Sunday, December 8, 2013

Transfer... 4th Area! 7th Companion! 7 Months!

Hello everyone! 

Yes, Transfers has already come again and I am now in my fourth area with my seventh companion, in only 7 months! I have loved each and every one of them though and have learned so much and know Heavenly Father has so much more in store for me to learn and grow from each of my areas and companions. I am now in Bago in the Bago 2nd ward with Sister Fanene. We live next door to two other missionaries...Sister Henshaw and Sister Emelio. They are all so wonderful and I already love my companion SO much! We are so incredibly different, but it's the kind of different where we just complement each other's differences, so it's perfect! She is Samoan and was raised in both Samoa and Hawaii. She LOVES to have fun (or, in this mission we say "joy" instead), but when it comes to the work, she is very serious and down to business. She is literally one of THE most selfless people I have EVER met. Her motives for everything are completely out of love and she has truly lost herself in the work. She's one transfer behind me, but has only been here in the Philippines for 6 weeks because her visa was delayed so she was in the Provo mission for her first 12 weeks. She has caught on super fast to the language and culture though and her spirit when she testifies is just on fire! I can already see some of the reasons Heavenly Father has placed us together. :) I am so excited for this coming transfer and all the things I'll be learning from her. 

On Tuesday after we got settled in after a bit of traveling to my new area, I met some of our investigators, Erika, EJ (siblings), Glance, Janna (sisters), and John Raven. Sister Fanene's last companion loved teaching kids, so they're all pretty young, but Erika and EJ have the strongest testimonies and great support from their Grandma. They love reading the Book of Mormon and are super excited for their baptism to be on Christmas. :) 

Wednesday we had a big tender mercy. We visited some investigators named Gina, Jayanne, and Andrea. Gina is the Mom and Jayanne and Andrea are her daughters. Their grandmother/mother died that week so we talked about the Plan of Salvation. Many tears were shed throughout the lesson and Sister Fanene gave a powerful testimony of knowing that she'll see her own grandmother (who she basically considers as her mom) again. Her Grandma/Mom died while she was in the MTC. She is so strong and has taken this experience to bring a lot of power and spirit into her testimony of the Savior and the Plan of Salvation. The spirit was so strong in this lesson and I can tell that Gina, Jayanne, and Andrea have really softened hearts right now. They were really looking forward to reading the Book of Mormon in Alma about the Plan of Salvation and are really looking forward to our return. We also visited a few less actives that live near the ocean (so gorgeous) and met with Brother Raymon, our ward mission leader. He's super nice and so willing to help us, so I'm excited to work with him.

Thursday Sister Fanene was feeling pretty sick but she insisted that she go out and work, no matter what I told her. She doesn't want to miss a minute of serving. We had quite a few miracles as a result. We met with the Padilla family who has been less active for quite some time. The Dad was actually the first one baptized in Bago in the 1970s and has had stake callings and everything. He just said "he was taking a break" and had some misunderstandings with some leaders after the death of his wife. I can tell he still has a strong testimony deep down though, as well as his three daughters. We just bore testimony of the Savior's love for them and invited them to come to church on Sunday...and they did! We were SO happy!! Hopefully this is the first step back for them to reactivation and having the fullness of joy from the Gospel in their lives that they said they know is lacking right now. :) 

Friday we had probably the best weekly planning of my whole mission, despite the fact that I hardly even know the area yet. Sister Fanene is so in tune with the Spirit and we tried really hard to let the Spirit guide every aspect of our planning. Afterward we went to one of our areas that neither of us have been to to try and find members and contact a referral. The referral we found was the Pueg family. They have 9 kids, all starting with the letter "J." The second to youngest is named Jessica! Pretty awesome name if you ask me. ;) She turns 8 today so we set up a return appointment to go there tonight and teach them for the first time. I'm really praying that Heavenly Father will allow this family to be open to our message. It would be amazing if this whole family accepted the Gospel and was baptized! I tried envisioning my own family while talking to them, and it just made my desire for them to be baptized even stronger. I want for them so much to partake of the ordinances of salvation by entering the waters of baptism and starting their journey to become an eternal family. :) 

