Monday, February 23, 2015

Coming to you from Baguio!

Hey Mommy!
   I saw that your email that you sent to me is titled coming to you from downtown Honolulu. Well today this email is coming to you from Baguio! Yes, Sister Concepcion and I made the twisty and turny journey from Bauang to Baguio. Yes we both got motion sick haha. But I must say it was quite worth it! Why? I was able to see the Bamba family!!! Oh my goodness I cannot explain just how full I was with joy. Not even full, just completely over flowing.
    Quick update on their family: Brother Ben is young men 1st counselor which is perfect because Stephen their oldest son is in the teacher's quorum. He is also the president of teacher's quorum. Sister Jen is the primary president! And she is continuing meeting with the church to get her self reliance certificate in order to qualify for the perpetual education fund. They are so hard working it is ridiculous! Sadly Stephen and Benilda weren't there but we have made plans to have lunch when I go up to Baguio once more before I leave so that I can see them :) it's so nice that Bauang is relatively close to them. Anyway, I am just so happy to hear that they are working with the missionaries, referring their friends and family, and ultimately just doing everything a new member should be doing and more.
     Now back to Bauang! This was a great week. Monday was pday. Tuesday: we had exchanges with Bauang 2 sisters. They are our housemates so exchanges with them are the least hassle so it's really nice haha. We actually had a 2 day exchange. Something we are just trying out to see if maybe it will help to make exchanges more effective. It's funny even though I am not STL anymore, I get to do most things STL with Sister Concepcion as my companion. It was way fun. On Tuesday I got to work in Bauang 2 area with Sister Paguirigan, yeah try to pronounce that. She is from Antepolo which is near Manila. She is just 3 weeks into the mission so working with her was sooo much fun. Probably my favorite exchanges yet because she was so humble and willing to try new things. I also learned a ton from her she is already very experienced because she worked almost every day with the missionaries before coming on her mission.
    Wednesday was exchanges but this time I was with Sister Golightly and we worked in my area in Bauang 1. Which was also a very fun day because Sister Golightly is a good friend of mine in the mission. We had great lessons with Rolly, MA and some less actives in the area but maybe I will share about Aida. So first, you should know that Sister Golightly is a big Justin Beiber (Bieber?) fan. So as we were walking along the road, we saw a home that had a big Justin B. poster up. We stopped to enjoy it for a second and then an old woman came out to talk to us. She explained that the poster was crumpled up in the trash outside her house and she thought "sayang" or "what a waste". So she uncrumpled it and taped it up outside of her house. She said many of the young women walking by enjoy it hahaha. So we started talking with her and got to find out her name is Aida and her neighbors are actually some very active members in our branch. She is in her 70s and is probably the sweetest thing I have met here. Sister Concepcion and I have taught her one more time since then and she is very open to our message. We are still not sure how much potential she shows, but it's great that her neighbors are such active members and such good examples. She said she wants to come to our church if that is where her neighbors are going. She couldn't come this week because she went to Manila. But we will see next week!
    Thursday and Friday were good days but maybe I will skip to Saturday. Well to Friday night. We got fed to the brim on Friday night. I was so so full and actually didn't feel very good. That night I started to feel very nauseous. Long story short, I was up most of the night throwing up and woke up Saturday morning with a fever. So it was looking like we wouldn't be able to go out to work. But we had to get out by 5 for brother Rolly's baptismal interview. This was my first time to be this sick in my entire mission! So we called up Elder Manning our district leader and asked him to come give me a priesthood blessing. He came and blessed me and also brought some medicine to reduce my fever. I was finally able to sleep a solid sleep and it was about 4 pm that I woke up and had enough energy to take a shower and we were out of the house before 5 to get to brother Rolly's interview! What a blessing. To add to the blessing, Brother Rolly passed his interview! His baptism will officially be held on February 28! Woohoo! Sadly, he doesn't want it at the beach anymore haha. But we won't complain!
     Sunday MA came to church! Sadly her dad wasn't with her. She came with her aunt who is actually just about the same age as me. Her dad is the oldest of 9 children and they are almost all members. Sadly Clarissa, the one close in age to me, is the only one still active out of all of them. But Clarissa gives us such hope because although it is so sad that her family isn't enjoying the blessings of this gospel, she is so so happy! She is always smiling and comes to all church activities. She is the perfect example and MA really looks up to her. She came home recently from working in Manila and will now be able to help us with getting MA to church and hopefully to the point where she can really embrace this gospel to see if she will be able to get baptized even though she is still pretty young.
     Well as usual I feel like I have just rambled off a bunch of nothing that doesn't make sense haha but I hope you are able to see just how amazing it is to be a missionary. Everywhere I turn, there is a new friend to make or a new example to learn from. And from each experience I gain here, it is solidified more and more how true the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. It really has all of the answers that we are looking for. I encourage you to find someone who needs this! Sometimes when I introduce our message as missionaries, I feel like a salesman haha. I feel like I want to give this message not just a lifetime warranty but an eternal warranty. We will never ever be disappointed with making our decision to follow Christ and accept His Gospel. I know that He loves us so much and I love Him as best as I can. I try to love Him more with each day.
      I hope everyone has a great week and know that I love you all :)
- Sister Sawada

