoa is now in Sevilla in San Fernando zone and Sister Bangerter is the STL of San Fernando zone right now. Also, Bauang is about 15 min away from Sevilla so we get to see each other a lot now! Especially on pday.

Nanay! This is probably one of the last pictures I will have with her on the mission! Sister Tanner goes home at the end of this transfer in December. She is also in Sevilla actually in the same house as Sister Tapusoa! haha
 

 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bagong Tao

Magandang araw everyone!
    What is new with everyone? Thank you for the updates! Julz you are so amazing to be working so hard on your books! I can't wait to read them when I get home! And that's not sarcastic haha I actually enjoy reading now. My favorites right now are the teachings of the prophets. I am reading the one from Brigham Young right now. He has so many inspiring insights! Ayo thank you for the pictures! Mila is getting sooo old I wanted to cry. I can't believe how much she looks like you! Also, Kel and Constance are the cutest. I really have the cutest neices and nephews! I hope they remember me! Mommy I laughed pretty hard reading about how you get even less news from Jake than you got from me my freshman year hahah. Communication is not one of my fortes but I have been working on it since being here! I hope there has been improvement.
    This week went by way too fast as usual. But I am excited to introduce you to some of the "Bagong Tao" or "New People" of Bauang! You may have noticed this email isn't so rushed as usual and thats because...drumroll...email is now one hour and thirty minutes long! Yayyy! But I spent some time earlier writing emails to other people so I still don't have a ton of time :( haha next time I will have more time! I have some pictures I wanted to send but my computer isn't reading my camera :( so next week na lang. This week we visited some of the Sisters in Agoo. We are the STLs over Bauang and Agoo zone. It was really fun to see them! Some of them were sisters I was with in San Fernando zone and Baguio zone. It was nice to see them again and talk about the progress we have made as missionaries. We also had district conference. It is a district here in Bauang instead of stake. Elder Aduro of the area seventy spoke to us. So did President and Sister Balledos. They gave really really great talks! Their focuses were family and tithing. Those are some of the not so solid areas of the church here in the Philippines.
    I want to share more! But I should probably get into sharing about the area. This area is probably 1/4 the size of our area in Narvacan and I am not too sad about it haha. A lot less money spent on transportation. We only have 2 barangay but there is still lots of work to do! We are focusing on:
1. Rolly Aquino: Brother Rolly is in his 60s or so. All of his children are members of the church. He is a great investigator! He has searched just about every church on the face of this earth besides the LDS. And since he knows so much, as we teach him about the apostasy and how the fullness has been restored, we see the wheels turning and everything just clicks with him! He accepted to be baptized on December 27 but hasn't yet come to church. He wants to go with his kids but they are kind of less active/have work on sundays. But we are hoping that if we bring some members to our next lessons with him, he will feel more comfortable coming to church by himself.
2. MA Rosario: MA is only 12 years old but is one of the smartest investigators I have taught! She comes to church every sunday and loves hearing our lessons. She even has a few friends at church and helps us to bring our other investigators to church! She is pretty much a member but her father is a less active. He hasn't been to church since 2009. Our requirement for the mission is if the baptismal candidate is less than 21 years old, they need to have solid church members in their home. So we are trying to focus on her father. But he doesn't seem to think he needs the church in his life :( it's so sad because he is a really good person. An especially good dad because his wife left him with 3 young children. If you guys could pray for him, brother Mark Anthony Rosario and MA and all of his family, that would be great!
Shucks theres more I would like to share but next week na lang! I hope everyone has a great week! Daddy I am so happy every time mom writes to me about what a wonderful husband you are to her. President Balledos addressed fathers in particular in his talk at conference and I thought about how lucky I am to have such a good example of a father in my home. I love you and mom and the whole family! Also tell Baachan I say kumusta :) haha and that I will need her to teach me Japanese again when I get home. Okay love you all! Take care! Until next week!
- Sister Sawada

Monday, November 10, 2014

Surprise!

