Sunday, November 30, 2014

By the power of chika-chika

Happy December Everyone!
    I guess it was thanksgiving at some point last week? Haha not much celebration over here but Sister Bircher my house mate is American and wanted to make a thanksgiving lunch. It was way yummy! She bought "chooks to go" which is a rotisserie chicken place, made mashed potatoes and a kamote (sweet potatoe) dish with marshmallows on top haha. It was fun and I think it made her really happy so that's good! It was another great week! I will get started na.
    We had exchanges again! This time we were in my area in Bauang. Sister Mortell was my companion for the day. She is from Idaho and is so hilarious! We had some fun experiences together on our exchanges. First we taught a woman named Aileen. She was being taught by the Elders in our branch but they decided to have us teach her instead because she had a crush on the Elder that was teaching her, but since he has left, she has stopped progressing haha. They think switching to sisters might help. The thing is, Sister Aileen is def and mute. I had taught a def man before and so I wasn't too worried about teaching her. But to make a long story short, we struggled haha. I am so scared to go back to her again! Where we struggled was with getting her to answer our questions. Because she is able to read, so we type things down on her tablet, but she won't type to answer our questions. She is only willing to answer yes or no questions. So we are going to have to really pray and study hard before we go back to her again.
     Also, when we ride on jeepneys we rarely ride in the front seat, it is higher up to climb in, and then we usually have to squish up against the driver and sometimes they enjoy that a little too much haha. So we usually just sit in the back. But Sister Mortell said she likes to feel like Indiana Jones so we sat in the front. But as we were getting out, my dress caught on something and ripped up the side! Luckily it wasn't too high so we just got on the first jeepney we saw going back to our apartment so that I could change haha and then got back to work. Before our exchanges started she said that crazy things usually happen when she goes on exchanges (when she went on exchanges with Sister Tanner, their umbrella got struck by lightning) Anyway, I thought our exchanges would be an exception, but they were pretty crazy.
    So the title of my email is by the power of chika-chika. Which here, chika chika is the term used for like "talk story". And my companion Sister Aroa is the most professional chika chika master I have ever met! haha on our first day together, she walked up to a lady and started talking story with her. It was fun, we told her we would come back to visit her later on in the week. When we were walking away I asked if she was a less active or investigator. Sister Aroa said she had just met her that moment! I thought for sure she already knew her. She talked with her like they were close, like friends or family...did it just click for you like it clicked for me? It's alright because it took me 3 weeks to finally realize this.
     In the 3 weeks of our companionship I have learned so much from Sister Aroa, but this is by far the biggest lesson I have learned. She treats everyone like they are already her friends or family. Like she knows them. As Jesus interacted with others and taught them, He knew them. He knew their thoughts, hopes, intentions, concerns, He knows us all. When I go out proselyting with Sister Aroa, and we see a group of people sitting out on the road, we will stop to chika-chika. We pull up any empty chairs we may see and make ourselves comfortable haha. Luckily in the Philippines this isn't rude or intrusive. In these 3 weeks we have found about 30 new investigators and I am in awe at how it happened. With past companions, we have struggled to reach the standard of the mission which is 5 new investigators each week. Last week we found 17. It's not because we are magaling (amazing/talented) missionaries. We are just doing our best to literally represent Jesus Christ. To do the things the way that He would do them. I shouldn't surprised that as we did our best to obey Him when He said to be "even as I am", that we would see improvement.
     I was also able to witness a sad example of someone not being like Christ and the way that it affected those around her. We have an investigator named Colas. He is 17 years old but is actually only studying 1st grade. I am not sure why. Maybe he stopped studying and has decided to start again. But anyway he over all just a normal teenage boy! He just takes a little longer to teach but he has great friends who are members and they come to the lessons with us. They help him read the segments of the Book of Mormon and everything. He even came to church this week! But unfortunately in their youth class, there was a young woman who kept laughing at him. Later on on Sunday we went to teach him and he said he liked church, but he was really bummed about the girl laughing at him. We did our best to explain how the gospel is what is perfect and can help us, and sometimes the people in the church aren't the best examples. Luckily he doesn't seem so hurt and he said he is willing to try going to church again next week.
     I have a testimony of our Brother and Savior who is Jesus Christ. He loves us and has given us the perfect example. So let's follow him people! Haha that is my invitation for you all :) I love you guys so much! Have a great week! Until next time!
-Sister Sawada

