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 :)

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