Sunday, July 27, 2014

Count Your Blessings

Good morning!!

What a fabulous week! It just cruised on by! Monday we had FHE at the Acallings, with Elsie, Cheyene, and Miguel. It was a flop. haha It was raining so hard, poor Miguel had an awful toothache, so Elsie couldn't really focus on the lesson, and the ward missionaries weren't able to come. It's okay though! We were just happy Elise and Cheyene actually wanted to go to family home evening! They're faith is strengthening with every visit, and Sister Acalling is the sweetest fellowshipper ever. :)

Tuesday we had our awesome Mission President's training and learned how to work more with the members to hasten the work. It was really good and it's been neat to see the miracles this week of applying what we learned and receiving referrals from the members! 

Wednesday we had a pretty full day but had some pretty neat tender mercies. We had a lesson with Mary Chris and Maxine's mom, and her heart was softened to let us teach her kids, and allow them to be baptized if they choose to. We also visited Cheyene and Elsie. They still haven't 'received an answer,' about Joseph Smith and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, even though they study really thoroughly. Elsie goes back and rereads each chapter until she feels she understands, and they always pray before reading. We helped them understand what the spirit feels like and then made sure they remembered the correct way to pray, because they only way to get an answer is if they pray in the name of Jesus Christ. That seemed to help make things a bit more clear. :) 

Thursday we visited Winnie Medelle, a long time, part member investigator who has arthritis and can't move very well. He sits pretty stiff in his chair all day. :( There have been several sets of missionaries that have taught him, and his excuse for not being baptized is, "it's a secret." He's read the Book of Mormon and knows it super well, but won't pray to know if it's true because, "it's a secret." It's my personal goal to find out this 'secret' of his and help this man out! :) We also visited Shiela Mae and watched the Restoration video. The spirit was super strong and she even sang along to "Joseph Smith's First Prayer," when the choir sang. She was really impressed with the humble circumstances Joseph Smith came from. Later that night we visited Sister Quino, recent convert, whose husband is going less active because of some persecution of neighbors. She cried and told us how hard it was, because she's trying so hard to stay strong. We read 3 Nephi 12:9-11 about how much God blesses those who are persecuted. She was really comforted by that and was excited to read it to her husband later after he came home from work.

Friday we met a member named Jun who's kept a journal of missionaries that have passed through the area ever since he was baptized. He's 74 now and was baptized I think in the 80s. Sister Canimo was even in the journal! He painted this sign about how our physical body is the instrument of our spirit and signed it "Mormon." Man, this brother was so passionate about being a member of the church! He had this awesome brown hat that he wears every day, and it was a perfect tender mercy that we met him while walking to our appointment because he's now the fellowshipper of our investigator, Henry! He gave a pretty awesome testimony of the word of wisdom, since that was our lesson. Later that day, we were walking to a member's house to pick her up to work with us, on the way, we heard someone say, "hi sisters!" We turned around and saw someone waving from a doorway. We immediately went up and talked to them, shared a little message, and they accepted a return appointment! There are so many people on the streets, that it's literally impossible to talk to EVERYONE in our path, because we'd never get to our appointments if we did that, so we usually have to pay pretty close heed to the spirit to know which people we need to open our mouths to each day as we go throughout our day. Whenever someone says "maayong hapon!" to us first, we make sure we open our mouths always to them, because a lot of times it's Heavenly Father literally placing someone who's ready in our path! I like to think if it as His way of telling us who to talk to. Those are the best tender mercies. We just always have to make sure we act on those promptings! :) 

Saturday we had a really successful day and were able to do exchanges with Rowena and Prennie for part of the day, some awesome recent converts who are on fire with missionary work. :) I was with Rowena and we visited Renalisa, one of our investigators who does dialysis every five days. She's prayed to know if the Gospel is true and has received her answer in a dream (very common for the Filipinos), and when she went to do dialysis with absolutely no money to pay for it, she took it as a sign that God wants her to join this church when they miraculously told her that someone from Singapore donated money to provide for people who couldn't pay for their dialysis. Pretty amazing, huh? She's just having a hard time giving up her coffee, which was hard for Rowena too, so it's the perfect fellowshipper. :) We watched the Restoration DVD and the part that really got Renalisa was the part when Joseph Smith's dad gets baptized. She got teary eyed and said that she wants to be dressed in white to make her Father happy, and she now realizes how important it is to be clean in and out to be baptized. We had to move her date because of her coffee, but she's pretty set now on quitting so she can fully repent and be baptized. 

