Sunday, December 29, 2013


HELLO TO MY FAVORITE PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD. Hard to believe another week has passed. I have been here now for 12 weeks! CRAZY. I can't really believe it at all. We have transfers tomorrow, and I will be staying here! Sister Alabanza will be leaving to open a new area a few hours away. I AM SO HAPPY I AM STAYING HERE!!!!! I love this place and I am obsessed with everyone. Sige so it was kind of a slow teaching week because of Christmas pero I will fill you in on the good times :)

Sige let's start with Christmas Eve. So, that morning bright and early Sister Alabanza and I did some service for a few grandmothers. One is a less active member and one is an investigator. What service did we do you ask? We washed their clothes. By hand. For like 3 hours. One of the hours I volunteered to do the water pump......yeah don't really know why I volunteered haha it looked like fun at first. Then after like 5 minutes my arms were hurting. But I was determined so I just kept pumping minding my own business. And then all of the sudden I look up and I had attracted a crowd...hahaha like half of the village was circled around me watching me pump the water. So they started lining up buckets and I just kept pumping away. So basically that day I provided the village water haha. People are very amused by a white American Sister Missionary willing to pump their water and everyone was just staring. Haha then this group of boys came up and screamed in super broken English so it makes it even better, "Who made dat white Sister pump all the water?" Hahaha. These guys are crazy. Let me explain...the village we did the service project in is where most of our less active and investigators live so we are there almost every day. Every night when we are walking through that area we see this group of boys smoking and drinking. Probably around 8 of them and they are all around 15 or 16. Well,while I was pumping they stayed to watch the show too hahaha so I started talking to them. Jokingly I kept inviting them to church knowing that they were probably drunk haha. Two of them are inactive members, 2 are investigators we have taught so they are familiar with our church. The inactives haven't been to church in over 3 years though so we have been trying to teach them but they still don't come to church. Anyways, I got them to help us with washing the clothes though so it was good.. Since that day we kept seeing those boys drinking and drinking literally every night. Haha but I made friends with them so every time we walk through that village now, they all scream my name so it's awesome. All I say back is "magsimba tayo!" Like "Let's go to church!" Hahaha. But guys wait for the best part of the story. So Sunday we are waiting by those church doors, not even remembering this big group of boys. At exactly 1 all the sudden I see 8 boys walking up to the doors.......okay I was hitting Sister Alabanza haha I really couldn't believe it. Happy happy moment :) I was asked to bear my testimony in church on Sunday so I was glad I could testify to them of the importance of coming to church haha and I was staring at them the whole time and they were just nodding their heads so let's hope the message got across :)

So this week, with Christmas and everything, we were invited to lots of family home evenings. Family home evening here in the Philippines = food, food, and more food. Hahaha but I love it. The support of our branch is crazy amazing. We got a new Branch President a few weeks ago because our old one is now District/Stake President. Our Branch President is a returned missionary and he is super involved with the work. He even comes and works with us whenever he has time. And his counselors are super good and supportive. We had a family home evening at each of their houses this week with all of our investigators. We are very VERY grateful for their support! We had a branch Christmas party this week as well. Since everything is better and more fun here in the Philippines, it was super fun of course :) Each group in the church did a performance so it was fun. The Primary one was super cute and guess who the star of it was...Jorel! Hahaha he sang a Christmas song for like 5 minutes straight while the others danced. Want to hear a funny story? At the end, the announcer said there was someone that wanted to do a solo. Hahaha, I look up and guess who is dancing for everyone? JEROME. HAHAHA we were laughing so hard. Don't worry everyone, there is a picture on my Skydrive to prove it :) SO AWESOME. Speaking of Jerome, we taught him a few times this week like always :) He is progressing so much. He keeps asking when he can be baptized which is sad because we can't really answer him. We have talked to President and he is trying to figure out what to do in our unique situation since we don't have any parental consent or information or anything about him. We continue to teach him though and the Branch is doing a good job of making him feel like a member :) This week we gave him a Book of Mormon story book and he almost cried because he was so happy to receive a Christmas gift :) SO STINKING CUTE. So the next day he went around begging for money all day and guess what he bought? Candy for Sister Alabanza and I! Seriously this boy is my inspiration. We are not teaching him, HE IS TEACHING US! I have learned so much from him.

