Sunday, November 24, 2013

"I've Been so Blessed..."

Hello everyone!

Another wonderful week has come and gone. A week full of tender mercies and blessings, as usual. Here's what happened this week.

Tuesday we taught Arlene Rodriguez and her neighbor Sosette. We had met with them before and discussed families and the restoration a little bit, so this time we went in a bit more detail. The Spirit was so strong as Sister Solomone said the first vision. Later we taught Arlene Casiple, a 16 year old member who hasn't been able to come to church because her parents won't let her. :( She just seemed so sad. We shared a scripture with her on Faith and sang a few Hymns before we started the lesson because it was raining so hard outside their tin house that we couldn't hear. The Spirit was strong though and she really has such great faith. We're going to try
talking with the parents and see if we can soften their hearts enough to let her go to church. She's just so sweet!

Wednesday we had district meeting and met our new Sister Training Leader, Sister Hogge. She is from the Tacloban mission and about half way through her mission. Oh my goodness, she is SO strong. I feel like I should be the one comforting and helping her after what she's gone through, but in reality, she has strengthened ME so much with her testimony and strength. I just love her so much. She is an absolutely beautiful servant of our
Heavenly Father, inside and out. After district meeting we taught Ma.Fe Longakit and her daughter, Jody Joy. We also brought Emilie Corro (recent convert) along to help with the lesson. It was the first lesson with Jody
Joy. She has two adorable little girls and they, along with her "husband" (they're not married) just moved in with Ma.Fe. We taught the first part of the Plan of Salvation, and during the entire lesson, Jody had all these
insights and I just thought, "she might as well be a missionary!" She is so ready for this Gospel!! We taught her again Friday about the Restoration because she hadn't heard it yet, and the Spirit was so strong. It just
clicked for her. She is so smart and knows that we have a loving Savior, Jesus Christ. She wants to continue learning about the truth. Her mom, Ma.Fe is just as strong. They are such a kind, wonderful family. After the
lesson, we we were heading to another appointment, and we walked past what's called, "Dumpside." It's where they put ALL their trash because they don't have a garbage removal system here. I have never seen so much trash in my life. My heart was tugged at quite a bit because there were people basically living in the trash and a lot of the people, "go to Dumpside" to get things to survive...they call it their "work" because they don't have
any other source of income. It reminded me a lot of what Kim Davis told me before my mission. My heart just ached for these people and the way they have to live because of their poverty. It just seems so unfair to me and it just makes me so incredibly grateful for the life I've had and the blessings I've received. I feel a bit guilty that I've been so blessed in my life. But then I have to remind myself that I've been so blessed so that I can now bring the truth and same blessings to these wonderful people. I can offer the same hope and blessings that this Gospel brings to me.

Thursday we taught Menchie about the 10 commandments and Brother Lau, our ward mission leader, was with us. He did this neat way to remember on his hands. I've learned a version of that when I was back home but I can't wait to show you the Filipino version! Remind me when I get home to show you, okay? ;) Menchie just soaked it all in, like she usually does, and she told us later that she really tried to apply the commandment, "honor thy father and mother." She has basically no family support, so she tried really hard to apply this commandment to her life and she could feel a big difference after she just tried talking to her parents, especially her dad. She is such a strong example of faith! I just love her. Later that night we taught Iza and Celia..the two sisters who came to church Sunday, before we even met them! We had a good lesson on the Restoration and
they were very receptive. Hopefully we can help them progress and see how blessed their lives can be through this Gospel.

