HELLO ALL MY FAVORITES!! How are you all doing?? I hope you are doing well! It's been such an amazing week. We were able to witness so many miracles here in our little San Vicente Branch this week. I don't have as much time as I would like because the connection is really super horrible, but I will do my best :)
This week I really got to see how the Spirit works through people. Seriously so many miracles happened this week. Let's start with our new investigators! The ones I was talking about tracting into last week. Zenaida and her husband Joel. So this week we had a Family Home Evening at their house! It was only the second lesson and they were totally all for a family home evening, it was awesome. It was Joel's birthday so that is why we had it. We got there and they had prepared food for what seemed like the whole San Vicente Branch hahaha I LOVE THE FILIPINO CULTURE BECAUSE THEY LOVE FOOD AS MUCH AS I DO! We were blessed because we had some sisters from Relief Society come to fellowship them and it was really fun. We taught them The Plan of Salvation and let me tell you, the Spirit was SO STRONG. Somehow I was able to teach and teach and teach and words just kept coming out of my mouth and they actually understood what I was saying! Miracle yen. As I looked at them, they were just taking it all in. It was so incredible to see!!! They are so so receptive and I love teaching them. The Relief Society sisters that worked with us are both converts and they shared their conversion stories with them as well. It was so super spiritual, and I could really witness the Spirit working through them. At the end we were talking with them and they just said "it just makes sense." They are strong members of their Catholic church pero they are really recognizing the truth of what we are teaching them. We also taught them on Saturday about the Book of Mormon. Seriously I feel the Spirit every time we teach pero the Spirit is so so strong when we teach them. And everytime as I focus on them and how I can better help them, not what I'm going to say next, the words just come out of my mouth. It's the craziest thing. That's when I really KNOW that they have been prepared by Heavenly Father and they NEED to hear these things. Ah being a missionary is so so amazing. Do you want to hear the biggest miracle?? THEY CAME TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY!!!!! Yes. They really did. Really it could have been one of the happiest moments of my life. AH and they even stayed for all 3 hours, even though they own a store and had to be away from it the whole time. Ah the Lord really prepares people. How lucky I am to be an instrument in His hands to bring His gospel to these people that NEED it. Sister Fausto and I were talking one day after we taught them and I asked "what made us even go to their house?" It was like 8 or 8:30 by the time we got to their house, the last house on the street. Why did we even go there? They have one of those Catholic Jesus statues in their front yard and we usually avoid those to avoid any conflicts. We could have just gone home because it was late. We could have stopped after we were rejected 10 times by their neighbors. We couldn't even answer the question why we went to their house. But for some reason we did and because of that we met these great people that have really been prepared by the Lord. AH His work is so incredible and I know without a doubt He will always provide a way for His children to receive these truths in their lives.
Ah sige let me share another one of my favorite moments of this week. Now this may not even sound that cool to you all but it was really a big deal for me! So I have told you about the Espela family. We have been teaching Ailene for a few weeks now. Her father was the inactive that we found and he wanted us to teach his daughter. Well let me just start with telling about the first time we visited their family. They were a little hesitant to let us in but tried to be kind because the missionary that was there when he was baptized, came back to visit. So that is the only way we were able to get into the house, and it was a miracle that they kept letting us in. Tatay, Sonny, hadn't let missionaries or members in for at least 10 years because after he was baptized, he became really inactive. Pero we went and had a family home evening there. We asked him to offer the closing prayer that night and he refused. He was mad that we had asked him to say it and was too shy and walked away from us. Since then, we have been visiting them several times a week. Little by little we would invite him in and he would listen to the lessons we were teaching his daughter. Then he started coming to church. Slowly I have been able to witness the Spirit really working through him, and oh what a great blessing that has been! He has attended church now 4 times and is considered an active member again :) YES IT MAY OR MAY NOT BE ONE OF THE GREATEST THINGS EVER. Ah so this week we were teaching him and I asked him to say the closing prayer. I was hesitant because I remembered the horrible reaction he had the last time we asked him. With no problem, this time he said "Pweding pwede! which means like "I sure can!" Ah okay I know it probably doesn't seem like a lot but it really it was such a good moment. My eyes started to water as I really recognized the Spirit working through him. He has changed so much in the last 4 weeks since he started to come to church and in just a few weeks, his daughter will be getting baptized as well. How grateful I am to be just a small part of these people's lives!
Okay one more story. Another thing I learned this week was the power of listening. Listening to both the Spirit and the brothers and sisters I am entrusted to visit with here in the Philippines. We went and taught Nanay Illuminada this week just like we do every week. She was a less active, but since I've been here she's attended church now for 10 weeks in a row and has become very active! So we went there to teach her and I didn't really think anything of it. Just another lesson. She has a lot of trials in her life and usually it's the same story every week: her trials are hard but the Lord is always there for her. This week was different. As we got there and were talking with her, she was telling her stories like usual. I kind of zoned out because half the time I can't understand what she's saying because she's speaking Bicol, the different dialect here. And then all the sudden she started crying and I heard the saddest words come out of her mouth. She said "I am praying and praying but I feel like Heavenly Father is too far away to answer my prayers." AH. These were some of the saddest words I had ever heard anyone say, let alone coming from this strong grandmother I had come to love so much. She then went on to tell us that she had lost her faith. She told us about her daughter with mental problems and the hardship it is on her. We learned that her daughters mental problems have turned super violent this week and one day she even punched Nanay Illuminada in the face and pushed her to the ground. She threw stones at their house and destroyed all their windows and doors in the whole house. Nanay is over 60 years old, has no job, and is trying to support this family that is falling apart. Her husband died years ago and it is just her. Ah as she told us her stories we were all just crying and crying. We were just wondering and praying how we could help this poor lady. So we shared with her D&C 24:8, which says "Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days." As we testified to her, I felt the truthfulness of this verse. And as we testified to her she was just crying and crying to us. How I wish I could just take all of her problems and trials away. But I have faith in His plan. In something bigger and better than anything we could think of. Because He really does know us better than we think He does.
Those are just a few of the amazing miracles we were able to witness this week. Ah how wish I could really express how truly grateful I am for this opportunity to serve a mission. How amazing it is to share this gospel. And how truly amazing it is to witness the Spirit working through these great, humble people. Thinking back to a year ago, I never would have imagined myself here all the way in the Philippines. Let alone on a mission. But it has been the greatest blessing EVER. How truly grateful I am to be entrusted to be a representative of Jesus Christ. This is His church. And it is SO true. And all of our brothers and sisters desperately need this gospel, even if they don't know it yet. Don't ever be afraid to share what you believe in. You never know the impact it could have on some one's life.
I LOVE YOU ALL AND I HOPE YOU ARE ALL WELL!!!!!!!!!!! Stay safe and stay righteous.
ps- Here are some pictures from this week! It was Sister Fausto's birthday so we had a little party of course. :) Enjoy!