This week we had some new investigators come to church! It was really good for them because it was our ward conference, and the ward provided a lunch afterward and invited the investigators too! When the ward has food provided, it's just toppings provided and the members have to bring their own plates and rice. But they had some provided for the investigators... I was so relieved. It was a good opportunity for them to meet new members.
One new investigator is the mother of a long-time less active. Brother Franky is a retire police officer and was baptized back when he was a teenager. He said he still knows the church is true, but he hasn't had time to follow. As we teach him, we are watching the spirit remind him of all the things he used to know, and his mom is the sweetest lady you will ever meet in your life. She is soooo old, but she is so spunky and young at heart. She is baptist, but she is learning with us and has a lot of faith. Most of the time when we teach really old people, they don't really progress very quickly, sometimes it's like pulling teeth because they are so stuck on tradition. (TRADITION is a huge block for everyone here in the Philippines because everything is centered on Honoring your parents and ancestors. One time I explained that their ancestors are Adam and Eve, and they were members of the Church from Jesus Christ... it worked... kind of :) ) But Sister Elisa just acted on our invitations, and she is receiving answers... Isn't it amazing what our faith can do? They came to church last Sunday and had a lot of fun with the members. Even brother Franky is excited to come back. They told us they'll come back next week too!
We also have one investigator who has been really fun to teach. We have about 4 investigators named James, but this Brother James has had a really hard past. Lots of regrets in his life, but he's really taking this opportunity to change and come closer to God. We taught a lot of the heavy commandments this week: Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, and some others related to his past. He hadn't gone to church yet because of work, but when we taught him word of wisdom, he just stopped everything, right there. His faith is changing his life with the help of the Light of Christ within him. It's so inspiring to see the faith in those we teach, as they act on the feelings they have and act on the personal revelation they are learning to receive. When we asked him about one commandment that he was not keeping, we asked, "Will you keep this commandment?" He just said confidently, "oo eh!" which means kind of like, "yeah, obviously." I chuckled a little and just was able to promise him all the blessings that God will give him from this faith in following. I love missionary work. When we got to church at, even though we told him 9, he was already there sitting in a seat waiting for the church to start. He had a good experience and told us he would also come next week.
The other family who came to church yesterday is the Tillana family. They have all girls, just like us. I think I already told you about them, how I taught their family in Cadiz because they are less active there in Cadiz. But the mom, Sister Sonia, told us she went and visited her family in Cadiz last week and told them that I was now teaching their family. She said they were so excited and all started freaking out. I miss them. It makes me realize how much more I'm going to miss them all when I leave.
I know that I still have 4 months, but in my mind I still have a year left. That is what I am telling myself so that I won't think about things I cannot control. I love this experience. Even though it's the hardest thing I have ever done, (even harder than multi-variable calculus and linear algebra) it's also the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I hope all of you girls are preparing even until the last day when you leave. Not only prepare spiritually, but prepare physically and mentally as well. Prepare by taking your studies in school seriously, being accountable for everything you do, learning not to procrastinate, learning to do things on your own and not making mom help you with your assignment until late at night, learning to clean the house even when no one asks, and learning to love everyone, even when you don't really like them :) I know that you are great girls because you are my sisters, but I want you to know that you have the potential to be more than you know. Learn to feel the love of the Savior and remember always that I love you too! I hope you know that. Even if I can't email all of you every week. I love you more than you know!
Love, Sister Smoot