Hey Everyone!
     This has been a crazy week! It was transfer week and Sister Perez and I weren't really thinking much about it. We felt that we would both stay together for another transfer. But I was surprisingly transferred out of Narvacan :( It was a decision that President decided would be best for my progression as a missionary. He was worried that being in such an Ilokano condensed area was a little too overwhelming for me. It's true I was feeling quite overwhelmed, but I wasn't a big fan of the idea of just giving up so quickly. But on Tuesday of last week, President and Sister Balledos came and visited our zone at district meeting. President pulled me aside and let me know that he would be transferring me. Considering the fact that he took the time out to let me know personally that I would be leaving earlier than expected, I could feel that he had taken time to decide whether this was the right thing or not. He is really an inspired man and I am blessed to be able to follow his direction!
      So where am I now? I am now serving in the Bauang (baWANG) zone in the Bauang area! My companion is Sister Aroa! She was the follow up trainer of Sister Bangerter and then my housemate in Baguio for a transfer I may have sent pictures of her before when Sister Quiban was my companion and her companion was my lola Sister Latimer. We don't have a recent picture together yet. Too busy! But I have always considered her to be one of the sweetest and most talented missionaries in the mission! And I get to be her companion? I really don't know how I get so lucky with these things. It makes me worried that I am the difficult/struggling companion sometimes...haha. She is from Bulacan which is also where Sister Galera is from. They were in the same stake! We are serving in the Bauang Branch. It's my first time in a branch and not a ward but I am not sure what the difference really is. Coming here, this branch has some of the strongest members I have met yet on the mission! It was great because my first weekend here, we already had a one day mission with the ward. I am not sure if Kailua has ever tried this but once a month here, they have a day where the ward members and missionaries go out to visit less actives. We choose focus areas and names and go out and do work. It is such a great thing ESPECIALLY with enthusiastic members like the ones here in Bauang. Not only were we able to visit 21 less active homes but we also received some referrals for possible investigators. It was a great success.
      When I first came to the area Sister Aroa challenged me to pick out or guess who the branch president is. I took the challenge and failed haha. I guessed almost every male who was at the one day mission before I guessed him. I can't wait to show you a picture of him because he looks like a youth! He also has the greatest sense of humor ever and the cutest family. The branch really feeds well off of his young and light attitude. He and his wife met when he was on his mission! They are so great. He refers to her as "first lady" haha because she is the wife of the president. Well I wish there was more I could share but things are all still so new! My fellow Branch missionaries are Elder Alejandro and Harris. They are also the Zone leaders. Elder Harris is a new zone leader and is really shy but I sense him coming out of his shell soon haha. I can't remember if I have talked about Elder Alejandro before. I call him my uncle because he is in Sister Taner's batch and he was the companion of Elder Ete when Elder Ete was my first district leader. We have been together for most of my mission! So it's nice to have a familiar missionary around. Our zone is really new so I don't know many of them yet. Most companionships have someone in training or just out of training. Then there is Elder Manning who is follow up training Elder Dasalla. My housemates are Sister Bircher and Lomibao. This is the last transfer of Sister Bircher's mission and she is finishing training Sister Lomibao. I will send pictures as soon as possible of everyone! But for now I have some pictures of things that happened this week. Mostly the sad and unexpected goodbyes in Narvacan :(
 






