Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Come, Become

Dear Family,
Merry Christmas, Malipayong Pasko, and Mele Kelikimaka!

This past week, we’ve been really trying to help all these less actives again, and so we’ve taught so many lessons about Christmas and coming to Jesus Christ. I think I shared a different scripture in each of these lessons- a story of Jesus Christ, or people who followed him, or his words to a prophet, but each one came back to the same thing. Repent and come to him. For some, we needed to remind them to be baptized, to walk in his way. Christ asks us to come.

On Christmas, after skyping (!- I love you all), we went to the tiny hospital in Sibonga- I didn’t even know it was a hospital until I looked at the Elders’ area map. We brought some little treats and pictures of Christ to give to people and visit. There were only two wards, with two patients each, so we didn't change the world. But the little boy with dehydration, the young mother whose eyes couldn't leave her son, the two families with sick grandmothers- I think maybe, we changed their worlds a little. One of the families asked if we would pray with them. I don't think I've ever seen someone so clearly in the way that the Lord sees them as I could see that grandmother. She was beautiful and so sick and her family and Heavenly Father love her, and I could say it all in Visaya. He loves us all so much. We went to the less actives' homes- we had Brother Ordeniza join even though he hadn't faced missionaries in over a year. These miracles come, and we can't really make them happen, but they come anyway. We also gathered up on top of the mountain with two of our returning less active families, and half the branch. The simple table was over flowing with food and all of us were well fed in every way this Christmas.

Earlier this week, we stopped by a less actives house- Sister Marlo Cabije. I've stopped by every week during my time in Sibonga and taught once because she avoids us so much. She used to be one of the most active members of this branch, so we were always so sad. This week, we had to talk to her, and work for it, but she allowed us to teach, and as we spoke, she finally opened up about her weaknesses, the trials and temptations in her life, the times she's fallen, and her lack of hope. I'm awed by the calling of a missionary. I'm 19 and I really cannot empathize with Sister Marlo, mother of 10 children, living on top of a mountain, surrounded by persecution. But I represent the Savior Jesus Christ and he lived and died and lives for times such as those, for people like Marlo Cabije. She took the first step that day and prayed to her Father. I couldn't help but crying as the Spirit told the three of us how much He loves her. 

That's Christmas for me- that we can be clean, no matter what we did, that we can pray to Him, that we can come to him, and that through Him, we are changed. We become. My hope is that this Christmas, we all became a little more, and that we resolve to do the same next year. Come to Him, become more- become sanctified, become clean, become whole.

I know with all my heart that God loves us. That's the message we carry, that's the message we live. Just as in 3 Nephi 1, we must lift up our heads and rejoice in Christ.
I love you all!

Sister Josie Tueller 

Christmas presents to the Ordeniza family

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Devotional/Party Pictures

Sakit ang pag ngisi!

Here’s a Visaya phrase that I’ve heard and used quite a few times this week: “ The smiling hurts!” It’s been such a good week, with lots of reasons to smile. Also, lots has happened.

First, on Thursday night, we got a call from our Zone Leaders to pack our things and move houses. The Elders in our area have been moved to different areas, and so Sister Kalonihea and I are covering the whole Sibonga area. We also had to move into their house and do lots of cleaning there- that took up our whole Friday. It was good to do something that gets done- I can bleach a bathroom, sweep a floor. We also had a really cool miracle that day. We had to go to CarCar to get cleaning supplies, and we really just wanted to be doing missionary work. As we were waiting to sakay back to our new house, a white man and a Filipino family was waiting there as well- this is fairly typical. The man kept looking over at us, but it’s rare enough to see an American girl- I’m used to the stares. However, he then came and said “Missionaries!” We talked a little- he’s a German member from England, he and his Filipina wife were baptized four years ago there. After three sentences though, he says “We have a referral for you.” They’d been looking for missionaries, trying to send referrals to go visit his wife Jennifer’s family. It’s not even our area- but it showed me that the Lord puts us in the right place, even if it’s just at the grocery store to buy a mop. And they went to church in CarCar on Sunday! Smiles all around!

Thank you so much for your prayers for our people here. Guess who came to church? Brother Redoblado! We’ve been really looking for priesthood to come back to church and he came and I almost couldn’t believe it but I was so excited. We also had another less active family return: the Caballes family.

On Saturday night, the second counselor texted us and invited us to come to the Family Home evening with the Caballes family in a reactivation effort that the branch had planned all by themselves! The Caballes family was once very active, and we’ve visited them a couple of times, and felt very hopeful about them keeping their commitments to come to church, but they haven’t come while we’ve been here. We had to hike up to their house- it's almost on the top of the mountain, but they were all there! We had a family home evening, and even got the Lolo and Lola to join. For our activity, we played a game where you have to say fruit names without showing your teeth, or smiling or laughing- so you take your lips and put them over your teeth, but you can't help but laugh. Try it some time. So my face hurt a lot. But then, they prayed together as a family, and I had to smile more. They are going to be such great leaders for this branch.

Other blessings: we didn't know our area at all- but we had some of the YSA women work with us. Liezel is 23 and we've been helping her with her mission papers- she's a light. Maricar is 18, a senior in high school, and she and her grandma are the only active members- but she's so good! We had so much fun, and we got to meet so many less actives.

On Monday, I smiled all day long- not that I don't everyday, but it was that beautiful kind of hurting smiling. We had our Christmas devotional and talent show in the city with 3 other zones. The talent show in the afternoon was so fun, and funny and it was amazing to see talents that you never would have expected- a small quiet Elder who sounds exactly like Frank Sinatra, a whole zone coming together and rapping- all sorts of fun. But the morning was even better. For an hour, we simply heard the words of the scriptures, from the Book of Mormon and the Bible- about Christ and we sang the songs of Christmas. 

I know that he lives. I know he supports us through anything. I testify that he is the Savior of the world and through him we can become so much more. This Christmas, I get to dedicate completely to my Redeemer- but for the rest of my life, and for all of us, our whole lives must become consecrated to him. In every action, we must remember him. I love you all so much! I know God has a plan and mostly, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loves us all even more than we can understand.

