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,