Sunday, November 24, 2013


Hello to all my favorite people!! How are all of you?? I hope you are doing well! Things continue to stay amazing here in the Philippines!

Let me just start with saying what a great great blessing it is to be a missionary!! I cherish this calling more than anything in the world. HOW GREAT IS THIS GOSPEL!

Okay so this week was super super busy but not much to report on haha. Lots of teaching all day long. Most days we don't get home until just a few minutes before we have to be home. I love being busy because it means we have people to teach!!

So I'm sure you all are wondering about how our village is. Hahaha well if you aren't wondering, I'm still going to tell you so HA. So let me just start off by saying the village refers to me as "Miss Universe" hahaha and my companion corrects them and makes them call me sister so they call me "Sister Universe." It's so great. I LOVE THESE PEOPLE!!! So this week, we decided to split them up by families or separately so we could focus on them individually and their needs. It was difficult to really focus on them and what we needed to teach them to best help them when they were in a huge group. So that's probably why we were so busy all the time this week, teaching them separately. We taught the 4 different families 3 times during the week. So 12 visits to the village just this past week! They always ask us to teach them everyday haha but 3 times is the most we can teach investigators a week. But we visit them a lot! They are progressing a lot and really have a strong desire to learn more. They believe it's true, they just need to act on their faith haha. None of them attended church this week. We went to the village before church yesterday and reminded them, they said they would come, and then they didn't come. We went after church and talked with them and found out they didn't come because they were ashamed they didn't have any "decent" clothes to wear. So I'm going to take them some of my clothes this week and hope that we can get them to church! Their desire is strong!

There was a big boxing show thing on TV yesterday so church attendance suffered big time. But, our little investigator, Jonsen, he is 10, came to church!! He is the friend of Jorel, our recent convert aka our inspiration haha. We extended baptism to Jonsen and his brother JonJon this week and they accepted! Before I could even finish the baptismal invitation, they hurried and said yes and had the biggest smiles on their faces and said they were so excited! :) I love them!! We have lots of baptisms coming up in December, it's going to be a good month!!  

Yesterday at church, we met a little boy named Jarome. He came up and just gave me the biggest hug! He is 10 and the cutest thing. We noticed that he wasn't with anyone so we started talking to him. We asked who he was with and he said he came by himself. We asked where he lived and he said "Pier Uno" which is the beach. We found out through talking with him that his parents left him a few years ago and they went to Manila. He lives on the beach by himself. He goes house to house asking for food from people. All he has is the clothes on his back. But he found out what time church was and came! He just kept telling us "I really want to go to school and learn." Ah so so sad. He doesn't know how to read. So we told him we would try to find him this week and teach him how to read and he was SO HAPPY! We keep asking around to find out more about him but that is all we know so far. I will keep you all updated :)

Well anyways, I don't have much time today but MISSIONARY WORK IS AMAZING! I love being a missionary so much already. It is a time so special that I will really cherish for the rest of my life. What an amazing thing it is to get to witness this gospel changing lives right before my very eyes. I have witnessed the Spirit working through people. I have met people that were and are SO PREPARED for this gospel. They are all around us. We don't know who they are but there are so many so ready. So ready for the hope that this gospel is. When they have no money, no food, no house, when this is the only thing they have, it's okay. Because this is all they need. It is all any of us need! How grateful I am to be missionary!! I love this gospel. And I love all of you!!! I hope you all are doing well!!!! 

Mahal kita,
--Sister Reategui

Sunday, November 17, 2013

WEEK 12: Converting the Philippines: One Village at a Time

HELLO TO MY GRAND FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!! Another good week here in the best place in the world. Ah, it was such a great week. Words cannot express my love for this work and for the people here. How grateful I am to be a missionary!!!

