Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Week 48 - 12/25/2013

Yay I got to talk to you yesterday! But I know a lot of people didn't so this is for them... This week was so good! I had so much fun and we were pretty spoiled. First, we had our branch Christmas party last week and it was so different! But so good cause a lot of our investigators got to come and join in the fun. And a different elder was talking to Daniel (our American investigator) and came up to us and said, why isn't he getting baptized sooner? He's so great and he wants to get baptized before Christmas!" That was news to us! and we were just following protocol of waiting longer and spreading the lessons out but he said if he's progressing that much that quickly, you can forget about it. So we went home and planned, when is the soonest he can be baptized? if we teach him everyday, he can make it for Dec. 29th! And we thought it was to good to be true and we were scared that we were being selfish cause transfer days are soon and we thought one of us would for sure miss it but the fact that it's happening is like a dream come true and a PERFECT way to spend Christmas. So we asked him and he was SOOO excited and so now he's getting baptized on Sunday! so that was a crazy turn of events which is so great! And we had Christmas conference on Saturday and zone conference on Monday which was so great because the whole island of Negros got together and I got to see some elders from the MTC that I thought I would never see again! And here we are in the same mission, crazy. And we got to focus on Christmas- the real meaning. and then we had a talent show which was so fun! I just really love this mission. Then we got random presents from a bunch of super random generous people and mom's package came right on time. Christmas eve was super great because we went to a member's house and they invited a bunch of families from the branch and even our investigator! and had a huge feast- roasted pig and all. I've been trying to send pictures but this computer isn't that good so I'll try next week. And that night, we had a nativity that we recorded with just the 4 of us sisters and it was hilarious. It was hard with just the 4 us playing all the parts and got really creative with the costumes but it was so fun! Christmas I won't soon forget. And my companion really loved it because she never has any Christmas traditions and had never done it before and is excited to do that with her family when she goes back home. And Christmas was a normal day until we went to breakfast with our whole zone at the senior couple's apartment and it was so great! They got pretty creative with the breakfast burritos- no tortillas so they made it from lumpia rolls! (like used for egg rolls) Still good! With waffles and french toast and MILK! real milk! Do you know how long it's been? too long. And they had strawberry flavor and it was the best! Just a great day. then we skyped (hung out on google- Julie haha) and ate with the same members, they're the best! And then randomly found someone and taught then had to go home at dark (6) because everyone gets drunk. So no super special Filipino traditions but a good day nonetheless. And this next week looks super great too. After new years is over, I don't know what I'll have to look forward to cause I've been looking forward to Christmas conference and watching movies on New years for so long! And before you know it, I'll hit my year mark. YEAR! Doesn't even seem possible. But I've loved every second:) Being a missionary is just the greatest. I love you all! Maayong Pasko!

Love, Sister Pike

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week 47 - 12/17/2013

Maayong Pasko!!! I can't believe it's Christmas in a week! Still doesn't feel like it... but it's still great! With email now on Wednesday, it's super hard to remember what happened this week! uhh... We have the two coolest branch missionaries ever, Sister Fely and Sister Onobia and they are so buotan! (Nice) And sister Onobia is letting us skype on her computer (so soon!) and hosting an FHE on Christmas eve and we can just show up at her house and ask if we can use it to teach because the apartment was locked and she's there! And then feeds us lunch after. The best. And a group from our branch just got back from Tacloban (Biliran!) this week so I can't wait to talk to them about it. And I'm all better and back to work!!! It feels so good. Super sad moment, we taught our investigator who is supposed to get baptized this Saturday and he was all ready for his interview and we're waiting at the church with District leaders and he doesn't show up! And he doesn't have a cell phone (most people do) and he has work starting at 6. We call him later that night because he's a security guard at the other sister's apartment and it's like the saddest ever. He needs to work overtime everyday so he can't meet with us and he can't go to church. NOOO!!!! But we're trying to figure out a way, it's so hard! I'm just grateful that happened now and not after his baptism and he had to become less active immediately. This is just a trial of his faith and hopefully he makes it! If he gets baptized, it will probably be at the end of January. Good news, Georgie came to church!!! We can only teach him once a week and weren't able to teach him this week and the last time we committed him to go to church, he said there was no way he could miss work! But he showed up with his wife (who always comes) and he was so happy! And we were too! And we asked if he got a day off and he said no, he just skipped it! Woah. Hopefully he can continue! And we also got to see the First Presidency Devotional which was so good! And we went with Daniel (the American) and he LOVED it. And earlier we taught about the last part of the Plano sa Kaluwasan (plan of salvation) and he said, "wow, it is such a privilege to have this knowledge!" Elder and Sister Anderson gave him a doctrine and covenants (which was super cheap) and he said for how cheap it is, the contents are really worth so much! Do we ever take them for granted? It was just such a good reminder. 