 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bakit Hindi

Happy November sa lahat ng aking mamahalan!
    Hehe how is everyone? Things here in Narvacan are just maganda! Sorry this email may be a little short and has been a little distracted due to the amazing news that I have just received that my very very good friend Sister Tapusoa is now coming back to the Philippines Baguio mission! She had to go home to get a surgery done on her leg. We have been emailing every week since while she has been in St. George recovering. Today week we were emailing as usual and then she mentions that she is emailing me from Manila! Of course this is her personal situation so I won't share much about it. But I was blessed to have been a little part of her time here on the mission before she was sent home and was able to hear some of her feelings/insights of being home and having to wait until she could come back on the mission. I was able to see into yet another life being affected by the trials and hardships that hit our mortal lives. And I was able to see how a knowledge of and trust in our Heavenly Father's plan for us can sometimes make or break us as we go through the trial. 
     Luckily Sister Tapusoa had gained such a strong testimony of a loving Heavenly Father that she knew He had a plan for her. Her time back home was not easy. It was frustrating and I'm sure made her question a lot about what exactly Heavenly Father wanted of her. But as she endured with patience, trust, and hope, she made it! She is now in Manila and could not be happier to be back wearing a name tag and ready to serve the Lord :) There's just one more thing that I want to share and I hope she doesn't mind me sharing. One week as we were emailing, she expressed the frustration of not knowing if/when she would be coming back to the mission. I did my best to comfort her and of course recommended fervent prayer and maybe even fasting. She told me that she knew prayer and fasting would help. She knew it was what she needed to be doing. But sometimes it can get tiring expecting and outcome of so much worth out of something as simple as prayer.
      I am sure we have all felt like this before! I know for sure I have. Maybe almost every day. We go house to house teaching amazing people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But sometimes, expecting them to make so many changes in their lives such as breaking addictions or sacrificing a big chunk of their income to come to church may seem like too much to ask. And will prayer really be able to help such sensitive or mabigat (heavy) situations? We are taught in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by small and simple things, great things are brought to pass. We got to have a special broadcast where Dallin H. Oaks addressed the Philippines area. He said that something that will help the church in the Philippines is to strengthen our roots. If our roots are not strong, no matter how big our tree may grow, it will not be able to be supported unless the roots go deep and far. Things like prayer, scripture reading, and attending church/church activities are all things that will strengthen our roots. I have also taken the challenge from our Relief Society lesson yesterday to be better at writing my "personal history" aka writing in my journal.
       In this new area I was expecting to make all of this growth and improvement. I thought I would see great improvement in my Tagalog since I am in a companionship, apartment, and even zone with mostly tagalog speakers. I thought I would also pick up very quickly on the Ilokano. I expected that since Sister Perez is one of the most experienced companions I have had, I would improve greatly in my teaching. And my expectations went on and on as I first came into this area. I was getting quite frustrated these past few weeks when I didn't see the improvement I expected. Hearing Elder Oaks' words that we need to strengthen the roots first really hit me. I realized that language and teaching skills are part of the tree that I want to be growing here on the mission. But my roots, my testimony, personal reading of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, the quality of my prayers, and other things are what make up my roots. I invite you all to join me this week and in the following weeks to strengthen our roots! Let's read an extra chapter of our scriptures this week. Let's take an extra minute of our prayer to realize that we are speaking right to our all powerful Father in Heaven. There is so much more I want to share! I will just quickly share an update on our investigators and less actives.

Vallentos Family:
This week we had a baptism! The Vallentos family is a returning less active family who's 8 year old daughter, Venice was baptized this week. The best part is, after an interview with the bishop, Brother Vallentos was able to be the one to baptize her!

Nimpha:
Continues to progress so well. I am not sure if I wrote this last week but she says she really wants her husband to be able to join the lessons. When we are not there, she shares with him the things she learned, and then he will ask questions which she will then ask us when we return, and then we answer, and then she tells him when we leave! But he is just too shy to face us when we come to their home! The funny thing is, this is not abnormal. So many people will not face us and their excuse is just that they're "shy" haha. But once again she didn't come to church :( it's a little understandable since this weekend was all souls and all saints day. But still it was a bummer :(

Mhay:
Came to church even though her boyfriend had work! Usually she won't come unless Jomell will go with her. But she came by herself! She even attended the broadcast later than night all the way in Candon! We wish her wedding could be sooner so that she can just get baptized already! She is really prepared :) but we continue to visit and strengthen her testimony.