So I have an announcement…..Sister Alabanza and I totally fulfilled one of my mission dreams. WE TAUGHT AN ENTIRE VILLAGE. Yes. You read that right. An entire village. All eyes on us as we taught them. Let me start at the beginning of this grand story:
So, Sunday morning we were making our usual rounds before church to our investigators to invite them to church. We decided to try to find one of our potential investigators named Harry. He is usually super hard to find because he doesn’t have a permanent home. He’s 21 years old, and he has attended church but we hadn’t had the chance to teach him yet. So, we go to the general area of where we thought he would be. Here, you basically just start asking around and people point you in different directions and just say “doon!” “there!” until you can find who you’re looking for. So we kept asking and looking, and finally we were pointed to a village right on the beach. So we walked over to the village and spoke with a few people to find out exactly where Harry was. They had no idea and hadn’t seen him in a few days. This was over a span of a solid hour. By now we were getting kind of discouraged and losing hope. But, I was prompted to walk over to a certain little shack and introduce myself and ask where Harry was. Out of no where, I was suddenly given a little hope that just grew from there. So I started talking to this lady. Her name is Bella. She is about 40 years old and has a family of 5 children. I shared with her a Tagalog pass along card about eternal families. I told her, in my broken Tagalog that families can be together forever through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Guys the gift of tongues is real!!! I had only practiced explaining the pass along card a few times before and I was able to really explain it to her. In just these short few minutes, Bella noticed something different about my message. She just stared at me as I kept repeating that families are forever. The Spirit was so strong. Then, all the sudden she started asking me questions!! So that’s when I just looked at Sister Alabanza hahaha. She was asking when we could come back to teach her more because she wanted this gospel for her family. WOW. So then we were done talking with her, and I look around, and then all the sudden the whole village is there! Kids, mothers, fathers, grandparents, families….seriously. Everyone in the village. They all were asking when we were going to come back to teach them!! So we set an appointment for the next day, TO TEACH THE ENTIRE VILLAGE. The next day we show up and they are all waiting. Really, words can't describe how happy I am when I walk down to the village and they are all chanting "the Amerikana! Sister Ratgee!" and running to me to shake my hand. Just imagine 20 kids screaming your name and chanting your name. It is possibly one of the best feelings in the entire world. So anyways, they gather up any others, and search for 2 chairs for Sister Alabanza and I. I’m pretty sure they were the only 2 chairs in the entire village and they just gave them up so willingly for us. That is how the people are here. Willing to give up literally everything they have for others. So incredible. Anyways, back to teaching the village. So, we taught them God is our loving Heavenly Father and that the gospel blesses families. The Spirit was so strong. One of the most incredible experiences so far of my mission. I was so nervous to open my mouth and teach all of these people. Just try to picture a whole village sitting around me with a good 30 people. Once it is my turn to speak, ALL eyes are on the Amerikana trying to speak Tagalog to them. I was so nervous! They desperately need to hear the hope this gospel can bring. I wish I could just pour out my heart to them but I felt so inadequate because my Tagalog is so limited. But, I opened my mouth and suddenly I was filled with words. I just poured out everything I’ve got to these incredible people and testified that families can be together forever through this gospel. How incredibly blessed we are to have eternal families! It is something that is so special to me and I wanted them to feel that too. I said phrases and words I had never even practiced before. THE GIFT OF TONGUES IS REAL! These people needed to hear the gospel. How lucky I am to be trusted to be the mouthpiece to bring this gospel to them. When I was done, we asked if they had any questions. Then, Jayson, a 28 year old man that was amidst the village, raised his hand. And I heard the most surprising, amazing words come out of his mouth. He asked, so innocently, “How can I become a member of your church?” OKAY MY FILIPINO WORLD STOPPED. I looked at Sister Alabanza and she just pulled out her scriptures and turned to 2 Nephi 31. Doctrine of Christ. So, we taught the doctrine of Christ to the village. She was about half way through and then just looked at me. UM OKAY I BARELY KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON. Possibly the scariest moment of my life. So I taught the rest and testified about following the example of Jesus Christ, and then I extended baptism to him!!! And somehow he knew what I was saying (through the Spirit of course) AND HE SAID YES!!! Actually his exact response was “Yes I really want to” UM HELLO HE IS SO PREPARED!!! So incredible. So we finished, and then Bella asked “When can me and my family be baptized into your church?” UM HELLO I REALLY DIDN’T THINK IT WAS REAL LIFE. I wanted to cry/scream and hug her. These people were so prepared. The whole village was so prepared!!!! So we extended baptism to her as well, both for the 21st!!!! YAY really words can’t describe how amazing it was. The Spirit felt was something I have really never experienced before. The words were really put into my mouth. SO SO SO AMAZING. Hahah as we were walking away, my cute little companion just said, "I feel like Jesus Christ teaching a huge group of people!" Hahah. But it is true to a sense. We are real representatives of Christ. Entrusted to do what He would do and say what He would say. What a great calling! So, we taught them 2 more times that week. GREAT THINGS ARE INSTORE FOR OUR VILLAGE!