Okay my thought for the week. I've been studying about Christ a little bit extra this week because of Christmas. Never have I appreciated this holiday as much as I did this year. Which is surprising because I am so far away from home and everything I used to know. But I have learned, like really learned, that that's not what it's about. It's all about THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST. It's about making Him a reality in our lives. And when we make Him a reality in our lives, we don't do the "right" thing because we feel like we have to. It's about gaining the DESIRE. The desire to be Christlike. It's the desire to do what he wants me to do because I want to. Because His way has become what I am striving for. His way is THE WAY. We should want to do what He would do. Responding as He would in the effort to bring MY life in harmony with HIS. In a book I was reading this week called "Our Search for Happiness" I read this quote that I LOVED: "If you really concentrate on trying to walk the way He walked - loving, caring, serving, and obeying each step of the way - one day you'll look up and discover that His path has led you directly to the throne of God. For that is and ever has been His great purpose and mission: to lead us to our Heavenly Father so we can dwell with Him in His heavenly home." YES. This is what it's all about!!!! It's bringing our life in line with His. It's through HIM, ONLY HIM, that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father again. How great is the blessing? And all they ask of us is to follow what they tell us! And when you think about it, it shouldn't be too hard. Because our Heavenly Father knows everything. He knows what's best for us. And I know that He is ALWAYS there for us. Through our happy times and hard times, He is there. Waiting for us to trust in Him and His great plan. Because His plan is far better than anything we could imagine for ourselves. 

Well I will say it again and again, I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK!!! I love this Christmas season, even if it is STILL hot and sweaty. Missions are awesome. I love being a missionary. It is such a great blessing that I treasure so much. I am trying my best to represent our Savior Jesus Christ with everything I've got and then more. Because I know that with Him by my side, all things are possible. That through trusting in Him, I know that He WILL work HIS miracles in these people's lives in whatever way HE chooses. Not always in my way but in HIS WAY. And I know without a doubt His plan is far better than anything I could imagine.


Mahal kita,

Sister Reategui

Here are some pictures, from the service project on the beach and from one of our family home evenings.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Hello everyone!!! Merry Christmas!! How are all of you? I hope you are doing well!!! Let me just say that I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK!!! It's the best ever. I love the Christmas season! I love being HIS representative. I love wearing HIS name right next to mine. I love the Christmas Spirit. Even though it is still hot and sweaty here hahaha. I love it!! I love these people! I JUST REALLY LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!

Sige so this week we had the baptism of Alfred!!!!! Ask me if it was super awesome because yes, it was super awesome. He has such a strong testimony already. His grandfather, our recent convert Alfredo, was the one who baptized him. His sister Apple, our recent convert, was one of the speakers. Their family is progressing SO much already and I love being able to be a little part of their conversion! I feel so blessed to be an instrument in the Lord's hands here in the Philippines. It was a special baptism for me because it's my first that I have taught since day one! And...I have failed to mention that Sister Fonua and I have a tradition of singing at all of our baptisms. For some reason people here think I have a good voice haha probably just because I'm white but I just go with it :) So this week we sang Savior, Redeemer of My Soul. AKA the prettiest song ever so look it up. It's a Hymn but we sang a different version. Mom, it was inspired from the Vocal Point CD that you sent me that we listen to ALL the time so thank you!!!! Anyways yeah I'm a singer now. No big deal. Everywhere I go people assume I can sing and they call me up to do a special musical number. Like they call me up straight from the pulpit right before they want me to sing. But don't worry, I'm a missionary and ALWAYS prepared for anything! Because if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear :) Oh and Jorel, one of our other recent converts who is 9, (and happens to be progressing SO MUCH TOO) gave the closing prayer. It was the cutest thing. He said "Heavenly Father thank you for the prophets because without the prophets we wouldn't have the Book of Mormon or the true church here on the earth or missionaries like Sister Reategui and Sister Alabanza" hahaha can you say PRECIOUS??? Like who taught him that? Him and his sister are the only members in their family. He is such a good example to them! 

