Monday, March 14, 2016

At Zone Conference 

Mahal ko kayo!

Sometimes, being here doesn't feel real.  It feels like a dream.  I feel like a Disney princess sometimes (hehe).  I am the only blondish, white American girl for miles around in this little Asian city and I am constantly surrounded by new and interesting things.  I feel kind of like an alien here.  People are always staring and me and (trying) to speak in English to me.  Things like, "hello, madam!" or "what's your name?" and "hello America!" (that's my favorite one haha)  are said to me a lot.  They're always surprised when I answer them in Tagalog.  It's fun especially to talk to the little kids in Tagalog.  When they see me, they always shout, "Amerikana! Amerikana!"  and I look around and say, "saan?!" (That means "where?!")  That makes them - and me - laugh.  I stick out like a sore thumb here.  But, as a missionary, it's sometimes helpful!  People often times approach us, and then we get an opportunity to share the gospel with them.

This week was a good week here in the great Philippines Cauayan Mission.  I really do love it here in the Philippines.  It's such an amazing place.  Here are some facts for you:  The Philippines was colonized by the Spanish for many years.  Because of that, there's a lot of Spanish-Asian mix of culture, language, and even religion.  Because of the Spanish influence here, the Philippines is the only prominently Christian Asian country.  Everyone here has heard of and knows about Jesus Christ, unlike other Asian countries.  That is a blessing for us as missionaries!  People are ready to accept the fulness of the gospel of Christ because they already have pieces of it, and most people have a solid Christian background.  All we have to do it fill in the missing pieces: the Restoration, priesthood, temples, etc. 

The entire Philippines Cauayan Mission is doing a Book of Mormon reading challenge.  We are all reading the Book of Mormon in 60 days!  Ah!  (I think I've told you a little bit about it, but I want to tell you more.)  While we speed read, we do three things:  1) Mark every time the Savior is mentioned - Lord, Jesus Christ, He, Him, the good shepherd etc. 2) Highlight in one color all the words that the Savior speaks, like when it says "thus saith the Lord:..." and 3) Highlight in a different color all of the scriptures that relate to the mission of the Savior - His birth, atonement, baptism, crucifixion, etc.  It's so great to do the reading challenge.  I love it!  I am a little bit behind....but I am trying to catch up.  We are already in Alma!  It's really fun to look for signs of the Savior as I read.  I never realized how much of Him was in the Book of Mormon.  The Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ.  It testifies of Him on every page.  I read recently  (I don't remember where or who said it) that without the Book of Mormon, we would know little about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  As I have been doing the reading challenge, I know that that is true.  There is so much about the Atonement of Jesus Christ within it's pages. 

It has been a pretty good week.  I started this week to write in my planner each day a "personal goal of the day" and a "miracle of the day."  It's been really fun.  There are usually multiple miracles!  It's fun to look back at the week and look at all the great things that have happened.  Making personal goals every day helps me to be more self aware.  It also helps me to focus more during the day on improving one thing at a time.  It's been helpful and eye-opening.  I have never been more aware of my weaknesses than here in the mission.  I know that weaknesses are given to us to help us grow and become strong.  I want to work on humbling myself so that I can learn to overcome my weaknesses.  Making a "personal goal of the day" is helping me do that.

I am doing well.  I am learning more about the gospel every single day and, of course, am learning to speak more Tagalog every day too!  It's really fun to speak in a new language.  I definitely know that the gift of tongues is true.  I feel like the language has just come to me; it's so awesome!  Of course, I study and learn more each day too.  I also help my companions study English.  That's actually pretty fun.  

Our area is doing well.  Nicole is still coming to church and progressing - reading and praying every day.  We have yet to set a baptismal date, but that is our goal this week!  I'll let you know how it goes.  She is so wonderful.  She really has been prepared to hear the glad tidings of the gospel.  Our area is doing okay as well.  I feel like we are kind of it a rut.  We have so many investigators, but none of them come to church, so none of them are progressing.  It's really hard to help investigators come to church.  But, I know they have their agency.  We can only do so much.  That being said, I want to do as much as I can to help them.  In our area, I want to do more lessons and invitations to help people make the decision to come to church.  That, I would say, is our biggest struggle right now. 

Our companionship is doing better.  We are still here, still working hard, and still trying to improve in our work.  Training is really good.  Sister Recano has opened up a lot more with us.  She was very quiet at first and didn't say much.  But now, most of the time she doesn't stop talking!  It's actually been a great change.  She is finally letting her light shine for all to see!  I can see her confidence in missionary work growing day by day.  

I love you all so much!  Thank you for all your prayers and all of your good vibes.  I can feel them every day, lifting me and strengthening me. 

xo Anna 

At Zone Conference.

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