This week is a week full of new investigators! We have our village, and we also started teaching two of Jorel’s friends. Jorel is the 9 year old that was baptized a few weeks ago. Already such a good missionary!!! He always brings friends to church and shares the gospel with others and HE IS ONLY 9!!! At 9 years old, I did not have the strong testimony he has. This week we went and got lunch with him. This little boy was probably starving because there are a lot of kids in his family and he is always telling us that he’s hungry. He inhaled his food….but I looked over and he had saved exactly half of it. I asked why he had saved it and he said “you taught me to always share what we have so I will save it for my brothers and sisters.” OKAY CAN YOU SAY PRECIOUS?? He is progressing so much. Then, he told us how this week his school teacher was drinking coffee. He told her that it was bad and that she shouldn’t drink it. She told him that it is okay and that he just shouldn’t drink it since he is little. He then said to her, and these are his exact translated words “Coffee is bad for you and it is a commandment of God not to drink coffee. I don’t drink coffee because my body is a temple.” OKAY HE IS SO GREAT. Oh how I love that boy!!!

Let’s see….nothing really beats that for this week. Haha but, besides teching the village, lots of other great things happened as well. Tuesday we had a workshop with President and the AP’s for the new missionaries and their trainers, so of course it was great to see all my old district mates! And President Guanzon is amazing and always teaches me so much. Also this week I had exchanges with the Sister Training Leader in our zone, Sister Papica who is Sister Fonua’s companion. She is an amazing missionary and I really learned a lot from her! And on Friday, we had a Family Home Evening with the newly baptized Nares siblings at Tatay Alfredo’s house. We had a super good turn out with lots of the Branch Presidency and lots of members there so it was awesome. He is so nice to us and prepared dinner for us all! Really I can’t express in words how amazing these people of the Philippines are. They are so selfless and so giving. They teach me so much every day, as a missionary and as a person. How lucky I am to be here for a short while.

Here is the funny story for the week....
So, today I am walking through the market just like normal. These markets are crazy and there are tons of people everywhere selling anything you can think of. Then, I walked through the middle, a point where most of the market is open so you can see basically the whole thing. I am just minding my business, following Sister Alabanza, when a man calls out "Sister! The Amerikan sister!" And next thing you know, ALL the people in the market, in unison, chant "SISTER! THE AMERIKAN SISTER!" And calling me "attay" which means sister in slang Tagalog. Hahaha serioulsy like a good 30 or 40 people chanting at me and wanting to touch my light skin. I was laughing so hard! I LOVE THESE PEOPLE AND I LOVE THAT THEY LOVE ME. Hahaha

Well, THE WORK IS WORKING. Missionary work is real work. Hard work. But the blessings and happiness I receive from it are far greater than anything I could have ever imagined. I love this gospel. I love that I get to share the hope that this gospel can bring to these people that are facing so many trials in their lives. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!! And I love all of you!!! Have a great week!!!!!

Mahal Kita,
-Sister Reategui

PS- Pasensya (sorry) but the pictures aren't working this week!!! I will send some next week hopefully :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Typhoon Yolanda

Dear Parents and Relatives of Missionaries,

We are so happy to tell you that all missionaries in the Philippines Legazpi Mission are accounted for and were in safe situations during and after the typhoon we have experienced. We had strong winds and some rains but the storm did not affect us severely. We will advise all missionaries to email you on Monday and inform you about their safety status during the storm and currently. We thank you all for your love and prayers for your missionaries and the whole mission as well.

Elder Quinto

Travel and Mission Secretary

Philippines Legazpi Mission

WEEK 11: Noticing the miracles

KUMUSTA FRIENDS AND FAMILY!!! Yes. To answer you all yes, I am alive and I have survived the typhoon this week. Let me just start by saying a huge thank you for your prayers and your concerns. I have felt of your faith and your comfort!! Not once have I felt unsafe here, which is kind of crazy seeing the crazy things that have happened here. Miracle for sure. I am convinced it is because I have so much support from home and I am forever grateful for that! You do not go unnoticed.