This week we also went to Legazpi for our mission Christmas Conference! President loves us and we were able to have a conference with the WHOLE mission AKA.....I GOT TO SEE ELDER TATUM NIELSEN!!!! May or may not have been one of the best reunions of my entire life. SO good to see him! He is like a legend basically so it was cool to see him in real life hahaha. The conference was super good, President is awesome and inspiring as always! There is so much work to be done here in the Philippines and I feel lucky to be a part of it! The work is really progressing! This week it felt like we were traveling to and from Legazpi most of the time so it was kind of a slow week. Pero syempre I will fill you in on some of my favorites :)

So about Jerome. He sounds like a crowd pleaser because all of you ask about him all the time haha. To answer your questions, he is doing well! Hanging in there. After we found out about him getting kicked out of his temporary little home, we didn't see him for a few days. He was no where to be found. Actually we couldn't even look for him because as you all know, he has no permanent home. So we just have to depend on him going to the Perez home. But one morning Sister Alabanza and I all the sudden thought to go to the Perez home. Kind of weird because we usually go there in the afternoon because that's when Jerome is there. We walked in and suddenly a boy jumped into our arms!!! YES. IT WAS JEROME!!! Okay it's a miracle he was even there!!! AH The Lord is really really helping us out in this work. Not even kidding this was such a big blessing to see Jerome. SUCH A MIRACLE!!! So we talked with him and found out where he was. I can't really share many specific details of the story but long story short, he was taken to a clinic to get some special shot, and the owners there heard about his story. Now they want to adopt him. But the people that want to adopt him live in Manila. So it's kind of really really sad pero happy that he will be taken care of :) We don't know when this will even happen or if it's for sure going to happen or not. He deserves someone good to take care of him though! And until then, we will continue to teach him :) This week in the middle of teaching him, he just said....these are his exact translated words... "Sister Ring, (yes he calls me sister Ring hahaha he can't pronounce my name...) after your mission where are you going?" Haha and I told him back to America, and he said "Will you take me with you to America?" Hahaha we all started busting out laughing. AH HES THE CUTEST! I told him yes. He asked when I will be leaving and I told him February 2015 and then he said "Excited ako!" "I'm excited!" Hahaha we were all just laughing so hard. So basically when I come back don't be surprised if I have a little boy with me :)  

Well everyone the work is working. I LOVE being a missionary!!! I love the Christmas season. I love these people coming together to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. They don't need fancy clothes or gifts or food to really celebrate Christmas. Because it is all about CHRIST. And the happiness His gospel can bring us. The peace that He gives us. One of my favorite scriptures that I have been sharing a lot recently is D&C 50:40-44. It says: "Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost." He has overcome the world, FOR US! That we may feel of His grace. Of His peace. We don't need to fear because He has set the way for us. He lived a PERFECT life. Atoned for OUR sins. May we remember our Savior at all times, and during this Christmas season, may we celebrate the TRUE meaning of Christmas.

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!! I am so so so grateful for all of the love and support and prayers that I feel every single day. I really have the best friends and family in the entire world!! Thanks for everything. Oh and PS shout out to the Manning family, I hope you are reading this! Thank you SO MUCH for the package!!! Made my entire week! You guys are the best and I appreciate it so much!!! And thank you for the yummy American goodies :) I am working on writing a letter back to you all! :)

