Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hey everyone!
    Well I am going to do my very best not to be a downer in this email. But last night I received probably the hardest news I have received over my entire mission. But before we get to that, this past week was so great! Despite the cold and cough that seems to be hitting us all, we worked our butts off. Sister Aida (the woman we met thanks to the Justin Bieber poster) is progressing leaps and bounds. She went from not really understanding/caring much about what we had to share to reading before every lesson and actively participating. Yesterday she accepted to be baptized! We haven't decided the specific date, but she told us she is getting old so it's about time for her to accept the truth. And she will "allow" us to baptize her haha. She's so great. And her progression has a lot to do with the support from our active members who live nearby her. The members here in Bauang are the best!
     On Sunday the Mendoza's came to church! Almost all of them. Brother had to work :/ but we already knew he wouldn't be able to come. He is really looking for new work, but for now he is doing all he can to support his family in living this gospel and he will come around soon. I love church more and more every Sunday. The branch members are so loving and this is the most that I have felt "at home" in an area. They are so active in missionary work that they know the transfer days, when we are going home, everything about us missionaries haha. There have been farewells and a missionary fireside in preparation that are all happening this week just in time before I go home! But Heavenly Father seems to have a different plan for the last week of my mission.
     Last night our AP Elder Basco called me and told me I will be transferring tomorrow. Wasn't expecting that. I will be in Lingsat in the area of the STLs and I will have two companions, Sister Saguinsin & Sister Jackson. We are all new to the area so we are technically opening it although I will only be there for a number of days. So many things rushed through my head like how hard it is to gain companionship unity so I can't imagine trying to build tripanionship unity. I remembered going on exchanges in Lingsat and how hot it is in that area haha. But of course the hardest thing to accept was that I will be leaving Bauang. I have told literally everyone that I will be here for another week. Hopefully I had known yesterday morning so that I could say goodbye to everyone at church, but I only knew last night and have today and tonight to try to say goodbye to everyone before I transfer tomorrow morning. To say goodbye to these people that I have grown to care for and love for the past 5 months. Not only that but they have cared for and loved me. I have never been a part of a more supportive and loving branch. They remind me so much of our home ward in Kailua. Most Sundays when our branch President is welcoming us he will say "welcome to Bauang 1 branch, the best branch" haha. I thought about all of their preparation for my farewell and the effort we have been putting into the fireside next week, I will be missing it all now. I can count the number of times I have cried on my mission and they are only few. But all I could do last night was cry.
     But remember how Heavenly Father has a plan for us? Yes, I know it can be easy to forget sometimes, but I was kindly reminded as I laid in bed feeling sorry for myself. I was racking my mind trying to figure out how to visit everyone and say goodbye to them when I remembered sacrament meeting earlier that day. Sister Maricel Belmonte, our RS president spoke on the talk of Dieter F. Uchtdorf about being grateful in our circumstances. She did a really great job. She talked about how naturally the last thing we want to do when facing a trial, is be grateful. And as she shared, I thought to myself about the trials that I have faced in my life, mostly here on the mission. I thought about how I was rarely able to keep an "attitude of gratitude" during these trials. I committed myself during that sacrament meeting to be sure to be grateful for the next trial that would hit me. Little did I know it was coming later that night..haha. But I have been doing my best to remain grateful for this. I know there is so much that I am going to learn from this and the blessings will come if I face this with a better attitude. 
      Earlier in this emial, as I described the things going through my mind and heart, I may have been being a little dramatic. What I described may not even seem like it should be a trial for some people. But I want to really try to convey the way I was feeling and am feeling until now. Each person struggles with different things in their own unique way. You all know that goodbyes have never been my forte, and now to have things flipped around on me like this, I am just not handling it very well. But luckily, this gospel honestly has the answers to every problem and my answer came to me before this problem even hit me. I am so blessed that Heavenly Father was preparing me for the upcoming struggle and already encouraged me to be listen to Sister Belmonte's message and determined to push through my next trial. The theme of this email is quite similar to last week huh? Sorry if it's a downer. But I guess it's safe to say I am being tried but I know that it all has a purpose. I know that I am loved. No matter what. 
     I had enough evidence of that when I opened my email and was immediately cheered up to see that I will be having a new baby niece!!!! I am so happy! I have told everyone that I hope Jac and Terry have a girl next so I can see just how beautiful a girl would be coming from them hehe :) And I also saw how long your email is to me mommy. I cannot wait to read that later on. I have a feeling it will help me a ton. Also I am not sure if I will get time to email next week. I will try my best to send some thing off even if it's just a quick message. But if I don't get to it, sorry! Also I forgot my camera and stuff so I won't be able to send pictures, but I guess just next time if I get the time. I hope something was able to be learned from what I shared today. Please don't worry about me or anything. I can do hard things :) I love my Heavenly Father. I love His gospel. I love you my family and the family that I have developed here serving the Lord's mission. Sorry this email has no title. Couldn't think of anything. Thank you for letting me share with you. Love you all! Take care! Until next week! Or the week after that :)
- Sister Sawada

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pagsubok ng Pananampalataya

Hi hi!
