Monday, March 31, 2014

pictures :)

Maliit ang Mundo

Hello Family and Friends!
    What a crazy week this has been. I can't express enough how time is just not on your side when you are a missionary! But the thing that brings me comfort is the knowledge that even when everything seems out of my control, it is all on the control of our Father in Heaven who knows everything that needs to happen and as long as it happens in His time, I don't have to worry about it. But let's be honest, that is much easier said than done. Before I start our little tagalog language lesson this week is the phrase maliit ang mundo! Meaning "it's a small world" or however you say it in English. I have been saying that phrase quite a bit this week and I would love to share about the craziest instance.
    So in the Philippines, cell phones work on this stuff called load. You buy your cellphone and choose your company or whatever. But then to get like "minutes" for texts and calls and stuff, you go to a sari-sari and pay them and they will send load to your phone. Then you can subscribe to certain plans if you want, or just use the load. For example if you pay 100 peso to the sari sari store, and each text costs 1 peso, then you can have 100 texts. Anyway this isn't too important it's just to help explain that Sister Galera and I were going to the sari sari by our apartment to buy load, but they stopped selling load. So we had to go to another sari sari. We had never been to this one before and the lady selling the load was way friendly. We got talking and she has been a maid all over the world! She has been in Malaysia, America, Singapore, and Thailand! And as we continued our tsika tsika (small talk) I found out that she actually was a maid for the Bradford family a way long time ago when they lived in Malaysia. I think Rebecca was like 1 or so at that time. Isn't that crazy?? Anyway Ayo, if you are friends with Rebecca on facebook, you should tell her that I met her maid Terry in San Juan La Union Philippines! Haha talaga maliit ang mundo.
     Sige, so the magandang moment for the week is that Quirino has come to church now 2 weeks in a row! Wait, I don't think I even mentioned that he came to church last week! Well he did! And he also came this week and he really just seems to love it! He is always telling us he feels good in his heart and he is learning so much. We actually had a pretty uncomfortable lesson with him this week because since he is a male, we always need another adult member with us during the lessons with him. We asked Lorenzo, the old man next door who is a member to join us. It wasn't a smart choice on our part. We are supposed to find members who can relate well to the investigator and help us with the lesson but we really just wanted to teach Quirino so we took the easy way out. Unfortunately Lorenzo is somewhat crazy and will say things to get attention so in our lesson we were going to introduce Joseph Smith and the first vision which is always one of my favorites to share. But Lolo Lorenzo started going off about how he doesn't believe in Joseph Smith and he is bakla (gay). Quirino and Mar (Quirino's co worker who joins in on lessons sometimes) started laughing which is kind of understandable if you don't yet know who he is, and this old man is telling you that he is gay. But my heart literally felt like it was broken in half. I felt this heaviness in my chest and it was more than obvious that the spirit had left us. We told them that we would like to close the lesson and come back tomorrow.
    That night Quirino texted us saying he was so sorry for the way that he acted and that he really didn't know why he was laughing. He had read the testimony of Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon and believes he was a true prophet. He was worried that after that lesson we wouldn't come teach him anymore and he said
that he needs us to come back because he is learning so much. We were so comforted to read his text and receive the confirmation that our lesson with Lorenzo was just a trial of our faith. And since then, our lessons with him have been more focused and spiritual and his progression is even greater! Everything happens for a reason so let's just put our trust in God and stop worrying about the rest!
     The sayang moment for this week is probably with Sister Hesa. Again? Sister Hesa? Whyyyy :( So we had a family home evening planned with us 6 missionaries and a few members and Hesa and her family and we were looking forward to it so much! Hesa had come to church last sunday and we felt that Joseph, her husband was getting more and more friendly to us! During one of our lessons he was working outside on their pots (hesa is a potter) and right as we had closed and were about to leave, he was wiping his hands and getting ready to come in. He was like "you're done already? I was going to come join!" We would have turned right back around and taught another lesson for him to join us if we didn't have another appointment we had to get to :( but this is the amount of progress we were making and we were so excited for the FHE! But then when we got there Joseph wasn't there. He had to go meet with his basketball team for something. (It's basketball season in each barangay (community) and they take this stuff real serious) Anyway but we continued on with the lesson and games and food and it was way fun and spiritual so that was good! But right as we were all leaving we were hugging goodbye and Hesa and the kids seemed so happy, but then somehow, we have no idea how because no one was near it, the electric fan fell over and landed on their ipad/notebook and cracked the screen. I have no idea how the got that notebook. It had to have been a present or a huge investment or something because they have no money. But that one crack in the screen broke the whole notebook and pretty much killed any happy feeling in Hesa. She was devastated and we had no idea what to do. We left eventually and texted her saying we were so sorry even though we really have no idea how it happened and there was no response. She also didn't come to church yesterday. But we are visiting her tonight so let's hope everything is okay with her.
      Walang oras (no time) for my giggle moment this week. Wait real quick, on our way walking to this internet cafe this old man came running out to us in the street yelling "birddie birddie!!!" I realized he was actually saying BIRTHDAY meaning it was his birthday. I told him "Happy Birthday!" and he smiled, shook my hand and then ran back to his house. What the? haha okay now time for pictures!
      I hope you all are doing well and choosing the right! I love you all so so much. Take care until next week.
Sister Sawada

