Monday, April 7, 2014

Mga Litrato

 This weeks email will just be pictures and their descriptions! Hope you all enjoy :)
     So this week is almost for sure my last week here in San Juan :( everyone has been saying that I am most likely transferring since I have been here for 6 months and Sister Galera and I are about to finish her 12 weeks training. Which kind of means that she is meant to stay and lead the area and I get booted off into some unknown territory hah. I am very anxious about this. At first I really didn't want it, but now I really am feeling that it is my time to experience something different. I have learned more than I ever could have hoped to learn just in this first area, but I know there are many more lessons for me to learn and that can only happen as I continue to have new experiences. So these pictures are from what I am supposing to be my last Sunday in San Juan 2nd. Unfortunately they don't tell us if we are transferring until tomorrow and then transfers are on Thursday. So if I wanted to say goodbye to ward members, I needed to tell them I was transferring at church yesterday. The thing is, if I'm wrong, then I just told everyone I am transferring when really I might be right back at Montemar Chapel once again next week haha. Anyway! 
     Picture 1: This is our gospel principles class! It consists of all of our investigators and recent converts. Since Brother Joei, the former teacher of this class, went abroad for work, we missionaries have been teaching the class. It's way fun. One of my favorite parts of Sundays. Ther's Elder Agustin, Jeff (he came to church!), Quirino, Brother Noto, Charlene, Sis Lacdo-o, Kathleen, Nardz, Louise, Jared, Sister Paduga and Galera and I, and Mark. Such a great group of people.
     Picture 2: Here are us 6 missionaries of San Juan 2nd ward. Unfortunately I haven't been able to share much about this. But I guess I will share now. The San Juan 2nd ward has in a way been named the weakest ward in the San Fernando Stake. There was a point where the stake presidency was going to have us combine with ward 1. But just like the servant of the Lord of the vineyard in Jacob 5, one of the members of the Presidency asked our Stake President to spare us a little longer. To see what we could do to change San Juan 2nd. Even though there are plenty of names on our ward member list, about 400, our average sacrament attendance was about 60. To be honest, I didn't realize the significance of this low percentage of members attending church until Sister Paduga was assigned to our ward. Sister Paduga has seriously been the best blessing that could come to our ward. Before, I just went to church and was happy to see anyone at church, even if the bishop was just in a yellow polo shirt instead of a white shirt and tie. Even if we started classes and meetings about 30-45 minutes later than we should. Even if Brother Mariano our first counselor had to speak just about every Sunday because there weren't enough candidates for sacrament meeting speakers.
     When Sister Paduga came to San Juan she awakened an urgency in us missionaries and in our bishop and our auxiliary leaders. She helped us to see that there is a lot of room for improvement and that improvement will start with us. Since last transfer, we have been working our very hardest to not only continue to work with our investigators, but to work even harder on strengthening this ward. Now our bishop not only comes to church on time, but he comes in a sparkling white shirt and tie :) Our priesthood, relief society and youth programs all begin on time and have at least double the attendance than they had before (even if that only means going from 4 RS to 8, 2 priesthood to 4 and 1 youth to 2 :)) And we have sacrament meeting organized so that there are speakers other than Brother Mariano and the sacrament attendance is now averaging 80+ These are not huge miraculous imrovements. They are small, yet they give us so much hope. They have helped us all to see that work is worth it.

Picture 3: Of course I had to take a picture with Kathleen :) she had been facing quite the number of trials this past week but her prayers have been heard and were answered. Prayer works I promise!
Picture 4: Our missionary prep class! We began this class a couple of weeks ago and this week they almost all came in proper missionary attire. It is a combined class with the youth and single adults in ward 1 and 2. This picture is mostly ward 1 but it's a great class. We know that being a missionary isn't going to get any easier as times go on. So we are doing our best to prepare them for missionary life by teaching necessary missionary lessons, and then at the end we even teach them how to make a quick and easy food dish haha.
     The last thing I want to share is about the Women's General Broadcast. We were lucky enough to get to listen to it (at first becaus the picture wasn't working) then watch it this Saturday and it was just sooo good. Sadly we were late so I only got to hear the end of the talk before President Eyring, and then listen to AND see President Eyring's talk. If I am correct, it seemed that there was a theme of becoming a disciple of Christ for this broadcast. What a beautiful and important topic. There were words shared that really struck me and have inspired me to work on things about myself this coming week and the weeks to come. But what probably hit me the most was the musical number medley of Lord I Would Follow Thee and Love One Another. Lord I Would Follow Thee has not only been one of my favorite Hymns, but it has also been an inspiration, something I have been striving to follow on my mission. But as I really listened to the words I realized how far I was from living the message of that song. I have been too selfish, impatient, and non humble (can't think of the correct word hah) to really be able to say that I have been following Christ. I couldn't help but start crying and I just had to hug Sister Galera and tell her "I'm so sorry" haha. Thoughts of my imperfections were overwhelming and I realized there were SO many things I need to improve on.
     But if I'm correct, in Love one Another the choir sang "this NEW commandment, love one another". I never realized that until now. Why is love one another a new commandment? Hasn't it been one of the greatest of all the commandments since Jesus walked the earth? I was glad for that word "new" though. It helped me to see that I still have time. I still have this "new" commandment that I can apply to my life right now. I am not sure if this makes any sense. But I hope that we can all realize our imperfections and take the chance that we have right now to change. I know that I will be doing the same! I love you all with all my heart! Keep being great :) 
Sister Sawada


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