Malipayong Pasko! And lots of love,
Sister Tueller

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Maayong Hapon!

Dear Everyone,

First! News: I have a new companion here in Sibonga. Sister Kalonihea is Tongan, but she’s from New Zealand. She’s a transfer behind me, and she’s from Tacloban mission, transferred to Cebu mission for now. She’s ready for anything and so happy to serve the Lord- it’s contagious. Sibonga needs her creativity and fun spirit! It’s always an adventure in Sibonga, but I’m feeling so hopeful about what will happen for the rest of this transfer.

Sister Harris and I were in the city at the Temple Complex on Friday and there were so many members there from so far away- from Ilo Ilo, and from Tacloban and from Mindanao. I got to talk to so many of them, and every single one of them was so happy to talk to a missionary. It was an incredible time where I got to see a bigger glimpse of how much I’ve become Sister Tueller- how much I’ve become who they see- that loving, caring sister who desires to serve the Lord.  And now I keep becoming more!!

Highlights of this week, because we’re low on time:

District CSP- We hiked into the bukid, and kept walking and walking forever- or one hour! Sister K really is up for anything- so much fun. And then the people weren’t even there! But they showed up eventually, and we cut down trees and pulled weeds, and maybe next month, we’ll go plant banana trees in the place we cleared. Even though it was far, and maybe not the best use of time, doing something useful for someone- tangibly- was so great. And we go anywhere, do anything with faith.

-JoAnn- she’s someone we walked by last week, and the Spirit told me that we had to talk to her, so I turned around and we talked to her and taught her a lesson- and she’s looking for something more. Her brother apparently served an LDS mission, but she’s lost track of him. She and her husband and their four kids are incredibly poor, and last time, we prayed that JoAnn would be able to find a job. This  week, when we went back to teach them- she’d just arrived home from work, selling things by the school. She said she’d worried that we wouldn’t come back, especially when she couldn’t come to church because her children had fevers. But she prayed that she’d be able to come this week-and I know Heavenly Father wants to answer that prayer.

-Brother Redoblado, a less active. Oh my goodness. We’ve gone by his house almost every Sunday for the past transfer because he lives on the way to one of our investigator/recent convert/Less active families, but he’s never been there. Sometimes, his family would be there, drinking, and so we didn’t feel super optimistic about him. But
this Sunday, the drinking family told us to go up to his house on the ledge. So we climbed some  pretty steep parts, and got to his house. He was smoking when we came, but put it out on the tree, pulled up a bench, and told us thank you, so many times for coming- he told us about the happiness and unity that he’d felt in his family when the missionaries visited years ago. He committed in his prayer to come to church- so pray for him please!

Also, I have been a missionary for more than 6 months now. That’s strange- and now everyday of my mission is the last “Dec  12” as a missionary. It’s gone way too fast, so it’s a good thing I have another year left!

I’ve learned how to rely on my Savior. My God has a plan for me, and he helps me fulfill it. This missionary work is so important right now. Everyone needs to be given a chance to accept or reject this gospel- and so many people need it now. That’s the call of the prophet now. So all of you, find a small way to share the gospel. If you pray and ask for a way, God will give one to you! Promise, for sure. I know this church is true. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that  he stands beside us. I know that families can be together forever- and I love you all!

Nasayud pod ko nga ang Dios naa siyay plano sa atong tanan- usa ka plano sa gugma ug kalinaw ug hingpit nga kalipay.

Much love,
Sister Tueller

Monday, December 9, 2013

Standing Up from our Rocks

Dear family, friends, everyone,

Merry Christmas! I'm finally allowing myself to go with it- we've been hearing Christmas songs since September 1. Not even joking. But now Christmas is in full swing. One of our neighbors has their entire house covered in Christmas lights, and they blast Christmas music at all hours. Last week, they were playing that one that Dad likes- with the steel drum: Trumpets sound, angels sing, a new king born today. But men will live forever more, because of Christmas day. I thought I was the only one who'd ever heard that song, but the party house in Sibonga, Center Poblacion has also got it. We also bought a little mini fake Christmas tree, so our Filipino house has some Christmas flavor.

It's been a week. I told you about how we had those days of lots of dropped appointments. That didn't stop this week. We're not really sure what happened, but our investigators and less actives keep dropping us. A lot of them are these women who were baptized when they were 16, and then got married, and their husbands don't approve and so to protect their children, they can't come to church. I can't do much about this. 

But my revelation for Sibonga is that we need to see the miracles everyday. They are there every single day, probably more because I've needed them more this week. Often, these are miracles for the day. Like Carrie Davis. When Sister Harris and Sister Prasad our Sister training leader went back on Friday, she hid, and then proceeded to slam the door in their face. The week's been going a little bit like that. But we keep going. The Lord keeps teaching me about endurance. That's the point. 

Some miracles: - We had a really successful missionary fireside. Quite a few members came, and these cute old ladies cooked for us, and we almost had a literal fireside (we were cooking at the firepit in the back of the church) and it started an hour late, but it was so good. I love these people so much, even when they don't do all the things I'd like them too. Sister Reyes started giving an impromptu speech when I asked her to pray, and when I reminded her to bless the food- she apparently decided that she needed to bless over it. She just marches to her own beat :)

-Splits with Sister Prasad: She was so helpful. Also, we found some more problems, but that's okay. We're working on them. Apparently, some of the things with our house- like our "roughing it" bathroom are cause for concern. I'm a little naive about these things, but we're getting things fixed.

-Sunday: We had an investigator at church! Actually 6! But one says she'll never join the church, and one lives an hour away and we're not allowed to go to her area, and one I didn't even know, but then 3 of them are so special. Brenda and Reina. I hope you've heard about them. We found them just walking by, but their Dad is a member, and they went to church as kids. We've been working so hard to get them to come, and they didn't last week and I'd almost given up on them. But with 10 minutes left in sacrament meeting, these three young adult girls walk in. I couldn't stop beaming. Even though all our members were giving strange testimonies. Brenda wants to progress. I'm so happy.

