Another week down in the good ol' land of Sibonga....last week I hit my 3 month mark on the mission and on Monday, I hit my 2 month mark in the Philippines! Where is the time going? I can't believe how much I have grown and changed in the short time I've been here and I'm so excited I get to keep learning and growing and changing for 15 more months!
Honestly, this week was a rough one. But, I have learned a whole lot and I am thankful for the opportunity I've had to come closer to my Heavenly Father.
First of all, I totally spaced Thanksgiving!!Sister Tueller and I had fun. We made dinner and I tried to make squash (since I can cook now....not) I put butter and brown sugar on it and put it in our toaster oven thinking it would be tasty right?? Well not exactly, hehe, about 10 min later, I go to check on my squash and there is a fire in the toaster oven...I put out the fire and all was well, and we sure did eat that squash and just cut off the charred parts. :) I hope you like the pic of me and my charred squash.
The best part of my week was going on exchanges with Sister Prasad who is our Sister Training Leader. She is from India and has been out on her mission for 15 months. She is super cute and super bold with the people, and I learned a lot from her.
She and I went to a neighborhood in Sibonga called Sabang, and unfortunately we had to drop the entire neighborhood of Sabang. :( (This includes Carrie Davis, and Linlin the smoker) Carrie told us she just wanted to hear what our church was about, and then slammed her door on us when we went back. Linlin said that she has no desire to join the church because she refuses to quit smoking. She said she prayed and prayed and God hasn't stopped her from smoking so she will just continue to smoke. That was really hard for me to hear- she clearly hasn't been receptive to what we've been teaching so we had to drop her. Maybe in the future some missionaries can go teach her again, but we can't go back and keep teaching people who blatlantly reject us like that. It was a good lesson for me. I felt a bit betrayed and extremely hurt. I had grown to love both of these people. It hurt....a lot. but, I know there are others who are waiting for us to hear the gospel, we just have to find them.
On Saturday, we had a branch fireside---BRACE YOURSELVES, this a good story! I have learned a lot from the little Sibonga brach. When they have a fireside, they have a PARTY! We got to the church (house) and we were scared because they had two big fires going on in the back...and I mean BIG FIRES. We thought they were thinking 'fireside' so there must be fires involved??? like sitting by a fire?? but no worries, they were just cooking, standing far away from the fire and throwing meat into the bowels. ----so now worries. They prepared a huge feast of pancit and rice and adobom, so everyone just wanted to eat. We told them they had to wait until after the program to eat. For the program we showed a video about the Restoration and gave them ideas to do member missionary work. After that, we asked our dear landlord/RS pres to offer the closing prayer and to please bless the food we were about to eat. She gets up to give the prayer and decides that she needs to add to the fireside and gives a good five min talk about how "JESUS IS THE CHAMPION OF MY HEART" and some other really weird things. We told her she needed to stop and please pray because everyone was getting hungry and super restless. So, she goes over to the table with the food on it, pulls off the lids, and literally she stands over the food with her eyes open, doing some sort of sprinkling motion with her fingers, and she LITERALLY blesses the food, oh my goodness, it was SO BAD! She even closed her prayer with "in the name of the Father, and the son and the holy ghost" I think she thinks she has the priesthood or something, because she has been doing this often. ?????? I was laughing sooo hard! I literally was crying, like....tears running down my cheeks! Needless to say, yesterday we taught her about prayer and the proper way to pray in public. :) It went over well and I don't think she even remembers praying OVER the food. I have NEVER in my life seen anything like this!! Only in the Philippines!!
Sunday was quite the day! We had fast and testimony mtg which some members here in Sibonga think it means to "prepare a L O N G talk and give it in sac. mtg. Yes, we had two members prepare talks for testimony mtg-----one was about the 10 Commandments, and the other was our 20 year old executive secretary (not really active) who talked about video games and how they relate to the Gospel. What??? So what did Sis. Joslyn Harris do?? Missionaries don't usually bear their testimonies, but I got right up after and bore my testimony. It was super short - I said I KNOW the church is true, I love my family, all that good stuff that I do know and believe with all my heart. I also said that a testimony doesn't have to be long. Then a cute old lady yells out loudly, "HEY!, she does know how to speak Cebuano!!!" Right there during the meeting. It was pretty funny and yes...I giggled but quietly.
After church they planned the Christmas Party, and when I say "they" I mean, EVERYONE in the Sibonga Branch attended the planning mtg. Even our investigators came to plan. Whenever we go and visit inactives, they always ask us about the Christmas Party. Apparently it is quite the big deal here. I am glad I will be here in Sibonga for the party. At first they told me and Sis. Tueller to just plan it, but we told them to maybe have the RS president plan it....not sure about that anymore with the behavior of our landlord lady/RS Pres. :) We told them we would help, but not plan the whole thing. It will be interesting and I will surely tell you about it.
I don't have a lot of updates on investigators since we dropped a lot of them. That is the biggest bummer for me. I am so thankful for the gift of agency but I hate to see people who use their agency to not join the church and want to better their lives, and know there is so much more for them with the gospel. :(
Brenda --- She is our cute investigator who is progressing. She is super cute and and I love her! She was too shy to come to church last week, but came this week and we told her that she has nothing to be shy about! She already has a ton of friends and everyone welcomed her and loved her. I was so proud of our little branch for welcoming her and being kind to her. We are giving her a baptism date this week.
Mary Jane --- She is my sassy 16 yr old friend who reminds me of the spitting image of Jaclyn Smith. She is super cute and hates math and homework. Sound familiar?? She came to church on Sunday was a big jealous of the attention that Brenda was getting. She actually told Brenda, "I am THE investigator!!" But, the situation is fixed and we helped her understand that she is not our one and only investigator. :)
Elina ----- We literally rode a motor (habal habal/motorcycle) 30 min into the bukid (mountain) yesterday to get to her house since all of our appointments were dropped and we needed something to do. She is super cute and the view from her home was amazing. I wish I could have taken a pic but there were people everywhere. This is the hands down poorest situation I have seen yet on my mission. But, it is amazing how you can feel the Spirit so strongly in any situation. We gathered a crowd of about 25 of her neighbors who couldn't believe there were two white girls sitting in this "hut" which I use loosely, in the middle of the Philippines, speaking Cebuano. She literally had to tell them all to be quiet because we were causing a little spectacle. But we hope she can come back to church if she has the money since it's really far for her to walk. Sooo humbling for me. Gosh, I wish I had a pic. You would literally cry.
Lovely Joy & Liezel----- These are two super cute members who come teach with us a lot. They are preparing for missions of their own and so before we go out with them, we teach them a bit too. They understand English, so I told them in English how hard a mission is and it is nothing what I expected it to be, but is even better and it is the best choice they could ever make. I am excited to see where they serve when they receive their mission calls.
I am so thankful for my mission. I LOVE it! I have come to the conclusion that my mission is like camping in a skirt!! It is hard.....boy is it hard, but I really love it. I am thankful that Heavenly Father sent me here to Cebu...and even more thankful for Sibonga. I am so thankful for my family and their love and support they give me. They are the best!! I am thankful that I know that Heavenly Father has me right where I need to be.
I don't wake up grumpy anymore in the mornings...I just know that this is what it is for the next 15 months, and I even do some stretches each morning to get me going. :)
I love the people.....they make my mission what it is. They are hilarious, and super humble, and kind and loving and they love me and I love them!! Have a wonderful week, and know I love you!!!
Sister Harris :)
Burnt Squash for Thanksgiving.
Family we are teaching about FHE
Our Christmas Tree in the Philippines
Christopher stealing the mangos
Its alive teach it...ha ha a water buffalo
sister from India