And it's really cool that here I am able to focus so much on the true meaning of Christmas because I am seeing the atonement of Christ change lives right before my eyes! It's a miracle. There are so many people we've taught lately that we talk to them once, and then we teach them again and they're a completely different person and totally receptive! It's so crazy but the hand of the Lord is definitely apparent every single day. I'm always super grateful for my companions and apartment mates, we have so much fun! We're planning on having somewhat of a Christmas feast. And this week is Christmas conference with all the missionaries on the island and Zone Conference and I'm so excited! Should be a really great Christmas. Don't have too much fun without me :) And don't forget the real reason for this wonderful season. 

Love, Sister Pike

Sister Fely, she always works with us!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Week 46 - 12/10/2013

It's officially been 1 month since the typhoon! So crazy. It's crazy how much life can change! I've been sick... just a littler stomach virus or something that the other sisters got too. But it was nice because Sister Webber was sick too so we were able to stay home together while our companions worked. Sister Webber was kinda having a hard time because she's still new and has never missed work before and it was just cool to see how far I've come! I remember when I was first sick, it was just so frustrating and I was so impatient. I thought this is the Lord's work, why can I not do it! And then after sickness after sickness, blessing after blessing, I've been changed and now I don't even care! Of course I would like to work instead of just sitting, but it's all in his hands and his timing and complaining won't change any of that. I don't know if you can notice a change in me just through emails, but I can for sure notice a change in myself and it feels so good. Trials make you grow, that's for sure!

In other news, President and Sister Schmutz (mission president) visited on Saturday! They just showed up our apartment and had companion study! It was pretty cool especially since we got to tell them about our investigators and their problems and he gave us advice so it's great! And he invited us to go to a Christmas concert and to invite our investigators because he really wanted to meet Daniel- the super prepared American! (ironic that mark is teaching Filipinos and I'm teaching an American haha) So we did and he came and he loved it! And he met president who talked to us later, "I talked to him, he's changing his life, you better baptize him!" I think he'll baptize himself if we don't do it for him. He made huge steps in repentance, going to institute, when people ask him what he thinks about the church, he says things like, "It's so important!" or "It's life-changing!" or "I'm planning on getting baptized hopefully really soon!" Is this real life? Do people ever say stuff like that ever? No, they don't but it's so great! I thought it would be so hard teaching in English, but it's actually not! Weird. Sister Mendoza jokes that her nose is bleeding the whole time (it's a Filipino thing when they're around too much English, something about their brain working too hard so it bleeds out their nose) but she's way good at English so it's all good! And my branch just took a rescue party to Biliran Island! (My old area) which makes me so happy! Seriously the out-pouring of love has been so great and perfect reminder of the real meaning of Christmas. 

Oh, I almost forgot! Sister Webber's mom is the best because they gathered tons and tons of donated clothes- from various people and even from desert book, down east and sister missionary mall and sent us a TON of new stuff! It's mostly for those sisters who lost all their luggage in Tacloban but there was more than plenty, literally hundreds of dollars’ worth of brand new cute stuff! So she got a whole suitcase full and we thought, whoa, this is soooooo much stuff! And then Sister Schmutz came and said there are like 5 more just like it in the mission home! Wow! People are so great and I feel so blessed! Merry Christmas! So I got new clothes, switched out the ones I'm tired of and it just worked out so well! And that's all! I can't believe Christmas is so soon! It still is July in my mind haha Love you!

Love, Sister Pike

Church in the Bukid

My Batch!

I ran into some Elders that were in Cebu after they came home! Super small world.

My old companions eating cherry pie from the Elders for Thanksgiving!

My new companion Sister Mendoza

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Week 45 - 12/3/2013

Yay!!!! I'm finally in my real area and with my real companion and back to work! It's sooooo great. I'm in Dumaguete on Negros island aka I have lived on 6 islands in the Philippines! Do you know how many people can say that? But literally when it comes to areas/companions I'm the pinakablessed (most). Sister Mendoza is pinay and loves to cook and we're going home at the same time! July! And she's been training for basically her entire mission so she's so happy to have an experienced companion and I am too! She's just the sweetest. And my area just happens to be the area that everyone comes to for all zone activities not to mention being known as the best zone in the mission. That's exactly how Catarman and Biliran were and everyone always comes to me! I'm the luckiest. But this week was CRAZY as far as experiences with investigators and members. Some were so incredibly amazing, like the best of my mission! and some were the craziest of crazy and the saddest of sad. They weren't joking when they said the emotions of a mission are like your entire life wrapped into one! I'll start with the sad so I can end on a happy note.