- Monday- this was a hard day. I'm learning to not take too much on to myself. And sometimes, I'm really self critical. We had to take some moments and just breathe. But in the evening, it was so wonderful. We taught the Gonzales family at a FHE, and managed to get their very shy 20- year son participating and we're so grateful. We also played a game called Peter, James, John- it's like zoo, or consecration, or those games. You all might know that I'm really bad at them. But I was somehow really good. Small tiny blessing. And it's really funny when you're bad. 

-Yesterday. What a day. In the middle of the day, after 5 dropped appointments, Sister Harris sat down on a rock, I sat next to her and she cried and I tried not to. This thing isn't easy. But I'm so grateful. I'm given so much strength. We saw a man, and the spirit told me that it was Brother Benjamin Fernandez, who we'd been looking for since our first week. He ran away, but it's definitely him. We'll go back :) Family, it wasn't easy to get off our rock (even though it smelled bad and a chicken tried to peck me). But when we can get off our rocks, that's when miracles comes. 

We went to another neighborhood, actually, we rode a little scooter up a mountain- the two of us, to Elina Machang's house. She was baptized in the city, and moved here years ago, and we met her at our favorite bake shop. She's incredible. And we can't go to her all the time, but Elina needed us yesterday. And probably more so, I needed Elina.

I know that God loves us and is with us! I love you all so much! He lives and we live because of him. Trust in his plan, and in his trust in you!

Love, daghan, usa ka libo,
Sister Tueller

Nut cups in the Philippines!

Our fireside

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


 We named him Harrison. He loves me.

Oh kanding. Daghan salamat!

So I know you all like kandings (goats). I don't have good pictures, because the cute ones keep running away from me. But here's a very typical conversation:
(First, we see one of our brother friends who says Amiga! or Your nose is long. Or maybe we see a caribou pooping or the bread truck- like an ice cream truck, complete with annoying music, but bread, and not a truck- a little bike or something else of the "more fun in Philippines variety")
Me: "Oh dear." That's about all I can say, all the time. That, and laughing uncontrollably.
Sister Harris: "Nope, OH KANDING!"

If we haven't already been laughing, that's when it happens. Sibonga's a fun place.

This week, I'm grateful for you all! Always, but especially tomorrow. We're trying to figure out what will be happening for the two American girls in Sibonga- but definitely some thankful turkeys, and my surprise for Sister Harris will be nut cups. I wish some pies were happening, but we have no often. It's alright. I'm thankful gihapon. Maybe you can all say what you "pasalamat" for . like : Nagpasalamat ko para  . .. ( I am thankful for . . .)  That would be fun!

But even more so, it's been a week of miracles. We're starting our new transfer off right. 
First: Sunday. It's always a little hit or miss, and waiting to see if Sacrament meeting will start on time is more tense than any movie I've ever seen. And next week, it will start on time. Hopefully. But we had a wonderful lesson by our Branch president, Pres. Torres. He's got a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, but he's so competent. I love competent people. And his wife Cherly taught Relief Society. She reminds me of Mom. I'm not sure why- probably because she's the best and knows how to lead with love. She managed to commit all of our RS sisters to invite a less active to our activity on Saturday night. And after church, she came with us to find a less active who lives in the most bukid, out there area that I've been to yet.

We walked at a 60 degree angle- and that was on the switch backs. So crazy. I don't know how our 60 year old less active Lisa, or her many grandchildren get up there. They are the poorest famliy I've seen yet. They had no chairs or anything for us to sit on. The children were playing with some dirt and a stick. But Sister Harris gave them little monkeys and I have never seen happier children. Even though we were so tired, we turned around and saw those children, and then the view. A picture won't do it justice. Even me describing it. But it's what heaven looks like. Heavenly Father was just telling us to keep going. 

That night, we taught some of my favorite less active families. They live so far away, but they come to church every week as long as they have food- they just shared with us their stories of reactivation and I got to see a little bit of my role here.

I'm working on that- seeing my self as God sees me. I've learned a little bit of that for other people through this service, but I need to see myself that way- then I can perfectly know what I need to work on, and what i've done well.

Then yesterday was crazy. We'd had a couple of days of dropped appointments. People were even home, they just didn't want to visit with us. But we kept walking and trying. Those prayers keep working. We were walking back from checking if maybe someone had gotten home in the time we'd been away- but in that day, it wasn't happening. We finally had to give up and just pray for what the Lord wanted us to be doing. We stopped by a little tindahan and faced the ocean and just prayed. We finished, started walking, and 10 steps later, the Spirit told us to go to this house. (Back story: we stopped at this house on our talk to everyone day! But they were busy, and I wrote down their name in a really strange place in my planner that I didn't find til the next week. And I wrote "Harry Davis" which is not a Filipino name, and I couldn't figure out who this was. Harry Davis has been our joke for the past two weeks.) We "ayo"ed and I realized that this is Harry Davis's house. And a lovely woman comes out and tells us to come in. Her name is Carrie Davis. Not Harry.

Carrie is amazing. She asked us to pray for her to have strength to know that her recently deceased husband is in a better place. Her one question for us was "Why are there things missing from the Bible? Why are there so many different interpretations?" And also about her husband. She's been searching for answers for so long, and she could not stop thanking me for my two sentences about the Apostasy. She prayed, and cried and promised to Heavenly Father that she can be strong with our help. I don't even know how, but I just thank Heavenly Father for our dear fried Carrie. Nagpasalamat ko para sa iya!

I love you all so much. The Spirit is the hugest blessing- don't let anything take away from that. I love this gospel- please follow his path as much as you can. I'm so grateful for all of you. I'm amazed everyday that I got such a loving, intelligent, charitable, concerned family and friend group.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Until next time in the life of Sister Tueller,

Love you all
Sister Josie Tueller

Sa mga tawo!

