Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lead Kindly Light

**Jessica didn't have time to send photos this week as she was on her way to a zone conference in Bacolod. Her mission president will take photos at the conference, so I will attach some later this week.**

Hello friends and family! 

I'm so excited to hear of all the new missionaries to be from our ward! This work really is the best work on earth and I can't wait for them to experience the full time joy of missionary service!

What a great week! Monday we visited Marianne and had a really good discussion about the individuality of God the Father and Jesus Christ, as well as the Holy all stemmed from her reading the three witnesses...pretty neat. :) Her daughter, Mary Grace is nervous to be baptized because of her fear of water, so I was grateful I carry around the picture of Dad and Me when I was baptized. I showed her the picture and explained to her my fear when I was little, but how I overcame it through prayer and the help of mom and dad (I didn't mention that swimming lessons helped too ;). That seemed to ease her fears and now she's excited to be baptized!  

Tuesday we had district meeting then had exchanges with Sister Hemi and Sister Cabalqunito. I was with Sister Hemi here in Pontevedra and we had a great time working with each other. She's only one batch behind me, so it was fun learning from her. She is so Christ-like, positive and upbeat, and has excellent teaching skills. While on the exchange, we had a lesson with Sister Camille about the Book of Mormon. Her husband is a less active, and so we asked how he felt at the time of his baptism. He explained the feelings of the spirit and afterward, Camille said, "wow, I've never felt that before." We testified that as she reads the Book of Mormon and prays, she can have that feeling with her, and that when she gets baptized and receives the Holy Ghost, she can have that feeling with her all the time. I love the power and authority we have in bringing this type of glad tidings to our investigators. It's so overwhelming and brings such joy to my heart! To be literally leading and guiding someone on their way in taking steps towards eternal life. I had a heart-wrenching moment this week that in a little over four months, I will no longer have that authority. I can no longer invite someone to be baptized. I've come to LOVE inviting others to come unto Christ through faith, repentance, and baptism. When I go home, I can help others develop their faith in Christ, and invite others to repent by inviting them to listen to the missionaries, but I won't have the authority to invite them to be baptized. It makes me want to work even harder with the short time I have left, to use the power and authority the Savior has given me to bless and invite His children to come unto Him at every opportunity I have.

Wednesday we met up with our companions again and headed back to our areas. Sister Batalero and I visited Marianne and she told us that we could no longer teach at her house because her brother-in-law, who partly owns their house, doesn't want us there. She cried and so we sang a Hymn and prayed with her. We're finding ways we can teach them at the member's homes, which is better anyway, but it's been kind of difficult figuring out schedules and everything. I know Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for this family though, and I trust and have faith in Him that everything will work out how it's supposed to for this sweet family. Later that night we went to a new area that the elders recently gave us and met the Shioko family. They have 7 sons, but only two are living with them currently. A three and eight year old. They are sooo cute. The elders only visited them a couple times, and one of the times gave Sister Shioko a priesthood blessing. They kept expressing their gratitude for the blessing and were so receptive to our message, especially Brother Shioko. We invited them to come to church on Sunday, and even though Brother wanted to, he couldn't get off work. Sister Shioko was a bit hesitant but came on Sunday!! All thanks to Sister Licaniel, her neighbor and super active member of the branch. Thank goodness for fellowshippers! They truly are the key to helping investigators feel comfortable in coming to church. :)

Thursday we had a good lesson with Rhodora on the Word of Wisdom, and they said I have the face of a Brazilian....(?) :) We also had a really good lesson on the Restoration with Mary Rose. She's one investigator that I've really noticed her eyes when we teach. They fill up with light and understanding, and the spirit is able to work with her so easily to help her 'get it.'  She has the cutest little one year old boy and her husband is returning home from Manila to find work here, so hopefully we can meet and teach him too. 

