Monday, February 24, 2014


Once again, have a limited time to email :( so I will just have to update you on Kathleen. Oh wait first, things with Brother Nardz are all worked out. And of course, I shouldn't have ever doubted because although these trials seemed like the end of the world, they were exactly what needed to happen. We were able to meet with Nardz this week without Ruth there which was a first. But instead we had Brother Leonel with us and it was a really great lesson about Repentance. We re-extended a baptismal date for March 15 and he accepted with a lot of excitement. His whole attitude to these lessons has seemed to change. It almost seems like he needed to have that mess up with the word of wisdom to realize how much he appreciates having the gospel in his life. So we can thank God even for our trials :)
    So Kathleen was baptized on Saturday!!!! It was such a beautiful baptism. It was combined with brother Mark Acosta, investigator nina Sister Gaddy and Sister Lacdo-o. It was just beautiful haha. That's all I can really say to describe it. The most amazing part was after her baptism when Kathleen bore her testimony. She shared about her favorite story in the Book of Mormon in Jacob chapter 5. Yes, the allegory of the Olive Tree. Who claims that to be their favorite story in the Book of Mormon after reading it once? Haha I know it took me multiple times reading it before I understood. Pero she shared how she felt at that moment, like one of the branches that was being grafted into the tree. She said at first, coming to church, reading the book of mormon, meeting with the missionaries all felt a little strange. But as she started to really grow into the tree, and become a part of this church, she feels like this is exactly where she belongs now. The amount of joy I felt is indescribable. But all I can say is that I know that this gospel is true. I know that it blesses lives.
    Each day I see people receive the blessings that come from turning toward our brother Jesus Christ and follow in His footsteps on the path to eternal happiness. I also see those who are sad and unsatisfied with their lives because of their lack of faith or ability to trust in the plan that Heavenly Father has for us. My hope is that I can continue to do all that I can to improve the lives of those around me with the message of this gospel. Okay that's all Ihave time for this week :( I love you all! Ingat kayong lahat. Make sure that you, ya know, choose the right because we all know we will be happier in the end. Until next week! Mahal ko kayong lahat.
Sister Sawada
This first picture if of Mark and the Sisters and some other people haha. The person who baptized Mark is brother Jospeh. He is an RM who was actually a less active but since the Elders have come into the ward they have really befriended him and he helped to fellowship Mark. So it was the perfect opportunity to invite him to exercise his priesthood power :) also the man to the left of Mark is his father who is a less active. We hoped he would be able to baptize Mark but he said he did not feel like he would feel prepared in time. So the other people are the Elders, Brother Miranda our bishopric first counselor, and Elder Alejandro. I don't know why he's in there haha.
This is all of the missionaries and Kathleen! Kathleen has been attending church activities and stuff for so long that she has met so many of the missionaries and they love her so much so they all came and supported her on her baptism day! It was really nice of them.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

 I have no idea what to name this email mostly because I have no idea what to say. Mostly because I have only 20 minutes to try to share about the craziest week I have had so far on the mission. Sooo much has happened yet I think all I can really say is that sadly, Satan has been more than real here in San Juan. Trials began hitting us hard Thursday night after we got a text from Nardz saying that he could not make it to his baptismal interview that day. We were bummed but knew that if he was meant to be baptized on Saturday all we needed to do was have the faith and pray for him to be better the next day so that we could interview him and have his service on Saturday. So we prayed.
    And the next morning, success! He texted us saying he was better and that he would meet us at the church that afternoon! But during our planning for that day we got a text from our landlord saying that on Saturday we would be having our power cut for the day. Not because we are pasaway (naughty) tenants and don't pay our bill but just because it happens every once in a while with the electric company here. Anyway, not only that but also there would be an "Iglesia ni Cristo Parade" starting Saturday morning. Iglesia ni Cristo is a huge religion here in the Pines and an Iglesia parade ibig sabihin (means) pretty much no one will be getting anywhere if they try to travel by car, jeepny, or tryke. All the the Iglesias come from wherever they come from and just take over the place. Bumper to bumper traffic and you might as well walk wherever you need to go. Nardz lives in San Fernando, about 30 minute drive from the Chapel where he would be baptized. So probably an hour to an hour and a half walk.
