Sunday, April 27, 2014

Have I Done any Good?

Good morning! I hope everyone is having a great start to their week! 

The days this week kind of seemed to blend together, so I'll try to remember what I can! It was a good week though! Tuesday after district meeting we had exchanges. I went to Binalbagan with Sister Cabalquinto. I'm pretty sure I learned more from her than she did from me...she's amazing! She has such strong leadership skills and is so friendly and easy to talk to, making finding new investigators a blast! We had an awesome experience together. We had just contacted the Heva family, a referral, and had just started our lesson. It was night-time by now, and they are very poor, so we they had no light. We used a flashlight, and stood up during the lesson since they had no chairs. We were introducing our message and 'how to begin teaching' as well as addressing the importance of families. After a few minutes, the woman who referred them walked in their house unexpectedly (I think she was on her way home or something and stopped by). She kind of had a shocked look on her face to see us there. We asked her to bear her testimony about how the gospel has blessed her family and afterwards we talked about the importance of baptism. We extended an invitation to be baptized and both the mother and the father very willingly accepted. The member still had a somewhat shocked look on her face throughout all this. Sister Cabalquinto asked the member to give the closing prayer and she got very tearful as she prayed. It really touched my heart that this member was able to be part of such a spirit-filled lesson. She was able to see her friends accept the invitation to come unto Christ and be baptized. The spirit was very tangible and I was full of gratitude that this member was able to experience such great success in missionary work. I think she was so shocked because of the great amount of spirit she felt. There is truly nothing better than missionary work, and when you get to witness miracles of missionary work like this first hand, I can see how it can be pretty 'shocking' because it's so wonderful!! I'm grateful I get to witness these miracles daily, even hourly! I'm also grateful for Sister Cabalquinto and her sweet spirit that allowed the Spirit to enter so strongly into our lesson. :)

A while back I asked for a few tithing stories to share with investigators and members (and thanks to all those who have shared your amazing experiences!). But I'd like to share a tithing story of one of our recent converts, Marilou. We were teaching her the new member lessons of tithing and asked her if she's had an experience with paying tithing. She told us that before she was a member, the only thing they would have to eat at times were bananas. At the time she only had her little boy (she has two now), and a lot of times she would give her portion of bananas to her son and husband, meaning she would go without food. She is normally a very happy and upbeat person, but she just broke down in tears this time. She said that after they started paying tithing, they were blessed to have enough food for all of them. Even now, even though money is still extremely tight and they don't have a side dish to go with their rice a lot of the time, the four of them are at least able to eat without starving. I love this woman. Her example of faith and love for her little family and the Lord is incredible. Her faith makes me want to strive harder to be better and trust more in the Savior and His promises for keeping the commandments. 

On Saturday we had an awesome opportunity to clean the nearby park for National Service Day! It was a lot of fun and we actually had quite a few investigators show up! Our branch Relief Society was awesome and made lunch for us afterward, and then we followed with a baptism in the Elder's area. :) On Sunday we had a record of 13 investigators come to church! It was a great way to end the week. :) The Lord sure is merciful with His blessings and miracles.

 I'm so grateful to be here in Pontevedra to help this little branch grow! I'm grateful for my Savior and for the Priesthood. I know that through the Priesthood we are able to receive saving ordinances that will allow us to live with our Father, Savior, and families for eternity. How grateful I am for this knowledge and testimony and that I get to share it with others all day, every day!

I hope you all have a wonderful week full of sunshine! Thank you for all your prayers and support. I'll talk to you next week!! 

Sister Dixon 

PS In Hiligaynon, salt is "asin." Last night, Brother Rusia told me there are actually 11 commandments. The 11th is 'though shalt not eat salt. Because it is 'asin.'" haha very clever. :) 

PPS HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROO!!! Love you bunches and bunches! Have a great 12th birthday!! Can't believe you'll be in Young Women's now!! :) xo


"We have to climb this ladder over the wall to get to one of our areas."

National Service Day

Jessica said she was so excited to wear the "yellow helping hands shirt"!

