Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hingpit nga malipayon!

Maayong buntag!

I love you all! What fun stories from everyone!

Dad, Santa Catalina is also in our area, and there's definitely a lot of sugar cane. I'll be sure to remember the history. We haven't had sugar cane yet, so that can go on the list. We ate at MangInasal last week, and had Halo Halo. It's still an interesting taste experience, and Sister Rugg had a fun time trying it. 

We've eaten at member's houses a couple of times this week, and had fish and rice, which was delicious. We see fisherman all the time. We also tried bokchoy with the dried pork rind, it's all lami kaayo! (very delicious- this is an important word for a new missionary) The little bake shops with different Filipino breads are also a treat. At home, we often eat toast because that's what my Filipino trainer likes- go figure. But we eat rice, and mangos and corned beef, and canned corn (but not with cheese ice cream!). 

Oh, there's so much to tell you! Life here is always fun. Everyone stares at us all day long because they never see American women, ever, and tells me that I'm gwapa kaayo- I'm going to have the best self esteem by the time I leave here. But it's a good opportunity to talk to people. We have a program in the mission for English tracting- we've been asked to teach the rich and learned to help the church grow in the Philippines, and one of the best ways to talk to them is in English. Yesterday, we went up to one of the really big houses, and before we even said anything, they were inviting us in. Filipinos love to speak English (one of my favorite activities is to respond in Visaya to their English "Good evening" and then listen to their giggling or whispering about how I can speak Visaya- and it'll be even more fun when I'm fluent and can surprise them more). We got to teach those two sisters in the big house a lesson, and they told us all about their families, and their Catholic worship. I don't know how much they really like our message, but maybe! I know the Lord provides a way. 

Let's see: we had our member missionary work fireside here on Friday. The branch has been weak in missionary work in the past, but they're really getting on board. I really love these members. Everyone here is considered a less active under our rescue mission, and most really are less active. But there are incredible people here, with testimonies of this gospel. I'm especially impressed by the youth. Many of the parents have become inactive, going back to ways of the world, or being "busy"- I hear that word from everyone here. It's hard to see people losing the Spirit, and not being able to feel the light of the gospel, because I just want them to see that this is the way! But many of their kids, the youth are still so strong. There's seminary every evening and I love to see them. We got to work with a couple of them who are preparing for missions, and it was an invaluable blessing, because they know about inactives that we've never even heard of. We got to teach one of them, and while she wasn't receptive, her neighbor was so willing to hear us- so that's exciting for this week.

We had another member work with us- the seminary teacher, Sister Ana Mae. Her testimony and ability to connect with the members was so crucial. And then after all of our teaching, we got to teach her family and her cute kids. I got to see and feel the Spirit of their home, the joy that comes from living the gospel and from raising kids in the gospel. Thank you so much Mom and Dad for all that you taught me- Grace, Isabel, Olivia, Lamont- we have the greatest parents. In visaya, joy is actually Perfect happiness- it's the title here, and I think that's so accurate. As we feel true joy, we feel a bit of what heaven is like.

We get mail on Mondays at district meeting, usually, and I think I did get a letter, but my district leader forgot it, so tomorrow! We have zone interviewstomorrow with President Schmutz, so we get to leave tonight and take a two hour bus ride and stay with the Dumaguete sisters. And yesterday, we had our Sister Training Leaders with us, and we got to go on splits. Sister Prasad is such a bold missionary and I learned a lot about the real truth of this gospel.

It's so true. There's so much perfect happiness, and hope for perfect happiness in this work. That's the message that I get to tell people. I'm hoping this is a good glimpse of my life- what do you want to know specifically? I'll try to answer questions as best as I can.

I love you! Have a great week!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Thank you so much for the updates and the prayers that I know you're sending my way! I don't have too much time this week, but I'll do my best to get everything in.

It's been a crazy couple of weeks- We did get to go to Sister Malietoa's appointment, and drove all around Provo getting medicine and things, and we finished up the MTC!! It really was such a great place, and I learned a lot. I'm just excited to keep learning. And we left Monday morning, and had to pack and do a million things, and ride Frontrunner and TRAX to the airport with all our luggage, but I really just felt peace, that I'm doing the right thing, that the Lord is looking out for me, and that he hears and answers my prayers. 