Mahal kita,
--Sister Reategui
here are some pictures, i don't know what order haha but one is an awk pic with Elder Nielsen haha so far away from each other because we are missionaries now...hahaha and one with JonJon and Janzzen (and friends) and the bracelets my AWESOME sisters and cousins made and sent to me to give out here, THANK YOU FOR THOSE BY THE WAY!!!! The kids LOVE them!!! and a picture at Alfred's baptism of course :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Hello hello hello to all my beloved family and friends all around the world!! How are all of you? I hope you are doing well!
Another great week here in the Pines. I can't believe it's week 10 already. Time flies when you're having fun and working hard! :) Have I mentioned how much I love this place? Because I will continue to tell you how great it is. I LOVE THESE PEOPLE! And I absolutely LOVE being a missionary. How great is this calling!
Sige so last week I told you about how I got lice. Well the day after I got rid of the lice, I got the flu. Yes, I know, terrible. Satan is really trying to get at me and my positivity hahaha. I was super sick for the whole week. Pero there is still work to do so don't worry! I was determined to not let this get to me. It was still a great week!
This week we continued to teach Alfred. Let me tell you, this boy is SO prepared. Just like the rest of his family. Each time we teach him, there is a special Spirit felt. Whenever we are done with lessons with him, I often look back and wonder how in the world I said half of the things I did. Haha the Spirit is really so so amazing. Super powerful when we teach him. I know that he has been prepared :) Everytime we go he has new tabs on his scriptures from reading assignments we have given him haha so awesome. And when we teach him its basically like a review because he studies the pamphlets and scriptures like crazy! It's awesome. His baptism is this Saturday and we are all VERY excited!
JonJon and Janzzen (yes that is the real spelling of his name hahaha) are continuing to progress as well :) They are the cutest ever. This week we taught them about Joseph Smith again and the Book of Mormon. We teach them 3 times a week, and since they are super young review the lessons a lot so they can really understand the simple doctrines. When we taught them later on in the week, I asked little Janzzen about his prayer about Joseph Smith, and he said to me....(these are his exact translated words...) "I asked God if He really showed Himself and His Son Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith and He told me He did." OKAY WHAT. He's 10 years old. Hahaha all we asked him to do was to pray that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. Can you say progressing? YES. Progressing so much!!!! I love those little boys :) This week as I was walking down the street, Janzzen came running to me saying "Siter Ratgee I have a gift for you!!" Hahaha and he made me close my eyes and put out my hand...and the next thing i knew, he was putting a ring on my finger!!!! Hahahahaha I laughed so hard. He's the best EVER! And cute little Jorel is his little bff and they are just so awesome. Jorel is only 9 but has such a strong testimony already! The other Sisters in our Branch had a baptism this weekend and Jorel came with us. During the baptism we were sitting with Jorel and he said he felt sick. So we told him to pray. So he did. Like seriously a 10 minute prayer. Then he put his head up and said "Sisters! Someone was talking to me!" Hahaha and we asked him what they said and he said "I was praying and then a voice told me that as long as I follow the commandments, I will always be okay and healthy." And then he said "all I said was yes. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" Hahahaha. We testified to him that that was the Holy Ghost. And he said "well of course." Hahahaha. These little boys are my inspiration.

Let's see.....of course I will update you all on Jerome. Pero I apologize ahead of time because I have sad news. Let me start at the beginning of the week with the good news though! We found out he has been staying with an older lady that lives near the beach. Some nights he stays there and she feeds him when he needs food. She doesn't have much money herself, so it is hard for her and he doesn't stay there every night. But when he has no where else, that's where he stays. As he told us about her his face lit up. How grateful he is for the little necessities in life we all take for granted! So, we had a family home evening with the Perez family this week which was super awesome because we had 2 investigators there, Jerome, and Queenie, who is related to the Perez family as well so we are in their home a lot. Jorel also came so it was a full house. Even Sister Perez's husband who is the only non member of the family came so it was good :) We taught about the importance of family unity. Before the lesson while we were waiting for everyone to get there, the kids were asking about my family. So of course, being the proud daughter and sister that I am, I hurried and pulled out a picture. I showed each person in my family. Then Jerome hurried and grabbed the picture. He just stared at it and then just said "wow." Most people are confused when they see my family picture because my mom is blonde and I'm not blonde. They are always confused because they think all Americans should be blonde hahaha. Anyways, Jerome was being super quiet with his head down staring at the picture so someone just asked him what was wrong, and then he looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said "your family is complete and happy." I think those were the saddest, most sincere words I had ever heard. I felt like a knife went straight into my heart. How selfish I was for bragging about my cute happy family that I am so blessed to have. How much he wished and hoped just to see his mom or siblings or dad again. The room was silent. No one talked for what felt like an hour. Jerome taught me so much in such a simple way. Something that I have always taken for granted and hoped would always be there. In that short moment I gained the most appreciation for my family that I have ever felt before. How lucky I am to have them. I will never take that for granted for another second of my life. So a few days after the family home evening, we found out that Jerome was kicked out of the house he had been staying at. The lady found out that missionaries had been teaching him about our church and told him he needed to stop listening to us. In the most proud voice I have ever heard, he said to us "I told her I want to learn more about Jesus Christ from you." Then he told us he doesn't stay at her house anymore. He chose the gospel, that he knows is true, over the basic necessities that he NEEDS. He is acting on his faith in the most bold way I can ever imagine. He is such a good example to me! He is again left without a home and food, but he knows the power of this gospel. He has such a strong testimony. Simple, but so powerful. This little boy has changed my life.