A tree centuries of years old!
We haven't seen Jessica in jeans for about a year! She said it was very hot that day, and she is grateful they typically get to wear skirts.:)

"Elder's baptism"

"Sister Minerva's adorable kids. :)"

"Sister Norma (in pink) and Minerva (in yellow). Two of our investigators. Sister Boncag is behind them, and her sister is on the far left. :) We usually teach at their house."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Being Grateful IN our Circumstance

You know one talk I loved at General Conference? The talk on gratitude from President Uchtdorf. I loved how he explained not only being grateful for things, but being grateful in our circumstances. I also loved that he said that gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes. As missionaries, one of our greatest desires is not only do missionary things, but become Christlike missionaries. What better way than through gratitude! This week I really tried to apply being grateful IN our circumstances. It was a amazing to see how in doing so, the sometimes sticky or rough situations turned into a great learning experience and even a blessing at times. Here are a few experiences to explain what I mean...
Circumstance: We had exchanges with the sisters in Isabella. It was my first time leading an exchange and I was pretty nervous. I'm pretty sure there was a typhoon because the rain was so incredibly strong for a few days and would not stop. When it rains, it's sometimes difficult to have teaching appointments because everyone's undercover. It was one of my deep desires to have this exchange be a success since we are supposed to be the examples of high indicators for the sisters in our zone. On top of that, our toilet broke and I could not figure out what was wrong with it. 
Gratitude: My exchange was with the one and only SISTER FANENE!! When you're companions with this sister, it's nothing but sunshine. It was like we had never been separated...our companionship unity just continued to flow like it did when we were actual companions and she's still as astonishing as ever. Our day went like there wasn't even any rain--full of lessons and a lot of new investigators (yay for meeting key indicators!). We had a wonderful day discussing each other's areas and things we've learned. It was a tender mercy for both of us to have this companionship exchange with each other. It was a testimony builder for me that Heavenly Father loves each and every one of his children...and He shows it even through the smallest ways like bringing two sister missionaries/best friends together again for an exchange. As far as the toilet, we were just grateful we had one! haha 

Circumstance: We needed to get back to Binalbagan to meet with our real companions. The ride is about 45 minutes to an hour and we ended up waiting an hour for a bus to come by (Pontevedra is a lot more remote than Bago. haha), which put us at almost 2 hours of travel. A pretty big chunk out of our day... :/
Gratitude: While waiting, we met a man named Joselito who is SO excited to listen to our message. He was taught by the elders a long time ago and wanted to continue. He asked US when we could visit him. This wouldn't have happened if the bus had come 5 minutes earlier than it did. 55 minutes waiting for a bus for the salvation of a soul? SO worth it.

Circumstance: Because it was the week of Easter, they have what they call 'Holy Week' here. Where they go to church and then have processions of Saints, and other events through the week to celebrate Christ. Today happened to be the day of the procession. Which meant no one was home. They were all at the procession. We went to one of our further areas, thinking maybe people wouldn't have gone to the procession because it's so far, but still. No people.
Gratitude: We talked to the neighbor of the less active family who wasn't home and he agreed to let us share with him! His name is Nielsen, and his wife Joanna was there too with their new baby. They were so receptive to our message, and I was especially impressed with how well Nielsen received the message.  Had the less active family been home, we probably never would have thought to stop by this man's house and share our message of eternal families! 
Circumstance: Nelly and Erwin Rusia (very active members that are just starting their family) live in the most poorest condition, and go to the ocean each day to find shells for their food each day. Their house is tiny and made of bamboo and palm leaves. 
Gratitude: They are the happiest little couple. Sister Nelly is SO positive and constantly talking about how blessed they are. She knows that as they keep striving to keep the commandments, the Lord will bless them. I know she's right. They are truly a living example to me of gratitude IN the circumstance. We are also teaching their 12 year old neice, Allyza. She is adorable and so so sweet. She's currently living with the Rusia's so she can go to school here. She is full of tears every time we teach her and she soaks everything up like a sponge. We're praying her parents will give consent for her to be baptized, but we're so grateful for the Rusia's and they're wonderful example and influence on Allyza and all their other nieces and nephews they've helped bring to the truth. 

Circumstance: It's summer here. Which means HOT. As in. Extremely hot.
Gratitude: At least I have an umbrella to cover myself from the sun. :)

Circumstance: Giving a talk in Sacrament, teaching Primary, and helping organize a branch missionary meeting (held for the first time in who knows how long).
Gratitude: Speaking in a tiny branch house is the best thing EVER. The spirit was so powerful during the Sacrament too. I LOVE Pontevedra. :) And Filipino primary kids? Yeah, cutest things ever, even if there was only 10 of them. :) AND we had a ton of our investigators come. Hooray for miracles and answers to prayers! 
Circumstance: One of the recent converts, Marilou, who has a husband and 2 little kids, is so very poor. They have no electricity so they cook in the day when it's light, and live in what looks like a shack. Brother Eric rides a bike all day selling ice cream, so they're income is very low. 
Gratitude: Marilou has the biggest smile and even though sometimes all they have to eat is rice, she always offers us some. Of course we tell her we're fine. But what an example of selflessness! She always loves when we visit and share the Gospel with her. It's so true that the biggest hope offered in this world is the Gospel and Christ's Atonement. I've seen how it's given optimism, enthusiasm, and confidence to even the poorest, saddest, and hopeless circumstances and people. What a blessing this Gospel is!! 
Circumstance: Norma, one of our investigators, suffered a stroke a few years ago. As she gave the closing prayer, she sobbed as she expressed how she wishes she could have just died because it's been hard for her to experience the after effects of the stroke. 
Gratitude: As Norma prayed, she gave thanks that she has been able to get to know us sisters and our message, and that she now knows she still has a mission and purpose here on earth. She was saved from death because Heavenly Father loves her and still has more for her to do. She was speaking in Tagalog, so Sister Manosig had to translate for me later, but as she prayed, you could sure feel the spirit and her deep gratitude. 