Monday, November 24, 2014


ito na naman

Another Magandang Hapon sa inyong Lahat!
    Is it just me or do these weeks feel like they are going by like days? The title of my email is ito na naman which means something along the lines of "this once again". Once again, I am here updating you guys on another week here and it feels like I was just here yesterday. Well it's been such an awesome and busy week this week and I want to get right into it! 
     Monday we experienced our first pday starting from 10 instead of 12. That is our new schedule now and of course we were way excited about it! But we ended up really not knowing what to do with our extra time. We ended up going to a members house and they are studying beauty. So I cut Joyjoy's hair while Jaja gave sister Aroa a pedicure. We even brought our speakers and played EFY music and had our own little Mormon Salon going haha it was way fun. In exchange for the extra 2 hours of pday, president Balledos has required that each companionship get at least 2 lessons taught on Monday. Most missionaries mistake pday for holiday and don't get much work it. We were able to teach 3 lessons and found 3 new investigators! We have never had a Monday like that. Have I mentioned that our mission president is really so inspired?
     Tuesday we had exchanges! We also had Zone Training, but since we would be having exchanges in Agoo, we decided to attend the Agoo zone training instead of ours in Bauang. It was a great training. One of the zone leaders in Agoo is Elder Smiler who was in San Juan 2 ward with me back in my first area! It was fun to see how much we have grown since that area. He is a really great zone leader and he and his companion Elder Kartch taught about how we can recieve revelation through prayer and how we can best teach that principle to our investigators and less actives. I then had exchanges with Sister Fernandez. We worked in her area and her companion and Sister Aroa went back to Bauang and worked in our area. Bauang and Agoo are about an hour away from each other. Sister Fernandez is from General Santos, Mindanao. She is only 19 but she is a great missionary. She is learning a lot. She is about 5 months into her mission and kept telling me how easy the mission is for her and she won't have a problem doing this for a year and a half. So I was glad! haha that wasn't exactly my attitude 5 months in so I was impressed and the day was way great. 
     We met an especially great young man named Ballo. We stopped by his house to teach his family member. She wasn't home but we could see he was really sad and we asked him why. He wants to serve a mission so bad. He works with the Elders and has a really great testimony. From what I noticed about him he has a slight speech impediment and maybe a learning disability. He wasn't been able to finish high school and because of that, the branch president told him he won't be able to serve a mission. He asked us "Did Heavenly Father ever say that if you didn't finish studies you can't serve him?" I was stumped as to what to say. It didn't seem right that he wouldn't be able to serve. I was wondering if maybe a service mission he could do? But I didn't want to disregard what his leader had told him. I also didn't want to get his hopes up that he could still serve. I wanted to say so many things but nothing was coming out. Since Tagalog still isn't the easiest thing for me and Sister Fernandez just seemed to fuel his fire by sharing about how Joseph Smith only studied to 4th grade and he became the prophet. We gave him the best advice we could. We just recommended that he speak to some other Branch Presidents to be sure what the qualifications are. It helped me realize how lucky I was that I didn't face any challenges applying to come here. I still managed to complain even when given such an easy path here on the mission. It helped me to remember how we are all blessed in different ways and it's important to realize this if we want to be happy and in order to receive more blessings.
     Wednesday was exchanges again and since my companion is so sweet she stayed in Bauang again and let me stay in Agoo because I don't quite know the area well enough to lead it in exchanges. Anyway I worked with Sister Morrill. She is from Oregon. She is just 1 transfer younger than me in the mission and she is way sweet. Her area is a really progressing area as well. We had some great visits with people and one especially great man named Sonny! Sonny is from India. He was born and raised in the religion of Hinduism. He moved to the Philippines 30 years ago so is now good at speaking tagalog. To make a long story short, he has come to know that not only there is a Christ, but that this church is the true Church of Jesus Christ. He wants more than anything to be baptized but if the Hindi community ever found out that he was baptized into Christianity, his family would be shunned by them. Sister Morrill shared all of this with me in the morning before we went out to work. They decided to continue to visit him, but since he wouldn't be able to be baptized, they weren't sure how much longer they would continue visiting. When we got to his home, before we even got started with the lesson, he told us that he had spoken with his family and they are willing for him to be baptized! They are going to do their best to keep things on the down low so that the gossip in the Inidian community here won't get to India. But if it does, it is a sacrifice that he and his family are willing to make. He had even gotten white pants made so that he could be baptized that weekend! I was so taken back by his enthusiasm and strong desire.
     Later that night we were at the home of a member family and in walks a recently returned missionary who served in Hawaii! His name is Brother Rodel now but before he was Elder Villanueva who served in the Kaneohe 6th Branch! He was one of the Elders I think who taught Maya for a little bit and he was also there when my good friend from the branch Nisi got baptized! I remember talking to him one sunday in hawaii when I got my mission call and he said he lives in the Baguio mission near baguio! And there he was in the living room of the home that we were eating dinner at! haha how crazy is that? Of course he didn't remember me because I have my freakish memory of faces and things so I had to remind him of the conversations we had and eventually he remembered, or said he remembered at least haha.
    Aw man I am already low on time and I have sooo many pictures to send. Siguro this will be all for now. I am so happy to have the opportunity to spend some time in some other areas to get to meet such inspiring people! There are some super great people here in Bauang that I want to share about but I guess it will just have to wait until next week. I love you all! Now for pictures!

