Monday, February 10, 2014

Count Your Many Blessings...

***This letter didn't come through until around midnight. We are never quite sure what happens, but this time it was a brown-out. Thankfully, Jessica is doing really well and is learning lots about patience---so is her family).***

Goodness, where to start! I feel like this week went by faster than last week! If the rest of my mission feels this way I'll be home next week! (Not gonna lie...that thought kind of scares me! That's too fast! There's still lots I need to do!).

Monday, we had a great Family Home Evening with Mark, his mom Nancy, and some of their family members, Bettie, Cupid, Tacey, and Bella. We talked about what family home evening is and why we have it. Then we had a lesson on faith and played some games. They had a ton of fun and we even got Mark to smile! 

Tuesday we met with Jennifer Mariposa, one of our new investigators. She introduced the Book of Mormon to her and she expressed how a lot of times she feels emotional. Sister Fanene and I can sense that she needs change in her life, and I'm grateful we have just the message to help her with that. The only thing that might hold her back is that her husband wants nothing to do with the Church. He's given his permission for her to listen to our message, but I know that sometimes it's hard for a wife to make a religious change without her husband's support. She has a good attitude, however, and has the biggest, prettiest smile to light up the little room, despite the trials in her life. These Filipino people are just so inspiring and amazing! We also met with Alex and taught him the Word of Wisdom. He is so child-like and so willing to change! He has a few Word of Wisdom problems but he is willing to give them up.  Alex introduced us to one of his friends last week named John John who fishes in the ocean with him. Alex wanted to teach with us (and always wants to come with us to teach Jennifer, too. He might as well be a ward missionary!  We taught him and his wife and little 6 month old baby. They are a very young family. John John is 19 and his wife, Irene, is 20. Hopefully this Gospel will be able to help this little family grow and understand their purpose and divine potential.

 We also visited the Ehara family. They are a less active family and we were in the process of teaching Tithing when we asked a question that just opened the flood gates. She gave a very emotional story of the blessings they've received from paying tithing and how her kids have been saved during physical ailments many times because of it. She also bore her testimony of how when she was investigating the church, she was very hard-hearted. She was the last of her family to join the church and the thing that changed her mind was a dream (a lot of Filipinos have dreams that confirm to them that they need to join the Church. It's pretty neat. She's one of quite a few that I've met). She had a dream that a young man was teaching her about income and paying 10 percent. The next day she decided to attend church and the young man in her dream was the new missionary in the area. She joined the church soon after. It was neat just to basically let herself bear testimony and remember all the blessings Heavenly Father has given her.  All we had to do was plant the idea in her mind, and then the Spirit took over from there in helping her see all the blessings of the obeying the commandments, specifically tithing. 

Wednesday we had our Zone Leader's Training and it's absolutely amazing what happens when leaders teach with  the Spirit. I learned so much about my purpose, not only as a missionary, but as a daughter of God, and why I'm here on earth. Our soul purpose is to become like our Savior so that we may enter into the presence of our Father and live with Him for eternity. That is His whole work and His glory. All He wants is for us to have joy and have His same blessings, and all the trials and experiences we face in this life are what help us to become more Christ-like and just one step closer to returning to Him. Trials are blessings. They're for our benefit. You may think, "yes, I know this. I've heard this before." I have too. I've heard it my whole life, but the Spirit testified to me in this training in a way He never has before about my purpose and our Father's plan for us. My understanding is so much deeper and I'm so grateful for my Savior in allowing all these blessings to be possible. It also allowed me to open my eyes and heart more to my purpose as a missionary. To invite others to come unto Christ and know of this same purpose so they, too, can have eternal life. They can't become if they don't know what, or who, they're even supposed to become, and that's why it's so important that the Gospel gets spread to every soul on the earth. I'm so grateful I have the opportunity to bear the Savior's name over my heart and help Him carry out his mission and purposes to build His kingdom and help others to know their purpose.  I pray every day that I can strive to fulfill my purpose as a missionary and as a daughter of God and help Heavenly Father do His work, not only now as a missionary, but for the rest of my life. 