I LOVE THIS WORK. I LOVE being a missionary! Of course there are a lot of hard times. Satan likes to get at me and tries to make me realize all the hard things in life. But this work brings me too much happiness to let anything get me down! One thing I have learned here is that even though I can't pick and choose what trials I have or hard times I have, I can choose my ATTITUDE. And I shouldn't let anything, no matter how hard, get to that. Because I have learned that the mercy of God is enough. The hope of God's Son, Jesus Christ, is enough. When I give my absolute all, and then give more, He makes up for the rest. Part of this life is enduring the hard times with patience and a good attitude. The least I can do is show my happiness and gratitude for all He does for me. For the great calling I have to be a missionary. For the great opportunity I have to see my brothers and sisters here in the Philippines changing their lives. Right before my eyes. Gaining that real desire to learn more about the gospel. Because it is true. God's love is here for us no matter what. It is here when we are going through hard times, and it is here when we are going through the best of times. It is just always here. He is waiting for us to call upon Him. To fully rely and trust in Him with everything that we have. I have realized this more than ever. I have realized that I am nothing without Him. ESPECIALLY as a missionary. I am nothing without His Spirit to truly convert those I teach. That even though I can't speak the language as perfectly as I wish, these people will feel something different about the message I share. Because it is about Him. And His Son, Jesus Christ. And in this Christmas season, how important it is to remember that. The Spirit of Christ can bring hope. When all things are crazy and confusing in life, Christ's love is enough. That as we are striving to remember Him, and emulate His attributes, that is when we really discover our true selves. When we lose ourselves in the service of others, that is when we really find ourselves.

The Spirit of Christ is being selfless. It is giving without any intention or thought of receiving anything. It is relying on that peace that can only come through Him. It is learning more of Him and sharing it with those around us. It is really really striving our best to show charity to those around us. Christmas time is a time of charity. The PURE LOVE OF CHRIST. How great is His love and His mercy He shows to us always! May we always live in the Spirit of Christ, no matter what season it is.
I LOVE YOU ALL! I pray for you all. I really do hope you are doing well. Keep me updated with your lives :)
Mahal kita,
Sister Reategui
ps- here is a picture from the FHE with the Perez family :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

WEEK 15: Becoming more and more Filipino as the weeks pass...

Hello all of my favorite people! How are you all? I hope everything is well wherever you are in the world!

Well, another great week here in the Pines. I really really love it here. I am becoming more and more Filipino as the days pass. Especially since yesterday I got lice. Hahaha some might think of this as a horrible thing but I'm going to stay positive and think of it as just another way I am becoming more and more Filipino. Lice is super common here, especially with the little village kids that we teach so often. I guess it is probably my fault because I always play with the little kids haha but it's just another part of the adventure! People are starting to tell me I am looking more and more like a Filipino every day (maybe they saw the lice... hahaha jokelang) because I'm getting super tan and my speaking is getting...better haha so basically life is really REALLY good.

Sige let's see....this week was a really good one. Last week I talked about Jerome. Basically my little inspiration. We got to teach him 3 times this week in the Perez home :) Somehow he was there for every time! Every day when we walked in we were so surprised. He is the best ever. So this week we bought him a notebook and little school kit. Words can't even describe how happy this little boy was just to have his own notebook and pencils. So precious. So we first started with the Alphabet. Once he got the hang of the letters and sounds we started teaching him how to read. Then we showed him a picture of Jesus Christ and asked him who He was. Every time we show him a picture of Christ Jerome just smiles and smiles. Then he said "sobrang mabait" "so nice" and his eyes started getting watery. Seriously we teach him super basic little lessons but the Spirit is SO strong as we teach him. He just soaks everything up and loves it. The next two visits we taught him about Heavenly Father and about prophets. Still super basic. As we teach him, we have him practice spelling and reading. I am surprised every time we teach him because we ask him if he remembers what we had taught him before and he always remembers perfectly! His desire to learn is so so strong. Every time he prays, we are all in tears by the end. Simple prayers but so powerful. He prays for his family. He prays that they are safe. Seriously this little boy is such a good example to me. He is praying for these people that left him with NOTHING. And he is here praying that hopefully they are safe and that he can see them soon. He prays for me and Sister Alabanza and our safety, when he is the one without a home. In his prayers he constantly (by constantly I mean at least 6 times throughout the prayer :) expresses his thanks for the mabait (nice) missionaries that teach him. He is so so great!!! We want to extend baptism to him so badly, pero since he has no permanent home or guardian, we have no one to fill out the consent forms or the information for his church record. We are working with President though so I will keep you all informed :)

