Sunday, May 4, 2014

I Know that My Redeemer Lives

Good morning!! (or I guess it's evening there, no?)

What a wonderful week! Here's what happened...
Tuesday we had exchanges with the Kabankalan sisters. I went to Kabankalan this time and worked with Sister Evans, who was actually Sister Neilsen's (my MTC companion) trainee! It was awesome to see how much she's grown and she is a very diligent and hard working missionary. While I was there we went to one of the most awesome investigators--his name is Eduardo and HE actually found the sisters and wanted to be taught. He's been a pastor in his church for over 25 years, but one day just left his church because he "didn't feel anything." That's when he found the sisters! He immediately felt something different and has been working hard towards baptism ever since. He's smoked since he was 12 and he's in his 70s now, so quitting was pretty tough for him, but now that he's stopped, it's just a matter of weeks before he'll get baptized! He sure liked to talk a lot because he's in his house all day with no one to talk to (he's doesn't want to go outside for fear of temptation of all the people smoking), but even in that one visit I had with him, it was amazing to see his conversion. He said the first time he picked up and read from the Book of Mormon, he said, "THIS is the truth." Pretty neat, eh? 

Wednesday we traveled back to Pontevedra, which took a big part of our day, but when we got home, we were still able to get quite a few teachings in. One was with Sister Norma and I think it's the first time I've seen someone sob on my mission, for reasons other than feeling the Spirit. She was feeling pretty upset with her situation in life and the way some of her children treat her unkindly. We sang a Hymn and shared a scripture with her, and Sister Boncag shared a pretty tear-filled testimony, but afterward Norma seemed to feel a bit better. Hopefully we'll be able to continue to help her feel God's love for her and help her know how much this Gospel can bless her life. 

Thursday we hit a few appointments in the morning because we headed to Bacolod for our Mission Leadership Council, which was the most amazing meeting I've attended on my mission. Seriously, I wish I could just take the Spirit I felt and send it through the computer, but I know that'll never work, so I'm SO excited to tell you about it when I get home. I felt like everything that was said was directed specifically for me, and I left the 3 hour training a new person. We spent the night in Bacolod 6 and guess who was there? Sister Russon!! I hadn't seen her for so long so it was good to talk to her and hear how well she's doing. :) 

Friday we had the second half to our training and Elder Ardern attended (if you remember from General Conference, he gave the prayer in one of the sessions--he has a neat New Zealand accent). We knew a general authority was coming, but didn't know who until he arrived. He came to our mission to see how and why we've been so successful in achieving our vision. The APs gave us a training, and the APs from the past bore their testimonies. I don't know how I got so blessed to be in this mission with such inspiring leaders. They are all so amazing. Elder Ardern then gave us a training and we had a council to answer some of his questions. Afterwards, I came away with the firmest desire to serve with all the diligence I have....just give all I have until the end of my mission, and then work just as hard after my mission. It was truly two of the most spirit filled days of my mission. Can't wait to tell you about it when I get home!! An email just won't give it justice.

Saturday we were back in Pontevedra and we had Sparks' baptism! Haydee, one of our investigators, attended. She's attended every baptism and activity and sacrament meeting since we started teaching her a few weeks ago. She is so incredibly smart. Every time we ask about her Book of Mormon reading, she basically quotes the chapters she's read and is so eager to learn more. She basically teaches us half the time. :) Honestly, I feel like we're not really doing anything. She was prepared so well by the Spirit that all we have to do is remind her of the things the veil of forgetfulness caused her to forget. She's 25 and we're also teaching her brother. They found US one day when we were teaching their neighbor. It just amazes me time after time how the Spirit leads us to find people, or for people to find us! We also taught Cezile, who is very passionate about the Gospel and very good with Bible references. It was our third visit with her and we taught about the Book of Mormon. It was the first time in my mission that someone said "no" when invited to read the Book of Mormon. I was kind of in shock! I'm sure that happens a lot in other missions, but it was just so dumbfounded as to why someone wouldn't want to even try reading scripture and truth from God. My eyes got a bit teary because I felt like a soul was just lost. She had just rejected the truth. But then I composed myself and told myself that it's just not her time yet. We are praying that she will soften her heart and accept the truth at some point. 

Sunday was a day full of tears. It was fast and testimony meeting and a lot of the branch missionaries bore their tearful testimonies of how grateful they are for missionary work. Then in Relief Society, I was teaching the lesson, and can't remember what question I asked the class, but Sister Padiengco shared a pretty emotional story in response of how she's being persecuted by her husband and friends, but how she's staying strong because of the faith she gained on her mission and her years in church activity. We had a meeting with President Casteneda after church, and he cried because of some challenges we've been having in our branch. Then later that day, Nelly Rusia cried as she told us of the hardships of some family situations, but that she knows that through Faith in Christ, everything will work out. Sometimes I wonder why these sweet Filipino people have to suffer so much. They have such strong faith in our Savior and now that I think about it, maybe that's the reason why...their faith just needs to be tested to the next level. My heart was pretty heavy last night. I want so much to help the members and investigators of this branch to be strengthened, and I wish I knew how I could help solve all their problems, but then I know that wouldn't help their faith in Christ grow to the next level. I'm grateful I get to serve as a representative of Jesus Christ in this area, however, and do my best to do what the Savior would do to help this sweet little branch. I know that through continuous exercise of Faith in Jesus Christ, from both me, my companion, and the members and investigators, that Christ will take us by the hand like He did for Peter when He began to be unsteady on the water, and give us the strength and power to keep moving forward, with full faith in His plan for us. 

Thank you for all the amazing examples of faith back home. I have truly been blessed by so many testimonies and examples of faith from all ends of the world. I know our Savior and Redeemer lives and loves us. This is a truth I know with every fiber of my soul. 

I hope everyone has a great week! Love you much and I'll talk to you next week! 

All my Love, 
Sister Dixon
"Adorable children with Justin, an investigator"

"MLC! (Mission Leadership Council) Sister Neilsen and Sister Van Slooten, from my batch, are STLs too!"

                                         "Sister Canimo said to tell you hello and she loves you!"  
                   ( Sister Canimo was Jessica's 2nd companion after she arrived in the Philippines)

"Mark John's (he goes by Spark), baptism!"

"Ward missionaries and President Casteneda"

"Lovely spider we killed last night. I'm going to be a pro spider killer when I get home! ;)"

"My apartment...I call it the bombshell specifically because of our bedroom...small, dark, and bombshell like. haha"

I wonder if they have no chairs? I will have to ask Jessica.  It looks like they might need to stand to study and to eat. However, having a table and a desk, I am sure, is a blessing!

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