Monday, October 27, 2014

Nagpapatul​oy ang Gapas

Happy almost Halloween from the Philippinas!
    I guess I should say All Saints Day. That's what is celebrated here instead of Halloween. I am not sure the history or yung dahilan (reason) why it is celebrated but people are making their plans to go to the cemetery where their family members are buried. This coming week I guess they will be camping or eating or doing something at their graves. Interesting di ba? (no?) Well this week the title of the email is nagpapatuloy ang gapas or "the harvest continues". I felt it was pretty fitting for this week considering the numerous times we visited people's homes just to find out na "nasa bukid sila" or they are in the fields working. It is harvesting time in the rice fields and everyone seems to be in the fields working morning til night! It's a really great opportunity for people to make money since very little of the farm work here is done with machines. Man labor is how it's done here!
     I also felt it was fitting since as missionaries, harvesting is a big part of our purpose and I was able to witness some pretty inspiring harvesting this weekend as the Sisters in our ward had 4 baptisms! It was such a beautiful service. There was an 8 year old boy who is the youngest of a less active family but his father was able to work things out to become worthy to baptize and confirm him! Then the daughter and son of another less active man who also was able to baptize them. Then Dominidor Orina whose his wife joined the church over 20 years ago. His progress went from threatening to cut off his children's feet if they tried to go to the mormon church, to now happily being baptized and bearing strong testimony of this church being the true church of Jesus Christ.
    The church is true! Dang I had a lot more planned to share especially for Jake. But I will just have to share next week. I am sorry this week was way short. But like the title of this email, the work continues and I continue to learn and grow each day! Sister Mhay and Brother Jomell came to church this week! We also found a new investigator who seems quite golden! This week we will really be able to see. We are kind of working through our teaching pool at this point and trying to really find those who will make changes needed in their life to fully accept this gospel. Nimpha continues to progress SO well in our lessons but once again couldn't come to church :( We were able to extend baptismal dates to the children of a woman who is a returning less active and they accepted! There were lots of starts or "planting" done this week and we will continue to see how the harvest will go. So let's hope I will have much more to share next week. I love you all! Have a great week! Until next week :)
Sister Sawada

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ang Bawat Kautusan ay may Dahilan

Hi mommy!
    Can you believe I have been in Narvacan for almost a month now! The time is really flying by and I think it's going so fast I can't even remember what is of worth to share! I will try bullet points this week.
     1. We had exchanges again and I got to make some Baguio Mission history by being the first foreigner sister to work in Bangued! It wasn't as climactic as you would imagine though haha. It felt like same wonderful Philippines just a lot more Ilokano (I really need to learn it :/) and some other new dialects I had never heard of until this week! We got to teach an almost def woman, a blind man who gives massages for a living, and worked with a very nice man named Brother Ben who gave me a ton of buko (coconuts) and pumelo (like grapefruit but delicious) to take home! He is so nice! In the box that had the pumelo there was another box wrapped in christmas gift wrap that had a towel in it! Hahaha I don't know why he gave me a towel, but how nice is that??
     2. We had stake conference this week. We had really beautiful meetings on both Saturday and Sunday but it was once again at the stake center in Candon just like general conference kaya (so) it was a tough time trying to get investigators to come. Most of our investigators actually haven't even come to church yet. But the kind of cool thing about these last weeks being in Candon, they are more willing to come this week now that it will just be at Limansangan, a much closer chapel. So I hope to be able to report better news concerning church attendance next week! But we still had a couple of less actives attend stake conference including a really great family named the Rosete family. Sister Perez and I took a selfie with Pepsi their 2nd daughter that I will send :)
     3. The title of the email this week is ang bawat kautusan ay may dahilan. It means that there is a reason for every commandment. This seemed to be a theme this week. As Sister Perez and I went from place to place teaching our investigators and less actives essential doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I found myself bearing such heartfelt testimony of how our Heavenly Father lives. And He is so ridiculously all knowing that we cannot afford to allow ourselves to begin to think that some commandments aren't so important anymore. Either they aren't relevant, or they don't need to be done every day, or the many other ideas that the adversary puts into our minds to try to take us dahan dahang (little by little) off the straight and narrow path. Since this was what was so strongly impressed on me to share with all those that we visited this week, I also share my testimony with you. I know that our Father in Heaven lives. I know that He knows us inside and out and everything we are given in life, each trial, each blessing, and each commament that we are given, is really meant for us. We don't need to try to push them over to someone else, and we don't need to question why we are given what we are given. But instead we can understand that it is meant for us, and there is something for us to learn or gain from it.
     I love you all so much and I am sorry this week's email is a little short. But I have some pictures to send as well! Love you all! Have a great week!
Love, Sister Sawada