Friday after planning we visited Menchie at her house. We made sure things were all set to go for Saturday and had a nice lesson on the importance of enduring after her baptism. She was so sweet and bore to us her testimony of how depressed she used to be before, but once she met us and decided to listen, he whole life changed. Despite the trials she has in her life right now, especially with no support from her family in this decision, she knows it's 100% true and when things get hard, she just opens up her aklat ni mormon and prays.
She said she can't help but feel happy and smile despite all that's going on. And it's true! She is ALWAYS smiling and her smile is so full of the spirit! Her testimony has strengthened mine so much. I got
teary eyed as I could literally feel Heavenly Fahther's love for her sink in my heart and I tried to express to her how much we love her and more importantly, how much Heavenly Father loves her. It was hard putting in words to her the amount of love I felt, but I know that with the Spirit, she was able to feel that love from our Heavenly
Father. The next day Menchie Abangin was baptized! Like with every baptism, there's a story, and this time the water wouldn't flow very well, so it was only up to her knees. She had to sit while the ordinance was being performed, and then Brother Lau was able to immerse her in the water. When she came out, she was nothing but grins and so very happy. :) The next day for her confirmation, she didn't show up to Sacrament. When she came late, she had tears in her eyes as she said it had to do with family problems. :( The stake president was there and he said she could be confirmed in relief society, so the Bishop confirmed her a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. :) Her faith is so very strong. Satan has worked so hard on her (reminds me a lot of what happened to Angie Lobaton) because he knows how incredible she is. She expressed so many
times to us her gratitude for bringing her to the truth. It wasn't us, though. Heavenly Father prepared her in every single way possible. All we did was teach the lessons in our broken Ilonggo. The Spirit did the rest. She's amazing.

We had so many other experiences that strengthened my faith. The Filipinos are a faith filled people, that's for sure, and I learn so much from them. I'm also so grateful for my companion, Sister Solomone. She has taught me so much about love and patience and Heavenly Father's love for His children. She's an angel and I know
Heavenly Father has inspired President to have us as companions. We are so incredibly different from each other, but I love her to death and I've learned so much from her. I've also learned a lot about repentance and the Atonement this week. I feel like I'm just beginning to learn the greatness of Jesus Christ's Atonement and know I will be learning my whole lifetime, but I'm grateful for the experiences I've had that have brought me closer to my Savior. I know He lives. I know He loves us. He Atoned for us because of that great love.

Love you all so much! Thanks for all the support and love. :)

Much love,
Sister Dixon
Menchie's Baptism

All smiles!

Walking along a bamboo bridge

Sister Dixon and 7 other sisters went here to study the morning of P-day.
She said it was near the ocean and very peaceful and beautiful.

Love this photo and love this sister!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Week of Tender Mercies!

Hello Family and Friends!
This week was wonderful to get back out and proselyte after needing to stay indoors all last week from the Typhoon. Things are very back to normal here in Bacolod, but we continually pray for those in Tacloban. This week we had SO many tender mercies. I don't think I can even keep track of them all! I'll just have time to list a few highlights from this week:

We are teaching an investigator named Menchie. She is GOLDEN. Heavenly Father has prepared her SO well to receive this Gospel. She soaks everything in and despite some family troubles, she is smiling ALL the time and constantly tells us how happy and at peace she is. She's 19 years old and she understood things so quickly, that we finished all the lessons in a week. She had her baptismal interview on Sunday with Elder Templeton and he said she's the most prepared candidate he's ever met. I know Heavenly Father is truly hastening His work and preparing more and more people to accept His Gospel. The sisters in the West ward had a baptism on Saturday, so we attended since we taught her at the church and the baptism was right after our lesson. After the ordinance, she turned to us and exlaimed, "I'm so excited!!" Her testimony is so strong and she really wants to serve a mission. When I asked why she said, "because I want to bring the same knowledge and truth you two have brought me to other people so they can know and come closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ." Pretty perfect answer if you ask me! She's so awesome! Her baptism is set for this Saturday and we couldn't be more excited for her!! 

Wednesday was a fun day because my umbrella broke and it just so happened to be the same day that I wore my white shirt and that it rained like it was Yolanda's little sister. haha but it's okay because we had an awesome lesson with Ma.Fe Longakit about the Book of Mormon and she's so excited to read it! 