Sunday we literally had a miracle! We only had 3 investigators at church the week before, so we worked extra hard this week and did our best to be exactly obedient and we were able to reap the miracles: 11 investigators at church!! Cheyene, Elsie, Sheila Mae, Renalisa, Henry, and a few other investigators we've been working with! It was Elsie's first time attending church and she was pretty sleepy throughout the meeting because it was her first day to give up coffee (after teaching the Plan of Salvation the night before and her realizing the need to be baptized to be in the Celestial Kingdom with her family, she was pretty set to give up her coffee, just like Renalisa). We were pretty proud of her though for not drinking coffee. When we visited later and asked how their church attendance was, the first thing Elsie said was, "I like how you sing reverently. There's no drums or bands." haha It's so true though! Music is so powerful, especially when it gives reverence to our God and Savior. Later we were visiting some less actives, and we ran into Michelle! A ward missionary from Bago who always worked with us and visits Talisay on occasion. We were so excited to see each other and it just made me think that if I was this excited to see one of the members after four months, I can't imagine the joy I'll feel when I see all these members, investigators, recent converts, and people I've grown to love in the presence of Heavenly Father. That alone gives the motivation to endure faithfully to the end! 

With that said, I just want to bear my testimony that I know our Savior lives. His Atonement is so real, and without it, there's no way we could progress, become perfected, and return to live in His presence with our families and our Father in Heaven. I know that through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have the desire to repent. Repentance isn't a bad thing, it's so perfect and good, and without it, we can't claim the blessings of mercy that our Savior so lovingly gives to us. I know that through the power of the Atonement, we can do all things that the Lord needs us to do and we can become the people and disciples He needs us to be. Those changes come little by little, step by step, but it happens. I know because I've felt the Atonement change me day by day, little by little. And I'm only just beginning. I have a long way to go to become like my Savior, but at least I've started. And it all starts with that little seed of faith in Jesus Christ. 

Have a great week! I love you all so much and am so grateful for your constant love and support. Palangga ko kamo! 

All my love, 
Sister Dixon 

                                           FHE at the Acallings with Elsie, Cheyene, and Miguel
How many missionaries does it take to.....?

Getting Robuton (a fruit) from the tree

Jun's sign

Henry and Jun

                 Michelle and Sister Acalling....two of the best ward missionaries from Bago and Talisay :) 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Child's Prayer

Hello everyone! 

The days this week all seem to be meshed together so I'll write my email in the form of people. :) How's that? 

Monday I met my new companion, Sister Arcinas. She is from Bulacan, 21 years old, going to be a teacher, and been here for almost 11 months. She is awesome at talking with people, and considering she's only been in this area for two weeks, she picked up super fast of where all our investigators are. :) We're still trying to figure out how we teach with each other, but she's awesome! Love her already. :) We are in Talisay, which is pretty much the opposite of Pontevedra. haha They're working on splitting into two wards, so the ward is pretty big, and the chapel is HUGE! I'm in a Bacolod zone now, so things are a bit more established since I'm in the city now, and I hear a lot more English. I love the ward though, and our Bishop is awesome! 

Tuesday we had district meeting in Silay! My old area, so that was fun. :) Then later we met the Flores family. They have five girls, all very similar to the ages of Lanna, Becca, Rissy, and me. They are so. adorable. Such pretty girls. Their dad just headed to Manila for work, and they're Mom is so sweet. The sisters just met them on the street, so we're working on getting a good fellowshipper for them, but they are super receptive and are reading the Book of Mormon, so we're excited to see how the Gospel will bless them! 

Wednesday the Acalling couple worked with us in the evening. They are in their 60s and so adorable. Sister Acalling has really bad scoliosis and they're pretty poor, but they're faith is so strong in Christ. In the Philippines, people don't usually show physical affection, but they held hands while we walked, so that was pretty cute. ;) haha Sister Acalling worked with us the next day as well....she's so pisan! Or in English that's something like diligent. Her testimony is so strong and she loves missionary work. She has a son on a mission right now, so I think it's awesome that she's serving right along with him! :)

Thursday we visited Cheyene (20) and Elsie (mid 40s). They are mother and daughter. Oh my goodness, Cheyene is SO elect. She soaks in everything we teach and reads the Book of Mormon every day. She came to church yesterday and couldn't stop talking about how much she loved it! It's just amazing how Heavenly Father literally leads you to people who are ready. The sisters before just walked up to them to ask where someone lived, and then they started talking to them...and it just went from there!  

