Sunday, March 30, 2014

Oh, What Songs of the Heart

What a crazy but wonderful week! Two areas in our mission were turned over to the Cebu mission so we welcomed four new elders into Bago! Two in our ward, and two in the other sister's ward. It was a bit crazy trying to get our area split figured out and showing the elders around their new area, but it sure was a great adventure and it's just another testimony builder to me of the Lord hastening His work! We actually had to hand over a lot of our investigators to the elders, so we'll be having a good time OYMing like crazy this week in our area to find new investigators. :) 

Anyway, here are some of the highlights of the week:

Nancy was baptized! It was the sweetest thing watching Mark, who just received the Priesthood last Sunday, baptize his mom. A few weeks ago I was so sad that they couldn't be baptized together, not even thinking of the fact that Mark could baptize his mother if he was baptized first. I'm grateful for our inspired district leader, Elder Abalos, who pointed that out to us. :) We were able to see them both dressed in white and Mark did his part perfectly. Nancy had a hard time being completely immersed for the first few attempts because the water was pretty low, but the feelings after she was completely immersed were so sweet and unforgettable. There really is no way to describe the joy I felt. She bore a very tender testimony of how the missionaries first visited her in 1994 (Mark was just in elementary school!), but they never came back. The same thing happened in 2005. Now, 20 years after the missionaries’ first visit, Nancy and Mark Cabellon are now very active recent converts in the Church. Obviously I don’t know how the Lord’s timing works, but I sure am grateful that He provided the tender mercy for the time for Mark and Nancy to be baptized while I’m serving a full-time mission. Their baptisms, and the many stories behind it, make it into the top three baptisms of my mission so far. Truly so many miracles and blessings, and my testimony sure has grown a lot while watching THEM grow and progress in the Gospel. Nancy also tearfully expressed how she never thought her son would be able to heal from his mental sickness. But through the Gospel and the help of loving members and Priesthood blessings, Mark hasn’t needed to go to the psychiatrist in months and he is happier than ever. He is truly a first hand witness of how the Gospel can change lives not only spiritually, but physically and emotionally as well. He is so much more confident and happy now and I can’t help but grin ear to ear every time I see him smile or hear him laugh. And I’m sure his mom’s joy is so much more than mine. :)

The Rapedro family is doing alright. Brother Ramil drank again, which we were really sad about, and we’re doing all we can to help them. We just can’t understand why he chooses drinking over his family when he loves his family so much…. Sweet little Lovely told me she is writing a letter to Karissa so I’ll be sure to send it when she finishes. She told me she’s writing it in Hiligaynon so Rissy can learn it. Haha She’s so cute. She has such a bright, sweet Spirit and her influence is so great on her family. I just hope they will chose to follow her example of goodness.

We had a really great lesson with the Lipat family this week. Earlier that morning I had been studying 1 Nephi 5 when Sariah complains to Lehi. I was pondering why this part was included in the Book of Mormon but then it applied perfectly to the Lipat family later in the day. It reminded me of Elder Bednar when he promised something like when we study diligently from the Book of Mormon each day, there will always be something that can be used to help our investigators. The Lipat family has been having marital issues, so this really was helpful. I also remembered the quote we have by our kitchen sink at home..."I love you. I'm sorry. Yes Dear. We can't Afford it." We emphasized on the first two and tried to help them understand the importance of being humble and patient with each other, just like Lehi to Sariah, and praying for and with each other, reading the scriptures together, and saying I love you. I kind of felt like a marriage counselor for a while there. haha Sister Lipat was very grateful and expressed that even though we are young and not yet married, we sure have good council. haha It's definitely not us. It's the Spirit. :) 

After months of preparation, we had our 'Restoration' Musical Fireside on Sunday! It was a big success and the members did a great job with their parts. I played the piano for most of the time for all those with musical numbers and I've never been more grateful for taking piano lessons with Coila. There was some music I sight read for the first time and performed 10 minutes later. I’m just grateful I can use my talents in helping build the Lord’s kingdom. The ward hasn’t had a fireside in a long long time, so as far as them inviting friends not of our faith (which was our objective in order to find new investigators), it didn't really happen, but I felt very prompted a few months ago to do this fireside. Whether to help strengthen the testimony of a single person in the congregation, gain trust from the ward, or whatever the reason might have been for having this fireside, I'm grateful the Spirit guided us so well in planning, preparing, and having a successful fireside, and I know our efforts were not wasted. We WILL find new investigators. :) Oh, and one of the best parts of the fireside was when Bishop De los Santos was giving his closing remarks and whipped out a surprise musical number! He sang a solo of a song he wrote on his mission. It was pure awesomeness. :) After the fireside, we took Elder Leng and Torres to more of our area. We visited Cecile. She was sick and the elders immediately asked if she wanted a Priesthood blessing. This was only the second time I've been with elders when they've given a priesthood blessing. It is SO powerful! The power of the Priesthood and the spirit felt when it's exercised by worthy elders is so incredible. 