We have also been teaching our referrals from our little recent convert Jorel, JonJon and Jansen. They are 10 and 11 years old and seriously so prepared. Last week we gave them the Book of Mormon Tagalog picture books. They were so excited and ran home to read. Then, later that week, we saw them in a big group with their friends. We walked over to say hi and saw that all their friends were gathered around the Book of Mormon story book as Jansen was reading it to them! Hahaha such a good little investigator! This week one of the lessons we taught was about Joseph Smith. When I started the lesson and told them we would be talking about Joseph Smith, Jansen hurried and went to the page about Joseph Smith in his story book. He looked at me and just said "I am going to pray like Joseph Smith to know the true church." Okay like why am I even teaching him hahaha he knows everything already! Jansen has become my little buddy. We even have a secret handshake. Every time I see him, He grabs my hand and with a little puppy dog face, says "Sister Ratgee, I will pray all night that I see you tomorrow" HAHAHA seriously I laugh so hard every time. He is the sweetest. 

We also have been teaching Alfred Nares this week. He is awesome and progressing so much! :) We are very excited for his baptism on the 21st. He is SO ready! And he will be baptized by his grandfather, Aflredo like his siblings were. It will be a very happy day!

Well missionary work is the greatest. It is hard but so rewarding. Still, one of my favorite things is standing at those church doors greeting our branch before church. This week we had 23 investigators and less actives attend sacrament meeting. Seriously I can't describe to you all how happy I get every time I see our investigators and less actives walk up to the chapel. We had 2 different inactives that we teach come to church this week that I hadn't seen come in my whole 9 weeks here. The work is working. How blessed I feel to be a missionary here in the Philippines! I love the people. I absolutely love EVERYTHING about it. 

I hope you all are doing well!! 