Friday we were teaching Jona, one of our investigators, and this older woman came towards the middle of our discussion and started listening. I asked what her name was and she said her name was Angelina. I asked about her family, and then she started crying. Her husband died about a year ago, and her kids don't treat her very well. She said that when she's in her house, she sees us all the time, but was always too shy to talk to us. So when we started teaching her neighbor, she decided to venture out. It's interesting, because when we first asked her to join, she was very hesitant and didn't want to, but then that's when she joined later after we started the lesson with Jona...the spirit must've pressured her just enough to join. :) We testified of God's love for her and His perfect plan for her and we expressed how we wanted to come back and visit her again. She was so happy to talk with us and she gladly welcomed a return appointment so we'll see what happens!  

Saturday we met with a less active who said the devil is telling her the Book of Mormon is fiction. We asked how she felt when the missionaries first met with her and how she felt when she first came to know the Book of Mormon was true. Of course the feelings were ones of peace and joy, so we shared Moroni 7:13 about how if it's good, it's from God. She seemed to feel better after that and she committed to re-read the Book of Mormon and pray about it again to have those feelings again. We also met Mary Chris and Maxine. We taught them at their cousin's house, PJ, who's blind and a recent convert. They were taught by Sister Canimo and Sister Ludwig, so basically know everything. They just aren't able to come to church because they have to sell fish for their mom on Sunday. We challenged them to pray for guidance, and then talk to their mom to see if they could come to church on Sunday and explain why. They didn't come to church on Sunday, and we have yet to follow up, but I know the Lord will provide a way for these sweet girls to make it to church and eventually be baptized. :) We also visited Sheila Mae, the nanny of a member family. She's 23 and SO smart...she basically has a photographic memory of the scriptures she reads, and when we explained the Plan of Salvation she said without us even prompting a question, "so it looks like I really need to be baptized to go to the Celestial Kingdom." :) She had already committed to baptism, but I think it was just another confirmation for her of how important baptism and the gift of the holy ghost is! :) 

Sunday I met the ward for the first time, which was great! So many awesome members, but the ward is HUGE! I'm excited to get to know everyone. Quinquero is awesome and super organized and we have lots of ward missionaries so I can't wait to hasten the work here in Talisay with them! We worked after church with Jene, a recent convert as of yesterday, and her testimony is so strong! If I didn't know, I would've thought she'd been active all her life. Her story's pretty day she was at 7/11 with her friend, Glide, who's a member. She saw Sister Emelio and Sister Bahm across the street and asked Glide who they were. She explained that they were the missionaries and then texted her a few days later asking if she wanted to investigate. She said, "sure!" And the missionaries met with her the next day. Man, I just love it! The members in this area are on fire and I'm so excited to work with them. It's truly through the members and through referrals that we find those who are super ready and elect. The process of conversion is faster, and they are stronger in the church after baptism. I love members! :) 

Like I said, the days all kind of meshed together this week..that's what happens when you go to a new area with a new companion and meet probably 500 new people for the week, so hopefully next week my letter is a bit more organized. 

I just want to end with a quote someone said in church yesterday that I really like, "A day without prayer is a day without blessings. A life without prayer is a life without power." I loved that! And it's so true. We kneel and pray countless times during the day as missionaries, and because of it, we receive countless blessings! I testify that praying with faith in Christ truly does bring power and miracles, and so much strength to get through anything. I know He hears and answers every child's prayer. 

Have a great week! Love you all! 

Sister Dixon

Toko Lizard---I don't even want to know what's in this guy's mouth...

                                                  "One of our recent converts, PJ, who's blind, 
                                           and his investigator cousins, Mary Chris and Maxine"

"Sister Arcinas and me and a few ward missionaries. 
The one on the far left is Jene, a recent convert! :)" 

                     "Our HUGE much different than our cute little branch house in Pontevedra!" 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I'll Go Where He Wants Me to Go

Hello everyone! 

Well, this week was amazing, but also unexpected! Here's what happened...

