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.