Life is still crazy here in Bauang. Sadly, I had to say goodbye to my companion Sister Mortell. She is going home now! Yesterday was quite the emotional day but I am so glad that I got to be her companion. I learned so much from her and I got especially inspired to work my very hardest until the end of my time here. The title of my email is Hwag Kayong Mahiya! Which means don't be shy! Haha I can't remember if this is a thing in america, but it is a legitimate excuse here to "be shy". We ask someone to do something and they say they can't "they're shy". I understand that everyone has their own comfort zone and it can be hard to step outside of it, but I have seen too many people holding themselves back because they are "shy". This week I noticed quite a few blessings coming to people's lives because hindi sila nahiya they were not shy! So here are some highlights of the week.
Sister Edna. Have I told you guys about Edna yet? Well her name is Edna Estigoy. She is a fairly new investigator. We met her actually trying to contact a man that we had met a couple of days earlier. But he was NOT interested haha we noticed him running away and hiding from us a couple of times, but we are sure we met him for a reason because it led us to Edna. Edna is 42 years old and has never yet been married. When we met her, she let us into her home right away and she was doing some dusting of her shelves and house cleaning things. We asked if she was cleaning for Christmas (we met her on December 23) and a little hesitantly she said "hindi naman" which means "not really". Right when she said that, I had a feeling she was Jehovah's witness since they don't celebrate Christmas. She had us sit down and I saw on one of her shelves a stack of what looked like Jehovah's Witnesses pamphlets. As in A STACK of them. Close to 100 maybe. Sister Mortell and I looked at each other and we were worried we were getting tricked into something haha. We usually have to try a lot harder to get into people's homes but this was all coming too easy. But we decided to have a seat and see what was in store. We got to know her better and came to know that she lives in Bauang taking care of her 2 pamankin (neices and nephews) and also runs their family sari sari store by their home. She worked in Manila for a really long time and while she was there she was met by Jehovah's Witness missionaries. Since then, she has been studying with them on and off until here and now in Bauang.
I felt really blessed to have Sister Mortell there as my companion. Being more seasoned missionaries, we both knew that we needed to do some serious BRT or HTBT which is what we use as missionaries to build a good relationship with those we teach and to help them to realize our purpose. The better they understand our purpose as missionaries, the smoother the teaching goes and everyone involved is much more comfortable/at ease. We could feel that Sister Edna was so not at ease when we began teaching haha. It was awkward and we wondered why she let us in if she was pretty strongly devoted to the Jehovah's Witness religion. Which was why asking question after question helped us to understand her more and find out some of her concerns. We taught a simple lesson about the Godhead and were able to help her understand Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. We know the Jehovah's Witness belief is a little different, but when we asked how she understood, she said that what we taught felt right. At the end of the lesson we felt a big change in the room. The spirit was there. Sister Edna was no longer uncomfortable or shy to us. When we were about to close, I was curious as to what Sister Edna was feeling. So I asked her. She said she felt excited, like she was starting a new adventure of some sorts. These are new additions to her knowledge and she liked it. But she also said there is a part of her that feels guilty, like she is betraying all of the things she had been taught over such a long period of time.
So things aren't perfect yet but we see so much potential. The best thing about teaching Edna is she is really smart. She knows the bible really well and understands and believes that there was an apostasy. The idea of a restoration really makes sense to her. But she continues to have questions mostly about beliefs in the Jehovah's witness that don't go with some of the beliefs of this church. When we taught her the Book of Mormon, she asked why no other churches use this book or recognize Joseph Smith as a prophet. We explained that the Book of Mormon is the evidence that there is only one church that holds the fullness of the gospel. So if it were used in other churches, there wouldn't really be a way to know which church was the one with the fullness. When we asked her if she wanted to test the promise given in the Book of Mormon and pray to know of the truthfulness of the message of the restoration, she said, "sige, try natin" meaning "okay, let's try it" haha we smiled so big. Anyway I could go on for a long time describing lessons with Edna. And by long time I guess I mean even longer than I already have haha. Progression with her is still quite slow but we really see the potential. We are glad that she was not "shy" and she was so accepting to us the first time we met her. We know we met her for a reason and I hope to be giving more updates on Edna's progression in the coming weeks!