Sister Tapusoa is back!!! This was way back on transfer day but I wasn't able to send it yet! The classic MTC sisters pic that we have to take whenever we are at the same place together :) Sister Tapusoa is now in Sevilla in San Fernando zone and Sister Bangerter is the STL of San Fernando zone right now. Also, Bauang is about 15 min away from Sevilla so we get to see each other a lot now! Especially on pday.

Nanay! This is probably one of the last pictures I will have with her on the mission! Sister Tanner goes home at the end of this transfer in December. She is also in Sevilla actually in the same house as Sister Tapusoa! haha


Monday, November 17, 2014

Bagong Tao

Magandang araw everyone!
    What is new with everyone? Thank you for the updates! Julz you are so amazing to be working so hard on your books! I can't wait to read them when I get home! And that's not sarcastic haha I actually enjoy reading now. My favorites right now are the teachings of the prophets. I am reading the one from Brigham Young right now. He has so many inspiring insights! Ayo thank you for the pictures! Mila is getting sooo old I wanted to cry. I can't believe how much she looks like you! Also, Kel and Constance are the cutest. I really have the cutest neices and nephews! I hope they remember me! Mommy I laughed pretty hard reading about how you get even less news from Jake than you got from me my freshman year hahah. Communication is not one of my fortes but I have been working on it since being here! I hope there has been improvement.
    This week went by way too fast as usual. But I am excited to introduce you to some of the "Bagong Tao" or "New People" of Bauang! You may have noticed this email isn't so rushed as usual and thats is now one hour and thirty minutes long! Yayyy! But I spent some time earlier writing emails to other people so I still don't have a ton of time :( haha next time I will have more time! I have some pictures I wanted to send but my computer isn't reading my camera :( so next week na lang. This week we visited some of the Sisters in Agoo. We are the STLs over Bauang and Agoo zone. It was really fun to see them! Some of them were sisters I was with in San Fernando zone and Baguio zone. It was nice to see them again and talk about the progress we have made as missionaries. We also had district conference. It is a district here in Bauang instead of stake. Elder Aduro of the area seventy spoke to us. So did President and Sister Balledos. They gave really really great talks! Their focuses were family and tithing. Those are some of the not so solid areas of the church here in the Philippines.
    I want to share more! But I should probably get into sharing about the area. This area is probably 1/4 the size of our area in Narvacan and I am not too sad about it haha. A lot less money spent on transportation. We only have 2 barangay but there is still lots of work to do! We are focusing on:
1. Rolly Aquino: Brother Rolly is in his 60s or so. All of his children are members of the church. He is a great investigator! He has searched just about every church on the face of this earth besides the LDS. And since he knows so much, as we teach him about the apostasy and how the fullness has been restored, we see the wheels turning and everything just clicks with him! He accepted to be baptized on December 27 but hasn't yet come to church. He wants to go with his kids but they are kind of less active/have work on sundays. But we are hoping that if we bring some members to our next lessons with him, he will feel more comfortable coming to church by himself.
2. MA Rosario: MA is only 12 years old but is one of the smartest investigators I have taught! She comes to church every sunday and loves hearing our lessons. She even has a few friends at church and helps us to bring our other investigators to church! She is pretty much a member but her father is a less active. He hasn't been to church since 2009. Our requirement for the mission is if the baptismal candidate is less than 21 years old, they need to have solid church members in their home. So we are trying to focus on her father. But he doesn't seem to think he needs the church in his life :( it's so sad because he is a really good person. An especially good dad because his wife left him with 3 young children. If you guys could pray for him, brother Mark Anthony Rosario and MA and all of his family, that would be great!
Shucks theres more I would like to share but next week na lang! I hope everyone has a great week! Daddy I am so happy every time mom writes to me about what a wonderful husband you are to her. President Balledos addressed fathers in particular in his talk at conference and I thought about how lucky I am to have such a good example of a father in my home. I love you and mom and the whole family! Also tell Baachan I say kumusta :) haha and that I will need her to teach me Japanese again when I get home. Okay love you all! Take care! Until next week!
- Sister Sawada