Then I got to call you! I think everyone in the airport was looking at me crying, but it's okay. It was so good to hear from all of you! I hope you know how much I love you, and the only thing that lets me be really happy when I don't get to talk with all of you is the pure truth and light of this gospel, and that I know the Lord's plan for me. And Filipino people love you too! A man on the plane told me that he could sense that my dad was really smart, and then all the branch members wanted to have a picture of my beautiful family to put in their book of remembrance. So, if you're having a bad day, know that some Filipinos love you! That definitely helps me!
Oh, quickly, right after I got off the phone with you in LAX we had a huge miracle. Sister Rugg said hi to a little baby, and eventually, we shared just about the whole first lesson with Priya, who is so prepared for this gospel. I'd been praying that I could share the gospel in our travel, and I really hope that the referral we gave to the Australian missions goes somewhere.

I'm companions with Sister Rugg again! I guess we have more to learn together, or the Lord knew that we could do this together. We're both being trained by Sister (Naomi) Yanga- she went to BYUH and graduated a year ago- she took pictures for the Ke Alaka'i so I knew her name, and she knows all these people that I know- I think she worked with Sister Alisa for a long time, and she was an art major. Most trainers for sisters are training two sisters because we had 23 sisters arrive, and there were only 20 sisters in Cebu mission after the mission split, some who are still training or being trained.

So I'm in the Philippines! I took a shower with a bucket this morning (we do have a shower, but sometimes the water pressure doesn't really work), I flushed the toilet by pouring water into it, I boiled water for breakfast so I don't get sick, and I scratched mosquito bites in front of a fan blowing full blast, trying to dry my soaked shoes. And it's wonderful! I love it! 

I'm not actually on Cebu Island, I'm on Negros, the other big island that stayed in Cebu mission, not Cebu East. I'm in the furthest away area from the mission home so we did lots of traveling in the first few days. It's called Bayawan, and it's a super cute city. There's a lot of sugar cane fields, and out there regions, but the elders have those places because they have bikes, and we have the city area, which means that the one main road, right next to the ocean and then all the little baranggays next to it. It's pretty big, and it's a fun walk. It used to be two areas, but they've been combined because the work was a little slow- but in three months, they'll probably be split again. Apparently, after my three months of training, I'm probably going to be taking one of those areas and training a new missionary. Just another impossibly sounding thing that I guess I'm going to do here with the help of the Lord. So I really need to learn what I'm doing here fast, and how to speak this language. We had to ride a 6 hour boat ride, and then stay over night in a different city and then 2 more hours on a bus. It's great!

Visaya is hard- that's the short of it. But I'm being helped. I can understand people, at least partly, and I can say some things- Sister Rugg and I both contribute in our lessons with a scripture or story or testimony, and I can say "Ako si Sister Tueller" to everyone in this place. I know that even if it seems impossibly, I can get this language down, because I guess I need to. And everyone is so nice here. They're so surprised that I know any words of their language, because I'm American. Everyone stares at us, and comments loudly on how big we are, or how long my nose is, or how white I am. And it's great! These are apparently all compliments in the Philippines, and they're a blunt people anyway. 

We're here in a little branch- about 100 people, and a lot of inactives. Until just recently, the Cebu mission was a rescue mission, with a focus on strengthening the members we already have. We're now in a balance time- but we still spend a lot of times with in actives, who are all super nice.

- This is part of my letter to my mission president copied because I'm running out of time but I want you to know what's going on here!
 The work in Bayawan is progressing well. The branch was so welcoming and loving, especially the youth of the ward. I can see the strength of the youth, and I'm inspired by it. The branch has also just called a branch mission leader, and we'll be giving a fireside on member missionary work on Friday. I'm excited to be here at a time that the work in Bayawan is hastening, and I only hope to be an instrument in the Lord's hand to help this work go forward. We're teaching a few investigators along with many less-active members but everyone has been really receptive and progressing, at least as much as I understand. Sis. Yanga has told us that she's seeing changes already according to the faith of the branch leaders, and as we have faith that the Lord is preparing people. I really love these members and investigators already. I see their faith and humility and I can't deny the truth of this gospel. They're so kind, as I try to speak with my broken Visaya, and everyone loves us for our effort.