Brother Rolly continues to come to church and progress so well in lessons! He continues to not be "shy" and makes more and more friends at church. The branch members comment on how he is very open in priesthood classes and shares his insights. They say it's like he's a member already! His smoking also continues to go down and so he is still on track for February 28. Yay!!! We didn't get to meet with Colas at all this week :( his best friends who are members, the Arizla family experienced a death in the family this week and they were really busy. So that was a bummer. He also didn't come to church. But we will for sure check up on him this week and see what's going on. We had a great lesson with MA where her dad joined and he showed his desire to come back to church! Yet, when Sunday came around, they were no where to be found :( we are way bummed and have a feeling MA may not be able to be baptized as soon as we were planning.
But the last experience I want to share is about the Mendoza family! I feel like I have to have shared about them before but real quick just in case I haven't, Brother and Sister Mendoza both have had former spouses. Sister has actually had 2. They have had children with their former spouses and have had 1 child together. The kids living with them are Fermine, Micah, Maryrose (children of sister and her former spouses) and then Lyka, the child they had together. Despite what their situation may imply, they are some of the sweetest and wholesome people I have met on my mission. They love their family so much. They have been living together for 5 years this year and they really show desire to turn their lives around. Brother has been in prison, we don't know what for. Sister has admitted to a time in her life where she just completely turned away from Christ. But they both want to change and do what is best for their family.
They have been investigators since a little before I got to the area. But just now are they really showing a desire to be baptized. This week the lesson we taught them was the word of wisdom and we were very nervous to teach it. We already knew brother smoked and assumed he drank from the alcohol bottles we saw in their home some times. But it was one of the easiest lessons I have taught. They didn't question a thing. Not even coffee or tea. Brother explained that he has already been trying to cut down on his addictions. He said that he used to drink every night. And smoke about a pack and a half a day. But now he smokes no more than 3 sticks a day and the thought of drinking isn't even pleasing to him most of the time. He had no doubt the word of wisdom is a commandment from God and sees that it will bless his family. So that was a pleasant surprise of a lesson. We walked out a little shocked but of course so happy haha. Then to top it all off, they came to church! The whole family! I think I have explained before but they are very poor. They collect trash for a living. Their biggest trial in coming to church is that Sunday is the best day for them. They make the most money on Sundays. But Sister finally decided not to be "shy" and told her husband that she thinks they should go to church instead. They came and they really seemed to enjoy it! We will be asking them how their experience was when we visit them this week.
Wow this was so long! I hope it all made sense and I hope you guys enjoy reading it. I hope you can feel the happiness that comes from this work. Of course there are some major difficulties and trials but I am so blessed to be here. She may hate me for saying this haha but Sister Mortell cried quite a few times yesterday. Every time she cried, I felt her love for this work. I felt her love for the people here and for the calling that she had been blessed with for these past 18 months. I am doing my best to really just live in each moment and to continue to do what the Lord needs and expects of me.
Real quick before I have to log off, thank you sooo much for the birthday package! I was able to open it and enjoy every single bit of everything in it. Those apple chips were so tasty! But I have to say my favorite part was the calendar. Not only do I now know everyone's birthday, but the pictures on there make me sooo happy :) I was so happy to see some pictures that I haven't seen before ie mom, dad and mimi dancing at constances birthday party, brother and Baachan at his seminary grad, and of course the adorable neices and nephews. Also, Skinniness is next to Goddessness sounds so great! Can't wait to hear more about that! Okay well I think this is it. I have used all of my email time so sorry once again to those who have emailed me! I will be sure to make time in my next email time to write you all! Love you! Hope you have a great week!