Monday, September 15, 2014

Week #68 (Sept, 14, 2014)

This week was quite a whirlwind. Last Monday while we were emailing,  My companion Sister Madronio found out that she has to go home to her family. She didn't want to return home, but her family is mirgrating from the philippines to Canada and if she didn't go home this month, she couldn't go with them (for visa reasons). President Lopez asked her to go with her family for her once in a life-time chance to leave the country. This will be such an amazing opportunity for her and her family, but as a result, she was devastated to leave our mission here in Bacolod. Because it was in the middle of the week, I had a short-term companion for the week, Sister Robete from Bacolod 1st ward (Sister Jenna Smoot's first area.) She will leave on her mission in October and she said it was a fun week to see what missionaries actually do. To be honest, if I actually knew what missionaries did, I would not be super excited to go. Haha, I am really glad I came, but it's a little overwhelming. Sister Robete will do so amazing on her mission, plus I got to be companions with a true Ilonga (like living with a correct dictionary. Since the language is not a written language, none of our books are correct, but she knew everything and I learned so much! I hope she wasn't sick of my questions.:) ) Having a short term is also really stressful because all of the resopnsibility is on your shoulder. As the only set-apart missionary, everything is up to you, it was rather a lonely and tiring week.  Last night we got a phone call that I would have a full-time missionary and this morning I met my new companion, Sister Hemi. She is litterally the most beautiful person on the planet. Back when I was with Sister Natarte in Pulupandan, we saw her once at the store and sister Natarte was talking about her the whole week and how pretty she was. Now we are companions. She is also the sweetest sister I have ever met. She is from New Zealand and has the sweet, humble, peaceful way about her. I love her already and it's only been a few hours. Plus, it's weird not to be with a Filipina, I actually spoke English, It was kind of wierd.

That's everything as far as the details, but this week as also been incredibly rewarding. We have the most amazing investigators and recent converts. I am so lucky I get to teach them.  I have two families I want to talk about. The first is the group of teenagers I told you about last week. Sister Jeanbie, and her friends Jefty and Cyber. They are both 17 year old boys, who have gone from the neighborhood bullies, to the neighborhood angels. Let me explain. Before we bet them, all three of them were in a sort of "gang." They were bullies, they were cool, they are attractive, they are teenagers, and they know all of those things. The youth members were a little scared of them when they heard we were teaching them. When we first met Jeanbie, she was already incredible prepared as I have shared the last few weeks. But when we met brother Jefty, he was still the "cool kid." He was reclined in his chair and acting like he didn't have a care in the world with a little smirk on his face. I thought to my self, "oh brother, highschool all over again." I think he only listened to us because it is against the norm to listen to the "mormons." But after listening that first time, he said something just made him read the pamplet we gave him. After he read that, he read some other pamplets that we had given some other people in his neighborhood. He really studied everything he could get his hands on. He came to church last week, and yesterday as well, and right now is one of our most progressive and interested investigators. On Tuesday, we visited him, and I was following up on his book of mormon reading. He is almost addicted to his book of mormon and reads a lot. I asked him if he had seen any miracles from the his reading (since that is a promise we give them when we invite them to read.) He told us about an experience he had in school that day. He said his friends kept bugging him about joining them in the "bully" activities. They wanted him to help them beat someone up and tease some others. He told them no. They kept bugging him, and told him, "your sisters aren't here, it's okay." then Brother Jefty told them, "I made a promise to God that I would change, I'm not going to help you." 
As he explained this story, I just started crying, as he himself teared up with the spirit. He recognized in himself that he had changed, and it was from his promise to Jesus Christ. Change is so real. It is so powerful. The spirit was so strong in that moment, that he too realized he had changed. And he embraced it. After that meeting, his progression has only increased. he is now finishing up first Nephi! I love seeing how the bully of the block, has changed and turned his life towards christ. It truly is a sweet and beautiful miracle. 

The second one is the Aventura family. They were the two brothers who were baptized the last two weeks. We had started teaching the parents before the baptism, but they said they would only listen, they wouldn't keep any of the commitments. They did commit to come to the baptism, but the dad got a bad fever and couldn't come. On Friday, he still had the fever and actually passed away around lunch time on Friday. We found out from a member on Friday night and visited them our first appointment on Saturday. Working up to the lesson, I had no idea what to say or do to help them. They are so newly baptized, I wasn't sure how they would react to that. I didn't have a companion and I was sort of at a loss. I spent my whole personal study that morning, searching for inspiration and guidance for how to help them. The message of the Holy Ghost came to my mind, but I still didn't know how to form it into a lesson. I just decided to read a scripture in Moroni about the fruits of the spirit and the comfort we can receive. (Moroni 8:26) When we arrived, they both had red eyes, I knew they had been crying. They were both just sitting outside their house. We waved to them and they both ran inside their house, grabbed their book of mormon and came to talk to us. Remember, their ages are only 13 and 15. They were ready for their lesson for the day. We opened with a prayer, sang a hymn, and I just started as normal by asking about their book of mormon reading. They both explained that when they found out their dad had passed away, they decided to read their Book of Mormon. They said that as they were reading, they felt the holy ghost surround them and give them happiness. My eyes welled up with tears in awe and amazement and I was so inspired from their faith in Jesus Chirst and in his Book of Mormon. I cannot say that reading the book of mormon would be the first thing i do if my family member died. The spirit was so strong at that moment, and we all just spent those 10 minutes talking about the spirit and dwelling in it. I know that from their faith, the Lord had given them strength in their sorrow. Of course we are sad when tragedy happens in life, that means that we love those who have passed on. But I am so incredibly inspired by the example these two recent converts gave to me that day. The Holy Ghost is real. The power and love He gives us is real. This church is the only way to fully grasp and live in the pure love of God. I am so incredibly lucky that I can be a small part in spreading this love. I know that God loves John and Mark Aventura. I know that they felt it. I felt it. I felt it for me, I felt it for them, and I feel it for all of you at home. I know that God is our real, loving, heavenly Father. I hope you all find time to live and enjoy the sweet companionship of the holy ghost we were all given at baptism. I know it is with us at all times, especially in those hard times of need. I love you all so much! I can't thank you enough for all that you have given me. I love you!
Love, Sister Smoot

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