Monday, January 5, 2015

Bagong Taon!

Happy New Year!!!
    It is now a bagong taon (new year) and Sister Mortell and I are very happy! Although holidays have their own special spirit, we are more than happy to say goodbye to the busy schedules and inconsistent teaching that come with the weeks during Christmas and New Year. But Happy New Year everyone! It's now 2015 and no, I cannot believe I am 21 years old today haha. Thank you so much for all of the birthday messages! :) I haven't quite gotten to read them in depth but I have them saved in the word document to print them off later. With the new year, and my birthday, I have been doing quite a bit of reflecting. My companion and housemates and I have all been talking about this past year of 2014. Since 3 out of 4 of us were on our missions for all of 2014, these conversations have mostly consisted of all the crazy and fun and spiritual aspects of mission life here in the Philippines Baguio mission. We have all agreed that 2014 was the most trying yet rewarding year of our lives. We have never felt so strong in mind, spirit, and body. We have never felt more direction in our every day lives. And of course, we have never felt so loved by our Heavenly Father than in this past year.
     Although we were able to recognize how many changes have happened in us for the better, I could not help but also notice how much I am still lacking as a missionary and in general as a Child of our Heavenly Father. I think I assumed I would be a superstar disciple of Christ at this point, yet I feel very average. This week we had MLC and I learned sooo much! MLC this month felt a little different than usual. It may have been because the air condition was broken, but I think it was something more than just that haha. Past MLCs were focused a little more on what changes we can make in the mission to create the most success possible in each area of the mission. This MLC focused much more on what changes need to take place in the missionary leaders, in order to invoke the changes needed in each missionary in our mission. There have been some sad things happening here in the Baguio mission with missionaries going home early because of lack of ability to follow mission rules and some especially sad events took place days before Christmas.
     President mentioned these events with so much sadness. He presented new ways for us leaders to be more involved with the other missionaries through exchanges, district meetings, and zone trainings, to hopefully avoid such disobedience. I could see the pleading in his eyes. I felt maybe an ounce of the responsibility that he holds over us 200+ young missionaries and just that was overwhelming for me. To make a long story short, this MLC had sparked me with a new determination to do my part in this mission as a missionary and especially as a leader of the Bauang zone. 
     The work this week was rough. Sister Mortell and I had even less success than usual in o9ur teaching from monday to thursday because of New Year celebrations and gatherings. And then Friday I was gone all day at MLC. But when I met up again with Sister Mortell and got back into my area on Friday night, I was ready to jump right into the work. Unfortunately, it was pretty late and there were no people! haha they had all gone to the plaza to watch some pageant for children. But when we got home and were getting ready for bed and stuff, I shared what I had learned with Sister Mortell and we both decided that we could be doing more. We committed ourselves to push beyond what we were doing before. On Saturday and Sunday we were able to find 5 new investigators and taught just as many lessons as we had taught from monday to Thursday! It wasn't easy. It was really tiring, and could have been frustrating since we continued to get punted many times. But we were able to see improvement already, and the best feeling was knowing that we were really putting 110% into our work that day.
     There is a cycle in the Book of Mormon that has been taught as the pride cycle. I doubt I am the only one who has gotten frustrated at the pattern of the people turning to the Lord and living the gospel, then they are blessed and prosper, but then they start to get proud or complacent, and then fall into darkness and are punished/chastised. After each time I am frustrated with the people I read about, I haven't even noticed that the same is happening in my life! We are so blessed to have the Atonement in our lives that makes it possible for us to start again and have the chance again to turn to the Lord and be blessed by following his gospel and improving ourselves. I would hopefully share more but I am so out of time! :( I hope what I have shared makes sense and helps you all this week! I love you all sooo much! Happy New Year! That you again for all of the Happy Birthday wishes! I have a feeling 2015 will be a great year :) Can I get the family predictions again? That would be so great!
Sister Sawada

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