Friday we were having a lesson about the Restoration with Christian, one of our recent converts, and before we started we sang "I Am a Child of God." There was a little girl passing by with her sister. Her sister was practically dragging her because she was trying to stop and listen. Eventually her sister let go and the little girl came running over to listen. It was just a sweet little moment to realize just how powerful music is and that even the little ones know they're children of God. In fact, I know their sweet little spirits are closer to Heavenly Father, so her little Spirit just connected. So tender and sweet. :) 

Friday we also had a tender mercy and got 6 member present lessons! That might not sound like a lot, but it was for us and we were so excited! Heavenly Father definitely answered our prayers for that day to help us reach our key indicators. :)

Saturday we had a very spirit filled lesson with Girly Logronio. She went straight from recent covert to less active but she constantly reads the Book of Mormon. She had left off in 3 Nephi where Christ administers the Sacrament. We had a very spiritual lesson about the importance of the sacrament and renewing our covenants and the importance of attending church so we can renew those baptismal covenants and keep the commandments. She gave a very sweet prayer at the end to help her make it to church on Sunday. That lesson made me so grateful for the blessings I've received from the Sacrament. I've come to appreciate it ten fold since I've come on my mission and I look forward to every Sunday when I can renew my sacred covenants with my Father in Heaven, receive a remission of my sins, and feel His Spirit more abundantly in my life. 

Saturday we also taught Jomark Marabayles. He's a recent convert and has epilepsy. He can't vocally talk but when he prays it's one of the most spiritual things ever. The only thing he can vocalize is "amen," but his prayers are so full of the spirit! You can just feel it. Anyway, we talked about missionary work and how he and his mom, Jenny, can be missionaries to her husband (Jomark's dad) and help him come to Christ and the Gospel. Jomark just lit up with the biggest smile when he realized HE could still be a missionary, despite his condition. It just made my heart all warm and fuzzy. :)

Sunday was quite an adventure as we started our day by locking ourselves outside our apartment with the key inside. Which then meant we were locked inside our gate. haha we had to climb over our gate because we didn't want to be late for church. It was a tender mercy that Bishop provided lunch after church because we still had no way to get in and didn't know where our landlord lived! Eventually we found his house and were able to get back in our apartment, but goodness, that adventures we have as missionaries! haha We'll never leave our key again! Church was good and I got to play Christmas songs for Sacrament meeting on the piano! We had a great ward council meeting. I love our ward. Bishop Enarle is very serious and gets things done, but he is so hilarious as well! All the ward missionaries are a blast and willing to work with us, and they make me laugh. We have a very hardworking, but fun ward. It's great! Sunday we also had two new investigators come that we'd never met! Iza and Celia. They are related to a member in our ward, Sister Gargallano. We visited them later that night and they are SO excited to hear about the Gospel! I just love it! 

There were so many other tender mercies throughout this week. I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father loves His children and He is preparing more and more hearts to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The typhoon might have helped a little bit with that, seeing as our church attendance shot up. Miracles are happening here in the Philippines as a result and I'm so grateful to be here at this time to share the wonderful light of the Gospel. My testimony has grown so much this week on faith and the importance of the Sacrament, as well as the Restoration and Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know Heavenly Father created a perfect Plan of Happiness for us and I feel so blessed to be sharing this glorious message with my brothers and sisters in the Philippines. Some days I feel like my love for these people could just explode! I love them so much. The joy I feel in serving among them is indescribable. Some days I feel exhausted, like Alma, with the amount of joy I have. 
Have a great week and know that I pray for you all back home and love you even more! Thanks for all the love and support, as always!
Sister Dixon
"Sister Portugal and Sister Bendoy. We went to Pamilya Grill one night because the next day Sister Bendoy went home. Please keep her and her family in your prayers. Her parents and a sibling died in the typhoon because they lived in Tacloban. She was two weeks from the end of her mission, so she just went home. She was very strong and I didn't see her cry once, but Sister Portugal said she's suffering quite a bit. Can you imagine being that close to going home and having your family die? I would be a complete mess."
(Sister Bendoy is the sister on the right. Please continue to pray for her and many others. The effects of this typhoon are far-reaching). 