Monday we had an awesome mission leadership council that went into Tuesday morning. We returned to our areas Tuesday and had an awesome lesson with Rhodora and her best friend Jennifer. Jennifer quit coffee the minute we told her about it, and even though she had super intense headaches for about five days, she's done! Completely quit. Talk about faith and conversion! She's reading the Book of Mormon every day and this week we also met her husband who is super kind. They just need to get married, and then they can be baptized, which Jennifer is super excited about. :) 

Wednesday we gave our trainings at our zone leader's training meeting and then Rhodora had her interview! The elders said she's one of the most prepared investigators they've ever interviewed...I agree! Heavenly Father prepared her so well for the missionaries, we just had to pretty much reveiw the lessons and she was good to go! She grew up in an active family, just never got baptized because the Semillano family went less active. Now she and her family are returning to activity! 

Thursday we met with Brother Telanas and he had even more questions about pretty much everything but still hasn't started the Book of Mormon. Every time we would go to answer his question, he would interupt us with another question! We finally just stopped and said, "Brother, every question you have can be answered in that Book." He said, "every question?every question." We said, "YES!" He finally said, "Alright, I'll read and pray about it. If I get an answer I'll come to church on Sunday." Unfortunately, he didn't come to churchyesterday, so we'll follow up on what happened, but the power of the Spirit was so tangible in that lesson. The power of testimony is amazing. I truly know that the Book of Mormon answers questions of the soul, and that is just takes faith to read, ponder, pray, and apply what we learn. And then we'll be blessed with knowledge and hidden treasures! :) 

Friday was full of so many miralces, one of which was that Rusian Semillano referred us to a friend, who happens to be a wife of a less active we've never met! They were so kind and they have a brand new baby. Sister Marynol was super receptive and as we talked about how the gospel can bless her family to become eternal, she excitingly exclaimed that she wants us to return to she can know how. :) Her husband has been less active pretty much since he was baptized, but he knows the values of the church are good, and he wants his son to grow up with such values. That's why he told sister Marynol she couldn't drink coffee anymore. Now that they've been blessed with a new baby, they realize just how imporatant this gospel is in their life and are willing to do anything to receive it's blessings. :) After that lesson, we ran to our next lessons because we had such a full day. We were literally running from house to house, preaching the gospel....BEST feeling ever!! 

Saturday was Sister Rhodora Semillano Escribano's baptism! I wore my yellow skirt because she told Sister Batalero and I a while ago that we were her "light." She used to be depressed, but through the light we brought through the Gospel, she is now a completely changed person. We also jumped in our picture because of the joyful change that has happened in her life. :) Her nephew, Jeno, was able to baptize her, and she jumped and did a fist pump in the air after she came out of the water. haha She's the best! She gave one of the most powerful testimonies I've ever heard here on my mission as she bore her testimony of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, President Monson, Jesus Christ, and the true Chruch we have on the earth today. She also expressed how excited she it that her whole family is starting to come back into activity again. :) It was nothing but smiles at her baptism and the spirit was so strong! One of the strongest of my whole mission. 

Sunday was just as great. We had our special sacrament in Sua, where Rhodora was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and her friend Jennifer, Marynol, the Semillano, and several other investigators and less actives came to the Semillano household for church services and to partake of the Sacrament. The work is progressing in Pontevedra, that's for sure! In no time we'll become a ward! :) 

And for the unexpected news....I got transferred! It's not a normal transfer day, but I got transfered to Talisay with Sister Arcinas. :) I just got here about an hour ago. I was sad to leave Pontevedra, the members, investigators, and esecially Sister Batalero...we're pretty much best friends now. But I know Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for me and His children here in the Philippines, and I'm excited to continue to serve and help others come unto Christ here in Talisay. :) I know He lives and loves us. I really felt that this week. 

I hope you all have a great week! Thanks for the love and support, as always. :) Palangga ko kamo!! 

All my love, 

Sister Dixon

Gigantic Hamburgers at the Mission Leadership Conference.

Rhodora's baptism!

Jumping for Joy!!!

                                                           "Special Sacrament in Sua! 
We're helping this little branch to grow, bit by bit!! :D" 

"...And I love the man on the carabou....perfect picture of how these people diligent and full of faith, despite the hardships that are expressed on his face."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

When Faith Endures

Hello my wonderful friends and family!! 