    We had just faced trial number 2. But we knew that if he was meant to be baptized on Saturday that if we prayed, the Lord would provide a way for Nardz to get to the Chapel on Saturday. So we continued to plan to meet him that Friday afternoon to have him interviewed. But as we were eating lunch, right before we were supposed to meet him, he texted us saying that he thinks he just got dumped by Ruth. Ruth is not only Nardz's girlfriend but she is also his fellowshipper and the way that he got introduced to the missionaries. Also they were planning on getting married after his baptism so them breaking up is kind of a big deal. Trial number 3. But we told him these were all just trials of his faith and that he would overcome them if he had the faith. So he agreed to still meet us as the church. When he pulled up to the church he had a friend in the passenger seat who was drunk out of his mind. My heart sank as I could smell the liquor on them.
    The nice thing about Nardz is that he has no filter so you can know that everything he says is the truth. He told us that he was so upset about the break up with Ruth that he called up Gian, his best friend, the drunk guy in the passenger seat. Oh by the way this is all happening on February 14, aka valentine's day. If you're thinking "wow Ruth that's pretty messed up to dump your boyfriend on Valentine's day and the day before his baptism." don't worry, I was thinking the same thing. Anyway so the 14 also just so happens to be Gian's birthday so he told Nardz to come to his birthday party to get his mind off of the break up. There was alcohol everywhere at the party and Nardz said that he wanted so badly to drink, but that he couldn't. Unfortunately the greater temptation for him were the cigarettes that were being offered to him, and eventually he gave in. He did not drink, but he smoked 2 cigarettes. Is this trial number 4?
    Aw man I'm out of time now :( we had a busy pday today and so we only had like 30 minutes for email. Major bummer pero okay lang kasi I remembered my camera! So I will leave with a couple of pictures and continue the Nardz saga next week! But safe to say, we are rescheduling Nardz's baptism. Kathleen's progressing great to her day though! She was also with us on the 14 with everything with Nardz so she has a strong testimony of how real satan can get right before a baptism. So she is being cautious and as strong as ever in her testimony :) i love her. Sige! Here are some pics and then I must be on my way! But I love you all so sooo much. We are so blessed to have the lives that we have. No matter what, someone out there has got a greater trial than you do and so just remember to thank Heavenly Father for all that you have. You will be happier if you do :) I promise. Okay take care! Until next week!
Sister Sawada

Quick note from Julia: I couldn't get the pics to open so I will work on getting those on the blog asap :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Work, work, work!

Magandang hapon to all! In a meeting like a couple months ago President Balledos asked me how to say good afternoon in Japanese. So I told him and he said "no, it's magandang hapon." I was thinking, no that's how you say it in Tagalog. But then I realized Hapon is also how they say Japan in the Philippines. So I think what he said was supposed to be a joke. When I finally realized this I tried to laugh but I think it was too late haha. I love our mission president but his philippino sense of humor has taken a while to adjust to.
     Basta (anyway) I hope all is well with everyone wherever you are! Things are sooo great here in San Juan. Sister Galera and I haven't really done anything this week besides work work and more work. I am exhausted but I have never been happier to be a missionary. There have been some great experiences this week and I just so happened to forget my camera connector...and my camera so there will be alots of words and no pictures :( next week na lang.
     First great news is with Sister Hesa. So last lesson with her, Brother Joseph her asawa joined and it was so great! This week sadly he was playing basketball so he couldn't join us. But we finally extended a invitation to be baptized on a specific date to Hesa. She accepted without hesitation! What? Well why didn't we do that a long time ago? haha well I know why we didn't. This time was really the time that she was ready to accept. She has been hesitant because she doesn't want to go against the will of her husband. But obviously he is becoming more accepting and possibly even interested in the Gospel and so she could accept our invitation of March 15 (baachan's birthday!) with a smile and a question. Her question was, "Could I get baptized on the 9th instead?" The ninth is her daughter Rhianna's birthday so she said it would be more beautiful if she could get baptized then. Unfortunately the 9th is a Sunday. If she were baptized on a sunday it would mean that she wouldn't get the gift of the Holy Ghost until the next Sunday. That is a really dangerous thing to do to a new convert. So we will pray a ton about it and probably suggest that she be baptized on the 8th (Madison's Birthday!) and then be confirmed on the 9th. We are so excited for her though. Our only concern is getting her to attend church every Sunday from now on. Please pray for her and we know that if it is meant to be, she will be able to do so :)
      Next, Nardz is progressing so so well. But the deal with Nardz...well Nardz has a couple of deals haha. The first is that he has a member who is fellowhipping him which is great. Her name is Sister Ruth Padua. Fellowhippers are the greatest. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem is that she is also Nardz's girlfriend. With each lesson that we teach Nardz, Sis Galera and I wonder if he is truly being converted to the gospel, or doing it for Ruth. The second is that in a lesson earlier in the week we had Sister Kathleen with us and we were talking about his baptism. We started explaining where he would be sitting and then what the program will be like and then what he will need to do in the font and all of that and he started getting nervous. He said he doesn't like the idea of all eyes on him. And then Sister Kathleen told him that she was getting baptized on the 22 and he said "what? let's be baptized together! Wouldn't that be so much more maganda?" And he looked at us. We want him to be comfortable on his baptism day but we also explained to him that we prayed specifically about the 15 for him. And we think it will be a challenge, for him (to be worthy and ready, and to get over his shyness) and for us (because we still have quite a few lessons to teach him and we need to fill out his records and get his interview all this week). But we truly believe that the reward will be that much greater if we can succeed rather than take the easy way out and schedule it a week later.
