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 :)"

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