HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Here in the PH, Halloween is celebrated very differently. Instead, they celebrate Semana Santa. It's like Day of the Dead. They just go and visit their dead ancestors at the cemetery and there's no school. I'm not sure they do much else. We even had a service project this week at the cemetery in preparation for Semana Santa. We cleaned up some graves and the grounds. Fun fact: most cemeteries and grave-sites in the PH are the above ground kind, not the buried kind. The cemetery looks like a little city of grave houses and towers.
This week was transfer week, but because of the chaos of the storm and the missionaries being all scattered through the mission, very few transfers actually happened. I am still with my companion, Sister Barranco and I am still here in our "temporary" area in Bayombong. I love it here! This is the "cold" part of the mission, and I actually have felt a bit chilly during the nights and mornings here. It's much cooler weather than in Tuguegarao. There are two other sisters assigned here in Bayombong, Sister Wiiri from Kiribati and Sister Ruyeras from Samar (under PH Tacloban Mission, like my anak!). They are usually the only missionaries in the Bayombong branch, but now that we're here, there's four of us. At the start of this week, we split their proselyting area into two; we work in one half and they work in the other. The half they gave us is a part of their area that they haven't spent a lot of time in, which brings adventure for us. We inherited a few investigators from the other sisters, but other than that, we were on our own! It was all so adventurous and exciting. We have spent a lot of time this week tracking down less active members in our new area. I have met so many new people, it makes my head spin! It has been so fun to explore our new area. Every day is an adventure. (Note: There were missionaries assigned in our area before, so it's not like we're the very first missionaries to open the area. We're just reopening it.)
We haven't heard much news about our area in Penablanca. No word on how the people or the ward is doing. I pray for them everyday to feel God's love at this trying time. I pray that they will have the strength to get back on their feet again. We have heard that power has come back in parts of Tuguegarao City and Ilagan, so hopefully it won't be long until the power is also repaired in Penablanca. I want missionaries to get back there as soon as we can so that we can help all the people that need it. President Hiatt will let us know next week what will happen there. I have no idea what will happen. I don't know if we'll just go back to Penablanca, or if one of us will stay in Bayombong, or what... it's all so complicated and makes my head hurt! We'll just see what happens.
This week was good. I won't give you a play by play of every day because every day was the same.....we explored! We walked and walked and talked and talked to everyone that we saw. Each day, we made a list of less actives or investigators that we were going to find that day and we just went around, asking everyone, "do you know so-and-so?" until we found them, and then we taught them. It was fun! Every day was an adventure day.
I just wanted to share a part of this talk that I listened to this week by Elder Holland. It's from a talk given at the Provo MTC in 2000. I wish you could hear him give the talk because his voice has so much emotion and power, but the written talk is just as good. Here it is:
"Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price. It will only be a token, but I believe it has to be paid.
For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,” then little wonder that salvation is not an easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot better asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.
When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
Salvation is not a cheap experience. It takes something from the soul. Missionary work also takes something from the soul. It is so hard, but that's the way it has to be. It is so hard, but it is so wonderful. It is so hard, but I love it so much. It is so hard, but it's the best thing I've ever done. It is so amazing!
I love you all so much. You are always in my prayers. I hope you have a wonderful week and that you each will share some love to someone else this week.
I LOVE YOU!
xo Sister Allen
Sorry there are no pictures. I'm in a kind of sketchy internet shop and I'm scared to plug my camera into the computer. I don't want all my pictures to get deleted again! We'll do our emails in a better internet shop next week so that I can send you some pictures. :)