Sunday, December 29, 2013

An Astonishing Week

Hello my wonderful family and friends! 

Goodness, what a wonderful week full of so many Christmas miracles! But that's really nothing new. It was such a wonderful Christmas week--one of the best Christmas's I've had. :) It started with Tuesday. We visited a lot of our investigators and recent converts and then ended our night at Bishop Delos Santos' home. The Spirit was so incredibly strong in their household. They fed us a nice Christmas eve dinner and then we shared a Christmas message with them with our testimonies. It sounds like a typical visit or lesson, but it was probably one of the strongest times I've felt the Spirit on my mission. Bishop and his family literally felt like my family at that moment and as I bore my testimony of the Savior, my gratitude and love for Him and everything else just overflowed into tears. All throughout the day and into the evening I just had the biggest amount of gratitude and love and spirit in my heart. Sister Fanene and I had a nice little evening together doing our tradition at home reading Luke 2 and writing our gifts to Jesus for the coming year and putting it in the stocking you sent. She had never done that before but loved it! I absolutely love Sister Fanene and I'm so grateful I was able to spend Christmas eve and Christmas with her. There's no one else I would have rather spent Christmas with sharing the best message in the world.  :) 

Wednesday we woke up and I opened up the package from Ryan and Megan that came on the 24th (Thanks! Came just in time! You two are the best!) and other little gifts from home. I felt so loved. :) Then we had the best white Christmas ever!!! We had the baptism of three beautiful Filipinos... Erika and EJ Herrera, and Glance Dhale Lamela. It was the absolute best way to start off our Christmas day, watching three of Heavenly Father's children (and several others because we had a stake baptism) enter the waters of baptism. They were nothing but smiles and afterward EJ bore the sweetest testimony. After the baptisms we skyped! Yay! I'm so grateful for modern technology and the fact that I was able to see and talk to you, all the way around the world! Later we visited Sister Pailano. She lives in a very small, humble home, and I felt so blessed that we got to spend a bit of our Christmas with her. She was so sweet and gave us a little Christmas pamahaw and we shared a Christmas message with her. We spent the rest of the day visiting some less active members and investigators, sharing our testimonies of the Savior with a Christmas Hymn and message. It felt so right celebrating the day of the Savior's birth doing exactly what He would be doing if He were here. My heart was so full of joy and the spirit. :) I also had fun giving away the candy canes Megan and Ryan sent in the package. The kids absolutely loved them! :) It was such a wonderful day that I will never forget. I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ and His Atonement. My understanding and appreciation has grown so much deeper since coming on my mission and I feel nothing but gratitude and love for all that He has done for me. The least I can do is do what I'm doing now, and doing so with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. I decided that the best gift I can really give my Savior every year, all year long, is my heart. Just like the Christmas carol (I think In the Bleak Midwinter) says. "Yet, what I can, I can give Him, give Him my heart." I'm going to do my best to give my heart wholeheartedly to the Savior every day of my mission and for the rest of my life, in just the smallest way of expressing my gratitude and love for all that He has done for me, even though I know it will never be enough. 

Thursday was so wonderful because we had zone conference! President is so incredibly inspired and has asked that the first lesson we teach less active members and recent converts is the law of tithing. He was very bold in the way we should teach it. Here are some questions that might get you thinking about the law of tithing and why we've been asked to teach it so often: Why is the law of tithing exclusive to the members only? What are its specific blessings that are not available in other commandments? How does the law of tithing affect those who do not have jobs? We discussed each of these questions and the power that comes when members realize the importance of tithing. Because we'll be teaching this commandment so much, if anyone has a story of how tithing has blessed your life, will you please email, dearelder, or write that story to me? I want to gather a bank of tithing stories that I can share with my investigators, recent converts, and less actives, to help them realize the importance and blessings of tithing. Thanks! As part of our zone conference we also watched the Christmas devotional. :) I also loved what President said. He said that even though Christmas celebrations will end, we can still have Christmas every day by being the angels bringing forth good tidings of great joy to the people in the Philippines each day. And then after our missions continue to be an example to others through word and deed and share the Gospel by shining brightly with the countenance and example of Christ just like the Star in Bethlehem. 

Saturday we applied what we learned at zone conference and taught the law of tithing to Sister Lourna Garceniego and her daughter Dayna Fedilos (recent converts). They are  very poor families but we promised that if they would pay a full tithe, the Lord would always provide food on their tables. It was a pretty powerful lesson and they promised they would pay a full tithe. 