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sa Totoo Lang

Goooooood afternoon sa inyong lahat!
    How is everyone doing? I am sure you are all great because you are all great people. So "Sa totoo lang" is a saying equivalent to "to be honest". Which is funny to me I am not sure why. But I really like it and I try to use it as much as possible. Anyway! This week has gone by way too fast just like every other week here. Goodness gracious where does the time go? Although we felt as though there was never enough time in the day to do all that we wanted, Sister Galera and I still have some exciting news for you all this week! So we'll get right into it.
    There's gotta be a couple of magandang moments this week! The first is that Nardz was baptized and confirmed!!! Woo hoo! Haha oh man has the journey been crazy getting Nardz to this point but in the end it was all worth it. So I am sorry I never really finished the story but you all know that Nardz experienced a slight trial of faith the day before his baptism scheduled for Feb 15. And although he still passed the baptismal interview with the District Leader that day, we decided to still give him 4 weeks before his new baptismal date. So we scheduled for March 15! But Nardz is graduating this weekend and had to take the mock board exam in order to know whether he could take the actual board exam in May. His mock board exam day was March 15 :( there was really no way around it so we REscheduled for March 22. So on the day of his baptism we were hoping we wouldn't face anymore trials. But of course we didn't have the right sized baptism clothes so we were rushing around trying to find clothes and eventually we did! Then we started the program and the speakers were great! Sister Galera spoke on faith and repentance and Sister Kathleen spoke on baptism and the holy ghost :) Then we moved on to the performance of the baptism. We asked Brother Gurion, a recent convert to baptize Nardz because Brother Gurion's son was Nardz's classmate. But since he is just a recent convert he really wasn't sure of what he was doing in the baptismal font and we had to redo the baptism 3 times. It was somewhat funny somewhat stressful. But every single trial was made worth it after the baptism when we all heard Nardz bear his testimony. With tears in his eyes he told everyone that he really couldn't describe what he was feeling. But that he was so happy to have made this decision and he knows this is the best beginning he could have to start this new journey. He received the Gift of the Holy Ghost the next day in church and Sister Galera and I can be confident in the member he is going to become.
    The second is Hesa came to church this week!!! We were so not expecting it! Not only did she come to church but in our gospel principles class that Sister Galera and Sister Lacdo-o taught, Sister Galera asked everyone what they would do if they were given the chance to go to America. People said things like go visit tourist attractions and then when it came to Hesa, she said she would like to share the gospel like what I am doing, coming from America to the Philippines to be a missionary. She would like to do that in America. Words can't explain how surprised and happy I was to hear that haha. I just couldn't help but think about how crazy it is that a catholic mother who had no interest in changing her religion, can meet two sister missionaries and give her the desire to change her life and then share with others. It amazes me the evidences that we have in our lives of a higher power than man in our lives. God is so real and I know that more and more each day.
    I wish I could share more but my email time is up :( I have so much more to say! But that's alright. Also my camera has died within my time on the computer so no pictures. But just know that I love you all and things are good here in San Juan! My time is slipping through my fingers and I am just trying to grasp onto it long enough to make something of it. My biggest fear is wasting the time the Lord has given me here. I hope you all are healthy and happy and continuing to choose the right! Love you guys tons!
- Sister Sawada