Alright that is all I think I can share this week. Ended up being pretty lengthy anyway huh? I hope so! I love you all! I hope you can take my invitation and we all can see how much we will be blessed by strenthening our roots. If you are hesitant to accept my invitation (as many investigators are) ask yourself the question I always want to ask them: Bakit Hindi? or Why Not? Why not just try it? If it really makes your life miserable, then you can stop. But I promise you, it won't :) I love you all so much and I know all these things I have written are true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Love,
Sister Sawada
 



 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nagpapatul​oy ang Gapas

Happy almost Halloween from the Philippinas!
    I guess I should say All Saints Day. That's what is celebrated here instead of Halloween. I am not sure the history or yung dahilan (reason) why it is celebrated but people are making their plans to go to the cemetery where their family members are buried. This coming week I guess they will be camping or eating or doing something at their graves. Interesting di ba? (no?) Well this week the title of the email is nagpapatuloy ang gapas or "the harvest continues". I felt it was pretty fitting for this week considering the numerous times we visited people's homes just to find out na "nasa bukid sila" or they are in the fields working. It is harvesting time in the rice fields and everyone seems to be in the fields working morning til night! It's a really great opportunity for people to make money since very little of the farm work here is done with machines. Man labor is how it's done here!
     I also felt it was fitting since as missionaries, harvesting is a big part of our purpose and I was able to witness some pretty inspiring harvesting this weekend as the Sisters in our ward had 4 baptisms! It was such a beautiful service. There was an 8 year old boy who is the youngest of a less active family but his father was able to work things out to become worthy to baptize and confirm him! Then the daughter and son of another less active man who also was able to baptize them. Then Dominidor Orina whose his wife joined the church over 20 years ago. His progress went from threatening to cut off his children's feet if they tried to go to the mormon church, to now happily being baptized and bearing strong testimony of this church being the true church of Jesus Christ.
    The church is true! Dang I had a lot more planned to share especially for Jake. But I will just have to share next week. I am sorry this week was way short. But like the title of this email, the work continues and I continue to learn and grow each day! Sister Mhay and Brother Jomell came to church this week! We also found a new investigator who seems quite golden! This week we will really be able to see. We are kind of working through our teaching pool at this point and trying to really find those who will make changes needed in their life to fully accept this gospel. Nimpha continues to progress SO well in our lessons but once again couldn't come to church :( We were able to extend baptismal dates to the children of a woman who is a returning less active and they accepted! There were lots of starts or "planting" done this week and we will continue to see how the harvest will go. So let's hope I will have much more to share next week. I love you all! Have a great week! Until next week :)
Love,
Sister Sawada

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ang Bawat Kautusan ay may Dahilan

Hi mommy!
    Can you believe I have been in Narvacan for almost a month now! The time is really flying by and I think it's going so fast I can't even remember what is of worth to share! I will try bullet points this week.
     1. We had exchanges again and I got to make some Baguio Mission history by being the first foreigner sister to work in Bangued! It wasn't as climactic as you would imagine though haha. It felt like same wonderful Philippines just a lot more Ilokano (I really need to learn it :/) and some other new dialects I had never heard of until this week! We got to teach an almost def woman, a blind man who gives massages for a living, and worked with a very nice man named Brother Ben who gave me a ton of buko (coconuts) and pumelo (like grapefruit but delicious) to take home! He is so nice! In the box that had the pumelo there was another box wrapped in christmas gift wrap that had a towel in it! Hahaha I don't know why he gave me a towel, but how nice is that??
     2. We had stake conference this week. We had really beautiful meetings on both Saturday and Sunday but it was once again at the stake center in Candon just like general conference kaya (so) it was a tough time trying to get investigators to come. Most of our investigators actually haven't even come to church yet. But the kind of cool thing about these last weeks being in Candon, they are more willing to come this week now that it will just be at Limansangan, a much closer chapel. So I hope to be able to report better news concerning church attendance next week! But we still had a couple of less actives attend stake conference including a really great family named the Rosete family. Sister Perez and I took a selfie with Pepsi their 2nd daughter that I will send :)
     3. The title of the email this week is ang bawat kautusan ay may dahilan. It means that there is a reason for every commandment. This seemed to be a theme this week. As Sister Perez and I went from place to place teaching our investigators and less actives essential doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I found myself bearing such heartfelt testimony of how our Heavenly Father lives. And He is so ridiculously all knowing that we cannot afford to allow ourselves to begin to think that some commandments aren't so important anymore. Either they aren't relevant, or they don't need to be done every day, or the many other ideas that the adversary puts into our minds to try to take us dahan dahang (little by little) off the straight and narrow path. Since this was what was so strongly impressed on me to share with all those that we visited this week, I also share my testimony with you. I know that our Father in Heaven lives. I know that He knows us inside and out and everything we are given in life, each trial, each blessing, and each commament that we are given, is really meant for us. We don't need to try to push them over to someone else, and we don't need to question why we are given what we are given. But instead we can understand that it is meant for us, and there is something for us to learn or gain from it.
     I love you all so much and I am sorry this week's email is a little short. But I have some pictures to send as well! Love you all! Have a great week!
Love, Sister Sawada
 