This week really has been wonderful. I feel the arm of the Lord holding me up. On Monday evening, we had a FHE with a family in the branch and her sister who is an investigator. I felt like I could communicate enough, and there was so much love present. This family has been sealed in the temple, and you can tell. Seeing Sister Vivian and her family helped me to see that if I can help just one person have that joy, I've done the Lord's work. Yesterday, we got to meet with Sister Alona, the investigator who was there, and her live-in husband Bryan. I guess he hasn't been willing to participate before, but he joined happily. Sister Yanga followed the spirit and we read the Introduction to the Book of Mormon with them. I know they felt the spirit and the truthfulness of the Book. I know that it's true, and that if they'll just try it, they'll know. After we closed, two miracles occurred. First, Alona told us that usually their baby cries when the missionaries come, but he was so good. (This was especially poignant because we'd just left an appointment because a baby was scared of our American faces.) Second, they told us that they have a plan to be married. The city sponsors free weddings in December, so money won't be an issue. I know that the Lord is working in their lives. 

This week, we've focused as a companionship on acting in faith. This is a principle that I really love, and I have a huge testimony that we can't simply have faith, we must exercise our faith to show God that we trust him. I'm trying every day to have Faith, not fear, and doing those actions that show my faith through obedience, diligence and following the spirit. I know that this gospel is true. There are such wonderful fruits of this seed, and through that, I know that the seed is pure goodness. I know that my Savior lives and that he stand with his arm outstretched for everyone. My work now is to help people see his hand and accept it. I know that through him, and only through Him, we can be saved and receive eternal life. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God, and that through the power of God, he translated the Book of Mormon. I know that I have also been called of God, and that I have work to do here that I promised to fulfill. I need to find that work and do it.

Sister Tueller

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I'm Here!

That's basically it for now-I'm here and safe and healthy. I get my companion in an hour or so and then I'll know where i'm going. Cebu is beautiful, a little bit like Chinatown or Kalihi or something like that, and we're right by the gorgeous temple. It's like Hawaii in August and it's great. I love you all, and I'll write more in a week!

Sister Tueller

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Last Few Days!

And Lamont James Tueller! Look at you! I'm so glad I get to email you on this special day! Happy happy birthday! We've celebrated 3 birthdays in my district while we've been here, so I know how to say it in Cebuano- Malipay nga Adlawng Katawhan! You're such a grown-up big boy now! I hope you're learning everything about Sitting Bull and George Washington and the capitals of the world that you could ever want to! You don't remember when you were born, but I do, and probably most of the people reading this email do too. Everyone was so excited for you- for a while, it was my job to write down all of the gifts that you got, and you were just too loved. And I was so excited to have a little brother. You're my favorite little brother! Haha, all jokes aside, I wish I could sing Danny Boy with you and dance with you and read Harry Potter with you, but I have really great mental images of all of those things, so I'm thinking of you today!