Monday, February 16, 2015

All my heart, might, mind, and strength

Happy Monday!
    Another week has flown by and I am sitting here in the internet shop with my feet covered in sand feeling so content because we had our zone activity earlier at the beach! We got to play so much sand soccer I was so happy haha. Last transfer we played soccer with this mini soccer ball I had but this time someone brought a real sized ball! It was so happy. Sorry about last week. We were really rushing to get to our work and I also really had to use the bathroom haha. I hope I can update you guys on everything from this week.
    Rolly: Keeps progressing and is no longer smoking!!! He would be baptized today if he could. But we are on track for February 28. He comes to church and is practically a member already. Thank you guys for your prayers for Rolly. The whole branch is pumped up for his baptism because they have been wanting him to join the church for a long time now. The fact that they didn't give up and now he is finally entering the waters of baptism shows what God can do if we continue forward with Faith and Hope in Him.
    The Mendoza Family: We have had some really great lessons with their family this week where they have really opened up with us. Every lesson leads back to what will be expected of them as members of this church. They are strongly considering what it means to be baptized and it's amazing to see how God has prepared them. They both shared a bit about what kind of pasts they come from. It turns out they actually met in prison haha. Crazy right? And now they both have come to realize that for themselves and their children, they never want to go back to where they were before. And they feel that this gospel is exactly what will help them to be on the right path. The only problem now is their work. I think I have explained before that their jobs are collecting bottles and metals and then selling it to junk shops. The best days of their work are saturday and sunday. We are trying our best to help them see if they put their faith first and make a sacrifice, then the blessings will come.
     President Balledos has given us permission to extend a date to them for baptism. Since divorce is illegal here, there is an exception in the requirements for baptism. Even if they have former spouses, if they have been living together for 5 or more years and show that they are really committed to each other, then they can be baptized. They will be living together for 5 years this August and President said that we should extend an invitation and commit them to be baptized in August. We think this will help them to see that they have the time to test the assurance that God gave us when we do what He says he will be bound to us. Please keep praying for the Mendozas that they may become willing to try and test this promise.
     It has gotten to the point here on the mission that somehow almost everyone knows that I will be going home soon. I don't even mention it yet it seems to be the hot topic everywhere haha. Especially here in Bauang branch, they work a lot with the missionaries and know everything about how the mission works and they know that this will be my last area. They are planning farewell parties and firesides and now I can't help but face the reality that I am going home. The days aren't slowing down and if I am going to be honest, I might be a little scared. I am scared I am not going to accomplish all that the Lord needs me to in the time that I have left here. The title of this email is all my heart, might, mind, and strength.
     I have been trying to come up with ways to push myself to serve with MORE heart and more might, more mind, and more strength. Something I tried doing this week was advice given to us by President Balledos. We had our Zone Conference this week where President gave us a lesson in the Bible. He said he wanted to share a love story in honor of Valentine's day haha so he shared a bit about the story between Isaac, Leah and Rachel. But ultimately he shared about the House of Israel. The House of Israel is the Lord's covenant people. Ultimately His covenant says that He will bless us and prosper us if we do what He says. This goes back to the idea that we are trying to get the Mendoza family to understand. It is such a simple doctrine yet it can be so hard to live by. We have a loving Heavenly Father who has given us life. In our life we have good times and bad but no matter what our circumstance, we are expected to follow Him. And if we do so, we will be blessed. We can see how He never went back on his word with the people of the Bible, Book of Mormon, and even with our own friends and family.
     President recommended that we keep this covenant in mind as we go about our work. We may receive punt after punt or rejection after rejection, but if I am doing what the Lord has commanded me to do, I have no reason to be sad or discouraged. I wish you guys could have just been there when President was giving his workshop because I know my summary does not do it justice. But it has helped to refuel my desire and keep serving Him with all of our heart, might, mind and strength. I hope everyone has a great week! I wasn't even able to read your emails from last week because we were so rushed so I can't wait to read 2 weeks worth of emails when I get home! Oh and also, we got to watch Meet the Mormons at our zone conference! It was sooo good and touching. And I only cried like one tear haha of course at the missionary mom part. But it was such a good movie and I can't wait til it comes out on DVD and things so that more people can see it! If you haven't already watched it, I recommend it. Hope everyone has a good week! Love you all!
- Sister Sawada

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nagulat ba Kayo?

