Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Week 53 - 1/29/2014

#1- I've been a missionary a year!!! And like every missionary, I can't believe it! It's just flying by too fast. I can't believe I've already signed up for an apartment and when Julie told me about some engineering classes that I had to choose from, it seemed like she was speaking a foreign language. Labs, homework and tests? it's crazy! 

#2 Leogie got baptized! Her husband, Ken, baptized her and they have their sight set on the Cebu temple in a year. It has been REMARKABLE to see the change that has happened in that family. She told us after her baptism that when she told us she was going to visit her family on the island of Siquijor with her youngest and leave her husband and two sons and we begged her not to because "it's Christmas and she needs to be with her family!" that she literally had plans never to come back because she was so miserable. That was ONE MONTH AGO! But through prayer and the Book of Mormon, she stayed and they're so happy and they want to be married for time and all eternity. If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is. I honestly don't want to even begin to think about what would have happened if we hadn't taught her when we did. 

#3- You know that one guy I taught last p-day? He was a referral and we taught him at the church and he is so amazing! We followed up on an on a house we found a while ago and every time we came, they were gone so we FINALLY got to teach them. We taught the full restoration and they were so good! At the end, they said there is a boarder there who would was really interested in hearing our message. Awesome! So we asked is name- turns out it's the same kid we taught the day before at the church! We tracked into his house unknowingly a week or so before. He went to church on Sunday and literally looked like a member-without the tie- and it was a really great service, he really felt the spirit. We gave a workshop later that night so we were at the church and his friend who referred us from the other branch found us and was sooooo excited! She hugged us and said, he prayed, he reads the book of Mormon, he wants to study with her and wants to get baptized and serve a mission. He literally changed his life plans after one lesson and reading the book of Mormon! What!?! I could hardly believe my ears. We taught him again today and he's as good as she said- he's in 1 Nephi 10, studies with the seminary guide so he understands, attends institute and even joined the choir. He knows it's all true and wants to get baptized ASAP. And he understands everything so well! It's amazing. So we're finding time in his busy schedule to teach him 3-4 times a week so we can teach him as fast as possible cause he's so good! Miracles all around. 

Church was kinda disappointed because 4 people that go to church every week and are supposed to get baptized really soon didn't go! What's the deal! It wasn't even rainy! Really bizarre but we'll visit them soon and figure it out. But my point is it wasn't even that disappointing because Efren came and he is amazing! and Leogie got the gift of the Holy Ghost so I can't complain at all! Great week. 

Love you all! 

Sister Pike

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Week 52 - 1/21/2014

Quote of the week from my companion, Sister Forbush, "Sister, the elect are just falling at our feet!" It's true! We've just seen amazing miracles happen this week and we've found so many prepared people, it's just incredible! Great time to be a missionary here in Dumaguete. In other news, I was told on Sunday that 2 sister missionaries would be going back to Tacloban on January 28 as a  group of the first missionaries (a group of 28). And it was killing me not knowing who it would be! I really want to go but I was so torn because the transfer ends on February 13 and we have 4 baptisms happening before then! So I decided I would be happy to go and happy to stay. And I'm staying! President Schmutz sent an email that Sister Bingham and Sousa are going back, but they will be choosing a second batch to return in about 3 weeks so really near the transfer and that basically everyone will be returning unless there is a reason that they would need to stay. Yay!!! I get to see all my baptisms and go back to Tacloban relatively soon. I have the best life ever. 

We just got back from teaching a really great referral! We don't usually work on P-day but it's only day off and he was golden! So worth it. And yesterday we randomly ran into 2 ladies- one in the morning and one in the afternoon and we just taught them immediately and both them asked before we even started, "Where's your church? I'm going." Me and sister Forbush would just look at each other like, what is happening?!? These people are amazing! That's like the hardest thing to get people to do here. So we'll see if they actually make it. But the first one was amazing because we just met her on the street and I testified how our message would bless her family and she just started crying! Then she told us about her family and how their living situation is terrible and it's just so hard and she was really seeking for help. Later in the lesson, she called us her angels and when I told her that if she listened to us, we would teach her all the commandments so as she follows them, she will receive blessings! Just to make sure she wasn't expecting temporal help from us. And she just started crying, saying, Thank you! thank you! and hugged each of us! It was the cutest. Her house really was so sad. no walls, just tarp for a roof and she had 5 kids and her husband and they basically lived on their beds, like their was no floor space at all and their beds are just made out of wood. But I'm really excited to help her by helping her come to church! I have really come to not feel bad about not being able to give them temporal help because I can give them so much more! The gospel will bless their lives more than anything else. 