"Apartment on the outside. That's the gate I had to climb over four times in my skirt because we left our key inside the house. So we were literally locked out of our house but inside our gate. haha We got the key from the landlord, though, so it's all good. the adventures of being a missionary. :)"

"The sugarcane fields and the mountains. Not as glorious looking as it actually is.
It's very breathtaking."

"Sister Martinez will go home after this transfer"

"On the way to the mission president's training. We all fit in one taxi to save money. All 8 of us! haha"
(Notice the leg in the back----gotta love these sisters!!) 

Ritchel and Josephine Marabayles

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thank you for your Prayers

Hello everyone!

Wow! I think it's safe to say this was the craziest week of my mission! haha Our visit from Sister Yolanda was quite the event! But we are all safe and well and I could literally FEEL the prayers and love from back home. So much so that my eyes welled with tears as I prayed with gratitude from the love and prayers back home. I am so blessed to have such loving and caring family and friends. Thank you so much! 

We first heard news of the typhoon on Wednesday at our zone trainer's meeting. They told us to stock up on food and be in our houses by 6pm, so that's what we did! We were able to visit Lanie before all that. We wanted to make sure she'd be okay. She has the strongest faith. Her house isn't quite yet finished (one of the walls isn't up yet), but she felt such gratitude and peace of having the Gospel in her life. Some people can do nothing but panic in times like this, so she was very grateful for the peace she feels from the Gospel, despite her constant trials.

We were instructed to stay in our apartments all day Thursday, for precautionary measures. The skies were very cloudy, but it was perfectly calm all day long...I think the storm was gathering energy. We were obedient, however, and stayed inside all day long. After studying for half the day, I decided to clean the house. We live in a rather old house, so years of missionary stuff has accumulated over time. I just took the genes I got from Mom of cleaning and organizing and put them to good use. I just started with one corner of the house and there was no stopping me from there! ;) Thanks, Mom, for that talent. haha 

Friday was when the effects of the storm started to happen. During our studies the power went off and we started to get heavy rain at about 2 in the afternoon. We just studied and caught up in our journals as we watched the rain and wind outside our window. At one point we heard a big crack, and realized the jackfruit tree outside our apartment had fallen over. We were blessed, as it fell the other direction onto our courtyard instead of our apartment. The typhoon started slowing down around 6 that evening. Sister Alma and Jenny (recent converts) came to our apartment and asked us if we could text Bishop to see if they could use the church as a refuge. Luckily the church was already open with food available, so we let them take our umbrellas so they could take their kids to the church. Their houses were soaked through from the rain and Alma's house had a bit of damage. It's so amazing to me how this Gospel is a refuge for everything. All things spiritual and even temporal. I also grow in strength from the attitude of the Filipino people. Here they just spent hours enduring a typhoon, with all their belongings soaking wet, yet they both were smiling and laughing and even joking about going swimming in the mini flood in front of our house. I was just amazed. The Filipino people are so amazing and my heroes!! 

Saturday we had a mission wide CSP (community service project) day. First we cleaned up the tree outside our apartment. Tender mercy there because we didn't have anything to cut it. But then a man came and gave us a machete to use, and then another man came and actually helped us chop the tree. I guess seeing two sister missionaries hack at a tree isn't that impressive. haha We were grateful because it would've taken us all day to get that tree out of the way! Afterwards we visited our investigators and less active members. I was amazed at how little damage there was everywhere, and by the time we got to most people's houses, things were nearly all cleaned up. The Filipinos are just so giving and help each other out like one big family. We helped Bishop Enarle deliver rice and noodles to some of the members who didn't have food and then we visited Aedsisa, our area that's super far from our apartment. Aedsisa was hit a lot worse than Silay, but still, the most damage caused was a coconut tree that fell on our investigator's house. It fell on a part of her house that wasn't used very much so she was very grateful to Heavenly Father that it wasn't the other, bigger, tree, and that it didn't fall on the main part of her house.

