Monday, June 24, 2013

I'm in the Philippines!!


Oh my goodness, I feel like I've waited 10 years to email you!! This week has gone by so slow it feels like. There is just so much to take in here! As you know, we flew to Portland, then Tokyo, then Manila. My luggage made it everywhere okay, which I was very happy about. That night we stayed in a hotel. Manila was crazy. The buildings are tall and it seemed like a Filipino Las Vegas. The driving here is CRAZY! But they are safe and get where they need to go!

The next morning we woke up to a phone call saying our bus was here to take us to the airport. We frantically got ready and loaded the bus, later to find out they got mixed up with which missionaries were leaving when, so we ended up at the airport 2 hours earlier than we needed. That's okay though...better early than late, right? :) We took a plane to Bacolod where we met President Lopez, his wife, and senior missionary couples outside the airport. I was so excited to see Sister Adams and her husband! We drove to the mission home and I just felt like I was in a dream. Green everywhere, the old houses, people riding carabou on the side of the road, dogs everywhere, tricycads galore, jeepneys...the whole deal! I can't believe I'm actually in the Philippines! We arrived at the mission home and had a interviews, an orientation, and then stayed the night in a hotel. I stayed in a room with 3 of the Filipinos sisters we met up with in Manila. They were so sweet. :) President said this was the only night when we'd get good rest for the next 18 months- 2 years and to take advantage of it, so I sure did! I went to bed at 8am and slept the whole night through.

The next morning we met at the Galo chapel where we studied for a little bit before meeting our trainer! My trainer is Sister Alesha McIver. She is 23 and from New Zealand, but she is Samoan. Her one year mark is actually tomorrow! Crazy! She said it flies by SO fast! Right now I honestly feel like that day will never come, but it's okay! I know it will. She is so very sweet and is trying so hard to remember her first weeks here so she can feel for me. She calls me her daughter and says that in the future, for her kids, she'll do anything for them. And right now, she'll do anything for me because I'm her 'daughter.' She really is so great! I love her already. We took a taxi to Mansilingan, my first area. We went to the market for the first time to get some food. They mainly eat rice with meat, so I'm still adjusting. I jut got some bread, peanut butter, and oatmeal for now. The members are very kind and feed us dinner most nights. It's usually rice and some kind of chicken or fish. It tastes pretty good but I'm still adjusting. I also tried mangos! Oh my...they really are as good as everyone says they are!! :) After the market we traveled to 3 or 5 different mini towns in our area to teach. We took my first tricycad ride and jeepney ride. So fun! The first family I met was the Borda family. Sister Adrian just got bapized so we are following up.  We work with those less active.  Some get baptizeed, but it'\s hard fro them to come to churvch someitmes. In fact, the majority of those we teach are less actives or recent converts. we really only have 2 or 3 actual investigators. That night we ate with teh stake president. I was beat by the end of the night, but i survived!
Friday we had weekly planning, which takes up a lot of the day, and then taught. WE did the same saturday. the people here are so poor---they live in little bamboo houses and they just live at such a poverty level. It just makes my heart cry! One house we went to we taught our lesson in the candlelight.

Sunday was my first time at church! It's just in a normal church building. They asked me to bear my testimony. eek! I did my best to do it in Hiligaynon. Oh, and It was ward conference so all the stake leaders were there---kind of scary but i did it! we sand in the choir as well and had a funeral afterwards. Sunday was a wonderful day but tough. Wonderful because everything was familiar--the hymns, sacrament, feeling of being at church, but at the same time it made it tough because i got homesick.

random things:
there are dogs EVERYWHERE!!
I've already seen huge spiders, cockroaches in my house, caribou.
the kids here are ADORABLE!! Especially when they speak the langauge. AH! so cute.
fans are the biggest blessing EVER!! I've never felt so sticky in all my life. I feel like i'm camping 24/7, but hey, i'll get used to it eventually right?
everywhere i go people say, "guapa!" which means beatiful. white is pretty here, so that's why. haha

Well, I hope everyone has a good week! Pray that I can adjust to the culture, climate, food, and schedule of missionary life. It's definitely the hardest thing i've ever done, but I know the Lord with help me. Thank you for all your prayers and love. I love you all so very much!!

Sister Dixon

"Look, this is really a caribou that is 2 feet from me!"

Jessica's companion, Sister McIver, from New Zealand

A sweet sister who will soon be serving a mission, Sister McIver and Sister Dixon

Walking to a town to teach and testify


Jessica's study area

Home Sweet Home

Not sure how all this works, but it looks like she does have running water---somewhat!

