Monday, December 22, 2014

Pasko Na!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
     I am feeling just a little nostalgic because I just so happen to be emailing in the same net shop that I was in when I skyped you all last year. It's the first time I have been back here since that day! Haha kind of random and it definitely makes me excited to see you guys again this week! 10 am on the 26 will work just great :) Can't wait!! Our apartment here is officially ready for Christmas. We have an adorable little felt Christmas tree set up on our wall and my new companion, Sister Mortell got an ipod sent to her full of Christmas music on it! INCLUDING a few Amy Grant Christmas songs!! I could barely control my emotions when I heard it for the first time haha.
     Yes, I have a new companion! Her name is Sister Mortell she is from Idaho. I actually mentioned her in my email a couple of weeks ago because we had exchanges together last transfer! Yes, she's the funny one who likes to feel like Indiana Jones on the jeepneys and that's when my dress ripped as we were getting off haha. Never would have guessed she would become my next companion! This is actually her last transfer on her mission! But I really never would guess it by the way that she works. She doesn't seem run down at all! She is really excited to dive right into this new area. She wants to do the most for it that she can before she leaves. Since she will for sure be transferring (aka going home haha) after this transfer, that may also mean that I get to be here in Bauang til the end of my time on the mission. I would really love that. The branch here is so great and the area is a really good challenge for me. There is so much more I want to do here! And Sister Mortell is going to be a great addition to the missionaries here in the branch.
     So this week was quite the week. I can't remember much that happened to be honest. On Tuesday, Sister Aroa transferred to Agoo zone and Sister Mortell arrived here in Bauang. We got to work and Sister Mortell is really doing her best to get to know faces, names, houses, everything because she only has 6 weeks here! It was a real tough week concerning pagtuturo or teaching. The Christmas season is wonderful and there is always a special feeling in the air. But I admit, I may have said "Christmas ruins everything" this week as we walked around frustrated because no one was home! haha I want this to be a great transfer for the area and especially for Sister Mortell's last transfer in the mission, but there are parades, fiestas, carolling and many other celebrations that are making it pretty rough to reach our goals each day. But of course, we try not to make excuses and just keep working hard.
     As for our tinuturuan (people we are teaching) they are still wonderful and I love them just as much as ever! But this week, we weren't able to teach MA or Brother Rolly due to crazy busy Christmas ginagawa (things you do). They are two of the three investigators in this area who have accepted dates to be baptized. And it is a little nerve racking to see that we missed out on a whole week of teaching and checking up on their commitments. But some good news with Colas! He is the other investigator who is set up to be baptized on January 24. He attended the youth Christmas party on Friday night and the branch Christmas party on Saturday! He is making some really great friends and is getting nice and comfortable at the church. Our main concern is really just his focus and understanding on gospel principles. We have decided we will give him a notebook for him and us to take notes/draw pictures in so that he can hopefully begin to have a more full understanding of the things we teach.
      This week we found some great new investigators! On her first day in the area, Sister Mortell and I decided that we wanted to find a family that we could teach and maybe even baptize within this transfer. We have found 2 families so far. We are not sure if they are the ones that we have been praying for, but we sure hope that as we move forward with faith and diligence, we will find the chosen who Heavenly Father is preparing for us. Sorry this week wasn't too exciting. But I hope everyone has an absolutely magical and joyful Christmas! I am so so excited to see you all this week on our google hangout :) Love you all!
- Sister Sawada


