It truly has been a happy new year here in San Juan. Before I get into things over here I have some business I gotta get done first! I am so so grateful for all of the birthday emails all of you awesome people have sent me. Unfortunately I am at an internet cafe that does not print right now and so I will have to wait until next week to print them off and read them and then respond to you all the following week :/ it will be a process. Pasensiya (sorry) Next item of business. New year predictions family?? Siguro (maybe) one of you sent them to me in my birthday email pero I would really really love to know the predictions from last year and the ones for this year. I also would like to add a couple. Jacob will have been called to the Philippines Baguio Mission :) and mom will still be Relief Society President with Sister Jaclyn Sawada as her 2nd counselor! Yown lang (that's all) teehee it was fun to come up with those and that's about all I had time to think of. I still think we will have the same couches by the way haha. And last thing! Mama thank you so so much for emailing me your talk! It was soooo good I just wish I could have heard it in person. Everything you said I was like raising my hands saying amen sister haha. There was also a ton of new things that I learned to so thank you for that.
Sige let's get into this week! So this was a fun filled week because not only was New Year on Wednesday but my birthday was also on Sunday! So New Year was pretty similar to Christmas. We had curfew on both New Year's eve and New Year. It was nice to get home and safe before the major partying began but our 10:30 bedtime was pretty pointless considering everyone else was conducting their very own revolutionary war right outside our window haha. It was fun because it reminded me of home where we would close up all our windows to try to block out as much smoke and sound as possible. But the thing is that here in the Philippines the fireworks have like no visual effect. There are no sparkles and bright colors. Just loud loud booms and pops for days. Some of them straight up sound like cannons and it feels like they shake our entire apartments down into our souls haha.
Actually I will share a quick story. A couple weeks ago I guess someone was preparing for New Year and they set off one of those cannon-like fireworks as I was walking around the apartment and I just dropped to the ground thinking we were getting attacked or something. And because I dropped so suddenly I ripped my skirt completely haha. It was a skirt I bought here too! :/ but it's okay Sister Gaddy sewed it right back up for me :)
Also something else about New Year in the Philippines is that there are a lot of campaigns trying to ban fireworks here. There are numberless injuries each new year especially with children. Either parents aren't very careful or kids just get ahold of fireworks too easily and they don't know what they are doing and they end up really injuring themselves. To the point where the hospitals are all prepared just waiting for all of the people who will be rushing into the ER on New Year's eve/New Year. On the news they were showing how the doctor's mastered amputating with wires only. And they showed multiple children who had fingers and hands amputated even before New Year! Also after New Year there was a story of the death of a 2 month old baby because of fireworks :( really serious and sad stuff so we will see how much longer fireworks are allowed here.
So now I have two stories from this week that I would like to share with you all! The first was one New Year. New Year day was even more dead than Christmas because everyone was out partying so they seriously just sleep allll day the next day. People love their sleep here and unfortunately 2 oclock, the time that missionaries go out is designated nap time in the Pines haha. Anyway, luckily we were able to catch Brother Noto, the recent convert who we actually saw drinking on Pasko :/ He had all of his non member family visiting and so he took one shot of wine in order to not offend them. The thing is that Brother Noto knew what he was doing was wrong and he is just such a sweet man that Sister Tanner and I did not want to be the ones to have to chastise him. Pero we really felt that a lesson on the word of wisdom was necessary. So we prayed real hard before the lesson and went to his house. He came out and we had our usual small talk and I really didn't want to teach the word of wisdom and I could sense that my companion didn't either. But I just jumped right in and told Brother Noto how much we love him. How much we care about him and that what we were about to share was all out of the love that we have for him, and for the Lord and the gospel.