 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Conference!

Hi everyone!
    I couldn't think of a clever tagalog name for this week. Besides, conference happened and how can that not be the highlight of the week?? Also, I am pretty wiped out from our zone activity eariler this morning so this may be a quick one. I think I say that every week and it ends up being miles long so haha we will see today. This was a really wonderful week for Sister Perez and I. In tagalog we would say that our work was masarap or delicious. We were able to teach more lessons this week that I have ever taught before in one week. Usually we get about 2/3 the amount of lessons in a week. But the Lord was really on our side and guiding us to know where to go to be the most effective.
    In addition to the normal proselyting and meetings that we have in a week, Sister Perez and I also had exchanges! It was my first time being on exchanges as the STL rather than the other missionary. I think one of the main reasons I have been called as STL is to learn to love exchanges because I have never been a big fan haha. But I am already starting to like them more! Tuesday I exchanged with Sister LaTorre in her area in Candon. Sister LaTorre is from Bucol which is in the Naga Mission. This is her last transfer of her mission so it was a little intimidating working with her since she's so experienced. Anyway, her area is so maganda! It is legitimate puro (full/all) huts and banana trees. I loved it. Everyone is so nice and usually the problem with nice people is they have a hard time committing to our invitations. But the people we taught were really receptive and ready to act on the things we taught them. I was able to learn a ton from Sister LaTorre and the best part was towards the end of the night. The sun had set and the house/hut that we were teaching at had no street lights. Also that night was the lunar eclipse so there was like no light outside whatsoever. So the mother of the family we were teaching ran out to find someone who could give us a ride out to the main road (about 20 minutes away). She finally came back with a man who had a motor bike with a side cart type of thing that looked like it is just used to transport their animals, rice, and other things. But they wiped it down and I was ready to climb in and sit down, but then they took two plastic chairs, set them inside and let us sit like queens as they drove us out of their neighborhood! How sweet is that? Haha it was such a nice ride as well because there was no light so we could see the millions of stars in the sky. Hadn't seen that in so long because of being in Baguio. It was the perfect way to end the night!
      Exchanges was fun and I learned a ton but it was a good feeling going back to my area. My first day back we got to visit some of my favorites :) Let me introduce you to Mhay Lobrin! She is the asawa (girlfriend/wife there's not much difference here) of a less active member. They are living together and are really such a sweet couple. We taught them about how God would want them to be married before they live together and they have set plans to get married! Mhay seems like she's 16 but she is actually 20. She is way fun to talk to because she's just like my friends back home. She has accepted to be baptized December 13 because they plan to have their wedding at the beginning of December. Every question we ask her, she answers perfectly and you can tell it's really coming from her heart. She is more than ready for baptism, it's just the wedding plans holding things back. But that's Mhay!
       Next there is the Melo family. The Melo Family consists of Brother Melo, a long time less active, his two daughters who are recent converts but by now have become less active, and their older brother who is not a member. This is not an uncommon family set up. The thing is that they are like the sweetest family ever but they just haven't seemed to have the true conversion that Alma talks about in chapter 26 of Alma. We are focusing on Aldwin the older brother. He really has a desire to know the truth and we think that we can encourage his father to work to being worthy to baptizing Aldwin if Aldwin decides he wants to be baptized. Once the father and older brother are active, the younger daughters will be sure to follow :)