First, we're not transferring! There are some crazy transfers going on in the mission because we got missionaries from Tacloban, and we got missionaries who would have been going there, plus the missionaries in the MTC. But the Lord needs us here. So Sibonga for Christmas!

Second, daghan salamat for my package! Our apartment now smells like taco seasoning. Every child in the Philippines thinks that "damang" or spider rings are really cool. Thank you for your letters, and Halloween crafts, and I love you all so much. Halloween in Hawaii sounds fantastic.

For this week, I thought I'd tell you about some people, old and new. It's been a busy transfer, with details to tell you every week about our adventures, so I haven't gotten into details about our friends here. There's lots of them, but here are a few of the highlights of this week.

1: Our nanay! The owner of our house is also the Relief Society President- Erlinda Reyes. Everyone in this town knows where we live, because they all know her. When we got here, she was running for baranggay councilor, but she didn't tell us- we didn't find out until there was a big campaign sign on our shared gate. She's a sneaky lady. She loves to spoil the missionaries- but "it's not spoiling, it's loving." Nay is a retired teacher so she speaks English and she has the best phrases. We have fun imitating her calling her grandchildren when she's angry or when she's very happy with them.She told a story in sacrament meeting about a "itsy bitsy rain cloud"- also, a story that supposedly came from the Bible but I can't find it. She embodies following her own path.:) ALso, she thinks you are all very beautiful.
But we're also working with her getting her patriarchal blessing! I love the opportunities that I get in working with less actives to see those further steps in the gospel. 

2: Kristin! I think I maybe told you about her- she came up to us in the Plaza and started asking about our religion, and she told us she'd been reading the Book of Mormon. Kristin loves to "chica" and talk in English so we have these really interesting lessons of her internet learned slang English, but trying really hard to talk about the Spirit.  I think she was maybe just confused because she wasn't reading the Book of Mormon- but she is now. She was sick this week and couldn't come to church. We had a little mini miracle when we went by her house and she wasn't there, but we took a way we usually don't go, and she was coming back on that road. The Spirit is just so good.

3: Nina. This is a sad story- you've been warned. Sister is the half daughter of a returning member, but she lives with her mom in the next baranggay. She's a 20 year old programming student, and the gospel has truly changed her. She's really tough and kind of a fighter, but she's learned true charity. It's hard to get to teach her, and her baptism date won't be going through because she doesn't always come to church- there are problems with her mom. We were so worried about telling her about the delay, but the Spirit made it all okay. it just works. I don't know how, and it turns our better than I ever could have imagined. Just pray for her.

- LakLak might not be a story yet. We were walking home and a man on a Habal habal asked where we were going. (this is a super normal event, and I just say- this way, go away, don't talk to the beautiful American girls). But he was really sad that we weren't going in his direction. He told us to come back next week at 2:30 because he wants to be taught! So of course, we went back. We couldn't find his house for a little, but guess who comes out of his house and invites us in? LakLak! We actually had to go back later because he was the only one home, and we taught his wife only later, but they're so elect!

Miracle of the week:
-The same day as LakLak, we had a referral we wanted to contact. Brother Nathanael- who wasn't really a referral. His mom met us and said he might be interested, but maybe just in the Utah Jazz. Somehow, I lost their last name, but we were going to find him. Also, we had some people we'd set a return appointment with, but I didn't write their name either. I'm obviously a little bit inadequate. But the Lord makes it okay. I was praying for a way to find them. When we walked past, guess who's sitting there? Both Nathanael's mom, and the other sister- talking to each other!. Are they actually interested? Maybe. They want to read the Book of Mormon. Mostly, the Lord was showing me that he loves me.

He takes our little effort and makes them enough. There are people here who he's been preparing- we just have to keep trying and working, and even when we mess up and don't write down their names, or when I can't communicate in Visaya to greatness of this gospel, somehow, he makes it okay. I love these people so much. The blessing of charity is incredible. That's what motivates us here. Pray for charity, all of you. And the Lord will give freely. 

Fear not, trust in him, he loves you so much and has an incredible specific plan. I learn that a little bit more each day.

So much love,
Sister Tueller

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I think maybe I have something to learn about calamaties

So we've been given some time to tell you all that we're safe.
We're in the middle of an interesting day- we've been assigned to go around to the less actives in our area and evaluate the damage to their homes to know how the church can help them. 

I don't know how much you all were keeping up on the news, but yesterday we had a super typhoon- I can't tell you much more because I get my news from random people sitting on the side of the street who heard it from someone else, or from our members who heard it from an even further source. But definitely, there was a baguio yesterday. On Thursday night, we had to come home at 5 for safety. Yesterday, when we woke up, we didn't have power, and it flicked a couple of times through out the day, but mostly, we just didn't have power. The sky was eerily dark, and the wind literally was howling outside. 

Yesterday, we stayed in the house until about 7, when it had calmed down, but we went to check on the members who'd evacuated to the church. It was a truly incredible experience, to really do as Christ would have done- to bring courage and faith to people who couldn't have their own. It seems like everyone's okay now, but last night, I truly felt somehow, Christ was handing us some light and love to give to these people.

The gospel's so true, my dear family and friends. I love you all so much. He's with us every minute. You all know me, that in my life, I fear. But in the face of a super typhoon, in his service, I didn't have to fear. He lifts us and strengthens us and all we really have to do is follow him. Today, I get to help people with their houses, and tomorrow and for the next 13 months, I get to help these people with their homes, here and in heaven. I am incredibly grateful for that blessing.

So much love (and thank you for your  prayers!!)
Sister Josie Tueller

Mga nakita nako!

Rough translation: the things I've seen. It's a thing I've found myself praying for this week, being grateful mostly for the miracles seen, or the growth seen, or the progress or something like that.  And we'e seen some pretty cool things this week.