Standing outside her apartment door

With President and Sister Lopez at the mission home--first day there.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Goodbye America, Hello Bacolod!

Kamusta pamilya ko!
Can you believe the time is here?! I leave Monday morning for the Philippines. Crazy! I'm SO excited!! I don't know the language, and there's a lot of unknown, but I'm very much at peace and ready to get out there and serve!

Before I get too far into this letter, Happy Father's Day!!! I love you so very much Dad and hope you have a great day. Just think of my phone call on Monday as a Father's day call instead of Mother's day. :) And happy father's day to grandpas and uncles and just everyone! Love you all!! And happy out of school everyone! I got grad announcements from Roscoe, Ricky, and Logan. Can't believe they're graduated!
I don't have a whole lot of time this week, so this might be a shorter email, but basically, the MTC is wonderful!! I have absolutely loved my stay here. I am so filled with the Spirit here that I just feel like I could burst! Really, it's so amazing and I've never been so happy. :) I can't wait for that joy to increase in the field!
This week we got a new investigator named JB (Elder Speiser--he's going to be a new teacher next transfer because Brother Oldroyd is leaving--he's going to visit his mission in IloIlo!). Anyway, we LOVE teaching JB! He is so enthusiastic about everything! When we told him about prophets, he was like, "to-od?!" (Pronounced toad with an emphasis in the middle), which means, "seriously?!" He kept saying it over and over, so excited! And when I asked him to be baptized i said,"Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ..." and then he but in with, "OO!" (YES!, pronounced oh-oh), before I could even say, "and be baptized by someone with proper priesthood authority. It was so great! He's golden. ;)
On Sunday, Sister Clegg from the RS General Board came. Oh my goodness, I want to be just like her someday. She is incredible! She told us that when her and her husband were training to be mission president/wife, they told them that if they remembered everything they learned in the MTC they would not fail. ha good to know! Because i feel like they've given us SO much information. Basically, they told her that "The three most important things to know as you go" are 1.Know My Purpose, 2. Be bold, and she added a third: expect miracles. It was an excellent RS lesson. :) Oh, and fun fact, when we sing, "Army of Helaman" we sing, "and we are NOW the lord's missionaries..." I love it!
So there's a missionary here named Elder Bayly that I see in the cafeteria. Pretty sure he's Thurl Bayly's son because he is super tall and looks just like him. Pretty neat! And guess what...I got to host Sister Heidi Shelley!!! :D The car pulled up, and another sister was going to help but once I saw who it was i ran over and was like, "can i please host this family, i know them!" of course she let me because all the sisters here are so sweet, so i got to host her and show her around campus! I was so happy! Tender mercy for sure. For me and probably for her as well. I remember my first day, it was nice seeing people I knew. :) oh,I gave the Shelley's hugs to pass to you, so be sure to give them hugs! :) I also got to host sisters going to Brazil and Taiwan. I seriously love hosting. It's so fun! And the sisters coming in were just so excited to serve! 

Tuesday was AMAZING!! It was historic because it was the first time all the missionaries met in the Marriott Center at BYU for devotional. We just don't fit in the MTC anymore! It's awesome! As we walked, I'm sure it was quite the sight to see about 4,000 missionaries walking together. It was awesome for ME to see! I wish I would've had my camera with me to show you! It's just amazing to me that all these 18-20 something year old young adults are so willing to give up 18 months to 2 years of their life for their religion. The only reason I can think that such a huge group of YA would do that, is because it's TRUE! And I know it! And I want to share this wonderful Gospel with as many people as I can. :) As we walked, we would sing Hymns...that's a lot of missionaries singing Hymns! It was so powerful! The devotional was awesome---Elder Mervyn B. Arnold from the 70 spoke to us about ways to serve without regret. His testimony was so powerful. I don't think there was one time when he didn't choke up while talking about the Savior. You could literally feel the love he has for the Savior.
As we've studied this week, we've tried our best to stay focused so we can be the best prepared we can be for the field. Elder Winward said this would be a good trial run for how we'll be the last week of our missions: trunky, or working our hardest to the very last minute. I liked the analogy and I'm doing my best to work my hardest. Our teachers have helped us so much, and I'm going to be so sad to say goodbye! Really, without them, there's no way we would be where we are. They are all so amazing. Same with my district. It will be hard to say goodbye to everyone, but it's for a good cause, right? ;)
Well, as far as travel plans go, I leave Monday morning for the SLC airport. We go to Portland, then Tokyo, then Manila. From there we'll take a smaller flight system to Bacolod. Let the adventure begin! I'm so excited. I already have so much love for the Filipino people and can't wait to serve them. Next week, you'll be receiving an email from the Philippines...crazy! 