     Sister Baby Cabe and her family! You guys know how we met them. Since then, we have been visiting them on a regular basis and Sister Baby has not stopped praying to know where the true church of God is here on the earth. She is really admirable. There are obviously problems in her marriage with brother Henry but she continues to be loving to their 4 children and try her best to be a good wife to him. The last lesson we shared with her was about the Book of Mormon. We got to testify of the power of the Book of Mormon. How it can mend damaged family relationships and give us spiritual strength, and we asked Sister Cabe if she would read the Book of Mormon every day. She said roughly "Oh yeah of course! This whole time I have just been reading that pamphlet you guys gave me. But I wanna read from the Book of Mormon!"
     Side note: internet shops in the Philippines are sometimes filled with young men playing video games and they just scream things at each other and the computer screen the entire time. I hope any young man who reads this email does not do that haha.
      Lastly, Sister Nimpha! We met Sister Nimpha as we were walking from one appointment to another. She is one of the nicest people I have ever met! I thought she would be sassy when I first saw her because she is just in her mid 20s and likes to wear big jewelry and animal print haha. But she has the brightest smile and is a really good person. There are tables set up out side of her home where people just sit and gamble all day every day. When we came into her house this week we said that we were glad not to see her at the gambling tables. She said "Sisters, any free time that I have I want to spend with my children." She's a really great example. It made me think of the talk that Elder Holland gave about not letting us assume people are a certain way because they are members of the church or becuase they aren't members of the church. We have things that we can learn from everyone around us and things that we should not emulate from everyone around us. Sister Nimpha is progressing faster than Sister Perez and I could have hoped for. She has already accepted to be baptized in November and wants to come to church! We really just want to meet her husband and begin to teach him because of course it is much more beautiful to teach this gospel about families, to a family.
      Other than all these great visits, we had conference! Wow it was so delicious! We could definitely sense a strong theme no? Brother Rambo Ruiz asked what we would define conference as in 2 words. I chose Church Foundation. The leaders really seemed to focus on the foundation of our church. Which is Prophets, priesthood, and revelation. I also loved the ideas about service all throughout the conference. But each time prophets, or praying to know and waiting for personal revelation was mentioned, I could not "amen" loud enough haha. It felt like each leader was speaking directly to each of the less actives and investigators that I have met on my mission! Everything shared was part of one of the gospel doctrines and principles that we teach as missionaries! So brother especially, and everyone else who is working hard to be a member missionary, listen again and again to these talks. They were truly inspired and I think they will be especially effective as we hasten the Lord's work.
     Well as we guessed, a very long email once again haha. I hope you guys enjoy when my emails are longer just like I enjoy when your emails to me are longer. Speaking of, I am very exciting mommy to see that I have 2 emails from you this week :) also, I am working on a letter to send to the young women. I hope I can send it off next week! I will send some pictures from last week and earlier today at our zone activity. But that's all for this week. I was so happy to see and hear from our living Prophet this week. As each of his apostles and fellow leaders testify to the reality of his calling as the man chosen of God to be His prophet, it is hard to imagine how one could not believe that this is the church that holds the fullness of His gospel. But of course as we were all reminded, currents will hit us and try to get us to doubt. But lets push through those doubts and let our faith guide us until we have escaped that current. I love you all! Hope everyone has a great week. Until next week!
- Sister Sawada 

In our zone activity we had a cheer off. The red team was pretty obviously most into theirs haha. The tall one on the red team in the RVCA shirt is a new Elder from Mililani! Elder Serrao.
 