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Photos 12/16/14

Siya ang Regalo

Hey it's me again!
    It's a beautiful and hot morning here. I am emailing in San Fernando this week rather than Bauang because we are going to have a district lunch mamaya (later on) in San Fernando. We are having a district lunch because tomorrow is transfer day and we are pretty sure there will be a couple of missionaries will be transferring from our district :( President has introduced a new system for transfers. Before, transfers were on a Thursday or Friday and all of the missionaries transferring would wake up early in the morning to be ready for a hired jeepney that would drive to each apartment and individually pick up the missionary, load on their luggage, wait for the missionary to say goodbye to their housemates, and then once every who was transferring from the zone was on the jeep, they would go to the chapel in San Fernando. All 9 zones, even those from far away like bangued and baguio would meet at the chapel in San Fernando for transfer point. At transfer point the missionaries found out where they would be going, and then would meet up with their new zones, get into the jeepney going to their new zone, and leave. Of course they would see some of their friends, chika-chika (talk story) take some pictures, and president has come to realize that this process is not only very expensive but it also wastes quite a bit of time. To be honest, most missionaries enjoy the opportunity to see their friends from the mission, myself included haha.
    But now, transfers for the sisters will be on Tuesdays. Today, or on Monday, we find out if we are transferring (we haven't gotten a call yet though) and where we are going and all of the information that we need. And then on Tuesday, we are in charge of getting our luggage onto a jeep or tryke or bus or whatever we need to get to our new area, and then we just go! Haha and then the zone leaders will meet us in our new zone at the main chapel in their zone. Then the Elders will do the same but on Wednesday they travel. Does that make sense? Is this even important for you all to know? Not sure, but I thought I would share haha. I am my mother's daughter right? hehe.
     Before I start I have some things to say. THANK YOU SO SO MUCH FOR THE PACKAGE! This week was our Christmas conference. I was bummed because it is so soon before Christmas. But once we got to the chapel and we saw all of the christmas decorations, and were uplifted by the messages and workshops given to us about Christ and this christmas season, we started to really feel the Christmas spirit. And then at the end of the conference I was told that I had a package to pick up! Seeing all of the pictures and getting the yummy yummy senbei and other snacks I was overwhelmed and just so grateful for you guys. Thank you so so much. The dress is ADORABLE. Already wore it yesterday at church of course haha. I was never good and putting off wearing new clothes. And thank you so much for the Plan of Salvation t shirt that is the coolest thing I have ever seen! Also, do we have new couches?? I am wondering if that was supposed to be a secret/surprise but I saw a bit of what looks like a new couch in one of the pictures you guys sent! Hahaha if we do, that is hilarious and I am very happy for the family that after 10+ years, we now finally have new couches. It also means that my new years prediction will be correct! Yay :)
     So the tytle of my email today is Siya ang Regalo or "He is the Gift". I am pretty sure that is the theme of many emails coming from missionaries this month. Maybe because and the mormon advertisements are doing such a beautiful job of highlighting the true meaning of the Christmas season. Yet no matter how many times I hear that Christ is what Christmas is all about, no matter how many times I may agree that He is the focus, I have realized that I really don't understand it. At least it really hasn't shown in my actions that I believe that He is the only important Gift that was given at the first Christmas so long ago and at any other Christmas since then or any other Christmas to come. Didn't I just mention about how I didn't feel the Christmas spirit until I got my package ? Haha I guess it's good to see I am still human. 
     But this season, and in general at this point in my mission and in my life, I am really working on my relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ. Last night, we got to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and the messages given were really inspiring. Of course I feel such love and admiration when messages about Christ are shared, but I can't help and see how much room I have to improve in my personal knowledge and relationship with Him. In my personal study each morning I am trying to give a good chunk of time to gaining a greater knowledge about Jesus Christ. He is so important! Words cannot describe His importance right? So this season and for the rest of our lives, let's strive to get to know Him better. Come to know what a blessing Jesus Christ is in our lives. And as we have been encouraged, let us share this gift with the people around us.
    Once again, just a short message this week :( I have so many pictures to send! I hope I can give a better update on the area next week. Okay love you all! Have a great week! Until next time!
Sister Sawada

Monday, December 8, 2014

Agyaman ak

  I am sorry this is going to be so short. Our internet cafe didn't have connection for the longest time! :( but anyway the title of this email is Agyaman ak which means "I am grateful" in Ilokano. I may be catching onto the thanksgiving spirit a little late this year. But better late than never right? The first thing I am grateful for is your email mommy. It's actually what has inspired my attitude of gratitude today :) of course I am grateful for the emails from all of my friends and family. I am actually especially happy because I am online right now at the same time as Madison! I have missed her so much. And of course thank you Lexi Turley who so devotedly emails and chats with me every week! You're the best Lex :) Also, Monique emailed me this week as well! Monique I will reply next week! I don't have enough time this week :( but you can imagine how happy I was to open my email and see messages from some of the people I appreciate most in my life.
     Some other great news that I am so grateful for came from our MLC meeting when I got to talk to Sister Perez about what is going on in Narvacan. The Claveria children (I sent their picture before from my last day in Narvacan) are getting baptized on the 13th of December! This is a quick part of Sister Perez's email that she sent to me this week. an excerpt from my email.
Fourth, Sunday-- our IBDs' dad (Brother Claveria), who is an LA, came to church. We were amazed as he stood up and bore his testimony. He bawled and expressed his gratitude for Sister Sawada and I, because we found their family. He said that he felt that he needed change and we came. :) It was so heart-melting.
     When we found Brother Claveria, we knew that God had placed him in our path. He knew all of the doctrine that we taught to him and his children, and his children were the most receptive investigators I have every taught! It's just that he was ashamed for falling back into his past habits of drinking and smoking. I am sure it wasn't easy for Sister Perez and her companion now (Sister Campos) to finally get him to come to church. But I am so so glad and grateful that he is now coming to church and taking the action to repent and change his life for the better. And this time, he is helping his daughter and son enter the waters of baptism. And then there is Mhay, we all remember Mhay right? She will be getting baptized on the 19th! Of course I am way bummed I won't be able to be at their baptisms, but I am so grateful to be able to hear about their progress as they strive to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, I have been writing back and forth to the Bamba family and they are doing just great :) They continue to attend the church activities. Stephen really enjoys seminary. And they continue to be so loving to the missionaries and give them referrals all the time! They really just want to share the gospel with everyone.
     Well it's a little obvious I got too excited chatting with my friends and I have run out of time! :( I guess I will just quickly say that I know that it is easy for me to be grateful at this time because there are so many obvious blessings that I feel being poured out in front of me. I am happy to say that I feel that I deserve to feel this happiness because of the hard work and time that I have put into working with these people. But before I come off as proud or boastful I would like to close with the words from one of the best missionaries in the Book of Mormon.
 "do not boast in my own strength,nor in my own wisdom; bubehold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joyanwill rejoice in my God. Yea, know that am nothingato my strength am weak; therefore will not boast of myself, but will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all thingsyea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which wwill praise his name forever.
Sister Sawada