     So our last lesson with him we focused on repentance and the Atonement. It is pretty amazing because he used to smoke like 10 cigs a day and drink coffee and alcohol and gamble. But he has quit it all cold turkey as soon as he met Ruth and doesn't seem to be struggling with any of it anymore. It's been months since he has smoked or drank. But we wanted to see if he felt like he truly repented of his sins. This lead to him pretty much bearing his testimony to us. And the best thing was that Ruth wasn't mentioned at all. He said that he wants to be baptized because he wants to payback Christ. He wants our Lord to see that he will always be there now. He wants to make up for all of the times that he wasn't there, the times that he let God down. His testimony gave Sister Galera and I the confirmation that the 15 was truly the right day for him. Nardz is ready! And we have his baptism all planned out :) he will be interviewed on Thursday and Baptized on Saturday!
     Kathleen is amazing. She currently has just about no money, she can't even afford diapers for her son and so he has been pooping and peeing all over the house :/ and then she has run out of gas so has been cooking on a stone fireplace thing outside. She is trying her best to find a job but it is hard with a 3 year old son and she is trying to also keep her standards so isn't looking for jobs at resorts or places where she would easily get hired, but be tempted by alcohol and cigarettes on the daily. Just a month ago if her life were like this, she would have a constant scowl on her face and complain and wonder why this was happening to her. But instead, in our last lesson she gave us a lesson about why people are given the trials they are given and that in time, things will improve for her. She also said this will a smile on her face and some tears in her eyes. Is this the same Kathleen I met 3 months ago?? It's so crazy and I am so happy for her.
     This week she participated in our ward choir. We sang at our stake conference. She was one of the first people at the stake center early on sunday morning and she called Sis Galera and I. We were still on a jeepny on our way over and she called us asking if we were able to pick up Brother Manuel and Brother Jeff, our other investigators haha. Isn't that funny? She is like our third companion, there is nothing about her that makes her an investigator still besides the fact that she just isn't baptized. But that won't be the case for too long! :)
      The last thing I want to share with you all is about Stake Conference! We were so excited for conference because we knew Kathleen would be there, we thought Hesa would for sure come because she would be able to see Sister Latimer, (the trainer of Sister Tanner. Sister Tanner and Sister Latimer were the first missionaries to meet Hesa) and we also committed Brother Jeoffrey, and investigator to pick up Brother Manuel and come and Jeff said that he would come to church in San Juan but we told him it was Stake Conference instead so invited him to that! Unfortunately, the night before conference Sister Hesa texted saying she had a family emergency somewhere malayo (far away), Brother Jeoffrey also had to go to his home in Dubao, and Jeff still hadn't texted us back saying whether he could come or not. So we were pretty down but the next morning and I just wanted to go to conference without even trying to pick anyone up. But we decided to still go to Jeff and Manuel and see if we could convince them to come. Sadly Manuel still said no to us :( he is so embarrassed about his foot and didn't want us paying for his jeepny ride. But when we got to Jeff's house he was getting ready! He had been planning to join us but just didn't have any load (cell phone minutes) to text us back! So he came with us and although he seemed really nervous I think he enjoyed it! And we will meet with him sometime this week to see how he liked it.
     Aw man I just realized I haven't shared about our 4 new investigators! Vicky and Lily! I think I shared about them before right? Well they are officially investigators and so are Patricia and Alfonzo, Sister Lily's children! They are the greatest family and deserve the gospel more than anything. I will share about them next week because I am officially out of time.