 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tunay na Disciplo ni JesuCristo and pictures :)

Hey hey hey everyone!
    Before I get into my email I feel so terrible for not having responded to so many of the emails you guys have been sending me! So I will try to quickly respond to some things now. Yes mommy I missed the Bambas baptism :/ but I was lucky enough to see some Elders who attended the baptism and they said it was such a beautiful service. The Bamba family even gave the special musical number which was Families Can Be Together Forever. I really wish I could have been there to see them sing that song. But before I left Baguio Sister Jen Bamba gave me a picture of their family and on the back she just expressed her gratitude for being introduced to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. There may be some people that I left in Baguio that I am worried might stop progressing now that I am not there and can't watch over them the way I could before. But I can be confident that the Bamba family will continue to grow and will one day soon enter the Temple to become and family that will be together forever :)
     I acutally didn't realize that the typhoons in Baguio were so minor compared to what was going on down here in the Narvacan area. There are light posts, fences, and trees in the streets everywhere. Even the 100+ year old tree of this town was taken down by the winds of the last typhoon mario. But luckily everyone has finally gotten kollente (electricity) and almost everything is back to normal.
    That is so cool that Ran is meeting with the missionaries! You guys sound like you are being great fellowshippers as well! I can't wait til I can also help with the missionary effort in our home town. But thank you so much for actively helping the Lord's work move along!
     How was the Wheel episode?? I can't believe how cool and good looking my family is! Also, I am so flattered that Constance's party had that theme! It looks like it was such a fun time. Haha and thank you so much for the pictures and keep them coming. Please :) I will send some pictures this email! And I guess I will get started now...
    Things continue to be sunny and sweaty here in Narvacan haha but I couldn't be happier! Since I am still getting used to the area here I still don't have much to share with specific lessons or people that we visit. Also, the area is so so different from what I am used to. The areas I have been given have been like 4-7 barangay only and can be walked from one end to the other in an hour or so. That is not the case in Narvacan B. We need to take a tryke to get to most of our appointments and would probably take 4 hours to walk the whole thing. This means so many more people! Which is great! But also rough when you are new still because it means lots of new faces and people to get to know. I really do love it, but I am sorry that I may take a little while before I start sharing about specific, (the more stand out) people.
    But since this was the first week of the transfer, we had MLC or missionary leadership council. Maybe all missions work this way, but President won't introduce anything new to the mission unless he has presented it to his council of mission leaders. How humble is that? I really love President Balledos and it's amazing how much you can feel his love for the missionaries when he speaks to us. I want to focus my email on the spiritual thought that President Balledos gave on our first day of MLC. Oh yeah so MLC takes place in San Fernando which means a 4 hour bus ride from Narvacan. All of the district leaders, zone leaders and STLs met the first day and then we stayed over in San Fernando and the second day was just zone leaders and STLs. Anyway so on the first day President showed us a clip from Jefferey R. Holland's talk, I am not sure the name. But he was sharing the story of Jesus and the Apostles. How after the death of Jesus Christ, Peter recommended that they go back to their old lives. So he went back to being a fisherman. The part of his talk that really struck me was when he shared what he realistically assumed to be what Jesus said to Peter when Christ saw him back fishing. He said "Don't you think I could get fish if I wanted fish? What I need are disciples." Christ questioned if Peter loved Him. When Peter responded 3 times saying yes each time, Christ asked Peter Then what are you doing here, at these same boats, with these same nets, doing the same thing?
     Since watching that clip, I have been doing my best to make sure that in every minute that I am doing something, I am never back to the same old boats, throwing the same old nets into the same sea. I am trying to realize that Christ does not need more missionaries who will complain about the heat and waking up at 6:30 every morning. He does not need any more people who will read the scriptures when it's convenient and pray only when they have problems. What he needs is more disciples. More people who truly love him. Elder Holland said that the crowning characteristic of love is loyalty. My challenge for everyone this week is to try to be more loyal to our Savior. Considering he has done everything to make it possible for us to return to our Father in Heaven and receive eternal life, the least we could do is TRY to be more loving to him. Try to be a loyal disciple. I will be doing the same, and we all know we will be happier for doing so. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I love this opportunity I have been given to learn more about Him and serve Him. I love all of you and hope you really will take my challenge! Have a great week! Until next time :)
Sister Sawada