Monday, November 10, 2014


Hey Everyone!
     This has been a crazy week! It was transfer week and Sister Perez and I weren't really thinking much about it. We felt that we would both stay together for another transfer. But I was surprisingly transferred out of Narvacan :( It was a decision that President decided would be best for my progression as a missionary. He was worried that being in such an Ilokano condensed area was a little too overwhelming for me. It's true I was feeling quite overwhelmed, but I wasn't a big fan of the idea of just giving up so quickly. But on Tuesday of last week, President and Sister Balledos came and visited our zone at district meeting. President pulled me aside and let me know that he would be transferring me. Considering the fact that he took the time out to let me know personally that I would be leaving earlier than expected, I could feel that he had taken time to decide whether this was the right thing or not. He is really an inspired man and I am blessed to be able to follow his direction!
      So where am I now? I am now serving in the Bauang (baWANG) zone in the Bauang area! My companion is Sister Aroa! She was the follow up trainer of Sister Bangerter and then my housemate in Baguio for a transfer I may have sent pictures of her before when Sister Quiban was my companion and her companion was my lola Sister Latimer. We don't have a recent picture together yet. Too busy! But I have always considered her to be one of the sweetest and most talented missionaries in the mission! And I get to be her companion? I really don't know how I get so lucky with these things. It makes me worried that I am the difficult/struggling companion sometimes...haha. She is from Bulacan which is also where Sister Galera is from. They were in the same stake! We are serving in the Bauang Branch. It's my first time in a branch and not a ward but I am not sure what the difference really is. Coming here, this branch has some of the strongest members I have met yet on the mission! It was great because my first weekend here, we already had a one day mission with the ward. I am not sure if Kailua has ever tried this but once a month here, they have a day where the ward members and missionaries go out to visit less actives. We choose focus areas and names and go out and do work. It is such a great thing ESPECIALLY with enthusiastic members like the ones here in Bauang. Not only were we able to visit 21 less active homes but we also received some referrals for possible investigators. It was a great success.
      When I first came to the area Sister Aroa challenged me to pick out or guess who the branch president is. I took the challenge and failed haha. I guessed almost every male who was at the one day mission before I guessed him. I can't wait to show you a picture of him because he looks like a youth! He also has the greatest sense of humor ever and the cutest family. The branch really feeds well off of his young and light attitude. He and his wife met when he was on his mission! They are so great. He refers to her as "first lady" haha because she is the wife of the president. Well I wish there was more I could share but things are all still so new! My fellow Branch missionaries are Elder Alejandro and Harris. They are also the Zone leaders. Elder Harris is a new zone leader and is really shy but I sense him coming out of his shell soon haha. I can't remember if I have talked about Elder Alejandro before. I call him my uncle because he is in Sister Taner's batch and he was the companion of Elder Ete when Elder Ete was my first district leader. We have been together for most of my mission! So it's nice to have a familiar missionary around. Our zone is really new so I don't know many of them yet. Most companionships have someone in training or just out of training. Then there is Elder Manning who is follow up training Elder Dasalla. My housemates are Sister Bircher and Lomibao. This is the last transfer of Sister Bircher's mission and she is finishing training Sister Lomibao. I will send pictures as soon as possible of everyone! But for now I have some pictures of things that happened this week. Mostly the sad and unexpected goodbyes in Narvacan :(