Monday, October 13, 2014


Hi everyone!
    I couldn't think of a clever tagalog name for this week. Besides, conference happened and how can that not be the highlight of the week?? Also, I am pretty wiped out from our zone activity eariler this morning so this may be a quick one. I think I say that every week and it ends up being miles long so haha we will see today. This was a really wonderful week for Sister Perez and I. In tagalog we would say that our work was masarap or delicious. We were able to teach more lessons this week that I have ever taught before in one week. Usually we get about 2/3 the amount of lessons in a week. But the Lord was really on our side and guiding us to know where to go to be the most effective.
    In addition to the normal proselyting and meetings that we have in a week, Sister Perez and I also had exchanges! It was my first time being on exchanges as the STL rather than the other missionary. I think one of the main reasons I have been called as STL is to learn to love exchanges because I have never been a big fan haha. But I am already starting to like them more! Tuesday I exchanged with Sister LaTorre in her area in Candon. Sister LaTorre is from Bucol which is in the Naga Mission. This is her last transfer of her mission so it was a little intimidating working with her since she's so experienced. Anyway, her area is so maganda! It is legitimate puro (full/all) huts and banana trees. I loved it. Everyone is so nice and usually the problem with nice people is they have a hard time committing to our invitations. But the people we taught were really receptive and ready to act on the things we taught them. I was able to learn a ton from Sister LaTorre and the best part was towards the end of the night. The sun had set and the house/hut that we were teaching at had no street lights. Also that night was the lunar eclipse so there was like no light outside whatsoever. So the mother of the family we were teaching ran out to find someone who could give us a ride out to the main road (about 20 minutes away). She finally came back with a man who had a motor bike with a side cart type of thing that looked like it is just used to transport their animals, rice, and other things. But they wiped it down and I was ready to climb in and sit down, but then they took two plastic chairs, set them inside and let us sit like queens as they drove us out of their neighborhood! How sweet is that? Haha it was such a nice ride as well because there was no light so we could see the millions of stars in the sky. Hadn't seen that in so long because of being in Baguio. It was the perfect way to end the night!
      Exchanges was fun and I learned a ton but it was a good feeling going back to my area. My first day back we got to visit some of my favorites :) Let me introduce you to Mhay Lobrin! She is the asawa (girlfriend/wife there's not much difference here) of a less active member. They are living together and are really such a sweet couple. We taught them about how God would want them to be married before they live together and they have set plans to get married! Mhay seems like she's 16 but she is actually 20. She is way fun to talk to because she's just like my friends back home. She has accepted to be baptized December 13 because they plan to have their wedding at the beginning of December. Every question we ask her, she answers perfectly and you can tell it's really coming from her heart. She is more than ready for baptism, it's just the wedding plans holding things back. But that's Mhay!
       Next there is the Melo family. The Melo Family consists of Brother Melo, a long time less active, his two daughters who are recent converts but by now have become less active, and their older brother who is not a member. This is not an uncommon family set up. The thing is that they are like the sweetest family ever but they just haven't seemed to have the true conversion that Alma talks about in chapter 26 of Alma. We are focusing on Aldwin the older brother. He really has a desire to know the truth and we think that we can encourage his father to work to being worthy to baptizing Aldwin if Aldwin decides he wants to be baptized. Once the father and older brother are active, the younger daughters will be sure to follow :)