     Before I can get started with my update this week...CONGRATULATIONS SOON TO BE ELDER SAWADA! Wow I can't believe how good that sounds. I am so used to Sister Sawada haha but I love the idea of an Elder representing our name :) oh man you don't know how torturous it was this whole week to know you were opening your mission call yet I didn't know where you were going! And then this morning we had a career workshop for the missionaries who will be going home soon and I couldn't email until now 5 pm! Torture I tell you. But the people of Oregon are gonna be so lucky to have you to bring the gospel to them brother.
     Okay so now this week. Oh man the title for the email this week is pagsubok ng pananampalataya which means trial of faith. This may have been the title of a couple of emails already because trials of faith seem to be a theme here on the mission especially when a baptism is coming up. But we will see time and time again that it is never the work of God that is frustrated, only the work of men.
    It all started on Monday. Sister Concepcion and I went up to Baguio right? We got back to Bauang just in time to start our proselyting and we were on our way to our last appointment which was our usual FHE with the Belmonte family. We received a text from brother Rolly asking us why we hadn't come to visit him yet. We were confused and a little worried because his wording in his text made it seem like he was angry. We explained to him that we are scheduled to visit him on Tuesday and not on Monday. For some reason he had the idea that we changed the schedule to Monday instead. He was frustrated because he had come home early from work just so that we could teach him. He said it was a waste of his sacrifice and wanted us to still visit him. But we had the FHE scheduled and we didn't have a woman fellowshipper working with us. In order to visit Rolly or any man by themself, we always need another female with us. I wish I could explain everything that happened and all of the texts that were sent back and forth but to sum it up, Rolly was very angry and no matter how we explained ourselves, it wasn't making him any happier. He said things that weren't vulgar in any way but were very hurtful and I had to do my best not to cry. I felt like all the of effort we had put in the past 4 months trying to build his trust in us was about to crumble into nothing.
     Then flashbacks of past baptisms came to my mind. Almost every baptism I have had here has been preceded by some sort of trial. Although I was devastated by what was going on and how angry Rolly seemed with us, I had faith and was comforted by the thought that this was his trial before he could enter into the sacred covenant of baptism. We encouraged him to pray and ask God for strength because we know he was being tried. That night I felt like I wanted to just go home and give up! No matter how many times I told myself the work of God will never be frustrated, I was still frustrated! I went to bed with a heavy heart and was hesitant to carry on with the exchanges that we had set with the sisters in Naguilian the next day.
     But on Tuesday we carried on with exchanges and I worked in Naguilian with Sister Neeley. She is from OC California and is actually my batchmate! We will be going home together. It was a good day and I did my best not to worry about Rolly and the others in Bauang while working in Naguilian. The next morning Sister Concepcion picked me up and gave me the greatest news ever. Brother Rolly felt terrible for what he had done the night before. He said we were completely correct and  that he felt something like he had never felt before. Like it was causing him to want to be contentious when he really didn't want to haha. We were able to testify to the reality of the adversary but we also saw the power of the Spirit of God was able to overcome it.
     The rest of the week was pretty great. We had no sicknesses or meetings and the work went so smooth! We were able to teach more people than usual but sadly the days just flew by. We continued to prepare for Rolly's baptism and before we knew it Saturday had arived! The service went great. Besides a couple of things here and there- the branch president and his family (who were doing a musical number) weren't able to come at the last second and the baptismal font looked like it wouldn't be filled in time and then actually ended up overflowing- it was a smooth and perfect day! Nothing can replace a genuine testimony of someone fresh out of the waters of baptism. But we can also see that there is lots more for him to learn. Example, at the end of his testimony instead of saying in the name of Jesus Christ amen, he exclaims "I love you Lord!" and then goes to sit down. Haha after he was seated his daughter whispers that he should have said in the name of Jesus Christ amen. He says, "well I didn't know that!"
     In preach my gospel there is a whole section on how to help recent converts progressing and growing in the church. Baptism is only a step in a long and difficult process. But I am confident that Rolly will take this road and be able to endure to the end. I am sure that this was his time to finally accept the invitation of his children, the missionaries, and our Savior, to follow Him and be born again. I know that this is a great lesson that I will carry with me forever. That the work of God is never frustrated. Only the work of men. And men can choose to be frustrated or choose to turn to God with their faith, and know that there is an end to each of our trials. I love this gospel. I know it is perfect. I want to do all that I can to live it to the best of my ability. I love you all! Hope you have a great week! Mommy I saw in your email as I glimpsed over it that you're sick :( I will be praying for you. Love you so much and pagaling (get better)!
Sister Sawada