Friday we had weekly planning and then had lunch at the Rusia's. It was Nelly's birthday so we gave her one of the cardigans I have that she really likes. Then we visited Rhodora and had a good lesson on the Law of Chastity. It kind of smelled like blood throughout the lesson because one of their goats just died, and the mate was crying the whole time, but it was still a good lesson. :) She told us that she loves it when we visit because she feels so happy and full of light! She got a little teary and kept saying, "thank you." We testified that it wasn't us, but the Spirit, and that she could have those same feelings all the time when she receives the gift of the Holy Ghost! She actually used to be pretty depressed, so it's been awesome to see the change in her as she's come to church and has been constantly reading the Book of Mormon and been receiving the light and joy that comes from living the Gospel. Later that night Sister Batalero's had a really bad tooth ache, so Elder Vanwagoner and Elder Lopez came over and gave her a priesthood blessing. Almost immediately the pain started to cease. Right when I think my testimony of the priesthood couldn't get any stronger, something happens and my gratitude for the priesthood power of God increases to a deeper level. I love the Priesthood!

Saturday we met an older woman, probably in her 90s, who we pass quite a bit in one of our areas, but we decided to stop and talk to her. We prayed for her and then sang her a hymn and she just started to weep. Her voice is pretty weak, but from what we could understand, she's pretty sad and her children are always gone gambling. My heart just broke for this sweet woman. I could feel our Heavenly Father's deep and abiding love for His daughter and we testified of that love to her. On Sunday we contacted a referral of the Nillos family named Cherry. Oh my goodness, she is SO prepared. She told us that she's met with several other religions, but 'there's something different' about us. She could feel such peace as we discussed with her about how our message can bless her family and help her with the difficulties she's been having in her life. She wants us to meet her husband next time as well. We're so excited! Later we tried contacting another referral. The result was quite the opposite. When we "tugbalay"ed (because they don't have doorbells here), they yelled from inside,"Indi ko ya! Indi kami magatubang sa inyo!" In English it actually translates kind of funny...."Not me! We won't stand face to face with you!" I think that was the first time I've been rejected in a "rude" way on my mission. Yes, I am very blessed to be serving in such a kind and hospitable country, where they usually say, "no thanks, we're not interested," and we happily go on our way. I feel so blessed to be in a country where they accept a message of Jesus Christ so willingly. Most of the time when we ask if we can share a message about Christ, they are more than happy to listen. After that, the difficult part is the committing to continuous visits, reading the Book of Mormon, attending church, etc. But that's also the fun part! Figuring out how to help each person with their individual concerns. 

This week I was also thinking a lot about the Savior and His ministry. When He served, He didn't think an ounce about himself. I read some enlightening scriptures in 1 Nephi 11:28 and D&C 138:26 of how even the Savior, in all His power and authority and perfection, was still cast away from those He taught. Yet He still ministered and served. He helped the poor and needy. He would go out and return home with dusty feet, a sweaty brow, hunger and thirst, yet He kept going. All because of His pure love for the people and His understanding of His purpose. In a way I feel like I'm serving the same mission the Savior did. I minister to the poor and needy here in the Philippines. I return home with dusty feet, a sweaty brow, and full of hunger and thirst. At times we get rejected, and we usually come home exhausted physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Yet I keep going because I love these people. I understand my duty and responsibility and privilege, my purpose, to help them come unto Christ so they can receive the blessings and covenants that I've so abundantly been blessed with in my life. I'm grateful the Savior is my companion. I bear His name, so I know He is literally in our midst as we go about our day. He knows exactly what I feel each day because He's literally felt the same thing. That thought gives me the hope that I can do what He asks of me, just as He fulfilled all that the Father asked of Him. I know that through Faith in Jesus Christ, I can have the same power and authority He has in ministering to the wonderful people here in the Philippines. I love the Savior with all my heart and love my calling as a missionary. The time is so short for me to represent Him full-time and I truly pray that I may serve Him and His children with all my heart, might, mind and strength until the end of my mission and for eternity. 

Have a wonderful week! Palangga ko kamo! 

Sister Dixon 

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