     Sister Baby Cabe and her family! You guys know how we met them. Since then, we have been visiting them on a regular basis and Sister Baby has not stopped praying to know where the true church of God is here on the earth. She is really admirable. There are obviously problems in her marriage with brother Henry but she continues to be loving to their 4 children and try her best to be a good wife to him. The last lesson we shared with her was about the Book of Mormon. We got to testify of the power of the Book of Mormon. How it can mend damaged family relationships and give us spiritual strength, and we asked Sister Cabe if she would read the Book of Mormon every day. She said roughly "Oh yeah of course! This whole time I have just been reading that pamphlet you guys gave me. But I wanna read from the Book of Mormon!"
     Side note: internet shops in the Philippines are sometimes filled with young men playing video games and they just scream things at each other and the computer screen the entire time. I hope any young man who reads this email does not do that haha.
      Lastly, Sister Nimpha! We met Sister Nimpha as we were walking from one appointment to another. She is one of the nicest people I have ever met! I thought she would be sassy when I first saw her because she is just in her mid 20s and likes to wear big jewelry and animal print haha. But she has the brightest smile and is a really good person. There are tables set up out side of her home where people just sit and gamble all day every day. When we came into her house this week we said that we were glad not to see her at the gambling tables. She said "Sisters, any free time that I have I want to spend with my children." She's a really great example. It made me think of the talk that Elder Holland gave about not letting us assume people are a certain way because they are members of the church or becuase they aren't members of the church. We have things that we can learn from everyone around us and things that we should not emulate from everyone around us. Sister Nimpha is progressing faster than Sister Perez and I could have hoped for. She has already accepted to be baptized in November and wants to come to church! We really just want to meet her husband and begin to teach him because of course it is much more beautiful to teach this gospel about families, to a family.
      Other than all these great visits, we had conference! Wow it was so delicious! We could definitely sense a strong theme no? Brother Rambo Ruiz asked what we would define conference as in 2 words. I chose Church Foundation. The leaders really seemed to focus on the foundation of our church. Which is Prophets, priesthood, and revelation. I also loved the ideas about service all throughout the conference. But each time prophets, or praying to know and waiting for personal revelation was mentioned, I could not "amen" loud enough haha. It felt like each leader was speaking directly to each of the less actives and investigators that I have met on my mission! Everything shared was part of one of the gospel doctrines and principles that we teach as missionaries! So brother especially, and everyone else who is working hard to be a member missionary, listen again and again to these talks. They were truly inspired and I think they will be especially effective as we hasten the Lord's work.
     Well as we guessed, a very long email once again haha. I hope you guys enjoy when my emails are longer just like I enjoy when your emails to me are longer. Speaking of, I am very exciting mommy to see that I have 2 emails from you this week :) also, I am working on a letter to send to the young women. I hope I can send it off next week! I will send some pictures from last week and earlier today at our zone activity. But that's all for this week. I was so happy to see and hear from our living Prophet this week. As each of his apostles and fellow leaders testify to the reality of his calling as the man chosen of God to be His prophet, it is hard to imagine how one could not believe that this is the church that holds the fullness of His gospel. But of course as we were all reminded, currents will hit us and try to get us to doubt. But lets push through those doubts and let our faith guide us until we have escaped that current. I love you all! Hope everyone has a great week. Until next week!
- Sister Sawada 

In our zone activity we had a cheer off. The red team was pretty obviously most into theirs haha. The tall one on the red team in the RVCA shirt is a new Elder from Mililani! Elder Serrao.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Tunay na Disciplo ni JesuCristo and pictures :)