Come to Sunday and we (or I guess I should say the Garceniego and Fedilos family) witnessed a miracle. Sister Fanene and I had participated in the ward Christmas devotional by singing and so afterward Bishop gave us some fruit baskets to deliver. We were heading out to our farthest area, even though it was pouring rain, so we offered to take some fruit to the members out there. At first I was a little discouraged because my umbrella was broken and proselyting while soaking wet isn't really that fun. haha But I have the best companion in the world. We had had an awesome study earlier about astonishing people and she wanted to astonish everyone that day. Even by wearing her bright pink sweater. ;) Anyway, she just put on the biggest smile and started belting Hark All Ye Nations in the soaking rain. My blip of discouragement turned right around because of her and I joined right in in singing. We traveled in the dark to our first stop, Jaymon. He is one of our awesome progressing investigators. He's 22 years old but lives by himself. He had spent Christmas alone so we took the fruit basket that the Bishop had given to us as missionaries to eat, and decided to give it to him. It was such a spirit filled moment when we told him that even though he spent Christmas alone, we were going to celebrate it right then and there with him. We told him that he is really never alone with our Savior and Heavenly Father and that he has a ward family that loves him too. Then we gave him the fruit and he got THE biggest grin on his face. Oh my goodness, it just made me so happy inside. So worth the travel, rain, and darkness, just to visit his humble, candle-lit home and share the love we know the Savior has for him. Afterward, because of the rain, there weren't very many tricycles to head back to Bago. I was getting a little worried we'd have to walk I don't know how far to get back home, but Sister Fanene has the biggest faith EVER! She just knew the Lord would provide, and sure enough, a tricycle came literally out of nowhere just as we decided we'd start walking to Bago. We stopped by the Garceniego and Fedilos family and here's where the other miracle came in...we shared our message with them and then gave them the fruit baskets. Then Sister Lourna said that right when we came, they were in the middle of a discussion about tithing. Dayna was figuring out how much she needed to set aside to give on Sunday. Lourna and her family were over at her daughter's, Dayna's house, because they didn't have sudtan (or the side dish that goes with the rice). As they were exercising their faith and setting aside the money for their tithing, we unexpectedly came to visit them (we have never visited them at night) and came with fruit baskets for them. I was just astonished. :) Miracle right there. I hope they never forget this experience. Even though they hadn't actually paid the tithing yet, I know that because of the huge leap of faith they were taking in paying from their very small income and setting it aside to pay the following Sunday, that Heavenly Father blessed them. It was so awesome!! I'm so grateful for the Spirit in inspiring us to visit that area at that time. And if you think about it, if the tricycle we had waited for had come any earlier, we would've arrived at the Garceniego and Fedilos family household earlier, possibly before their discussion on tithing. It just blows me away how Heavenly Father has His hand and timing in every little thing...all the way down to the time that we caught a tricycle. And then to add to the miracles, after our visit with them, we still had to make it home to Bago. But right as we were leaving, a tricycle drove by and we were able to make it home before curfew. Pure miracle considering the situation of the weather we were in. And that's just the beginning. There were so so many other miracles throughout the day. The more I realize and recognize the blessings and tender mercies of the Lord, the more I realize just how much His hand is in my life. He is in every single little detail and if I were to keep track of every single little miracle and tender mercy that He gave me each day, my brain might explode. My journal would too! haha I'm just so grateful for the Spirit that has allowed me to recognize these miracles more and more throughout my mission and I hope to always stay worthy of the Spirit to always see the miracles He blessed me and all His children with. He truly does love all His children and He is so mindful of each and every one of us. It blows my mind how He is able to be so mindful of every single one of His children on the earth, all at the same time, but that just proves to me even more that He is our Almighty God and loving Heavenly Father. His love is eternal and endless. Of all the lessons we teach, I think one of the most important is from the very beginning. Lesson one, principle one: God is Our Loving Heavenly Father.

 I'm so grateful for the love I feel from my Father each day and for the opportunity I have to help others come to know and feel our Heavenly Father's love for them as well. His love is astonishing, and I want to share it with all I come in contact with.
Christmas Eve with the Bishop's family.
(Thanks to Bishop Santos and his family for sharing Christmas Eve with Sister Dixon and Sister Fanene. We are so grateful for their service and love to our sweet daughters. So grateful it "felt like home".)