There really were so many miracles this week as we were protected and safe from the super typhoon. Brother Bacton, a member bishopric, bore his testimony on Sunday of the power of the Priesthood. He said we have the mountains that protected us from the full strength of the typhoon, but he knows that the power of the priesthood is really what kept us safe. I have to agree. Just the weekend before we had a visit from an Apostle, Neil L. Andersen, and he had just visited Bahol (the place that experienced the huge earthquake we felt), and visited us afterwards. He left his apostolic witness and blessed the people of the Philippines. (He also talked a lot about helping each other in time of tragedy. Not a coincidence, I think!). The power of an Apostle's visit spared us during the typhoon. We were spared by a visit of a man of God. It's so true! I know we were also protected from the very many prayers from back home. Thank you so much to everyone! I know the power of prayer is REAL and that Heavenly Father loves and cares for each and every one of his missionaries and the people of the Philippines. Tacloban was hit a lot worse than us, so please keep the people and missionaries there in your prayers, and everyone else who was effected.
Thank you again and again for all the love and prayers. I could truly feel them this past week. I have the best family and friends in the world and I know I have a most loving Heavenly Father who is looking out for me and the people of the Philippines. He loves them so much and I do as well. 
Have a great week and I'll 'see' you next week!
Sister Dixon 

Mom's Note:
I asked Jessica questions about the typhoon that kept me awake at night:). Here are the questions and her answers:

1) Where did you stay? in our apartment. as old as it is, it's very sturdy and there's two floors, just in case it flooded, but even then, our apartment was elevated already from the ground. 
2) What did you do when you were in your apt for those few days? haha good question. i cleaned. haha our house has piled up years of missionary stuff and just gross so i cleaned. i ended up filling four huge trash bags of random stuff. :) i also caught up in my journal and studied. 
3) Did other missionaries stay with you? no, just the two of us, but other missionaries had to transfer to other missionary's houses because of the insecurity of their houses. 
4) Did you have enough food and water? yes. we stocked up a 5 gallon jug of water just in case, but the brownout/power outage didn't effect our water flow like it did for other missionaries. we had water the full two days we were inside our apartment. we also were instructed to buy canned food on Wednesday, so we stocked up on that and other snacks. we had plenty of food. 
5) Were you scared or at peace or both? I was at peace the entire time. I can honestly say I wasn't even that scared. I guess I just knew that Heavenly Father would protect us because we're His missionaries. Okay, maybe when I heard the tree outside fall I was a tad nervous, but when i realized it had fallen in our yard, not our house, I was relieved again. :) We were so very protected. 
6) What thoughts went through your mind? Um....I'm not really sure! Just, "I hope all our members and investigators, recent converts, and less actives are safe!" Their houses aren't near as strong as ours, so I was worried for them, but they were all safe and found refuge at the church. :)
7) How did you sleep? Just great! The heaviest part of the storm actually hit all during the day, so by around 6 pm, it started to just be a normal rain fall, so it was easy to sleep. It was just SUPER dark because the clouds covered the moon and starlight, and because of the brownout, there was no street lights as well. Thank goodness for flashlights! :)
8) What will you do now? Just carry on to our normal proselyting  Our area wasn't hit too bad so all the cleaning is taken care of. 
9) Is there a lot of clean-up and community service to be done? We actually spent all day Saturday doing a CSP (community service project) to help everyone around us, and our investigators to clean up and fix their houses. Amazingly, everyone was safe and there was just little damage to people's houses. I was surprised, actually, at how well everything survived. We just went around all day making sure everyone was safe and helped them with any cleaning they needed done. 
10) Was the storm really loud? Not too bad. Yes, the wind was pretty loud, plus the sound of the rain, but it wasn't loud enough that I noticed it. Your question had to make me think of how loud it was. 
11) How long did it last? The most powerful part was probably from 1 pm to 6 pm ish on Friday. Before and after it was just like normal "Filipino" rain, so not as long as I was expecting, actually. 
12) How long were you out of power, if you were? we were out of power from about 10 am Friday to about 7 pm Saturday
13) Do you have water? Yes, our water is working just great. :)
14) How are the people? They're all fine! The worst that happened was a tree fell on one of our investigator's houses, but she was beyond grateful it fell where it did (on a not often used part of the house), and she was able to get it removed pretty quickly with help from others. Everyone is safe and back to their normal, every day living. 
15) What miracles have you seen or felt? The miracle of an Apostle, Elder Andersen, visiting us and blessing us. In testimony meeting yesterday, Brother Bacton, a member of the bishopric, bore his testimony on this and I believe he's right. Yes, the mountains helped protect us, but I think what REALLY protected us was that an apostle of the Lord had come just the weekend before and blessed us. The power of an Apostle's visit and of the Priesthood protected us during this typhoon. We were spared by a visit of a man of God. 