On Sunday, the relief society president told us about a member who was 74 and becoming weaker and weaker by the day so we decided to visit her on Monday and when we did, it was probably the saddest thing I've ever seen. We came to her door and asked her daughter-in-law (whose family lives with her) where she was and she said she was upstairs and couldn't come down any more so we went up to meet her. We climbed up the ladder and saw the saddest thing ever. I tiny, frail, sick old woman lying on a dirty piece of cardboard surrounded by filth. Tons of dirty bowls, plates and cups full of uneaten food in this tiny little, hot room. She didn't have enough strength to sit up by herself and here she was suffering alone while her grand kids and daughter-in-law just sat downstairs watching tv pretending like nothing was happening. So of course we cleaned up, washed all the dishes in the bomba (water pump) next door, helped her move while we got a clean sheet and made a bed then made a little pillow by wrapping some folded clothes in a sheet. We fanned her and just talked to her but she was so weak she could hardly speak. She was nothing but a skeleton just so frail. She said, "Life is so bitter. I asked my son to get me some food last night but he said it was too late. Then she asked him to heat up some water for her and he got angry." It was heartbreaking! So we just tried to comfort her and love her so we fanned her and sang her some of her favorite hymns. We tried to get her to eat but she didn't want to back she just threw up everything. We offered her tons of food and finally got her to agree to eat a vanilla wafer. But when my companion was getting it from the bag brought by the relief society, we thought, "how is she going to eat this? She only has one little tooth!" but she did, oh so very slowly but only got through half of it with a little bit of water. But it wasn't long before she was throwing it back up. She actually didn't even have the strength to do that! She just spit it up, little by little. The whole time we were so afraid that she was going to die at any second. She asked for some warm water and some more food and she was able to eat it a little better and keep it down and was able to start falling asleep by the time we needed to leave. We finally got a hold of the Relief Society president to get some help, the next day she was taken to the hospital and just last night she texted us that she had died. I didn't even know her at all but everyone talks about her as being such a valiant faithful member who would always walk so far to come to church every week and never made any excuses. But I'm just happy her suffering is over and it just broke my heart that anyone could treat their mother, or grandmother in that way. 

And on a good note, we have the best investigator of all time!!!!! His name is Daniel (25+) and he's white and from Wisconsin. He was a good guy but while he was over here for work, he got heavily involved in drugs and drinking and basically everything terrible and he was sick of it. He was the lowest of low when some sisters who lived next door to him in Bacalod mission (where he was living at the time) talked to him, gave him a book of mormon, taught him a few discussions and took him to church. He was loving it so much and just eating it all up when he moved here to Dumaguete and found the church here and continued to go. Elder and Sister Anderson (a senior couple here) saw him at church and found out he was in our area! They took him out to lunch and basically have become his parents and support through everything. We met him on Saturday when he was waiting for them to come to go to the lunch and the moment I met him I knew he was soooo awesome and so ready. He already told us what he's been reading- the book about Lorenzo Snow and he's in Jacob in the Book of Mormon and that it's changing his life and he doesn't ever want to stop. So we set up a lesson with him after church in the Relief Society room with Elder and Sister Anderson and kid you not, it was the best lesson in the whole wide world. Literally should've been featured on the District (a training video for missionaries.) cause it was so perfect! This was the second day of our companionship, we were teaching in english -which is usually pretty hard cause we're not used to it at all- and we have zero plan for him. They told us about it just right before it happened. But he is such an honest seeker and the spirit was so strong that we never had a moment that we didn't know what to say. We had a real, honest, deep discussion about the atonement and all of us contributed and were uplifted and it was just the best! I'm so excited to see his progress! He's already crazy progressing but he still feels really guilty about his past and has a lot to overcome but I'm excited to see the gospel and the atonement change his life. Some crazy stuff. 

All in all, I love Cebu mission, I love my district which is HUGE! But there are 4 sisters from Tacloban so it's a good transition because I still get to see some familiar faces. I love my area, my branch... missions are just the best. So many opportunities to grow and change and meet new people and just love everyone! Also, it's been AMAZING to see the outpouring of love of the members here in Cebu mission for those suffering in Tacloban. Our branch went over there with a bunch of people to deliver supplies to some of the bukid areas that no one knows about and they're planning another one next week and they said they're going to Biliran!!!! That made me super happy. Every time I see it, it basically makes me start to cry, but in a good way I guess. I just feel so blessed. And word on the street is that President Andaya is back in our mission- set up in Maasin, southern leyte and they will be bringing back Catbalogan, Catarman (northern samar), and Maasin zones soon so that's exciting!!! And they are mostly going to be bringing the missionaries back to the areas they left with some exceptions that the missionaries went home. So who knows when I get to go back. I love it here, but I would love to go back. Whatever happens is what needs too. I have such a strong testimony of that. I love you all, thanks for all your support and love!