Dinner time.

Looks delicious!

"White Christmas"

Baptisms on Christmas Day

Jessica sent us a picture of us-- made me laugh. Do you see her in the right corner taking the photo?
Love that girl! :)

Christmas goodies from Ryan and Megan--so kind and generous.

Christmas Day treat with Sister Pailano--the Relief Society President

A purple root crop that tastes like a potato

Recent convert families. (Jessica shared their tithing story in her email).

"A pretty tree by our apartment"

I hope all of YOU have an astonishing week, full of miracles and love from our Heavenly Father. Love you all so much and hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Have a safe and happy New Year!

All my love,
Sister Dixon 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas week! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas day and truly feel the true Spirit of Christmas and the love of our Savior Jesus Christ. I’m so thankful this year to be celebrating the birth of our Savior in the midst of His service. The best gift I can give Him right now is to be doing exactly what I’m doing, and I couldn’t be more humbled or grateful to be one of His missionaries. I’ve come to understand more than ever the true meaning of Christmas and the love the Savior has for me and all of us.

This week flew by so fast! Tuesday we had an awesome district meeting about teach when you find, find when you teach. Our district leader was really inspired because we were really needing to hear this for our area. We got some awesome ideas of how we can be better at OYMing and inviting everyone to hear the message of the Restored Gospel. I also had an awesome personal study on becoming a fisher of men and the first great commandment of loving God, and how when we love God we will keep all His commandments, which includes that of our baptismal covenant of serving Him always. When we truly love Him, it’s so easy to just forget yourself and serve others. I’ll be honest, I’m still working on completely forgetting myself but I know that in the strength of the Lord, I’ll get there. :) Later that day we had an awesome lesson with Erika and EJ about temples. I showed them the pictures of the temple I brought from home and they got so excited that they’d get to go there someday. Their Grandma, who is so strong in the Gospel and is basically the one raising them, hasn’t received the opportunity yet to go to the temple to receive her endowment. She gets emotional about it, and my heart just goes out to her because of her strong and sincere desire to attend the temple. Her circumstances just don’t allow it. I know that Heavenly Father will bless her for the desires of her heart, however, and she’ll be able to receive those special blessings someday. Glance also had her baptismal interview—Elder Cruz said she was one of the best prepared children he’s interviewed—I believe it is because she is so smart as so ready to be baptized! She’s 11 years old and reminds me a lot of Rissy. :) It’s a real tender mercy to have my family with me through the investigators and those I come in contact with—just Filipino style. :)

Wednesday we saw this little boy carrying this HUGE 50 kilo bag of rice. We helped him carry it home, and even with three of us it was soo heavy. I don’t know how he was doing it on his own! The people here are so hard working, even the kids. They truly all work together as a whole family with responsibilities to have their basic needs met. The Filipino people are such amazing examples to me. It was pretty awesome, because half way to the boy’s house, a young man saw us struggling and came and picked up the whole bag and put it on his head and walked the rest of the way with one hand holding it. People here are so nice!

Thursday was awesome because as we were teaching Lourna and Nestor Garceniego (an RC family), they were getting so excited about sharing the Gospel with others. That’s one of my favorite things as a missionary—to see a recent convert get fired up about the Gospel and wanting to share it with EVERYONE. They have no fear because they feel how crucial this Gospel is and just can’t stand the thought of people not having the truth! There’s a lot I’ve learned from these recent converts…

Friday we worked with Sister Pailano for a bit. She’s the Relief Society President and so very sweet. She used to work at the hospital and then went almost blind. She was so depressed that she almost killed herself. Then the missionaries came and saved her. Now she does all she can to save others by helping the missionaries. She’s was baptized in 1984 at age 27 and is still single. She is so strong and amazing! She told us her favorite song is “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.” We’re going to spend part of Christmas day with her, which I’m excited for.

(*Mom's note--We have the words, "I'll Go Where He Wants Me To Go" in vinyl lettering on our missionary wall--which also includes a picture of the Savior, a map of the Philippines, and a photo of Jessica. It is truly a tender mercy for me that Jessica will be spending some of Christmas Day with a sister who appreciates and has a tender place in her heart for that hymn as well--Jessica might not be home for Christmas, but, she will be... at home.*)

Saturday I got to know Sister Fanene a bit better. We have grown up with complete opposite lifestyles, yet we are so similar in many ways. I’ve learned so much from her about working hard, having charity, truly feeling for the Spirit, being positive, having faith, and just being strong! I just love her.