And the other one, when we started teaching her, I thought she would just be one of those old Nanay's stuck in her way of being catholic but when we committed her to pray to know if it is true, she said, "oh I know it's true!" We had to repeat the question a few times just so we would make sure she fully understood. And she did! And then she asked about if there is anything not allowed, "because I like to drink and smoke!" and then sister Fely, the member working with us taught the word of wisdom and I testified and she said okay! I will do that! And in her closing prayer, she even asked for strength to stop. WOW! Such a good day. Such a good week! And last P-day was so fun because we went out to lunch with the other sisters to an amazing french cafe with really good food!!! Like amazingly delicious pastries and cakes. Blew our minds. They even had real cheesecake. That is unheard of! Definitely not your average Filipino food. Probably normal in America but it's been awhile! 

At this point, we're getting too many new investigators that are awesome, we don't know how we're going to visit all of them. It's a great problem to have. I have really learned so much in my time here as a Cebu of how to be a more diligent, effective missionary and me and my companion are definitely reaping the rewards! I'm excited to go back to Tacloban just so I can use everything I've learned here to help rebuild our mission there! I'm not worried about when anything is happening, I'm just grateful to have so many wonderful leaders and two great mission presidents taking care of me. Thanks for all your prayers, I can really feel them working. The Lord is hastening the work and it's soooo amazing to be a part of it. 

Love, Sister Pike 
The boat ride to Cebu from last week!

We visited the Villaflores family - they're my favorite! And while Sister Leogie was filling out paperwork for her baptism THIS Saturday, we took pictures with the kids. Abby- the youngest, got stung by a bee so her lip is twice the size and at first it was so sad but she was so cute about it! We all ended up just laughing at her and she would laugh with us! She would even pose like we told her, I love their family so much!

We had a bit of a cold front, like 70 degrees!! We are not prepared. It's so funny how your body just adjusts. That was Sister Forbush, my companion during personal study and I literally wore my pajama pants under my skirt and a sweater that luckily another sister left behind! Cause I got rid of all of mine!

And me with the cutest returning member ever. She's so tiny and cute and calls us "Elder" - it's hilarious!

Our sweet ride, dumaguete style It's called a trike! or a pedicab which is weird cause that's what we called the bikes in Catarman. The transportation varies so much place to place!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Week 51 - 1/14/2014

Last week, my prayers were answered! And it was so great. I was really happy when  I went to the eye doctor last time and he said I could go to Dumaguete and work but just come back every few months but I always had this fear in the back of my mind of what will happen if I need to go back to the eye doctor my whole mission? Will that stop me from being chosen to return back to Tacloban Mission because my eye doctor there no longer exists? Of course I'm fine going back whenever I need to, according to God's will, but that would just be the worst if if was BECAUSE of my dumb sicknesses. So I went to the eye doctor in Cebu for my follow-up appointment and I was thinking about that but didn't say anything. He said my eye was doing so much better and I had run out of drops before I was able to come back so he gave me like a ton so it would last and he sent me on my way. I walked out then realized, he never told me to come back! 1 month? maybe 3? I asked him. "Oh you're all set for a long time! Like 6 months!" Wait, I hit my year mark in 2 weeks... aka I'll be going home in 6 months! Aka I'm done with the eye doctor for the rest of my mission! Aka If they call me, I can go back to Tacloban mission without any problems and no restraints. Isn't that the best! Miracles. We kinda lost two days of work from traveling to Cebu but it was fun! We traveled on a bus for 7 hours each way but we were with all the district leaders going to a meeting and I got to talk with my companion, Sister Forbush, who is so awesome! so it was so fun.