And the lesson went so well! The people here are so humble I don't know why I was ever afraid to teach him. At first he told us that he only took one shot so it wasn't that bad. But then he paused for a while and said. "Pero kasalanan pa." (But it's still a sin) and we agreed with him. But we helped him to know that he can be forgiven of the sin as long as he commits to never do it again. He eagerly committed to never drink again even if his family is. At the end of the lesson he told us that he would never forget this lesson and he was so grateful. We hadn't taught the lesson like we normally teach the word of wisdom. It was because we were teaching completely out of love for him and the Lord that it went so well and he received it with such humility and respect for us. He recognized us as true servants of the Lord and we respected him as a child of God who deserves forgiveness and the blessings of following the commandments like the word of wisdom. I know that we can all do this even if we are not full time missionaries. As long as those whom we are reaching out to know that we do it out of love, we cannot go wrong!
Another really great thing that happened this week was yesterday, my birthday! Haha and the great thing wasn't that it was my birthday. Although it was a great day. Sister Tanner made a delicious breakfast of french toast and fruit! Not something you eat everyday (or ever) here. And Sister Gaddy and Lacdo-o bought be some of my favorite bread and cookies! Haha they all know how to get me...food. Although all of these gestures were so sweet and made me feel loved, the ultimate birthday present happened at church. We got to church thinking that we would have a pretty uneventful day. Most of our investigators were still gone for the holidays and none of our less actives really committed to come to church. Jeff, our investigator who came to church last week was planning to come but that morning texted us saying that his water pump was broken so he could't shower so he couldn't come. But first, during relief society (our first hour of church) Sister Cecil (I'm not sure if I have shared about her but she is an RM but her husband is strong catholic so she is now less active) came in! She even brought her daughter who turns 8 next month!
Then during sunday school Sister Lacdo-o taps my shoulder and says "your investigator is here!" And in walks Jeff! He had fixed his pump and came to church! Just in time for fast and testimony meeting. We explained that anyone who wanted to could go up and bare their testimony, just express the feelings of their heart. And it was such a beautiful meeting. Philippinos are pretty dang superstitious so I think they all really liked the idea of bearing their testimony on the first fast sunday of the year because usually the only people who go up are the missionaries, the bishopric, and their wives haha. But hey, whatever their reasons at least they went up! And every single person shared such beautiful testimonies. Both Brother and Sister Gaerlan, (the family who won't accept callings anymore) bore their testimonies and it was after a really emotional testimony from Sister Gaerlan that Jeff actually started applauding (haha) but it's okay it was really quiet and then he asked if he could go up. We were like "uh yeah for sure!" so he went up and told the entire congregation that he was so grateful for all of the testimonies before him. He noticed that they all said that they know this church is true with such confidence. He then said that he knows this church is true! That it is exactly what he has been looking for. Whaaaat??? I wish you all could have been there because I seriously had to clench every part of my body in order to not jump out of my chair and run around screaming "He's going to get baptized!!!!" haha. But really I haven't been so full of joy that I felt like I would just about explode. So it would be a true statement to say that my birthday was a wonnnderful day.
The only down side was that the rule about having another woman working with us when we visit men has been reinforced by our zone so we could not visit Jeff later that day because we didn't have anyone willing to work with us. This is actually a pretty big damper on just about half of the lessons we plan each week because at least half are with men and we are usually alone with them. But the Lord will provide a way!
I almost forgot! I ate balut!!! I ate it on New Year's eve haha had to bid 2013 farewell with a bang right?? I have pictures of all the fun stuff that happened this week but this net cafe also won't let my camera connect :/ so next week na lang! My time is just about up so I will wrap things up. In my personal study this morning I finished the book of Ether and if I remember correctly, in the last verse of chapter 15 in Ether, Moroni is closing his abridgment and the last bit of advice that he leaves is just so perfect. It is the exact advice I would give all my loved ones. So please go read that last verse and take his advice. "Seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles speak." and never stop seeking Him. That truly is the only way we can achieve full happiness. I love you all! I miss you all! But things are good here. I am happy and I love this gospel more and more with each day. Take care and have a great coming week! Until next week!