Monday, March 17, 2014


Hello everyone!
    Happy St. Patrick's day! Luckily, SIster Dial a very american missionary here reminds us all of the American holidays so that we can recognize them even though no one else here does haha. I realized that last week I don't think I defined the word that was in the header of my email oops. The funny thing is I'm still not sure what bali means. The thing about Philippinos is they are so good at English, but they are pretty terrible at explaining their own language! I remember a missionary telling me this one of my first weeks here and I thought "well that's a little rude to categorize them in that way." But now I can testify, that is the truth. Philippinos do not know how to define some of their words and bali is one of them. They just throw it here and there but they can't describe exactly when or why. So oh well! I won't be using that word much. But bogang-bonga is a way fun word that I learned that is kind of the equivalent to fantabulous or one of those words that is just over the top. 
     So the magangang moment for this week. We have a new investigator! Well we have a couple actually but I want to share about one in particular. His name is Quirino Abarca. We met him as we were trying to find new investigators and we were literally talking to everyone we passed. He was sitting on the side of the road and we started talking to him and found out that he lives next door to Lolo Lorenzo the old man who gives us candy. He lives and works at the vulcanizing shop next door. Is vulcanizing a word? The first time I saw it was here in the PI so I'm not sure, but it's pretty much a repair shop. These are very popular here because most everyone owns a motor bike of some sort so there are multiple repair shops just on one street. Anyway he is very catholic. In our first lesson we asked him if he prayed the night before and he said "Yes, three Hail Marys two Our Fathers" or something like that. He has all of the catholic prayers memorized and religion is a big part of his life, Get this, he has 3 sons and their names are Lazarus, Jesus Christ Elijah, and Emmanuel. We were like, "is that legal?" but God has played a big role in his life, and as missionaries, we can't complain about that :) We actually extended an invitation for him to be baptized on April 27 and he said if he knows the gospel is true, he will get baptized then. We are so excited to continue teaching him. He has a tonnnn of questions and we love answering every single one of them. 
     Our sayang moment is probably with our investigator Hesa. Her husband has had to go to Manila to look for a job and her son got very sick. So she had to take him to her parents home a couple of hours away because she cannot take care of him at the moment. Her daughter Rhianna is graduating this week and she has to be at the school for rehearsals with Rhianna and really has no money to care for Raven. The thing is that after her husband left her faith seemed to be stronger than every and she really appreciated us missionaries being there for her and her family while he was gone. She was even reading the Book of Mormon every day! She hadn't been before! But then after Raven got sick, she was way discouraged and because of having to take him to her parents home, she got to the church right as it was ending :( she is also just really sad in our lessons with her because everything reminds her of Raven and makes her really sad.
But we continue to do our best to be there for her. All in all this really isn't much of a sayang moment because Hesa is still continuing to progress. Slowly but surely haha. Everything is happening in the Lord's time and I am just grateful for whatever part of her progress I get witness.
      Well considering about 50% of our work, Sister Galera and I are laughing, once again there are many giggle moments to choose from this week but here's one for this week. It is the first picture. This is Brother Miranda, the first counselor in the Bishopric and he looks just like dad! haha. The thing is that when I showed him a picture of dad and everyone agreed, he turned to me and was like "well now when you get home sick you can just call me daddy." hahahaha. He was saying it out of complete innocence and really just out of love but I felt bad because I just felt so uncomfortable after he said that! And now everytime he sees me he calls me anak (child) haha.
      So the work continues to move forward in San Juan. I didn't realize this but apparently the San Juan wards especailly ward 2 is just ridiculously weak and like the entire stake and even our mission leaders are focusing on this ward. So although the task is a little intimidating, I feel honored to be able to be a part of building up the area and hastening His work. I absolutely positively love this place and I hate the idea of ever leaving. I could serve a San Juan 2nd ward mission and be completely happy. And it's thanks to the things that we can continue to learn even if we are walking the same streets each day, talking to the same people, riding the same jeepnys, and being called at by the same drunk men each night, the thing about this gospel is that we can still learn and grown because we continue to be imperfect people and our Savior can be with us each day to teach us what we can do better and grow in our relationship with Him. I just love it. We are so lucky to be living in this time. Let's all continue to do our best to be the best people that we can be and to recognize that there is always something more for us to do, learn, and be. Have a great week everyone! Take care and choose the right!
Love na love,
Sister Sawada
 Picture 2: We had an FHE at bishops house! There's lots of us. From left to right is Heber (panganay ni bishop (eldest child of bishop)) then Mark, a recent convert who is already doing missionary work with the elders :), marion (anak ni Brother Miranda), Helaman (another anak ni Bishop), above him is Harold (another anak ni bishop), then kasama ko sister Galera carrying Hyrum the bunso (youngest child) ni bishop, us missionaries, kathleen and josh, brother joseph another great ward missionary who was actually less active when I first got here, bishop and his wife and brother miranda. It was tons of fun and delicious foods haha.