Sunday we were asked to give talks in Sacrament about Christmas so I talked about our stocking tradition we do on Christmas Eve back home and giving gifts to Christ for the year. We also had some tender mercies of members working with us throughout the day, which was awesome!

Sorry for kind of a shorter email this week. Just know that I love you all so much and wish you the very best Christmas! Xoxo

Sister Dixon

Jessica's District

Rice Fields

"Cock houses--they raise cocks for their 'cock fighting.' "

"Sister Alarcon (Recent convert) cutting sugarcane for us to eat. My first time trying it! 
It's pretty much like eating wet sugar." 

"Sister Pialano..our Relief Society President. She's so amazing. We love her like a grandmother and are so grateful we get to spend Christmas with her! :)"

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Miracles Every Day!

Kamusta my wonderful friends and family!

This week has been wonderful! Kind of rough as far as our numbers and key indicators went, but way high as far as miracles and tender mercies are concerned! 

Monday our FHE with the Pueg family fell through, so we visited the Padilla girls--Melody, Joy, and Julia (Joy and Julia are twins). They were busy making Agogo (ice candy), which is how they make a living, so we decided to help them and made a great object lesson out of it. Sister Fanene and I were having a hard time tying the bags tight against the agogo, so we related that to how we need to make sure we keep our testimonies strong by doing all sorts of 'sweet' or 'good' things (like the agogo), and not making any room for Satan to enter. 

Tuesday we taught the cutest little 10 year old, John Ravin, about the Plan of Salvation. He's one of the smartest boys I've met here and when we told him that in order to get to the Celestial Kingdom he had to do all sorts of things here on earth like baptism, reading scriptures, praying, going to church, etc., he was like, "When am I going to be baptized so I can go there!" Then he started reteaching the Plan of Salvation to us. Such a smart, cute kid!

Wednesday we had our zone leader's training. My zone leaders now are Elder May and Perez. They are so in tune with the Spirit and I learned so much from their training. I felt like it was just for me! Afterwards we were pumped to get back to work and strive even more to work hard. Nasty little Satan crept in, however, trying to stop the work, and I got super tired the rest of the day and got a cold. I didn't want to give in though and just kept working. The next day I was back to full speed. :) 

Thursday was awesome. We had gone on Wednesday to visit Gina, Ge-ann, and Andrea, but they weren't home. We left a sticky note saying we'd come the next day, and I don't think it was a coincidence that we came when we did. We were having a really powerful lesson about the Plan of Salvation (they're the family that just had their mom/lola die). Amidst it all, someone came running and yelling towards the house, with Ge-ann's little boy in his arms. He had fallen and hit his head really hard and was knocked out, but they thought that he had died. I found all that out afterward, but during the commotion I just kept praying and praying in my heart that he would be okay while we watched them try to wake him up by rubbing his forehead. It wasn't until after he woke up and was okay and that we finished our lesson that I started thinking about the power and authority of my call. I don't mean to say this in a proud or boasting way, but I wonder what would've happened if we as servants of the Lord weren't there at that very moment. Of course as sister missionaries, we don't hold the power of the Priesthood, but I still believe the power of the Priesthood worked through both mine and Sister Fanene's prayers for this little boy. We couldn't do anything but pray at that moment, but I still felt the Lord's hand take control of the situation. I just got the strong feeling after we left that we really are servants of the Lord and our call is sacred and we truly have power and authority. Just the fact that servants of the Lord were present at the time of this miracle was a witness to me that God loves each of His children and He works through us as missionaries to bless families in a variety of ways. It just makes me want to strive even more to be worthy of my call. After this medyo heart-stopping experience, the family wanted to continue with our lesson, so we did. Like I mentioned before, the Spirit was so strong---probably one of the strongest, spirit-filled lessons I've had as we testified of HOW they'd be able to see their grandmother and mother again. When we talked about being baptized, we committed them to baptism on the 19th of January. That day is on a Sunday (baptisms are usually on Saturday) but for some reason I just felt prompted to extend that date. They agreed to be baptized and then said that that is their mom/grandma's birthday! (The one that just passed away). I got chills as they told me that. There is no way that that was a coincidence. I could just imagine their mom/lola on the other side leaping for joy, knowing that they would be baptized on her birthday. :) It was truly an amazing experience.

