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