Monday, March 10, 2014


Magandang hapon sa inyong lahat!
   Before I forget, can someone please accept the friend requests from Andrea Pulanco, Lily Corilly, and maybe someone with the last name Salanga? They are people here in this area and will hopefully be posting pictures that might be fun for you all to see!
    How was everyone's weeks? Was that correct grammar? Who knows. Anyway, to be honest, I hope that some people had a better week than Sister Galera and I had this week. It was a pretty discouraging one and it just went by way too fast. I really feel my time ticking here in San Juan and there just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done! And today is no exception, so lets get into what happened this week!
    Our magandang moment for the week is with Sister Kathleen :) Oh man, although Sister Kathleen is sobrang magaling (so great) and is now a recent convert, she has actually been one of our focuses for this week and has pretty much been to constant focus in my mind. But what has been so great with her this week was she has become way active in the relief society and is actually choreographing their carribean sayaw (dance) for the RS activity this weekend! She is really becoming a part of the ward and we are so grateful for that.
    We had a fair share of sayang moments this week but I will just share a couple. Neither Jeff or Hesa came to church this week which is totally a bummer. And the other is that we had an incident at the church where there was a miscommunication about the time of a meeting and it's a way long story but I think in the process, two of our recent converts including Kathleen got offended. For a missionary there is not much more scary than for a recent convert to be offended especially by ward members. But of course every cloud has a silver lining, and I guess in the end this is just a continuation of the magandang moment because after the incident on Saturday, Kathleen said she probably wouldn't be at church the next day. But she came, and during Sister Paduga's great talk about agency and making choices to not give up in life, Sister Kathleen just broke down crying. It was exactly what she needed to hear. The Lord is so aware of His children and their needs.

In other news, We have a new missionary! Sister Gaddy has been transferred to La Trinidad :( we all miss her a ton but Sister Paduga is now here and we are really excited. I am out of time so you won't get to know about Sister Paduga until next week. Although this was a pretty rough week, there is always something we can learn. The whole purpose of our lives is to go through hard times and to learn from them. Learn what to do better next time and learn what to be grateful for amongst the negative. I love you all. I hope you all take care.
Until next week,
Sister Sawada