Mahal kita,

--Sister Reategui
Here is a picture of me with some of my favorites: Jerome, Jorel (in a girl's Christmas costume...hahahah) and his brother Junel. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Hello my beloved family and friends all around the world! Another great week here in the Philippines. Have I mentioned that I am obsessed with it here? Okay yes I AM OBSESSED WITH IT HERE! It has become my home away from home.
Sige where do I begin? Let me start with my favorite part of this week. Our cute little NEW INVESTIGATOR Jarome. So, last week I briefly told you all about him and all that we knew. This week we were determined to find him. We asked everyone that we taught if they knew him every single appointment we had. When we were by the Pier, we would ask everyone we could find if they knew who he was. He has a nickname here which is “Iglot” haha I have no idea what it means or anything but we went around asking if anyone knew him. Some people knew of him but all they could tell us is that he roams around a lot so they didn’t know where he was in that moment. Let me just tell you it was SO FRUSTRATING! We just want to help this little boy and we can’t even find him. I just wanted to give him a meal for the day or help him find somewhere to sleep that night, and we couldn’t even find him. Frustrating, yes. The days went through the week and we still hadn’t found him. Then Sunday came and we were greeting people for church. It was District Conference so we had many many people and missionaries there, so I was constantly talking with people and welcoming people in. Then all the sudden a little boy literally jumped into my arms and squealed “SISTER!!!” I looked down and guess who it was? YES. To my great surprise it was Jarome!!! There in my arms was the boy we were looking everywhere for. Words cannot adequately explain my happiness when I saw him. Apparently he had known a family in the ward, the Perez family, went to their house Sunday morning because he wanted to come to church again. And there he was, at church! So we talked with the Perez family and they had more information on him. Basically all that we knew was that his parents left him and his siblings and they all are no where to be found. As we talked with her we found out that he roams around a lot. Some times he sleeps on the beach and sometimes he can find houses to stay at for a little bit. He usually moves around a lot because kids pick on him. Since he was abandoned by his family, he has developed some mental problems and social problems so lots of kids bully him and pick on him. He literally only has the clothes on his back because when he goes to sleep, anything he has with him gets stolen. Even a mat that the Perez family bought him to sleep on was stolen right from under him while he was sleeping. So sad, but he doesn’t let it get him down. Sister Perez even told us one time she saw him begging for money at the LCC, the supermarket here. She said she was watching him, and he got money from someone, went and bought some food with that money, and then here is the most touching part….he turned around and gave away the food to other street kids. These kids that  pick on him all day long…and he is giving them the food he begs and begs for all day long. He has no food and is giving away anything he gets. I was just balling as she was telling us these stories. This little boy is barely 12 years old and has lived a hard, sad life. But he is one of the happiest and loving people I’ve ever met. He is such a good example to me and to all of us! So anyways, after church we talked with him after church and he told us he wanted us to teach him. So, we told him to go to the Perez home later that day because we were going to teach Sister Perez’s son, who is a recent convert. We went there and didn’t really expect Jarome to show up. But then in the middle of our lesson, he came running in! So excited to learn. I almost cried when I saw him come in!!! Ah just so exciting. So we taught him. It was rough because since he has had no schooling, he doesn’t really understand Tagalog. For most people here, their first language is the local dialect Bicol. So it was key to have the Perez family there to help us translate. Long story short, somehow we were able to teach him. Somehow through the Spirit he was able to learn. We taught about Jesus Christ with pictures and with hand motions. Although it was a simple short lesson, the Spirit felt was so powerful. More powerful than words could ever describe. We also taught him how to pray. He is so so super smart and so eager to learn. It is sad he has these disabilities, but he doesn’t let it get him down. He was so receptive! So we taught him how to pray very simply. Then, at the end of the lesson, we asked him to offer the closing prayer. He was so so nervous but then all the sudden he just knelt down and gave the most sincere, heartfelt prayer I have ever heard in my life. It was in Bicol, so I only understood a little bit of it. But in his prayer he just said a few short simple phrases. He said that he was grateful for the Perez family for giving him food. He said he was grateful to the missionaries for finding him and still teaching him. Then, so innocently, he said “please bless my mom and family that they are safe and know that I love them.” He was crying. We were all crying. The Spirit was so strong. This little boy has been abandoned by everything and everyone that he knows, and he is praying for those that left him. Those that left him with no food, no place to live, no money, left him with absolutely nothing, and this amazing little boy is praying for them and their safety. WOW. Seriously. He is my inspiration. We asked him how he felt after he prayed and he was crying and he said that he felt God’s love for him. It is amazing to witness the Spirit working through this little boy. He has so many problems in his life, but he knows this gospel is true. And he has so much faith already! So we will be teaching him this week. We are teaching him how to read, and are using the pamphlets and scriptures to do so :) How happy I am to be a little part of this boy’s life! :)
So really I could end this email there and that would be good haha because it was really THAT amazing. But, I will fill you in on everything else J We extended baptism to two more of our investigators this week, Queenie who is 9 and her family aren’t members but her grandmother is a recent convert, and we extended to Alfred, the sibling of the 5 Nares kids that were baptized a few weeks ago. We had a really powerful lesson with Alfred yesterday about the Doctrine of Christ. We extended baptism to him awhile ago, but we are working on him to get an answer to his prayers because he feels as though he has not. So for 3 lessons now we have taught him about the Holy Ghost, and have been teaching about 2 Nephi 31. He has a really strong testimony already and I think he really does know that baptism is the right thing for him but we are just giving him time. We were able to testify to him about the importance of finding answers to our prayers. It was a really powerful lesson and somehow I was able to testify to him of things I didn’t even know I could testify of. The gift of tongues is real people. I always know when these people really need to hear something from our Heavenly Father when He gives me the words to say something that I didn’t know I could. So I really poured out my Tagalog heart to him about just how powerful prayer can be. I told him of my personal experience of praying to know if I should go on a mission or finish school sooner and was just balling and told him that I knew he would get his answer. Especially since being on a mission, I have learned that prayers are answered in the Lord’s time, according to how He best sees fit for us. I told Alfred that a mission, just like baptism, is a good thing and sometimes it’s frustrating not getting answer right away. But the Lord will ALWAYS answer our prayers. I know without a doubt that He is there. He listens to us. He has a plan for us. He knows us and knows what we need at all times. How grateful I am for Him and for His constant love and support He shows to me, especially as a missionary. Because at the end of the day when I have really given it all my best, and then given more, I know that He will make up for the rest. That through my hard work and obedience, He will show me miracles because He already has!
Well everyone, missionary work is amazing. I see miracles everyday. It is so incredible and rewarding to see the Spirit work through these amazing people. Being a missionary is amazing. I love it more and more each day. Thank you all for your support and love you continue to show me! I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!
Mahal kita,
Sister Reategui
PS- here is a picture at the baptism of Sister Fonua and Sister Papica in the other half of the branch, my Thanksgiving feast,and a picture of us with Jarome who is to my left in the picture :)