     Last thing, Mom, I am not too grateful for the rule that we had around the house that if you aren't going to sing well, don't sing at all haha. Not to be rude but not everyone in our house here can sing very well and my tolerance for it is little to none. But I am getting better at it. Always learning things, every day. I love my mission. I love the gospel and the blessings that come from it. Don't forget to do whatever you can each day to come closer to our Savior. Because I know that only through Him will we be truly happy. Love you all! Happy early Valentine's Day!
Love, Sister Sawada

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Happy February Everyone!
    So I am going to try something new. I still get way too stressed out on email day trying to figure out a way to get everything into one email within one hour. So I am going to try to take pictures of where I go and the things that I do so that hopefully they will explain most of the stuffs and then I can just give a little description/the story behind the picture. Hopefully it will work better! :)
     So this week I figured you guys have seen pictures of me way too much. So here are some pictures so you can see the area better! These first two pictures our outside of Hesa Ancheta's house. It is very typical to have houses like this just made out of cement. This is probably most common in my area. There are some houses that are nicer and more developed and others that are just straight bamboo huts. But this cement style is most common.
     Hesa is the investigator who came to church two weeks ago and unfortunately didn't go last week because she was sick. And then this week we visited her on Saturday night to be sure that she would commit to come to church the next day. Unfortunately when we got to their house Rhianna was sick with LBM :( So this week was another week that she didn't come to church. PERO, brother Joseph, Hesa's husband, who would barely say hi to us when we first started visiting them, has been getting more friendly with us, and that night...without us even asking him to join the lesson (which we usually do every time we visit them)....HE JOINED THE LESSON! He just pulled up a chair and sat and listened to our entire lesson so casually it was as if this is what he did every week! But he doesn't do it every week! This was the first time ever! Oh my gosh I could barely stay in my seat haha I was so excited and the lesson was on the priesthood. How perfect is that? So we are realllly hoping they will ALL come to church this week. At the end of the lesson sister Hesa walked us out and she was so so happy. She said she hopes Joseph will come to church. The kids, Raven and Rhianna want to go to church. They call the church "America" because most of the missionaries to teach them have been foreigners so they think that since we come from "America", the church is "America" haha. They will say "pupunta tayo sa America??" Are we going to America?? So things are really progressing with them!
     And so my brilliant idea has officially been shut down for this week because my camera is now dead haha. But anyway so with other people, Brother Nardz and Sister Kathleen are both progressing so well! Nardz's baptism is in two weeks already! He has come to church 4 times now and says that everytime he comes it gets better and better. The first sunday he came we literally had to push him through the doors to priesthood because he was so nervous. But now some people think he is a member already because he is so comfortable and contributes a ton to the lessons. We met with him this week and explained what the baptismal interview process will be like and he started freaking out haha. But he is also really excited for it. And siyempre (of course), so are we!!!
      And lastly, Sister Kathleen! She has now officially been cigarette free for 2 days! Not one cigarette smoked since the beginning of February and I really think this is it. She is determined and really committed to this day of February 22. For some reason she loves the fact that Feb 15 is her sons birthday and then the week right after that, the 22nd will be her baptism haha. Whatever makes her happy right? We had a similar lesson with her about the baptismal interview process and we held a mock baptismal interview with her. It was the most beautiful thing ever. No joke I was so close to crying. She has come such a long way and is such a testimony to me of how the Lord is preparing people to receive this gospel. She is an incredible example to me and she is so so ridiculously excited for her baptism. And siyempre, so are we!!!
     Okay that is all I think I will have time to send this week. But I just need to apologize profusely to you family really quick. I am so so so so so so sooooo sorry that I haven't thanked you all for my birthday present from you all! It was the best present I have ever gotten! I read over it all the time when I have nothing else to do. I am so blessed to have the best family ever. Really, thank you for taking the time to make something that makes me so happy. I love you all so so much and I have a testimony that I am out here in the Philippines preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ. We preached by the way to this crazy old white man from Oregon who was telling us that you can't be mormon unless you are born mormon.
     I just smiled and told him "hate to break it to you sir but this has been my job for the past 5 months. I have seen people change their lives from being "not mormon" to being "mormon". Then he went on and on about stuff that isn't important haha but I was just thinking to myself about how beautiful this gospel is. I really have seen people's lives changed. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true and restored church on this earth. I know that with all of my everything :) I love you guys. Take care. And if life gets dark or dreary, don't forget to pray.
Sister Sawada

Typical House in San Juan
 Typical Road in San Juan