Looks like I'll be staying on Pontevedra another transfer with Sister Batalero and I couldn't be more excited! This week was full of tender mercies and miracles, just like every week. :) But here are some that stuck out to me this week...
We found a super nice family that the elders used to teach named the Mindanao family. The mother has kidney problems and when we first met with them, we just met her. She told us about her situation, and I can tell she is so strong for her kids. She cried in front of us because her kids weren't there...she tries not to cry in front of them. The kids constantly fear she will die. That brings us to our lesson on the Plan of Salvation. :) When we went back, Sister Mindanao, her daughter Karla, and her husband were there. We went through the entire Plan of Salvation lesson and the spirit was so. strong. They pretty much listened in awe at such a glorious plan. They understood every bit of the Plan, especially the need to be baptized and confirmed by the laying on of hands in order to enter into the Celestial Kingdom. In their church, they had both, so we reminded them of the need for Priesthood. They willingly agreed to pray about it and if they know it's true, they will be baptized! I know they'll get their answer, there's no doubt about it. It's just a matter of time and sincere desire to know. I know this Gospel and Plan of Salvation will truly bless their lives and bring so much more peace to them. It's amazing how much power the lesson of the Plan of Salvation has. I love it! 

I also want to testify of the power of the Book of Mormon. We've been teaching Brother Telanas and his son Chris for a while now. They have SO many questions, and our lessons are usually pretty long because they love to talk, even if we write down their questions and tell them we'll address them in another lesson. Anyway, in this particular lesson, we read from the Book of Mormon because they hadn't read from it yet. As we started in the Introduction and got to about the third paragraph, Brother Telanas looked up and started explaining more of his feelings, rather than asking questions. He expressed his desire to have peace in this life and to have the strength to work day after day to support his family. He told us how even though he sees us walking all day long, rain or shine, we are always happy and have so much strength,and never fail to visit them. We testified that it comes through the Atonement, the Gospel, and through studying the Book of Mormon of Mormon daily. We committed him to read, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon and he accepted. I'm excited to see the changes that come in his life. He's one of the men on my mission that I've seen have the strongest faith. His potential is huge and we're excited to see how the power of the Book of Mormon will change his life, because we already saw changes in just the first three paragraphs! :) 

Sunday was fast Sunday, and they are the BEST in the mission field. Seriously, so many miracles. For example, on Saturday we visited the Semillano family, a less active family in one of our far areas. We started a special sacrament there so they could attend each week, but we arranged to have them attend church in the city every fast and testimony meeting. They told us that they had no money for travel and were praying to know what to do because they really wanted to attend church. Then one of Brother Semillano's co-workers came by and said that he had received a bonus from work...250 pesos...just enough to get to church and back! It was a real miracle. :) So Sunday comes around and it DOWNPOURS. That usually means very low church attendance, especially from our far areas. Church had started and the Semillano family hadn't come yet. One of their grown daughters, Rhodora, is scheduled to be baptized on Saturday, so we really needed her to come. I tried not to let any doubt creep in and not let my faith weaken, and was praying so hard in my heart that they'd make it. Sure enough, right before sacrament ended, they walked in the door. My little heart was doing backflips! And even better, the Semillano family, Rhodora, her friend Jennifer who is our new investigator, and Brother Dorio, who hasn't come to church in years, ALL came...despite the rain and super rugged road to get to the church!! True, strong faith right there. :) 

There were so many other little miracles and tender mercies that happened throughout the week. I've been really trying to notice the little acts that God puts His hand in so I can have more gratitude for His blessings and mercy in our missionary work. It's amazing...He really is the one directing this work. We are just His instruments in fulfilling it. All we need to do is exercise faith and be humble, so His power can be manifest through us. 

I testify that God loves us. And because He loves us He sent His Son. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, we have a perfect plan that takes us back to our Father in Heaven. I know that plan and the Gospel of Jesus Christ was revealed and restored through Joseph Smith. I know that Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet today and that the Priesthood is truly the power of God given to man to act in His name for the salvation of His children. How grateful I am to have a knowledge and testimony of this truth and to share it with the Filipino people that I love so much. 
I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July and that this week is wonderful! Thank you so much for the love, support, emails, and prayers! I have the best family, friends, and neighbors in the world. :) Palangga ko kamo! 

All my love, 
Sister Dixon 

PS If you ever need to do laundry by hand in the pouring rain, just sing Hymns! It changes your whole attitude and perspective on things. :) 

"FHE-Booga Booga was the game we played"
(It must have something to do with red cheeks--I am sure Jessica will want to play this when she comes home. You are all welcome to come to our house and play! )

Study time during a brown-out

"Sweetest Lola ever...she always pinches my cheeks"

"Doing laundry by hand in the pouring rain...

While singing hymns"

"A tricycle ride to our farthest area"

Mom's note: Grateful that driver looks so intent. I am sure he will get them there safely :)!!