Last Wednesday, we went to follow up on a street contact, and we weren't thinking much of it because people tell us we can come back all the time and then it isn't een their house or no one's home or something. And it wasn't Brother Lio's house, but when we approached the house, the nanay called us in and started talking with us. We started teaching her a lesson and she asked how she can join our church! We'd been working on extending baptismal invitations earlier, so that was a nice nudge from Heavenly Father. Andrea said she'd think about it. The Lord knows what will happen with her, but I certainly don't.

We had some more training this week, which I always love. It's crazy to see how many missionaries are still in training, and how young our mission is. At the moment, it makes us work harder and be better so that we can really teach the level of more experienced missionaries. And as we get older in the mission, there's going to be this incredible force of really prepared serants of the Lord.

Random side note: the "v" key on this keyboard only works sometimes, so we'll see what happens. If it's spelled wrong, put that letter in and see if it makes more sense that way.

There's news about a possible storm, but it's supposed to pass by us, so pray, but don't worry too much. 

Friday ,Saturday and Sunday were "All Soul's Day" here, which apparently means that eeryone is drunk. So they're at home, but not teachable. Een some less acties, which is discouraging. Two of those days we went up into the mountains. Like the mountains! Some kids of a member guided us up this little mountain shortcut. I needed to use all my hiking skills and I still was left wishing that I had mountain goat hoofs. But we found some less acties who hadn't been isited (see look!) since the 90's, and who don't really want to come back to church, but we told them that God loes them. On Sunday though, we found another less actie who's wonderful. I asked her what she needed to do to build her faith in God, and she said "come to church." So we asked her to come to church for the first time this year, and she said "Sure!" After that, it's not hard to teach! That's Jhonna Mae.

And Sister JeeJee! She really wants to come back to church, there are some barriers, like her husband's family, but they're building their own house, and hopefully , we can help them build their house, and their faith.

Or Sister Marlo! We taught her yesterday after going to her house twice a week for the past month and neer meeting her. She lost her Book of Mormon and didn't know how to get another and almost cried when I had one in my bag (The Spirit is the best). Her friend asked me why we're called Mormons, and Marlo basically taught her a lesson about the Book of Mormon and why we hae to read it. I'm sure there are concerns besides a lost Book of Mormon since she hasn't been to church in 3 years, but I know the Lord was preparing her.

This is the work I want to be doing here in Sibonga. They need some loe and encouragement. This has been a branch for over 20 years, and eery year, people are baptized, and somehow, they, or someone else, is falling out. There's so much potential. This week at church, we had 41 people attend, which is the highest in the past little while! Not really through anything we all did, but the Lord's putting his hand out in Sibonga as long as we're being obedient and faithful. At one point, just last year, attendance was up to 70, so we're finding those other ones. 

We did finally get to go to church! and the church is still the same. It's still true, in my ward in Laie, or in Oak Hills, or here in a house in Sibonga. There are some differences, like interesting tempos to music created by a 13 year old pianist, or the fact that we are the permanent back up teacher, but it's all true, it's all good, it's all light. It's edifying. 

This week, I'e wanted to see the miracles. I'm learning that as we ask for miracles, we're showing our faith, and then our faith is built when we recognize them. So all of those- miracles! When I go to my study with a question, there's a answer-Miracle! If I go without a question, I still get reelation, but I don't get to recognize a miracle. As long as I look, they're there! God's looking out for us. That's what I'm seeing this week.

Nahigugma ko ninyo! Labaw sa mga bituon or mga balod, bisan layo pa mo, daghan gugma sa inyoha!

Sister Tueller

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Abi nimo nga abi nako nga . . .

Here's a weird Visaya phrase for you all. Abi nako means something to the effect of "I thought that" and Abi nimo strangely means "I'll have you know" - so I'll have you all know what I was thinking this week- because I had a lot of time for thinking!
First, to finish last week. We were having Zone interviews, during the earthquake- but they're a story all in themselves. We'd had a couple of adjusting days here, and it was just what I needed. I got to talk to President Schmutz, and really feel his confidence in me, but more importantly, the Lord's trust and love for me. He gave me some incredible promises about this area- so we're going to work hard for Sibonga branch, and inviting everyone to come to Christ! I know I'm called at this time, with Sister Harris, here in Sibonga because it's the Lord's plan. I'm already seeing little bits of how he's prepared me for this- and I love that my companion and I are somehow distantly related!

And we have this area that's really bukid (out there) but there's a couple of wonderful families who were brought back by missionaries last year or so, and they have all sorts of investigator relatives. We had two dinner appointments, extended some baptismal invitations, taught lessons in some really deep Visaya, and rode a habal-habal down a mountain! Good stuff. I love the Philippines. It's more fun here.

Now for this week: it's been another big one. Thursday and Friday, we managed to do some really good work. We did a lot of tracting, which is something I haven't done much yet on my mission, so that's always fun. Thursday yielded some real miracles- like meeting some members, even though many weren't at their house, and some really kind people who let us teach them. Also, one named Jolly B. Really. She almost became a nun, but became disenchanted with the bureaucracy, and wants to follow Christ. Right before we came, she had decided to forgive someone she'd held a grudge against for a long time, and she took that as her sign and answer that we're representatives of Jesus Christ. I won't argue with that one.

Friday was more of a day where you walk and talk to lots of people, and don't find "them that will receive you." But I felt so happy. I did all I could to serve the Lord and find His children and it was great. 

In other news, this week, every missionary in Cebu and Cebu East mission is going to the city because Elder Neil L. Anderson is coming to speak to us. This missionary's very excited.

That's it for this week- some thoughts of my heart: Trust in the Lord. He's looking out for us. Don't become spiritually blind. Yield yourself to him.

Love you all,
Sister Tueller

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Power of God!

Dear family,

This has been an absolutely crazy week. Like crazy.