I remember the first time I emailed you I didn't have time to write my testimony, so here it is simply in Hilgaynon....
Kabalo ako nga matuod ang ebanghelyo ni JesuCristo. Kabalo ako nga palangga kita sang Diyos, kag gusto niya magbulig kita. Kabalo ako nga matuod nga propeta si Thomas S. Monson. Kabalo ako nga matuod ang libro ni mormon kag propeta si Jospeh Smith. Kabalo ako nga Manluluwas ang JesuCristo. Palangga ko ang ebanghelyo. Sa ngalan ni JesuCristo, amen.
I truly know this Gospel is true and i love it with all my heart!
Have a most fabulous week and I'll write to you from the Philippines next week! :)

Palangga ka kamo!!
Sister Dixon
PS. Happy anniversary to Grandma and Grandpa Warburton tomorrow!! Love you! And happy birthday this past week to Ricky, and this week to Jason and Uncle Russell. :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Travel Plans!

Kamusta everyone!

Can you believe that tomorrow I get my travel plans?! Say what? I can't believe we're so close to leaving! It seriously feels like I just got here. I'll let you know next Thursday what the travel plans are and when/if I'll get to call you at the airport! :D But p-day left until we leave? Nuts.

This week was awesome! Last Thursday we got to teach Sister Konishi again (the native Filipino who is so adorable and so very sweet). After teaching her, we asked her what we could do to help her and she told us 4 things--- 1. Love the people there. 2. Reactive, not just search out those who aren't members (it's crazy how many are inactive--out of 650,000 members, only 115,000 are active, as of Fall 2011. that's what bro. oldroyd told us. lots of work to do!) 3. Love my mission president (she knows his family personally and when we saw Jericho, president lopez's son, at TRC, she was SO excited to see him :) ), 4. Have the Spirit with me, always. But that'll come day by day throughout my mission.
She was just the sweetest! She didn't even mention one thing we could do specifically for her, just what we could do for her people. :)
We also taught a girl named Sarah Decker, who served her mission in the Philippines. I went to say, "Can we pray?" But instead said, "Can we love you?" (They both start with the letter P and nerves just got me confused. haha). she just looked at me funny with a look of, "uh....sure?" and then one of my companions said, "you mean pangamuyo?" (which is prayer). Oh my gosh, I was dying! So embarrasing, but so funny!

On Sunday we had a different devotional than usual. Brother Ted Gibbons acted out the testimony of Willard Richards, one of the men in Carthage with Joseph Smith when he died. It was so interesting getting that perspective of everything. This was the devotional I prayed at, which went well. Kind of nerve wracking praying in front of about 3,500 people, but thanks SO much for your prayers! They definitely helped me stay calm and say what I needed to say. :)

So Brother Hong told us one day that we speak, what? We were all like, "psh, yeah right," and we all thought he was totally joking, but he said, "no really! If you can carry a conversation, i consider that fluent, and all of you can carry on a conversation." Isn't that crazy! Four weeks and he's considering our speaking fluent. The gift of tongues is real! I know I'm far from really being fluent, but it was a huge confidence booster to keep us going, knowing we can do this and that we'll be able to speak, at least in the beginning, in a basic conversation with the Filipino people. Good thing the Lord is on our side! I know he wants us to succeed to help save His children, and that's the only way we've been able to learn as much as we have. It really is pretty amazing how much we've learned. We had a demonstrate teaching with Brother Oldroyd on Tuesday and elder winward played the investigator. it was all in hiligaynon and i could understand almost the entire lesson that lasted for about 45 minutes. It was incredible! I can understand what's being said a lot easier than speaking it, but that's a good start! Let's just hope the filipinos speak really slow so i can actually hear the words they're using. ;) haha not likely to happen, but i know i'll get it eventually! Aside from the language, the demonstrate teaching they did was incredible. the spirit was so strong--probably one of the strongest times i've felt it here in the MTC. We were just in our little classroom, but the lesson was so powerful. Brother Oldroyd gave "Robert" (elder winward) a blessing (like a real blessing) and when he did that the spirit was just so strong. We were to envision ourselves as the investigator as well throughout the whole thing so we'd know what it felt like to be them, and what they were feeling. In the position of an investigator, I felt the spirit so strongly during that blessing, and knew that God loved me. And it's true! He loves all His children. I love that we do these teaching experiences to learn how the investigator feels and what it is they need to feel and know and do in order to truly experience conversion and God's love. I know it'll help me a ton as a missionary to know what to do and how to follow the Spirit in order to help them. :)