Hi hi everyone!
    Sorry if any of you were surprised/worried that I didn't email at the usual time yesterday. Nagulat ba kayo? or Were you surprise? Well there was a group of us that had to go down to Manila to get fingerprints done for some paperwork. A long drive just to dip my finger in some ink right? haha but it had to get done I guess. It was pretty fun going to Manila! Weird to be outside of the boundaries of the familiar Baguio Mission. Manila is actually very similar to the roads in Honolulu especially around Ala Moana area. There are also a lot more American things in Manila so we got to eat lunch at Taco Bell and got dessert at Krispy Kreme! Haha it was fun but it was tiring. We left on Sunday night and arrived Monday morning. The bus ride is about 6 -7 hours. I arrived back in Bauang Monday night just in time for our weekly FHE with the Belmonte family :) but I gotta admit I was pretty out of it and very happy to get home and get a full 8 hours of sleep once again in the comfort of a bed. Also I am just gonna have to send off a quick message today because we gotta get to our work.
    This was a pretty tough week concerning the work. We had MLC and district conference that interfered with our proselyting time but we still worked our hardest. Although the week wasn't as smooth as usual, this week I felt especially fed spiritually. We had our MLC where I actually technically don't belong because I am not STL anymore haha but President was nice enough to invite me to attend this one. I just love hearing the workshops/insights from our President and his assistants. They are focusing us on our teaching. The quality of our teaching and our ability to really find people concerns and use the doctrines of this gospel to help them to change. That is what this gospel is all about. When we tell people they need to change they may be offended. But we all can change for the better.
    President also gave a wonderful on Saturday night and then on Sunday in our Bauang District Conference. I wish I could share more about it but all I can say is that he is truly inspired of God and we can feel His love for us when President is speaking to us. I am sorry this is all I will share for this week. Just know that I am doing great and I am so grateful for all of your emails! Of course from you mommy and then thanks to Daniel and Mika for your advice and things and Ayo I am excited to read yours later on tonight. Okay love you all! Bye!!!
- Sister Sawada

Monday, February 2, 2015

Magpakabusog sa mga Salita ni Cristo

Happy February!
    Wow what a long title this week! Haha it means "feast upon the words of Christ". I am pretty sure it was last week that I sent such a lonnng email so this week I spent most of my time emailing some other smaller emails to other people so sorry this email may be a little shorter. But it was another great week in Bauang! You may be wondering who my new companion is. Her name is Sister Concepcion. She is from Pasay which is near Manila but she was born and raised in Cauayan Isabella which is in the Cauayan mission which is right by the Baguio mission. She speaks Ilokano fluently! Woohoo! She is my first companion to speak Ilokano fluently and it makes work soo much fun haha. As missionaries we are taught to "Teach for Understanding" meaning to do all that we can to be sure that those we are teaching, really understand what we are saying. In some cases, now that my companion is a native Ilokano, it means speaking Ilokano in the lessons! Of course I stick with mostly Tagalog but I love the way that people's faces light up when we speak their mother tongue (that may have sounded way cheesy but that is what they call Ilokano here, their "mother tongue" haha) 
    So an update on the work!
Rolly: Came to church! Continues to have such a strong desire to be baptized. And this week mentioned that it would be beautiful to have the baptism at the beach. And we agreed! So hopefully that will be able to be worked out! We are just not sure if he has been able to cut off his cigarette smoking completely. If he hasn't yet, we will have to plan his baptism for some time in March instead of the planned February 25.
Colas: We found out the reason Colas didn't come to church last week was because he has a crush and so he was hanging out at her house and didn't want to come to church...haha oh man Colas. But he also came this week! So that's an improvement. It is really such a struggle getting him to realize the seriousness of this gospel. But his desire to be baptized is there and his understanding really does improve with each week.
MA and the Mendozas: Didn't come to church :( with MA, we are contemplating not visiting her for a while. She is so great in the lessons but her family seems to be less and less friendly to us and we don't want to cause any family conflicts. The Mendozas just struggle with choosing between working or coming to church. We are way bummed they must have chosen work this week. But in the lessons they continue to grow in their faith and understanding of this gospel.
     The reason the title for this week is Feast Upon the Words of Christ is because yesterday we got to attend the Costales Family Compound FHE haha. Sounds so official right? There is a compound of homes near the church and almost all of the families living there are members. Including the branch president, President Baterina. President Baterina had some great advice in his closing remarks of our FHE. He mentioned that in our new Philippines Area Goals, the center is still scripture study. He shared about when Elder Bednar visited his mission in Cebu, he spoke to the missionaries and said something along the lines of, "When you missionaries go home, 90% of you will go less active, IF you do not continue to study the scriptures like you are doing now." Within each family, our scripture studies are so vital. This is where we receive our strength. This is where we can gain a truly solid testimony that will not be shaken no matter what trials and temptations hit us. If each family took the time and effort to study and understand the scriptures, then each branch and ward would have so much more strength. Which strength would go to each stake, mission, and reach to the worldwide church that we are members of. As President Baterina shared these ideas, I felt guilty for the times that I was too lazy, or complaining about our family scripture study time. I am so grateful that our family continued to study together no matter how much we complained because now I can testify to other families that I teach of the blessings that can come from truly feasting upon the words of Christ. And they truly will show unto us all the things that we should do.
   Okay I am all out of time :( I hope these thoughts will help you all throughout the week. I love you sooo much! Until next week :)
- Sister Sawada