Hey hey hey everyone!
    Before I get into my email I feel so terrible for not having responded to so many of the emails you guys have been sending me! So I will try to quickly respond to some things now. Yes mommy I missed the Bambas baptism :/ but I was lucky enough to see some Elders who attended the baptism and they said it was such a beautiful service. The Bamba family even gave the special musical number which was Families Can Be Together Forever. I really wish I could have been there to see them sing that song. But before I left Baguio Sister Jen Bamba gave me a picture of their family and on the back she just expressed her gratitude for being introduced to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. There may be some people that I left in Baguio that I am worried might stop progressing now that I am not there and can't watch over them the way I could before. But I can be confident that the Bamba family will continue to grow and will one day soon enter the Temple to become and family that will be together forever :)
     I acutally didn't realize that the typhoons in Baguio were so minor compared to what was going on down here in the Narvacan area. There are light posts, fences, and trees in the streets everywhere. Even the 100+ year old tree of this town was taken down by the winds of the last typhoon mario. But luckily everyone has finally gotten kollente (electricity) and almost everything is back to normal.
    That is so cool that Ran is meeting with the missionaries! You guys sound like you are being great fellowshippers as well! I can't wait til I can also help with the missionary effort in our home town. But thank you so much for actively helping the Lord's work move along!
     How was the Wheel episode?? I can't believe how cool and good looking my family is! Also, I am so flattered that Constance's party had that theme! It looks like it was such a fun time. Haha and thank you so much for the pictures and keep them coming. Please :) I will send some pictures this email! And I guess I will get started now...
    Things continue to be sunny and sweaty here in Narvacan haha but I couldn't be happier! Since I am still getting used to the area here I still don't have much to share with specific lessons or people that we visit. Also, the area is so so different from what I am used to. The areas I have been given have been like 4-7 barangay only and can be walked from one end to the other in an hour or so. That is not the case in Narvacan B. We need to take a tryke to get to most of our appointments and would probably take 4 hours to walk the whole thing. This means so many more people! Which is great! But also rough when you are new still because it means lots of new faces and people to get to know. I really do love it, but I am sorry that I may take a little while before I start sharing about specific, (the more stand out) people.
    But since this was the first week of the transfer, we had MLC or missionary leadership council. Maybe all missions work this way, but President won't introduce anything new to the mission unless he has presented it to his council of mission leaders. How humble is that? I really love President Balledos and it's amazing how much you can feel his love for the missionaries when he speaks to us. I want to focus my email on the spiritual thought that President Balledos gave on our first day of MLC. Oh yeah so MLC takes place in San Fernando which means a 4 hour bus ride from Narvacan. All of the district leaders, zone leaders and STLs met the first day and then we stayed over in San Fernando and the second day was just zone leaders and STLs. Anyway so on the first day President showed us a clip from Jefferey R. Holland's talk, I am not sure the name. But he was sharing the story of Jesus and the Apostles. How after the death of Jesus Christ, Peter recommended that they go back to their old lives. So he went back to being a fisherman. The part of his talk that really struck me was when he shared what he realistically assumed to be what Jesus said to Peter when Christ saw him back fishing. He said "Don't you think I could get fish if I wanted fish? What I need are disciples." Christ questioned if Peter loved Him. When Peter responded 3 times saying yes each time, Christ asked Peter Then what are you doing here, at these same boats, with these same nets, doing the same thing?
     Since watching that clip, I have been doing my best to make sure that in every minute that I am doing something, I am never back to the same old boats, throwing the same old nets into the same sea. I am trying to realize that Christ does not need more missionaries who will complain about the heat and waking up at 6:30 every morning. He does not need any more people who will read the scriptures when it's convenient and pray only when they have problems. What he needs is more disciples. More people who truly love him. Elder Holland said that the crowning characteristic of love is loyalty. My challenge for everyone this week is to try to be more loyal to our Savior. Considering he has done everything to make it possible for us to return to our Father in Heaven and receive eternal life, the least we could do is TRY to be more loving to him. Try to be a loyal disciple. I will be doing the same, and we all know we will be happier for doing so. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I love this opportunity I have been given to learn more about Him and serve Him. I love all of you and hope you really will take my challenge! Have a great week! Until next time :)
Sister Sawada