This week sure has been wonderful, looking back and seeing how truly blessed I am to be where I am and doing what I'm doing. I know that God loves us, and that one of the best ways we can show gratitude for His love and His Son's Atonement, is bringing others to Christ. I'm grateful I get to do this full time. I'm grateful for my companion, for my area, for the Pontevedra branch and members. I'm grateful for living apostles and prophets, for the restored Gospel, for Joseph Smith. I'm especially grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement and for the opportunity to repent each and every day. I'm grateful for a merciful Heavenly Father. I know He loves us. I know that as we find gratitude IN our circumstances, like Nephi when he was bound by his brothers (1 Nephi 18:16), then we will feel the power of the Atonement more fully in our lives and we will be happier and become more Christlike. 

Thank you all for YOUR wonderful examples of gratitude and Christlike service. I truly look up to all the amazing family and friends in my life who are so steadfast and immovable in the Gospel. Keep doing what you're doing!! 

Have a great week! Palangga ko kamo! 

Sister Dixon 

"Laundry last the bathroom cuz it rained aalllll day"

"Exchanges with Sister Fanene and Sister Tampos! Sister Fanene's and mine's companionship unity is still in action....we did NOT plan what we wore. haha :)"

"The ocean is in our area!!!!"

"The Semanillo family"

 "Sugarcane fields"

"Working with Ariane, one of our awesome branch missionaries"

Sunday, April 13, 2014

I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go

Hello my wonderful friends and family!!

Well, I think it's safe to say that I'm the worst at 'guessing' if I'm going to transfer or not. It's usually the opposite of what I think, so yep. I got transferred. As sad as I was to leave Bago, Sister Tanes (I know she's in good hands...her companion is Sister Bitter!), and the amazing members, recent converts, and investigators, I'm excited to be in my new area... Pontevedra!! It's south of Bago in the Binalbagan zone. To makes things a bit simpler, I'll give a summary of my new experiences/area:

My companion: Sister Manosig! She's from Tay Tay Rizal, Manila, 24 years old, 9 out of 14 kids (they are all members--majority having already served missions), same batch as Sister Canimo (goes home in August), graduated college as a nurse, and is pretty much the best! She is quiet but powerful, especially in her teaching. She is very Christ-like, very hard working, and I'm so excited to learn from a more experienced sister! I've already learned loads from her this week. :)

The area: Pontevedra. It's actually a branch here, which I'm SO excited about. The branch is working towards becoming a ward pretty soon, so hopefully we'll be able to help them out! They actually just added sisters to this area, so now there are four missionaries instead of two. Sister Manosig and Sister Shakespear actually came in when the area split about two weeks ago, and were just getting settled in when Sister Shakespear transferred a week after she got there. A lot of people were super confused when I started walking around with Sister Manosig...they thought I was Sister Shakespear at first! haha They said we have very similar facial features. Probably because we're distantly related. ;) This area actually reminds me of a Filipino style Logan or Brigham City, so I LOVE it!! 

The meeting house: The whole building is smaller than our cultural hall back home and the baptismal font is outside. Love it. :) 

The members: LOVE THEM!! They seriously are so great. We had a meeting on Sunday with President Castaneda and the auxiliary leaders, and I'm super excited to work with this branch. Some of the awesome members here are Sister Boncag and her sister- they're 73 and 75, never been married, super active in the church, and love the missionaries. They are just the sweetest, funniest ladies. We are currently teaching one of their referrals, Sister Norma, and it's been really helpful to have them there. They're the best. :) Brother Erwin and Sister Nelly Rusia- they look like siblings of like 18 and 20, but they're married and are in their late 20s. They gave me a good joke about that the first time I met them. They have the best "how they met" story ever that I'll have to tell you when I get home. Brother Erwin is a counselor in the Branch Presidency and 1 of the 2 RMs in the ward, and Nelly is Relief Society President. She's pregnant but they have one other 'daughter' who is actually their niece. They adopted her because both her parents died when she was 7. She's eleven now and is one of our recent converts. Her name is Shane Rose and just the sweetest girl ever. 