Beautiful Philippine sunset

The Day After

"Two sister missionaries hacking a tree must not be that impressive..."

Working with members

Beautiful way to end the day

Friday, November 8, 2013

Waiting to Hear from our Girl

We have yet to hear from Jessica, but we have total faith that she is alright.  Soon after the eye of the typhoon passed the island, President Lopez was able to post a Facebook message reporting that all missionaries are accounted for.  We are not sure where Jessica was during this ordeal; if she was called to stay at the mission home in Bacolod or was asked to stay in her apartment located in Silay City, which is located in the northern part of the island where she is serving.

According to news reports, Super Typhoon Haiyan is being considered the most powerful tropical storm ever recorded on Earth.  It is reported that the storm width was over 300-miles wide punching sustained winds as great as 195 mph with gusts up to 235 mph.  It is estimated that the center of the typhoon's eye was as close as 20-miles from Jessica's island and approximately 35-miles from the area that she was serving.  The following three satellite images and map illustrate just how close this typhoon came to Jessica.

We are sure it was a long sleepless night for Jessica and with the new day, she is starting to see, for the first time, the extent of the damages sustained to the area.  We know there will be many missionary opportunities of serving and teaching at this time, and for this we are grateful.  We thank everyone sincerely for the thoughts and many prayers offered in behalf of Jessica. We are truly blessed and sustained because of your kindness and love. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan

Hello Everyone!
We have included this event on Jessica's blog so that she will have it as part of her mission experience. Bret has tracked the typhoon and created an image to show us where the storm will go and where Jessica is serving.

From Bret:
"Super Typhoon Haiyan continues to intensify with sustained winds of 195 mph with gusts up to 235 mph.  The squalls from the typhoon should be hitting Jessica's area on Friday around 10 AM her time (or tonight at 7 PM our time) and continue for around 14 hours to about midnight.  The eye of the typhoon is projected to come within 35 miles of Jessica between 2 and 3 PM.  Sunset is at 5:22 PM, so she may not be able to see the extent of the mayhem until the next morning.  It will be a very long night for her and the Filipino people.  Please include her in your thoughts and prayers." 

Here is also a link to a news report about the typhoon.

Thanks to everyone for the love, phone calls, messages, putting her name on the temple prayer roll, and just showing you care with a hug or a "it's going to be okay". 

Our sincere and heartfelt prayers are with the people in the Philippines. We love them and know that Jessica does, too.
We love you,
The Dixon's

Monday, November 4, 2013

"An Apostle's Visit, Saying "I Love You", And Boy, Sticky Rice Sure Fills You Up"!

