First of all, I want to wish my aunt Trisha and my cousin Brecklyn a HAPPY BIRTHDAY today!! Malipayong adlaw sa inyong pagkatawo! As well as my MTC companion, Sister Sepulveda! Her birthday is September 7th and I can't believe I was with her in the MTC celebrating it last year.
This week has been really great. It started last Wednesday night...Elsie texted us and asked us if we could go to their house and share a short FHE message. I was confused because it was Wednesday, but I prepared a message anyways and we went to their house. When we got there, we opened the door and they had prepared this huge spread for my 1 year in the mission! Angel who is one of the YSA here (Elsie's granddaughter) made me the cutest sign, and Elsie and her nieces cooked for us. Needless to say the "FHE" was just to get us to their house without suspecting anything was going on. They told me to save my lesson for another time and we just had a fun night eating and celebrating :)
Thursday was the "official" day of my one year in the mission, and so Sister Palenapa and I (we are batch) celebrated at our house with cupcakes and the candles I got from mom and dad. That afternoon it RAINED and RAINED and flooded the streets! So we spent the afternoon walking around in the rain and checking on our investigators and members making sure their houses weren't flooded. We decided to go check on our 96 year old less active, Sister Nanyagas. She is a widow and has been sick lately so she's hasn't come to church for a little while. I decided I really wanted to do something special for her because she seemed really lonely and sad in the rain! So, we went back home real quick and I fetched my nail polish collection, and we went back and painted her nails! SHE LOVED IT!! I can't think of a better way to spend my one year in the mission, with a 96 year old lady in Cebu painting nails!
Most of the investigators who were here when I got here have been baptized now (Elsie, Fernando, Marvin) so we've been tracting a lot this week and trying to work with the members to get referrals. It's been a success so far. I can't believe we found Ninfa through tracting just a few weeks ago, and she is now our most progressing investigator. She came to church on Sunday and loved it! She made friends with a lot of the YSA. I promised her that if she came to church, she would receive an answer and know that the church is true. I followed up with her yesterday and asked her if she got her answer when she went to church, and she said no. I was concerned until she followed up with this "I didn't receive my answer, because I already knew the church is true." We were all crying! Needless to say she's going to be baptized in October. Love it.
I gave a talk in sacrament meeting Sunday about the Atonement, and it was a really sweet experience. I didn't have much notice to prepare, but I had something prepared, but when I got up to give the talk, everything I had written down on the paper seemed wrong, so I just went with what the Spirit gave to me. Many were crying, including myself. I shared my story of when I got here to Cebu, and how hard it was for me at first, and how I wanted to go home...but as I relied (and still rely) on the Atonement...hard things have become easy and I have found pure joy and happiness here...and now I only have 5 months left. I am living proof that relying on the Atonement of Christ will literally change our entire beings.
So I guess that's my challenge to you all this week- learn to submit yourselves to the Lord. Learn to rely on his atonement as you encounter trials and hard times. He will not only direct us, but he will CHANGE us....he will make us better, and he will certainly make us happier. :)
I love you all and I love my mission. I can't even put into words how much I love my mission, and how much I love the Filipino people. These people who were strangers to me just months ago, have opened their homes and their whole hearts to me..despite my weaknesses and mistakes and imperfections. They have changed me through their examples and I feel like I've learned so much more from them than I could ever give them on my own.
Have a great week :)