So yes, typhoon Yolanda hit here this week on Friday. We were on lock down and not allowed to leave our apartment from Thursday night to Saturday morning. It was said to be a signal 4 and a very high tide, so we were advised to move everything in our apartment to the top of the bunk beds just in case the water got really high. It is a miracle that it wasn't as bad in our area as expected. But, we were prepared for the worst, which is a blessing. We prepared our 72 hour kits and had many extra buckets of water. For the next few days we stayed in the sister's apartment above us with all 6 sisters in our area. Have I told you all how amazing the members are here? Through and after the storm, our members and investigators were calling and texting us to make sure WE were okay. So SELFLESS. And then they were even asking specifically about me, since I had never been in a typhoon before. These people who literally had to rebuild their houses after the storm were concerned about ME and my safety. Ah. They are so amazing. I have so much to learn here!! Anyways, the worst we got of the storm was a "brown out" for about 4 days and no water. And I currently have 103 bug bites on my legs and arms from sleeping with the windows open. Haha but, we are definitely counting our blessings AND miracles. Many, many people were affected by this crazy storm so please keep them in your prayers. Some members of our branch have family in other areas of the Philippines and they haven't heard anything from them. Please PLEASE keep them in your prayers.

Amid the craziness, it was an incredible week. We had the baptisms of the Nares family!!! Ah. What an amazing baptism to witness. First let me just try to explain the miracle that we were even able to have this baptism this week. So we get to the church, and of course there is no power. No lights or fans or air conditioning. We look in the baptismal font and there was no water of course. Then, we try to find baptismal clothes and we can only find 3 jumpsuits. The rest had huge holes in them and weren't usable. But, somehow in jut less than an hour, we were able to get water into the font. I still don't even know how that happened. MIRACLE. And, we randomly found a bag of baptismal clothes in the library of the church. So many miracles to make this baptism happen through the craziness this storm brought!! So yes, five Nares children were all baptized on Saturday by their grandfather Alfredo. Like I have mentioned, Alfredo is a recent convert of just a few months. He is so so so amazing and progressing so much!! And he is such a good missionary. He gave us the referral of his grandchildren who were baptized. Words really cannot express how grateful I am for the opportunity to be just a little part of these incredible people's lives. What a blessing they are to me!!! And what an incredible opportunity I had to witness them enter the waters of baptism. One of my favorite parts of baptisms are their testimonies they get to share right after. Okay the second the first one stood up I just started crying and crying. I'm such a cry baby here its slightly embarrassing but it's okay because I'm a sister missionary and I'm allowed to cry. So, the oldest Nares sibling got up. She is 18 and she has such a strong testimony already. She is such a good example to me!! So, she got up and shared her testimony and thanking the missionaries for teaching her. Then, IN ENGLISH, she looked at me and said "Sister Reategui, my family and I want to thank you because even though you can't speak fluent Tagalog yet, you are teaching us so much. We really so much appreciate you for coming all the way here to teach this gospel to us.You have been an important part of our baptism. I will mark this day as one of the greatest and best days of my life." ASK ME IF I WAS BALLING. Yes. Yes I was balling. And my tears were falling straight down because I was sweating so much. Hahaha AH. HOW GRATEFUL I AM TO BE A MISSIONARY!!!!

Well, crazy week. I am noticing the hand of The Lord in my life now more than ever. This is His work. His gospel I am so very blessed to share with these people. This gospel is a gospel of change. It gives us hope in something bigger than ourselves because we can't survive this on our own! This gospel gives us a hope that we can change each and every day. How amazing is it for me as a missionary to witness the change in these people. On Sunday, Tattay Alfredo blessed the sacrament. Can you say progressing? SO INCREDIBLE. Then, his 5 grandchildren were confirmed. The three Nares boys that were old enough, were given the Priesthood. This is huge for this branch!!! Lives are changing right before my eyes and it is so amazing!!

Well, I love you all so much and I am so grateful for your prayers and love to me!!! You guys are the best. Thanks for everything and I hope you all have a great week!

Mahal kita,
Sister Reategui

here is a picture from right before the worst of the storm hit, of course still working hahaha rain or shine!! and a picture from the baptism!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

WEEK 10: But at least I can love the people...:)