All of you are having such fun adventures. I loved the reports about the reunion and the pictures! I almost feel like I was there with you- I especially wish I could see the Tueller Talent show act- Chinese gunpowder in 1122! You're the funniest- I think I have the best family in the world. And the singing!! I've been humming Come Ye Sinners and In Dublin Fair City- if you have an available copy of the Tueller family song book, I would love love love to have that.
I'm on my last p-day in the MTC! The time has been pas-pas gayud (isn't that a great word for fast?) and I don't know if I feel ready at all, but I'm going, so I guess I'm going to be ready. We leave Monday around 5 pm on a flight to LA- missionaries are allowed to call home at the airport- so around then, like 3, I can call you! And then in LA we have a 5 hour layover that starts at 5:48 LA time and goes until 10:35 LA time so I can talk to you then! Let me know what's best? then we have a straight flight to Manila which will be forever long, but it's okay- we get there at 5:55 am on the 17th- wednesday! From Manila we take another flight to Cebu, which is only an 1 hour long. In the process of all of this, we skip the 16th entirely- it's nowhere on our travel plans. I need to get packing done without Grace here, but I think it'll be okay. Mostly, I'm excited to go see this place and meet these people! We've heard that we'll get to email when we get there, but we won't get a P-day, so it could be a little while. You could be home!
The 4th of July in the MTC was really fun- it was nice to have P-day and write letters all day and then we had a Independence Day devotional where we sang the patriotic hymns very enthusiastically. I think this was so that we weren't listening to Carly Rae Jepsen from the Stadium of Fire, but we got to watch a movie- 17 Miracles, which I'd been meaning to see, and it was really inspirational. After the movie, around 10:00, so this was a crazy night in missionary time, we ate ice cream outside and watched the fireworks from the corner closest to the Stadium. Isn't it fun to think that we were all watching those, from Normandie, and Oak Hills, and the MTC? What a good moment.
Today's going to be another interesting P-day. One of the sisters in my district, Sister Malietoa is having gall-bladder surgery today, and they need another companionship to come get the prescription, or something like that. We're leaving campus! I think, maybe, unless plans change and someone else goes, but for now, the plan is going to the hospital in a few hours. We're hoping for a swift recovery, even though she probably won't be able to leave with us on Monday due to recovery time. But if you could keep her in your prayers, I know she'd really appreciate that.
We're doing all sorts of closing things around here. I've avoided playing volleyball this whole time, but we had a whole district game against another district, and I'm not as bad at volleyball as I remember! We had tons of fun out at sand volleyball, and laughed with each other about every hit. It's going to be sad to leave these people, but I can't wait to meet the people in Cebu! We also taught one of our teachers as a class. It was a really cool experience to teach someone we know so much about, and to switch those roles a little bit. Right now, we're the ones set apart to invite others to come unto Christ, so that's what we did! We taught about hope, and the Spirit poured out on our little classroom. If I can get close to that bouyant, bright feeling, that's all I can ask for as a missionary. I had another really cool experience in following the Spirit the other day- our teachers told us we had 15 minutes to follow the spirit and find someone who needed a message we could share with them. I was terrified for a few seconds, because they were asking me to do something I'd never done, but that's my job. That's what I do here, so we did it. We started with a prayer (I think we start everything with a prayer here, which I love, but it also makes me laugh- we pray, and do something and then end with a prayer and then start something else with another prayer- The Cebuano word for often is the same as always- "Kanunay" and PMG sa Cebuano tells us to Pray Always, not Often like the English one. Missionary jokes, I know, but it made me laugh) Anyway, basta, I really felt an impression to share Moroni 7:33 about miracles, and then we started walking in a direction that felt right. Sister Rugg and I found a companionship and started talking. One of the sisters was from Arizona and her mom was a Tueller. The other had attended BYUH and of course, knew Brother Tueller. We often meet people who know a Tueller, or know me, but never two in a companionship. I don't know if they actually needed our message, but I certainly needed that comfort of knowing that the Lord will guide me, and knowing that he is exactly aware of my life. I know he's watching over me, and so I don't need to fear anything. He will give me the power and the words when I need them.

During gym, we've been using no English and it's really fun- but also really funny- trying to play bocce without being able to say throw, or your turn, or ball, or shade, or really anything except here and there, and "Excited kaayo ko!" I can teach a 40 minute lesson about the plan of salvation but as soon as I have to go grocery shopping, this is going to be dili maayo.
On Sunday, we had a wonderful mission conference because of Fast Sunday , full of reminders about what I've learned here. Then in the evening, we got to hear from George Durrant and Susan Easton Black. After wards, we watched Character of Christ by Elder Bednar- I'm so excited to learn more about my Savior- it's changed my perspective on a lot of things- mostly about Christ's character of Turning Out in love and compassion when the natural man would turn in. Right now, as I got out, I just want to forget myself, my fear, my doubts, my whatever is holding me back, and get lost in the work of helping others become better. Hopefully, in the process, I'll change, but that can't be the point.
Next week's going to be interesting. There's a Cebuano word that might describe it- grabi. It literally means awful, but no one really uses it that way- it's more an expression of emotion- like that's sad- Grabi, that's so exciting-GRABI, I'm going to a foreign country with people I don't know and I'm going to go tell them about Jesus Christ in a language that I still don't think I really know how to speak and my life will never be the same again- GRABIIIIIIIIII.
I love you all so much! Have fun adventuring, and pray for me in this really crazy adventure!
Sister Tueller

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Becoming and Some Pictures!

My family and friends!

I love you all!

Salamat kaayo for your letters and packages and thoughts and prayers. They
are really such a strength to me. And what a surprise to have a letter from
Dad the day after you all got here- it's so great! I love the large family
email- thank you Aunt Diane for the great idea.