Friday we had a good planning session and planned how we can find more investigators (this area has been the hardest for me as far as finding goes), but when we went out, we were punted like crazy.The night ended well though because we taught Janna and Glance about following the prophet. We taught them the books of the Book of Mormon song and now I think they'll be driving their mom crazy--they LOVE to sing it and go faster and faster with each time. haha They're so cute. :)

Saturday the Bago 1 sisters had a baptism, so we went with our investigators Erika and EJ. They are so so excited for their baptism on the 25th and Erika couldn't help but grin the whole walk over to the church. She just can't hide her excitement! They had their interview with Elder Cruz after the baptism and they are good to go! We also had some pretty awesome miracles as far as recent convert lessons go. We were able to teach two of our recent coverts, Nikki and Arial, that have been hard to get in contact with to teach. While we taught them, we also had a less active sit in on the lesson! He's partly deaf, so we had to basically yell as we taught about the 10 commandments, but thank goodness for scriptures so he could read and follow along just fine. :) 

Sunday was another miracle. After a really rough week of low key indicators and feeling like we weren't having any success as far as new investigators go (our zone goal is 10 per week and we had 0), we witnessed the blessings of working our hardest and doing our best to be exactly obedient and we witnessed a miracle! Sometimes the Lord's plan and timing works in the most mysterious of ways. We got to church and someone from the Bago 1st ward introduced us to one of his friends that lives in our area. Bam! He gave us an investigator at our very own church! It was awesome! We were so excited and visited him that very afternoon. Oh my goodness, Heavenly Father has put an elect in our path! His name is Jayman Guarra. He's 22 and lives by himself. His brother lives in Luzon, his Dad died, and he hasn't seen his Mom in 16 years.He works in the rice fields to support himself. I couldn't help but think that he must think all the time if God really loves him. He also expressed his thoughts about why there were so many churches, but only one God. We had just the answer for him! ;) We had a really awesome time teaching, completely led by the Spirit, and he was glued to the information we relayed to him as we discussed lesson one, the Restoration. We testified to him how much God loves him and how if he's ever felt lost, he has now been found and that this Gospel can bring him so much happiness and peace. Now and for his future family. He seemed to really appreciate that. We set up an appointment to go back later this week when he's not working in the rice fields, so hopefully we can go back soon! I'm just so grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord as He has given us miracle after miracle. Yes, we've been tried and tested, wondering if we were doing all that we could and why nothing was happening, but in the end, I know Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for us as missionaries and for our investigators, so that all of us grow according to His plan. I'm so grateful for Sister Fanene and her deep desire to work hard and do all we can to be worthy of the Spirit. The unity we have with each other and the Spirit has helped us so much in our lessons. She's so in tune with the Spirit and we help each other recognize the little miracles we see each day, which I love. 

I was studying in the Liahona this month, and there are some pretty amazing articles about the Savior and His birth. I'm so grateful for the Savior and for His birth, Atonement, and Resurrection. Christmas is a time to share gifts (spiritual ones, not just physical), strengthen others, build the kingdom of God, express love, and bear testimony of the Savior.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to be a missionary of the Lord, serving Him during this Christmas season. There's no better time than now, as a missionary, for me to be doing these things. I'm excited to share the gift and Spirit of Christmas now and throughout the rest of my mission. There's truly no greater gift than that from our Heavenly Father--Jesus Christ and His birth, Atonement and Resurrection. I know that He is our Savior and that through Him we can receive the greatest gift of all-eternal life. 

I love you all so much! Have a wonderful week celebrating this wonderful time of the year! And Happy birthday Lanna!!! Have the best golden birthday ever! Lova love you! xo

Sister Dixon

PS Randomness...nipa huts with Christmas lights are the best sight ever on a tropical island at Christmas. Fireworks literally sound like bombs here and make me jump about 10 feet every time I hear a lupok (boom).
 A huge toad decided to live in our home for a while until we got brave enough to sweep it outside. haha 
All the Filipino kids LOVE to rub my arm hair because they don't have any. This week Janna rubbed my arms and called me fluffy! haha 

"Bringing a 'cake' to the Padilla girls since our birthday FHE fell through, and helping them make agogo! (ice candy). Orange and Boco (coconut) flavored.