HELLO MY LOVELY FRIENDS AND FAMILY!!! It's been another great week here in the best place in the world. This week I think something changed. All the sudden all of this is becoming very real and NORMAL. Like when I wake up, I don't think anything is different. I don't wonder where I am or how I got here haha. This is becoming the normal, AND I LOVE IT. This place is so great. Seeing these people grow in the gospel is such a privilege that I already cherish so much. I can't wait for the day I can actually communicate everything I want to. Some days it's really frustrating, but I just have to remember that I'm here for a reason. Some how in some way I can help these people. For now, hopefully just loving them is enough. Ah I love these people so much already! They make my job as a missionary sobrang easy. I so so wish I could communicate better with them, but at least I can love them, and maybe, just maybe, that will be enough for now.
So this week was a rough one. It has been elections here, so a lot of people are constantly busy and so it was hard for us to teach them. Plus, we were given curfews on a few nights for our safety, which definitely ended up affecting the amount of teaching we could do. Elections here are crazy and seem like they last forever. They have campaigns around every corner of every village and it gets super intense. I don't even know if I can call it a campaign because it is like half campaign half huge dance party. But everything is a party in the Philippines so it's just totally normal. They LOVE karaoke here and so as we are walking down the street, usually we hear a few different people belting out their souls to their karaoke machines. And usually it is English music which it just makes it so much funnier to hear. This week, as I was walking down the street, a man (at least in his 60's) was singing karaoke in his front yard and then turned to me and pointed and just belted out "YOU ARE MY DESTINYYYYYYY!" Hahaha and another person sang to me this week "YEW ARE SO BOOOOTIFUL, TO ME!" They just spit out any English songs they know to me. Hahahahaha I AM SO OBSESSED WITH THESE PEOPLE!!!! Oh, and I forgot to mention the passion these people have for Christmas. They celebrate in all the "ber" months, so September, October, November, and December. Hahaha so often times we hear them singing Christmas karaoke. I LOVE IT HERE.
Also, this week was "All Saints Day" which is when everyone goes to the cemetery and visits their ancestors. They take it very seriously here and many people were gone with their families for the whole day, so it really affected our teaching as well. Pero, it was really cool to see how much they respect their ancestors. The culture here is very family oriented, and I love it. It is especially helpful as missionaries, because they second we mention that through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can live with our families forever, they are totally hooked. I absolutely love sharing the hope that this gospel can bring. And I LOVE that these people are so receptive! They are being so prepared. I LOVE IT.
Pero, even though a lot of people were busy, it was a really good week! We got to teach our lovely recent converts, Jorel who is 9 and Jovelyn who is 13. I love them so much!! Their faith and diligence to this gospel is such a good example to me. Jorel gave me this necklace this week with a heart on it hahahahah and his friends keep pointing to me and calling me "crushko" hahaha which means "my crush" so that's awesome. Haha we are also teaching the rest of their family, and just committed one of his brothers, Junel, to baptism. Jorel is the youngest but such a good example to them all! He has so much potential and I keep telling him he is going to be an amazing missionary one day! I will pray that he gets called to America so you all can meet him. :) We also taught some of my other favorites, the Nares family. Okay, they are so golden. They are getting baptized THIS SATURDAY!!! Ah I just can't wait. There are 5 kids in this family, and they are the grandchildren of Tattay Alfredo, who was just baptized about a month ago. He will be the one to baptize them. Alfredo is in his 60's I believe, and we are lucky to get to teach him every week as well since he is a recent convert. They all understand English so of course I love them already because of that hahaha. This week he told me I am looking more like a Filipino and my skin is getting darker AND he said my Tagalog is magaling, which means skilled, so aka basically the best compliment in the whole world! AH I am SO SO SO excited or this family. Great things are happening here in San Vicente.
So today, we had a zone activity! In our mission, every month, a zone gets to have a zone activity. President picks the key indicator, and then counts up for that month our numbers and the winner gets to have a zone activity! This month they key indicator was investigators attending sacrament meeting AND WE WON! Our zone is the smallest in the mission, so this was a big achievement for us! Super exciting. So, for the activity, we went to Bulusan Lake, right by the volcano in our area. Basically the prettiest lake I have ever seen! It was super awesome. We played some games as a zone and also had a devotional from President Guanzon. Super awesome and it was cool to be rewarded for our hard work!
Well everyone, it is amazing here. THE WORK IS WORKING! I witness miracles everyday. It is truly amazing to see how the gospel blesses us all. It is such a privilege to witness the Spirit working through people and really changing lives. The work is working. Missionary work is amazing and so so rewarding.

I hope you all are doing well!!! Please always remember I am praying for you all. And, almost everyone we teach prays for the missionaries and their families and friends all around the world. You are prayed for by many many people. Including me :) And my prayers are ALWAYS answered :) Hahaha I love you all!!!
Mahal kita,
Sister Reategui
PS: here are some pictures from the zone activity. Also, I would like to take this time to publicly wish my beautiful sister ADRIEN A HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! I love you so much and wish you the best!!! I will attach one of the pictures I took on here because it just explains the randomness of the Philippines. The little animal licking my shoe is not a dog. IT IS A PIG. Yes. A pig on the beach. I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES. That is all I have to say. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ADRIEN I LOVE YOU!!!