Monday, November 3, 2014

Bakit Hindi

Happy November sa lahat ng aking mamahalan!
    Hehe how is everyone? Things here in Narvacan are just maganda! Sorry this email may be a little short and has been a little distracted due to the amazing news that I have just received that my very very good friend Sister Tapusoa is now coming back to the Philippines Baguio mission! She had to go home to get a surgery done on her leg. We have been emailing every week since while she has been in St. George recovering. Today week we were emailing as usual and then she mentions that she is emailing me from Manila! Of course this is her personal situation so I won't share much about it. But I was blessed to have been a little part of her time here on the mission before she was sent home and was able to hear some of her feelings/insights of being home and having to wait until she could come back on the mission. I was able to see into yet another life being affected by the trials and hardships that hit our mortal lives. And I was able to see how a knowledge of and trust in our Heavenly Father's plan for us can sometimes make or break us as we go through the trial. 
     Luckily Sister Tapusoa had gained such a strong testimony of a loving Heavenly Father that she knew He had a plan for her. Her time back home was not easy. It was frustrating and I'm sure made her question a lot about what exactly Heavenly Father wanted of her. But as she endured with patience, trust, and hope, she made it! She is now in Manila and could not be happier to be back wearing a name tag and ready to serve the Lord :) There's just one more thing that I want to share and I hope she doesn't mind me sharing. One week as we were emailing, she expressed the frustration of not knowing if/when she would be coming back to the mission. I did my best to comfort her and of course recommended fervent prayer and maybe even fasting. She told me that she knew prayer and fasting would help. She knew it was what she needed to be doing. But sometimes it can get tiring expecting and outcome of so much worth out of something as simple as prayer.
      I am sure we have all felt like this before! I know for sure I have. Maybe almost every day. We go house to house teaching amazing people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But sometimes, expecting them to make so many changes in their lives such as breaking addictions or sacrificing a big chunk of their income to come to church may seem like too much to ask. And will prayer really be able to help such sensitive or mabigat (heavy) situations? We are taught in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by small and simple things, great things are brought to pass. We got to have a special broadcast where Dallin H. Oaks addressed the Philippines area. He said that something that will help the church in the Philippines is to strengthen our roots. If our roots are not strong, no matter how big our tree may grow, it will not be able to be supported unless the roots go deep and far. Things like prayer, scripture reading, and attending church/church activities are all things that will strengthen our roots. I have also taken the challenge from our Relief Society lesson yesterday to be better at writing my "personal history" aka writing in my journal.
       In this new area I was expecting to make all of this growth and improvement. I thought I would see great improvement in my Tagalog since I am in a companionship, apartment, and even zone with mostly tagalog speakers. I thought I would also pick up very quickly on the Ilokano. I expected that since Sister Perez is one of the most experienced companions I have had, I would improve greatly in my teaching. And my expectations went on and on as I first came into this area. I was getting quite frustrated these past few weeks when I didn't see the improvement I expected. Hearing Elder Oaks' words that we need to strengthen the roots first really hit me. I realized that language and teaching skills are part of the tree that I want to be growing here on the mission. But my roots, my testimony, personal reading of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, the quality of my prayers, and other things are what make up my roots. I invite you all to join me this week and in the following weeks to strengthen our roots! Let's read an extra chapter of our scriptures this week. Let's take an extra minute of our prayer to realize that we are speaking right to our all powerful Father in Heaven. There is so much more I want to share! I will just quickly share an update on our investigators and less actives.

Vallentos Family:
This week we had a baptism! The Vallentos family is a returning less active family who's 8 year old daughter, Venice was baptized this week. The best part is, after an interview with the bishop, Brother Vallentos was able to be the one to baptize her!

Continues to progress so well. I am not sure if I wrote this last week but she says she really wants her husband to be able to join the lessons. When we are not there, she shares with him the things she learned, and then he will ask questions which she will then ask us when we return, and then we answer, and then she tells him when we leave! But he is just too shy to face us when we come to their home! The funny thing is, this is not abnormal. So many people will not face us and their excuse is just that they're "shy" haha. But once again she didn't come to church :( it's a little understandable since this weekend was all souls and all saints day. But still it was a bummer :(

Came to church even though her boyfriend had work! Usually she won't come unless Jomell will go with her. But she came by herself! She even attended the broadcast later than night all the way in Candon! We wish her wedding could be sooner so that she can just get baptized already! She is really prepared :) but we continue to visit and strengthen her testimony.

Alright that is all I think I can share this week. Ended up being pretty lengthy anyway huh? I hope so! I love you all! I hope you can take my invitation and we all can see how much we will be blessed by strenthening our roots. If you are hesitant to accept my invitation (as many investigators are) ask yourself the question I always want to ask them: Bakit Hindi? or Why Not? Why not just try it? If it really makes your life miserable, then you can stop. But I promise you, it won't :) I love you all so much and I know all these things I have written are true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Sister Sawada