Saturday we had a pretty rough day and were punted quite a bit. We were fasting too, so I think our faith was put to the test. We didn't get very many lessons in for the day, but we still saw a lot of miracles. It was a day for me that put into perspective what the Savior would do if He were here. Not just teach, but serve. We helped this cute older woman get to her home safely. She was so small and frail and we didn't want her to fall. We planted a few seeds in one of our areas by OYM-ing (opening your mouth) a lot.  We played the piano and sang Christmas Hymns with an older Catholic man--he's the organist in his church and has a keyboard, and is the grandpa of one of our less active families. It was a miracle in itself that he let us in, but once we started singing Christmas songs with him, his whole countenance and heart changed. Hopefully this will be one step further into truly softening his heart. It was so fun to sing and share the spirit of Christmas with him. We also met with Bishop Delos Santos for coordination meeting. He was the first stake president in this stake and he is awesome. He's super focused on the work and we had a good meeting of how we can reactivate and retain a lot of members of our ward (we have a ton of less active members). We also expressed how much we really want to get to know the members and work with them. To be as one in hastening the work because we can't do this without them. The Bishop loved it and we set some plans of what we can do to help this area to grow. I'm so excited to help this area progress and help Bishop out! He has such a great vision for our ward. 

Sunday I met most of our ward members for the first time and they're so awesome! And since I'm new to the ward, I gave a talk. We were still being tested with our faith, because Erika and EJ were the only investigators who showed up to church, and we had very few recent converts attend, but the less active members we visited this week showed up to church! So that was a tender mercy. We also had an awesome ward council of the best since I've been to here in the field. This ward really has great leaders and we helped get the ward excited about member missionary work and our desire to work with and get to know each of them. After church and our studies, we worked with La-arnie. She's 19 and the YW president. She is so awesome! Very driven and hard working. She's going to be one awesome missionary. She showed us a lot of our areas and the members that live there. We had some great lessons, which was a tender mercy after having a rough day the day before and earlier that day. We had a lesson with a lesson active member...Sister Villarwell. Her husband is a seaman so she lives at home with her two boys. She got a tattoo to cover some scars on her legs, but didn't know we don't get tattoos as members of the church. She felt so guilty when she found out and felt so unworthy she wanted to talk to Bishop, but didn't know how. The scripture we shared in Alma 5:50 really opened her up. When we asked what she understood about the verse, she was very hesitant, but then all of a sudden just opened up to us about her concern. She was so sweet and I felt so bad she had felt such guilt for so long! We told her it was okay because she had no idea when she did it and that through Christ, she can feel guilt free and clean again. She was SO relieved...I could literally see the huge weight be lifted off her shoulders. She said she had been losing sleep over it but was so grateful she opened up to us. She gave a very sincere closing prayer and then couldn't stop expressing her thanks. Her whole countenance had changed. I was so grateful we had visited her. We had planned on teaching Janna and Glance (the two sisters), but felt like we should focus on the less actives that day, and as a result, we experienced some pretty neat tender mercies. 

There have been so many miracles this week and tender mercies. Each day I see more and more of the Lord's hand in my life. He is literally in every moment of our day and I've had to stop writing all of them in my journal because it takes too much time! I know without a doubt that the Lord leads and directs this work and I'm so excited to see what this transfer has in store for me and Sister Fenene here in Bago. I'm so grateful for my Heavenly Father and His perfect plan for us. I know He knows us and loves us and I love growing closer and closer to Him each day. 
I hope you all have a great week! Sending some Filipino warmth (both in temperature and Christmas spirit) your way! Love you all so much! 

Sister Dixon 

Sister Dixon's district in Silay (the area she just left).

An ocean view

Sister Dixon and Sister Fanene.
Here is Sister Fanene's first name: Aigalesalalafotasi!
It's a good thing they just go by the last! :)
She is beautiful and Sister Dixon LOVES her.

Sister Dixon thinks these are fishing boats!

A sweet sister and her grandbaby!

Philippine Sunset

Sister Dixon's apartment

Someone left Sister Dixon and her companion a decorated tree.
That was nice of them! :)
It is good to see that she received the presents we sent.

Ever think to be grateful for a bucket? I think Sister Dixon has... and is!! :)

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