Hello everyone!
What a fantastic week! Thank you so much to everyone who sent me an email for my birthday! I was shocked at how many I received, so thank you so much! I'm a loved missionary, that's for sure! (I apologize if it takes me a while to respond to your emails...time on email is very limited and I'm going to need to print off the emails this week in order to read them first). :) 

This week was crazy but awesome. Tuesday I had exchanges with Sister Martinez. She's a sister training leader. This is her last transfer and she is very talented. Such a good missionary. I learned so much from her. I visited a family with her where we challenged them to say "I love you," before going to bed. I think it will really help the unity in that family to grow. The spirit was strong as we talked to the mother of the boy, Justine, who was going to be baptized. She softened up as we discussed family and loving each other. :) We also taught a family that has their house on the ocean. Literally on top of the ocean. It's built on really tall bamboo sticks and the house itself is bamboo. They were such an awesome family. The dad shared his testimony of reading the Book of Mormon and they are really progressing. We visited a lot of other awesome families too. The spirit was so strong as I taught with Sister Martinez. She's a beautiful missionary, inside and out.

Wednesday after returning from our exchanges, we visted Katrina and Emerie. They are sisters and Katrina comes to church every week. She's 10. We want to see if we can get the whole family involved, because it's better if families are baptized together, so we've been working with their Mom as well. They catch on quickly and remember what we've taught them, so that's good. It's so cute to see Katrina's face light up when we ask her what prophets are and what priesthood means, and she knows the answer. Later that night we visited Keith Martineau. He's a less active and happens to be American! He moved here two years ago because he married a Filipino. His 87 year old mother (who told us has never been sick in her life) moved with him, too. He only knows English, so we gave the whole lesson in English. It was so weird. It's hard teaching in English! Hard to explain why, but just different. We talked about the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy and I was like, "Keith, I'm going to be bold. Why haven't you come to church?" He said, "Well, I'll be honest. I'm lazy." haha We committed him and his wife to come to church on Sunday, and they promised they would. And guess what? They came to church on Sunday! Wahoo!!

Thursday we went to Aedsisa. Man, I thought Alijis was huge until I came to Silay. We drove about 45 minutes on a tricycle to get to our appointment, which happened to be a referral. He wasn't home, but his mom, Nilda was. She was very kind and was so willing to let us teach her. We did a bit of how to begin teaching principles with her and set up a return appointment. She showed us pictures of her beautiful family and was excited for us to come back. Oh, we also went with Carmel and Mayvee, some ward missionaries. Mayvee is a bit shy (and she's preparing for her mission!), but Carmel is just crazy. Crazy as in personality and in crazy good at teaching. She's a returned missionary and boy does she know how to laugh and have a good time, but when it comes down to the teaching, she really knows her stuff. It was awesome to have them come with us. They showed us some areas around Aesisa as well that we need to visit. All I could think of was how HUGE our area is and when we were going to be able to visit everyone. But I know the Lord will help us. That took the majority of the day to figure out our area out there, but when we came back to Silay we visited the Sagum family. Gerica is 13 years old and reminds me a lot of Rebecca. She's so sweet and quiet and wants to serve a mission. She's a recent convert. Her brother is as well but he wasn't home. We're also in the process of teaching the Dad, but he didn't have the desire to listen to us that night. He's a tricycle driver so comes home very tired at night. :/ We shared a scripture with her and did a bit of BRT (build relationship of trust), because she's so shy. I think it really helped a lot. She's such a sweet girl.

Friday after planning we went to the cemetery for All Saints Day! (the 1st and 2nd of November). They don't really celebrate Halloween here, but All Saints Day, which is pretty much where they celebrate the life of those who have passed away. President wanted us to do some graveyard proselyting on this day, and at first it was a bit awkward and we weren't sure how to approach people mourning/celebrating their family members. It just seemed like such a private thing. But after Sister Solomone and I said a prayer for bravery and courage to know what to say and do and let the Spirit guide us, we had some pretty awesome discussions with people around the cemetary about Christ's resurrection and the Plan of Salvation. After talking to a woman named Fae, she said, "thank you for visiting me. No one has visited me all day and I'm here by myself visiting my deceased husband." It was amazing being an instrument in the Lord's hands, comforting those that stood in need of comfort, as if He were here Himself to do the same thing.