And then, another miracle! We met this lady on the street who had been taught by missionaries before but she couldn't understand them because their "slang" (american accents) so we said great! We'll come back and teach you so you can understand. So we went back and we asked her who else was in the house so they could join too and so she gets her 38 yr. old son who is covered in tattoos and has the most extreme mullet you have ever seen. We thought he might just be annoyed that we pulled him away from his TV watching but we taught the full restoration and was so focused and so intently listening the whole time, it was amazing. The woman was in and out and not really caring at all but he was so great! Saturday was our third lesson with him and we taught about church. Explaining the priesthood and how there is only one true church on earth with the authority of God is a really hard principle for people to grasp here so we basically taught it over and over and over until finally they understood and then committed them to come to church. It's amazing how if people really understood all the commandments and why we need to do it, they would totally do it! The next morning (Sunday) was soooo rainy and I've mentioned it before, people do not like the rain and they think it's a more than valid excuse not to go to church. Even long time members! it's such a weird concept to me. So Leogie came with her family (she's getting bapitzed the 25th hopefully) and we were so happy. Then, The elders were standing in the doorway and yelled, Sisters your investigator! And we were just confused because how would they know he was our investigator? And they said something else but I didn't really hear, then we went to the door and it clicked, they said, "it's the mullet guy!" That's how they knew! And he came to church! By himself, in the rain, after teaching him for like a week. MIRACLE! And he loved it. The members were so good to all meet him and talk to him and he was so happy he saw, Bro Ken (husband of Leogie who is a recent convert) who is his neighbor! And Ken instantly became the perfect fellow shipper and took him to all the classes with him and was just a great friend! It was like the coolest thing ever to see-usually it's so stressful to make sure their experience at church is good but the whole branch did such a good job without our help even- they are so incredible! And then sacrament started and Sister Forbush said, " hey, even though we didn't work very much this week, all we need is Adriano to come and all the people will be here that we visited yesterday. And then during the sacrament, I look back and He's there! Adriano came! Which means he can get baptized on February 8. Success. It was such a great day. 
So it's just been a really good week and the work here is just so good! Best branch literally in this mission and probably in Tacloban too... so organized and on top of things with good, trained leaders, it really makes such a difference. I love my life and I love being a missionary. Ronaldo (mullet guy) is just so great and so humble and teachable, I'm really excited to see his progress. And we're teaching his sister Crystal and her friend Georgett and it's been going really well, hopefully we'll get them to go to church soon too:) Thank you for all your prayers and support! I know that miracles are real and prayers are answered because it has happened so many times just this week! 

Sister Pike
Pics from Christmas time!

Our Nativity!

From our New Year's Eve Party!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Week 50 - 1/7/2014

Yay, I'm in my second transfer and my second companion and it's going great!! Yeah mom, you are SO right! I have had the best companions ever and have gotten so lucky and my luck is continuing! The cool thing about getting a new companion is I am able to really see how my strengths have changed and how I've grown in the last transfer! For example, my weakness as been what we call FTE-find the elect or talking to everyone we pass and share a short message and invite them to listen or go to church etc. Anyway, that's a HUGE focus in this mission, we need to talk to 100 every week but in my last mission, we never tracked the numbers and it wasn't a huge focus. So I've been working on that for the past 6 weeks and my companion told me that was my strength. And I thought, What?! No way, that was totally my weakness. And I can also see that in many of the compliments she gives to me are the things that I have learned from past companions and it's so cool! 

The other day, our investigator, Leogie, is the wife of a recent convert. When the missionaries were teaching Ken, her husband, she was not interested at all! But the other day, we committed her to be baptized on the 26th!!! And now she is just so happy and so is their whole family and they are so excited to all be members so they can start preparing for the temple. I have seen a HUGE change in the life of their family and through their examples I have really seen for myself that the gospel really does bless families and when our relationship with god is good, everything is better too! I was seriously soooo happy. And just sad that Sister Mendoza wasn't there to witness it cause she's been teaching their whole family for so long. 

And we've had a lot of success with finding and teaching new investigators too, it was just a really great week! It's amazing to me how much leading the area and introducing your new companion to all the people in the area makes me love them so much more! I'm so excited for her to meet everyone and to teach everyone. You can't help these people if you don't love them and with these people, you can't help but love them! I'm so happy and I have definitely received great blessing from working as an instrument of the Lord. Nothing better than that. I love you all! thank you so much for your support and prayers! 

Love, Sister Pike
Sister Mendoza from before Christmas

Breakfast with the whole zone

Our investigators Roel and Natnat getting married soon!

Daniel's Baptism!

Cutest kids ever of a family we're teaching. The Dad already got baptized and is the best recent convert ever and the mom is getting baptized this month!

Last time together before transfers

Super cute lady we taught that reminded me of Grandma Homer wearing David's hat that one time.. haha

