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 yikes..one 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 fluent....um, 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)