Tuesday, November 26, 2013
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
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,
Saturday, November 9, 2013
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
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!