Love, Sister Pike 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Week 44 - 11/27/2013

This week was crazy! I always say it, but then it's always so true, right? So i arrive in Cebu and i meet everyone, they're super nice, etc. it's transfer day and they tell me i'm going to Dumagete, Negros- on the other island farr from Cebu and talking to everyone it's like the coolest, prettiest place ever and all my mtc district mates are there so we'll be together for Christmas conference and i was in the same apartment as another great sister from Tacloban so i was sooo stoked. And then i told them about my eye, that I was supposed to get a follow-up check up in Tacloban last week but obviously that wasn't possible- anyway, they sent me to the doctor here. he looked at my eye. oh that is really bad. You will need surgery on that or sure. He put me back on the medicine for the infection (which was supposed to be done) and said come back in a week. So i go back and talk to pres. Schmutz who says another sister who just went home (because her mission was done) had the same exact thing and she's getting surgery on it so maybe he doesn't know you still have 8 months yet? And then i couldn't go to my area that's super far away only to come back in a week for my check up so he had to make some transfers but he didn't want to make i permanent because we didn't know if i had to keep coming back every week or what. it was just a lot of uncertainty. So i go to my area- they were a trio so I split it up and companions with Sister Albaytar! She only speaks Cebuano(which i love) and is just about the sweetest ever. And then we've been working with Sister Robidillo (from Tacloban, her family doesn't have a house;( ) and Sister Lamoglia who is fresh from the manila mtc! So we met with the bishop and split the area but I don't even know how long i'll be here or even if i need to go home! And then on Saturday and Sunday my super duper sleepiness came backl and i thought oh no, what is happening to me! I already worked through this! At first I thought it was just because i was tired and wasn't used to missionary work but it was pretty extreme. i kept completely conking out in meetings and stuff, so unlike me! So finally on Sunday after church- after an intense inner battle, I decided we needed to go home to rest. i fell asleep at 4:30 and woke up at 6:30 the next morning. Wow that's long! Didn't wake up to eat or anything. Then they told me to go to the mission office to talk to Sister French- the missionary psychologist for  the Philippines. She mostly came to deal with the traumatized people from my mission so i though it was weird she wanted to see me but talking to her was the best ever!!!! She said, i'm not worried about your mental health but I'm super worried about your physical health. here's what happened, i think you had some weird string of mono that you overcame and then with lack of sleep and craziness and stress from living through the biggest storm in the history of the world, you are just susceptible so it's starting to come back. So REST! Take a nap everyday, only work half days and just take it easy and you will be fine. It was so great, exactly what i needed to hear. So I've just been resting and it's great because it's so hard to rest as a missionary guilt-free because you know there is work that needs to be done and you just feel disobedient but now that i'm just following orders, it makes it 100x easier and i'm super grateful. Then i got a priesthood blessing because i still was concerned about what would happen with my eye and I went yesterday and...drum roll please... it's all good!! no more infection. Even if i did need surgery, it would be a very long time from now and only need to come back once every few months so i don't have to stay in the city and i can actually have a real area! As soon as i found that out, this weight lifted and i didn't even realize all the stress that came from it but it's so good!!!! I'm so happy!!! i literally thought for a second i might actually need to come home early but phew! I made it again. Another miracle. So I'm super grateful and i know that heavenly father hears and answers prayers. miracles still exist even if they seem small and i'm so grateful for priesthood blessings. So right now i'm just waiting to see i'm going to go to my area and i'm already known as the sickest sister ever in this mission too haha word travels fast! So that's my week. Crazy, right?