After the training we met with Jennifer again and talked about the Plan of Salvation. It was pretty pumped up after our training, so the Spirit was pretty strong as we testified to her of her purpose on earth, who she can become, and what she needs to do to get there. She accepted our message with such ease and asked if she could get baptized soon. We gladly committed her to be baptized on the 29th of March. :) We visited a few other investigators and ended our day at Mark's. His mind is always playing with him (note to self: never get addicted to computer games). We told him about family history work and since he's really good with computers, we figured that would be good for him to keep his mind distracted (since most of the day he just stays home and "relaxes" by watching TV) but still be doing something productive.  Sister Tevez does therapy with Mark, and it just so happens that she's the Family History consultant. Perfect. Tender mercy right there! Nancy was especially excited about the idea. She has such love for her son and just wants to him to be happy and healthy, no matter what it takes. They were able to try it out for the first time yesterday, and he really liked it! So grateful Heavenly Father inspired that activity for Mark.

Thursday, we met with the Dejino family--an active member family but their dad is less active. Jude is preparing for his mission and occasionally meets us at our lessons. We had a pretty powerful lesson of member missionary work and sharing the message of the Restoration with their friends and family. We're going to come back this week and help them with ideas of how they can approach their family and friends about the Gospel since that's the hardest part for members. The awesome part of this lesson is that when we arrived, they were just at the end of watching "The Testaments." It was their first time watching it, and Brother Dejino was glued to the screen. That movie brings nothing but a powerful spirit, so it really brought the Spirit into our lesson and I think it set the perfect tone, especially for Brother Dejino. 

Friday after weekly planning we visited Mark. It was a pretty depressing lesson as he explained how he feels guilty about his sins when he reads he Book of Mormon and all the commandments that are in there, and he's never felt peace and doesn't really know who the Savior is. I think he was on some pretty heavy medications, but it was heartbreaking to hear someone think and talk like that. We gave it a lot of thought and prayer and on Saturday we did a whole lesson about God's love. Then we had him list every little thing he's grateful for. The thought came in my mind the day before after our lesson, "when upon life's billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost....count your many blessings, see what God has done." It was the perfect inspiration. As he listed the things he was grateful for, he said he felt happy an he even gave us a smile! We told him that whenever Satan creeps into his mind, and bad, negative thoughts come, to just think of everything he is grateful for and he can't help but be happy! We testified of God's love for him and that no matter what happens, that love will never, ever change. 

Sunday we had some awesome miracles because Nancy came to church with Mark! Sister Alarcon's husband also came to church with his investigator brother, Arnold (perfect way to celebrate his birthday ;) ). It was his first time coming to church and the ward warmly welcomed him. My heart just felt so full of gratitude for this ward. I've come to love them all so very much. The entire Garceniego family came as well! They had received a motorcycle so they wouldn't have to pay so much plete to get to church, so I was grateful they remembered the blessings the Lord has given them and came to church on that blessing. :) We had a great rest of the day working with Michelle and visiting our investigators that didn't come to church. Along the way we met Michelle's sweet great aunt who's 84. She's a retired teacher and can't walk, but she really wanted something to read since she doesn't do much throughout the day. We gave her a Restoration pamphlet and set a return appointment for Tuesday. I'm excited to meet with her. She was so sweet and seemed very open to our message. We ended our night at Mark's house and Sister Tevez was there doing therapy for Mark. She hadn't been home all day, but was out and about serving. She said, "once a missionary, always a missionary." She's truly an example to me of someone who understands her purpose. She has clept (sp?) foot but still served a mission a while ago and even until now her disability does not stop her. She is one of the most hardworking, diligent members of our ward and I really look up to her example. 

Well, I'm thankful for all the trials Heavenly Father places in our path to help us grow, including learning more about the Christ-like attribute of patience. I just returned to the computer shop because there was a brown out (that's why this letter is a bit late today--sorry!) and all the computers shut off before I could click send. Luckily, it was saved! Tender mercy!  Anyway, I really am grateful for the experiences I have and the trials I receive to help me grow and become more like my Savior. 

I hope you all have a great week and a Happy Valentine's Day! Love you all so very much and I'm grateful for all the support and love you give to me! I feel it every day. :) Palangga gid ko kamo! :)

Sister Dixon

(Jessica also told us this week that her file of photos got a virus, so there aren't as many photos this week! She lost several, but luckily had backed up previous week's photos--always an adventure).

Family Home Evening at Mark and Nancy's house

Zone Training Meeting

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