First and foremost, we are safe. You probably all know more than I do about the earthquake, but we're all doing well here. We were in a zone training meeting in the chapel in CarCar, so we were with Pres. and Sister Schmutz, and all the missionaries in our zone were together. It really was pretty strong, and we all ran outside of the chapel together- you could see everyone running sort of sideways, and things shaking. But in 15 minutes, we just went back into the building and had our meetings. There were some aftershocks, during our meeting, until now- like right now, there was just a little one. It kind of feels like a really big loud truck driving right next to you for a minute. Apparently, everyone here is safe and doing well. We don't have much news at the moment, but it feels entirely normal.  I guess after a 10 days with a flood and earthquake, nothing else is going to phase me!

Now for more stories: I am training Sister Harris, who is 19 from Ogden, Utah. We're doing great here- I think I gave her the craziest first week possible, but the Lord's helping us lots.

After emailing you all last week, we took our 6 hour boat ride, and then more transportation and then staying in one of the city sisters' apartments. I stayed in a different apartment than Sister Yanga, and from that moment on, because I needed to, my Visaya got to a point that it needed to. It's been incredible. The Lord truly will qualify us to our calls.

On Thursday morning, we went to the mission home and were trained as trainers. There are 5 other missionaries who've been called to train straight out of training- most of them Filipina, but one other American sister. Then we went and met our anaks! It was strange to sit in that meeting and reflect on that time less than 3 months ago. I'm truly different than I was then, and that's great.

We spent a lot of time traveling to Sibonga- and I loved going through Baranggay Vallodolid on our way. There are many old time Spanish houses here, and we're going to spend a lot of times tracting those big houses. 

The Zone Leaders came with us to check our house, and I'm glad they did. We got there and while we had a table and chairs and a bunk bed frame, otherwise, we had nothing. So they quickly went to CarCar and carried mattresses on their heads on a jeepney for us to sleep on that night. And the next day, they went into the city and bought things. We're functioning without a refrigerator or desks or dressers at this point, but we're living well. We got a stove and lots of cleaning supplies, so life is good. 
On Friday night, we walked around and tried to find some places in the area, and had some little miracles- we found a less active as the first person we talked to, and we ran into the only returned missionary in the branch who's now worked with us twice.

Then on Saturday and Sunday, we traveled 1.5 hours away to go to Talisay for general conference. It went by way too fast, but I love to hear the words of our prophets. This church is so incredibly true. More thoughts next week.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I thought I knew something about rain- Also Anak!

Dear family,

Warning: this is going to be a crazy email. Apologies for any missing parts- I'll fill in things next week. Also, apologies to everyone I can't reply to- next week I promise!

Last week, I wrote to you about rain. I didn't know anything about rain then. It continued to rain for the next 3 days, straight. I spent 3 days soaking wet, and still smiling. And here's the really exciting part. On Sunday morning, we woke up, and Sister Yanga yells from the bathroom "There's no power!," which isn't that uncommon, and so I went to grab my flashlight for her. We opened the front door, and instead of the little dirt road next to our house, we had a river, which was slowly becoming more of a flowing lake. We took pictures, went back inside, and lit some candles. But the water kept creeping up, closer to our door, so our Zone Leaders came to get us and take us to the chapel. We walked through the knee deep water. (I promise- pictures next week- but it was crazy!) Some guy was taking pictures of the crazy American girls. We then stayed at the chapel almost all day. In some places of Bayawan, the water rose more than 8 feet. The Elders got to go out and help people and bring some kids to the chapel. Mostly, we spent the day reading scriptures, talking to members, singing hymns, and just waiting. It was a weird day as a missionary. We went back to our apartment where there was a centimeter of mud on the ground, so the Elders helped us clean for about 2 hours, and then on Monday, some of the ward members finished it for us. It's sparkling now. 

Then Monday, we almost couldn't get through on the bus to district meeting, and we still didn't have power, or cell phone service. But then we got through! ( We went through some water, and next to some completely flooded rice fields) And we got to go to district meeting and meet the couple missionary who has come here, and we were supposed to get transfer calls- but we didn't because of no cell phone service. When we got back to Bayawan, we stopped by the chapel, and the members there were assembling food and rice and some candles to distribute to members. We got to be the ones to deliver that relief to people, along with the Elders here. Everyone is mostly okay- some flooding, but nothing too bad.  IN the evening, we went to the city hall where evacuees were staying and got to see some inactive members and give them blankets and food. I can't really describe that experience adequately, but there were lots of almost tears.

And don't worry, I didn't forget about transfer calls. We did get them eventually. Big crazy, scary news. I need your prayers more than ever this week. I'm leaving Bayawan, opening an area for sisters, and training a new missionary. I'll meet her tomorrow, and we're in Dumaguete right now, leaving soon for Cebu. (Sister Yanga is also training again, and she and Sister Rugg and the new missionary will be staying in Bayawan.) My new area is on Cebu, in the south- Sibonga. I don't know anything about it yet, but I guess I'll find out this next week. Somehow, the two of us are going to navigate the city, with my limited Visaya, and whatever she has, and we'll do some missionary work. "Faith not Fear" is all I can say at this point. I'm so humbled by this assignment, and I'm going to keep being humbled. But I know it's from the Lord, and he'll uplift me and help me on my path.
This week with the flood on Sunday, I had lots of time to sit and reflect because we had to stay in the chapel. It was a good time to study. Here's one thing I learned:  The areas surrounding the chapel were completely flooded, and the water was even deeper in further areas. Some of the members gathered at the chapel and we were able to help them with some of their needs. But so many of the members didn't come. The chapel was literally the safest place in the city, and they didn't come. Even people on the streets who saw that everything else was flooded wouldn't come, even when we invited them in. Because of the flooding, we couldn't go out to help, but the Elders did.) Sitting in the chapel, waiting to help people who would come to the only safe place was a humbling experience. I think that Heavenly Father often feels that way about us. He has the safe place, the safe way for us, and we choose to stay out in the dangerous flood. We look at the current on the path to the "chapel" and think it's too strong, or it will take too long, and so we turn back. But if we would just "press forward" and come unto Him, we'll be safe and dry. 

