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)!