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Week 49 - 1/1/2014

This week was probably the best week ever, no joke!!! To Start, Merry Christmas and Happy New year! #1 DANIEL GOT BAPTIZED!!!!! I'm trying to send pictures but it's being soooo slow... Anyway, it was like the best baptism ever. It was Sunday morning at 7, since it's so early, it was very reverent and he was just so excited. We took pictures and got started then in walks... Pres and Sister Schmutz! They had talked to him before and they just happened to come in that morning from Cebu to reorganize a ward and they learned of his baptism right when they got here so they got to come! It was a really neat experience and he shared the closing remarks. It was really cool because one of our investigators came who we tried to commit to be baptized, but she wanted to see one first and we haven't talked to her yet but it was so spiritual and she's been having really good experiences in church, lots of fellowshipping from the Relief Society and she just looks so much happier! It's really cool to see the transformation that has happened. So that was like a highlight of a lifetime. Then, Daniel was confirmed and given the gift of the holy ghost in sacrament meeting by Elder Anderson and it was only the most amazing blessing I've ever heard in my life. Talked about how he will be an amazing leader, get married in the temple, have a family, serve to lift and help others as a missionary as he has been lifted and helped... it was literally like a patriarchal blessing and so powerful! I'm so excited to see the great things that Daniel will do in the church and in his life. His testimony at his baptism was really short but really amazing because he said, I was the lowest of low. I didn't think my life a purpose anymore until the missionaries found me and the Book of Mormon and the Church literally saved my life.
Then Monday was...TRANSFER ANNOUNCEMENTS! They do it SO different than Tacloban but it was really fun! We gather as a zone and they announce who's transferring where, who are new companions are, what are responsibilities are and we just clap for each other and are so happy! So Sister Mendoza is transferring! I will definitely miss her though, we're such good friends and I decided yesterday that she really reminds me a TON of Jehee! It's just been a blast and I have learned so much of how to be more diligent and more bold in proclaiming the gospel. Definitely knew that was coming, and Sister Forbush, my new companion gets here tomorrow and I'm so excited! She was in my apartment with me when I stayed in Cebu for a week and she is just so buotan (nice, friendly, basically every good quality). So that's exciting! But a new change that I wasn't expecting which is really sad is even though a lot of people are staying (yay!) our zone is splitting so instead of 12 sisters, we're down to 4! Just my apartment. And the other district in our zone is a little island of Siquijor that just opened up and they can't travel back and forth ever so we basically will never see them! But it's so exciting to see the work continuing to move forward because the members have been working so hard on Siquijor to help it qualify to receive missionaries and right now there is no branch, just a little group that rents out a room ever week but I think it will grow so fast. and we got ANOTHER set of elders in our branch! So it went from 4 missionaries in our area to 10!!! So cool to see such growth. Our area is very progressing and it's really fun to be a part of. 
And Tuesday... Sister Mendoza's Birthday and New Year's Eve and it was the funnest day ever. We had a really good day of work, fed a lot, found some really golden new investigators that we tracted upon and taught on the spot and then that night, since it's dangerous to be out with all the drunk people (it starts early here) and fireworks, we went to the church and watched MONSTERS UNIVERSITY and DESPICABLE ME 2!!! My first movie in 11 months and they were so good!!! We seriously looked like a bunch of 4 year-olds waiting for Santa to come, we were so excited. I don't think a movie could ever be that good ever again. During Monsters University, it was fun sitting next to sister Webber because we both got soooo into in, seriously like the best movie ever! And the Anderson's brought cake and food for their birthdays and we stayed till 10pm and then we were allowed to stay up till 12 to watch the fireworks from our apartments and we got to sleep in this morning!!! all the way to 8...woah, that's huge. I was just laughing because that really is a lot compared to what we're used to but at home, that's so early! It was hilarious because when they told us we got to stay up late and sleep in, we were SO excited then during the movie (before 9) so many people fell asleep and then when we went home, sister Rugg went to bed at 10:30 and woke up at the normal time to do laundry! haha she's hilarious. But we were all so tired even before 10... then do you want to know what I did that last hour of 2013? Sister Webber wanted me and Sister Mendoza to demonstrate teaching the entire restoration in one lesson in Cebuano (it really is quite a feat) so she could see if she could understand it and just how we did it so we could try. We were laughing so hard when she asked us, "Let me get this straight, the night we get to stay up late, you want us to practice teach you an entire lesson?" And we did! Figured it was a good representation of my year in a nut shell. So that's new years for a missionary, SOOOO exciting for us and so... not for normal people. I think it's hilarious.
This week has been really good because all of our investigators are busy so we've just been finding and we've been finding some really prepared people that we taught the full restoration, committed to read, ponder and pray about the Book of Mormon and accepted the invitation to be baptized! That's when I realized that this area, though city and not really beautiful, is really such a good area because 1/5 we talked to, we got to come in and teach a full lesson! That's pretty great! The 2nd lesson is really when you see if they're interested or not but I'm really excited to go back and teach them more. The Lord definitely works in mysterious ways but I can never deny that he is always there. There should be a lot of really good things happening in this area this transfer and I just feel so blessed! Happy New Year! Although the new year is always about reflecting on the past year and making new resolutions, one thing that I learned on my mission that you should never wait to change for the better. We all have things we need to change and improve on and we should recognize those things not just once a year, but everyday! It's called repentance and it's the best thing ever. It's something we need everyday, even for the little things. Love you all!
Sister Pike