I love you all lots. You're in my prayers often and I want the best for all of you. Keep coming to him, even when the current looks hard. Keep giving more of yourself to Him, because then He can make more of it. I know that the message I preach is true. I love the Lord and this gospel.

Love, love, love,
Sister Josie Tueller

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Family! And friends!

It's been a crazy week. So much happened- but also, just morag gihapon, more of the same. 
The weather seemed to reflect that too. I've now broken two umbrellas. There was some kind of storm and we walked in this wind that had the leaves stirred up all around us and then really weird rain- kusog kaayo (super strong) one minute and then nothing, and then kusog again and at weird times. But we didn't get too wet ever, so that was a blessing. 
First, Sister Bibing's baptism! This was in the middle of this storm, and there was a point where we couldn't hear because of the wind- but there was a real calm there. Despite all of Brother's insistence that he knew how to baptize, he didn't actually, so he got help, but it was all great. Aren't they cute? The day before, they'd both joined our branch's dance performance so they're just part of the branch now.

And on Monday, we had zone conference! With all the missionaries on Negros, 3 zones, so there were lots of us. And lots of sisters! And we're so young- 58 out of the 62 sisters here are either training or being trained- and more than 60% of the whole mission. It's not going to change next transfer either. It's just crazy stuff. We'll see what happens in two weeks when I finish my training. So Zone conference: President Schmutz is so wise and loving, and he knows the scriptures and further, he knows how to apply them. That's a skill that I want so much, and I'm always so excited to learn from him. We learned about the Doctrine of Obedience and its centrality to our purpose here on Earth.  It was so cool to feel the power of so many missionaries together. Then, here comes the crazy part. We were given 10 minutes to study 4 different topics, and then 4 missionaries were selected to give an impromptu talk about them. Out of all those missionaries there, I was selected to be one of them- so I gave a talk about why commitments are central to our missionary purpose. We truly must invite others to Come, just as Christ invited Andrew and John in John 1:39, and the Nephites in 3 Nephi 11:14-16. But not just to come- but to "Come and see", or to "Arise and come forth." You all know that an impromptu talk wouldn't be the easiest thing for me to do, but I did it anyway because the Lord helped me. 

And then yesterday! The Sister Training Leader came, with her companion who's also in training (Sister Wechsler from my MTC district). And instead of a normal situation where we'd have an experienced missionary in both companionships, she asked me to go with Sister Wechsler and lead the other side of our area. Family, that was a really scary moment. The two of us together, not fluent in Visaya, very new missionaries. But we really got to lean on our Faith. Yesterday was truly amazing. We taught lessons, we found new investigators, we talked to everyone we met, I understood people who I'd never understood before, and mostly, I learned I could do it! As long as I love these people, they'll forgive my shortcomings, and as long as I'm doing my best, the rest comes.

Thanks so much for your love and support! You're in my prayers every day and I love hearing about your lives and your learning and your progress and your joy.

Ampin mo,
Sister Josie Tueller


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Naa ko'y kanding! (I love goats!)

It's been another exciting week in Bayawan!

As you can see, I held a goat. It was the cutest thing ever. My companions just laugh, because we see cute puppies and kittens all the time and I couldn't care less, but there were three baby goats while we were doing a service project, sweeping leaves, and I just couldn't contain my joy. Isn't it cute? We were helping Sister Valentina- Cristina's mom, and it was tons of fun. There were only 3 brooms/rakes (I use the term broom loosely- picture 30 thin sticks bound together, or some straw sewn together), and she insisted on working with us, first just using a stick to sweep. I took the stick away from her, so I spent time hitting leaves with a stick trying to get them into the pile. I got a golfing technique down by the end- and in the meantime, I provided entertainment for Sister Valentina plus everyone on the beach. Of course, we were quite the spectacle in our skirts, and mostly just our American-ness. But we got to teach a lesson to Sister, and I know she felt the spirit- from our service, and from our lesson!

The same kind of thing happened this week when we went by the Tumabini family's house. They run a little tindahan from inside their house and so Sister is always busy. Or she just runs away from us, or refuses to talk to us. Her husband is really progressing to being temple-ready, and their son is sort of on his way to a mission (he's another story entirely, he was so strong a few months ago when he was baptized, but he's lost a lot of purpose, and now we have a less-active recent convert. But he'll make it- I know it.) As we walked by their block in GK, Sister Merlinda was putting charcoal in bags to sell. Our appointments had fallen through for the day, and so we sat down and helped her. She tried to stop us, but she really did need the help. It's not a fun task at all- you breathe in all this charcoal, and you squat for a long time, and your hands get so black and filthy. But it was the funniest part of my week. All our neighborhood children friends gathered round, plus more, plus their parents, and just watched us. They kept talking about us- I guess forgetting that we can understand them? Mostly, they just wanted to say we were fat, or white, or that we shouldn't be getting our nice clothes dirty. But as they all walked away, they said- That's what missionaries should really be doing. Isn't that true? All the time, I'm trying to do what Jesus Christ would do- and I know that Jesus Christ would want to help Sister Tumabini put charcoal in bags.

A little miracle of the week: Do you remember Roselyn? I think I told you about her my first week. She's from an inactive family, who live right behind Cristina, and she joined our lesson my first week in Bayawan- mostly for the American curiosity. We always drop by on our way through GK Village, and while they never let us teach them, we're building a little bit of relationship. I held a hamster outside their house, but no picture evidence. This week as we walked by, Sister Bohol was sitting outside looking worried. When we talked to her, she opened up a little and told us that Roselyn had been gone for a week without calling (she's maybe 20, and she's a little bit of a wayward youth). We listened to her, and then reminded her to pray. Of course, I prayed for Roselyn that night. And yesterday, when we stopped by again, guess who greeted us? Roselyn. She came home the next morning. Lots of people might call that coincidence, but I know that the Lord works miracles. Does it mean that they're going to progress, or come to church? They still have agency, but I saw the miracle, and I know they did too.