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Teka lang

Magandang hapon to everyone!
    Alright so I am not sure why I keep wanting to rearrange the way that I write my emails but here it comes. A new outline. Since I find myself having less and less time to write this general email, I decided the best way to express it all is in moments. I will have my "magandang moment" maganda means beautiful or in the Philippines they pretty much use it to describe anything positive. So something great that happened this week. Then my "sayang moment" sayang meaning dang it or shucks so something unfortunate that happened this week. And lastly the "nakakatawa moment" nakakatawa means funny so like a giggle moment that most likely has to do with something that would only happen in the Philippines :) gotta put those in. Oh and also since I am running out of ideas for subjects for my email, I'm just going to put one of the many new words I learn in the week. Teka lang is a substitute for sandali lang which means just a second, or hold on.
    Okay! So the magandang moment for this week: Sister Galera and I have been a little bummed about the number of our investigators and their lack of progression. We have thought that it might be time to start dropping some of them. Like Manuel. Someone who I have been visiting since my first day here almost 3 times a week. Before, he was coming to church pero now he doesn't come to church, is back to drinking coffee, and really just sees our visits as bible study and nothing more. So we were very sad when we told him that unless he was willing to take some actions, that we would have to stop visiting him. And he said he thinks that is best. It's so strange to do that to someone who we have been growing to love and care for and putting so much efffort into. Also, it seems terrible to give up on one of God's children like that. But we also have to put into consideration the fact that God is preparing SPECIFIC souls for our message at this time. Not everyone is ready yet. And through lots of prayer we really felt it was right.
    Anyway getting to the maganda part haha. So in efforts of finding new investigators, I felt prompted to look in our "Former Investigator" tab of our binder. We have like 30 names in there and so we looked through the first bit and made plans to visit them this coming week. This was on Thursday during weekly planning. That same night, we just so happened to come in contact with one of the names in there that we just ignored because he is just a 10 year old boy. But we were strongly encouraged to come back and teach him some time. Also, that night we were in a lesson with the Aguila family, a mediyo less active family in our ward and their non member daughter Jenny and her boyfriend David came in, sat down, and told us that they want to be married and baptized. They both were former investigators but were dropped because Jenny seemed to hate the missionaries and is usually angry and drunk, screaming at people in the streets in Ilokano so I don't understand. The whole Aguila family has been baptized except for Jenny because matigas ang ulo niya (what her mom says to describe her which pretty much means she is so stubborn) We were so shocked when they told us what they desired, I don't think I was able to hide my surprise as much as I hoped to. My jaw literally dropped and all we could really say was "Okay, you sit there and we can tell you how you can be married and baptized." haha. This experience has taught me a ton. Mostly that we have no idea what God is planning for us in this life. Brother and Sister Aguila were in tears by the end of our lesson because they have been waiting years for Jenny to be willing to listen to the missionaries. And I have also learned that there is so much power in prayer. Prayer is one of the simplest commandments for us to follow so sometimes we forget how much power there is. But we are literally communicating with our Father in Heaven which means that a whole lot can come from one little prayer. I am so grateful for the gift of prayer and I recommend that we all use this gift to the best of our advantage.
    Sige, so the Sayang moment for this week is pretty much that we haven't met with Jeff now for 2 weeks :( the last time we saw him was when he accepted to be baptized on March 29 and then he hasn't responded to any texts and each time we go to his house it's all locked up as if he is out of town. Also, Hesa didn't come to church this week which means that we will probably have to reset her baptismal date that was supposed to be March 15. Definitely big bummers but we know that as long as we do what we can to have the Lord with us in our work, no effort will be wasted and everything will be accomplished in His time.
     Last but not least, our nakakatawa moment. This happened a while ago but I forgot to share it. We were in the middle of a serious lesson with Nardz. By the way Nardz is doing great. Coming to church every week, lessons with him are super spiritual and we can see him converting right before our eyes. So anyway we are in Ruth's home and this lesson was about the law of chastity and about keeping God's commandments and we are talking to him and some music starts playing outside. Nardz puts his hand up and is like "sorry sister's just a second" and goes up and looks out the window. Then he's like "oh, it's just a funeral. I thought it was the ice cream man." What the? haha oh Nardz. There's never a dull moment with him. It was unfortunate because we all just started laughing during a spiritual lesson, but this says a couple of things. You can never take yourself too seriously, especially in the Philippines. Also, when there is a funeral here, it usually consists of a truck with huge speakers and a singer in the bed of the trunk singing some sad songs with a keyboard player at the front of a long line of cars (if the person has wealthy friends and family) but more commonly the truck is at the front of a massive herd of people walking in the street carrying umbrellas as they walk to the place where the funeral will be held. Not to be confused with the sound of the ice cream man. Which in the Philippines the ice cream man usually rings a bell and yells ice cream rather than playing music.
    But anyway. That is all for this week. I love you all a ton. I am so happy to still be here in San Juan after transfers this week. We have a new sister in our house. Sister Gaddy is gone to La Trinidad, where Sister Tanner is. And Sister Paduga is in our house. So yes I am the only foreigner but it's alright. Sister Paduga is quite the character and I'm excited to share more about her next week. I have to go now :( but things are great here and I learn something each day about how I can improve myself as a missionary and as a daughter of God. I hope everyone has a great week and take care until next week!
Mahal ko kayong lahat,
Sister Sawada