On Tuesday Sister Van Slooten and I did a split together to go to Choir. It was so wonderful! The choir director (i can't remember his name!) reminded me a lot of mr. smith and dr./bro. huff. I think it's a requirement for choir teachers to have a certain personality. haha We sand, "I Feel My Savior's Love." I loved when he told us, "Does He know? Do you know?" He was referring to the line, "He knows I will follow Him, give all my life to Him." It really got me thinking. I want to do all I can to make sure He knows, and that I know, that I WILL follow Him, and give ALL my life to Him, especially now. It was pretty powerful. That night we had Elder Tad R. Callister, from the Presidency of the Seventy speak to us. He talked about the New Testament being a blueprint of the only true Gospel. It was pretty deep in doctrine, but so cool! Afterward, sister Van slooten wanted to say hi because her family knows him (not a surpirse--she knows EVERYONE here! ;) haha) and so I got to shake his hand! President Nally (the MTC President) was down there too so I got to shake his hand as well and thank him for all he does for us. these men are so amazing. Their Spirit just radiates and you just know they're men of God.

Wednesday was nuts, but so fun!! We got to host the new missionaries!! At first i had mixed feelings because it brought back memories of my first day, but it turned out to be really awesome as I got to help these missionaries and let them know that they're in for the best experience of their lives! The first girl I had, sister Rosenberg, was from Australia (and knows Elder Morgan!). She's serving in the Philippines, too! So that was neat. She's been a member for 20 months after giving the missionaries a hard time and being stubborn for 9 months before joining the church. She told me she was so grateful they stuck with it otherwise she wouldn't be here in the mtc today. She's the only member in her family, but she said serving an 18 month mission was the very least she could do in order to show her gratitude to God, and to help others feel the happiness she's felt. She has such great faith and strength! She's an amazing example to me. She'll be so amazing since she knows what it feels like to be the investigator. I'm so excited for her! I got to help three other sisters who are going to washington, new jersey, and new hampshire. I can't believe it was four weeks ago that i was in their spot. It feels just like yesterday! Yet at the same time I feel like i've grown so much, yet have lots more growing to do! I'm excited! I saw Ali Lloyd while hosting, so i made sure to give her a big hug. :)

That night we had our new zone come in--57 missionaries! We had to split up as companionships to do tours and explain things since there's no way we could do all 57 at once. my companionship was in charge of one of the hong kong districts, and Camrie Smith was there! (we both went to BHS) I made sure to give her a big hug, too. All of them were so excited and ready to learn!But  I'm sure they all felt the same way I did the first day here--completely overwhelmed. Hopefully we can help them feel comfortable and happy like our zone did for us when we got here. :)

We had an amazing lesson with Juralyn on Wednesday--the best yet! Beforehand, during personal study, I felt like I should study about Baptism and the Priesthood. When we met for companionship study, however, both Sister Smoot and Nielsen studied about the Restoration. i wondered how on earth we were going to make a lesson plan that would fit all of those together simply enough for her to understand and meet her needs at the same time. We made a very basic lesson plan and then just decided to let the Spirit lead the rest of the way. I went in with just a little sheet of vocab words I don't know yet. The lesson started and she had all these questions about baptism and the Sacrament. We were able to answer her questions and then she kept saying how all these churches claim to be "true," including ours. What makes our the "true" one? That's when the Spirit told me to start talking about the Priesthood. I explained what it was and how our that's what makes everything valid (like baptism), becuase it's done with the proper authority of God. Then i said how Jospeh Smith had the same question she did as far as which church was true, and that he restored the Gospel and the Priesthood to the earth. Then Sister Nielsen and Sister Smoot did an excellent job explaining who Jospeh Smith was and the account of the first vision. It was amazing! The Spirit was definitely leading us the entire time. The things we studied, combined with the Spirit guiding us, led us in teaching a lesson I never would have been able to plan on my own. I know that it's because we followed the Spirit, in personal study, companionship study, and in our teaching, that we were able to teach her what she needed. It was a huge testimony builder to me of the importance of following the Spirit and the power of revelation. We were also able to give our entire lesson without looking at notes. For the first time! i know that when we let the Spirit take over, He'll give us the words we need to say, even in a language we don't know. :)

As cheesy as this is, I ate a Dove chocolate the other day that said, "You are exactly where you are supposed to be." I know this is true! I love this work so very much and know I'm truly exactly where I need to be. Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. I feel them every day! Thanks to everyone for your letters and happy birthday to Ashlie and Tiffany this past week! I sure love you!

The Church is true! Have a wonderful week!

Palangga ko kamo! (I love you all)

Sister Dixon