We're off to another adventure- we have a zone activity to Balanan Lake, so I apologize to everyone who I didn't reply to. Next week, I promise! I'm wearing pants right now for our activity, and it's really weird- I guess I'm getting used to this missionary thing. Actually, I know I am. I'm learning to love the work more everyday.  And this week is Sister Bibing's baptism- so look forward to the next update in the life of Sister Tueller.

I love you all so much. Every night as I pray for you, (and if you're reading this, then you're a person that I pray for), I feel close to all of you and it's a great part of my day. Of course, I also get to feel close to my Heavenly Father, and that makes it the best.

Have a wonderful week!
Sister Tueller

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sept. 10, 2013

As always, it's been another wonderful week. To let you have some better details, I think I'll just tell you about Sunday, and then you can imagine the rest from there.

But first, I am certainly praying for all of you- with this busy semester, with Olivia being in charge at home, for Clark Proffit, for Danny, for Bonnie, for Sarah, for my missionary cousins, my missionary friends, my soon-to be missionary friends and then my gratitude for all of my family and friends.

So Sunday. I woke up and got ready and ate my mangos and oatmeal. I'm blessed kaayo.

This is one of only 3 days a week that we go out of the house in the morning (Monday to travel to district meeting and Wednesday to come email you all) so I'm not as quick to say "Maayong buntag" as "Maayong hapon." As we walked, our neighbor who is 14, the only member in her family, and the branch pianist came running to catch up with us and give us all hugs. She and the other young women surrounded us and told us all about their week, even though we'd seen them frequently. Our walk was short, because we live two houses down from the chapel.

Inside the chapel, all the primary children were gathered for the primary program. The Elders were tying ties and we were put to work tying sashes- all green silk. Each girl was wearing all white, and the boys were all wearing their white shirts and these ties. That's the kind of pageantry that we have here. We also stand by the door and shake hands as everyone comes in. This week, 3 less actives (Sister Cherry Maglangit, Sister Tumabini, and Brother Timbangan) came to church for the first time this year!! We've been working so hard to get them to come, or to get whole families, and it finally happened. Of course, the Primary program helped- so we'll see about next week. 

And we had investigators in church! 
Cecil and Jenabel finally came to church after all sorts of barriers ( I really hope I've told you about them- they're Cristina's (the recent convert) neighbors and they love to read the Book of mormon (Side note, not from Sunday: we had a lesson this week with them where we used 4 different languages (Ilongo, Visaya, Tagalog, and English) of the Book of Mormon, and everyone just understood. It's crazy stuff.)) That was a lot of parentheses- I apologize.

We have a new investigator who's amazing: Sister Leah Grace Mesa. Two weeks ago, her husband called us over (maybe while he was drunk, we're not quite sure) and told us that he wanted to learn about our religion. We promised to come back some other time. Last week, while Sister Rugg and I were on the other side of the Boulevard on splits ( I can't remember if I told you about that- if I didn't, make sure I do, because it was incredible), Sister Yanga and our member present couldn't find anyone at home, so they went back. Sister Leah describes herself as "hanging" because she's looking for truth, and she can't find anywhere to plant her feet firmly on truth. And we get to show her the stepping stones where she can put her feet to lead her to the foundation of the gospel. So incredible. She didn't come to church because she'd committed to going to the Born-Again, but her 9 year old son really wanted to come, and he just joined the Primary program. 

Of course, Sister Bibing Carcasona came. She's the wife of the less-active, and her baptism will be on the 21st. She's so ready. We had a great lesson this week with her when Brother wasn't there so she wasn't as quiet. She truly has been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

That's all my time for this week, so no events, but lots of people. That's what's really important here.
I know that this gospel is true and that through it, we can gain everlasting happiness. Thank you so much for all your support and prayers for me and these people. You are working miracles here!

Nahigugma ako kaninyo!
Sister Tueller

Thursday, September 5, 2013

(no subject)

Dear family,

Oh it's been another great week in Bayawan. Somehow, I'm short on time again, but I'll try to fit all the details I can into this letter.

Here's a store that's almost directly across from our house, and it makes me laugh every day.

If you can't read it, it says "Frincess"- the other sign is even better, because it used to say "Prencis", but they've painted over part of the P to correct it to Frencis. It's just great.

And then here are my companions with our "Apostleship"

As for details for this week, we had some real adventures. On Saturday, we went on splits with members! So Sister Yanga went with one 18 year old girl preparing for a mission, and Sister Rugg and I went with the other 18 year old girl. Suffice it to say, I was terrified. I was also supposed to be conducting, so I was in charge, without a trainer. So I prayed a lot, and I relied on the Spirit and my faith, a lot. Family, it worked. When the Lord asks you to do more, he makes you able to do it! We taught lessons and taught them well, and I understood so much, and was able to talk to our member present as well, and we met wonderful people. It was a huge faith building experience. In one of the lessons, we ended up teaching faith in trials, instead of agency like I'd planned. And it's what we needed to do, and even though I didn't have my notes written to teach about that, or scriptures picked out, or really anything except a genuine love for Alona, it was enough. I thought I'd learned that God allows me to do things through him, but when I test it more fully, I learn it even more.

Updates on my People here: Sister Bibing is getting baptized on the 21st. She's so great. We can't even believe what a miracle she is- we're the first sister missionaries to visit the Carcasona family, and they needed sisters. Brother was a less- active, an occasional church attender, but he's now preparing whole heartedly for the temple. He made the sacrifice to go to District Conference last week, which is 2 hours away!

Elvie Valor: She's the one with the paralyzed husband. The one who can know sit alone, move his hands completely, speak, move his toes, and his legs are coming! She has so much faith- and she's promised to God that she will join his church once she can attend when her husband is well- I think with her faith, it could be in this week.

Okay, that's all for the installment this week, I promise more next time!
I love you all so much! There are moments when I can just feel your prayers really close, pulling me up, maybe through the heat, and I'm so grateful!

Love, love love
Sister Josie Tueller