I get my travel plans tomorrow- so it's a week and a half left here- we'll
either leave on the 15th or the 16th, and fly for a very long time. I'm not
ready at all, but I have a little while, and maybe I'll never feel ready to
do this, but I'm going to anyway. My broken Cebuano, and limited knowledge,
and my gama'y, small inadequate love is going to have to be good enough-
and it will be because the Lord's going to make it good enough. I get to be
one of those weak things of the world, in D&C 1 who is made strong if I
trust in Him.

I didn't even tell you about TRC- we get to teach returned missionaries who
speak Ceubano (I guess we could teach other Cebuano speakers, but no one
else in Provo speaks Ceubano- it's kind of a secret language), but we get
to teach them as themselves. Instead of pretending that they're an
investigator, we really get to invite them to Christ personally, and talk
to them about their own mission. Last week, we taught a missionary who had
returned from Cebu 3 weeks ago. He was so excited to talk about his
mission, and the people who he'd been able to help, and who'd helped him-
and he was so encouraging with us. It's getting to be real that I'm going
to Cebu- to Negros and the city, and the bukid (mountain, out-there)
regions. I'm really going to talk to people in Cebuano and try to
understand their life, and how the gospel of Jesus Christ can help them,
and then try to convince them of that. It's a good thing I have the Spirit,
because without it, that sounds impossible. I think one thing that I'm
really learning here in the MTC and hopefully for the rest of my misison,
is how to follow the promptings of the Spirit, and to listen to them, and
discern the Spirit.

We're always supposed to SYL (speak your language), but that means we use
English for words we don't know, and then try to look them up later, but
it's easy to get off track, because it's hard to express yourself in
Cebuano. So this week, we've started English fasting, in the mornings,
until noon. It's not easy, but it's possible! I thought it would make me
feel really unprepared, and I certainly learned how much I don't know, but
I also learned that I can do it. I've really been learning that everytime
you make a goal, it's an act of faith- faith in yourself, and faith in the
Lord that he can help you get to that goal, and then you just have to do

Oh, this is the best! We go out to the field for exercise, and we've been
trying all the games they have- so we played Boccee the other day, and
frisbee, and soccer, but then we played Kubb! The gym people didn't even
know how to, but we've now got everyone playing Kubb, and I think of you
all! Have so much fun at the reunions, and tell me everything that happens-
who wins the games, and where you're all sleeping, and what food you eat,
and which is the best day. Anything, everything!

The rest of this week flew! I really love it here in the MTC, and I'm going
to miss being taught everyday, but I'll learn so much more from the hard
work everyday in the field. This week, we (my district) got to teach each
other, as ourselves in companionships, and it helped me see how to really
love my investigators. We all know each other pretty well, and that's how
we're supposed to know everyone we talk to-we could really think about what
our listeners needed, and listen to the Spirit. We also learned that
Cebuano doesn't even really have a concept of verbs, which I'm not sure I
understand yet, but it's really cool, and kind of crazy- what an adventure!
Here'e something I've been thinking about a lot. My first day here, I kept
getting the thought :"Be her"- be the missionary who I want to be, be the
sister who serves and loves and preaches the good word. It was really
inspiring to me, and it kept me going. But over the past few weeks, that's
changed. I no longer just want to "Be her"- to act that part, to be
someone- I want to "Become her"- Become someone who serves because that's
who she is, deep down, to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and emulate him
in every way that I can muster. I love the Cebuano clarity- Become as a
verb is Ma- himo- able to make- we're able to make ourselves better, we're
able to become who we want to be. I'm going to try my best to be able to
make something of myself, and my mission, but I can't do that alone- it's
not just that I'm able to make- because honestly, I'm not- but that the
Lord is able to make.

Plus, here are some pictures- there's the necessary map picture with my
district, and then also us at the temple- or some of us, I'm not exactly
sure which one it was.

I love you all- thank you so much for your wise words and thoughts!
Kitakits, (so here's some more Filipino humor- kita means we(inclusive),
but it also means "to see"- so to say goodbye, you can say "we'll see each
other"- and then they're the same word and it's really funny, apparently-
actually I laugh at it every time- I can't wait to go meet all these

Sister Tueller