Saturday was just fabulous. We started off the day by helping Carmel pack and load things into a truck because they're moving. Afterwards, we got ready for the day and then headed to the Talisay chapel. We waited for about an hour before moving into the chapel, where we were able to listen to Elder Neil L. Andersen. :) First he wanted to shake all our hands, so I was able to shake the hand of an Apostle of the Lord as well as Elder Whitney Clayton, Echohawk, Ardern, and a few other General Authorities. (Pretty good birthday present, eh?) They have such strong spirits! President and Sister Lopez bore their sweet testimonies and the General Authorities did as well. Then Elder Clayton did a training and then Elder Andersen spoke to us. Here's a sum up of what I learned/felt from his teaching: No one is immune to trails and challenges. Sometimes the Lord doesn't answer our prayers in the timing or in the way we think it should, but His ways are mysterious, and always the best for us. We just need to trust in Him and His timing, and always keep the commandments. He also talked a bit about the Atonement and the importance of paying fasting and tithe offerings and teaching the Filipino people about sacrifice and helping each other. It was an awesome meeting and the most powerful part was when Elder Andersen bore testimony and his apostolic witness. How blessed we are to have living apostles and prophets on the earth today. I know Elder Andersen is called of God. His Spirit was powerful.
Sunday was a great day as well because we were able to go back to Talisay for a stake meeting with Elder Andersen presiding. He is such a humble man. He shook everyone's hand in the meeting which means he was able to shake the hands of a few of our investigators and less actives! I was so excited for them. :) His talk was similar to the one he gave us as missionaries, but directed more toward the Filipino people. After the meeting we watched him drive away in a van and I just thought about all the people he'd be passing on the street and they'd have no idea that an Apostle of the Lord was passing them. How sad! It just makes me want to strive harder to preach the Gospel and share the wonderful truth of a loving Heavenly Father and how because he loves us, we have living prophets and apostles to lead and guide us today. 

After our meeting, we visited a few of our investigators and less active members. We had a lesson with Marjie and Marjorie. They're sisters and we were talking about families. We did a commitment similar to the one I did with Sister Martinez and told them to tell their parents they love them. (You'd be surprised how little it's said here). They said they would to their Dad but not their Mom because they don't feel like their Mom loves them. That made my heart broke. We told them that every mother loves their child and just to try saying I love you first to her. They were a bit hesitant, but I hope they do so. I just feel so grateful for my family and the love I have ALWAYS felt from you. My love for all of you is so deep and has grown even deeper since I got here. I LOVE YOU! :)

Now we're to Monday and I know I'm a bit late in my email than usual. Sorry about that. We went to Patag to go on a hike and the buses only leave one time in the morning and take you back time at one time in the afternoon, so we went there today. I attached a few pictures. I took a bajillion though (you know how I love pictures ;) ) so maybe I'll attach a few every once in a while. :)

Anyway, thanks again to EVERYONE for the birthday love! I have the best family and friends in the whole world! And Happy Birthday to Josh Brinkerhoff today (the 4th) and Shalona and Aunt Laura on the 7th and Lindsey on the 8th! Hooray for November birthdays! Love you all sooo much!!!
Have a great week!Palangga ko kamo!
Sister Dixon
PS On holidays here (like All Saints Day), sticky rice is the popular thing. And Filipinos like to share it with EVERYONE! At every appointment. And boy does it fill you up. ;)  Look it up :)

Walking in the rain to hear Elder Neil L. Andersen-Sister Dixon's birthday
Photo taken by President Lopez

Sunday morning--waiting to hear Elder Andersen
(Elder Zobell, the missionary with the purple tie, has family who lives in our stake--small world)
Photo taken by Elder Chin-Senior missionary

"Happy Birthday to You..."

A hike in the Philippines on P-day

Looks a little different than hikes Jessica took in the deserts of southern Utah!!

 "A dam we crossed. I thought dad would appreciate this :)"