The investigators: Since the area was split, we're in a similar situation as when I was in Bago....the need for more investigators. We've done a lot of finding this week and have had quite a few miracles. One of our investigators is Spark (Mark John). He's 13 and has just the biggest smile. :) He loves our message and is so receptive! We met his 92 year old grandma last night who is part deaf, and probably part blind because she thought I was a boy at first. haha She patted my face, gave me a toothless kiss on the cheek, and pinched my cheek all within 10 minutes. It was pretty great. :) We've had other investigators feed us duck this week, some kids call me Barbie, we need to climb a ladder over a wall to get to one of our areas, and I saw a caribou in a tricycle. It's been quite the week but I'm loving it. :) 

Conference was fabulous, as usual....the speakers, the music, the prayers, the spirit...everything. :) We watched the Saturday session in Binalbagan at the Stake Center and Sister Fanene was there! It took all we could to stay dignified and contain our excitement when we saw each other. Goodness, I love her. Sunday our branch showed General Conference in the meetinghouse, which was awesome so our investigators wouldn't have to take the hour bus ride to Binalbagan! They only showed the morning session though, so I've yet to see the afternoon session. The spirit was so powerful in all the talks though, and I learned SO much that I want to apply into my work and life as a missionary. We truly are so blessed to have living prophets and apostles lead and guide us in these latter-days. I know they are inspired messengers of God and that Thomas S. Monson is our true and living prophet. 

I really liked Elder Ballard's talk and want to do something he suggested to. That is, share one thing I learned from Preach My Gospel this week. And I would be more that happy to hear the things that you learn from Preach My Gospel in your weekly letters to me. :) This week I focused on Chapter 1, My Purpose because it's a new transfer and I've been given some new responsibilities. As I studied, "The Power and Authority of Your Calling" on page 4, I studied about how when we are set apart as missionaries, we receive authority from God to preach His gospel. But it's as we prayerfully and worthily exercise this authority that we receive spiritual power. Our power and authority is evident when we work and teach. One of the listed ways that we can know that our power is being manifest is when we receive guidance about where to go or what to do. Sister Manosig and I experienced this this week when we were proselyting. It was getting later in the evening and we had a few more appointments we needed to hit with investigators to reach our goals for the day. We were debating whether to visit a less active family or not, and when Sister Manosig asked me what I thought, I said, "let's visit them!" We went to their house, and ended up teaching their family with an investigator present! Her name is Jona (18 years old) and she was visiting the family. We taught the message of the Restoration and the spirit was SO tangible. She was very receptive and agreed to be baptized. She's super busy with school, so we weren't able to set an official date, but she is so open to the Gospel. It was amazing to see how the Spirit truly guided us to know where to go, even in that little decision to visit this less active family. As a result of following the Spirit, we were able to teach a less active family, have a member present lesson, and most importantly, bless the lives of our Heavenly Father's children. Strengthening the testimony of the less active members, and bringing new light and knowledge about our loving Heavenly Father to an investigator. It was a small experience, but truly testified to me that when we prayerfully, faithfully, and live worthily of our authority as God's servants, He will manifest His power through us so that we may bless His children in ways that we cannot do on our own. 

I'm excited to see what this new week has in store for us. I'm so grateful for my calling as a missionary and the power and authority God gives us each and every day through the enabling power of the Atonement. I know this Gospel is true with all my heart. I know Christ is our Savior and that Thomas S. Monson is God's living prophet on the earth. I know Joseph Smith was called of God to help restore the only true Gospel to this earth. I know God is our loving Heavenly Father. I'm grateful for my companion, for my area, the members, our investigators, and for the opportunity to better love, serve, and learn from the missionaries and people in the Philippines. This work truly is the BEST! Love you all so very much. Thank you for your constant thoughts and prayers...I feel them each and every day! 

Have a fabulous week! 

All my love, 
Sister Dixon  

"Sinigang--delicious Filipino dish. :)"

Repedro Family

Jhanna and Glance

"Sister DelosSantos visited me the morning I left."

"How we got our luggage to Galo chapel after our bus ride....good ol' transfers. :)"

"Our cute little meeting house that I love so much. :) There are about 5 different churches (Iglesia ni Cristo, Catholic, Baptist, etc.) in our area, and our church building is the smallest and most humble looking. :) Yet we know it's the most true Church in the world. :)"

"Sister Manosig and me"

"Spark's 92 year old Grandma"