I'm excited for this upcoming week and the miracles that we'll see in our area now that we have four missionaries in Bago 2nd ward. :) Sister Tanes had a good study this morning about having the faith to find. We'll definitely be putting our trust and confidence in the Lord as He guides us to find those who are ready to hear and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know this is His work and He will not let us fail. I'm so grateful for my call as a missionary and to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

I hope you all have a fabulous week! Love you all so very much! 

Sister Dixon 

The Rapedro Family

"We had to turn Jennifer over to the elders so this was the last time we got to visit her. 
Luckily she came to church so we were able to see her. :)"

Nancy's Baptism!!

Mark was able to baptize his Mom.

"Celebrating the bishop's birthday after the baptism."

"Sister Fanene's fabric for me, Nancy, and Sister Rebotalla! (the wife of the brother who referred Mark)"

"The turn-out for the fireside"
"Proselyting and showing the elders their area in the rain with a rainbow!"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Carry On!

Good morning everyone! 

First off, thank you for the thoughts and prayers in my behalf. I'm feeling lots better and back to my normal self...all thanks to the love I have back home as well as from the people here in the Philippines. :)

We had a great week! Tuesday was our p-day and we spent the night at the Bacolod 5 sister's apartment. There were 8 of us total and oh boy. I can see why they don't put that many together to live everyday! We had WAY too much fun (but were still obedient, don't worry). The next morning we headed to the mission home for breakfast (I think it's the first time I've had fried chicken for breakfast ;) and then had our wonderful zone conference!! Everyone was so inspired in their training. I'll have to give you more details when I get home, but the main thing I got out of it was that God is our loving Heavenly Father and we are to become like Him. Our purpose as missionaries is to help others know this wonderful truth as well by finding and teaching and bringing others to Christ. The best way is by fishing!! Being fishers of men, that is (if you saw the picture of the net, that's why ;) President talked about how blessed we are to be serving in the Philippines where baptisms are possible weekly, unlike most other countries. We were really encouraged to step up our game and to constantly be finding, teaching, and baptizing and to continue being accountable for what we do (or don't do). The people here are so receptive to the Gospel that most of the time Satan needs to attack the missionaries rather than the people. That really got me thinking... It was an excellent training and I learned a ton that we're doing our best to apply into our area and to our lives as missionaries.

Thursday we had a pretty good proselyting day. Poor Jennifer got a cut on her foot and it got infected and swelled twice it's normal size. It was really painful for her but she was still just as chipper as ever. The Filipinos and their optimism never ceases to amaze me. Remember the other week when I hit my head on someone's roof? Well Alex had a referral for us and was showing us where he lived. We happened to walk past the same house and they were doing reconstruction to make their roof taller because I guess they felt bad so many people were hitting their head on their house. haha We offered to help probably 50 times, but they wouldn't let us do anything to help and I didn't really know what they were doing so I couldn't just start helping. They did agree that we could come back and visit though! Who knew that an injured head could lead to a potential investigator? :) Later that night we visited the Repedro family.  Brother Remil was gone drinking and the rest of the family was suffering because of it. We read some scriptures of comfort for Sister Lillybeth and the kids and we testified of the Atonement. It was hard to see the family so sad and hurt, but I know the Savior has a perfect plan for this family and will comfort them. 

Friday I don't remember details all that well because for some reason I felt so tired the whole day even though we get our required hours of sleep and everything. I do remember that we taught quite a few of our investigators after weekly planning and visited the Lipat family as well. Brother has now come to church 3 weeks in a row! He's almost a returned member. :) He told us how it's been almost 30 years since he had been to church and he had a big desire to change. I'm grateful the Spirit touched him to come find Sister Fanene and me a while back at the Garceniego's when he saw us walking through the basketball court to their house. He was pretty intense and aggressive the first time we met but now he's a lot more mellow and kind. We're now praying that his wife will start coming to church with him and that we'll possibly get to start teaching some of their non-member kids. 

Saturday I woke up feeling absolutely awful in my stomach and head and had a fever. I couldn't even really get out of bed. I slept most of the day and Sister Tanes took really good care of me. She is so sweet. I love her. But because it was Saturday, which is our most critical day to visit investigators so they can come to church, we went out for a few hours towards the end of  the day. We had some pretty big miracles because of it too. When we visited the Repedro family, Brother Remil finally opened up and told us why he drinks and his family situation when he was young. Like a lot of the Filipinos here, he had a rough growing up, but his parents were really kind and religious. When his father died, he turned to drinking.  He really does have a tender heart and loves his family and is doing his best to change, despite his relapses. At first he said he had work and wouldn't be able to make it to church the next day but by the end of the lesson he promised he would come. It was seriously a miracle lesson and really built my testimony of the importance of working no matter the sickness (homesickness or physical sickness). And by the end of the night I was already starting to feel a lot better! 