"The tree is made of plastic cups, chicken wire and lights"

"Akisha---the cutest Filipino baby EVER!"

"Filipino kiddos"

"the beautiful ocean"

"Christmas toes!"( there really are 20 there if you look closely-
those socks came from home-sweet-home--glad she got them)!

"Tricycle FULL of should see the jeepneys.."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Transfer... 4th Area! 7th Companion! 7 Months!

Hello everyone! 

Yes, Transfers has already come again and I am now in my fourth area with my seventh companion, in only 7 months! I have loved each and every one of them though and have learned so much and know Heavenly Father has so much more in store for me to learn and grow from each of my areas and companions. I am now in Bago in the Bago 2nd ward with Sister Fanene. We live next door to two other missionaries...Sister Henshaw and Sister Emelio. They are all so wonderful and I already love my companion SO much! We are so incredibly different, but it's the kind of different where we just complement each other's differences, so it's perfect! She is Samoan and was raised in both Samoa and Hawaii. She LOVES to have fun (or, in this mission we say "joy" instead), but when it comes to the work, she is very serious and down to business. She is literally one of THE most selfless people I have EVER met. Her motives for everything are completely out of love and she has truly lost herself in the work. She's one transfer behind me, but has only been here in the Philippines for 6 weeks because her visa was delayed so she was in the Provo mission for her first 12 weeks. She has caught on super fast to the language and culture though and her spirit when she testifies is just on fire! I can already see some of the reasons Heavenly Father has placed us together. :) I am so excited for this coming transfer and all the things I'll be learning from her. 

On Tuesday after we got settled in after a bit of traveling to my new area, I met some of our investigators, Erika, EJ (siblings), Glance, Janna (sisters), and John Raven. Sister Fanene's last companion loved teaching kids, so they're all pretty young, but Erika and EJ have the strongest testimonies and great support from their Grandma. They love reading the Book of Mormon and are super excited for their baptism to be on Christmas. :) 

Wednesday we had a big tender mercy. We visited some investigators named Gina, Jayanne, and Andrea. Gina is the Mom and Jayanne and Andrea are her daughters. Their grandmother/mother died that week so we talked about the Plan of Salvation. Many tears were shed throughout the lesson and Sister Fanene gave a powerful testimony of knowing that she'll see her own grandmother (who she basically considers as her mom) again. Her Grandma/Mom died while she was in the MTC. She is so strong and has taken this experience to bring a lot of power and spirit into her testimony of the Savior and the Plan of Salvation. The spirit was so strong in this lesson and I can tell that Gina, Jayanne, and Andrea have really softened hearts right now. They were really looking forward to reading the Book of Mormon in Alma about the Plan of Salvation and are really looking forward to our return. We also visited a few less actives that live near the ocean (so gorgeous) and met with Brother Raymon, our ward mission leader. He's super nice and so willing to help us, so I'm excited to work with him.

Thursday Sister Fanene was feeling pretty sick but she insisted that she go out and work, no matter what I told her. She doesn't want to miss a minute of serving. We had quite a few miracles as a result. We met with the Padilla family who has been less active for quite some time. The Dad was actually the first one baptized in Bago in the 1970s and has had stake callings and everything. He just said "he was taking a break" and had some misunderstandings with some leaders after the death of his wife. I can tell he still has a strong testimony deep down though, as well as his three daughters. We just bore testimony of the Savior's love for them and invited them to come to church on Sunday...and they did! We were SO happy!! Hopefully this is the first step back for them to reactivation and having the fullness of joy from the Gospel in their lives that they said they know is lacking right now. :) 

Friday we had probably the best weekly planning of my whole mission, despite the fact that I hardly even know the area yet. Sister Fanene is so in tune with the Spirit and we tried really hard to let the Spirit guide every aspect of our planning. Afterward we went to one of our areas that neither of us have been to to try and find members and contact a referral. The referral we found was the Pueg family. They have 9 kids, all starting with the letter "J." The second to youngest is named Jessica! Pretty awesome name if you ask me. ;) She turns 8 today so we set up a return appointment to go there tonight and teach them for the first time. I'm really praying that Heavenly Father will allow this family to be open to our message. It would be amazing if this whole family accepted the Gospel and was baptized! I tried envisioning my own family while talking to them, and it just made my desire for them to be baptized even stronger. I want for them so much to partake of the ordinances of salvation by entering the waters of baptism and starting their journey to become an eternal family. :) 

