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