Other super cool things- I went to the temple today!!!! perk of being close to it here in Cebu and the zones near here get to go once every other month so lucky me that ours happened to land on today. And that means i went to the 2 temples in the philippines in one week and they are both not even close to my original mission. Super cool. And on Saturday, super lucky, we went to a wedding in the temple! my companions trainer got married to the former AP here so president schmutz made an exception and we got to see the sealing (my first time) and then went to the luncheon at the mission home after. Their story was so hilarious because president Schmutz basically set them up after talking to each of them in their exit interviews, it was hilarious.  And then, we went to a special sacrament in the bukid (mountains) and it was soooooooo crazy!!!! imagine that you are on the back of a motorcycle and go along a curvy, windy mountain road for about 20 minutes. you need to get off while the driver goes through a river and you need to jump across stones and you accidently slip and fall in haha then you get back on and continue a little ways. Then the guy parks his motorcycle and you precede to walk up a very, very steep mountain trail for about 20 more minutes. And then you arrived at a tiny little house. The bishop shows up, one of his counselors, you meet the family and then you precede to have sunday school, split up for Relief Society and Elders quorum then you take the sacrament. i couldn't believe it! literally one of the scariest, tiniest, muddiest trails I've ever been on and we're on our way to church in our sunday best. I wanted to take pictures so bad but my camera was dead. And they do this every week for one family(except the family goes to church for fast sunday)! They just astound me. Super neat experience though. 

I'm so grateful for all of my experiences, i just can't even believe how eventful my life is! But it's the best. i wouldn't have it any other way. I love you all! keep praying for those in my mission! Someone told me that even the less affected areas are still having problems getting food and gas because all of the focus is on the really bad areas and it's just so sad! Tacloban was the central hub of all 3 islands so without its supplies and such, the whole region is suffering. Also, before i left, we saw President Andaya who said they're working to start bringing in missionaries to less affected parts (the far north) as soon as January. All of our assignments to different missions are temporary but we have no idea whatsoever who will go back when- it's completely random so who knows if I'll go back sooner, or later, or ever... but I'll always, always, always consider myself a Tacloban missionary. Thanks for all your love, support and prayers!

Sister pike

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Week 43 - 11/20/2013

Hello family! Good news! I'm back to work! I got to Cebu this morning and I met my mission president, president and sister Schmutz and they are just wonderful. So kind and loving- of course I'll never forget president and Sister Andaya, but I know I'm here for a reason and these people will definitely have an impact on my life. I'm not sure where I'll be going or who my new companion is but guess what, p-day is now Wednesday! So no longer expect it on Monday morning! And we get 2 hours! So everyone should email me because I will for sure have time to reply! And the mission home is literally across the road from the Cebu temple and it's just so beautiful. I can't wait till I get to go! That is why Wednesday is our preparation day because every other month we will have a temple day on p-day. Woo! It was sad to leave the MTC this morning and saying good-bye to all my friends going home and to other missions but I saw my batch (the missionaries from Tacloban) and I just feel so blessed, they are just the best! Driving through Cebu was such a culture shock for me because it is definitely not the Philippines I'm used to! It's like America! Lots of malls, just a huge city. But I'm sure in the bukid(mountain/jungle) it will basically be the same. And don't worry mom, I'm going to an eye doctor before I go to my new area and it should be 1,000 times better than it was in Tacloban. They know what's going on and don't worry about a thing. My favorite thing about being here is feeling so loved and needed. President said 75% of the missionaries are less than 6 months, especially the sisters so he said it will be great to have some more experienced ones. It's so weird to think I'm long enough in the mission to be considered old because it's just flown by so fast! But I'm excited to help where I can be learn from the people of Cebu. I still can't believe I'm here! Last night was great cause I got to go to the Manila temple one last time with everyone there and we got to see president and sister Andaya! He had just talked to the area presidency and they are doing everything the can to get some missionaries back in Tacloban mission as soon. Not in Tacloban for a long while but mostly Northern Samar and other places that weren't very affected by the storm. The missionaries will be brought back area by area by random so who knows if how quickly I'll return, if ever but i know what ever happens is 100% the lord's will. I love you all, thanks for all your support and love and concern! Keep praying for those in Tacloban! 

Love, Sister Pike

Legit picture from the storm

Riding a pedicab

With Sister Robinson and her sundang! (machete)

People lined up trying to get gas when it was running out

Stocking up after the typhoon

Piling in the van after being found!

Our full crew - faces so red after running all over.

Our rescuers!

A river they had to cross to get to the other areas because the road was blocked

Our group from Ormoc!

Being snuck out!

Our boat on the way out! Last ones

The boat


The shoes our elders wore the whole trip because we all came from doing service projects

The airport

The temple!

The temple! And great people!

Sister Ariola and Sister Somera came and visited us at the temple!

Funny guy sleeping in Manila!

Our sweet Biliran sisters jerseys that we made and they picked them up RIGHT before the storm.

Sister Ariola and Sister Somera visited again!

The typhoon from the satelite

Some cool people in their legit jackets

Merry Christmas - playing dress up with Sister Estes