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