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

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