Saturday we had a pretty rough day and were punted quite a bit. We were fasting too, so I think our faith was put to the test. We didn't get very many lessons in for the day, but we still saw a lot of miracles. It was a day for me that put into perspective what the Savior would do if He were here. Not just teach, but serve. We helped this cute older woman get to her home safely. She was so small and frail and we didn't want her to fall. We planted a few seeds in one of our areas by OYM-ing (opening your mouth) a lot.  We played the piano and sang Christmas Hymns with an older Catholic man--he's the organist in his church and has a keyboard, and is the grandpa of one of our less active families. It was a miracle in itself that he let us in, but once we started singing Christmas songs with him, his whole countenance and heart changed. Hopefully this will be one step further into truly softening his heart. It was so fun to sing and share the spirit of Christmas with him. We also met with Bishop Delos Santos for coordination meeting. He was the first stake president in this stake and he is awesome. He's super focused on the work and we had a good meeting of how we can reactivate and retain a lot of members of our ward (we have a ton of less active members). We also expressed how much we really want to get to know the members and work with them. To be as one in hastening the work because we can't do this without them. The Bishop loved it and we set some plans of what we can do to help this area to grow. I'm so excited to help this area progress and help Bishop out! He has such a great vision for our ward. 

Sunday I met most of our ward members for the first time and they're so awesome! And since I'm new to the ward, I gave a talk. We were still being tested with our faith, because Erika and EJ were the only investigators who showed up to church, and we had very few recent converts attend, but the less active members we visited this week showed up to church! So that was a tender mercy. We also had an awesome ward council of the best since I've been to here in the field. This ward really has great leaders and we helped get the ward excited about member missionary work and our desire to work with and get to know each of them. After church and our studies, we worked with La-arnie. She's 19 and the YW president. She is so awesome! Very driven and hard working. She's going to be one awesome missionary. She showed us a lot of our areas and the members that live there. We had some great lessons, which was a tender mercy after having a rough day the day before and earlier that day. We had a lesson with a lesson active member...Sister Villarwell. Her husband is a seaman so she lives at home with her two boys. She got a tattoo to cover some scars on her legs, but didn't know we don't get tattoos as members of the church. She felt so guilty when she found out and felt so unworthy she wanted to talk to Bishop, but didn't know how. The scripture we shared in Alma 5:50 really opened her up. When we asked what she understood about the verse, she was very hesitant, but then all of a sudden just opened up to us about her concern. She was so sweet and I felt so bad she had felt such guilt for so long! We told her it was okay because she had no idea when she did it and that through Christ, she can feel guilt free and clean again. She was SO relieved...I could literally see the huge weight be lifted off her shoulders. She said she had been losing sleep over it but was so grateful she opened up to us. She gave a very sincere closing prayer and then couldn't stop expressing her thanks. Her whole countenance had changed. I was so grateful we had visited her. We had planned on teaching Janna and Glance (the two sisters), but felt like we should focus on the less actives that day, and as a result, we experienced some pretty neat tender mercies. 

There have been so many miracles this week and tender mercies. Each day I see more and more of the Lord's hand in my life. He is literally in every moment of our day and I've had to stop writing all of them in my journal because it takes too much time! I know without a doubt that the Lord leads and directs this work and I'm so excited to see what this transfer has in store for me and Sister Fenene here in Bago. I'm so grateful for my Heavenly Father and His perfect plan for us. I know He knows us and loves us and I love growing closer and closer to Him each day. 
I hope you all have a great week! Sending some Filipino warmth (both in temperature and Christmas spirit) your way! Love you all so much! 

Sister Dixon 

Sister Dixon's district in Silay (the area she just left).

An ocean view

Sister Dixon and Sister Fanene.
Here is Sister Fanene's first name: Aigalesalalafotasi!
It's a good thing they just go by the last! :)
She is beautiful and Sister Dixon LOVES her.

Sister Dixon thinks these are fishing boats!

A sweet sister and her grandbaby!

Philippine Sunset

Sister Dixon's apartment

Someone left Sister Dixon and her companion a decorated tree.
That was nice of them! :)
It is good to see that she received the presents we sent.

Ever think to be grateful for a bucket? I think Sister Dixon has... and is!! :)