Sunday I woke up feeling better, but not totally up to full energy. It was pouring rain but we went to pick up our investigator Irene anyway. We were practically soaked when we got to her house and she said she received a text from her pastor asking if she was going to church and she said yes. So she wouldn't be able to come with us. I just kind of stood there speechless. She had agreed the past two days that we could come pick her up for church and now we were standing in the mud and rain, and she wasn't coming.  I told myself it was okay because the Repedro family would be coming. Well we got to the church, only the kids came.  We only had three investigators come to church, but we tried to stay positive because at least three came! haha And there were some positive's to the day...Nancy got interviewed for baptism this Saturday, Alex and Mark received the Aaronic Priesthood, Ana Marie De los Santos and Dechin Tipawan worked with us after church, and Sister De los Santos brought over a bunch of get better food and medicine. She's seriously the sweetest. :) We also FINALLY met with Jaymon!! It was his first and only day off for the month of March, so we took advantage of it. I think he was really surprised that we remembered he told us that, and that we actually visited. It was heartbreaking for me to see his countenance changed so much. :( I honestly had no idea how to even start our lesson with him because it had been so long since we taught him and we knew some of what he had been doing that he doesn't know we know about. I literally just prayed with all my heart and then opened my mouth and let the Spirit speak. I can't really remember what I said, but I'm praying that the Spirit was able to touch him in some way so that he could feel God's love and our sincere desire for him to come back to church and use the Atonement in his life. On the way back to Bago we had a miracle OYM (open your mouth) of a father who wants us to teach his kids and then we had a really good member visit with the Moises family to help them introduce the Gospel to their friends. Their daughter, Ycekha, is 9 and reminds me of Rachy. I told her that, and that Rach would always give me hugs, so Ycekha gave me this great big hug. It was so cute. :)

Despite all the crazy highs and lows this week, I'm grateful for everything I've learned this week. It doesn't matter how many times we fall. It just matters how many times we get up. Whenever we have a spiritual high like Zone Conference there's always a tendency for Satan to work extra hard, and I think he was putting in all his forces this past weekend. But there's no way I'm going to let him win. I know that because I'm part of God's army, He will provide the miracles and tender mercies to keep His work going. And I have a good feeling that this coming week is going to be FULL of them. :) I'm grateful for my Savior and know He lives and loves us. I'm grateful for the power of the Spirit in our lessons and the power of prayer. Thank you so much to everyone back home and the prayers that have been sent this way. I have the best family and friends in all eternity. 

Have a wonderful week!! Love you all!! 

Sister Dixon

"This is what Bacolod looks like!! We spent Tuesday here 
before we had Zone Conference."

"Maharlika Bell, Me, and Sister Tanes. We met Maharlika Bell in Robinson's (a shopping area) last Tuesday. Guess where she lives? Salt Lake. Guess where she works? South Davis Community Hospital. In Bountiful. yup. She's back here because her Mom is sick. Total tender mercy we met with her, and so random, too. We met her in the restroom!! She's a member and asked about us and then told us where she was from! I was pretty speechless because I couldn't express my excitement and awe in Hiligaynon and then realized she could speak good English, so then I kind of freaked out. haha She is super nice. She's headed back the end of April to SLC."

WOW!!! How is that for a unique story!! I can't wait to meet her 
when she comes back to Bountiful. What a small world!! :)

"Jeepney full of watermelons"
So full that the watermelon falls out and breaks open on the bumper :)!!

The Lipat family

 "Proof that Nicole SMILED!! :D
 Now I just gotta get her sister Mitch to smile. haha 
She's the one with the blue and flowers tank top."

"The Alarcon's ADORABLE kids, Tom and Mariel. SO cute."

Sister Delos Santos, who took care of Jessica while she was sick.

We love you Sister Delos Santos, very much.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Images from Zone Conference--March 2014

We sure appreciate President and Sister Lopez as they take hundreds of photos of our missionaries.
(There were over 50 of Jessica, so I narrowed them down--
the rest will stay in her file for her to see when she gets home). 
From the images taken, Jessica's zone conference looked wonderful. She is right where she needs to be!!
Having a daughter or son serve a mission for our Heavenly Father certainly is a parent's pay day! :)
Philippines Bacolod Mission--Zone Conference (Bago and Sagay), March 2014

Our favorite one! :)